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Old 01-28-2010, 09:29 PM   #1
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Completely Fed Up

Has anyone here ever felt like pouring gasoline in their rig, lighting the match and walking away? I've gotten to that point today.

Those of you who have been here for a while know that I bought this trailer in 2005 and took it to a "restoration" company in South Jersey to have it restored, with the intent of retiring from the Army and traveling the U.S. with Sherri. Unfortunately, life happened and Sherri succumbed to cancer.

My personal feeling is that the "restoration" company in South Jersey took advantage of my grief and took me to the cleaners. What I got in return was a sub-par product that is now rearing its ugly head. Things are slowly becoming apparent that the "restoration" was actually a refurbish, but I still shelled out about $25,000, including the selling price of the trailer.

This past weekend, Brooke had a Quarter Horse show at the San Angelo Spur Arena, so we hitched up the Sovereign and took it there. The first thing I noticed is that the wonderful porcelain toilet I was told was superior to the other toilets is leaking from somewhere near the inlet and it's not a matter of tightening the hose. Next, I found that the Atwood electronic ignition 110/gas water heater no longer works on gas; come to find out the spark probe is dead... in fairness to the "restoration" company in South Jersey, the didn't install the water heater; they left the original Bowen, which crapped out seven months later. The Iota DLS-45 with the IQ-4 Smart Charger doesn't keep our Optima Blue Top charged (have gone through two), and the best part is that I now have rear end separation on the curb side rear. Oh yeah, my axles, which I kept asking if they should be replaced and kept hearing "No, they're okay" are shot to hell.

I am so depressed, defeated and disgusted that I really just want to burn the damn thing to the ground, because I know that this trailer needs to be taken apart, in order to be redone correctly. There were so many shortcuts taken with this "restoration" company in South Jersey. People like that have a special place reserved in Hell for them.

One alternative is to sell it, but I know I'll never get out of it what I put into it and frankly, I really don't feel like having my trailer featured in the Ebay section of Airstream Life and reading about how f'd up my trailer is and how I should dream on. If anyone wants to make me an offer that isn't insulting, I'm all ears. If you have to ask what's insulting, then don't even bother.

The other alternative is to find someone who has a Silver Streak or Streamline, 30' or more, really wants an Airstream, is willing to fix what's wrong with mine and is willing to trade me. I wouldn't even care if it needed work, so long as the structure was sound. At least I would know that it was being done right, because I'd be doing it.

The last alternative is to gut the Sovereign and do it myself, but I feel like I'd be throwing away all the money I've spent, which is what I've done. Makes me sick.

Funny, I should have just kept my 1968 Streamline Empress...
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:36 PM   #2
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Step back, have a beer (or six pack) then think it through. If the rig is the one you want (minus the problems) then roll up your sleeves and work on it yourself. From what I can tell a vintage rig is never finished. And remember, its always darkest before it turns pitch black, wait. What I mean is the light at the end of the tunnel is a train, no wait....... Well, you need a hobby anyway.

Oh yeah, when I come in here everyday for the next week while I am in the crunch to get mine back on the road. lie to me and tell me its worth it.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:11 PM   #3
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lets look at it

Come over to the Vintage Rally on the 10th. There are lots of great folks there and I am sure we can sort things out with you. Get a plan. Come on up here on some week end and work on it here...then we can go over to the Sheppard AFB Rec area on Lake Texoma for a check out. You will come out of this with a better attitude........and experience of the New Jersey ordeal behind you. We have done to much to let a s--t head ruin retirement dreams.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:36 PM   #4
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Take a deep breath or two

There are many of us who have stood in your shoes and I feel your pain. I know that is not much solace but most vintage trailers have issues and many of us did not know what to look for when buying and then put more money into cosmetic things only to find worn out axles (when we were told by "experts" that the axles were fine) and rear end separation issues. If you like your rig and are happy with the floor plan and the refurbishments, then you can consider replacing the axles and repairing the rear end separation.......and whatever else is not working. Nothing has to be done overnight---you have time to consider the right decision and you will find lots of support on this forum. pj
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:08 PM   #5
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PERFECT can make you miserable!

I loved "Monk" when it was on TV.

