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Old 11-16-2015, 07:21 PM   #1
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1968 22' Safari
Tulsa , Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 80
And so, it begins...

I have been awed, inspired, beguiled and quite a bit frightened by the many threads on the forums that have shown and explained full restorations. My spousal unit’s new unit, a ’68 Safari, represented to be in “great working order”, isn’t. I see a major project on the horizon.

But that’s cool. I spend my days in front of a computer and on the phone with turkeys. Over the years, soon to number 63, I’ve realized that I really like to do things with my hands – opposed thumbs, ya’ know – and I’ve become an obsessive DIYer, developing minor skills in many trades, of which I am modestly proud.

So, the resto begins. For “basic” texts, I’ve acquired a ’68 Owners Manual (“OM”, a quaint little thing, but more helpful than I expected) and Rich Luhr’s “Nearly Complete Guide to Airstream Maintenance”. I will use these to lay out a basic battle plan. At risk of putting the cart before the horse, and hopeful that the horse will be better than I expect, I’ve decided to put off the floor, frame and axle decisions, for now. We towed the beast 400 miles from Gatesville, TX w/o incident, so confidence runs high on those scores.

First: Electric. And I welcome criticisms on that decision. My skin is like that of a pachyderm – 50,000 years ago.

The OM says the converter and distribution panel are located under the toilet. Indeed, the converter (“Univolt III”) is. But no distribution panel. Luhr says that, in “early” models – I don’t know what “early” means – distribution panels were often inside the Univolt. Argh! If I have to build a separate panel from scratch, I may be in over my DIY head.

Where might an honest, well-meaning fella find the distribution panel in a ’68 Safari?

Peace.

Out.

Jay D.
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Old 11-16-2015, 07:44 PM   #2
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1967 22' Safari
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Distribution panel

Jay, My '67 Safari Univolt had no distribution panel in the unit. The battery tray had the circuit ground terminal mounted to the bottom of the rusty (and rotted by battery acid) battery tray. The distribution 12v wiring and the 30 amp fuses were located right beside the battery tray. All the 110 volt ac wiring goes thru the circuit breakers in the rear Service Center behind the hatch above the rear bumper. You can make your own distribution center to create more individual circuits. Do a search here using the search tab on the blue tool bar at the top of each thread page. Use keywords like distribution panels, electrical etc. Also look to the electrical thread listings in the Forums pages under your year and model trailer. You'll be very surprised at the info found here. Good luck, Ed
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Old 11-16-2015, 08:00 PM   #3
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2011 22' Sport
Fredericksburg , Texas
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Jay:

Good luck on the restoration. Please post pictures.
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Old 11-16-2015, 08:01 PM   #4
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2002 30' Classic S/O
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Adding A Distribution Panel Is An Easy Fix.

You can get a variety of distribution panels (fuses vs. circuit breakers, good, better, best, etc.) from marine suppliers such as West Marine and Defender Industries. Combine your favorite mounted in a convenient location with a new 3 or 4 stage converter and you're on the way.

See how many fuses are in your existing unit and get a similar panel.

For more detailed help, many folks give Best Converter a call or e-mail.

BestConverter - Converters, Inverters, Electrical Supplies, Electronics



Al
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Old 11-17-2015, 12:09 PM   #5
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Not sure about the 68 model but the 69 Safari has a fuse (auto fuse style) panel next to the battery. Then there is a main power breaker/switch in the closet by the head and above where the water heater is. Then there is a circuit breaker panel with four standard breakers (20 & 30 amp) which is located in the cubby above the dining table at the front of the trailer (hitch end). The univolt on my trailer is located in the small storage area on the curb side of the trailer and, when it went out and was replaced, I lost about 1/4 of the already small amount of storage in that space to accommodate a new / larger model. The univolt, at least on the 69, appears to be power in and power out and the unit itself is plugged into 120v to run.
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Old 11-17-2015, 06:19 PM   #6
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1968 22' Safari
Shillington , Pennsylvania
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Yo Jay D,my wife and I have owned a 1968, 22 ft Safari for nearly 18 years and have done a lot of maintenance work to keep it original but modern.
To answer your main questions, we have a 120 volt distribution panel under the sink in the bathroom, with 4 circuits, 3, 20amps and one 30amps. Our 12 volt panel is over the frig behind the "control panel"
I have installed a new "smart converter" and a glass mat battery, lots of new lighting, mostly LEDs and a air conditioner/heat pump with no problems.
Just set small goals and keep plugging away. Call me and i will give you as much help as I can. I hate typing. Jim hicks, 610-777-4355
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Old 11-17-2015, 06:49 PM   #7
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1968 22' Safari
Smith Mountain Lake , Virginia
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68 Safari

welcome to vintage ownership Jay D.
We have owned a 68 Safari International for five years. You don't say why you are starting with electric, but unless there is a problem beyond replacing old inverters, (ours buzzed so loud you couldn't sleep!) I would prioritize safety in running gear first and then other major systems. We did the axle, wheels and brakes first. With only one axle if it is original you have no flex left in the torsion rubber. I towed ours home 700 miles with no brakes or safety chains and wonder now how we made it without incident.

