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Old 09-04-2012, 04:26 PM   #21
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1972 31' Sovereign
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We did a shell-on floor replacement in our 31ft Sovereign. Check out our "Little Girl Refurb" thread. (sorry, I'm not good at putting in the actual link).

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Old 11-16-2012, 03:04 PM   #22
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Looks like a great project! The best of luck with it! My wife and I are getting ready to start on our restoration as well! Looking for roof vent operators and such is proving to be an expensive challenge! I did find a shroud for the A/C unit, and a replacement 14"x14" vent, but the Astrodome is ridiculously priced for a piece of vacuum formed lexan with no seals or hardware supplied.

We bought ours from a friend in 2005 for $3.5K and haven't had a chance to do anything with it. We managed to hang on to it through the recession and we are only now able to put together a restoration budget.
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Old 12-07-2012, 02:27 PM   #23
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Our Airstream keeps us too busy to visit AirForums!

It's been a good long while since my last update, but I promise it's not because we haven't been working on the trailer--quite the contrary!

The walls came out, followed by the subfloor, which was by far one of the worst things we've done in the trailer so far. It was really difficult to cut some of the sections of floor out, being that the elevator bolts were too corroded to cut off or in less-than-convenient locations to be able to cut a square in the wood around them...like right next to the walls or the wheel wells. We managed to raise up the center of some of the sheets of plywood using a pry bar against the beams beneath and break the wood loose around the outer bolts. It helped that so many spots were so rotted.

Grinding off the bolts afterward wasn't a lot of fun either, nor was getting the wood out of the c-channel and putting in spacers since we're leaving the shell on (no room to take it off, sadly). Thankfully all of that is done now...at least until we put the new floor in--that'll be a whole new set of challenges!

The belly pan came off rather easily, and isn't in as bad of shape as we thought other than a couple spots that were torn from someone running over something large.

We're debating painting both sides of of the belly pan with bed liner to protect it from further corrosion. Any reasons we shouldn't? We don't care if you can see that the belly is black when looking at the trailer. We would rather do that than have to polish it along with everything else.

We removed all the lights and emblems, and stripped all of the clearcoat off the trailer. We started polishing the areas where lights and painted emblems will be put back on, so we don't have to worry about damaging them later. We're using Nuvite G6 and it's doing the trick, although rather slowly in some of the really oxidized areas near and on the roof. I think we may end up painting the roof with Kool Seal or something similar to help reflect heat and prevent us from having to polish the entire roof.

Last weekend a friend and talented welder came over to help us fix a bad section of our frame near the entry door, where a door seal leak had caused rust to completely eat through an outrigger beam. It's good as new (or better) now, so we can carry on toward putting in the new floor. The new VTS door seals are ready to be put on, in the hopes that it never happens again.

We also took off the wheels and axles, which were all original and unsalvageable. Lots of swearing, some brake cleaner, and a long breaker bar helped. We got them out from under the trailer, left them in our side yard in the hopes that someone would haul them off, and sure enough, within 2 hours some scrappers came by and grabbed them. That's one less thing we have to worry about now since our local dump won't take wheels. We'd already removed and sold all our copper and the water tank, furnace, and stove, so there's nothing else valuable left to the trailer except our walls and belly pan, which are locked away in our garage, and the trailer itself, which is now up on blocks, in true Tennessee fashion!

This week we're grinding the last of the frame, applying POR-15, and hopefully sealing up any openings in the shell enough to start working toward our goal of getting the floor in. It helps that the weather has been so unseasonably warm in Tennessee. We're still in the 60s and 70s--very unusual for December!

We received our TwinTemp Jr. tankless water and hydronic heater from PrecisionTemp a couple weeks ago and it's sitting in our living room, taunting me. I can't wait to get to the point where we can install it. At least we're finally rounding the turn toward everything we do making the trailer look prettier instead of just deconstruction! Somehow, morale-wise, it means a great deal to see meaningful progress in place of destruction.

We also settled on a tentative floor plan. We decided to move the bathroom to the center, over and next to one of the wheel wells, and do a custom shower pan with a bench over the wheel well. We saw one like this in the new concept Airstream at an RV show last week, and that further cemented the idea of it being possible in ours. The kitchen layout should remain mostly the same, and it will give us a true bedroom. A curtain between the kitchen and bed/bath area will give us a dressing area next to the dresser.

It's so scary coming up with a floor plan! I'm so nervous something won't work out or we won't end up liking it, but we'll tape it all off and build some furniture out of cardboard once we have a floor in and see how it feels.
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Old 12-29-2012, 12:18 PM   #24
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Looks like you're well into a proper restoration - I can't wait to see the results! The progress pictures are very helpful to the rest of us though, so please keep them coming!
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:29 AM   #25
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We had a warm spell this week, so I took the opportunity to do some more clearcoat stripping. I used Aircraft Stripper due to its availability locally, and people weren't kidding--it's nasty stuff to work with. I got a couple tiny drops on my face while power washing it off and wow it burns!

We took off all the lights and plaques to replace/reburbish and still need to get some aluminum pieces to patch holes in the exterior where the furnace and water tank were, so it's a good time to go crazy with some stripper and not worry about hurting anything. It's also cool enough out that the stripper doesn't dry on the trailer like it did on warmer, sunnier days when I first started.

