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Old 01-11-2007, 11:38 PM   #1
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1971 31' Sovereign
Cleveland , Tennessee
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Total Redo 1971 31ft

Hello, to everyone I have been lingering here for a while and figured it was time to start a thread. I purchased my first airstream a month or so ago a 1971 Sovereign. All the interior was there but in sad shape so I am going to redo it however I like. I do car restoration and customs for a living so am not new to all this but to but this is my first camper.

I have already got it gutted mainly interior wise. just lack the toilet and one side of the interior wall. I know I am going to have to do some frame work because of rust but that is the easy part to me.

I will end up living in this trailer while for a year or two, first while I build me a new shop and then a house. So it is going to have to be functional but I still need it to be set up so later it can be used for boondocking.

If anyone needs any info on how wires run, or how things came apart please ask now while I still remeber. I will be glad to help anyway I can because I am sure I will have questions shortly.

I know everyone like pictures so I will put a few here. The mildew inside the trailer is bad I am glad it is all gone now.
The rust that was visible in frame like in the back had me pretty concerned when I was buying it but after getting the belly skins off one side it is really not bad at all. Just have to wait and see about the other side.






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Old 01-11-2007, 11:47 PM   #2
Van
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1977 23' Safari
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Welcome to the forums and good luck on your restoration.
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Old 01-12-2007, 03:42 AM   #3
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1977 31' Sovereign
Riverhead , New York
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Hi, welcome to the forums.

I'm almost finished with my restoration of the same unit.

How is the insulation under the floor?

Are you removing the interior skins?
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Old 01-12-2007, 07:42 AM   #4
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excellent! Please post lots of photos and as many technical details as you can.

I'll be getting back to remodeling my '75 Sovereign in March--I'm heading out to a job in California today for a couple of months. I did get all the new [rear] bedroom panels back in the trailer yesterday, but they are not installed, so what's a schedule for except to slip?

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Old 01-12-2007, 07:48 AM   #5
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1975 31' Sovereign
Oxford , Mississippi
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Welcome to the forum, the guy above Zep is great for ideas and help. We have a 75 and very lucky for it was in great shape when we got it except for some cosmetic work.
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Old 01-12-2007, 08:17 AM   #6
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1997 34' Limited
Young Harris , Georgia
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Have fun with Project!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smuzz
Hello, to everyone I have been lingering here for a while and figured it was time to start a thread. I purchased my first airstream a month or so ago a 1971 Sovereign. All the interior was there but in sad shape so I am going to redo it however I like. I do car restoration and customs for a living so am not new to all this but to but this is my first camper.
...
I know I am going to have to do some frame work because of rust but that is the easy part to me.
...
If anyone needs any info on how wires run, or how things came apart please ask now while I still remeber. I will be glad to help anyway I can because I am sure I will have questions shortly.
...
Unfair, unfair, unfair. I don't know what I'm doing, so it is all a challenge and guessing. I bought a '73 31' Sovereign and it is a project. I do have the owner's manual and a copy of the service manual, which has been helpful. If you don't have those publications, and think copies of parts of mine might help, please let me know.

I hope you have fun working on your project. Since you already have experience with most of what you need to do, you can enjoy working on something for you to keep and use. That is, if this is a keeper for you (as opposed to flipping). My wife is glad to be in our new home in Georgia because she can paint and decorate for _US_ rather than the new buyer (in our at-the-time for sale home in Illinois).

BTW, welcome. I know you'll enjoy the Forums, and hope you'll share freely with us as you work through your rebuilding.

Also, there has been a lot of discussion about the difference between restoration and rebuilding. Purists often want the factory setup and equipment restored, while many others feel that the EXTERIOR is what should be restored, while the INTERIOR should be upgraded to take advantage of technology/modern conveniences. Personally, I like making the interior as usable and comfortable as possible, since that is your home away from home (or in lieue of home in your case). I would like to know your thoughts/plans on this point since I plan on changing my interior.
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Old 01-12-2007, 08:25 AM   #7
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Lorain County , Ohio
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smuzz
...I will end up living in this trailer while for a year or two, first while I build me a new shop and then a house....
Glad to see that you have your priorities in order

Welcome to the forums!