I thought it really showed how some people can SUFFER from a compulsive need to have everything done perfectly. If you USE any trailer you're going to put more wear and tear on it, and you're going to have ongoing repairs. I think missing the fact that axles needed to be replaced is pretty serious - and not what you should expect for that kind of money. However if someone installs a bad component manufactured by an outside supplier... is it the supplier's or the installer's fault?

Maintenance on a classic trailer - well a boat is probably worse, but every time you take it out for a drive, there's probably some little maintenance task that should be done yesterday.

I agree - get with some other vintage owners - have a cool one or 3 or more - list the pro's and cons and move forward.

Good luck, and I truly hope things look better in the morning.
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:09 PM   #6
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Come over to the Vintage Rally on the 10th. There are lots of great folks there and I am sure we can sort things out with you. Get a plan. Come on up here on some week end and work on it here...then we can go over to the Sheppard AFB Rec area on Lake Texoma for a check out. You will come out of this with a better attitude........and experience of the New Jersey ordeal behind you. We have done to much to let a s--t head ruin retirement dreams.
Thanks for the offer...ordinarily I'd take you up on it, but I'm working during the week and I'm on duty Sunday the 14th all day.

For right now, I'm taking Rodney's advice and having a couple discussions with Samuel Adams and Norco.

Oh well, that's what I get for trusting my rig to a failed Airstream dealership-turned "restoration" company.

The one good thing the Sovereign has going for it is that the Plasti-Coat is still about 95% intact.
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:35 PM   #7
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Wow and I thought I was the only one that got frustrated to the point to burn it down (got the gas can and set it next to the rig), buttttt came to my senses, slept on it after chugging a VO and coke and gleefully went out the next day to see why the fridge has a burning smell on LP after the Winnebago dealer who sold it to me said the fridge worked fine, silly me bought an 04 MH from them in 03 and I almost had a stroke, that's a different story.
OK you talked me into it, 52 problems on the Winnebagel in 3 years and Winnebago said we'll fix it again and again and again, so new isn't always a great thing.

Keep a stiff upper lip and forge on, we're behind you 100% and have one on me.
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Old 01-29-2010, 06:40 AM   #8
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Put down the gas can, and step away from the trailer.

I'm sure you know the separation is being caused by the axles, and if you replace them, further separation will be minimized. The 1970's Sovereigns were prone to separation (ours has it--bad), and the toilet leak could well be caused by the worn axles as well. When we moved to California, I went over some sections of road that were so rough the toilet was torn from its base.
Now, axles are relatively inexpensive, and that is something you can do yourself, and save some money on labor.
The separation on ours was "patched" before we got it, and was horribly botched by an Airstream dealer that charged the PO $4,000 to jack up the bumper, and scab on a piece of stainless steel sheet to the body to hold the frame up.
I repaired the separation in ours by unbolting and lowering the frame, and installing a new floor and floor channel. It's now solid, with no further separation, and took a day.
Of course, then the front part of the frame broke in half on the way out here, but that's another story. It's always something, even with a new RV.
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Old 01-29-2010, 07:34 AM   #9
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Oh well, that's what I get for trusting my rig to a failed Airstream dealership-turned "restoration" company.
Fred,
Feel your pain, condolences on your loss. Simper-fi.

Are you in negotiation with said shop?

Inquiring minds want direction on just whom to steer clear of.
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Old 01-29-2010, 07:46 AM   #10
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Hang in there... what you're describing is just routine maintenance stuff... not catastrophic failure stuff.

Terry's giving you good advice Frederic... and remember... those axles were last assessed five years ago. They just don't last forever; but they may still have had life in them then. Many of your problems may be from the trailer slamming on the axles. That's not good for anything inside. Go ahead and bolt on new axles, get the sag taken care of, fix the toilet, and get on with using the trailer. There will be other maintenance issues along the way, but that's the case with even new trailers.

You can plan on the first season being trouble-free with most, maybe even the second... but plumbing fittings work loose, or wear through from vibration; things get loose; wheel bearings need service; appliances get spiderwebs in the burners... electronics fail... it's just the nature of having a travel trailer or motorhome... and trust me I've had MANY of them!

My B190 needs some 'stuff' even as it sits in my driveway right now... and I'll get out and take care of it before I use it this spring. My '06 Bigfoot 25 will need to have the bearings packed this spring also... and I'll give it a good going-over tightening fasteners and what-not... the nature of a moving house. I had a spider web in the burner of my water heater that caused the entire side of the trailer to soot up before I caught it... I had an electronic gizmo on the water heater go bad... it took a while to diagnose it, but a few dollars at a local RV shop for the new part got it firing right up again... and this was on an '06 trailer in '08!!! So... you're not alone... just get out and use the stupid trailer!

