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Old 07-03-2004, 12:25 PM   #1
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Opinions -- Where to Start

Hello Everyone,

I am new to the Forum and also a new Airstreamer. After reading through a bunch of threads I am sure that I am at the right p[lace to ask questions and even get answers.

Situation: I have just bought my 1st Airstream, a 31ft International Sovereign made in 1975 as the title and serial number concur. The trailer was purchased through a private estate sale and sits on the brother of the deceased owner's property. It was parked there around 5 years ago.
I am told that it had new brakes, new tires, and full propane tanks at the time it was parked there. I have viewed the trailer and it doesn't look bad, just covered with dust and a few leaves, and of course some deposits made by several of nature's air navigators (birds). I did notice a dent in the driver side front radius panel..I will post a picture of that and hope you can see it.
The inside had some spider webs, smelled a little musty, not mildewy, but other than that it seemed ok. I am told that the refrigerator does not work. The A/C worked when it was parked.
The trailer had been jacked and leveled when it was parked there. The jacks are down with bricks under them.

My questions:
1) Where do I start? Inside? Outside? Seal it? Polish it? Windows? Whatever?

Any and all suggestions and anything in a systematic order would be greatly appreciated.

I would also like to know if the brakes shjould be ok? I have not yet towed this trailer and can not until the rain stops for a few days to let the ground harden up. Otherwise I will need a wrecker to pull me out of the mud....
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1975 31ft Sovereign International
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System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 07-03-2004, 12:30 PM   #2
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starting

Welcome John!

I'd start with the safety stuff first. Have tires, brakes, bearings, lights, gas appliances, propane tanks, your hitch etc.... checked off first.

Then, or concurrently, when washing it check for leaks and get those stopped to prevent damage.

Then the interior/exterior improvements that fit your particular priorities...

It'll be fun and as expensive as you make it.
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Old 07-03-2004, 12:34 PM   #3
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John, I think the first order of agenda would be the running gear since I would assume the trailer needs to be relocated. This includes Tires, brakes, wheel bearings. I would also check frame components. Next I would check the gas lines for leaks, and water system next, which includes fixtures, drain lines, water pump and holding tanks. Following that I would check the interior carefully for water leaks. Obviously you will need to check the battery, electrical components, inside and out.

Lots to do here.

Jack
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Old 07-03-2004, 01:20 PM   #4
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Thanks Tin Hut and Jcanavara,



Yes, I do have to relocate the trailer, only 90 miles and pretty level road so that part is lucky. Safety will be my 1st concern here.



I kind of figured that I would start by washing and then checking for leaks, especially around the windows. I almost figure that I will need to start sealing immediately.



Any suggestions on which sealant to use?
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........Rear Bath Double Bed Model
Tow Vehicle:1999 GMC Serria SLE Classic 1500 5.7Ltr
System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 07-03-2004, 01:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG
[color=black]
Any suggestions on which sealant to use?
[VULKEM!]

You will need to clear out what ever old caulking that is there, I use razor blades, dremel tool, orange sticks, popsicle sticks, plastic putty knives.... then wipe it down with mineral spirits. The tops of the windows and the door, and vents should be done with Vulkem. The seams and the smaller joints can be done with Parbond. Also look for missing or loose rivets while you are washing it. Figure on redoing the plumbing vent gaskets and screens too.

Welcome to the REAL world of Airstreaming I have the same vintage as yours, any questions that you can't find answers to on the board or if you just want to comiserate PM or email me.

Aaron
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Old 07-03-2004, 02:04 PM   #6
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Welcome John

I hope you're gonna Love the Airstream thing.
Where to start, where to start, where to start...
My motto "When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles scream and shout!"
No honestly the advice you have already received is the way to go.
Just remember that the Devil is in the details. Take your time ask questions and we'll all have some fun, you and your restoration and us and our jibes.
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Old 07-03-2004, 02:09 PM   #7
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Thanks Aaron,

I have read a lot about rivet replacement on this forum, is this a real problem or is it a little overdone? Since you have an the same trailer as mine, have you found this to be any problem?

Any other problems you have found that I should be aware of?