Check your plumbing next. We found patches made with radiator hose and clamps in places I couldn't imagine getting to. Have since put in PEX.

BTW our inverter and fuse panel is under the bathroom sink. Good luck.

Jim P.
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Old 11-17-2015, 08:35 PM   #8
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1970 23' Safari
Victoria , British Columbia
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Im 100% with escapepod ... we towed our 1970 23 safari home 400miles no problems... but upon further research realized the axles were done. You can tow an Airstream with done axles a long way i think. Im very aware of the fact I only have 1axle and if a wheel/tire? should go at hi way speeds it could get ugly!! This year I replaced what looked to be excellent tires with much better ones. To me your towing/running systems need to be #1 ......then go for whatever works for you. Enjoy .....its worth it in the end.
For me though plumbing/tanks would be next ....
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Old 11-18-2015, 06:12 AM   #9
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1968 22' Safari
Tulsa , Oklahoma
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All great responses. Thanks so much. Keep 'em coming, though I will hold my applause until the end.
Jim, have you and your spousal unit succeeded in getting that "control panel" - a cool thing - working? If that's a lost cause, I'll replace it with something else - perhaps a swing-out flat screen.
The running gear suggestions are particularly well taken. That lingering thought has haunted my "electric- first" decision from the beginning. That was based on my assumption that everything I do on this AS will require electric hand tools and what better place to plug them in than the AS itself? I'll nee a working electrical system for that.
I'll contact Colin and see about a new axle. On that subject, I have seen many threads and comments to the effect that while replacing an axle appears quite daunting, it's really not. Any thoughts there?

Thanks again

Jay D
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Old 11-18-2015, 08:52 AM   #10
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1968 17' Caravel
2005 30' Safari
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Hi Jay

You've got a big learning curve ahead but with patience I'm sure you can handle fixing up your '68 Safari.

Thanks for buying my book. I'm sure it will help educate you, but I feel obliged to point out that it's a guide to routine maintenance & minor repairs, not a repair or restoration manual. (That's a whole 'nother project for me!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by splyb View Post
Luhr says that, in “early” models – I don’t know what “early” means – distribution panels were often inside the Univolt
Hmmm... my book doesn't say that. Maybe you are quoting someone else?

In the '60s models the DC "distribution panel" may be no more than some wiring in a box, without individual 12 volt fuses. So you may have already seen it and not realized it.

In my '68 Caravel I felt this was inadequate so we bought a simple 12 volt panel with lighted switches and fuses for each circuit. Re-wiring to use such a panel is not difficult if you have the basic skills and tools to cut & strip wires, and an understanding of 12 volt power.

If you are going to use the Safari in between sessions of upgrading, then you'll probably want to address the systems in order of priority to you. In other words, if the electric is unsafe or doesn't work, fix that first. If the plumbing leaks, definitely make that a priority before it causes other damage.

But if you really want to do it all and be efficient, do an overall evaluation of the trailer before you start. You can waste a lot of time patching problems only to find that you have to do things twice because (for example) the floor or frame need work and everything has to come out again.

If you are going to eventually need to repair electrical and plumbing and do some cabinetry work, or re-floor, save yourself a lot of time and just pull out the interior (very easy to do on this vintage) and start with a clear working space.

Good luck!
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Old 11-18-2015, 11:29 AM   #11
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1967 17' Caravel
Cadillac , Michigan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splyb View Post
All great responses. Thanks so much. Keep 'em coming, though I will hold my applause until the end.
Jim, have you and your spousal unit succeeded in getting that "control panel" - a cool thing - working? If that's a lost cause, I'll replace it with something else - perhaps a swing-out flat screen.
The running gear suggestions are particularly well taken. That lingering thought has haunted my "electric- first" decision from the beginning. That was based on my assumption that everything I do on this AS will require electric hand tools and what better place to plug them in than the AS itself? I'll nee a working electrical system for that.
I'll contact Colin and see about a new axle. On that subject, I have seen many threads and comments to the effect that while replacing an axle appears quite daunting, it's really not. Any thoughts there?