Roger
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Old 01-29-2010, 07:54 AM   #11
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Fred,

Are you in negotiation with said shop?

Inquiring minds want direction on just whom to steer clear of.
Forums rules prevent airing that info in this thread, though there are no rules about what a PM can contain.
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:06 AM   #12
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Forums rules prevent airing that info in this thread, though there are no rules about what a PM can contain.
Thanks Terry, I wasn't aware of that.

Interesting.... we can praise to the heavens, but go directly to hell for critnasizeing, umm?
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:08 AM   #13
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Thanks Terry, I wasn't aware of that.

Interesting.... we can praise to the heavens, but go directly to hell for critnasizeing, umm?
Pretty much. There was a small problem over a vendor several years ago, everybody piled on, and it turned into a free-for-all that resulted in much bad feelings all around. Hence the rule.
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:33 AM   #14
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For right now, I'm taking Rodney's advice].
What could possibly go wrong?
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:43 AM   #15
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lie to me and tell me its worth it.
Okay. It's worth it.

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What could possibly go wrong?
With a vintage trailer? Nothing. Nothing at all. Everything will go exactly as planned, with no surprises. Gotta stop typing now, my nose has gotten so long it's interfering with the monitor...
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:47 AM   #16
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Thanks Terry, I wasn't aware of that.

Interesting.... we can praise to the heavens, but go directly to hell for critnasizeing, umm?
Not exactly, Robert. Merely reporting factual information about a situation is fine. "My new trailer left the shop with a shower pan that still leaks after I took it in specifically for that problem," for example, is acceptable. On the other hand... "That guy is a no-good so and so crook who..." serves no purpose whatsoever and won't be tolerated.

That's the line that, unfortunately, gets crossed from time to time.

Roger
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:52 AM   #17
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Step back, have a beer (or six pack) then think it through. If the rig is the one you want (minus the problems) then roll up your sleeves and work on it yourself. From what I can tell a vintage rig is never finished. And remember, its always darkest before it turns pitch black, wait. What I mean is the light at the end of the tunnel is a train, no wait....... Well, you need a hobby anyway.

Oh yeah, when I come in here everyday for the next week while I am in the crunch to get mine back on the road. lie to me and tell me its worth it.

Very good advice. Hang in there. Most of us have felt your pain at some point in the life of Airstream ownership. We own two vintage rigs and there's usually some unexpected problem or issue encountered no matter how well we plan.


Regards,

Kevin
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:16 AM   #18
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Very good advice. Hang in there. Most of us have felt your pain at some point in the life of Airstream ownership. We own two vintage rigs and there's usually some unexpected problem or issue encountered no matter how well we plan.


Regards,

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Old 01-29-2010, 09:28 AM   #19
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Frederic, I'm sorry to here your Sovereign was not restored correctly. I owned a 76 Sovereign that I was going to restore and decided the work and time and money involved was not worth it and sold it at a loss. Then I bought a 94 25' Classic which I liked very much but I wanted a wide body and some of the newer amenities, so I sold this one at a loss too considering what it cost to drive 20000 miles round trip and repair a few items. Decided I'd had enough and bought my current 07 25' Classic, which is great but not without problems. It always feels bad to spend money and then find you didn't get exactly what was represented or what you paid for, but can happen with new and used. There is no best way, but you probably have a better understanding now of what you need to do to make it what you want it to be, so I guess the decision is do you sell or trade it and start over, or fix what you have. Anything used, even "restored" ends up needing something. New from the factory is an even bigger frustration because you expect it to be assembled and working correctly, but you can count on that not being the case. It's the never ending price of owning an Airstream. I think unless you do a pretty much ground up restoration, and do it yourself to a high standard, you can expect to do some things over. Hope things get better. A nice cold Guiness always help restore my blood pressure.
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:54 AM   #20
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Distant, I guess the problem with the written word is that it can be interpreted in so many ways.

I haven't viewed Terry's sig line as a dig at anyone; in fact it made sense as we all followed his odyssey as he dealt with illness, made his rig livable, then the path to Inland. The way I took it is that folks parted ways. Happens all the time.

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