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Old 11-28-2004, 10:27 AM   #1
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'78 31' Sovereign

Once more, it's time to "Out" myself here on the Forums -

With my 1000th post since joining on Feb. 5th, 2003, I announce my new WIP (Work In Progress) - Airstream #2 - a '78 31' Sovereign.

No name yet, will let her character develop and hopefully she will name herself.

One thing I have found out, a '78 International trailer is a HECK of a lot easier to work on than the '87 345 Motor Home.

In less than a day I had the entire front cabin and bedroom interior pretty much gutted for floor damage inspection and cleanup.....Most of the areas likely to fail require this much demolition for proper rot-area inspection.

No surprises so far - a really solid unit.
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Old 11-28-2004, 11:01 AM   #2
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Dennis,

I still miss my 77 31 Sovereign. The trailers ARE easier to work on that the MH's But I would say you are looking at two very different periods when it comes to manufacturing methods and design. Personally I like the 70's much better than the 80's models.

Are you planning on re-installing the twins or are you going to go with a Queen in the rear? Ours had a East/West double that I enlarged to a Queen.
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Old 11-28-2004, 11:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
..... The trailers ARE easier to work on that the MH's But I would say you are looking at two very different periods when it comes to manufacturing methods and design. Personally I like the 70's much better than the 80's models....
It is, infact, difficult to compare the two. The '78 trailer is very light construction, mostly aluminum, pressboard, and plastics (but a plywood floor). The Motor Home exhibits a much more substantial wood interior construction - in my opinion - much more aesthetic, but much heavier and more difficult to work on.



Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
..... Are you planning on re-installing the twins or are you going to go with a Queen in the rear? Ours had a East/West double that I enlarged to a Queen.
Certainly, I will retain the hardware and cabinets for the twins, but right now I am seriously considering making the entire bedroom a "bed". The existing mattresses could be retained, and a 30" "filler mattress" could be fitted between the two original twin mattresses. I envision that duvetts could be utilized for sleeping (sheets and covers), making the bed easy to make up and eliminating the "odd sized" sheets that would be required by a conventional bed. Right now, it looks as if I could go the "full bed" scenario by incorporating the existing bed supports, and only removing (not reinstalling) the night stand at the very rear of the trailer.

As indicated above, the trailer construction is "all open", and much more suited for modification to individual tastes than is the '87 345.

I do, however, like much more the "classic" exterior of the Motor Home - external buttressed sliding windows and doors with rain/drip guards (as opposed to "flat" panels).

Two entirely different beasts - but certainly each has their own advantages.
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Old 11-29-2004, 11:44 AM   #4
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Project Snowball….

So.....

As I cleaned, little things were happening - If I removed the curtains and took them to a dry cleaner they would look a lot better - since I had the curtains out, might as well (it (the snowball) starts to accelerate here) replace those funky venetian blinds - oh, and those pull blind mounts - got to go.

It gets worse - now that the drapes are out - easy to get both of the bed mattresses out - hey, the mattress covers are removable - take them to the cleaners too. By this time I can see the entire area around the rear save for the area behind the nightstand. Hmmmm…three screws on each side, and the nightstand is out – well, except for the three screws that need to come out on the side of the bed…..two more screws on each side and the entire bed frame and storage is outside.

Now, for the front, need to thoroughly inspect the floor around the battery – gaucho needs to be removed to get the front console out – a couple of more screws and the entire gaucho frame is removed so almost all of the floor is exposed. Side arms are only held in by a couple of screws – they are on the lawn now, also.

The entire carpet can now be removed – wonder how much a Berber remnant would set me back – except for the table – four more screws and the table is leaning up against a tree.

By this time I have recruited help to clean the interior – I was amazed at how good it looked initially, and how much dirt and crud came out of it.

I was pretty sure I had a solid trailer, but now I KNOW how solid it really is……note to everyone – to really inspect the “problem” areas a LOT of “stuff” needs to be removed – can’t do an adequate job in an hour or two.

