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Old 02-24-2019, 10:31 PM   #1
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1975 31' Sovereign
Medford , Oregon
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 10
Full Restoration '75 Sovereign

2/8/19
I purchased an airstream! It is in rather rough condition but hopefully with a lot of TLC it will be my home for a couple years!

2/10/19
So far the demolition has been fairly easy. Just taking all the panels apart carefully and saving them for templates later on. I have taken almost everything out of the inside of the airstream. I started taking out rivets from the interior skin but have yet to remove a panel.

I am planning on reusing these pieces for the finished product. I don't think I want to spend the money on replacing the inside skin. I do want to take off the vinyl and leave it an aluminium finish. The panels are not in terrible shape and I plan on riveting unnecessary holes.

2/11/19-2/24/19
Snow.........work.............snnnoooooowwwww
So, I have designed my own custom layout as seen in the attached pictures. I wanted to make the room a little bigger and allow access to the closets from inside the bedroom. This pushed the bathroom and shower pretty far forward. I am hoping that it pushes it far enough forward to clear the wheel well so I can have a bit bigger shower. However, I am worried about how the holding tanks are going to line up with the plumbing being so different. Any thoughts?


The upper wall from left to right has the closet then stove, small refrigerator under counter top, then a big sink and to the right of the sink I would like to put a fold up extension for more counter top space.

Door side wall from left to right is the toilet, shower and then a counter top/cubby for shoes and keys. This will also house the furnace.

The front of the trailer will have seating on three sides of a collapsible tabletop. This will hopefully collapse into a guest bed.

The rear of the airstream has a queen size bed. I will place bed storage lifts on the frame to allow for easy storage. Alongside the bed will be two closet/nightstands. I see newer models with this idea. Can these be ordered?

Well that's where I'm at! Hopefully I can get a couple days off work to start back on it.


L.V.
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Old 02-25-2019, 03:41 PM   #2
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1978 31' Sovereign
New Smyrna Beach , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 263
Welcome to challenge

L.V.

Welcome to the exclusive club of folks redoing their 31' ASs. Faith, my 78 31' Sovereign, was in awful shape too. Almost ready to take the body of the frame. Its been a fun project and there are lots of folks willing to share what they know.

I subscribed to your thread, and look forward to seeing your progress . . . if it ever stops snowing out there.

Bill
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Old 02-26-2019, 09:04 PM   #3
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5,626
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Hello LV, I found your project thread. Good deal. You have made significant progress on your trailer in spite of the weather. Not so easy.

I believe Airstream are experts in efficient design of interiors. For a smaller trailer that ain't a box, Airstream does a marvelous job and are hard to beat. But they design for sales to John Q. Public. You will build your Sovereign to your needs. You may not even worry about future resale as you will keep your trailer for a very long time.

Our 86 Limited has the bath over the wheel well. Airstream made the wheel well a "shower seat" so to speak. The plastic shower stall is molded to fit over the wheel well. The vanity sink is also over the wheel well. Both our black and grey water tanks are just behind the axle, and drain on the street side below the frame rail. This is how many new Airstreams are built. I posted a couple of photos for your reference.

An old Airstream axiom: It takes about 10 times longer to rebuild and reassemble than it does to disassemble. Most folks will support that statement, and it certainly has been my experience.

David
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Link to my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f17...ml#post2053792

Link to our 1976 Renovation Project:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f221...ct-202081.html
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Old 02-27-2019, 08:42 PM   #4
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1978 31' Sovereign
Lincoln University , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 56
L.V.
You're a couple of months behind us, though we started in August. You can follow us in the other thread near the top. Feel free to drop me an email with any questions - we may be trading info (stuff we forgot to photo, etc...)

We just got 12V power back on inside. About to get 120 turned on, but I'm fighting a nasty cold. Wife was insulating the belly today as well... Not sure what's needed on your belly, floor, etc... and if you are pulling the walls - we pulled it all. Got the first roll of Roxul sitting inside waiting for me to run the last of the wires behind the street side before we start hanging a few walls. Goal this week is 12V and 120V complete, and started on re-plumbing. Also need to cut out the rest of the rusted C-channel to decking / frame bolts and replace. Dang regular job gets in the way though.

