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Old 01-25-2020, 07:46 PM   #121
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
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Water Pump Installed

Certainly not a big deal. We repaired the fresh water pan and installed a new suction hose for the pump. This fresh water tank must be used on other trailers as it certainly is an odd shape. It does have a square opening molded in the middle of it and that's where the tank water level senders and suction hose barb are located. At least a guy has access to this area without dropping the pan. It has several spin weld fittings with plastic tapered pipe threads. Awful idea in my view. Leak, leak. leak.

This Sovereign had the water pump, fuse panel, and converter all mounted behind the stove. There was access through a sliding door just inside the main door. What a job to service this stuff without taking out the stove and oven. We have decided to mount it all under the stove instead. The cabinetry has a big fold down door under the stove with 11" of height. We shall see if it is easier to winterize or change a fuse. I think it will be. The pump hose fittings, winterizing port, fuse, and mounting screws are all easily accessible.

We mounted the pump on its side. The instructions say you can mount the pump in "any position". We took ShurFlo up on their statement. We did this to align the pump with the suction hose and a more direct route to the trailer fresh water plumbing.

We wired the pump up and flipped the switch. It ran and sucked antifreeze out of a jug just fine.

Now on to the new furnace install.

David
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Old 01-26-2020, 08:43 PM   #122
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Furnace Install

My friend purchased a new Suburban NT-30. The old furnace was 45 years old and getting pretty rusty. I think the NT-30 is a very popular and robust heater. I wonder how long they have been making this thing.

The key to the installation was matching the exhaust and inlet holes in the exterior skin. We had to elevate the furnace about an inch above the floor channel and about 2" at the front, or interior side of the furnace. This allowed the furnace to match the curved lower side walls of the trailer. The water heater is also tilted to accommodate the curve. I figure a little air circulation on the bottom of the furnace cabinet won't hurt a thing.

We have planned our propane run and 12v wiring run for the furnace. The ductwork parts came today, so we can start running 4" tubing here and there. We gotta get back to the bathroom with one duct. We will run 2" tubing down to the tank pans to help keep them from freezing up. We plan on utilizing all four 4" openings, two on each side, of the furnace. It will run more efficiently if all the heat generated is put somewhere.

The install instructions explicitly state there must be at least 55 square inches of opening in front of the furnace for cold air return. Airstream did not build the galley stove, sink cabinet with this opening. So we will have to accomodate somehow. We will likely rebuild the big, long lower cabinet door to do this.

It will be a while before we test run the furnace as we are quite a ways from running the propane lines under the trailer. But I'm confident we won't find any problems heating this old Sovereign with the NT-30.

David
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Old 01-26-2020, 10:31 PM   #123
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I installed that same furnace in mine. Since it replaced the old wall panel heater I decided to mount it under the kitchen sink cab, where the original water heater was. To deal with the air flow I covered the front of the furnace area with a perforated panel and left the toe kick panel off. I'll cover that with perforated metal also.

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There are also misc. gaps around the cabinet sides that I'm satisfied the air flow specs are met, even when the cabinet doors are closed. First photo the lower cabinet side is open to the bunk bed and there are gaps on the other side to the stove that is also open in the toe kick area.

Hope this helps you find your solution.
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Old 01-27-2020, 07:41 PM   #124
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Hi 57Vintage: Thanks for the info on your furnace install. Looks nice. We have to do a similar thing in front of the furnace for cold air return. The toe space under the cabinet is one thing we thought of. My wife's 86 Limited has a perforated metal "door panel" in front of that furnace. Our problem is the huge tambor door that covers almost all of the galley cabinet. We want to keep that. You did exactly what the furnace instructions say to do. We will figure something out, likely along the lines of what you did.

David
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Old 01-27-2020, 08:02 PM   #125
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Let's Get Started

I wired the new furnace and pretended I was a thermostat. I commanded it to run by touching the two thermostat wires together and the furnace went through it's normal start up cycle; which is a purge run, and then a ignition attempt. I then opened the thermostat wires and the furnace did it's cool down cycle. We don't have propane to it, but I'm highly confident it will light right off.

