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Old 06-17-2015, 01:38 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
 
1974 31' Sovereign
Monclova , Ohio
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 7
Lost, coming of age WHAT DO I DO moment with my AS

Hi All,

I need some empowerment. I am feeling defeated and unsure of my direction. I have a 31ft 74 Sovereign. I am just beginning to restore her and after poking around it the past few days, I am realizing I need to gut her and build her back up- there's a leak somewhere in the fresh water tank that has lead me to believe that there is probably damage between the floor and belly skin. Of course, when I get down to the bare bones of it, there will be a thousand new problems that will overwhelm the heck out of me.

The difficulty lies is that I am doing this on my own with no prior knowledge and I've only handled power tools in 6th grade wood shop (but, the point of this is to learn!) The space I have now is not suitable anymore for this job. I need a place with storage, and truthfully its on a families property, where an elderly family member stops me from doing most things because I am a woman "and cannot fix things" blah blah blah. I'm not getting anything done, or the right way. I plan on living in this trailer, and 100% committed to it. I get more negative feedback than I care for. So, thats why I'm on my own. I am looking to this community for inspiration or to slap me in the face if I am not being realistic.

So, what I am asking if you all have any creative ideas.

I am outside the Toledo, OH area- any reader happen to know of a farmer or garage owner who will let me rent and use their space to keep my AS and repair it? I do travel for a living, so I have some flexibility in location- would prefer Michigan, Ohio, and even Indiana.

I know I would need actual help in terms of extra set of hands for some tasks, so I'll hire someone as needed for that?

There is so much information on this forum and other sites that I can figure out each step as i go. Honestly, I wish there was a how to do electrical work in a 74 airstream for dummies book, but ill get through it!

There just happens to be close by an airstream restoration shop. They are busy for the summer, and have even offered that I can work with them on the airstream as a professional does it (which is the most important part to me is actually doing the work so I can learn). But, this comes at a significant financial cost that will take time in itself to save for.

Has anyone else out there had unique situations? Found they couldn't do it and came up with another plan? What was it?

Thanks for listening! I AM SO LOST! but simple living in this trailer is my DREAM!
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Old 06-17-2015, 03:45 PM   #2
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1966 22' Safari
Hilltop Lakes , Texas
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Hang in there! You can do this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mill1301 View Post
Hi All,

I need some empowerment. I am feeling defeated and unsure of my direction. I have a 31ft 74 Sovereign. I am just beginning to restore her and after poking around it the past few days, I am realizing I need to gut her and build her back up- there's a leak somewhere in the fresh water tank that has lead me to believe that there is probably damage between the floor and belly skin. Of course, when I get down to the bare bones of it, there will be a thousand new problems that will overwhelm the heck out of me.


First, lose the negative thinking. You just have to take this project one step at a time. It helps to do the steps in the right order, so you don't have to undo what you just did, but it's all one step at a time.

Quote:
The difficulty lies is that I am doing this on my own with no prior knowledge and I've only handled power tools in 6th grade wood shop (but, the point of this is to learn!) The space I have now is not suitable anymore for this job. I need a place with storage, and truthfully its on a families property, where an elderly family member stops me from doing most things because I am a woman "and cannot fix things" blah blah blah. I'm not getting anything done, or the right way. I plan on living in this trailer, and 100% committed to it. I get more negative feedback than I care for. So, thats why I'm on my own. I am looking to this community for inspiration or to slap me in the face if I am not being realistic.

So, what I am asking if you all have any creative ideas.


If a woman can't fix things, why do they keep expecting us to fix dinner? Traditional "womens' work" is a thing of the past.

What you need to do is to learn. 6th grade wood shop probably taught you to keep your fingers out of the saw blade. That's the bottom line with power tools--don't let them hurt you. The rest of it is just practice until the skill is adequate for the task.

For other skills, is there a community college near you that offers shop classes? If so, do they work with your travel schedule?



Quote:
I am outside the Toledo, OH area- any reader happen to know of a farmer or garage owner who will let me rent and use their space to keep my AS and repair it? I do travel for a living, so I have some flexibility in location- would prefer Michigan, Ohio, and even Indiana.


Can't help you there. We're in Texas and that's too far away. For the short term, negotiate the family members' attitude by doing the stuff that fits his/her expectations--sew new curtains, upholster cushions, clean. The fabric stuff can be put in boxes to re-emerge when the mechanicals are finished.

Quote:
I know I would need actual help in terms of extra set of hands for some tasks, so I'll hire someone as needed for that?


Look up a recent thread on the forums by member thumbelinadj. She's been quiet for a while now, but she did a great thread on rebuilding her trailer in much your same circumstances.

Quote:
There is so much information on this forum and other sites that I can figure out each step as i go. Honestly, I wish there was a how to do electrical work in a 74 airstream for dummies book, but ill get through it!


