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Old 06-29-2007, 12:55 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1972 31' Sovereign
Walnut Creek , California
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 9
Dreaded 70's Rear

Hi Everyone.

I have a 72' rear bath Soveriegn that I've been working on for a little over a year (new axles, new wheels & centramatics, new tires, new electrical/ converter and custom marine style panel, new plumbing throughout, new flooring, fixed refer, fixed A/C & Furnace, fixed tambour and furniture, fixed W/H, fixed almost all the windows, and way way too much else to list. Thanks for reading this far).

I have about a 1/2" of separation at the street side and some plywood to replace from around the back of the waste tank to the end. I know I'll need to remove the bathroom components to do this. The bathroom was apart when I bought the trailer so I'm not all that worried about tearing into it again. I should have replaced the plywood at the time but I only had a couple months to turn my little money pit from a complete pile of crap into something my wife would be willing to sleep in (Burning Man).


I've read these forums from end to end and still can't find any decent details about rear end body to frame / subfloor connection and frame reinforcing. Please save me the "this has been covered in previous posts" if you don't actually have anything other than a glib answer.

Rear End: I have an Airstream Rear End Repair detail I downloaded off of one of the sites (Tom Patterson or the Ac a while ago). Basically cut an access through the skin to the get to the bottom body channel, add a plate to the bottom channel with a bolt runing through the sub-floor and the frame. Is this the right way? What exactly is the Elephant Ear repair (other than half ass)?

Frame reinforcement: I clearly have some sag past the axes (no cracks but a light deformation at the rear axe shock post and some slight out bowing of the bodywork at the wheel wells. I've seen pictures and a diagram of the reinforcement plate. Is this available to the public and worthwhile to install? (Our local A.S. dealer is a really nice guy and knows a lot about the 5th Wheels and Toy Haulers they're selling but I wouldn't let them change a lightbulb on my A.S.)

I've heard mention of boxing the frame as well. (I have a welder that works for me.) Is this typically good a practice?

Thanks for reading this if you've made it this far. I need to get this thing road ready again very soon and would really appreciate any information or details you have.

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Old 06-29-2007, 05:54 AM   #2
Rivet Master
1976 25' Caravanner
Vintage Kin Owner
Campton , New Hampshire
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,113
You might want to give Andy a call at , I believe Airstream had a kit available for this fix at one time. Good luck
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Old 06-29-2007, 06:42 AM   #3
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,252
There is a kit, it is still available, and it didn't seem to help our Sovereign. Our frame is bent aft of the area that has been reinforced, and before the area where the holding tanks mount.
My plan for that area, once I get some more cash together, is to drop the belly pan, jack the droopy part of the frame up, and weld some C channel intot he part that is sagging.
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Old 06-29-2007, 07:45 AM   #4
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1972 27' Overlander
Longmont , Colorado
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 951
hi ken- there are tons of threads on this matter but the short answer is the elephant-ear fix is for when you don't want to completely gut the bathroom. You cut an access hole in the rear exterior corners of the skin to allow you to put a few bolts/washers/nuts through the various layers of bottom wall channel, plywood floor, the odd frame member, etc. But it is far better to gut the bathroom, take off all the interior skin all around the back so you have acces to the entire wall channel area (where all your rusty or broken bolts are), and then replace the entire rear sheet of plywood (it is likely rotted around the perimeter) and then use many new bolts/plates/washers/nuts to cinch everything back together. Also use lots of sealant, like vulkem, anywhere water could get into that area. LOTS of work but at least you'll know you have a tight ship back there. This is assuming your frame is not so bent as to prevent doing this. Good luck!
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:47 AM   #5
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1973 27' Overlander
1972 29' Ambassador
Itasca , Minnesota
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 2,044
Images: 2
Blog Entries: 2
Without removing the belly skins and banana wraps it is all guesses; to drop everything aft of the fresh water tank compartment is complicated but shows exactly will need to be repaired - then stripping out the bathroom (again) to remove liners for repair might make more sense.