Steve
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Old 01-12-2007, 08:36 AM   #8
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Greetings Smuzz,

When I bought on impulse the bottom pan looked like the picture you posted.
The edge trim and bottom aluminum were over the side aluminum. Of course the water leaks down the side into the bottom to soak the insulation which combined with the rodent excretia creates a nasty pool of water for the frame to steep in. The frame was weakened.
The corroded aluminum of the bottom pan indicates a long term exposure.
The frame design was marginal to begin with as the empty weight and structural frame dimensions indicate. There was a gas crisis back then.
That said, the Airstream is a great shelter, a beautiful design, a marvelous trailer.
We use ours and enjoy it. Hope you do too. Love the pictures.
Please remember, we all have challenges that can get easier when you share them with others.
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Old 01-12-2007, 10:42 AM   #9
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1970 31' Sovereign
Currently Looking...
Rogue River , Oregon
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Good to see another in about the same shape as mine. I am doing a 1970 31' now. Going to paint the back half of the frame today. Then install new black and grey tanks in frame right behind the rear axle. For some reason I sometimes do not see pics but your 3 were good to see. Thanks Dave and Welcome.
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Old 01-12-2007, 11:58 AM   #10
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1971 31' Sovereign
Cleveland , Tennessee
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Thanks for all the kind words.

To answer some questions
Lipets
The insulation under the floor is not that bad I luck up compared to others it seems like here, my belly skin except in the very front and rear goes under the upper panels. I am replacing it all floor insulation everything. Yes I am taking down the interior walls. I actually already have one side of the interior walls down.

Zep
There is no expected schedule I have to deal with nagging people everday at work wanting to know why this stuff takes so long. Just the way my schedule works out I will make a huge amount of progress for a day or two then not touch it for a week. Just depend on how much work I have goin on.

Phil and Sue
Yes it is very nice to do what you please some of my customers give me alot of freedom but others none. No this is not a flip I will live in this trailer and then use if for camping.

I also know exactly what you are talking about on leave origanal or custom mine will be custom I purposly looked for a unit that had a poor Interior because I wanted to do this. It was beyond cost effective repair.

I am going to try for a rear bed, center bath. With some sort of couch arangement up front that feels like a real couch not a church pew with a pad on it.
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Old 01-13-2007, 07:28 PM   #11
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1971 31' Sovereign
Cleveland , Tennessee
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Ok I have my first techincal question for you, I couldn't think of the right place to put it so will give it a try here.

Can you get on the roof of the trailer with all of the interior skins off. How much support do they really add. I have got up on top twice before but the trailer still had everything in it. The end caps are the only thing on the interior. I don't weigh much like 135 lbs or so. If I need too I can use a front end loader bucket to work out of.
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Old 01-13-2007, 08:20 PM   #12
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Woodstock , Georgia
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The frame should support you if your weight is on that. Put a piece of plywood over a mat or some non skid substance that won't scratch up the roof and stand on it, while it is supported by the frame.
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:58 PM   #13
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actually, across two frame members. you can find them by the vertical line of rivets (which you must know since you've got the inside skin off).

On the other hand, my preferred method of working on the roof is to make a scaffold using two ladders and a 2x10 across, but not touching, the roof. The ladders can lean against the sides, since the inward pressure is small (I still put some padding between them and the skin).

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Old 01-15-2007, 10:10 PM   #14
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1971 31' Sovereign
Cleveland , Tennessee
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Thanks for the info, I was planning on tommorrow getting a whole day of work in but I won an item on ebay and have to go and get it. I am sure it will get used greatly on the airstream redo so it is progress.
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