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Old 07-19-2011, 09:31 PM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania
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New (old) Sovereign, should I have it serviced?

Hello all,

I just purchased my first Airstream, a 1976 Sovereign. I know it has a few issues so I was wondering if it is customary to have them serviced in some fashion when you buy an old one.

The air conditioner is semi-functunal, the heater will work for ten or so minutes then it cuts out, the hot water heater is supposedly shot, and the refrigerator doesn't seam to work either.

As I said this is a 1976 so I imagine that most of these things would need replaced about now anyway so I don't want to pay someone to state the obvious but I would like to know if these things are easy fixes or if I should be looking at new appliances etc.

Your thoughts?

FYI: I only paid $2500 for it so the additional expense was worked into my calculation of "still seems like a good deal", hopefully I am not wrong about the last part.

Thanks and be well.

Mikal
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:40 PM   #2
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Mikal,

Greetings and welcome to Airforums.com! We look forward to sharing our knowledge and hearing of your experiences.

Having an even slightly older Sovereign than you, I would say this: the appliances all need replacement. That will cost you probably not far from $3,000 or so, depending on installation costs. You may do some or all of that yourself.

Think about it: how many appliances do you have in your home that are more than 35 years old? Whether or not they get the same year-round duty cycle, they age. You can either spend many hours learning how to repair and upgrade them, or spend the money now and jump miles ahead in enjoyment of your new-to-you trailer.

The choice is yours, of course. I wish you the best of luck.

Oh, and how about some photos inside and out, of your new baby? We enjoy seeing other trailers very much.
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Old 07-19-2011, 10:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gronlampa View Post
Hello all,

I just purchased my first Airstream, a 1976 Sovereign. I know it has a few issues so I was wondering if it is customary to have them serviced in some fashion when you buy an old one.

The air conditioner is semi-functunal, the heater will work for ten or so minutes then it cuts out, the hot water heater is supposedly shot, and the refrigerator doesn't seam to work either.

As I said this is a 1976 so I imagine that most of these things would need replaced about now anyway so I don't want to pay someone to state the obvious but I would like to know if these things are easy fixes or if I should be looking at new appliances etc.

Your thoughts?

FYI: I only paid $2500 for it so the additional expense was worked into my calculation of "still seems like a good deal", hopefully I am not wrong about the last part.

Thanks and be well.

Mikal
The first issue to address, is to make sure all the exterior gaskets are OK, especially the sewer vent pipe cover gaskets, which only last 2 to 3 years.

If the trailer has been parked for an extended time, and you plan on traveling with it, you should also check out the axles.

Most of the appliances should be replaced.

Make extra sure, that the LPG system is secure with zero leaks.

The list goes on and on, but this would give you a good start.

Andy
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Old 07-20-2011, 10:13 PM   #4
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Thanks for the great advice on both the appliances and the gas. The appliances will be replaced over time but the gas will be checked before it is used, I can't thank you enough for the heads up!

I purchased the Airstream so my family and I could stay in it while we work on our land in the county, the thought of a gas leak or something else that would put them in harms way makes my skin crawl.

Click the link if you would like to see some pics.

It is a bit nicotine stained but aside from that and a bit of grease the inside is in pretty decent shape. There is a dent on the outside and it looks like it had a leak at some point since there is a sealant of some sort down the rivets on one panel.

The pics are from my inspection prior to shipping it to our little piece of land (don't have anything big enough to pull it at the moment). I will post after cleaning pics if you have an interest in seeing them as well.

MobileMe Gallery


So I have read a a lot of the winter living posts but I haven't seen any that deal with hookup access as far as electricity goes and going without the use of water and the toilet.

Could we stay in it down to 10 below as long as we don't use the water system?

Thanks again!

Mikal
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Old 07-21-2011, 07:18 AM   #5
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Hello again, Mikal!

There is a lot of discussion on winter living on the board. I put the search words "winter camping" into the Google search choice in the Search option up in the top horizontal blue bar and got these results. It's worthwhile to do a lot of reading if you are seriously considering camping in winter both from a convenience point of view and a safety one.

My personal opinion is that unless camping in sub-zero is really necessary it is to be avoided. I feel that it is neither comfortable nor safe, due to the extreme measures needed to avoid asphyxiation from gases produced in some methods of heating, balanced with proper ventilation in a moisture-laden interior atmosphere.

But people do it, so read up and make your own decision. I'd rather make a run for warmer southern weather when it gets super frosty up here.
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Old 07-21-2011, 07:55 AM   #6
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Welcome. I just wanted to 2nd Andy on making sure all gaskets are in good shape and the leaks are fixed. Some leaks are easy, some are hard to find but if you want to keep the trailer smelling fresh and in good order they must be fixed. IMO, first step is find and fix all water leaks. Don't use silicone! There are many threads here on which sealer is best but it is universal that RTV is not good for fixing Airstream leaks.
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Old 07-21-2011, 05:40 PM   #7
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Hello again, Mikal!

There is a lot of discussion on winter living on the board. I put the search words "winter camping" into the Google search choice in the Search option up in the top horizontal blue bar and got these results. It's worthwhile to do a lot of reading if you are seriously considering camping in winter both from a convenience point of view and a safety one.

My personal opinion is that unless camping in sub-zero is really necessary it is to be avoided. I feel that it is neither comfortable nor safe, due to the extreme measures needed to avoid asphyxiation from gases produced in some methods of heating, balanced with proper ventilation in a moisture-laden interior atmosphere.