It's not in the "Dummies" format, but RV Electrical Systems by Bill and Jan Moller is pretty good.

Quote:
There just happens to be close by an airstream restoration shop. They are busy for the summer, and have even offered that I can work with them on the airstream as a professional does it (which is the most important part to me is actually doing the work so I can learn). But, this comes at a significant financial cost that will take time in itself to save for.


Get in touch with that Airstream repair shop and ask what they'd take for an hour or so of their time to just give you advice. You need to make that basic plan. Start with stuff that prevents further damage--like stopping leaks. Work out a deal where they can answer your questions without viewing you as a mooching time-waster.


Quote:
Has anyone else out there had unique situations? Found they couldn't do it and came up with another plan? What was it?


I did have a situation just over a year ago, but I didn't give up. The Airstream (single-axle) needed a new axle. Found out about this just before a scheduled camping trip with the whole family. Anyway, the new axle was delivered to the local freight company's dock on Tuesday. I had the old one off and the new one installed by noon Friday. Friday night 200 miles away camping with the kids and grandkids.

Oh, by the way. I'm female and at that time was almost 72 years old. I did that work entirely by myself.


Quote:
Thanks for listening! I AM SO LOST! but simple living in this trailer is my DREAM!
Glad to listen. I see in what you wrote here a whole lot of where I came from. Don't give up unless you have to.

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Old 06-17-2015, 03:51 PM   #3
cwf
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1999 34' Excella
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Hillsboro , Texas
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Wow.
Well, sounds more like a "shell off"'restoration. It can be done but will take longer than you suspect.

While it is meritorious to "soldier on!", you must be honest... "To thine ownself be true!".. All hail The Bard!

Since we don't know your skills, that is best your call of whether or not to continue..

There are plenty of threads to read. Ask the thread owners for insight. One in particular is "The Marco" of recent fame... You will be inspired..

You can do it... If you chose to... Just do not "schedule" your completion... Because it really never completes... It is a labor of love... Or insanity on any given day...
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:00 PM   #4
CRH
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1995 25' Excella
xxxxx , xxxxxx
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Nearly anything can be done with enough time, sweat, and money.
It took me years to figure out that fixer uppers rarely, if ever, save you money in the long run. They always cost you more time than you think. As I got older, I realized spending more up front for a turnkey whatever is usually the better route unless you just have loads of money and time that you want to burn.
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRH View Post
Nearly anything can be done with enough time, sweat, and money.
It took me years to figure out that fixer uppers rarely, if ever, save you money in the long run. They always cost you more time than you think. As I got older, I realized spending more up front for a turnkey whatever is usually the better route unless you just have loads of money and time that you want to burn.
I somewhat agree with CRH, not having done the restoration route myself. It might be easier to settle for a somewhat smaller (27ft) newer unit and to get going with your life and jump directly to your dream of living in the airstream than spending lots of energy and money fixing up the Sovereign. Ultimately, the journey has to be (at least part of) the destination, so it will be your decision to convince yourself that restoration is what you want to do.
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Old 06-17-2015, 04:27 PM   #6
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Well, on the good side, I can offer the following:
-None of the work is rocket science, if you can turn a wrench and operate basic power tools, you can get it done.
-Shop manuals are readily available for your trailer, so you can see how the electrical and plumbing systems are organized.
-The physical help you need is rather occasional, you can twist a friend's arm, hire a helper, etc. as needed.

On the "reality calling" side, I would offer the following:
-A full blown shell-off is going to take a lot of time--I am starting year three of my 21' trailer rebuild. It has been my primary hobby most of those three years.
-The space required to work on the trailer is about three times the size of the trailer itself. This is because you will need space for the shell and the frame to sit separately for a while, and you will need indoor storage for all of the contents of the trailer.
-So when you pick a place to do your work, make sure that it is available to you for several years, and close enough to home that you can go there and work on the trailer as often as you want.

Good luck!
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Old 06-18-2015, 07:58 AM   #7
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1974 31' Sovereign
Monclova , Ohio
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 7
Thank you all, I appreciate all the insights and have been thinking about them! I feel more confident and am certain I will find a space for the AS. I am coming to really appreciate this forum and the thoughtful posts that I see- everyone wants everyone else to be successful airstreamers, however it may be!

Something to share- Hofarc just put out a free downloadable restoration guide. Though its high end, I appreciate seeing what products they are using to update their trailers.

New 56-page Renovation Guidebook - HofArc
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Old 06-18-2015, 12:02 PM   #8
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2000 36' Land Yacht XC Diesel
Fresno , California
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As a former interior designer who's taken on two vintage trailers and many MANY vintage boats...I can tell you right now unless you have your heart set on either that exact trailer or it the restoration work itself...it will definitely be more cost effective to offload your Soverign and find another AS. Water leak most assuredly = water damage (somewhere). That's always bad news and always in the five figures (per my experience).