So let's get started with putting the interior back in the trailer now that we have the "mechanical" work done, the walls painted and the new floor covering layed down.

We will assemble the bath first, starting with the easy water heater cabinet. I struggled with it as there is really no "reference" point to start the assembly. The walls are "spherical" but the cabinet is square. I just use old rivet holes as a reference and tried to get everything square and and plumb. The cabinet is rebuilt with all new wood, a stronger support for the plastic tray on top, and a new shelf location due to the new water heater. It is much stronger than the one we took out.

Next is the first of six bulkhead walls to install. The black tank vent pipe runs through this wall and then up to the roof. Nothing like having plumbing in your closet. Better than skeletons I suppose. Then we will locate the vanity sink counter and plumb the sink drain and faucet. We have a tambour cabinet to rebuild under the vanity. Finally is the tricky tub and shower wall.

David
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Old 01-28-2020, 04:38 AM   #126
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Nice job, David. Your winter project is coming along at an impressive rate. I’ve enjoyed reading about the furnace installation, given I used a different heater. It’s interesting to see how these work.
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Old 01-30-2020, 08:00 PM   #127
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Building Walls Between Us

Thanks Atomic 13. Very glad you are following along. A Colorado trout fishing masterpiece Airstream like yours this isn't. But it will be a very nice Colorado camper with teenagers and dogs included.

So we riveted our first bulkhead wall up. It is a wall between the bath and wardrobe. The Sovereign twin in 77 had two closets going into the bath. We gotta rebuild both of them.

We're using 1/4" ACX plywood instead of the mystery 3/16" stuff Airstream used in 77. That stuff is not acceptable to us. We're going for more strength and rigidity for the interior. It won't add that much extra weight in my view.

Will will rebuild the bath going counterclockwise around, ending with the wall behind the tub. These parts need a lot of work. The painting is going well.

David
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Old 01-31-2020, 09:49 AM   #128
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Building walls between us

First, thanks for documenting your work so the rest of us can learn something. I have gleaned a few things for my “refurbishment” project, for example, the wooden box atop the battery compartment to replace the brittle plastic one—a great idea and improvement that I will also incorporate.
Second, your friend is so fortunate to have you, both as a resource and teacher. I expect the owner is expressing gratitude regularly.
Third, I think you’re shortchanging yourself in terms of credit due for certain things. I’ll explain—building and installing new bulkheads can be a big challenge, even if you have the old ones for patterns. I did not have the old ones, so I made cardboard patterns, transferred those to 1/8” plywood templates and finally constructed the final product, which also need to be stained, finished and installed—it was much work to build them all. As with a lot of the effort, so much ends up getting “buried” so the observer of the finished product has no idea what the journey involved.
You’re doing great work, Thanks, again.
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Old 01-31-2020, 08:24 PM   #129
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Hi there Steve46 from Michigan. We're from Minnesota, the great lakes state to the west of you. The great lake states are great places to live. We moved to Colorado to be near our sons.

Thank you for your kind words. It sounds like you know the work involved in renovating these old Airstreams. I'm happy my project thread helps you a bit. I do enjoy these vintage trailers as a retirement hobby. Without one to work on, I would have to go back to work so I don't go crazy. Okay, more crazy.

David
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Old 01-31-2020, 08:41 PM   #130
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Bath Vanity From the Top Down

I struggled this week in the bathroom. No, not what you're thinking. Making replacement parts for the bath has been hard for me.

We salvaged the bath plastics using fiberglass repair kits. The cracks and holes are fixed, and the bath plastics are painted. They look super good.

We added a subfloor underlayment, and then a luxury vinyl floor covering on top of that. The total floor is almost a half inch higher than it was. That changes a lot of things in the bathroom.

So we fitted the bath vanity plastic to be aligned with the water heater cabinet and at the same height it was originally by matching up old rivet holes. It is a struggle to hold this awkward part while attaching clecos to hold it in place level in both directions.

Now we have to fit the tambour door perfectly from the top of the vanity plastic so the tracks are exactly spaced and parallel so the tambour slides easily in the tracks. All this has to be held in place while I get an accurate measurement of the new plywood divider under the tambour track to the new floor height. I needed more arms and hands.

