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Old 06-05-2017, 07:12 PM   #1
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1979er's Avatar
1979 31' Sovereign
Sinton , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 2
I need help!

My fiancé and I purchased a 1979 Sovereign international 30 ft. When we purchased it the previous owner had already started putting in shelves, and countertops. He hadn't even checked out the electrical or plumbing and he cut the gas line. We are at wits end on where to start. The floor has rot so we know that needs to be replaced. We are thinking about just doing a complete gut. But we aren't sure about how that will work since we both don't have any previous experience in anything like this (plumbing, electrical and gas) any advice on where the heck to start?
Putting pictures to just show the current state of the trailer.
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Old 06-05-2017, 09:03 PM   #2
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AirstreamCSH's Avatar
2022 27' Globetrotter
Asheville , North Carolina
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 396
Images: 4
None of this is rocket science. If you have patience, common sense, a willingness to read through the renovation section, are willing to have an electrician and plumber rough out for you, a mechanic certify / fix the axles and brakes, a sense of humor, time and a place to store this for 12-18 months while the work is being done and otherwise have a reasonable $25k plus budget this is doable. Finally, did you buy this for the joy of restoration or to get out into the wild. If the former, you are set. If the latter then sell this project and buy a compromise within your budget. Said another way, what is the goal of this RV? Aesthetic or function. On a budget, lean towards function. If budget isn't a concern, buy slightly used and get on the road. Restoration takes a certain personality. After 8 years restoring a 1700's home where the new part was 1910, I know from whence I speak.
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Old 06-06-2017, 07:33 AM   #3
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,320
My guidance regarding rennovating a vintage Airstream would be to hope for the best and expect the worst, and plan a shell-off from the beginning.

You can feel your way there by getting out the trailer inspector's checklist (available on the Portal page), going through everything, making a list of what needs to be repaired, and then tackling it one project at a time, starting at the "deepest" level of disassembly and working your way out. Or you can do the following:

1) Spend up to two years looking for the trailer that is in the best shape, with the best price, with the best floor plan, only to drive too far to look at a trailer, and buy it out of desperation, as you don't want to go home empty handed.
2) Remove the interior including all inside skins and insulation--store it in a temporary shed (that will become permanent).
3) Build a set of gantries--you'll need them.
4) Lift the shell (using the gantries) from the frame and set aside.
5) Use the gantries you built to lift and flip the frame.
6) Remove belly pan, gas lines, etc., and set aside.
7) Perform all repairs on the frame, address rust and paint (again, lifting and flipping in the process).
8) Install new subfloor on frame.
9) Flip, insulate the underside of the floor, install retro-fitted grey tanks as needed.
10) Install belly pan with frame still upside down.
11) Install new axles (with frame upside down, using the gantries as a crane).
12) Pressure wash the interior of the shell--make every effort to get rid of the mouse piss and old insulation--this is your only chance.
13) Lift the shell, wheel the frame back underneath, and set the shell back in place.
14) Complete reconnection of shell to frame.
15) Replace all door and window seals, plumbing vent seals, perform any shell patches, panel replacements, AC replacement, etc. (use the gantries as scaffolding to access the roof of your trailer).
16) Seal the inside of the shell, every rivet, every seam.
17) Spray primer on the inside of the shell to not only protect from corrosion, but to seal in funk.
18) Write a mysterious message to the next restorer on the inside of your shell.
19) Rennovate/install any awnings and ensure that any new shell penetrations do not leak.
20) Confirm that your shell no longer leaks.
21) Assess wiring in the shell. Rewire if necessary, realizing what a PITA it will be, trying not to nick any wires.
22) Strip the clear coat off your shell if needed.
23) Polish the areas around the trim, emblems, clearance lights before reinstallation.
24) Thoroughly investigate every kind of insulation known to mankind and then install the pink fiberglass stuff anyway.
25) Reinstall interior skins after thoroughly cleaning them--paint the backsides with primer to encapsulate the old stank you can never wash off.
26) Rebuild electrical distribution system (battery, fuse board, etc.).
27) Layout your future cabinetry.
28) Begin to run water lines, realizing some of them will go under/behind furnishings
29) Start from the rear of the trailer and rebuild the interior furnishings, cabinetry.
30) Lay down new flooring.
31) Rerun the gas lines.
32) Finish installing appliances.
33) Do the blinds/drapes/upholstery.
34) Finish whatever polishing you want to do on the exterior
35) Seal every exterior seam
36) Discover new leaks and throw a fit
37) Throw away all the receipts, as it is just too depressing to know how much you just spent.
38) Count the gray hairs/hair loss that has resulted from the years you have spent on the project.

good luck!
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