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Old 04-16-2020, 09:58 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
 
1966 26' Overlander
Urbana , Illinois
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 7
Another New guy!

Hey y'all this is my first post!

I'm new to this forum and new to Airstreams, and i have a million questions.

About me:
Iím 40. I live in Central Illinois, I design medical software, but prefer working with my hands and Iím eager to learn. I've cosmeticlly restored a 60s vespa, and boat. The airstream is parked in an warehouse 20min from me with access to electric. Soon Iíll get water out there but that is in the works.

My airstream:
Model- 1965(?) Overlander land yacht. It has a curb side kitchen and two foldout sofas, and a bathroom in the back. Vin: J 0265639
History Ė I donít know much about it but it was bought 2-3 years ago from someone that was TRYING to fix it upÖ and promptly left in a fieldÖ then the owner passed away and I bought it, for cheap.
Condition Ė
The BAD: It smells, like moth balls and mice. Mice got everywhere. The oven, every cupboard. You name it. Probably in the walls too. There some pretty suspect electrical work. No water pump. Not tank sensors. No water heater. A dodgy unfinished bathroom remodel. One window glass is missing, and a bunch of the window cranks are shot.

The GOOD: It doesnít seem to have had any major leaks. The interior is in OK condition. Someone has taken a stab upgrading the bathroom, they put in a NOS black water tank. The electrical system seems to be working. The electric brakes seem to work. It has 4 new tires on itÖ

Here where is need advice:

Iím wrestling with the age old question: to gut, or not to gut. On one hand most of the interior is original, and in OK condition other than the smell. The the mahogany is pretty dark, and Iíd probably end up painting (gasp, shock horror) lots of it. The bathroom needs to go, so even if I ďwork with what is gotĒ it going to need a bathroom remodel. However, Iím a little intimidated by a full gut, Iím tempted to put in an air-conditioner, some air-freshener, and start using it. Also Iím not swimming in cash, or free time.

I plan on having this thing forever. So getting the fundamentals right is temptingÖ all I see on youtube are top-off restorationsÖ but Iím just one guy, no body to call up for help.

Tearing everything out is easy enough, getting it all back in? Iím not much of an electricianÖ Woodwork, yes. Plumbing, yes. Wires? My brain turns to mush.

Question 1. Can I replace the windows with double pane windows? What about new cranks? Where do you guys get this stuff?

Question 2. My rear brake lights sit on a molded plastic thing that has seen better days, are there replacements available? What are they called?

Question 3. Does anyone know what the capacity of the black water tank is?

Question 4: I have standing water in the cavity behind the toilet where the dump valve sits... could that be coming in from the bumper, rather than a leak?


My request:

Would any of you be willing to join a facetime call to do a walk-through of the airstream with me? Discuss options? If so, I will set it up.

Nice meeting you!
Sebastian

Video coming!
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Old 04-16-2020, 11:51 PM   #2
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1977 31' Sovereign
Vintage Kin Owner
Vintage Kin Owner
Sunset Valley , Texas
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 726
Hey Sebastian (my middle name) and welcome...

You have yourself a rabbit hole wrapped in an onion. That's a good thing.

The bad news is that the smell is an intrinsic part of the trailer at this point, it'll take a lot of work to remove it. Also, don't kid yourself, it leaks.

What will happen is that you'll start fixing up one thing and the next thing you know you'll be building gantries, buying a welder and buckets of Por15... Kidding... sort of. That's the onion part of it, layers of "might as well" and some tears.

I'd be happy to video chat with you to get you going. PM me...

Ian
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Old 04-16-2020, 11:53 PM   #3
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1980 24' Caravelle
vallejo , California
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 227
wel come to the wonderful world of vintage Airstreams! your AS is a 65-windows are square in profile and flat. 66 through 68 were square in profile and curved to copy the trailer's shape.cranks and openers can be had at Inland RV-Vintagetrailersupply-out-of doors mart.your rear lights i have no clue;post a pic and i'm shure someone here would. my 64 overlander was much the same. don't know how to do Facetime. ask your questions here and someone will know the answers. good luck! kurt
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Old 04-17-2020, 12:53 AM   #4
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1979 29' Ambassador
Mobile , Alabama
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 154
Sebastian, congratulations on your purchase. You mentioned bad odor which is understandable considering age and lack of care. To help with this problem purchase some disposable aluminum pie plates and a can of coffee. Scoop dry coffee in plates and place them everywhere, in drawers, cabinets, refrigerator, oven and counter. It's amazing how quickly the odor gets better...almost overnight. Good luck!! Predeta
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Old 04-17-2020, 01:28 AM   #5
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Louisville , Alabama
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 354
Nice photos, that thing has room for days! Very retro cool. Congrats
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Old 04-17-2020, 09:33 AM   #6
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1969 18' Caravel
Greenville , whereEverIroam
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 1,031
Images: 20
Welcome!

