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Old 03-06-2016, 08:31 AM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
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'72 Sovereign Total Recall

Hi all!
Jon and Blaine here. We bought a Sovereign a couple days ago. Our intention is to totally rebuild it, eventually live in it full time, and maybe one day travel. We're young, we're both still in school (me for forestry, her for biochem), and we have two cats. I'm pretty handy and build furniture, she is brilliant and has a good eye for design. That said, we are going to need a lot of help and direction to do this right. So far I have been accepted here with open arms and have even had a couple members reach out to me, which is really encouraging. This thread will serve as a repository for all our pictures and questions, and hopefully a place to make some new friends.

Here are a few things we plan to do:

1. We are already stripping out the interior. We plan to do a completely new interior so I"m not being too precious about the plastic parts or anything.
2. The floor needs to be replaces, so I'm planning to do a shell-off, we move the belly pan, assess frame damage, fix what needs to be fixed, maybe new axles.
3. We want to have a middle bathroom, so we'll be buying a new blackwater tank. I've read that we cant just relocate the old one, its not the right size.
4. Of course new insulation, re-wiring, new plumbing, gas lines.

Today I'm going over to my dad's workshop where we parked the trailer to finish removing all the junk inside. So first major question, what is the best way to remove the rivets holding the skin on? and can that skin be reused after all the insulation and wiring is done?

Thanks everyone, hope all is well and everyone is out there exploring!

Jon & Blaine
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Old 03-06-2016, 08:35 AM   #2
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
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here are some pics
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Old 03-06-2016, 08:36 AM   #3
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Ok I can see I'm going to have a problem with the pictures being sideway. Anyone know whats going on there?
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Old 03-06-2016, 08:47 AM   #4
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Welcome, and congratulations on your project!

My folks used to live in Niceville....... "nice" area! They lived there when the HWY 293 bridge was being built across the waterway.

I have had the same problem with sideways pictures. Has something to do with iPhone orientation. This link explains the "why" and "how to fix":

http://rotatemailer.com/sideways-pictures.html
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Old 03-06-2016, 09:42 AM   #5
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1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
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I can't answer picture questions, but I can answer interior skin rivet questions! Your pictures look very familiar - we've been there with our '72. (see our "Little Girl Refurb" thread). You can drill out the old rivets on your interior skins, and re-use them by using the holes when you put them back in with a slightly larger rivet. You may need to drill new holes in the ribs as things don't necessarily line up again due to flexing of the whole structure. Holes that you don't want can be riveted over with a rounded over piece of aluminum. The best way to store the interior skins is to roll them up and use straps or package sealing tape to hold them rolled. They take up little room that way and ours lasted for 2 years rolled with no damage.
We offered things to people on the forums from our interior such as refrigerator shelves, shower door, etc. for free, receiver pays shipping. Parts of our trailer are all over the country to people that needed them to restore their trailers. We also went the route you are taking: whole new interior. Literally, the only original features in our trailer are the kitchen sink, and a few outlet covers that survived.
We are now happy campers, and our fellow WBCCI members refer people to our trailer as "the one to see" at rallies. Going on 9 years, and not quite done yet, but we've been able to camp since 4 years in to the project. Of course, we could only work summers... you have an advantage there. I suspect there will always be things to do with our trailer, and we're ok with that.
There are many blogs and threads from people who have done partial and total refurbs of their trailers. We spent a lot of time reading before we started.
Good luck on your project! We will be watching for new, innovative things we can do too!

Kay
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Old 03-06-2016, 09:46 AM   #6
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Oh, and we did save some things for re-use such as the interior wall holders (not sure of name)that the wall partitions slip into, old upper cabinet side panels to use as templates, etc. Might be best to not throw some things away for awhile.

Kay
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Old 03-06-2016, 12:06 PM   #7
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1972 29' Ambassador
Boynton Beach , Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jontemple View Post

3. We want to have a middle bathroom, so we'll be buying a new blackwater tank. I've read that we cant just relocate the old one, its not the right size.
4. Of course new insulation, re-wiring, new plumbing, gas lines.