Thanks again

Jay D
Axle replacement was a lot scarier to read about than it was to do. A girlfriend and I did mine on a 67 caravel in an afternoon.
Its just heavy and unwieldy.
Good luck with your project!
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Old 11-20-2015, 09:01 AM   #12
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1968 22' Safari
Shillington , Pennsylvania
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So it begins

DJ, I wish I could figure out how to send pictures of my 1968, 22 ft. Safari and its " really cool" control panel. If you will email me (address below) I wil send them back in a return email. I am only the second owner of my Safari. The invoice that came with it said that it had several upgrades as I recal, such as the elaborate control panel and an air conditioner. My 120 volt distribution panel which is under the bathroom sink, mounted on the inside of the back wall has four circuit breakers just like home units. There are 2, 20 amp breakers for circuits in the front and the curb side of the trailer. One 30amp breaker for the kitchen and one 40 amp breaker dedicated to the air conditioner. All the wiring is aluminum, which has worked fine for nearly 50 years, though I check and tighten the connections at all outlets and breakers as part of my spring checkup.
All of the 12 volt distribution is done in a box behind the control panel. There is a cam lock along the left edge of the control panel that allows the panel to swing out revealing a 12volt bus bar with 4 12 volt circuit breakers, on for each of 4 zones of lighting and other 12 volt items like the furnace and ceiling fans.
My control panel is an elaborate affair with night light, clock, ammeter, battery condition gauge, fluid level lights for the water tank and the holding tank, water pump switch and light, an old fashioned two pole tv antenna and 12v cigarette lighter, and finally a 120 volt grounded plug. If you have this you don't want to do away with it.
I would like to see some pictures of your Safari, send them to me at
Hicks.jandj@gmail.com and I will return some pics of my safari so you can see where you are going.
Jim and spousal unit Jan
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Old 11-20-2015, 12:49 PM   #13
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1968 22' Safari
Tulsa , Oklahoma
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I am honored by these responses.

Rich, I'm sorry I misquoted your book. BTW, I am aware that it's a maintenance guide but it has been very helpful in looking forward to a point when our renovation/restoration is finished and we need to switch to "maintain" mode.

We have gradually been coming to the conclusion that we should remove the interior and decide from that point what we need to do (and, outside, replace the axle), so that suggestion is particularly well taken.

Jim and SU-Jan, I'm going to try and attach a pic of the control panel. My SU REALLY wants to get that operational! Looking at the original invoice (we found it in a well-weathered three-ring binder), which looks a lot like a modern automotive window-sticker, and it shows a charge of $112 for the "Convenience Group", including a "Deluxe Control Panel".

In weighing which system to attack first, I still lean toward the electrical system. It seems that approaching the others will depend largely on having a functional electric. For instance, would it no be helpful, in evaluating the plumbing, to have a functioning water pump? Won't that depend on having functional electricity?

Which is a nice segue into this: I want to have as much flexibility and "add-on" electric as possible. Like Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor, MORE POWER!!! ARGH!!

So, I'm inclined to get a 50 Amp Boondocker. But I have no immediate plans to upgrade the outlet in our house nearest the AS, which is, currently, only 20 amps. Any problem with that?

Keep 'em coming, friends. Some day, I'll figure a way to repay your kindness.

Jay Dunham (and his SU, Lisa)
/Users/jaydunham/Desktop/C Panel.JPG
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Old 11-20-2015, 02:02 PM   #14
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Replacing electrical box??

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/...ox-134739.html
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Old 11-20-2015, 03:14 PM   #15
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1962 22' Safari
Saint Petersburg , Florida
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Get a Progressive Dynamics power panel and be done with it. They are very simple and all in one! I just installed a 4045 in my 22' Safari.

You really should consider starting from the floor. Replace the floor, belly pan, and axle to start. That's how I did mine and so glad I did. I actually refused it at first but so happy I did.
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:27 AM   #16
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1967 22' Safari
West Fork , Arkansas
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Welcome Jay +Lisa! We are well into adaptive reuse of our '67 Safari and are a bit over an hour east of Tulsa in case you want to see what we have done and are still doing.
You are right to remove the interior, including interior skin, to see what is really needed. Since original wiring was all aluminum and a PO had tied various copper wiring into it, often incorrectly, we started over with both AC & DC. For AC distribution check out the small 5 circuit box available from Vintage Trailer Supply.
We had planned to have the axle replaced by an auto shop but ended up doing it ourselves, acquiring a floor jack for the operation.
Take a bunch of pictures along the way and share them on Air Forums.
Jim & Jane
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:54 AM   #17
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1968 17' Caravel
2005 30' Safari
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splyb View Post
It seems that approaching the others will depend largely on having a functional electric. For instance, would it no be helpful, in evaluating the plumbing, to have a functioning water pump? Won't that depend on having functional electricity?
Well, not really. To take your example, the pump works off the 12 volt DC system so you can evaluate it with battery power alone. The AC system has nothing to do with it. And you can test it for water leaks in the plumbing simply by connecting the trailer to a garden hose, so you don't need the pump at all.