Like any big project, let's break it down into smaller, easier pieces:

Quote:
Originally Posted by SebastianF View Post
I bought it, for cheap.
Yes, while AS trailers can be acquired for cheap, there is no such thing as a "Cheap Airstream" just as there is no such thing as a cheap British sports car, or as an old friend told me years ago, you may be able to afford buying one, you won't be able to afford owning one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SebastianF View Post
to gut, or not to gut... I’m tempted to put in an air-conditioner, some air-freshener, and start using it. Also I’m not swimming in cash, or free time.
Ok, the very first thing you need to do is assess what you want. Before you invest another penny in this trailer ask yourself why -- what is your vision; to travel the country and see the world, or to have a nice little get-away tiny home, or to have a project on which to decompress and learn new skills?

Restoring a vintage AS, to be frank, is not for those who are not prepared for what it will take in terms of time, labor, and a significant investment of cash, sweat, cash, blood, cash, tears, cash, time(years, not months), more cash, bouts of cursing, cash, periods of doubt, second guessing, remorse, cash, lots more time than you think you have, and also, money.

It helps if you are wealthy, retired (lots of free time) and handy, but two out of three ain't bad. If you lack both time and money, I would seriously consider selling this trailer and procuring something else that is camp ready (not perfect, not pretty, but systems working and road worthy) so you can spend your limited time enjoying that trailer and fixing it up a bit at a time over a long period.

Also, you will need the physical space in which to work. Doing a resto in a field isn't impossible, but quite impractical, especially if it's you, alone. I would not attempt it, myself, without a good, secure physical space. Over time, you will also be investing in a plethora of tools that you likely don't already own and some you have never heard of, yet. That's either daunting or exciting depending on if you're cut out for this.

Please take an hour or two and search these forums for restorations. Not every resto is a shell-off, but that will start to give you a much, much better idea of what lies ahead. If I can discourage you, I have saved you from unfathomable depths of misery and regret, and preserved yet another trailer from being gutted to it's shell only to be sold at a loss to you. If I can't discourage you, then maybe, just maybe, you have the determination it takes to see this through.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SebastianF View Post
I plan on having this thing forever. So getting the fundamentals right is tempting… but I’m just one guy, no body to call up for help.
Relax, you've come to the right place in cyberspace. Lots of experience, wisdom and knowledge here, along with lively debates and different schools of thought on how to tackle every conceivable issue regarding your trailer. It has all been done before, 147 different ways, or so.

So please, tell us what your vision is. How do you want to spend your free time (going places, or working on a project). Remember that while it is true that your AS is a means and not an end, it is also true that working hard to restore one is it's own reward for people infected with a certain quirky strain of crazy.

IF you choose to keep, restore and use this particular trailer, the order of things to be done is roughly as follows:
  1. Frame, axles, brakes, running gear (assuming you want to travel with it, as opposed to making it a stationary cabin) You are too focused on cosmetics right now. That comes much later. It saves you no grief to make the interior pretty only to have to rip it all out to fix the foundational issues.
  2. Shell integrity: leaks, holes, tight windows, etc. (not polishing it yet, that is last, and only if you want to)
  3. Sub-floor. The original plywood floor likely is rotting away and will need to be patched or replaced. There are entire threads here about doing that and debates about the best material to use.
  4. Systems: plumbing, electrical, heating, A/C, AV, appliances.
  5. Flooring
  6. Cabinetry, countertops, furniture, bedding, dinettes/gauchos, etc.
  7. Cosmetics: paint/stain window treatments, interior design.

