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Old 09-24-2009, 08:55 AM   #1
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1977 31' Sovereign
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Looking at 1977 31' Sovereign?

Hello All

I will be looking at a 1977 31' Sovereign this weekend. The seller is asking 3500.00. What should I be looking for in this trailer as far a mechanical /structural defects? Asthetically it appears to be in pretty good shape inside? I am not very familiar with the AS so I know little of what to look for. Aslo, I drive a 1/2 ton Chevy PU. Is this enough to pull a 31'er?

Thanks foryour help.
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Old 09-24-2009, 09:09 AM   #2
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Hello! We have a '83 Sovereign 31' that we pull with our 1500 Suburban just fine. Assuming that it is a center bath model, you should not have to worry so much about rear end sag/frame bending issue. Ours had some frame rust in the back that I had to weld up, but that was the only major item that we had to address on ours other than typical age related items. I'd have the seller show you how everything works (if that is their claim) before you buy. Feel free to ask more questions - lots of help here!
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Old 09-24-2009, 09:10 AM   #3
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Welcome Aboard

MDSilverado,
Welcome to the forums you will find a wealth of information here. You can start by looking at the "Trailer Inspection Checklist" PDF file that is on the right side of the main portal page under the "Airstream Inspectors" heading. You can also look for somebody that will inspect trailers with / for you. I might suggest 62Overlander (Frank), he is only about 15 miles from you and very knowledgeable about Airstreams and what to look for.

You should also look at the Price Vs Condition guide to help you along.

Just remember to ask lots of questions no matter how silly you may think they might be.

Good luck and keep us posted on how your inspection goes.
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Old 09-24-2009, 11:47 AM   #4
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1977 31' Sovereign
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Thanks for the replies. I have also found a 1982 31' International. Looking at the weight charts it appears the 82' is about 1775lbs heavier than the 77' Sovereign. I realize they are differnt models, but that is alot of additional weight. In a general sense what changed that the 82' models are so much heavier? I seem that all 82's jump in weight substantially.
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Old 09-24-2009, 12:00 PM   #5
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The cabinetry is one area where weight was increased.
The price for the 77 is pretty low, so I would be looking hard at floors and the potential for rot and frame damage.
also check all systems for working order. A nice Sovereign should be 6-9000.
A bargain may only be one untl you start pouring time and money into it.
However, that said, there are deals out there in to be uncovered...so good luck
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Old 09-24-2009, 12:03 PM   #6
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Airstreams Put On Pounds

MDSilverado,
I believe the frames in the 80's got beefier and they were craming more stuff in the interiors and using heavier materials to make those interiors. A reflrection of the times. Newer Airstreams are treding towards shorter and lighter weights.
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Old 09-24-2009, 12:14 PM   #7
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Thanks again. The 82' is advertised at 5000.00, I thought that was good also (considering there is one on eBay now for 14,500.00). The good it has a rear double bed vs. the Soverireign has twins...the down side is the weight. At 6800 dry I am starting to get concerned about towing.
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Old 09-24-2009, 12:25 PM   #8
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Look look look

MDSilverado,
Just remember...it doesn't cost anything to look. Since you are "currently looking" get out there and look at as many of them as you can. Even if you don't intend to buy them. In looking you will see the good, the bad, and the ugly, you'll get an education, and it will make your final decision all that much easier. It's getting late in the season here on the east coast, but if you're still looking come next season try to hook up with a rally in your area. Airstreamers are always willing to open their door and show you their babies.
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Old 09-24-2009, 01:24 PM   #9
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ohhhh...I've got hte itch bad to get started. It's going to be awfully hard not to jump soon. Plus I'm dying to see the look on the neighbors face when I back her into the driveway (doesnt exactly fit in my neigborhood)...hahaha.
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Old 09-24-2009, 01:43 PM   #10
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Easy there buckaroo, finding the perfect Airstream for you takes time. Too many folks jump into a big money pit and then give up on them. That's why you see so many on e-Bay that are gutted or in various stages of being put back together. It's sort of a cascade effect. You start one small project that leads into greater, more time consuming, and expensive repairs, and before you know it you are in up past your eyeballs. If you have the time money, space, tools, and expertise to tackle such a project, by all means go ahead. If not, then take your time and look for a gently used Airstream where ALL the systems work and will take VERY little on your part in order to go camping. There will still be little things to do and repair, but they will not prevent you from reaping the benefits of ownership.