It's only my humble opinion but I say let someone else with the time and know how take on your Soverign...I'm pretty sure if you look at the wanted section somebody out there is looking for yours or something close, and you can find amazing deals on used Streams that would only need cosmetic work at the most. I'm a firm believer that anyone can take handle that. If I can make a valance....ANYONE CAN!

But end the end it all comes down to doing whatever makes you the happiest. Welcome to the AS family! I wish you only the best of luck whatever way you go.
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Old 06-18-2015, 12:26 PM   #9
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1972 29' Ambassador
Boynton Beach , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2013
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Before you do anything rash, maybe take your trailer to that local joint, and let them look at it? Could be that you just have a broken fitting on your tank, and the water has been draining through, harming little! Those guys will be able to tell you what's wrong, and tell you the state of the frame and axles.

If there are soft spots in the floor, maybe you can replace just those parts... that's what I did in mine.

Finding spots to work on a trailer can be either difficult, expensive, or both. It sounds like this "old boy" hasn't thrown you off the property (yet), maybe try to engage him in a different way than you have been. Don't respond to his complaints, and just make something. It's difficult to argue with success! Since he is so into stereotypes, just act like some super-competent master crafter. Then find out how to do it. Nobody is born with these skills, everybody fakes-it-'till-they-makes-it!
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Old 06-18-2015, 12:42 PM   #10
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1974 31' Sovereign
Monclova , Ohio
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 7
Thank you. I have learned a lot by what all that you've sent me. What makes me feel most sick is the potential of how deteriorated the frame may be. Which is the task that may break the camels back. I am going to read up and reach out to a few more resources. But I may have to put my pride in my back pocket and realize that I didn't buy the right trailer for me, and that's ok! In reality, I want a home in the next year, not a restoration project over the next 5 years. Thank you for helping me figure this out.
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Old 06-18-2015, 12:47 PM   #11
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1974 31' Sovereign
Monclova , Ohio
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by SuzyHomemakr View Post
Before you do anything rash, maybe take your trailer to that local joint, and let them look at it? Could be that you just have a broken fitting on your tank, and the water has been draining through, harming little! Those guys will be able to tell you what's wrong, and tell you the state of the frame and axles.

If there are soft spots in the floor, maybe you can replace just those parts... that's what I did in mine.

Finding spots to work on a trailer can be either difficult, expensive, or both. It sounds like this "old boy" hasn't thrown you off the property (yet), maybe try to engage him in a different way than you have been. Don't respond to his complaints, and just make something. It's difficult to argue with success! Since he is so into stereotypes, just act like some super-competent master crafter. Then find out how to do it. Nobody is born with these skills, everybody fakes-it-'till-they-makes-it!
great pep talk! you're right! maybe its not as bad, do i tear out everything to figure it out? also, i do plan on hauling this thing everywhere (i move state to state every few months, with Ohio as a home base), so safety first in terms of having the structure right.
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Old 06-18-2015, 12:59 PM   #12
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1982 31' Airstream 310
champaign , Illinois
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 3,887
Its very easy to get caught up in doomsday speculation with these Airstreams. Ive done it too many times and it is wasted energy. Take a deep breath, hold it, release! Now start thinking about step one, step two, step three and so on. Does no good to speculate the worst though be emotionally prepared to deal with it if it is. Not the end of the world or your trailer. Step one, diagnose the problem. Find out whats there before going any further in your head. Then its step by step by step knocking out each problem as they present themselves. One step at a time. Much easier on you if you can tackle this whole project one step at a time in your head. If indeed the diagnosis is a frame off and you dont want to deal with that, sell it. Recoup what you can of your investment and move on. You will have learned a great deal in the process. There have been many many situations over the past two years of my 310 renovation where I freaked out over something that turned out to be a very simple fix. Wasted emotional energy. These things (RVs) are supposed to be fun right? Enjoy the path to getting it how you want it, they ALL take work
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Old 06-18-2015, 01:53 PM   #13
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Never give up, there is nothing you can't do. Will you make mistakes, a course, I call it experience, I have a lot of experience under my belt, the only person who doesn't make mistakes is the person who never tries anything. There is nothing wrong with falling down as long as you get back up and fight another battle.
At 50 I built a 3000sf house by myself for the most part, there are just somethings 2 hands just can't handle, it took me every weekend and free moment I had for 5 years to complete. In 2007 as the recession was getting ready to strike, I bought a business and over the next couple of years it took everything I had worked for in the last 25 years to stay afloat. In 2012 I sold it at a huge lost, I'm still trying to get back on my feet. Sometime you have to focus on the next hour worth of work, one small step at a time and you'll get there. Best of luck
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Old 06-18-2015, 02:43 PM   #14
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2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mill1301 View Post
I need some empowerment.
Others have provided that, I shall refrain.

