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Old 04-02-2011, 08:49 PM   #1
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1978 31' Sovereign
Knoxville , Tennessee
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Well, my weekends are shot....

Hello all!!! Been a lurker (non-registered) for a bit now, leeching all the info I could from the you guys before we dropped the hammer and decided to buy our first Airstream (first trailer/RV/Motorhome also, if I'm honest). The search started with us looking for something with a little more character than your normal RV. We looked at ancient Revcon motorhomes, converted Greyhound Highway busses, and the odd sticks-and-staples pull behind. All had their pros (I still want a 1950's GM PD4104 Bus Conversion, lol), but they also had plenty of cons. The diesel pushers and the Revcons had the added expense of maintaining yet another drivetrain, and the non-airstream trailers were either just plain ugly, or the roof was falling off.

So, after a ridiculous amount of searching we came across our new toy (hopefully the pics will be below, if I have figured this posting thing out). She is a 1978 31' Sovereign. She is of the center bath, twin bed variety. We drove 12 hours to Iowa (we are in East Tennessee), hooked her up and came straight back. A 24 hour, 1400 mile, test of endurance to say the least. She towed beautifully on the way home. No issues to mention other than an incorrectly wired 7-pin tow cable that had us flummoxed for the first 20 minutes or so.

Now the real fun begins, i suppose. "Almost" everything on her is original as far as I can tell. She is missing a few items inside. Unfortunately, the original refrigerator was replaced with a more modern one. The entire front couch assembly is gone. as is the rear bedroom nightstand (not sure what else to call it). There are original speakers throughout, but the head unit that runs them has been removed. The front door steps have been lost along the way somewhere. There are a handful of other little interior things.

Against our better judgement we bought it without even testing out the interior appliances or lights, the price seemed right even if they all needed replacing. But, after 1 full day of playing around, I am pretty happy to say that most everything seems to be in working order. Volt meter in hand, all the wiring seems to be in decent shape (should be, I have receipts from the PO for what looks to be a pretty extensive electrical checkup a few years back). Don't have any issues that I can tell with the dreaded "sag". Have yet to pull up any floor panels to check for problems but every inch of the interior feels rock solid to me so far.

Phew......I just realized how long my rant was getting, lol. I guess I am too excited to be posting right now. Let's hope this excitement and the energy it brings can fuel me when I start having the inevitable problems I have yet to
find. Anyway, wish me luck and don't get tired of me yet! I am sure I will have to consult the Gurus here on a regular basis during the next few months.

- Andy
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Old 04-02-2011, 08:54 PM   #2
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Hello, Thunderspud, and welcome to the forums! It looks like you've got yourself a really nice rig there! I'm sure you'll find the forums a welcome place with tons more information that you never knew you even needed!

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Old 04-03-2011, 03:50 AM   #3
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Congrats on the purchase and I agree your trailer looks to be in pretty good shape. Hopefully your repairs will be minimal and you can spend some weekends enjoying it on camping trips.
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Old 04-03-2011, 07:07 AM   #4
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Howdy and welcome to Airforums, Andy! Sounds like you picked real nice trailer for yourselves. And as you already know, as you do your improvements, this is the place to find helps and answers to any and all questions you might come across.

That last picture, the interior, you were on the move when you shot it. If you get bored, take some more interior shots, I'd love to see you more of it.
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:01 AM   #5
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Congrats on a nice find and welcome to the 'Forums. The rear bed models are kinda hard to find!

Here's some starter tips for ya...

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Old 04-03-2011, 09:21 AM   #6
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1978 31' Sovereign
Knoxville , Tennessee
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Thanks for the warm greeting everyone. I am sure we are gonna enjoy it. She was definitely not purchased to be parked in the garage. Can't say that we will be doing anything close to resembling full-time RV'ing but a she will make a great weekend warrior. I live entirely too close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to let her sit.

Thought I would just pop a few more photos on here since the last was a little blurry....
Everything now is completely unmolested since previous owner, so I guess it's as good of a time as any to take a slew of pictures just to remind me how she looked on day one of the journey.
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:24 AM   #7
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Originally Posted by HiHoAgRV View Post
Congrats on a nice find and welcome to the 'Forums. The rear bed models are kinda hard to find!

