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Old 06-26-2014, 10:06 AM   #1
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1972 31' Sovereign
Valparaiso , Indiana
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 87
"Paulie" getting a makeover. 1972

Here's the start of our AS story.
This has been a dream of mine for some time.
My wife Molly and i have been married for 23 years and have been camping ever since we dated. First tent camping at San Onofre state beach to warren dunes state park and everywhere in between. We graduated to a Viking popup in 2000 and are now embarking on a bucket list dream.
We have 5 kids and my youngest daughter Grace has been searching for the right trailer to start for me and we finally picked "Paulie" up on Tuesday.

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Grace and Tim with Paulie hooked up and ready to drive to Valparaiso.

We agreed to name her Paulie in honor of the seller searching for someone to fulfill her dream of rehabbing over selling it to someone just interested in scrapping her. We will restore her to glory. We traded our Viking with the seller so she can enjoy our little baby with her small children.

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Saying good by to the Viking.

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Seller with her dad and one of her children.

We got her home after an eventful trip on I-80 when the rear end dropped and I had to do some emergency removal so we could keep going. That was scary with trucks barreling by.

Paulie has been gutted and I'm excited to get started with the makeover. Just not sure where to start. Here are some more photos of her present condition. Click image for larger version

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Looking to the AS community to guide us through this adventure.

We are ready "to place the great wide world at your doorstep for you who yearn to travel with all the comforts of home". Wally


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Old 06-26-2014, 12:02 PM   #2
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1964 17' Bambi II
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Schererville , Indiana
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If your rear end dropped, you have rear end separation. Lot's of AS's have this issue due to water entering the rear seam between the bumper & shell of the trailer. Obviously, your rear floor is shot. If you're planning to do a shell-off restoration, there are several approaches to taking off the shell. We hung ours from a tree, some people build a gantry, while others brace the interior & jack it off the chassis. Lots of info on that here. You'll probably want to order a new axle from Colin Hyde in Peru, NY. He orders them & has them shipped directly to you. You can go pick them up in Elkhart, IN (which is what I did) to save you $ on shipping. And, while you're out there, you go shopping at the RV surplus stores for LOTS of the stuff you need for your rehab Another thing you may want to consider while you're planning your options is to install grey tanks in the frame of the trailer. Airstream didn't put them in until 1974. An online supplier for much of your needs is Vintage Trailer Supply. They have tons of stuff and are very good with customer service. I ordered my gray tanks from them, as well as a LOT of other things.
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Old 06-26-2014, 12:31 PM   #3
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Welcome!

You get the "lucky dog of the day" award. Why? You're in Indiana and close to the axle manufacturer AND the world's epicenter of RV Construction (Elkhart). Airstreams are built only slightly farther afield... in Jackson Center Ohio - NW of Columbus.

You have a big job ahead of you but much help is close at hand. Lots of owners who are also restorers (One option - Kill the fatted calf, but a keg of decent beer, and invite them over for a maintenance rally at your place!) Airstreamers like to help each other, and a good cookout is a temptation that is rarely missed.

All hail - another A/S saved from the recycler!

Paula
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Old 06-26-2014, 04:21 PM   #4
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Originally Posted by Swahealy View Post
We got her home after an eventful trip on I-80 when the rear end dropped and I had to do some emergency removal so we could keep going. That was scary with trucks barreling by.
Boy, does that bring back memories. I take it that part of the rear belly pan came loose and you had to remove the rest of it? We kinds had that happen, but the entire rear belly pan section came off completely and we never knew it until we saw the shore power cord dragging behind the trailer.

Can't wait to see what you do with Paulie!

Look for a PM or email from me to answer your email.

Chris
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Old 06-26-2014, 05:10 PM   #5
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1981 31' Excella II
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I would pull the belly skins and that will give you a better picture of what made the rear end drop. The floor in the back looks intact but it is so dirty it is really hard to tell. I would not go out and buy $1500 worth of axles till you are sure you will finish the thing. That money could be much better spent right now. You probably don't want to polish it yet either. I would concentrate on evaluating the structure and then start fixing leaks once the structural issues are fixed. When you get the leaks fixed and major structural repairs made then start remodeling. You don't need to get new axles right away. It needs new everything and axles are low down on the list but they are on the list. There are those that think that new laminate flooring, polishing the outside and new axles will cure everything.

Perry
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Old 06-26-2014, 05:58 PM   #6
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That's what you call a "polished turd". Look up Vintage Airstream Podcast (theVAP). They have a show every other week that addresses many topics. You should make a list of priorities once you know what type of restoration you want to do....and a hefty bank account to back it up! Lol!


