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Old 10-23-2017, 06:37 PM   #1
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75 Overlander Improvements Journal

I have never run a renovation thread on these Forums. I thought I might try it instead of starting many threads here and there. I'll call it a journal as I really don't know what a "blog" is.

I wanted a new Airstream project. My goal is a travel ready vintage Airstream that we can use to explore the Rocky Mountain time zone and that my son's can use for their family vacations. Maybe I can make Airstreamers out of back packers roughing it in tents. Growing older and having kids makes a comfortable Airstream more attractive. We shall see.

I shopped the Classifieds here for about 6 weeks before I found a possible project trailer. It's an Overlander 27' International trim. It is a twin bed, rear bath layout. I made an appointment and did my due diligence with the inspection. I had a very kind seller who disclosed everything he knew about this trailer. No secrets. I do the same thing.

So I bought the thing and towed it home, no problems. It takes a good while to learn a new vintage Airstream, so I'm in the "discovery" phase. Oh, that's how that thing works!

So here I go. I will make a post when I think you might be interested in what I'm doing. And I will likely need help along the way.

David
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Old 10-23-2017, 06:49 PM   #2
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David, all renovation threads are interesting. Not five minutes ago I told my wife that I wished we had started a thread on our 66 a couple of years ago, but didnít. I wonít make that mistake again. I noticed your entry on David and Dianaís rebuild thread on their 68. It does look pristine. We camp a lot with them. While everyone else is at the campground are talking recipes, and everything else, David and I are talking Airstream renovations. Iím glad youíre starting a reno thread and iíll be following. Good luck, Bubba
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Old 10-24-2017, 04:22 PM   #3
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I will be following your adventure.
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Old 10-24-2017, 06:30 PM   #4
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
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Clean and Analyze

I'm trying to put together a decent project plan. Let's see, what does this Overlander really need, and what can wait till next year. I enjoy "detail cleaning" a new to me vintage Airstream 'cause that's how I find out what it needs. And it smells better when I'm done. I already have a long list that I will discuss later.

I believe this trailer has original fabrics, except the curtains. The 42 year old fabrics have seen better days. I think fabric things in outside campers are subject to mold, mildew, mice, moisture and other bad "m" words. The shag carpet was already removed thank goodness. So all the fabrics came out. The mildew stains behind the bed wall fabrics were something else. You don't want to know about porous foam mattresses and cushions. The newer "coffin" curtains washed up very nicely and are going back in, someday.

I've scrubbed every square inch of surface in this trailer. I find a rocker switch that won't work, a loose bulkhead wall mounting, a loose lounge mounting, a sticky tambour door, a missing rivet and the like. I make the repair if it makes sense to do so or make a note of it for later.

I have not found any evidence of critter infestations yet (unlike the 66 or the 86). Just wait until I drop the belly pan and have the contents fall in my face.

David
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Old 10-26-2017, 06:59 PM   #5
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Fridge on the Fritz

The previous owner told me the fridge doesn't run on gas. It is a 42 year old Dometic unit that has served it's useful life. I decided not to repair it. So out it comes.

I was surprised how well attached to the interior wall this fridge was. It had aluminum sheeting pieces attached to the top of the fridge, and side. It was kinda hard to drill it all out.

The fridge was very well sealed in its cabinet space. Looks like Airstream made sure there was no carbon monoxide leakage to the inside. I will do an equally good job of sealing up the new fridge when the time comes.

I was surprised that someone blocked the floor vent sometime through the years. A gas absorption fridge has to have a chimney like updraft so the boiler and the cooling coils work properly. I haven't decided yet whether to keep the floor vent, or somehow louver the outside access door like modern trailers. I can always mount a 12v fridge fan back there to help ensure a good updraft.

The floor under the fridge is okay, good enough.

David
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Old 10-26-2017, 09:08 PM   #6
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David

I always tell people to buy the best one that you can find. Looks like you found a great Airstream. You should have a grand time cleaning it, repairing it and improving it to suit your needs.

I really like the light interior wood.

I am really happy for you and for your 75 Overlander.

BTW, I think you will need that floor vent for your fridge to perform properly.

Dan
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Old 10-26-2017, 09:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
I have never run a renovation thread on these Forums. I thought I might try it instead of starting many threads here and there. I'll call it a journal as I really don't know what a "blog" is.

I wanted a new Airstream project. My goal is a travel ready vintage Airstream that we can use to explore the Rocky Mountain time zone and that my son's can use for their family vacations. Maybe I can make Airstreamers out of back packers roughing it in tents. Growing older and having kids makes a comfortable Airstream more attractive. We shall see.

I shopped the Classifieds here for about 6 weeks before I found a possible project trailer. It's an Overlander 27' International trim. It is a twin bed, rear bath layout. I made an appointment and did my due diligence with the inspection. I had a very kind seller who disclosed everything he knew about this trailer. No secrets. I do the same thing.