2 new MaxxAir fans and a couple more dimmer switches showed up today. Need to get more crimp connectors and start getting framing for cabinets and walls... Need to order furnace tomorrow too - the guys and gals at Vintage Trailer in VT are great. Yeah, 10:1 seems close.

Welcome!

Andy
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Old 03-02-2019, 12:51 PM   #5
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1975 31' Sovereign
Medford , Oregon
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by wcronin4 View Post
L.V.

Welcome to the exclusive club of folks redoing their 31' ASs. Faith, my 78 31' Sovereign, was in awful shape too. Almost ready to take the body of the frame. Its been a fun project and there are lots of folks willing to share what they know.

I subscribed to your thread, and look forward to seeing your progress . . . if it ever stops snowing out there.

Bill
wcronin4
I look forward to watching your progress! How long has it taken to get to that point? I figure I only have weekends to get hands on. During the week I can research and get supplies lined up.
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Old 03-02-2019, 12:59 PM   #6
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1975 31' Sovereign
Medford , Oregon
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
Hello LV, I found your project thread. Good deal. You have made significant progress on your trailer in spite of the weather. Not so easy.

I believe Airstream are experts in efficient design of interiors. For a smaller trailer that ain't a box, Airstream does a marvelous job and are hard to beat. But they design for sales to John Q. Public. You will build your Sovereign to your needs. You may not even worry about future resale as you will keep your trailer for a very long time.

Our 86 Limited has the bath over the wheel well. Airstream made the wheel well a "shower seat" so to speak. The plastic shower stall is molded to fit over the wheel well. The vanity sink is also over the wheel well. Both our black and grey water tanks are just behind the axle, and drain on the street side below the frame rail. This is how many new Airstreams are built. I posted a couple of photos for your reference.

An old Airstream axiom: It takes about 10 times longer to rebuild and reassemble than it does to disassemble. Most folks will support that statement, and it certainly has been my experience.

David
Good thing I am enjoying myself then if it takes 10X longer to put back together! Speaking of putting things back together I took this off my water tank and I'm trying to figure out how it goes back on.
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Old 03-02-2019, 07:06 PM   #7
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
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Well, well it won't go back on. My plastic water tanks were cracked and leaking also. Old style plastics get brittle after 40 years. Newer materials are much better.

David
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Link to my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f17...ml#post2053792

Link to our 1976 Renovation Project:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f221...ct-202081.html
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Old 03-08-2019, 06:19 PM   #8
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1975 31' Sovereign
Medford , Oregon
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 10
Snow and steady

I've been able to chip away at some of the internal work. I was able to take down the skin and the insulation last weekend. It was cold but seeing the progress is rewarding. While removing the panels I labeled them as I took them off (see pic). So I will just start form the highest number and work my way back putting them back on. Taking all the rivets out of the inner skin was a task. I'm not sure if there is a better way but I removed them with a drill bit and screw gun. Sometimes the mandrels inside the rivet would still be present so i just used a hefty screw and tapped them out before drilling. I had a very hard time removing the top panels (see pic). I hope they are easier to put back up but I'm afraid it will be a struggle.

At this point I think I am ready to start building a structure for the top off process. I've seen a ton of different framing ideas and different techniques to take the top off. Is there one frame style that is better than others? I don't have access to heavy equipment where I will be pulling the top off so it will have to be leverage and patients.

After the top comes off I will take the sub flooring, tanks and belly pan off. At which point I might rent a sandblaster to clean up the frame I may hire this part out depending on the price.

Once I got all the insulation off I was able to see the condition of the exterior skin. There was a lot of work done to the rear of the trailer which was surprising. I also found a crack above the door frame which I had not noticed before. This is on one of the long side panels that would be very difficult to replace. I'm not sure how to go about fixing that. I attached a picture.

