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Old 06-18-2020, 10:30 PM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
Jasper , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 11
Our First Vintage Trailer Renovation - 73 Rear Bedroom

Hi All,

Iím new here to Air Forums but my experience thus far has been awesome everyone has been extremely nice and very helpful. I wanted to start a thread on the wife and I renovation of our 1973 Airstream Sovereign. We looked for quite a while before settling on this particular trailer mostly because it was a midship bath with a rear bedroom. As I go through this process if any of yíall with more knowledge on these things than me has some advice you would like to share it would be greatly appreciated!

As with any older trailer it definitely has its far share of issues but for the most part we felt like it was a solid starter trailer. Our plans are to retain as much of the original trailer as possible while upgrading a few parts to make it more user friendly for us. We plan to turn the bed in the rear to face long ways with the trailer, we are taking the couch out in favor of a dinette that will fold into a bed, adding a microwave and coffee pot cabinet on top of the pantry and fridge, adding some dresser drawers to the closet for folded clothes storage, and rebuilding the cabinet that holds the stove and sink.

This first post I will attach a few pictures from the day we picked it up in Colorado and brought it back to Texas with us. We are looking forward to getting this project finished up and out on the road!

Chris R.
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1973 Airstream Sovereign 31í
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Old 06-19-2020, 07:05 AM   #2
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
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Chris, glad you started a thread. Thatís the best way to ask the questions and compile the answers. You can arrange the interior about any way you want, just think ahead with a basic plan so you donít have to do things twice. I like keeping the vintage trailers as original looking as possible with the modern amenities there, but hidden. As far as a dinette converting to a bed, lots of people do that. It is fairly simple with a quick conversion to a bed when itís time to hit the sack.
Before this Covid, we centralized at BA Steinhagen for a few days and made short trips to places I lived and fished around the area. Good luck
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Old 06-19-2020, 08:23 AM   #3
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1958 26' Overlander
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Looking forward to following your progress.
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Old 06-21-2020, 12:00 AM   #4
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1972 31' Sovereign
Silverton , Oregon
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Hi,
Welcome,

enjoy your new trailer. it's interesting to see our trailer with a queen bed in the back.

Is the head of the bed pulled up right against the divider between the toilet and bedroom? it seems like it ought to have the same black tank layout and water heater location as ours. but in ours one of the twin beds covers the hardware.

Where would you relocate this stuff? Also if you would like to add a lift kit so to fit a gray tank, I have some drawings I can send you. either way getting rid of the thetford valve for a Valterra was a relatively easy change that meant I didn't have to use fragile adapters that broke easily.

I also have the fan cover/light shade you are missing in the front area, I had bought all new ones for our trailer before gutting it and changing to recessed lighting.


I'm not sure if your furnace is original, but the original model was recalled long ago for the crossover tube in the back. If you change out the furnace, keep the lower section of the housing where the duct work is attached and mount the new nt30sp on top of it, then it all lines up like original.

I also have a working oven and refrigerator to match yours if you need some parts.

I've also got a few other drawings for laser parts that I've been working on to upgrade the original vent fans, command center and stereo face plate.

we're trying to keep our trailer somewhat original, but we quickly grew frustrated with most of the older appliances, so now I've replaced them all, so far I haven't been sorry about it either.


sorry to ramble, Have fun with your trailer.
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Old 06-21-2020, 08:09 AM   #5
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1973 31' Sovereign
Jasper , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Can of beans View Post
Hi,
Welcome,

enjoy your new trailer. it's interesting to see our trailer with a queen bed in the back.

Is the head of the bed pulled up right against the divider between the toilet and bedroom? it seems like it ought to have the same black tank layout and water heater location as ours. but in ours one of the twin beds covers the hardware.

Where would you relocate this stuff? Also if you would like to add a lift kit so to fit a gray tank, I have some drawings I can send you. either way getting rid of the thetford valve for a Valterra was a relatively easy change that meant I didn't have to use fragile adapters that broke easily.

I also have the fan cover/light shade you are missing in the front area, I had bought all new ones for our trailer before gutting it and changing to recessed lighting.


I'm not sure if your furnace is original, but the original model was recalled long ago for the crossover tube in the back. If you change out the furnace, keep the lower section of the housing where the duct work is attached and mount the new nt30sp on top of it, then it all lines up like original.

I also have a working oven and refrigerator to match yours if you need some parts.