So I bought the thing and towed it home, no problems. It takes a good while to learn a new vintage Airstream, so I'm in the "discovery" phase. Oh, that's how that thing works!

So here I go. I will make a post when I think you might be interested in what I'm doing. And I will likely need help along the way.

David
OMG, the interior looks like showroom condition!!, what a find ...
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Old 10-26-2017, 09:59 PM   #8
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That trailer looks to be in very good original condition. I suspect you won't find any problems on the underside.
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Old 10-27-2017, 07:43 PM   #9
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Here is a photo of the boiler on that old fridge. They haven't changed much over the years. I certainly will provide adequate low ventilation inlet for the new fridge. I was just surprised the fridge vent was full of insulation.

Thanks for the comments about this trailer's condition. I had to have one in decent shape as I ain't good enough for a full monty project, or building a new frame. I have not spotted any cracks in the axle plates or frame rails yet. I do know the rear body support crossmember is rusted toast. I was worried about rotted flooring back there, but there isn't much floor left to rot. Airstream cut a lot of the subfloor out to make room for this drain lines, the dump valves, and those big dump valve manifolds in the bumper storage compartment. I've got more disassembly to do yet to complete a thorough assessment.

David
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Old 10-27-2017, 07:58 PM   #10
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Water Heater Removal

The water heater is located in the rear bath on my trailer. It appears to be the original one. It is one of those light the pilot light yourself on a cold, rainy, windy night. I prefer the automatic ignition while the beagle and I enjoy a snack in the trailer, imagine that! So I decided to replace with a new water heater, likely in a different location.

The water heater is in the bath "medicine cabinet". It appears the water heater was installed before the medicine cabinet went over it. My trailer is plumbed in copper. There was some kind of "super sealant" around the exterior flange of the water heater. No leaks, hard to removed the heater. But with enough patience, out it came.

The water heater has 42 years of mineral crud in the tank, not good. I weighed the water heater with it's exterior door at 38 pounds empty. Add another 40 pounds of water and you have nearly 80 pound jack hammer back there bouncing on the frame rail. That is why I desire to move the water heater forward.

David
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Old 10-27-2017, 08:44 PM   #11
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On-board since mine is only a year newer than yours!
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Old 10-28-2017, 05:27 AM   #12
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Hi OlinH2o, nice to meet another vintage Overlander owner. We spent several nights in Missoula some years ago due to the LoLo Canyon fire blocking our planned route. Wildfires are terrible events. We ended up having to go around the fire. We enjoyed our stay in Missoula.

David
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Old 10-28-2017, 07:42 PM   #13
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
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Oven Delima

In 75 Airstream decided to mount the gas oven right next to the galley sink and over the curb side bed. Keeps your feet warm at night. We don't use the gas oven as we prefer the modern microwave / convection oven. We have to retreat to the gas cooktop or outside grill if we don't have shore power.

So I removed this oven and the enclosure around it in the bedroom. I need to figure out a way to build a microwave shelf there instead. I have 115v AC there already, but will run a dedicated 20 amp circuit to power the microwave. I understand I can't run the AC and the microwave at the same time.

A modern microwave convection oven weighs what, 35 pounds. The bulkhead wall is a whopping 1/4 plywood. The old gas oven weighed about the same. It was flange mounted to the wall, and projected toward the sink about 4".

Has anyone else converted the wall mounted gas oven compartment to a microwave-convection oven? If so, words of experienced wisdom are appreciated.

David
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Old 10-31-2017, 07:28 PM   #14
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Toilet Out

So I have the fridge, cooktop, oven and now the toilet out of the trailer. These appliances are old, rusty and broken down. Very vintage but end of life so to speak. The toilet doesn't hold water in the bowl and I plan to replace it with a similar Thetford unit. I also need to remove the toilet so I could work on the black tank.

Much to my surprise I found the spinweld in the black tank broken completely out. Seems to me it is very hard to seal a black tank when there is a 4" diameter hole in it. Someone, somehow tried to repair it to no avail. It appears to be the original tank. Now I must remove the black tank and replace it. The same configuration tank is still available from Inca Plastics.

"While I'm at it" I will study the gray water tank and maybe configure a bigger tank in the next frame bay forward. Most folks generate twice as much grey water as black water, but this 75 Overlander has a 10 gallon grey water tank. I would like to install a larger volume tank. I will have to run a 1 1/2 drain line back to the dump valve and then the waste line out the back of the trailer. We will see what can be done. Inca Plastics to the rescue for a bigger tank in the proper specifications.

Anyway, the old toilet is out and more work lies ahead. I can book a new black tank as an "improvement".