Our exterior is looking really good, other than some scratches and the heavy corrosion on the roof. I'm going to do a few passes with the polisher over the areas where things have to be put back on, then start sealing her up so we can put a floor in. I'm hoping the Nuvite F9 I bought will cut through the heaviest oxidation. There was no clearcoat left on the roof at all.

Speaking of the roof, I still can't decide what to do with the rectangular Astrodome skylight/vent. I don't want to spend a $160 replacing the plastic cover, and with two new Fantastic Fans being installed, I doubt we'd need it anyway. Has anyone just covered theirs up? Or is there was a way to just do a fixed skylight like in a house?
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:55 AM   #26
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Some more progress stripping clearcoat yesterday. She's looking pretty good pre-polish other than the roof.

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Old 01-12-2013, 09:43 AM   #27
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Welcome to the Forums! You are in very good company.
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:51 AM   #28
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Love That Shower Enclosure!

Can you show more pictures and tell us about it?
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Old 01-12-2013, 10:08 AM   #29
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Alumaholic - Unfortunately that's not my trailer so I don't know much about it. It was a prototype that Airstream unveiled at the RVIA trade show in November. There are pictures floating around the forums and the web from other people too. I'm going to try to do something very similar though in ours. The shower door was a thick plexiglass - maybe 1/2-3/4". The problem I'm currently having is finding a waterproof LED light for in the shower. If anyone knows of any attractive ones let me know! All I can find are exterior ones that aren't so pretty.
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:37 PM   #30
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It was 70 degrees in Tennessee today, so we finally got to paint our trailer's frame after weeks of waiting. We used Chassis Saver instead of POR-15 (due to local paint shop availability) and it went on wonderfully. It looks so much better!

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Old 01-12-2013, 09:55 PM   #31
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Congrats on your progess. We love the pictures and updates. Keep up the great work.

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Old 01-12-2013, 09:59 PM   #32
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Thanks, Airslide! It's a huge turning point to start to see the trailer looking better instead of worse. We've been deconstructing for so long!
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Old 01-13-2013, 02:31 PM   #33
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Our frame is now completely painted! What a huge sigh of relief it is. I wish we could have done a shell-off and gotten every inch of it covered, but we got to as much of it as we could, given our space constraints and the outer skins being in the way in a couple places.

We painted on the Chassis Saver with cheap natural bristle chip brushes. We tried sponge brushes, but got air bubbles and the sponges disintegrated quickly. A standard synthetic brush with longer bristles wicked too much of the paint up near the handle and used far more paint for the same coverage. It went on really well once we figured out our technique, and was dry within a couple hours with our currently high humidity.

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Next project: Paint our plaques, emblems, and vent covers, do some aluminum patches and seal those doors and windows up tight so we can put a floor back in! Still looking for a good local source for higher-quality plywood than the big blue or orange stores carry.

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Old 01-13-2013, 02:45 PM   #34
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marine grade plywood if you can find and afford it.
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Old 01-13-2013, 02:57 PM   #35
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To paint or not

We were'nt that enthused with Airstream blue so we stripped and polished our nameplates. We like the look.
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Old 01-13-2013, 02:59 PM   #36
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Do you have any pictures of yours? I think I want to do blue for the Airstream front and back plaques, but the serial number plaque might be better looking and easier just polished.
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Old 01-13-2013, 08:17 PM   #37
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What is the prep like for the POR-15? Does the surface have to be sanded to metal or can it go over some rust? Good to hear about the brush technique... I will be doing something like this soon.

Thanks Vinnie
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Old 01-13-2013, 09:41 PM   #38
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Hi Vinnie,

What we used--Chassis Saver--has much different application recommendations than POR-15, so we followed the directions on our product, even though from what I read online they're chemically almost identical.

Unlike POR, they don't recommend a surface prep or primer to be applied first, just sandblasting if possible or what we did, which is sand off any loose rust or paint with a grinding wheel or flap disc on an angle grinder, roughen up the new metal supports we added, and clean everything well prior to painting. We power washed the frame after doing all the rust grinding then went over it with mineral spirits on a rag after it dried. We also found several more insect nests in frame nooks and crannies while we were painting and had to stop to remove them and clean the area.

We're not experts on any of this, so I can't recommend one product over another, but this stuff was highly recommended at our auto body paint shop as being of the same caliber as POR-15. It looks great and feels just like enameled cookware to the touch. Good luck with yours and holler at me if you have any questions!
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Old 01-13-2013, 10:14 PM   #39
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Your painted frame (and everything else looks great). I can sense how really satisfied you are with the results.

Coming up with a new floor design can be really scary. I believe though that if you take your time and think it all through carefully, that you will be happy with it. However, you really won't know for sure until you are finished with it and have used it for a while.

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Old 01-14-2013, 04:54 AM   #40
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It looks great! When you are ready to camp, please come visit us at Top of Georgia campground. We aren't that far from you in Helen, GA.

It would be wonderful to meet you and see your work. I know from what you have done so far, it will be beautiful.
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