That's a lot, hope it gives you a bigger overview that's helpful.
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Old 04-19-2020, 01:20 PM   #7
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1966 26' Overlander
Urbana , Illinois
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 7
Wow so much GREAT advice. We are doing some real soul searching. I'll make a thoughtful reply soon, but in the meantime, here is a quick walk through:

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Old 04-20-2020, 10:33 AM   #8
CC
 
1972 27' Overlander
Heinsburg , AB
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 200
Wow SabastianF, nice find. The wood interior is lovely. Whatever you decide, I hope you keep us posted. Good luck.
CC
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Old 04-20-2020, 12:03 PM   #9
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1967 26' Overlander
Bugtussle , Oklahoma
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 356
That's a very nice trailer, Sebastion. I'm going to list 3 important tasks that need to be completed before you consider doing anything else to your trailer.

*The first thing you need to is clean up the inside of the trailer and get rid of all the mouse nests, droppings, and urine. I know PPE is hard to come by right now, but you do need to take precautions against contracting hantavirus. Run a fan and air it out real good.

*Next, drop the belly pan. A lot of that bad smell in your trailer is coming from the the dead mice and dropping in the insulation under the floor. Be prepared to be shocked by what you find down there. With the belly pan off, you can thoroughly inspect your trailer frame and subfloor. Most of the subfloor rot will be along the edges where it is sandwiched between the shell and frame. If your subfloor is rotten and your frame is swiss chees, it would be an excellent idea to tap-out now and sell your trailer if you are not interested in putting in a lot of time, money, and hard work.

*Have an electrician test your trailer wiring for continuity and to make sure there is not a hot shell condition. If it all checks out OK, then you can continue to use your existing wiring.

I wish you the best of luck on your vintage Airstream journey. If you decide to sell your trailer, let me know or list it for sale in the Airforum market place.
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:17 AM   #10
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1966 26' Overlander
Urbana , Illinois
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikextr View Post
Next, drop the belly pan
Mike, thank you so much, this is helpful, I plan to start the belly pan drop tomorrow morning. any tips?

Do any of you know off-hand the ideal drill size to take the rivets out?

Sebastian
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:37 AM   #11
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
Fredericksburg , Texas
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 1,884
I always drill out rivets with the size drill bit matching the rivet size. When I go back with the sheet, I pre-drill using one size larger cleco and rivet if Iím going back in the same hole. I donít remember if the belly pan is 5/32Ē or 3/16Ē large flange rivets. Good luck
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:46 AM   #12
1 Rivet Member
 
1966 26' Overlander
Urbana , Illinois
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by skyguyscott View Post

1. What is your vision; to travel the country and see the world, or to have a nice little get-away tiny home, or to have a project on which to decompress and learn new skills?

2.Also, you will need the physical space in which to work. Doing a resto in a field isn't impossible, but quite impractical, especially if it's you, alone. I would not attempt it, myself, without a good, secure physical space.

3 If I can discourage you, I have saved you from unfathomable depths of misery and regret, and preserved yet another trailer from being gutted to it's shell only to be sold at a loss to you. If I can't discourage you, then maybe, just maybe, you have the determination it takes to see this through.

4. Relax, you've come to the right place in cyberspace. Lots of experience, wisdom and knowledge here, along with lively debates and different schools of thought on how to tackle every conceivable issue regarding your trailer.

That's a lot, hope it gives you a bigger overview that's helpful.
Guy,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply, it really got me thinking, and spurred some honest conversation with the boss (wife) and I. We have a little more money than time. I'm fairly well paid. But who knows in this economy, how long that will last!

1. Vision: our dear friend owns a large music festival, so we are regularly invited to join his and various festivals around the country. For that, the most critical things to have are comfortable beds, a solid air conditioner, and shower/stool. Beyond that we may start doing a bit more camping, yes. So that's the utility, but my goal is to learn, and I love having projects. I see this as an investment in myself, and a way to learn a little bit about everything.

2. Luckily this is one of the few things I DO have going for me I have a nice dry place to work on this. A friend is letting me use his retired airplane hanger, itís about 20min from me.

3. We are going to start the process of investigating the fundamentals of the trailer, and in parallel we ARE going entertain some quotes to have it re-don professionally.

4. It is nice knowing there is so much support out there! Iím a classic vespa guy, so I know how vital it is to have virtual support.

Thank you so much!
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:55 AM   #13
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1960 24' Tradewind
Kingsville , Ontario
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 92
Blog Entries: 1
Additionally ! Welcome !

