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Old 10-18-2017, 09:40 PM   #1
New Member
1973 Argosy 26
Charleston , SC
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 3
New owner of a 1973 Argosy 26!

Hi everyone. My fiance and I just picked up an already-gutted 1973 Argosy 26. We know very little about airstreams, let alone renovating one, so this will likely be a long and difficult project for us, but we're excited about it. We plan to travel North America and live in it full time. We're also planning on doing an eco-friendly/boondock-capable build. Our renovation timeline is open-ended but roughly targeting 1-2 years, since we both work full-time. Budget is pretty open-ended as well, but it would be nice to keep renovations under $20k.

All we really know about the current state of the AS is that it has been reinsulated & rewired with 50amp. I did learn enough before buying to be able to detect that there is a little bit of subfloor rot right at the rear edge of the plywood. It was also damp there, so I know there is a leak in the back.

I have been searching through this forum over the past week, learning a little here and there. However, I think I'm at the stage where I know so little that I don't know exactly what to search for. So instead of creating threads for questions that have already been answered, perhaps someone can help me here by giving me answers or directing me to an appropriate thread/post/external resource.

Given the following photos:

  1. Is it easy to modify the layout at this stage? We're okay with the rear bath, but would prefer to put the bath to the side so that the bed could be in the rear and out of the way. Is that a ton of effort?
  2. Is it normal for those pipes to stick out past the belly pan? I still need to install a grey water tank also - where does it go in relation to those pipes and the belly pan?
  3. I'm guessing that I should replace the belly pan. If you look at the pics, you can see it is a little flimsy, some rivets rusted through, and some water is seeping off the sides and pooling within the pan since not all the pieces are sealed. Is this worth it, to remove it and the gross stuff in it? Or should I just seal it up / attach some extra aluminum sheets on top of it? If the grey water tank needs to be above the belly pan, maybe it makes sense to remove it?
  4. The previous owner was able to provide pictures of him replacing insulation and rotten parts of the subfloor. I have a suspicion that the rear was rotted the whole time and that he didn't replace it because it is more difficult. It does look like the wall is basically resting on that part of the plywood... is it complicated to replace that section, or can I just remove it and jam some new plywood in?
  5. What's up with that extra tank on the interior? I kinda would rather save the space for something else, but feel like I should use it since it's there. For... fresh water I guess? It also has two spouts and I'm not entirely sure why or how to hook it up to plumbing.
  6. Any advice/threads for step-by-step debugging of leaks?

Thanks in advance for all help! We'll be documenting our process to help future renovators as well.
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Old 10-19-2017, 04:36 AM   #2
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1973 Argosy 22
Carleton , Michigan
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 123
I will be following this thread- this is a huge project. Welcome to the '73 Argosy club

The front tank is fresh water.

At this point- with everything gutted already; and the fact you are going to invest a lot of money into this trailer, I would pull the body off the frame and restore the frame first. It is possible to repair some of the floor rot without doing this- but your restoration is only as good as the frame it is sitting on. It will also make replacing the axles and belly pan easier.

Going off subject a little bit- I am replacing the flooring in my trailer right now. Vinyl planks are the rage in home flooring right now. Looking at yours is why I am avoiding them for my trailer- they grow and shrink something fierce with any change in temperature and humidity. Definitely not the answer for a trailer that sits unheated below freezing every winter.

Good luck!
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Old 10-19-2017, 11:47 AM   #3
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1973 Argosy 26
Charleston , SC
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 3
Yes, you're right about pulling the body off, but is it possible to do that without tearing off the interior panels? It would be nice to keep the already-done work intact if possible. I also imagine that large of a job would be something I paid someone else to do since we're kinda construction noobs.

Totally agree about the vinyl, we planned to pull it up. I just assumed it was due to a moisture problem, but I guess if we are traveling around that's going to happen naturally. Any other fairly lightweight alternatives similar to vinyl but less prone to contraction/expansion?

Thanks for the good luck, I am sure we will need it!
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Old 10-22-2017, 02:50 PM   #4
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1973 Argosy 22
Carleton , Michigan
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 123
Hopefully someone with more knowledge than me can answer the question if the interior panels need to come off to pull the body off the frame. If the interior walls are good- that would make me question that too.

Back to the flooring- I have been in the flooring business for 25 years. The problem is that ALL manufacturers recommend that flooring stay in a range of 55-85 degrees. That's not happening in our travel trailer in Michigan! More like 0 in the winter and 120 when it is closed up in the summer.

I had a 65' Airstream and basically did a regular house install with new subfloor stapled in and fully glued a vinyl backed sheet vinyl with a heavy Cove Base adhesive that I knew wouldnt give up with the heat. That worked really well.

In this Argosy I installed a new subfloor with a gluedown felt-backed sheet vinyl. That didnt work at all- every edge curled up like C. Managed to keep it down with quarter round, but was never happy with it.

There is a brand new product made in Germany called SONO. It is a click together plank floor with locking ends. It is a single-layer waterproof product that they claim is not affected by humidity or temperature. I was a bit concerned that it may be a little heavy; however, it wont need a wood subfloor- so the weight may be about the same as other floors that do.

Any of the other multi-layer waterproof products will buckle up with extreme heat- so those are out.

I have another 2 weeks before my fridge electric thermostat shows up, so still deciding.
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Old 10-23-2017, 09:09 AM   #5
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1973 Argosy 24
hartselle , Alabama
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 582
Have had my engineered wood floor in the Argosy for about 4 years now. We glued the planks down. Haven't seen any shrinkage or expansion and love the feel and look of wood. My argosy doesn't have any known leaks but I live in Alabama so it deals with a lot of humidity and high heat.Click image for larger version

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Old 10-23-2017, 09:30 AM   #6
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1972 31' Sovereign
Currently Looking...
felton , California
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 673
Images: 1
congrats & good luck, you'll soon be "experts" on renovating these trailers, I'll follow your progress. If you use Instagram, post link to your page
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Old 10-30-2017, 09:29 AM   #7
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1973 Argosy 26
Charleston , SC
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 3
Ha sure. I think we caught the bug early, I'm already thinking about how much better my second renovation will be I think we're going to go with SmartCore flooring, as I've heard good things about that flooring being durable and resistant to climate swings. The vinyl is now torn up and thrown out, but we found more and more leaks, so I'm handling leaks along seams + resealing window gaskets right now. Then belly pan / subfloor repair, so it will probably be a little while until the new floor goes down.

Also, our instagram page is for anyone interested. My fiance has been posting pretty frequently, so it should be a good account!
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