Today I'm going over to my dad's workshop where we parked the trailer to finish removing all the junk inside. So first major question, what is the best way to remove the rivets holding the skin on? and can that skin be reused after all the insulation and wiring is done?


Jon & Blaine
I moved my bath from the back to the middle, and it's worked out great! You might consider a composting toilet, much simpler to install. Keep the old blackwater tank, and turn it into a graywater tank.

I like drilling the rivets out, then using an old scratch awl with a broken tip that turned out to be just the right size to pop out the middle part. Keep some pliers in your pocket, as the flange part of the rivet likes to become stuck on the end of the drill bit. Buy a pneumatic rivet gun sooner, rather than later.

I didn't take my inner skin off, but be sure to number all of the parts so you know where they go. Personally, I'd use the existing panels as templates and replace them with some exotic sheet metal (copper?) or very thin plywood. Or glowing LED plastic panels!

Stuff that bad boy with as much insulation as you can! I wish that I had, as these trailers get very hot out in the sun. Some sages have suggested making a thermal break between the inner and outer skins with a rubber strip on the ribs, sounds good to me!

BTW: We'll be at The Spirit of the Suwannee campground (near Live Oak, FL) Sep. 8-11 for a paddling trip. You should drag your beast over, and we can compare notes (over suitable beverages, of course).
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Old 03-06-2016, 12:11 PM   #8
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Welcome aboard. A 1/8" drill bit will go through most of the pop rivets used to hold the inner skins on. Make sure you mark them for position so you can put them back in. Even if you decide to upgrade the interior, they have a part to play in keeping the superstructure rigid. I would also advise you to keep your bulkhead walls, at least till you are at the point where you may fabricate new ones. They make for a good template for the curve of the inside walls.
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Old 03-06-2016, 03:58 PM   #9
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
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SuzyHomakr, I appreciate the insulation tip, and I'm going to look more into putting rubber between ribs and skin, sounds like a really cool idea. I'll tell you what, if its in camping condition by then, we might just see you out there in september.

Kay, thanks for the storage tips. Lots of good info. Where can I post things I'd like to give away off my trailer?
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Old 03-07-2016, 11:37 PM   #10
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Silverton , Oregon
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How's your Tambour? want to part with it?
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Old 03-08-2016, 12:02 AM   #11
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Learn a bit more about Clecos, these nifty devices are used to put the interior sheets back in place before you start riveting.

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Old 03-08-2016, 09:15 AM   #12
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Lexington , Minnesota
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We started off posting what we had that we thought would be interesting to people on our thread, but then put some stuff on the classifieds here so more people would see it. We also had inquiries about specific things too. We ended up with a few odds and ends that we took to the Vintage Trailer Academy a couple years ago, and came home empty handed. Most of the interior wood look laminate ended up going off to a recycler.
People were happy to get things and pay shipping, so it was no cost to us to recycle, just some time to ship.
We did a shell-on Refurb, but if we had it to do again, we would go shell-off to make it easier. Laying on my back in the dirt under the trailer shooting rivets into the belly pan is not exactly my idea of fun... worth it, but not fun.
We spent a lot of time once the trailer was empty and floor replaced, with cardboard box mockups and blue tape planning out the interior. It was worth the time. We had been going for a switch from rear bath to mid-bath but changed when we realized we would lose almost all our outside storage, of which there's not much to start with. Some people are ok with that, we were not. We found our current layout in the vintage trailer section reviewing '70's trailers layouts, and tweaked it to what we wanted.
Everyone has their own needs and wants. Make it yours, and you will never regret it.

Kay
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Old 03-08-2016, 09:57 AM   #13
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 17
Kay, I think for us a center bath is a necessity because we need the living room/kitchen to be as big as possible for us to work out of, and just going over it in my head it makes the most sense to put the bath in the middle, versus in the back, which would move the bedroom forward toward the kitchen and scrunch the living room. I didn't know there were floor plan son here! I've been combing the web trying to find some kind of plan to reference.

