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Old 12-26-2008, 02:37 PM   #1
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1975 31' Sovereign
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Restoration of my 1975 31' Sovereign

Hey everyone,

I'm moving in here from the Member's Introduction forum. I recently purchased my Airstream and will be bringing her into the 21st Century

I'll keep everyone posted on what I'm doing, because I'm going to need quite a bit of help as I dig into her.
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Old 12-26-2008, 03:35 PM   #2
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Welcome to these forums. It was about 14 months ago when I bought my first airstream. I would never have done what I did without the advice of all wonderful people in this forum.

I was totally in the dark about the issues with my airstream. I had a good friend come over and he got on the floor of the trailer and pushed on every inch of the floor and found a few soft spots. He also discovered the floor was rotted in the bathroom. The previous owner had all new carpet in the trailer. I ripped it all out. That is where I decided to fix everything. Go to the threads that cover the floor and frame repair and then investigate the black tank. Also your axels are probably in bad shape if they are the orginals.

I was surprised with what I got accomplished in a period of six months.

Lothlorian

Brian
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:19 PM   #3
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Just make sure to work one section at a time so you don't get in too deep and burn out on the upgrades. Might be best to start in either the back or front and work to the other end. We started in the rear due to the rot and frame damage.
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Old 12-27-2008, 08:56 AM   #4
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Welcome to the group. Glad to see another "75" BEING SAVED AND USED.
Ted
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Old 12-27-2008, 04:54 PM   #5
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Hey Ted, thanks for the welcoming.

I made some more progress today in gutting. Removed the credenza and the interior front end cap. Lot's of previous mouse burrows throughout the insulation and the smells are starting to diminish as I remove the nasty old insulation. I don't think that I'll reuse the end cap. Don't really like the look of it and I'm not thinking that it provides too much structural integrity. Thinking about putting up some wood paneling to wrap around that section. I'm also concerned about some of the bolts that are inside the "c" channel.
A couple of them are lose and rusted. If I'm not mistaken, these bolts are what hold the outer shell to the frame, right?

Anyways, might give me an excuse to replace some of the base boards as well. I keep procrastinating opening up the belly, but will get to that as soon as we get a good patch of weather down here in Mississippi. Plus, if there are any more rodents inside the trailer, I believe that's where I'll find them.

Well take a look at my pics on my blog and thanks for following my progress. I can certainly use some criticism along the way, especially if I'm doing something way out the norm
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Old 12-27-2008, 06:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by CrzyCorpsman View Post
Hey Ted, thanks for the welcoming.

I made some more progress today in gutting. Removed the credenza and the interior front end cap. Lot's of previous mouse burrows throughout the insulation and the smells are starting to diminish as I remove the nasty old insulation. I don't think that I'll reuse the end cap. Don't really like the look of it and I'm not thinking that it provides too much structural integrity. Thinking about putting up some wood paneling to wrap around that section. I'm also concerned about some of the bolts that are inside the "c" channel.
A couple of them are lose and rusted. If I'm not mistaken, these bolts are what hold the outer shell to the frame, right?

Anyways, might give me an excuse to replace some of the base boards as well. I keep procrastinating opening up the belly, but will get to that as soon as we get a good patch of weather down here in Mississippi. Plus, if there are any more rodents inside the trailer, I believe that's where I'll find them.

Well take a look at my pics on my blog and thanks for following my progress. I can certainly use some criticism along the way, especially if I'm doing something way out the norm
Welcome to the Forums, and congratulations on your new Airstream.

Scott's advice is good, if possible try to refurbish one section at a time and use it throughout the renovation-- this will keep you excited about the project.

I think you should open up the belly ASAP. Rusted and loose bolts through the c-channel and floor could mean floor rot and/or frame rot. You can repair this yourself, but it's not a good idea to let it go unchecked. Also, if there is rot, then there is also a reason for it-- a leak somewhere. Make sure you treat the cause (the leak) first, and then treat the symptom (rot), so that you don't have to do it all over again.

I think those endcaps are structural, you can think of it as one big fiberglass (or plastic?) rib. If you want, you could rivet some wood paneling over it.

Good luck, if you'd like to check out some real-live pictures of floor rot, frame rot, and the associated repairs, check my blog which is linked below in my signature.

Good luck!
-Marcus
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Old 12-27-2008, 09:53 PM   #7
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Welcome from another Newbie. I've just started a 73 Sovereign' and am learning alot as well. Enjoy the ride!