I've also got a few other drawings for laser parts that I've been working on to upgrade the original vent fans, command center and stereo face plate.

we're trying to keep our trailer somewhat original, but we quickly grew frustrated with most of the older appliances, so now I've replaced them all, so far I haven't been sorry about it either.


sorry to ramble, Have fun with your trailer.
The bed was sorta in the middle of the room with night stands on either side of it, one of which covered the black tank. The head of the bed covered the water heater and all the plumbing. We intend to turn the bed to where the head of it faces the back window and basically build the whole bed and nightstands up to cover everything adding more storage in the process.

I would love to see the lift drawings you have. Honestly this shows how much I know about all of this I just assumed that the trailer had a grey water tank 😂. Would you also please post or send me pictures of the valve your talking about and maybe tell me what the difference is in what I have versus that one?

At some point the furnace was replaced with an auto igniting newer model furnace. Thatís the only thing that Iíve found that has been changed so far. It being recalled makes a lot of sense now. As for the appliances we intend to replace them all with new to prevent future headaches on the road.

We purchased new light covers for all of the factory lights I however need a couple of the knobs for the light switches though.

I am intrigued to know more about what you have going on for the radio/tank info area as mine is trash and am currently wondering what the heck to do with it.

Thanks for all of the info.
Chris R.
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Old 06-21-2020, 08:28 AM   #6
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1973 31' Sovereign
Jasper , Texas
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So it has officially begun!

A couple of days this week Iíve been able to spend some time working on the AS. I was able to get the bedroom stripped down to bare bones. Doing so I have determined two things. 1. Teardown of the room was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. 2. Taking the wall panels loose not so easy! 😅

The rot on the floor in here is honestly not as bad as I thought it would be and upon inspection of the frame itís in almost perfect shape from what I can tell so far. Obviously I will know a little better once I get the floor boards out.

Looks like after getting the rivers drilled on and being able to pry the wall panels back the only spot that looks suspicious is the very obvious holes where the canopy support arm was ripped off the side of the trailer. (Iím in need of the mount and arm is anyone has one they would like to sell). All the places Iíve looked for Olympic rivets are out of stock currently so I guess Iíll have to hold off on fixing it until more supplies start to come back. The mean time Iíll get the flooring out and the frame PORíed.

Here are a few pictures of the bedroom before and after. I tried to show how the water heater and tanks are in correlation to the bed as well.

Chris R.
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Old 06-21-2020, 09:32 AM   #7
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1977 31' Sovereign
Vintage Kin Owner
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Sunset Valley , Texas
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If you are going far enough to have access to both sides seriously consider Buck riveting as opposed to Olympics...

Ian
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Old 06-21-2020, 10:46 AM   #8
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1973 31' Sovereign
Jasper , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iansk View Post
If you are going far enough to have access to both sides seriously consider Buck riveting as opposed to Olympics...

Ian
Only trouble Iím having is the leak is behind a panel I wasnít planning to take out otherwise I would have to remove the whole interior on that side.

I have just started the process of removing the 3 lower panels down by the rotten flooring to ease the replacement of that.
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Old 06-21-2020, 11:34 AM   #9
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1972 31' Sovereign
Silverton , Oregon
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Relevant Posts

Here are some relevant posts


This is where I figured out our black tank was cracked, and that the toilet is supported by the plastic tank and a small piece of plywood. if your toilet flange area isn't cracked, I'd recommend the reinforcement I did in this post. it fits under the cover, and actually supports the toilet.



https://www.airforums.com/forums/f16...ml#post1619310


This is the Thetford Valve that leaked, I broke several adapters before I changed out the valve with Valterra when I replaced the black tank.



https://www.airforums.com/forums/f44...on-124530.html


Also if you plan to use your trailer in rain, you need to either healthily caulk the back bumper tray cover where it meets the skin, or better yet when you replace the rear floor remove a section of the top where it goes under the floor. the bumper cover is there to funnel water into the rear floor plywood and rot it out. It's an Airstream design feature they continued into the 2000's at least.



Here's a picture of the stereo replacement I did.


I put the seelevel there because it's not the most attractive device, and then it can be covered by the sliding tambour. The command center update is not quite ready, I'm waiting for my new gauges to arrive tomorrow to finish it, but mostly it's a new aluminum face plate, where I removed the features I'm not using anymore.

Here's a couple pictures of the lift and gray tank





I also replaced the inner part of my battery box to hold 2 batteries and fit inside the same door. it's in my thread somewhere.