David
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Old 10-31-2017, 08:47 PM   #15
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The small gray water tank is due to rear bath and weak frame in the 70s trailers
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Old 10-31-2017, 11:17 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
The water heater is located in the rear bath on my trailer. It appears to be the original one. It is one of those light the pilot light yourself on a cold, rainy, windy night. I prefer the automatic ignition while the beagle and I enjoy a snack in the trailer, imagine that! So I decided to replace with a new water heater, likely in a different location.

The water heater is in the bath "medicine cabinet". It appears the water heater was installed before the medicine cabinet went over it. My trailer is plumbed in copper. There was some kind of "super sealant" around the exterior flange of the water heater. No leaks, hard to removed the heater. But with enough patience, out it came.

The water heater has 42 years of mineral crud in the tank, not good. I weighed the water heater with it's exterior door at 38 pounds empty. Add another 40 pounds of water and you have nearly 80 pound jack hammer back there bouncing on the frame rail. That is why I desire to move the water heater forward.

David


Or go with an on-demand .. $$$ but super nice. you must be from the old country ..?
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Old 11-01-2017, 05:27 PM   #17
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I'll give it some thought. They may be budget busters. I might consider a 3 gallon heater. I find endless hot water promotes long showers and thus full grey water tank. Cold showers use much less water.

David
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Old 11-01-2017, 06:47 PM   #18
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Hi 4RXLA: The long mid seventies trailers do have weak frames for the loads they are asked to carry. Our 86 Limited 34' has not experienced any frame issues and has the same 5" frame rails.

I believe the trailer layout contributed to the frame weakness. Putting baths, batteries, water heaters and waste water tanks in the back of the trailer lowered tongue weight, but add significant "g" loads when we hit bad pavement. And the "lightened" axle plates (see photo) didn't add enough strength to the frame rails. The frame tended to break or buckle to the rear of the rear axle. That is the area most people strengthen in the frame.

And of course stiff axles, out of balance tires, stiff tow vehicles all add vibration and "g" loads to the rear frame members. My Overlander has way bad axles.

The 86 has the batteries in front over the A frame, a center bath, and the waste water tanks just behind the rear axle. The water heater is still located in the rear of the trailer. This layout is more balanced around the axles.

So far I don't see any evidence of frame buckle or cracks in my Overlander. There is no bulge in the body aluminum behind the axles on either side. I know I have rear end separation and I have some droop in the subfloor from the rear axle back. The bath is a half a bubble low from the level galley floor. Maybe this is due to the rear end separation.

The rear end separation standard repair procedure does say to jack up the rear of the frame rails to level or a bit higher, and then reattach the c-channel to a new, strong cross member. Maybe that process will level the bath floor. And I have subfloor rot at the c-channel in the rear, which also weakens the subfloor. Airstreams are "semi-monocoque construction", meaning the frame, subfloor, and body all work together for maximum strength. Loose one of these members, and the whole structure is considerably weakened.

I will be repairing the rusted rear cross member and the rear end separation this winter. I'll see if I can keep the bath floor level with the galley floor after the repair is complete. Who wants a droopy separated rear end.

Overall, I've been impressed with how this 75 Overlander is built, even compared to my wife's 86 Limited. I'm referring to the body and interior. It is all aluminum construction with laminated plywood fascia. It has plywood subfloor and not OSB. The bath is just thermoformed plastic and not the greatest. The plastic can crack from age, UV exposure and vibration.

David
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:54 PM   #19
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David, I agree the layout contributes to the problem. My 77 31' had a roadside frame crack just behind the rear axle and I had the frame box welded aft of the axles on both sides. My trailer has had a rearward droop in the bathroom since brand new. From the pictures you have posted of your trailer, the plywood looks good and you might not have rear end separation. If the plywood in the rear hatch looks clean and dry you might be ok.
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Old 11-02-2017, 06:17 PM   #20
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I bought this 75 Overlander knowing full well it had rear end separation. It failed the bumper bounce test street side only, and failed the ice pick floor probe all along the inside skins in the rear compartment. I wanted a project trailer and I got it.

The steel angle iron, the steel U channel that supports the body "c channel", and the rear 2" of subfloor are all rusted, rotted toast. Gonners.

I will figure out a solid repair using information on these forums. The key is a strong "bridge" from street frame rail to curbe frame rail for a solid body attachment. The key is a design that won't let rain water to migrate between seams. The key is to use materials that resist oxidation and corrosion if wet.

I likely will not add the axle plate frame stiffener and take a chance the frame will crack or buckle for many years. Adding the stiffeners is a pretty big job for a non welder like myself. If I repair the rear end separation and get the aluminum body shell to do it's job and hold up the frame I may be okay. (Maybe a little like a suspension bridge holds up the roadway.) I will relocate the 75 pound water heater and the 60 pound battery closer to the rear axle. I will install new axles that actually provide a bit of suspension. I will try very hard not to tow with water in the holding tanks except a little fresh water in the black tank for cleaning purposes. Draining the holding tanks is on my "prep to tow" checklist.

David
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