Quote:
Plus I'm dying to see the look on the neighbors face when I back her into the driveway (doesnt exactly fit in my neigborhood)...hahaha.
This brings up a good point; before you buy a trailer make sure there are no local / community ordinances that would prevent you from parking it on the street or in your driveway. Especially if you have to work on it.
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Old 09-24-2009, 01:55 PM   #11
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Thanks Carl. I'll will take my time as reccomended, I was just getting a little carried away. Acually I am very good with my hands...finish-carpentry, plumbing and electrical. I am looking forward to updating the AS just as much as I am camping when I'm done. I'm not a fan of the dark woods that most of the AS have on the interior so first on the adjenda will be to replace or refinish the cabinetry.

BTW...do you know what year AS switched from vacuum assist brakes to electric?
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Old 09-24-2009, 01:58 PM   #12
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I have a 78' Soviergn that I purchased for just under that and I thought I got a deal. Check out my blog if you want to see what you potentially may be getting your self into. I had the typical floor rot near the door and the rear, and I had to weld in about 6 outriggers that had rotted away. I have gutted mine, so the interior condition was not much of a concern for me, but if you are not going to this extreem, you may want to check the condition of the cabinetry. I also needed 2 new axles, and you will most likely need them also. For 2 new disk axles and a E/H pump figure around 2K to replace it yourself. Good luck if you purchase it. I have a 3/4 ton Chevy, so I can't comment on how a 1/2 ton would work, but my guess is that you would be fine.
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Old 09-24-2009, 05:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDSilverado View Post
Thanks Carl. I'll will take my time as reccomended, I was just getting a little carried away. Acually I am very good with my hands...finish-carpentry, plumbing and electrical. I am looking forward to updating the AS just as much as I am camping when I'm done. I'm not a fan of the dark woods that most of the AS have on the interior so first on the adjenda will be to replace or refinish the cabinetry.

BTW...do you know what year AS switched from vacuum assist brakes to electric?
MDSliverado,
Well it looks like you have the skill set to tackle an Airstream renovation. Hopefully you will find one that doesn’t require that much work.

I am not sure about the brake question, but somebody here undoubtedly knows the answer and will chime in.
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Old 10-14-2009, 07:31 PM   #14
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Is there somewhere on the forums that explains (in a general sense) the difference between Sovereign, Sovereign LY, International and Ecella? As I look at prospective trailers to purchase I'm not sure what options may come with one model and not the other. One thing specifically, gray tanks. I know AS started using gray tanks in the mid seventies, but should I expect they were in all models of that era?

Thanks for any assistance provided.
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:23 AM   #15
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MDSilverado,
Airstream started putting gray tanks in their trailers in 1974. I think all trailers after that year will have them.

Take a look at this link and you will find a good bit of the information you are looking for. It was recently added to the Airstream web site and is a treasure trove of valuable information...

Airstream, Inc :: Service Home

Click on the "Vintage Trailer Specs" link on the lower right portion of the page and happy reading...

I think Sovereign, Sovereign LY, International and Excella are pretty much just trim lines. For example there are Excellas, Excella 500's and Excella 1000's. I may be wrong in my assumption and if I am I hope somebody will correct me.
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:52 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DEITZ645 View Post
MDSilverado,
Airstream started putting gray tanks in their trailers in 1974. I think all trailers after that year will have them.
My 1974 has a grey tank but it's only 10 US gallons. Hard to imagine why they didn't bump that up a bit.
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