Email me anytime if you want. I am sure that I will probably shoot you an email or two with questions if you don't mind, But I will wait until I have the trailer here where I can start finding some of those problems (Hopefully very little)

Thanks Again!
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1975 31ft Sovereign International
........Rear Bath Double Bed Model
Tow Vehicle:1999 GMC Serria SLE Classic 1500 5.7Ltr
System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 07-03-2004, 02:11 PM   #8
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Thanks Gary,


Love your motto, I know that it certainly fits in most aspects of restoration or project completion.
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1975 31ft Sovereign International
........Rear Bath Double Bed Model
Tow Vehicle:1999 GMC Serria SLE Classic 1500 5.7Ltr
System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 07-03-2004, 02:57 PM   #9
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Talking Email on the way

John,
I don't find rivet replacement to be a big deal, but I come from a sheetmetal/restoration background. I don't use a rivet shaver but that is because I am cheap I just use a dremel tool with a sanding drum in it. I sent you an email with somemore info in it. Good luck on getting your new aquistion home!

Aaron
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Old 07-03-2004, 04:00 PM   #10
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Email Returned

Just shot you a return email.

Thanks for the great info.
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1975 31ft Sovereign International
........Rear Bath Double Bed Model
Tow Vehicle:1999 GMC Serria SLE Classic 1500 5.7Ltr
System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 07-03-2004, 07:11 PM   #11
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Tires and Brakes, Lights and Bearings..

John-

Congrats on new and shiny portable money-pit!! Sounds like a good deal even though it may take some effort to get it travel-worthy... Others have covered many of the basics, but others in similar situations over past year have had some interesting experiences...

1. Tires are huge, as blown tire can start chain reaction of bad stuff. Even if "new" when parked, check carefully for cracks, inflate from tank and check again in few hours with good gage to see if they're holding pressure... They will have flat sides from parking, and so trailer will bounce a lot during first fifty miles, so avoid loose items inside...

2. Bearings have similar habit of ruining day if they are greaseless and sieze up on drive home... Most posters urge grease and reseal every year, and many are very wise.. In an emergency (no shop near parking place..) at least try to jack up and see how wheels turn before heading off at high speed..

3. Brakes - Many posters have boldly hooked up purchases without trailer brakes, figuring they'd not need them by driving carefully. Could work, and might well work on short trip off freeways or interstate. Sadly, other drivers may screw up your plan. I certainly needed my trailer brakes coming over rise on I-40 east of Albuquerque when bringing our unit home and finding line of stopped cars in both lanes about 100 yards ahead... (Wreck caused by Suburban towing car on trailer that rear-ended car in front of him.. No brakes on his trailer..)

4. Finally, take some spare bulbs and electrical grease to try and get brake lights/turn signals working, both to help you make lane changes and avoid some foll hitting trailer from rear...

Enjoy the trip, and rest assured, there are plenty of threads on the forum for everything from propane and electric repairs to interiors and appliances.. Welcome aboard!!

John McG

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Old 07-03-2004, 10:31 PM   #12
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John McG

Thanks for the welcome and for the advise. I will have all aspects of brake control working or it just will not be pulled. I just bought a Jordon 2020 Ultima brake controller and am having it installed shortly.

I have load levelers and sway bars for the trailer which was included when I bought it. My truck is a little light as it is only a 1/2 ton, but it has the towing package already on it with a class III hitch and this I am told will work ok. Also I am only pulling it 90 maile to get it home.

I have a lot of experience pulling trailers, just none with an Airstream behind me. I have a 18ft fiberglass bass-boat and have thought about putting brakes on that trailer due to the weight of the boat. This is my 3rd camper, and the longest one I have had. I also have been a commerical truck driver for a couple of years in my life.

My inexperience comes in not having to restore one as I am going to get into here. My only experience in restoration is with cars, a 58 Chevy (Chubby), and most recently a 1970 Chevy 1/2 ton short-bed pickup.

I am happy to have found such a community of people that are so willing to help each other. My experience here is a positive one.