Hey, SkyGuy, Mike and the rest have covered most. But, one or two things I might add, I did a full monty in the driveway, not ideal for sure, but not bad... here in the Detroit area, take away 3-4 months working outside, but there are always small projects that we did in the basement/lean to...
We did tear everything out and started from scratch building cabinetry etc... which added another year ( we both are still working full time) but your cabinetry looks pretty darned good, so I'd keep it..where you want, add new where you want. We used 3/4 by 2 " poplar from a local mill for framing
One last thing, that back section. Check the frame/floor, might be looking at partial replacement/redo of back 1/3 ???
God luck, prepare to bleed, and love that old girl. She's a beaut !
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:22 AM   #14
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1977 31' Sovereign
Vintage Kin Owner
Vintage Kin Owner
Sunset Valley , Texas
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 726
Thanks for the walk through, that was fun.
It’s a good idea to make a habit of latching the door when it’s open or fully closing it. A slight wind can do more damage than you’d think when the door slams against the trailer. Even someone walking around inside can cause the door to swing around.

Beautiful trailer.

Ian
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Old 04-24-2020, 12:59 PM   #15
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1967 26' Overlander
Bugtussle , Oklahoma
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 356
Quote:
Originally Posted by SebastianF View Post
Mike, thank you so much, this is helpful, I plan to start the belly pan drop tomorrow morning. any tips?

Do any of you know off-hand the ideal drill size to take the rivets out?

Sebastian
Actually, dropping the belly pan is a figure of speech. You'll end up sliding the sheets out over the axles from the back of the trailer, so make sure have you room to slide them around if you plan on reusing the belly pan sheets. Get a creeper to roll around on if you don't have one already. It's a dirty job. God-awful stuff and aluminum shavings will drop in your eyes and mouth if you don't protect yourself. Wear tough work gloves so you don't cut your hands on the the aluminum sheet metal. I used a combination of 5/32 and 3/16 bits to drill out the rivets. A hammer, chisel, pliers, and tough diagonal cutters will all come in handy. Take your time. It's a difficult but strangely satisfying job.
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Old 04-24-2020, 07:32 PM   #16
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1966 24' Tradewind
1995 34' Excella
Lynchburg , Virginia
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,867
Sebastian

Welcome to the insanity. If you like working with your hands, learning new skills, have restored/ worked on a Vespa and a boat I believe you will enjoy bringing a 65 Overlander back to life and taking her camping for the next few decades.

The body and cabinets look like they are in great shape. You are missing the bathroom sink which is unfortunate and the console for the toilet. It looks like you have the deluxe model with the upgraded cabinets.

We have a 66 Tradewind which has the same bathroom as yours and a similar layout. The Tradewind model is 2 ft shorter than yours. I love our Tradewind. It is a keeper just as your Overlander is a keeper.Click image for larger version

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Ours was in pretty good shape when we got it so we camped in it and made minor upgrades for the first 5 years. We then took it off the road for one year when we replaced the axles, installed disc brakes, frame cleaning and painting, new insulation, floor repair, etc. You may want to look at my project thread in the trailer knowledge section. You may want to just make some basic repairs to get it roadworthy and usable and camp in it to help determine your overall plan.

We boondock pretty much all the time and I love going to music festivals. We have lithium batteries and solar which makes boondocking much easier.

PM me if you have any questions or just want to chat anytime.

Glad to have you with us.

Dan
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Old 04-24-2020, 08:54 PM   #17
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1969 18' Caravel
Greenville , whereEverIroam
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 1,031
Images: 20
Ok, Sebastian, sounds like you're about to dive in. It will be pretty icky and rough at first.

You might want to start a restoration blog here, or just a new thread once you have finished with he assessment. This will allow us to follow the restoration, for you to post questions and pleas for help when you get stuck, and offer a great record of your mission for others, as well as a great place to document (with lots of pics, please!) and decompress and think "on paper," as it were, as you muddle through.

One other thing, get with the boss and christen your trailer with some creative name. It's not at all important you do this, of course, but you will find this thing has a life or soul or something that both fights you and compels you, drains and excites you, frustrates and rewards you, so you might as well give it a name, for no other reason than to curse it by name (which will happen a lot ), refer to it in shorthand with the boss, and perhaps even, to fall in love, figuratively, with it over the next few years.
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