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Old 05-15-2020, 07:56 AM   #201
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Hi David! I’ve been focused on wrapping up my Tradewind and not on the forums much. Opened your thread this morning and BAM! Looks like you’ve accomplished a year of work in a month or so. Everything looks great. And yah, plumbing is for the birds.
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Old 05-15-2020, 06:39 PM   #202
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Thanks guys for following along. Actually, it takes me a year of work to accomplish what others do in a month. I am retired and I am locked up, so what else do I have to do? I'd rather do plumbing than have Covid19.

David
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Old 05-15-2020, 06:51 PM   #203
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Subfloor Insulation

We have the galley cabinets nearly done. The fridge cabinet is done, the sink cabinet is wanting a bulkhead wall stained and it will be done.

So I moved under the trailer to get out of my friends way. I started measuring and cutting rigid foam insulation and attaching it to the subfloor. The 76 model year trailers have a different frame with additional steel for additional subfloor support. The subfloor is flimsy 1/2" plywood. Not the greatest of Airstream ideas. We feel like most folks on these Forums that fiberglass insulation that holds water isn't the way to go. The rigid foam doesn't hold water. And we have about a 1" air gap between the foam and the subfloor due to these additional floor supports, which should allow the subfloor to dry out if it gets wet. The insulation is R13 2" foam. This will be adequate for my friend's intended use of this vintage Airstream.

We plan on installing the belly pan aluminum and new axles next week. Then we have to plumb the propane lines and test appliances. As my friend said, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting a bit brighter.

David
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:47 AM   #204
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Insulation looks good

David, Nice work on the insulation.
Couple questions
Is the insulation attached to the floor, or to the cross-member? I read that there was an air gap between the floor and the insulation, so I am just curious.
Did you apply the same insulation around the black and gray tanks?

Thanks
Mike
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:26 PM   #205
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Hi Bauxter: The rigid foam insulation is attached to the subfloor using construction screws and large plastic washers being very careful not to penetrate the 1/2" subfloor. The air gap happened naturally as the 76 trailers have two additional lengthwise 1x2 steel frame members to add support for the too thin subfloor. So I pressed the foam insulation up against these floor supports and held it in position. I also taped the seams. I don't know how long Airstream built frames this way. My 75 does not have these subfloor supports.

The insulation isn't around the tanks. The tanks are in tank pans which Airstream insulated with 1/2" styrofoam. The tank pans are heated with a furnace duct. Good enough for 30F temps but not much colder.

David
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Old 05-16-2020, 07:34 PM   #206
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The Belly of the Beast

Sheesh, you would think I would learn. This Sovereign will be the fifth Airstream I've installed new belly aluminum. The 86 Limited, the 66 Trade Wind, the 69 Globetrotter, the 75 Overlander and now this 76 Sovereign. I didn't like the job the first time I did it.

So here we go again. As you know each piece has to be trimmed to fit, then rivet holes drilled. The floppy aluminum sheet is difficult to hold up in place.

It's gotta be done and we're going to get it done.

David
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Old 05-21-2020, 06:51 PM   #207
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Belly Done

Oh my aching back. I used all my helping tools including a floor jack with a piece of plywood on it to hold up the aluminum, my cow magnet to find the hidden cross members, my "strong arm" upside down drill press, and my air powered riveter. These things help but it is still hard work.

Belly pan installed, now on to the axles.

David
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:42 AM   #208
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
Oh my aching back. I used all my helping tools including a floor jack with a piece of plywood on it to hold up the aluminum, my cow magnet to find the hidden cross members, my "strong arm" upside down drill press, and my air powered riveter. These things help but it is still hard work.

Belly pan installed, now on to the axles.

David



David,

I like the idea of the magnet, I'm going to try that as I am about to put mine (new ones of course) back on. I did see a video of someone using a pallet and a floor jack to raise there's..
Thanks
John
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:51 AM   #209
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David - I'm in the process of a frame off restoration on a 77 Sovereign and was not aware that all frames did not have the extra 2 supports down the middle and why I had 1/2 flooring when others had 5/8 or 3/4 - now I know

I was thinking about replacing all my c channel so I could go back with thicker flooring - you see any downside to that?