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Old 06-26-2014, 06:22 PM   #7
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1972 31' Sovereign
Valparaiso , Indiana
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Thanks for all your replies. Don't want to sound too ignorant but when you say "my rear end dropped" does that refer to the approx.
3'x 4' box that holds the white plastic box that I assume was the fresh water tank? If that's it then, you bet....my rear end dropped. It was rusted all to heck anyway.

I plan to take up the floor and repair and rust proof the frame and then take off the inner skin and remove all the insulation.
I take it that it's best to save the inner skin and then either paint it or cover it with something nicer looking?

I really want a rear bedroom that would fit a double or queen bed. Lots of time to figure that out.....gotta stay focused on repairs and leak proofing her.

I can't believe how excited I am. Crazy. I must be deranged.
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Old 06-26-2014, 06:26 PM   #8
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1972 31' Sovereign
Valparaiso , Indiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minno View Post
Boy, does that bring back memories. I take it that part of the rear belly pan came loose and you had to remove the rest of it? We kinds had that happen, but the entire rear belly pan section came off completely and we never knew it until we saw the shore power cord dragging behind the trailer.

Can't wait to see what you do with Paulie!

Look for a PM or email from me to answer your email.

Chris

That must have been the shore power cord I had to cut. Lucky I brought my tool box. I'll look for your message. Thanks.
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Old 06-26-2014, 06:33 PM   #9
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Sounds like a holding tank dropped. Rear end separation is the shell and frame separating from each other. If you jump on the bumper and it moves relative to the shell then you have separation.

Perry
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Old 06-26-2014, 06:42 PM   #10
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Ok then my rear end didn't drop. Just the holding tank. When I did jump on the rear bumper it seemed pretty solid. Whole thing moved together. I guess that's good.
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Old 06-26-2014, 06:53 PM   #11
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1976 25' Tradewind
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"Paulie" getting a makeover.

Hey there, congrats on the new to you airstream! Our family is also in the midst of a renovation. We thought all our trailer needed was some new floors over the plywood, some new curtains, and a little elbow grease! WRONG! We were the classic buyers without a clue, b I hope to redeem myself with enough blood, sweat, and tears lol. It's actually fun don't get me wrong.

Our rear floor looked a lot like yours. Once I got the floor up I found a heavily rusted frame. Our frame is off to the welder to be used as a copy for a totally new one tomorrow actually . I took some pictures of the gutting process, the gantry build, and the lifting of the body from the frame on our topic.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=118881

While I hope that your situation isn't as serious... Or unexpected lol... As ours I hope that we can help you however we can. I will follow your progress

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Old 06-26-2014, 09:20 PM   #12
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The white plastic tank at the rear of your trailer was the black tank. The fresh water tank is located under the floor in front of the axles. I believe you can buy an exact replacement black tank, but if you're going to move the bathroom, you will probably end up needed a different sized tank anyway.

Chris
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Old 06-27-2014, 08:45 AM   #13
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1972 31' Sovereign
Valparaiso , Indiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millertimeUS View Post
Hey there, congrats on the new to you airstream! Our family is also in the midst of a renovation. We thought all our trailer needed was some new floors over the plywood, some new curtains, and a little elbow grease! WRONG! We were the classic buyers without a clue, b I hope to redeem myself with enough blood, sweat, and tears lol. It's actually fun don't get me wrong.

Our rear floor looked a lot like yours. Once I got the floor up I found a heavily rusted frame. Our frame is off to the welder to be used as a copy for a totally new one tomorrow actually . I took some pictures of the gutting process, the gantry build, and the lifting of the body from the frame on our topic.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=118881

While I hope that your situation isn't as serious... Or unexpected lol... As ours I hope that we can help you however we can. I will follow your progress

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It will be fun to track your progress I'll definitely post pictures and share ideas. Best to you.
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Old 06-27-2014, 04:14 PM   #14
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Welcome aboard. By the time its all over, you will probably have more than a few good stories to tell. All good advice so far. If I can add, I would start coming up with some sort of master plan and a budget if possible. Focus on what you want the trailer to be, how many people it will hold and how much time and money you want to put into it.

If you need to replace appliances try and go used if you want to save some money. You can start looking now and when they pop up on the local CL be prepared to jump. We picked up a never installed used Dometic rooftop ac for 400 and a less used dometic fridge for 325 for out 73 Overlander.

Also budget for axles and tires, you will need both. Sure you don't need to buy them right now, but you will sooner or later. Again, keep an eye out on the local CL or the airstream classifieds section, I picked up a set of nice aluminum wheels and some good tires to replace my steel wheels and Chinese tires for a very good price from a guy about 4 hours north. And I sold the set that was on the trailer for about 25 a tire to another member, so somebody else got a good deal too.