No frame off reflooring needed on this one.

Found one split copper pipe, and no pump is in existence. Tanks and electricals still need to be tested.
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Old 11-29-2004, 12:00 PM   #5
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Sounds like a case of "the might as wells"

Here is a hint on the pump.

On the model you have there the pump "should" be on an aluminum shelf right under the sink, attached to the wall exterior wall. If it was original it would have been a PAR pump. There is an in line fuse to the pump, I would check there first if the pump exists at all.
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Old 11-29-2004, 12:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
On the model you have there the pump "should" be on an aluminum shelf right under the sink, attached to the wall exterior wall. If it was original it would have been a PAR pump.

Thanks, Brett

It "looked" like the pump should have been plumbed into the pressure relief/city water connection under the road side closet false bottom, just inboard from the wheel well. There are a couple of open pipe connections there and I just assumed that that is where the pump was located - but now that you mention the sink area, I do not remember any electrical connection in the closet.

I'll give the sink area another look - PAR pump for sure originally, one of the PO's left a "new" drive belt in a blister pack in one of the drawers, of course the receipt that was stapled to it indicated a purchase from the '80's.

It gets dark now about the time I get home, but I think I will try to fire up the electric system - maybe the darkness will help - makes the sparks easier to see .
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Old 01-08-2005, 07:47 PM   #7
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Good Weekend for Work

Update on the '78 Sovereign

What a Great Weekend here in Houston.

Put the trailer up on 2X12 ramps - raised it a total of 6" - plenty of room to get under it and work. - 2X12's cut at 45-degree angles on the approach side made more than adequate ramps.

The Belly Pan was not really secured very well, so with the removal of just a few screws and rivets it was ready to roll back - the gas lines came off with not too much trouble.

Good news under the belly pan - no significant corrosion or water damage - a bit of historical rodent activity evidence in the insulation - could have happened any time in the last 28 years.

The belly pan itself was in excellent shape - just some wear at the attach points.

Also good news with the perimeter inspection of the wood - no rot at all in the forward perimeter - only damage to the wood floor is about a half of a square foot where the battery evidently boiled over.

While I had the 4" grinder out dressing the belly fasteners I got rid of most of the multiple layers of paint on the tongue and removed the battery access door and the Univolt vent hood casting (cleaning up the front).
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Old 01-23-2005, 06:59 PM   #8
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Project Update

Finished peeling back the forward belly pan and loosening the banana wrap from the frame.....no repairs required but what a NASTY job....sections of the main frame insulation and almost all of the banana wrap insulation were truely gross.

The pic is before I touched up all of the surface rust with Rust-O-Leum.

The black "Wall" visible behind the last cross frame member is the Potable Water Tank bulkhead - this is as far rearward as the forward belly pan goes.

Found one of the step pivot bolts sheared, the belly pan and banana wrap reinstallation will have to wait until the step repair is completed.
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Old 02-06-2005, 06:15 PM   #9
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Progress - and One Step Backward

Finished cutting out the bad floor under the Gaucho caused by the battery acid. (Picture #1)

***Note to self.....Batteries INSIDE could be a bad thing - mount the battery on the tongue.....

Installed a 3/4" 7 ply full floor panel under the 1/2" original floor in the spare tire area (Pic # 2), cut matching 1/2" 5 ply plywood to fill in cut out area - everything securely screwed into place.

Last pic - a "gotcha" - can you say Cherry-Max-Rivet?