Thanks,
Kevin
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:42 PM   #210
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Going from 1/2" subfloor to 3/4" would be a huge job. If you have a body off project with a straight frame, then it is possible. The extruded "F" channel that captures the subfloor won't work of course. The older straight C channel would but maybe not as strong. The exterior skins may not fully cover the subfloor as they might be too short. My 75 Overlander has a 3/4" plywood floor and it has the F channel. Maybe it is available somewhere.

It is a bigger project that I could handle.

David
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:40 AM   #211
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Subfloor thickness

When I replaced the floor of my ‘76 Trade Wind—as part of a shell off project—I believed that the original 1/2” subfloor was inadequate. First, I had an additional piece of steel welded into the framework, lengthwise, to the right of the door and in front of where the gaucho had been as this area was not as well supported as I wanted. Then I decided to use 3/4” tongue and groove “Plytanium Dryply” for a sturdier subfloor. To solve the challenges of a thicker floor that would cause other things to not fit properly, once I had the subfloor all installed and fastened, I routed the outer edge of the floor down 1/4” so the original 1/2” thickness was attained for the C channels and other fittings, yet I had a thicker, sturdier floor throughout and only lost 1/4” of height to the ceiling. It is extra effort, but I’d do it this way again (it makes a LOT of sawdust/wood chips!). Below are a couple of photos. Good luck, it’s a big undertaking.
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Old 05-23-2020, 12:41 PM   #212
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Dave - good points I have not thought of.

Steve - sounds like a good solution to my issue.

Shell came off the frame yesterday so it should be pretty easy to route a 1/4 from the edge once I have all the plywood cut and laid out.

Thanks,
Kevin
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Old 05-23-2020, 07:22 PM   #213
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Thanks Steve46 for the route it down solution. I gotta remember that one. The 1/2" plywood is woefully inadequate in my view, even with the extra steel under it. Your Trade Wind will be a much better trailer with 3/4" plywood. Well worth the sawdust mess.

David
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:15 AM   #214
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I did a some thing like Steve did with the exception of I remove the 1/4 inch from the bottom of the flooring thus keeping all my above floor dimentions the same. Since it was a frame off I just added a little length to the wraps to compensate for the flooring height off the frame. I also tucked my wraps under the skin when I set the frame in hopes of less potential water intrusion in the belly pan.
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:30 AM   #215
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That is a great idea too. I gotta remember these solutions to the lousy 1/2" plywood subfloor just in case I'm crazy enough to do a "full monte" renovation on a late seventies trailer. I don't know when Airstream abandoned the thin subfloor. I'll guess 1982. My wife's 86 Limited has 3/4" OSB subfloor. Another not so great idea. But ours has lasted well through the years, so no complaints from me.

David
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:45 AM   #216
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Sovereign Entrails

Many of us "gut" our trailers for renovation purposes. My friend's Sovereign was literally falling apart inside. Pulled rivets, bent aluminum, warped mystery wood, cracked plastics, delaminating "wall paper" and the like. The mystery wood is somewhat like masonite. So we "gutted it". We did lable and save the pieces for patterns and glad we did.

We've been looking at this pile of junk in the middle of our shop all winter. Today was the day my friend and his son came over with a trailer and loaded it all up. Good riddance as they say.

I often read here on Airstream Forums about the seventies trailers being built "cheap". I think they were, as well as built light with low tongue weights. The materials selected were not durable. Looking at a late seventies Airstream might make you shake you head in disgust. I looked at a 79 some years ago and passed on it.

My 75 Overlander was built along the same lines, but it has a 3/4" plywood subfloor and the interior cabinetry seemed better to me than in my friends 76. Maybe the 76 model year is when Airstream made major changes to the interior design.