But people do it, so read up and make your own decision. I'd rather make a run for warmer southern weather when it gets super frosty up here.

Is there a safe temperature window or is anything approaching freezing a bad idea?

Thanks!

Mikal
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Old 07-21-2011, 05:58 PM   #8
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I have worked the last 4 years on my 1975 Sovereign. The only appliance that I could not salvage was the furnace, the heat exchanger was burnt out..The hot water heater did not leak, but the control was gone (someone lit it with no water in it and the over temp fuse went) Found anew one on Ebay for $80 Fridge worked, however lighter spark was broken, replaced it with a electronic ignite ,for 35, works fine, with a internal fan, keeps cold around here to 100F. I pulled it out, cleaned it well. If it works on either electric or gas, the fridge is reparable for a fraction of the cost of a new one. The inside of mine was filthy, after burning anything made of fabric I scubbed the entire thing down with Purple Power degreaser. Looks like new.
Next was a good going over for bad/lost rivets..Andy has all you need. The pan on mine was almost ready to fall off, and if I did it again I would remove it and check things. Yes indeed after many a argument with fellow Airstreamers, the axles were shot along with the tires, brakes and shocks Thank you Andy!!
I also replaced the AC to DC converter with the new computer controlled ones, they really save batteries. Most of the plumbing was OK, black tank was full of dry solids, how ever a few doses of septic digester did the trick, toilet had to be replaced, a
new flush valve costs as much as a whole new toilet. Get on line and find a service manual for it, I paid like $75 for mine, saved many times that.
Well I just stripped the clear coat and Walbanised the thing, shines like a mirrior, at this point I do not plan to go further.
Bottom line, I love that Airstream...
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Old 07-21-2011, 06:04 PM   #9
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Oops winter using the Airstream. On my 75 they did a great job of sending the water lines along the heat duct, also in the rear of the bath is a vent that returns up front to the furnace, so you do distribute heat to the tanks. I have used it down to 25F for a night or two, I usually use my Wave heater, set on low, keeps the trailer at 70 down to
30F out. And it uses alot less gas. We usually dry camp.
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Old 07-21-2011, 08:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gronlampa View Post
Is there a safe temperature window or is anything approaching freezing a bad idea?

Thanks!

Mikal
Well, you and I are in similar climates, so the thing is, in our winters, things can change very rapidly. One afternoon, you and your friends and families are outside enjoying a fun game of touch football in sweaters, and the next morning there's an inch of ice on the rainbarrell and a foot of snow in the driveway!

Couple that to the fact that it's not a fast job to drain all the plumbing and winterize your trailer, and you certainly won't want to do it every weekend. If it freezes, you will be faced with more work to replace pipes than you might think.

So, if you plan to be in it during the winter you need to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that your water supply doesn't freeze, and that you have some means of disposing of waste water.

There are several other issues to deal with, notably heating and ventilation, among others. I think you need to find a couple of the longer, more interesting stories where the members go into intense detail as to how they did it.

It's not a decision to take lightly, in my opinion.

But again, people have done it. And again, I say that it's a serious undertaking, and needs a high level of commitment, so we will be interested to hear what you decide to do.

Andy has the right idea; start with the basics. Make sure you don't have any leaks, and do it now, so that your new trailer will be secure inside for the fall and winter to come.
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Old 07-21-2011, 09:40 PM   #11
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Welcome! My blog lists much of the work I've done on my trailer. I started at the top and worked my way to the floor and frame repair, then interior gutting, all new fixtures and appliances, and now I'm building new closets and cabinets. When that's finished, I'll install new bed and furniture, drapes and blinds, and next year, awnings, and exterior stripping and polish.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:34 PM   #12
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So.... Does anyone know how to plug one of these bad boys into an electrical I have looked in all compartments but I only came across an input jack.

Thanks!

Mikal
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:41 PM   #13
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Mine has a cord in a door over the rear bumper.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:46 PM   #14
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So.... Does anyone know how to plug one of these bad boys into an electrical I have looked in all compartments but I only came across an input jack.

Thanks!

Mikal
When you say you found an "input jack" did you mean something like this?

If so, you just may need a specialized cord. Some people set their trailer up like this, so instead of having a hard-wired shore power cord they have a detachable one, you'll need the twist-lock style female end and a 30 amp RV male end if that's the case.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:51 PM   #15
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Hmm...

I looked in the but didn't see anything. I will take a closer look.

Thanks!
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:54 PM   #16
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I will take a look. Thanks for the pic.
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Old 07-24-2011, 09:45 PM   #17
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When you say you found an "input jack" did you mean something like this?

If so, you just may need a specialized cord. Some people set their trailer up like this, so instead of having a hard-wired shore power cord they have a detachable one, you'll need the twist-lock style female end and a 30 amp RV male end if that's the case.
I found it.

It is a 210 to 110 plug in the rear as explained.

Thanks!
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:29 PM   #18
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I found it.

It is a 210 to 110 plug in the rear as explained.

Thanks!
Just one thing more, the shore power cable does *NOT* transform voltage from 240 down to 120, the 30-amp RV connection is 120 volts.
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Old 07-24-2011, 11:04 PM   #19
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Just one thing more, the shore power cable does *NOT* transform voltage from 240 down to 120, the 30-amp RV connection is 120 volts.
I am using the cord that came with the AS. The previous owner gave it to me and they have been using it since 92 so I am guessing the description I used wa incorrect but the cable it good to go.

Thanks for the heads up!
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