Ran into a couple of these when removing the Battery Access Door -
(No interior battery - won't need the door - would have had a devil of a time making the thing waterproof.)
Cherry Max rivets have a carbon steel inner core - makes for a really nasty drill out. The compressed stems shown in the last photograph are actually holding themselves perpindicular to a magnet - either they are carbon stemmed or Airstream has invented Magnetized Aluminum.....
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Old 02-16-2005, 05:24 PM   #10
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Starting Exterior Repairs

Finally got started on the exterior - below are the before and after of the driverside front corner.....and a shot of the inside after I bucked the rivets on the overlay.
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Old 03-01-2005, 07:22 PM   #11
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Movin' Right Along

Had a good weekend -

Finished the repair and painting of the front end cap.
For pictures and discussions see this thread:
http://www.airforums.com/forum...ad.php?t=15656

First pic - started installation of the new battery wires to the forward battery box - the wire is a 4 guage automotive (multi-fine strand) type. The damage to the front floor was caused by the battery being installed on the inside. The "Plastic Drawer" was cracked beyond all hope of repair, and allowed the battery acid and rain water coming into the battery compartment to contact the plywood floor. Mounting the battery on the forward A-frame will eliminate the liquid and acid gas problems of having a battery installed in the interior. BTW, the 28 year old battery wires exhibited quite a bit of corrossion at the fuse terminal bar. Even though the screws were tight, I am sure the corroded connection was taking a bit of voltage potential from the battery.

The second pic is of me welding the rear battery box supports to the A-Frame. 1 1/2" X 1 1/2" X 1/8" aluminum angle will run across the A-Frame in two places between the supports (just behind the LPG bottles), and a marine type of battery box will contain the battery. Note the door on the forward curb side of the trailer. This was the original battery position. I cut a piece of .040 aluminum to install in place of the door, but decided to remount the door to utilize the space for storage for docking and hitching accessories. I cut out the interior portion of my "patch" aluminum in order to use it as a gasket. The original door was sealed by the plastic battery box, which had long since disintegrated by the time I had purchased the trailer, and the aluminum gasket was necessary to get the door assembly to seal. As it was, I had to redo the hinge mount and grind about 1/4" off of the top of the door to help make the thing "waterproof". I still have to install a rubber door gasket to finish it off. The sealing of the door frame with the aluminum gasket took a lot longer than I had anticipated, but I think the forward storage space will be well utilized. I used Stainless Steel Allen Head fasteners with nylon insert lock nuts instead of rivets here because I could draw the individual fasteners tight slowly and evenly to get a good "squeeze" on the sealants and insure an even draw all of the way around. Also, due to the steel front plate and the proximity of the vertical ribs several different lengths of fasteners were required, making the choice of the #10-24 bolts and nuts even easier.

Final picture is of the same battery support fitted, clamped, and ready for welding.
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Old 03-04-2005, 06:22 PM   #12
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Battery Box In

Finished the Battery Box installation yesterday. The total expenditure for the project was $100 in parts and 4 hours of my time. Today, painted the "A" frame and drilled two 3/8" holes through the front "C" channel to route the cables from the batt box, up through the front steel angle and "C" channel, and inside the wall to the fuse box.

First shot is of the box in place - Aluminum angle is secured to the trailer frame supports with four 1/4" SS Phillips head bolts with SS Nylock hex nuts.

Second shows the box placement forward of the front of the trailer and rearward of the LPG Bottles.

Third is a shot from underneath. The Aluminum the box sits on is two thicknesses of .040 Aluminum secured with 3/16" pop rivets to the 1/8" Aluminum angle. The battery itself is held down by a frame attached to two long 1/4" rods. The rods are secured to the Al angle with wing nuts.
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Old 03-05-2005, 09:39 AM   #13
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I really like that battery box you put on. What is the brand name and where did you get it? Would you know the dimensions on that thing? Your work looks great!!!

Rod
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Old 03-05-2005, 10:47 AM   #14
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Thanks for the compliment on the work.

The battery box is a "NOCO Marine" - the box itself, without the lid, is 8 1/2" wide X 15" long X 8 3/4" high. I purchased it at an "Auto Zone" parts store.