Here's some starter tips for ya...
Thanks for the info!!! Very helpful, as you may have noticed in the pics I was having a rough time understanding how that thing was supposed to work, lol. Just kinda rolled her out enough to let her air out and left her. Working on cleaning the three awnings today actually.
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Old 04-03-2011, 10:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thunderspud View Post
Everything now is completely unmolested since previous owner, so I guess it's as good of a time as any to take a slew of pictures just to remind me how she looked on day one of the journey.
I really like the wallcovering in the rear bedroom, Andy! Can you tell if it's original? Of course, the bathroom has that '70s flower child plastic. People make fun of it, but it is tough, and will put up with a lot of abuse.

Our '74 came with a "replacement" refer too, and so far, I haven't been able to sell my wife on getting an LP one. I'm waiting for a time when we have driven all day and don't have a spot to camp where there is AC power. It should be an easier sale then!
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:27 AM   #9
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1978 31' Sovereign
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I really like the wallcovering in the rear bedroom, Andy! Can you tell if it's original?
Well, as far as I can tell that wallcovering is original. It is throughout the trailer except for the lower front area where they have put up some flowery wallpaper (ummm....thats gotta go) and a few blue wallpaper spots that I have no idea why they were put up.

On a side note, I have officially ran into my first bonafied "problem" today. Not sure if I should start a new post or not to describe it. Short version.....all 12v and 110v services seemed to work fine (aside from the odd bulb) then in the midst of taking pictures of the interior today, the entire 12v system went down. All of it. No lights, no pump, no Control Center. Literally like someone turned out a light switch. Checked fuses on meter, no joy. They all seem to be fine. The trailer does not have the original univolt, but rather a 75amp replacement that seems to function properly (based on the meter). So I suppose I am left with the batteries. They look new but it had been sitting for a bit. Guess I'm off to the autoparts sgore for a load test unless someone knows of a magic hidden switch that would cause all 12v to stop functioning.

P.S. - Someone let me know if I should just start a new post.
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:45 AM   #10
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Very nice, now the fun begins!
Have fun with your adventures!
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:47 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Thunderspud View Post
Well, as far as I can tell that wallcovering is original. It is throughout the trailer except for the lower front area where they have put up some flowery wallpaper (ummm....thats gotta go) and a few blue wallpaper spots that I have no idea why they were put up.

On a side note, I have officially ran into my first bonafied "problem" today. Not sure if I should start a new post or not to describe it. Short version.....all 12v and 110v services seemed to work fine (aside from the odd bulb) then in the midst of taking pictures of the interior today, the entire 12v system went down. All of it. No lights, no pump, no Control Center. Literally like someone turned out a light switch. Checked fuses on meter, no joy. They all seem to be fine. The trailer does not have the original univolt, but rather a 75amp replacement that seems to function properly (based on the meter). So I suppose I am left with the batteries. They look new but it had been sitting for a bit. Guess I'm off to the autoparts sgore for a load test unless someone knows of a magic hidden switch that would cause all 12v to stop functioning.

P.S. - Someone let me know if I should just start a new post.
You might get more technically-experienced eyes on the problem if you post it to the Electrical Forum.
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Old 04-03-2011, 11:56 AM   #12
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Personally, I would recommend keeping all your "issues" together in one long post that could be set up in the "by model" sub-forum. This is a popular idea since, while your thread becomes like a blog, it is still on the main part of Airforums and is very easy to see.

That is a help because very time that you log in, you may notice you arrive on the same page; it's call the "portal page". Everyone comes in that way. The posts in there are ones that are either brand new threads, or threads that have had posts made to them recently. So in effect, without spreading your questions across the sub-forums that are by system (electrical, plumbing, etc) they are all together in one spot. People who own the year and model as you will appreciate that.

Plus of course you can also add your travelling posts to it, once you begin towing.