Most of the time when working on the trailer you'll be using outside electrical power (an extension cord) rather than plugging tools into the trailer outlets. It's a wiser course when you are doing a major renovation and don't know the status of the AC power system.

You won't really know the state of the electrical system until you remove all the interior walls and examine the wiring for burns, chafing, loose connections, etc. At that point you've gutted the interior anyway.

It's a rare vintage trailer that doesn't have hidden electrical problems, so be prepared for that moment when you think, "Oh my god we could have been electrocuted! Good thing we opened this up to inspect!" I'm not trying to be alarmist, but I've seen a lot of renovation projects and a lot of scary electrical problems inside the walls. Just ask Colin Hyde or anyone else who does such work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by splyb View Post
...I'm inclined to get a 50 Amp Boondocker. But I have no immediate plans to upgrade the outlet in our house nearest the AS, which is, currently, only 20 amps. Any problem with that?
No problem, because the "50 amp" charger is referring to 50 amps DC, which is only 600 watts or 5 amps AC. Your household 20 amp AC outlet can easily handle that.

Keep in mind that the converter/charger doesn't have anything to do with the amount of AC power available inside the trailer at the outlets or for the air conditioner, microwave, etc. It's only charging the battery and supplying DC power to fans, lights, water pump, stereo, furnace and other low-wattage appliances. (See the Newbies Guide for a detailed list.) So a big converter/charger is probably overkill unless you intend to double up the battery bank.
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Old 11-24-2015, 09:30 PM   #18
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1968 22' Safari
Tulsa , Oklahoma
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Thanks for the invite, Jim (and SU Jane) - or, "Thank you Jane (and SU Jim)" - as the case may be. I'd seen your avatar and the way cool setup you have to house, maintain and renew your AS. I'm jealous, and I've never even been there. We will certainly accept your invite. Maybe our first trip out, a sort of "shakedown cruise" after we get far enough along to take our show on the road.

Which ("on the road") provides an excellent segue into Rich's post - it taught me an incredible amount - but, that aside, the link to his blog may be one of the best I've seen in all the forums. Everyone who hasn't checked it out should check it out (repeated here: http://maze.airstreamlife.com. Go there. The Oracle. The fount of all AS knowledge.

My SU is on board with removing contents, furnishings, appliances, etc., but balks significantly at stripping the interior skin. She thinks that will take us beyond our DIY skills and require 3rd party services (ch-ching!!!). We'll see. Another thing to learn.

When we got it, there was no battery. Still none, as winter is upon us and it seems one of the principles of "winterizing" is to remove the battery, there seems little sense in adding it now, as I'll just have to remove it in a week or two.

The good news is that I plugged it in and roamed about with a circuit tester. When plugged in, all 110 outlets have power. All light fixtures have power. The furnace hums, but does nothing as we have no propane. Water pump comes on - wait, isn't that powered by 12VDC? As we have no battery, why would that come on when plugged into 110VAC? Rich, master of all things AS?

I discovered that at least one of our windows (which were framed with painter's paint by the PO to prevent leaks, on the exterior) is definitely leaking, so we need to ID the proper gasket/sealant and address that right now. We'll need to determine whether they are frameless or not, apparently, so when my clients - each of whom I love dearly - give me a break, I'm going to figure all that out and reseal the windows. Thanksgiving project.

Thanks again, All. Keep 'em coming.

Jay and Lisa
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Old 11-25-2015, 09:30 AM   #19
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1967 22' Safari
West Fork , Arkansas
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Jay,
We thought we didn't want to remove interior skin as well but that's where the aluminum wiring is hiding. You may also find very little insulation remaining. If you decide to leave most of the aluminum wiring I have some copper to aluminum connectors that were not used.
Operable windows need very little sealant and only at two spots. Use the right gasket, available from VTS and elsewhere.
I'll check out Rich's blog.
Jim
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Old 11-25-2015, 02:11 PM   #20
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1968 22' Safari
Smith Mountain Lake , Virginia
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Jay,
We managed to clean up the Control Panel outside as well as check all connections on the inside. Replaced the outlet, disconnected the polarity light (it was causing a ground fault leak). The ammeter works for battery level, but the tank status sensors were not connected. There is only a black tank and you can look at level through the toilet with a flashlight.

We wanted to put a flat screen in so I replaced the 1/4 inch end panel for the galley with 3/4 inch walnut ply to beef it up. We replaced the old refrigerator with a new gas/electric Dometic and lost about 30 pounds that made the heavier plywood panel possible without adding more weight. Oh and I also disconnected the old tv antenna and ran coax cable to a connector block on the outside behind the refrigerator and into a cable outlet on the new 3/4 inch plywood panel. Will attempt a picture or two.
Jim P.
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