All this said, a late seventies Airstream can be renovated into a very nice travel trailer. The body is the same. The rear end separation can be repaired, new axles installed, new plumbing installed and the crummy cheap cabinets can be "gutted" and new ones built. I think they are good candidates for a major renovation and worth the effort.

Presenting our Airstream entrails. Don't view before meal time.

David
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Link to my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
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Old 05-24-2020, 12:48 PM   #217
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Nice following along you handy work.

You mentioned the older trailers being lighter and lower tongue weight ... well yes and no .

The specs for our ‘69 Trade Wind said 4300# empty so I weighed it on the way home after purchasing it . Was only able to get the axles weight still hooked up to the Tahoe seemed about right guessing the tongue weight to be around 450# .

Well after the rebuild and many trips I weighed it while on the road it weighed 4200# on the axles and 950# on the tongue!! WTH. “Lucy” must have been loading boulders when I wasn’t looking and put them under the front couches.
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Old 05-24-2020, 07:11 PM   #218
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Hi Glenritas: Interesting data. My son's 69 Globetrotter has a fresh water tank above the subfloor and mounted right under the front window. It would be easy to add 200 pounds of water over the tongue. We have never weighed his trailer. It is basically original. 950 pounds sounds like a lot of tongue weight for a 69 Trade Wind. Maybe there are big rocks up there somewhere.

David
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Old 05-24-2020, 07:41 PM   #219
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Axles Installed

Hooray, we did it. We got the new axles positioned and bolted up tight. This is a major milestone for our project. The axles were one of the first items we removed from this Sovereign. They were very bad.

I think axles are more complicated now than they used to be. Dexter builds flex torque axles for OEMs. The mounting brackets and bolt hole patterns are stock. Both with this Sovereign and my Overlander, there were some frame modifications needed to mount new axles.

You recall we had a bad case of rear end separation on this trailer. The rear frame rails had sagged a couple of inches with some buckle. We leveled the trailer and added steel to re-establish the frame straightness. We made axle bracket "pockets" thinking we would maintain the same axle bracket outside to outside dimension so the new axles would slide up more easily. We made these for a Dexter #10 with up to 3500 pound rated axle with 10" drums. The GVWR for the Sovereign is 7200 pounds.

After talking to Luke our axle expert, we decided to go to the Dexter#11 axle rated up to 7000 pounds with 12" drums. We ordered two 3600 pound rated axles. We also ordered a 32 degree down starting angle for more ground clearance. That is important in Colorado campgrounds. The axle bracket as well as the axle square tube are bigger on this #11 axle. We had to modify the axle bracket to get it to fit in our axle pockets, and we had to cut the clearance notch bigger in the Airstream axle plate.

As we all know, handling and jacking these axles is a pain. They are so out of balance with the tube forward and the drums to the rear. Finding a good jacking point is not easy. We had extra manpower for this operation. We were able to get them jacked up tight, new bolt holes drilled and then bolted the axles tight to the axle plate. No one got hurt.

We checked "squareness" of the axles to the frame rails and spacing to each other. We were satisfied with these measurements.

With the axles up, my friend is starting to plan their maiden voyage in this renovated Sovereign. It will be a very nice trailer for their family.

David

PS: It is snowing like crazy here today. Maybe 3" so far. Great weather for a holiday weekend.
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Old 05-24-2020, 07:43 PM   #220
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Yes we have a front fresh tank also but I run it with about 10 gallons.

The new lighter refer and 6 gallon water heater are just ahead of the axles in the original location the water heater is where the furnace was .

The original 10 gallon was just behind the axles . The battery was at the center rear , its new location is just behind the curb side axles .

The original bath room and black tank are gone replaced by a Casita wet bath with porcelain pot and black tank .

The original battery boiler is replace with a smart charger .

Everything else is in the original locations .

The shift in weight in minimum .

Oh and no propane tanks or system we’re all electric.

So WTH is up with that .
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