If you want any of these parts , I can send you the dxf files and you can have your local laser cutter make them, no shipping that way.
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Old 06-21-2020, 12:34 PM   #10
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1973 31' Sovereign
Jasper , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2020
Posts: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Can of beans View Post
Here are some relevant posts


This is where I figured out our black tank was cracked, and that the toilet is supported by the plastic tank and a small piece of plywood. if your toilet flange area isn't cracked, I'd recommend the reinforcement I did in this post. it fits under the cover, and actually supports the toilet.



https://www.airforums.com/forums/f16...ml#post1619310


This is the Thetford Valve that leaked, I broke several adapters before I changed out the valve with Valterra when I replaced the black tank.



https://www.airforums.com/forums/f44...on-124530.html


Also if you plan to use your trailer in rain, you need to either healthily caulk the back bumper tray cover where it meets the skin, or better yet when you replace the rear floor remove a section of the top where it goes under the floor. the bumper cover is there to funnel water into the rear floor plywood and rot it out. It's an Airstream design feature they continued into the 2000's at least.



Here's a picture of the stereo replacement I did.


I put the seelevel there because it's not the most attractive device, and then it can be covered by the sliding tambour. The command center update is not quite ready, I'm waiting for my new gauges to arrive tomorrow to finish it, but mostly it's a new aluminum face plate, where I removed the features I'm not using anymore.

Here's a couple pictures of the lift and gray tank





I also replaced the inner part of my battery box to hold 2 batteries and fit inside the same door. it's in my thread somewhere.

If you want any of these parts , I can send you the dxf files and you can have your local laser cutter make them, no shipping that way.
Sounds like I need to start reading your build thread I would imagine it is full of info Iíll need for my renovation.

I really like your upgrade in the radio and seelevel faceplate.

So am I understanding correctly that the black water tank acts as both grey and black water in these trailers?

I will definitely be using the trailer in the rain so I will definitely need to make that fix! So is this likely why my rear floor is rotten or is it a combination of a leak and this issue?

Thanks for all the info
Chris R.
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Old 06-21-2020, 01:58 PM   #11
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1972 31' Sovereign
Silverton , Oregon
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Images: 48
The rear bumper cover is most likely the main reason your rear floor is rotten. The other leaks in our trailer are the original skyliner antenna. The base is made from pot metal, and holds water and rots through. if yours is original the base will have holes in it and be leaking around the shaft. I cleaned mine up and repaired it, but if the dipole links are rotten, they aren't available anymore except from eBay NOS clearance.
The vista view windows leak terribly when not sealed, and depending on which design yours has are a pain to reseal. I did the polyshim route, and still had leaks, in the end I ended up sealing them with DOW 797 it's meant for finish glazing of glass to aluminum outdoors and is easy to tool to look like a nice gasket.


Other leaks in our trailer were from a poor job on a panel replacement in the front long ago maybe during the original owners time. When the inner skins were out you could see daylight in a few spots and it caused leaks around the wing windows. There were a few factory installed leaks, holes drilled in places they couldn't then install rivets" and a couple popped and missing rivets rounded out the main leaks.
The shell is designed to shed water, and the window frames are really well sealed to the shell at the factory, so the leaks are usually something else.

If your trailer is a '73 then it may have a factory gray tank, ours was built in late '72 and didn't. As I understand it sometime in late '73 they added gray tanks. It's easy to tell, if you only have one dump valve then you don't have a gray tank. The sink drains and shower drains run to the tee below the black tank dump valve and just drain into a external gray tank you carry with you. I had a 37 gallon tank I used, these are the "Blue Boys" people reference. The nice thing about the 37 gallon tank was even though it was heavy, I could rest the handle end on my tailgate and then slide it up into the truck bed. then you leave it there and dump it while it's in the bed of your truck, although you might not be able to stand it up in your canopy.


Another thing, you should replace the weather stripping inside your Thetford fresh water fill door, otherwise it does a good job of funneling the dusty dirty water off the skin into your freshwater tank.
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Old 08-23-2020, 08:10 PM   #12
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Itís been a while since Iíve been able to update the progress Iíve made on the AS so I figured Iíd post a couple pictures up.

I have been able to get almost all of the interior out so far, the only things remaining are the fridge and oven thatís mostly because theyíre heavier than I want to try to move by myself. 😅

Getting all of the walls and cabinets out has really made me happy that I decided to gut her and start over. Every time I work on it I find things that were way worse than I figured they would be. Everything from cracked LG fitting to the wheel wells are shot to rotten spots where I never figured to find them.
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Old 08-23-2020, 08:49 PM   #13
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Think positive. Youíve just begun the journey of renovation. A lot would have said forget it and sold it as is. Doing it yourself is rewarding and youíll get exactly what you want. All the knowledge gained during the reno will be very useful in the future. Have fun and good luck.
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