So today I'm going to do one of two things, depending on the replies I get. If I intend to do a shell-off, should I remove the skins first, or should I leave them on and have my girlfriend remove them while the shell is sitting on the ground and I work on the frame? It seems that I can't get the furnace out without taking the skin at least most of the way off. Same goes for some other stuff towards the back that seems to be attached to the frame. Can't get to any of it without the skin off. But I'm ITCHING to get at that frame. Pictures to come a little later in the day.
Jon
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:05 AM   #14
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Can of beans View Post
How's your Tambour? want to part with it?
You're gonna have to fill me in on what a tambour is, if I still have it and I'm not using it, it's yours.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:12 AM   #15
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minno View Post
We started off posting what we had that we thought would be interesting to people on our thread, but then put some stuff on the classifieds here so more people would see it. We also had inquiries about specific things too. We ended up with a few odds and ends that we took to the Vintage Trailer Academy a couple years ago, and came home empty handed. Most of the interior wood look laminate ended up going off to a recycler.
People were happy to get things and pay shipping, so it was no cost to us to recycle, just some time to ship.
We did a shell-on Refurb, but if we had it to do again, we would go shell-off to make it easier. Laying on my back in the dirt under the trailer shooting rivets into the belly pan is not exactly my idea of fun... worth it, but not fun.
We spent a lot of time once the trailer was empty and floor replaced, with cardboard box mockups and blue tape planning out the interior. It was worth the time. We had been going for a switch from rear bath to mid-bath but changed when we realized we would lose almost all our outside storage, of which there's not much to start with. Some people are ok with that, we were not. We found our current layout in the vintage trailer section reviewing '70's trailers layouts, and tweaked it to what we wanted.
Everyone has their own needs and wants. Make it yours, and you will never regret it.

Kay
Kay, I also see that you guys went ahead and took out the windows to clean and replace parts, I would like to do this maybe before taking the shell-off. Where did you get replacement parts and do I need a big rivet gun to put them back in. I'm gonna have to send you a bottle of wine for all this advice you're giving me. 👍
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Old 03-08-2016, 04:09 PM   #16
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1961 19' Globetrotter
1962 26' Overlander
Mesa , Arizona
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Tambour is the grooved wood used in some of the sliding overhead doors.

I think you're going to have to take the inner skins off for a Shell off. Gotta get to all the bolts and such in the C or U channel which HD the shell to the floor.

Follow Kay and Minno and you won't go wrong. I've seen theirs and it's beautiful.

There is a thread here with some links to Full Monte's. Which will also help learn the methods.

Bold Adventure wrote about composting toilet and if you are going to live or eventually travel in it that could help with conserving tank space.

Although plans change look as far ahead as you can.

Are you going to be connected to utilities now where you live, then when you travel.

Are you going to need power for working.

What are you weather constraints.

Things like 12v, electric, solar, water availability/storage, propane. These basic needs can best be handled/planned for when skins are off and everything is accessible.

You never really hear "gee I wish I hadn't prewired for solar " or "I have way to much water capacity".
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Old 03-08-2016, 08:52 PM   #17
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1973 31' Sovereign
Niceville , Florida
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Originally Posted by Hittenstiehl View Post
Tambour is the grooved wood used in some of the sliding overhead doors.

I think you're going to have to take the inner skins off for a Shell off. Gotta get to all the bolts and such in the C or U channel which HD the shell to the floor.

Follow Kay and Minno and you won't go wrong. I've seen theirs and it's beautiful.

There is a thread here with some links to Full Monte's. Which will also help learn the methods.

Bold Adventure wrote about composting toilet and if you are going to live or eventually travel in it that could help with conserving tank space.

Although plans change look as far ahead as you can.

Are you going to be connected to utilities now where you live, then when you travel.

Are you going to need power for working.

What are you weather constraints.

Things like 12v, electric, solar, water availability/storage, propane. These basic needs can best be handled/planned for when skins are off and everything is accessible.

You never really hear "gee I wish I hadn't prewired for solar " or "I have way to much water capacity".
Wow okay I have been thinking the whole time that I'm thinking too far ahead and to just focus on one day at a time, but this just reaffirms that I'm on the right track. I'll write out some of my thoughts and maybe try to get them in order a little bit.