Up to you, but some of the best threads by the top renovators we have are done like that.
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Old 04-03-2011, 12:34 PM   #13
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i don't know if i would say your weekends are shot! whether you have her out camping,or are working on her, she definitely has the capability to consume every weekend of the rest of your life but either way you're in great company! HAVE FUN!
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Old 04-03-2011, 12:42 PM   #14
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Weekends "Shot" ????

Thunderspud, I wouldn't say your weekends are "Shot", I would say they just got better with your new rig. Looks in great sahpe and what a lucky find. Enjoy her!

Welcome to the forums, a lot of great folks here that know everything!
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Old 04-03-2011, 05:16 PM   #15
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Nice looking rig! Welcome!
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Old 04-03-2011, 07:09 PM   #16
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Actually there are 2 switches that can stop the 12 volt from functioning on many airstreams. There is often a 110 switch behind the sofa that cuts the converter on and off. If the converter is cut off the system functions until the batteries go dead. There is a 12 volt switch often behind the sofa that cuts off the 12 volt circut completely so that nothing will work even if the batteries are charged. You might try checking the voltages at that switch. Incidentially, I also live in Knoxville and am a member of the local WBCCI unit. Lots of knowledgable people there to help with any problems. State rally in Crossville around April 17. I will not be going since we are leaving around April 12 to go on the southwest caravan. If I get the trailer back together.
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Old 04-04-2011, 01:16 PM   #17
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Actually there are 2 switches that can stop the 12 volt from functioning on many airstreams. There is often a 110 switch behind the sofa that cuts the converter on and off. If the converter is cut off the system functions until the batteries go dead. There is a 12 volt switch often behind the sofa that cuts off the 12 volt circut completely so that nothing will work even if the batteries are charged. You might try checking the voltages at that switch. Incidentially, I also live in Knoxville and am a member of the local WBCCI unit. Lots of knowledgable people there to help with any problems. State rally in Crossville around April 17. I will not be going since we are leaving around April 12 to go on the southwest caravan. If I get the trailer back together.
Thanks so much for the info!! I have found the issue, and fortunately it didn't require any extensive troubleshooting. It's kinda hard to explain but I have included a picture below to illustrate what went wrong.

Essentially, the 12v fuse block was bad. I think I mentioned before that the PO had some of the electrical system serviced at some point and apparently they replaced part of the original fuse block with a new one, and in the process messed up the wire coloring......... You can see it in the pic below:



The right side of that fuse block has been replaced with a new part. Not sure why. But, the issue lies in the area highlighted. The main 12v input from either the Batteries or the Converter is just distributed to the internal systems through a conductive backplate that stretches between the fuses. The bottom of the fuse holder on the Main 12v is riveted to that backplate. Somehow, it was not conducting. The rivet must have become so loose that no 12v whatsoever was making it to any of the internal circuits. It just stopped at the Main fuse.

So, a jumper wire and some luck prevailed. A new fuse block is on the way.

Thanks, everyone for you help. I suppose I should see about moving this thread over to the 78 Sovereign Sub-Forum now that the introduction phase is over.
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Old 04-04-2011, 02:27 PM   #18
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Wow! That's some good troubleshooting. Way to go!
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Old 04-04-2011, 02:36 PM   #19
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Wow! That's some good troubleshooting. Way to go!

Sometimes owning a Tech Services/Consulting company comes in handy, . I feel pretty confident when it comes to all the interior/exterior electrical and tech upgrades I plan on implementing (LED's all around, Digital Surround, Exterior Projector, Mood lighting, etc...tastefully done, mind you) but put an actual wrench in my hand and ask me to work on the construction side of things and you'll just get a big stupid look of confusion. Luckily, most of that stuff looks to be in good, safe working order.
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Old 04-04-2011, 03:22 PM   #20
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Welcome Thunderspud! You are certainly in good company here. I have owned 3 of the 31 footers in my time and enjoyed every one of them. If you get a chance and want to see some rigs come on down to our Springstream Rally in Hiawassee, GA. It's not too far and you will learn a ton of info. Even if you are not ready to camp, there is a Ramada Inn right outside of the fairgrounds.
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