And don't forget to seek solace, as Austin Aluminitus seems to, in a cold brew now and then. Helps retain sanity.

eric
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Old 12-28-2008, 11:25 AM   #8
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Found one of my leaks......

After a night of downpours, went out to the trailer this morning and wouldn't you know it, I had a pool of water on the floor. It's coming from the vent seal in the front compartment. Now looking at the floor rot, it all makes sense. It appears to me that while the paneling was still on, the water must have followed the rib all the way to the floor, which is right where the floor rot is. I'll have to get online and order 3 new vent seals and replace them all. I'm sure that if that one is leaking, then the other two probably are too.

I was going to pull the front belly skins off today, but the weather doesn't look like it will hold out, so I'll continue on gutting the interior.

I will take up Scotts advice on remodeling once section at a time, put I need to get all of the old insulation out of this thing and once I all of the interior gutted, the interior skins cleaned and painted, new insulation put in and the interior panels reinstalled, I will then start the remodeling, probably up front first, then work my way back.

I am going to rebuild the cabinets throughout the trailer, using birch, as I seen a '76 Sovereign being done that way. I'm thinking that by removing the old refer, that doesn't work, should cut a bit of weight out of there. Does any one know how much that thing weighs? Or would it even be worth refurbishing it? I don't even know if they still make parts for it.

All of the other appliances are in working order. Fired up the furnace and hot water heaters yesterday and they are running fine. That saves me a bunch of $$ for the time. I will replace the furnace eventually, but this old one seems to put out quite a bit of heat.

I'm also thinking that the A/C is the original. I'll take a look at the ID tag today and take a look. Don't need to replace that, either. It puts out some cold air and isn't too loud. I usually have it running when I'm working on the inside

Thanks for all of the feedback, as your keeping me in the right direction!
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Old 12-28-2008, 01:09 PM   #9
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Sounds like you are off to a good start on the refirb, we know all to well how much fun and time it takes. We picked our 72 31 sovereign while on the road for our job and started the refirb at once, we had a 07 cavalear at the rv park and got luckly and put the sovereign right next to it we had 4 weeks to get it road ready and livable but we worked at the job 4 days a week only hed weekends, we did the floor and bathroom first we were in tulsa and the ac work great by looking at you pic's you have the same issues we had out trailer sat in woods for 3 years befor we got it, we have now had it for 3 months living in it as we referb it, lots of work complete new sofa bed, elic fireplace, new light covers, frig and added a few homie things, only think I have not been able to repair or replace in the heater, where I am at we are wintering in Cheyenne WY not my choice but the job called for it so winterized 2 elic heaters and heated water lines and we are warm and livable are lovely sovereign has done us well for the 3 months so far has held up under -17 below temp with -32 below wind chill we are full timers ans cant wait till spring and summer to finish the outside. Sean and Rondie
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Old 12-28-2008, 04:10 PM   #10
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Progress report of the Day

Did a bit more gutting today. Got the curb side of the galley out, including the furnace, stove/oven, counter top and overhead cabinets. I also finally found the drain valve for the fresh water tank . It was completely full, as in my ignorance, it wasn't even hooked up to the plumbing. I got the brilliant idea of filling it up, and then it draining onto the floor . But for the last couple of hours, it's been draining, making a pool underneath the trailer.

Also learned a valuable lesson in drilling out rivets. If you can see what is behind them, look before you start drilling. I was drilling out the rivets that held up the 120v outlet over the galley sink and drilled right through the wiring. And yes, the trailer was on shore power at the time. After some sparks, smoke and and now a broken drill bit, I did get that rivet out. I more melted out, though. Luckily, I didn't burn up my drill. It's just a little blackened around the head.

Got some pictures on the blog for everyone to see. I have to get some laundry done before tomorrow, so will be stopping work for today.
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Old 12-29-2008, 03:48 PM   #11
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the fridge is HEAVY, trust me, you'll need a helper to get it out and move it around. I got mine out alone with a dolly and some wooden ramps, it does fit easily through the door, but be careful.

How do you get the galley panel off right inside the door to the left (the one that usually has the flip up counter extension on it)? That's where i stopped the other day, and i guess i'll just drill out all the rivets on it? I couldn't get it loose just by removing screws.

good luck!
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Old 12-29-2008, 07:35 PM   #12
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the fridge is HEAVY, trust me, you'll need a helper to get it out and move it around. I got mine out alone with a dolly and some wooden ramps, it does fit easily through the door, but be careful.