Thanks Again!
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1975 31ft Sovereign International
........Rear Bath Double Bed Model
Tow Vehicle:1999 GMC Serria SLE Classic 1500 5.7Ltr
System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 07-04-2004, 08:06 AM   #13
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Hey John, welcome to the group. Us 75 31 foot Sovereign owners need to stick together. My advice is as free as it gets. Let me know if I can be of any help. All the advice I see so far is right on the money. Tires and wheel brgs are the most important for the first move. I would pop a tire and wheel and look at the grease in at least one before any move. Tires after a five year rest are not very encouraging even if new when parked, but should be ok for a short move at reasonable speed.
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Old 07-04-2004, 01:43 PM   #14
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Thanks so much for all the advise,

My game plan so far is to do this:
01) Air up all 4 tires to pressure (They look aired up now, but who knows)
02) Take off its jacks
03) Inspect for any hanging type things on the bottom.
04) Pull trailer from present position to level ground area to complete hook up and do other inspections.
05) Pull all tires to check the hub, grease in bearings and check the brakes.
06) Check rear end of trailer for any Frame Seperation (This is so I know and perhaps to go a little slower)
07) Wire up the new trailer connector to match my tow vehicle.
08) Check all lights to see what is working and possible shorts.
09) Check Electric brakes to make certain they are working.
10) Get traiker and truck level for the tow home.
11) Make final inspection to make certain all 3 awnings are secure, propane tanks are secure, and compartment dorrs are secure.
12) Place License plate on the trailer (Almost forgot this one)
13) Ah, my lucky number, Now begin tow home.
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1975 31ft Sovereign International
........Rear Bath Double Bed Model
Tow Vehicle:1999 GMC Serria SLE Classic 1500 5.7Ltr
System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 07-04-2004, 01:45 PM   #15
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Oh, if I missed anything on my list would someone please tell me.

A few post to let me know that my plan will be ok would help to reinforce my confidence too.
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Tow Vehicle:1999 GMC Serria SLE Classic 1500 5.7Ltr
System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 07-04-2004, 02:17 PM   #16
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FYI...I talked to Airstream several months ago. Vulkum is only used in the wheel wells on newer coaches. Silkaflex (sp) is what they use for everything else. I would use what the factory now uses as I am sure they have researched it enough.

I also agree with Jack...gotta start from the bottom up (unless it's being restored on location where it sits).
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Old 07-04-2004, 04:24 PM   #17
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John, it sounds like you have a good plan. You will like the Jordon control. I put one in my van last year. Its the best control I have ever used. Good luck on the tow back.

Regards,

Jack
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Old 07-04-2004, 04:34 PM   #18
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Thanks Jack,
I hope I have it covered. I only have to tow it 90 miles to get it home, but have to wait for the ground to firm up so need a little dry weather (Around 5 days) to pull it from it's present location
And the forcast for the next 5 days - Rain 4 out of 5.....................
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1975 31ft Sovereign International
........Rear Bath Double Bed Model
Tow Vehicle:1999 GMC Serria SLE Classic 1500 5.7Ltr
System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 07-04-2004, 09:20 PM   #19
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Well, looking at it as the glass half full...after you get it out, the rain will keep the tires nice and cool.
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Old 07-05-2004, 10:23 PM   #20
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Got it covered...

John-

After reading replies, I'm sure 90 mile ride home will be piece of cake, if weather ever dries out... Only possible item missing from checklist might be St. Christopher medal, just as potential spiritual insurance... We do carry floor jack in tow vehicle when on long road trip, along with 12v compressor and extension cord and air tank, just in case... (That may qualify as belts, suspenders and some snaps..)

The Sovereign 31 is not much heavier than Safari 28 due to changes in construction and almost 6 inches of extra width beginning in 1995. We happily tow Excella 25 at 5500# (roughly, haven't been on scale yet fully loaded..) with 1/2 ton Chevy Suburban, Class III hitch, leveling and anti-sway bars, and new set of air adjustible Gabriel rear shocks. Wish I had Vortec version (250 v. our 200 hp) but it's fine other than up steep hills in mountains... Tow ratings also depend a lot on what you're carrying in the truck...

Welcome again, and enjoy the fun of finding parts and documentation and sources of help as you bring the Sovereign back to a useful life...

John McG
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