Count on some outrigger damages being revealed from outside tie-bolts rusted away to past accident damage that was conveniently covered up with fresh wraps, or huge chunks of outriggers missing from rust leaving the floor flapping around & the vibrations loosening interior rivets, external rivets above the door,etc.

Pictures of the wheel well skirt flare? All 'streams from our years have a little - The 1/2" drop (I assume thats looking at rear trunk lid) you speak of needs to be addressed but the elephant ear repair won't do anything for a corroded frame and the multiple bolts rusted through or pulled through soft floor panels that allow the gap to open...
The days are short and the night is long and the stars go tumbling by.. . ~Airstream~
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Old 06-29-2007, 10:43 AM   #6
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1973 27' Overlander
Catfish Corners , Georgia
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5,606
Images: 39
I did it a little differenly than others. Starting around here:


Air No. 6427
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:06 AM   #7
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1974 29' Ambassador
1966 20' Globetrotter
Central , Illinois
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 685
Images: 4
I would second the suggestion from tphan, go ahead and gut the bathroom. I am still in the process of doing that to our 1974 29' rear bath, and keep discovering more things that need fixing. One interesting find was that not all the joints in the plastic vent/waste pipes had been glued, they were just stuck together at one location. There was a water mark on the adjacent inner skin.

I sympathize with your search for applicable details for how the back of the trailers attaches to the frame and framing members. I have found angles and brackets on our '74 that don't seem to show up on anyone's pictures or drawings. There is one badly rusted angle right under the outer skin below the access door that I am not sure is original, or was installed by a PO. It may be original since the bolts above the nuts are bent over, I have seen pictures indicating AS may have done that in some instances. It seems that AS may have done it a little differently in different years and models.

There are good discussions on other threads about what to do with the piano-hinged cover for the rear storage compartment. I am not sure what I am going to do with it, but I am defintitely going to do something different than what I have.

I have found the forums to be a great source of information (and encouragement) for the project you are about to undertake, thanks to all those who posted their input and experience. Good luck with yours.

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Old 06-29-2007, 01:04 PM   #8
1 Rivet Member
1972 31' Sovereign
Walnut Creek , California
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 9
Thank you guys so much! This is the exact sort of information I'm looking for.

Looks like my wife isn't going to see too much of me for the next few weeks: Pull the bathroom out (again). Pull the inside skin, belly (again) closet & cabinets, etc. Replace the entire last sheet of subfloor. Rebolt the entire back section.

Should I box the frame while I'm in there?

Also while I've got the back end apart ... I had read that it's possible add a grey water tank by replacing the black tank with one oriented in line with the frame, moving toilet 2", and then adding the grey next to it. Has anyone done this?

Thanks again for all your help. This will really help me out.
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Old 06-29-2007, 01:10 PM   #9
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,252
Originally Posted by noangel

Also while I've got the back end apart ... I had read that it's possible add a grey water tank by replacing the black tank with one oriented in line with the frame, moving toilet 2", and then adding the grey next to it. Has anyone done this?
That is how our Sovereign is. Black tank mounted fore and aft, to the left of the coach, and the grey tank also mounted fore and aft, on the right of the coach. Our factory grey tank is only 10 gallons...
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Old 06-29-2007, 02:54 PM   #10
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1974 31' Sovereign
1970 23' Safari
1956 26' Cruiser Overlander
Lambertville , Michigan
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,174

my unit had the elephant ears on it when I bought it as well as the stiffening plates. I later discovered (learned) about sag and separation. I do not have separaiton but had a touch of sag. I plug welded 2" x 3" x 1/4" angle from the axle mounting plates all the way to the rear and also about 2 feet forward, no more sag and very strong. While I was at it I made new waste tank brackets as well. I then covered the waste tanks with polished aluminum diamond plate and made a new under bumper compartment with it as well. I re-used the belly pan from the front of tanks forward. I can send pictures if you send me your e-mail address in a PM. (Pics are high res) Since you have a welder you can do this, however it would be great to have a plasma cutter and a saw to save time. The worst part about the whole job was re-hanging the belly pan.
Operation "Save Rudy" Strike Team (charter member)

Yes, I am still working on it.
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