How do you get the galley panel off right inside the door to the left (the one that usually has the flip up counter extension on it)? That's where i stopped the other day, and i guess i'll just drill out all the rivets on it? I couldn't get it loose just by removing screws.

good luck!

That depends on whether or not you are wanting to salvage it or not

I was having the same problem with mine, and being that I'm building new cabinets, I strong armed it and pulled it out. I did drill out all of the rivets that I could find on the surface and there are also about 3 screws holding down the bottom brace to the floor.

As for the refer, I was expecting it to weigh a ton. I'll probably to taking that out tomorrow.
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Old 12-29-2008, 08:05 PM   #13
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Thanks Brian, it looks like you and i are in the about the same place on the same project. I am reusing my original interior, though. My plans are to replace the 3 most forward plywood sheets (basically from the fridge/furnace forward, and redo a section of floor in the bathroom. I'll be watching your post, keep us updated and i'll do the same.

eric
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Old 12-30-2008, 04:47 PM   #14
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Got the front belly skins off!



Look at the pink mush. This is what I found under my front belly skin. Have a look at my blog for other pics.
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Old 12-30-2008, 05:26 PM   #15
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I've heard that there is an easy way to fix the fridge. Take it out and turn it upside down and leave it that way for 24 hours. Then put it back. People have done this and the fridge worked perfectly. Might be worth a try.
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Old 12-30-2008, 06:14 PM   #16
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That's odd, but definatley worth trying. I'll let you know if it works Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 12-31-2008, 07:06 AM   #17
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When taking out the 'fridge..."

...don't forget there may be a couple of retaining plates holding things to the wall...





Also - be sure to do all of the floor repair prior to putting ANYTHING back in - inspect all of the bottom frame and outriggers while you have the trailer gutted - as you know, the frame/floor/shell joint is what holds everything together -

I found rotted floor under the "C" channel where there was NO visiual indication of floor rot from the interior - it is more evident from the belly pan - be sure to get aggresive with an ice pick to identify any suspected hidden areas which may hide floor rot - it's best to fix EVERYTHING now while the interior is clear...

If you find rot primarily on one side of the trailer, you may be able to raise just the one side of the shell to slip new plywood in insteas of taking the whole shell off of the frame - pretty much all of the lower interior panels will have to come off to get to the rusted bolts and screws in the "C" channel....don't cheap up and do a halfast job on the frame/floor/shell jointry at this stage of the game.

The upper interior panels need to be removed to access the wiring - it's impossible to pull wires through the ribs. The main electrical bundle is in the overhead, just to the curb side of the ceiling center panel. Do yourself a favor and purchase wire one or two gauge sizes larger than you think you could "get by" with. One thing I MIGHT have done different was to change out the existing fuse panel with a modern 110/12 volt combination panel - I was still thinking of flipping the Sovereign when I had the electrical panel exposed.

Be sure to mark several sides of the interior panels with a Sharpie or similar marker while you are removing them - a good numbering map makes it a lot easier to put the jigsaw puzzle together after you have your floor/wiring/water issues corrected.

Locate a service manual for a trailer near to your year - I do not think I could have done the rebuild on the '78 without one.

One of the best presents I purchased for myself was a pneumatic rivet puller - it is just a cheapie from Harbor Freight - about 30 bucks, but it makes the interior reinstallation go SO much quicker - you will be amazed how many rivets need to be pulled when putting the beast back together.

I got by with only about a dozen Clecos - working pretty much by myself, I found if just as easy to locate and fit panels with a couple of starter screws, fit a few Clecos, and then start to set rivets with the pneumatic puller - make sure you have all of the adjacent panels fit before you set too many rivets - if the pattern starts to get off you may find yourself having to drill new holes.

Feel free to PM me if you have a specific question.
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Old 12-31-2008, 07:36 AM   #18
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That's odd, but definatley worth trying. I'll let you know if it works Thanks for the suggestion.

Called "burping" it is because the fridge uses an ammonia based system. And occasionally the issue is caused by an air bubble in the line.

Aaron
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Old 12-31-2008, 07:47 AM   #19
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Here is a good thread where the burp was applied by an infamous team.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f425...dge-33735.html
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Old 12-31-2008, 05:12 PM   #20
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I wish you luck burping your fridge, and it has worked for some, but it didn't for me. I tried MANY methods/combinations to no avail, but i'd still love to hear that it worked for yet another person. I recently found some pure ammonia that i had put in a spray bottle a few years ago in the back of a cabinet. I should've taken a picture to post of what ammonia looks like when it sits still for a few years! It's a gummy/scaly, colorful mess that everyone should see.

eric
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