But finally I got it aligned, square and measured. I cut a new piece of 1/2" plywood that supports the front of the vanity as well as divides the storage compartment from the bath. This was done for both the "clothes hamper" compartment behind the toilet as well as the vanity.

I also made new tambour cabinet shelf pieces from 1/4" plywood and fitted them up. These pieces themselves took quite a bit of time to measure out and cut to fit. We're thinking we will not try to cover the plumbing along the wall at the rear of this cabinet. You gotta have access to the 120vAC breaker panel through this cabinet anyway. We may change our minds and make a cover over the plumbing.

Building a rear bath in an Airstream is like building a bath in a basketball. Everything is round and there is no good reference point for square parts.

Whine, whine, whine...

David
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Old 01-31-2020, 09:21 PM   #131
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I hear you, David. Rear bath assembly was, to date, the most challenging aspect of my renovation. Heck, I found welding my new frame less daunting. Keep up the excellent work. I’m looking forward to seeing your handy work in person someday.
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Old 02-01-2020, 06:54 AM   #132
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David

I feel your pain. All of my plastic bath parts are cracked, woefully discolored and many of the supporting parts need to be rebuilt. Holding the huge end cap up to the ceiling to rivet in place will be another challenge.

But, you have skills. I have confidence you will do a superb job as always. And when I get to the installation of my bath, I’ll have an expert to call upon.
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Old 02-01-2020, 07:49 PM   #133
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Thank you vintage Airstreamers. Wait, you might not be as old as I am. I'm a vintage guy for sure.

Me thinks the main problem with the 70s rear bath design is all the thermoformed plastics that were used. As Bill says, they discolor and crack. Further, they warp and flop. The wife's 86 Limited has a real wood vanity cabinet with a real wood countertop and formica on that. The sink and the shower tub are plastic with some discoloration. The "wood" in this 77 Sovereign is one step up from cardboard so it seams. I believe the mission in the 70s was to build light and low cost. The Airstream mission nowadays seems to be build the best Airstream possible.

Oh well, our bath plastics have been repaired and painted. We are cutting new plywood for the supports and shelving. The bath will be rebuilt stronger than it was (and a bit heavier). Once the bath is done, the rest of the trailer cabinetry will be easier. So I hope.

David
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Old 02-01-2020, 08:01 PM   #134
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Little Tambour Trouble

Tambour doors might be another Airstream idea for light weight and low cost. Who doesn't like a roll top desk? By 1986, most of the tambour doors were gone. The 86 has them under the beds and the front and rear end cap storage compartments.

So this Sovereign has a tambour door under the vanity countertop next to the toilet. With all the stress and distortion of the bath due to the rear end separation and bad axles, the tambour door didn't work good. It was the same situation in my 75 Overlander.

As of today it works much better. We cleaned and smoothed the spirol, cleaned the tambour material itself, and smoothed any sharp edges in the guide tracks. It now will open and close with one finger, likely like it did when it left the factory

The cheap tambour doors are part of the 70s vintage Airstream experience.
We want a bit of that vintage feel, but less of that vintage smell.

I'll take a picture tomorrow for you inquiring minds.

David
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:36 PM   #135
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Tambour Cabinet Pictures

The first picture is the original bath tambour cabinet we took out of the trailer. It is in rough shape. The "wood" shelving and partition are delaminated and the vinyl "wall paper" has come off too. It didn't take us long to take this cabinet out.

The second and third picture is the refurbished tambour door running in its tracks. We cleaned it, straightened the tracks, removed any sharp edges, cleaned the tambour spirol and now it slides shut and open easily. We will reinforce the tambour platform so the vibrations and shocks of being in the back of the trailer won't cause misalignment later.

I find the horizontal tambour doors are more problematic than the vertical ones. Alignment and clean are key factors in keeping them sliding like they are supposed to.

David
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Old 02-03-2020, 08:32 PM   #136
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Rework

I bet all of us vintage Airstream renovators have to rework something now and then. Today was my now.

My friend and I fit the bathtub under the vanity sink plastic parts yesterday. It wouldn't align correctly. My friend found the problem. My drain plumbing from the sink vanity was hitting the tub at the bottom.