Similar boxes are available at most Marine stores (West Marine is nationwide, I believe).
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Old 03-06-2005, 10:58 PM   #15
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battery boxes

Dennis, Thank you so much for posting your progress on the Sovereign. Altho' we'll probably not tackle as much as you are, I enjoy seeing what our trailer looks like underneath and how things function. You have given us a solution to a problem. We have two batteries on the inside in the front. They are accessed by doors behind the propane tanks. We tho't about moving them to the tongue, but hadn't tho't about marine battery boxes. Terrific solution. We have a shallow console in the front to hide them and the fuse box. This makes the living room quiet tight. By removing this we'll have room for a sofa. Yeh! Thanks again. We'll enjoy continuing to watch your progress. Gale
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Old 03-08-2005, 06:54 PM   #16
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Slow but Sure

Things are proceeding slowly, but at least I am not backing up....

or, at least not backing up too much.

First picture is a close up of the new leads to the battery. I used a fairly heavy duty (4 gauge) wire to minimize line loss. I also had a suspicion of a bad frame ground (power jack was intermittant - but there was some corossion under the flange) - so I took the opportunity to split off of the negative wire to the battery and ran a piece of 4 guage to a lug on the frame. The three wires go vertically through the "C" flange, the steel angle on the frame, and both the 1/2" and 3/4" plywood. The electric box on the lower right is the new receptical box for the 110 to the Univolt - the old receptical was in the plastic Univolt box that has been removed. The new receptical will be switched, with the switch located at the junction of the gaucho and the table, between the front and driver side curtains.

The second pic shows the 12 volt system during construction. Since the standard 12 volt fuse panel is already wired for dual batteries, with both the positive and negative legs of each battery fused with separate 50 amp fuses, I took the opportunity to fuse the output of each leg of the Univolt to the unused second battery fuse lugs. The wire bundle sheathed in red goes to the Univolt.

The third picture is a closeup of the 12 volt fuse panel. The sub-panel to the left (five separate in-line fuses) is mostly for the exterior lights, with the wire bundle going to the left (street side) mostly connecting to the Tow Vehicle umbilical line. The middle five fuses are bussed to the positive battery/univolt leads. These middle five fuses are for the house 12 volt systems. The four larger glass fuses to the right are the 50 amp fuses to the positive and negative legs of the battery and the Univolt. The two breakers to extreme curbside are the protection for the Tow Vehicle Charge Line (upper breaker, the blue wire connects to the TV), and the breaker to the power jack (lower breaker, with the orange wire).
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Old 03-10-2005, 06:30 PM   #17
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Woo Woo ! - Movin' On

Recieved an RV box and light indicated switch from Colaw's today - Installed same, and am now ready to button up the front.

First Pic is the Reese Dual Cam I fitted over the weekend.

Second is the RV electric box and the light indicated switch. I will use this to switch the Univolt on and off. When the trailer is here at the house I like to keep it hooked up to 110, but do not want to keep the Univolt buzzin' all of the time - battery overcharge and all of that.

Third Pic is a close up of the switch ready for the cover. I cut the hole in the wall by drawing the outline of the box on the wall, drilling a 1/8" hole at the four corners and each mounting ear (top and bottom), then I enlarged each hole to 1/2". With the 1/2" holes in close proximity, I was able to cut the box outline with a set of Aviation Snips. Final installation was accomplished with 4 pop rivets.

Fourth Pic is the switch installed in the wall under the dual outlet receptical. This location is on the front street side, where the forward curtains meet the side curtains - this position seemed to be the most logical for convenience and access.
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Old 03-19-2005, 06:39 PM   #18
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Win Some, Lose Some

Well, I advanced the finish date by getting the indicator switch from Colaw's, but I took two steps backward due to installing a non-functional switch. Mumbled a loud "Crap" and fell back to plan "B", installed a combo switch/receptical unit - will add an "Indicator Light" (will probably use an attractive nite-light) at a later date. The good news is that the front end is now REALLY ready to button up - everything tested.

Also made some progress (and regress) in the rear demolition.

