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Old 11-20-2018, 06:59 PM   #1
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1971 31' Sovereign
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My 1971 Sovereign Renovation: Failure Is NOT An Option!

Hi all, I recently made my intro post in the New Member section briefly describing getting my 1971 Sovereign. It is requiring a full renovation, from the bottom up. I knew it would require a ton of work, and everything I have seen so far confirms that.

Here are a few exterior pics, so you can see the general shape of it. It is in "reasonable" shape for a 47 year old Airstream that has come from North Carolina, then to New Mexico, and now it is in Texas. There are several spots on the bottom edges that will need to be cut out and replaced due to rust. The belly pan in the rear will need replacing as well. It looks like initial "rear end seperation" occured, but was repaired by the previous owner before they threw in the towel.
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Old 11-20-2018, 07:09 PM   #2
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The Interior.

The interior, as I mentioned in my intro post, was gutted. A few things were saved, but none of the interior skins were. It looks like the whole sub floor may need to be replaced. The rear section of the subfloor was replaced by the previous owner, with the black tank removed as well. That won't be a big deal as we plan to put in a composting toilet to avoid the mess of a black tank. So the general plan for the next month before the end of 2018 is to make progress on repairing the subfloor, remove the rotting portion of the belly pan, and clean up as much as I can. Wiring was "redone" as well by the previous owner, but will need to be tested, then taped/placed back so it isn't hanging like the mess it is right now. At least the windows are all in decent shape and not busted out...
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Old 11-20-2018, 08:00 PM   #3
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Hello there. I'm going to subscribe to your project "blog" I guess they call it.

As folks often say, the tear down of an old Airstream is the easy part. You are embarking on the hard part. But your thread title is well put. My guess you will make this old Sovereign into a sweet travel trailer.

Glad to hear the previous owner repaired the rear end separation. Look under there carefully for a good rear frame cross member, good bolts from body channel to frame rail, good bolts from body channel through a solid subfloor and through a solid "rear body plate". See if you can spot where the frame may have been welded to strengthen it. Bounce on the rear frame members and watch for any separation between body and frame rail. You would expect to see none if the frame has been repaired.

You might also put your longest level on the floor of your trailer and check level front to back. My trailer drooped about a half a bubble back, starting at the rear axle. We walked noticeably "down hill" as we walked into the rear bath. If the frame is repaired, the trailer floor ought to be pretty level.

Let the fun begin

David
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Link to my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f17...ml#post2053792

Link to our 1976 Renovation Project:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f221...ct-202081.html
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Old 11-21-2018, 04:40 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
Hello there. I'm going to subscribe to your project "blog" I guess they call it.

As folks often say, the tear down of an old Airstream is the easy part. You are embarking on the hard part. But your thread title is well put. My guess you will make this old Sovereign into a sweet travel trailer.

Glad to hear the previous owner repaired the rear end separation. Look under there carefully for a good rear frame cross member, good bolts from body channel to frame rail, good bolts from body channel through a solid subfloor and through a solid "rear body plate". See if you can spot where the frame may have been welded to strengthen it. Bounce on the rear frame members and watch for any separation between body and frame rail. You would expect to see none if the frame has been repaired.

You might also put your longest level on the floor of your trailer and check level front to back. My trailer drooped about a half a bubble back, starting at the rear axle. We walked noticeably "down hill" as we walked into the rear bath. If the frame is repaired, the trailer floor ought to be pretty level.

Let the fun begin

David
Hey again David! Thanks for following along. Yeah, the plan is to live full time in this Sovereign for a few years while my fiance and I save up to buy property either here in Texas or possibly Colorado. But that requires the Airstream to be finished before that plan can happen.

Yes sir, I'll let you know how my double check of the rear end goes on Friday. I'm planning to take that morning as my first major "inspection" day to write out my list of issues to tackle and write down what is wrong, instead of participating in the national debacle known as "Black Friday". I've now had the Sovereign in my posession for four days now, so I plan not to waste any time for my "52 week" long timeframe for the renovation. When I got under it on Tuesday, the frame rails looked redone and repainted, and appeared to be solid, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving. I'll use a level like you suggest to see how level the floor is, from the several times I've hopped in it and have looked around it, it appears pretty decent.

Thanks, it's getting more fun and interesting each day!

-Nick
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Old 11-21-2018, 06:24 PM   #5
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Looks like you have the original sink. They're heavy gauge steel - if it's still in good shape, it's worth reusing. We reinstalled ours in our trailer reno, and it's still solid. New ones of that caliber are quite expensive.
Now we can say "everything is brand new except the kitchen sink"!

Kay
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Old 11-21-2018, 08:27 PM   #6
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Looks like you have the original sink. They're heavy gauge steel - if it's still in good shape, it's worth reusing. We reinstalled ours in our trailer reno, and it's still solid. New ones of that caliber are quite expensive.
Now we can say "everything is brand new except the kitchen sink"!

Kay
Good eye, Kay! And gotcha, we will keep that sink and consider reusing it! It would add a nice piece of history to the Sovereign renovation. Haha, I like that saying!

-Nick
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Old 11-23-2018, 11:58 AM   #7
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It actually is true in our reno. We reused the sink, a few electric covers, and the oven timer, which we installed on the side of the stove vent. We reused the partition guides also. Other than those few things, everything else IS brand new, including cabinets, plumbing, electrical, appliances, etc.

Kay
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Old 11-23-2018, 06:07 PM   #8
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I'm keeping a lot of my old Overlander as it is in good enough condition. Not ready for the landfill just yet. The 70s decor matches my lava lamp. I'm keeping the original layout except for the "oven in the wall" Airstream idea which I didn't care for. Right now I'm thinking I will install a micowave / convection oven over a smaller fridge. My trailer was not designed for a microwave, which I consider the handiest of all the galley gadgets.

So NBC, you have a clean sheet of paper. I will say the Airstream interior designers are masters of small space layouts for the most part. I'd start my interior design by studying different 31' trailer layouts in the Airstream archives on their website. Take your favorite layouts and try to combine them into the best one for you. Do this before you start planning electrical and plumbing.

For me, I like a mid bath layout, maybe a vanity sink and toilet on one side, and a shower stall on the other side of the hallway like new Airstreams. Not a fan of a rear bath. I'm not real keen on a dinette unless you need the extra sleeping space. Recliners appeal to me more than gaucho unless you need the extra sleeping space. I like double kitchen sinks over a single. We don't need a gas oven as we don't boondock much. Actually a two burner cook top is plenty for us. We find the overhead lockers handy storage. The slide out pantry makes good sense to me. Twin beds works for us, but it is personal preference.

After the layout is planned, then you can plan space for the furnace, water tanks, water heater, battery and converter, et al, et al. There is a lot to consider and it all has to work in harmony.

A detailed plan is a very important part of the project. A project like this sounds fun to me.

David
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Link to my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f17...ml#post2053792

Link to our 1976 Renovation Project:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f221...ct-202081.html
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Old 11-25-2018, 09:02 AM   #9
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I agree with David about the AS archives. We used them to find a newish layout that worked for us. We also mocked up our layout with cardboard box "furniture" and blue painters tape on the floor to figure out where everything should go. It helped to make adjustments before starting to build, with hallway width, etc. We left the furnace, fridge, and water heater in their original positions to be able to keep holes already in the trailer, and because they worked for our layout.
Our reno is called "Little Girl Refurb" in the 70's section. There are many more reno's and restorations we pulled from for ideas for our trailer. Quality reading!

Kay
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