I was able to pop a couple dents out of the exterior skin but may replace the panels while everything is apart and easy to access. I need to do some research on where to find the aluminum for the panels. Any Ideas of what company to use and the specific material? I will do some reading as well and dig back through all the information I have collected.

Thanks for reading!

L.V.
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Old 03-08-2019, 07:32 PM   #9
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
Fredericksburg , Texas
Join Date: May 2015
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Youíre headed in the right direction. Great job. There are multiple ways to lift a shell and most are on the Forums. Think it through, donít scrimp on the materials and safety. Iím sure itís been mentioned not to throw anything away until youíre way down the road. I had separate boxes for receptacles, plate covers, plumbing, etc. Also, there are some really nice folks currently renovating Airstreams in Oregon. Reach out if need be. Best of luck, and have fun.
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Old 03-08-2019, 07:49 PM   #10
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5,626
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You are going at it real good. "Gutting" the trailer gives a guy a chance to "assess" all the trailer's needs. This needs work, that needs replaced, I want another outlet here, what to do about the bath, etc, etc.

Many call the renovation you are doing a "full monte shell off" renovation. I call the shell the body. I don't know what Airstream calls it. But your photos make it sure look like a "shell".

User wcroin4 just pulled the shell of his 78 Sovereign. He talks about the bracing he used, which was minimal. He did build robust gantrys over both the front roof vent and the rear roof vent to lift off his shell.

User kristof just pulled the shell of his Sovereign using the ground jack method. It required more bracing. But he didn't have to build the gantrys. You might want to take a look at those project threads and get some ideas.

External skin cracks above the door are not uncommon. Some say they are caused by bad axles and/or out of balance tires. Some say they are caused by towing with too heavy of a truck. I don't know. My wife's 86 Limited has a crack radiating from the front battery compartment. If I were you I would patch it. You have access to the interior of the skins. Cut a piece of aluminum that well covers the area and buck rivet it in place from the outside in using good sealant. I believe that will stop the crack progression. I believe your trailer and my 75 Overlander were built using Alcoa 3004 H18 at .032 thick aluminum.

Once the body is safely secured to the ground, then you have turned a big corner and the rebuild will begin, maybe starting with any frame repairs you need.

David
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Link to my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f17...ml#post2053792

Link to our 1976 Renovation Project:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f221...ct-202081.html
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Old 03-08-2019, 10:14 PM   #11
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1975 31' Sovereign
Medford , Oregon
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 10
It has been a fun project so far. I’ve had many sleepless nights thinking about different ideas and how I want the layout to look. I think the bathroom is still the area where I don’t really have a clear idea how I want it.
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Old 03-08-2019, 11:25 PM   #12
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1958 26' Overlander
Battle Ground , Washington
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A number of us from the Oregon WBCCI will be in Ashland at the end of June for the Ashland Theatre Rally. We'll be out Emigrant Lake campgrounds 6/27 - 7/1. I'd be happy to stop by and see how you're proceeding and of course your welcome to come by the campgrounds and meet a few fellow travelers. PM me if you'll be around.

https://oregon.airstreamclub.net/201...theatre-rally/
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:11 AM   #13
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1978 31' Sovereign
New Smyrna Beach , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 263
To gantry or not gantry

Hey LV
Ainít this fun? As David said there are two generally accepted ways to lift the body off: jacking the body up with interior wood structure and the gantry method.

I chose the gantry method, mainly because Iím older and didnít want to climb around all the interior structure. Also I am intending to us the gantries to manipulate the frame. Weíll see how that goes.

Both methods work well. Itís a matter of preference. Either way, it is not difficult. Looks intimidating, but, other than hard work, itís not difficult.
Bill
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:19 PM   #14
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1975 31' Sovereign
Medford , Oregon
Join Date: Jan 2019
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I would love to join. I have moved away from the area I'm now in the La Grande area. Thanks for being so generous with your time! Once I get it road worthy I will bring it to a rally!
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