Dropped about half of the rear belly pan - no surprises (nor rodent carcasses), but still a nasty job. All of the rear lower interior panels are removed, and also all but two of the rear hold down bolts. Had pretty good luck by grinding off the heads of the bolts from the underside - most of the middle section of the bolts exhibited major corrosion. The rear of the wood floor is in pretty good shape, just about a foot on the drivers side and about half of that on the curb side is all that appears to require replacement. All of the bad wood is right up against the "C" channel.

I did, however, discover a potentially dangerous situation. Two of the three conductor lines inside the shore power line were worn through to the copper wire, exposing the white "neutral" and the green "ground" wires to a possible short to the trailer - made even more dangerous by a previous "repair" where the neutral and hot leads were switched at the plug - I am sure that this "wire wear" complicated my initial trouble shooting when installing the Univolt Switch. The wire was worn in the areal under the floor, but before exiting to the "storage trunk" in the rear, so it was not easily seen - this might be a good thing to check during a pre-purchase inspection (or any time during an update).

First pic is the shore line plug, with the white and black leads reversed from their proper position.
Second pic is the worn (exposed) shore power line - the white conductor was actually "hot" due to the leads being reversed in the power plug.
Third pic is the (original) cable entrance - this was the worst area of floor rot in the rear area.
Fourth is a corroded (mainframe 3/8" "C") floor bolt from the underside.
Last is one of the 1/4" "U channel" floor bolts after grinding off the head from the underside.
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Trailer '78 31' Sovereign

Living Large at an Airstream Park on the Largest Lake Totally Contained in Texas
Texas Airstream Harbor, Inc.
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Old 03-20-2005, 05:32 PM   #19
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1978 31' Sovereign
Texas Airstream Harbor , Zavalla, in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods on Lake Sam Rayburn
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Ready to cut wood

Removed the bumper, cleaned out the rest of the rear underbelly, and took out the two remaining rear bolts prior to cutting the bad section of wood out. One of the bolts torqued off, on the other the nut actually ran all the way off with only a rachet - I thought sure I would have to break out the impact tools.

The more I poked around at the wood in the rear the more I found needed replacing - actually, more damage was apparent after I removed the rear underbelly.

Pic one - Bumper and trunk removed.
Pic two - Rear underbelly exposed.
Pic three - Wood damage from underneath.
Pic four - Black tank bulkhead.
Pic five - Curbside interior rear panel removed.
Pic six - Rear center panel removed.
Pic seven - Rear floor damage - driver's side (rear) interior lower quarter panel.
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Dennis

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Trailer '78 31' Sovereign

Living Large at an Airstream Park on the Largest Lake Totally Contained in Texas
Texas Airstream Harbor, Inc.
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Old 04-06-2005, 08:01 PM   #20
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1978 31' Sovereign
Texas Airstream Harbor , Zavalla, in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods on Lake Sam Rayburn
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Rear Rot Replaced!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
....The more I poked around at the wood in the rear the more I found needed replacing - actually, more damage was apparent after I removed the rear underbelly....
Finally had a chance to put a couple of hours into the project - upon removal, the rearward 6" of plywood was found to be in really bad shape - much worse than the surface inspection indicated.

Pic one and two are shots of the plywood that was under the rear "C" channel.

Pic three compares the original plywood to a five+ ply I found at the local Homer Despot. I would hesitate to use the now common "Three Ply" construction plywood for a flooring installation in the Airstream. Both the original and new plywoods are true 1/2" thickness.

Pic four and five are before and after shots of the installation - overall size of the replaced section is 6" X 60". The 60" spans the center line to center line of the main frame channels. Since I have the material, I will probably install 1/2" plywood doublers under the three center sections of the rear, and tie them to the frame with welded angles. This should add about 40 pounds, but make the rear a bunch stronger.

I did find a couple of #8 screws in the "C" channel that were not evident before - they had rested and degraded to the points that the heads of the screws were level with the bottom of the aluminum channel - "hidden screws" certainly need to be checked carefully by anyone anticipating a shell off renovation.
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Living Large at an Airstream Park on the Largest Lake Totally Contained in Texas
Texas Airstream Harbor, Inc.
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