Apparently I did not accommodate the "shrinkage" that happens when you glue ABS fittings to pipe. So my plumbing routing got too close to the tub. I did test fit the tub before I glued up the piping. Nothing else to do but cut it apart and route it away from the tub. I did that today.

Now the tub fits like it should and nothing is touching it. The tub drain lines up nicely. And the bath sink drain lines up too. Let's hope they don't leak as if they do, I'm the one that will rework and repair any leaks.

Live and learn.

David
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Old 02-06-2020, 07:52 PM   #137
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More Bath Work

I continue to fit the plastic bath parts together and get them aligned. I finished the tambour cabinet under the vanity counter. The tambour door works good and the new cabinet will work fine.

Tomorrow I move on to the bath tub. I've added a little "duct" to the bottom of the bath platform so I can route heated air from the furnace to the bath more easily. Once we get the tub positioned we can hang that unruly "shower wall". That is a floppy part indeed. I will be glad when we get it aligned and attached.
There is a plywood under plastic support that has come unglued that we need to reattach for the necessary strength of the part. We have a new shower valve that we will assemble before we install the part.

We have a snow storm coming for tomorrow. That will slow me down some. Pictures tomorrow.

David
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Old 02-09-2020, 08:24 AM   #138
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Horizontal Tambour Lesson

I made a mistake, learned a lesson. More rework.

I neglected to account for the dimension of the tambour spiral plastic base that sits on the shelf to the bottom of the tambour door material. It is about 1/4". When I started looking closer at my tambour install, I noticed too much distance between the rails. This was because the tambour spiral was sitting too high on the shelf.

I had to relocate the shelf to gain that 1/4" so the tambour rides correctly between the rails. I spent the better part of two afternoons reworking this mistake. Vertical tambour doors don't really have this problem.

Maybe Airstream 'bench builds" the tambour cabinet, then hangs it from the plywood support under the vanity, and then carries the whole mess into the trailer and sets it on the plywood wall. When building from the ground up, it is easier to get things aligned correctly as you really don't care about the final height of the vanity. We're building from the top down to maintain alignment of all the plastic parts making things a bit trickier.

Well, not on to the work I had planned for Friday and Saturday. My mistake cost me maybe 6 hours.

David
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Old 02-12-2020, 08:21 PM   #139
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Bath Together

We have wrestled the floppy, ill fitting bath plastic parts together the best we can get them. They are better than when we took them out anyway. They are still hung with clecos as we make the bulkhead wall behind the shower. That must butt up to the tub, and be in close alignment to the bulkhead wall on the other side of the aisle. We have the bath moldings (all 11 pieces of it) ready to go up in due time. That is when we will firmly attached the bath plastics to the interior skins.

There is no bathroom door so to speak in this Sovereign. The pocket door is between the wardrobe and the bedroom. That really exacerbates the disadvantages of a rear bath. Close the door and you wait until that someone is all dressed and ready to go. It is what it is. A mid-bath is clearly a more flexible layout.

David
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Old 02-12-2020, 08:35 PM   #140
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We Have a Problem - Leak

With the bath plastics in place, and the drains connected to the ABS piping system, it was time to pour a gallon of water down the drain.

I did so down the vanity sink drain. It drained very well. I did not observe any water from the trap, from the ABS plumbing behind the tub, or on the floor. That was good.

Sometime later I walked around the rear of the trailer and found a puddle on the floor. My beagle had not been in the shop at all. What the heck? That is major discouraging.

We started looking closely. The water was dripping from the pan at the rear of the fresh tank, under the styrofoam insulation. We found a wet joint between the new Valterra blade valve and the tank. We tightened the hose clamp, added a second hose clamp, and poured another gallon of water down the tub drain.

There was no water dripping from this joint and we thought we had solved the problem. But the a few minutes later the drip reappeared at the rear of the tank pan. I can see my ABS pipe connections to the top of the tank with a flashlight. I do not see any water on the top of the tank. Seems to me the leak has to be on the lower one inch of the tank somewhere as the leak appears with only one gallon of water in the tank.

I'll sleep on it.

David
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Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers
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