Quote:
I am looking to this community for inspiration or to slap me in the face if I am not being realistic.
You are not being realistic. People with your dream, means, and abilities show up at the forums (here and elsewhere) regularly. You're in over your head. The kind of restoration you're trying to perform takes $20,000 cash and a year of work, with at least some access to an indoor shop. Plus labor. You don't have the space, money, or skills.

My advice is to sell your trailer and purchase one that doesn't need such extensive work. There are late 1970s/early 1980s trailers in ready-to-camp condition that you can buy for less than the cost of restoration.

Quote:
but simple living in this trailer is my DREAM!
Best wishes, whatever road you choose.

Simple living is what you make of it. You don't need a trailer to cook your own food and get rid of your TV.
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Old 06-18-2015, 05:07 PM   #15
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1958 22' Caravanner
Plattsmouth , Nebraska
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 166
Abandon all systems!!! Do a total gut! eMail me Larry @ lrahnmajusafret@gmail.com and I'll give you some simple and cheap workarounds. I did in my 1958 Caravanner 22':
You don't have to be handy to deconstruct.

18 each 1 pound propane bottles (these are refillable) after new then $.75 a refill
40 each 1 gallon jugs of water (also refillable) or old milk jugs
turkey fryer set up and air foot pump to shower wand
LED and propane lanterns and maybe kerosene lamp w/glass chimney
large funnel on wall - drained to mid under bottom skin
use toddler baby diapers to line the toilet - diaper pail
bouser or to ground
build a better YETI ice chest for $75
heat with convection wood stove ( $60 to $3,500) cooks some too when cold out
Coleman 3 burner Propane w/fold open oven atop (sometimes)
Cuisanart propane grill and griddle
6,000 Btu house A/C but won't need it
abandon tanks and disconnect battery ( I removed all ))
forget microwaving
wise use of window curtains and curtains to make smaller rooms (after gut)
Coleman Exponent Outfitter Camp Kitchen
INTEC inflatable couches ( the open to queen beds) $49 per
attic wind powered turbines over all roof hatches
forget lines: water, gas, 12v and 110v
buy generator ( I very rarely use my electric start 3,500 watt dual fuel-on tongue)*
lawn chairs and TV trays
repaired nylon parachute
much much more

without * less than $1K

let 31 footer sit and resupply with tow vehicle trips.

everything goes under awning for nice weather outdoor living
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Old 06-18-2015, 08:23 PM   #16
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1990 29' Excella
Stone Mountain , Georgia
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 308
Quote:
Originally Posted by mill1301 View Post
Hi All,

I need some empowerment. I am feeling defeated and unsure of my direction. I have a 31ft 74 Sovereign. I am just beginning to restore her and after poking around it the past few days, I am realizing I need to gut her and build her back up- there's a leak somewhere in the fresh water tank that has lead me to believe that there is probably damage between the floor and belly skin. Of course, when I get down to the bare bones of it, there will be a thousand new problems that will overwhelm the heck out of me.

The difficulty lies is that I am doing this on my own with no prior knowledge and I've only handled power tools in 6th grade wood shop (but, the point of this is to learn!) The space I have now is not suitable anymore for this job. I need a place with storage, and truthfully its on a families property, where an elderly family member stops me from doing most things because I am a woman "and cannot fix things" blah blah blah. I'm not getting anything done, or the right way. I plan on living in this trailer, and 100% committed to it. I get more negative feedback than I care for. So, thats why I'm on my own. I am looking to this community for inspiration or to slap me in the face if I am not being realistic.

So, what I am asking if you all have any creative ideas.

I am outside the Toledo, OH area- any reader happen to know of a farmer or garage owner who will let me rent and use their space to keep my AS and repair it? I do travel for a living, so I have some flexibility in location- would prefer Michigan, Ohio, and even Indiana.

I know I would need actual help in terms of extra set of hands for some tasks, so I'll hire someone as needed for that?

There is so much information on this forum and other sites that I can figure out each step as i go. Honestly, I wish there was a how to do electrical work in a 74 airstream for dummies book, but ill get through it!

There just happens to be close by an airstream restoration shop. They are busy for the summer, and have even offered that I can work with them on the airstream as a professional does it (which is the most important part to me is actually doing the work so I can learn). But, this comes at a significant financial cost that will take time in itself to save for.

Has anyone else out there had unique situations? Found they couldn't do it and came up with another plan? What was it?

Thanks for listening! I AM SO LOST! but simple living in this trailer is my DREAM!
I'd take the AS down to Helena, Ohio, to P&S and ask them for an estimate of the scope of work to fix this and a ball park expense. I live in Atlanta and I've taken my AS up to them three times to do work that I'm just not able to do myself. Their estimate will be a very knowledgeable one and you can decide from there.
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