In some ways a gutted trailer maybe an easier job since you get to start from scratch and design it your own way. Just keep in mind that there are no square corners and everything will need to be scribed to fit. Go with 1/2" plywood for bulkheads and cabinets if possible, its strong enough to do the job but not nearly as heavy as 3/4". You do want to keep the weight down as much as possible. Any questions, just ask,somebody will probably have the answer you're looking for.

Good luck with Paule...
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Old 06-27-2014, 10:09 PM   #15
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Thanks for all the suggestions. You're right I do want to keep the weight down I was wondering if anyone knows any alternatives to plywood for bulkheads and cabinetry. (I.e. Plastic or other alternative materials.
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:17 PM   #16
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Thanks for all the suggestions. You're right I do want to keep the weight down I was wondering if anyone knows any alternatives to plywood for bulkheads and cabinetry. (I.e. Plastic or other alternative materials.
Look At Smokeless Joe's "contemporizing" thread (google it under our search function) - He used IKEA cabinets and modified them to greatly reduce the weight. (one trick is he bored holes in the drawer bottoms turning them into a grid; then inserted aluminum sheets over the grid.) His Argosy was in good shape to start... but you gotta see how innovative his reno was.

Paula

(Oh, and this wild excitement that newbies feel is called "Aluminitis" and it's generally incurable, though the symptoms ease with time.)
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Old 06-28-2014, 10:47 AM   #17
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We used basswood for hidden framing, and 1/2 inch plywood where we had to. Chris cut big holes in some of the plywood where things wouldn't show to reduce weight. Our walls are built of 1/4 inch plywood with basswood framing inside so they are essentially hollow. Wood varies in weight greatly. Birch is a lightweight and light colored wood many use for cabinets. It always looks nice. We went with red alder because it looks like new cherry but is half the weight. Boards are cheap, plywood not so much. We think it's worth the expense and we could get it easily at a local lumber yard. Some have built cabinetry out of aluminum: very light weight and looks nice also. There are many options!

Kay
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:07 PM   #18
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Millertime
Just wanted you to know I read your entire thread last night and you inspired me. Today I started! If ever there was someone that shouldn't attempt a project like this it is me. I'm not what you'd call mechanically gifted. But I'm determined. All the encouragement you've received made believe I can do it too.

I'll send pictures tomorrow. I'm worried my frame is rotten. We'll soon see.




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Old 07-12-2014, 10:02 PM   #19
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I have all the rivets off. Can someone please tell me how he interior skin comes off from the metal grooves that run along the ceiling.

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How do you remove the metal trim around these windows?

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And around the door?

Last question. To remove belly pan does this bracket need to be removed?

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I've got most everything gutted. Just need to get the interior skins off and the belly then I can take up subfloor to inspect frame. Click image for larger version

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Thanks

Tim.


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Old 07-13-2014, 09:16 AM   #20
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I have all the rivets off. Can someone please tell me how he interior skin comes off from the metal grooves that run along the ceiling.
The center ceiling panel needs to come out first. Remove all the trim from around the roof vents and light fixture if you haven't already, and then starting at one end, pull the center of the ceiling panel down to release it from the two side rails. Once you get it started, it'll come down pretty easy. It's a bear to get back in place - just warning you for a future experience.

With the center ceiling panel down, you'll see those side brackets are riveted to the ribs. Drill the rivets out, and the brackets and top of the inner skins will be free.


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Originally Posted by Swahealy View Post
How do you remove the metal trim around these windows?
Drill out the pop rivets. Then they just pull free.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Swahealy View Post
And around the door?
The trim is a T shape. The leg of the T is held in place with clips that go into a groove in the door fame. Carefully pry it out with a stiff putty knife and small pry bar. Save the clips - you can't get replacements as far as I know.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Swahealy View Post
Last question. To remove belly pan does this bracket need to be removed?
That bracket holds the 1 1/4" thick sheet of plywood that holds up your fresh water tank. Yes, it needs to come off to entirely remove the belly pan.

Drain the fresh water tank.
Disconnect all plumbing from it inside the trailer.
Remove the front bracket.
Slide the plywood panel out towards the front of the trailer. Be prepared to support the fresh water tank. It's not heavy, but it'll fall out once the plywood is pulled free.
Depending on the length of the trailer, you probably need to remove the front stabilizer jacks to remove the plywood. But, you need them off anyway to replace the belly pan. The plywood panel is probably stuck in place. Ours came out fairly easy, but others have had major problems getting it free.
Remove the rest of the bracket.

Chris
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