We are in Florida so weather is good, would really only need a good air conditioner. I'm gonna look into the rubber between ribs and skin trick for better insulation. I want to be able to go out in the boondocks. But in reality my job will most likely lead me to cities around the US as well as the woods (I'm going to be a forester) so all my appliances being 2-way is important. I will need a system to run everything "plugged in" to "shore power" as we would say in the marine world, for when I'm maybe renting a lot in a city. And then also everything needs to run on either LP gas, solar, wind, or whatever is the best option for when I'm living in a back woods area. Definitely going to get a composting toilet, just makes too much sense. And I don't mind emptying the tank, it's just one of those things.
So conventionally, what appliances are powered by LP and which solar? Lights? Fridge? AC?

Also someone was telling me about how they sprayed in insulation and put lamenent wood paneling in the place of the inner skins, which doesn't seem right to me because I read the skins are integral to the structure. But it would be a HELL of a lot easier than trying to get the vinyl off the skins and putting them back in. Might look good too.
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Old 03-08-2016, 09:25 PM   #18
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OK, I'm not the authority on any of this but I've read a LOT and have two Aluminum tents.

So,
Many trailers have some lighting on 12v and some on electric. So whatever your hookups your okay. Some also still have a gas lamp that puts out a nice light. Stoves and fridges, gas. Some fridges are two way and a few are three way. Danfross is marine grade high end.

There are converters and inverters, learn the difference. I'm not gonna quote it I'll get it mixed up.

If solar is in your future read all the posts by a guy named Lewster. And many chime in on his threads that are also in the know. You can prewire for it and roof mount or get a portable unit if you are parked under trees but can access sunlight.

Insulation, pink stuff is still being used along with prodex SP? Its the silver shiney window visor like stuff. Wood paneling on the interior.... Not so much if it's going to travel. The paint comes off with crud cutter and citristrip and airplane stripper, use a mask.

You tube has a series called the VAP. It's a Vintage trailer refurbish but it's very worthwhile watching.

If I got something wrong someone will chime and correct me.

Just Read Read and Read it will start to make sense.

When looking for info in the Airforum use your regular search engine ie Google, Firefox etc and always search
"Airforums Full Monty"
"Airforums Shell Off"
"Airforums Nature's Head composting Toilet"
"Airforums Boondocking"
The search forum within Airforums is limited.

Happy learning.
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Old 03-08-2016, 09:28 PM   #19
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Sounds like a fun similar project! I would take all of the interior skins off first. You will have to take all of the lower skins of to access the bolts going through the C-channel through the floor anyways. Those are most likely bent over by the factory. Removing them can be annoying. An oscillating saw works, but you'll go through blades every other bolt. I ended up using an angle grinder with a cutting blade, either cutting off the tops as low as I could, and then using a grinding wheel to grind off the nut. Or I was able to use the cutting wheel on an angle straight through the wood flooring to cut the bolt mid shaft. Smelled and smoked like it was about to start fire, but it worked.

By removing the interior skins first, you have something solid through out the trailer to still stand on! If you are doing a shell off, you will most likely want to brace it before to lift with 2x4s. I can't imagine stepping over those and not tripping and fumbling around while that giant top sheet of aluminum tries to fall on top of you... Plus, you can clean up the insulation mess more easily off of the subfloor than off the ground.

Just my two cents.
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Old 03-10-2016, 08:57 AM   #20
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We have used Vintage Trailer, Inland RV, and Out of Doors Mart for parts. Also the local Ace Hardware sees us at least 3 times per project! Colaws Salvage in Missouri has many AS to part out, so if you need a door, or something like that, they are good. Also, the classifieds here might score you parts.
We thought the same about the side bath, but are very happy with the rear bath and middle bedroom area. Our trailer started out as a twin amidships. We actually made the kitchen a foot bigger than the original, and have a very open front area with recliners and a table/bench arrangement we can increase the size of if we need more room (or I'm sewing).
We have not (yet) gone solar route. Our frig is 2 way, water heater is propane, and furnace is also propane as is the stove. You say you are in Fl, but will you stay there? Electric heating with a portable heater is very doable if you are on the grid, but off grid that will not work. We have 2 AGM golf cart batteries hidden under the front table between the recliners, and can go 5 days running the furnace, lights, etc without a problem.
There are many things to think about, I agree to read read read!

Kay
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