RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 12-21-2020, 03:28 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
 
1972 31' Excella 500
Laytonville , California
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 14
Total renovation on Excella 500

Hey everybody!
I am starting a shell off renovation of a 1972 Excella 500. I figured I would start a thread on it as per recommendation of dbj216. It seems like good way to teach people from my mistakes and hopefully get some really good advice as well. I am DEFINITELY an amateur when it comes to this job so any help, recommendations and sharing of knowledge at all no matter how small is highly appreciated!!

I started work a couple of weeks ago. The inside was already gutted which was great, however someone tried to ďrenovateĒ it before me and made a bit of a mess. They basically cut out the entire subfloor and instead of putting it back in the c channels they just threw a few pieces of plywood on top of the frame and screwed them in with metal screws. Itís a small miracle the thing stayed together held up by a few rusted bolts between the frame and the shell! That said, both the shell and trailer were in pretty good shape. Biggest issues with the shell: There is a bigger dent in the front and the back lower panel is corroded. There are also some random bigger holes someone drilled in the panel next to the door. So some riveting and new aluminum there but I donít think anything there I canít fabricate myself. All new gaskets as well and at least 2 of the windows need to be re-done as there is condensation or mold between the panes.
The frame needs 8 or so new outriggers and 2 cross members. That also doesnít seem to be too crazy compared to what it could have been.
My plan is to move the bathroom from the back to above the axles. Iíve already gotten some great advice on that re: plumbing and tanks. The attached sketchup is a very rough idea of what I have in mind here but Iím sure itís going to change a lot in the next few weeks.

I first took the belly pan out and stripped out the frame. The fresh, gray and black tanks were all in decent shape. I will probably reuse the fresh but replace the black and gray because the fittings and outlets are nowhere close to where I need them to be.
The shell off I did using the gantry crane method, using plans from another thread on this site to build the cranes. That miraculously went really well and I didnít run into any major problems.

My job now is stripping rust and paint off the frame. Iím doing this the hard way, by hand, but itís actually going surprisingly fast with the eastwood contour tool and an angle grinder with abrasive pad. Considering the money I am saving over sand blasting or acid dipping I think the extra work is worth it. I am getting new axles from Colin Hyde in the next few weeks and then those will go on, the frame will get rust encapsulator paint and the new outriggers will get re-welded. Iím taking it one step at a time so as to not overwhelm myself. The most daunting thing for me at the moment is those holding tanks- I donít know why but they really stress me out! Then again, plumbing has always been my kryptonite. Iíve been doing research on how to place those tanks in a way that they are safely in the frame with leeway for in and out pipes and also how to fabricate covers but Iím still just starting to figure it out.

Joel
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Proto 2-1.jpg
Views:	20
Size:	114.2 KB
ID:	385271   Click image for larger version

Name:	Airstream 3.jpg
Views:	19
Size:	532.8 KB
ID:	385272  

Click image for larger version

Name:	Airstream 2.jpg
Views:	16
Size:	372.0 KB
ID:	385273   Click image for larger version

Name:	Airstream 4.jpg
Views:	15
Size:	330.6 KB
ID:	385274  

tikaktoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-21-2020, 04:30 PM   #2
Rivet Master

 
1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
Fredericksburg , Texas
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 1,769
Joel, sounds like a fun project. It also sounds like youíre starting the reno with meticulous forethought. We all run into snags and head scratching problems. I know I did, so youíre not the first to dip your feet in the cold water. Good luck, post the questions on your thread and stay safe.
Bubba L is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-21-2020, 07:47 PM   #3
Rivet Master
 
dbj216's Avatar

 
1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 6,431
Images: 1
Guess Who? I found your project thread and will likely cause you confusion throughout your renovation project. It's going to be a two year project I predict.

We had 9 rusty outriggers in our 76 Sovereign 31' project last winter. I don't know why the outriggers are so prone to rusting in these 70s trailers. We were speculating wet insulation. But maybe it was the steel or paint choice by Airstream. The rear body seal was very inadequate. And certainly the rear end separation and axle plate or frame rail buckling are unique to this vintage trailer too. Here are some photos of woe.

Typically trailers that live in the warm, dry southwest don't have as many problems as the trailers that live in the warm wet southeast.

Hey, you now know where your black tank is going. Right under that toilet in your sketch. It's a no brainer. The L shaped couches in front is a good Excella layout. I like that.

We wire brushed, sanded and painted the frame of our Sovereign. It is a hard, dirty job. Just wanted you to know we earned that merit badge. You will too.

David
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	1910 Frame  Outriggers Removed-800x600.jpg
Views:	15
Size:	62.1 KB
ID:	385284   Click image for larger version

Name:	1910 Frame Rear Crossmember 1-800x600.JPG
Views:	15
Size:	65.5 KB
ID:	385285  

__________________
WBCCI #8607
VAC Region 11

See my 1966 Trade Wind Renovation Documentation:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers

See my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers

See our 1976 Sovereign Renovation Project:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers
dbj216 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2020, 08:45 AM   #4
Rivet Master
 
Minno's Avatar

 
1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 3,765
We bought a cheap sand blaster, and sand blasted our frame ourselves. Not too icky a job. NOTHING like dropping the belly pan!

If you subscribed to our thread, you could look for my hubby's solution to black and grey tanks. He built them himself. And they have held up well over the 9 years we've used them so far. We had floor repair in the bathroom last summer to do, and had to drop the black tank to do it (we goofed when we built the area). But the black tank itself is still rock solid, so the method definitely works. Might be something you're interested in. You sound like a definite DIYer like we are!


Kay
Minno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2020, 11:19 AM   #5
CC
 
1972 27' Overlander
Heinsburg , AB
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 197
Welcome Tikaktoe, it does look like a dauting job, but you are in the right place for help (and support) to work through all of the ups and downs. I like your proposed layout and look forward to following your progress.
CC
Camper Crazy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2020, 04:40 PM   #6
1 Rivet Member
 
1972 31' Excella 500
Laytonville , California
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 14
Thanks guys! Iíve only just started this project and Iím already overwhelmed by the amount of creative, experienced people who are interested and willing to help! I really look forward to hearing more from everyone.

Iíve just been plugging away at rust removal. Iím running into the incredibly dumb problem that most of my tools are battery powered and removing paint and rust kills charge VERY fast. So in the down time Iíve been practicing welding with my dinky little harbor freight flux core. Hopefully that new steel is coming later this week and I can get started on that.
Iím not the best at remembering to stop and take pictures but Iím making it a goal to remember to do that and to update on my progress here every few days.

Kay those tanks your husband made are absolutely gorgeous. Iím torn right now between learning that process and just buying new ones. The little guy sitting on one shoulder whispering in my ear always wants to do everything from scratch and wants to learn new things all the time. The one on the other shoulder is telling me I probably already bit off more than I can chew as it is here :-D
If I do opt for new ones Iíve been checking out some cool options from Icon Direct. Their HT339ED and HT708ED would both fit nicely into the bays between cross members without too much additional reinforcement necessary. I really like how modern tanks are supported from closer to the top so they can hang down without more complex support underneath as was the case with my original tanks.
tikaktoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-22-2020, 07:22 PM   #7
Rivet Master
 
dbj216's Avatar

 
1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 6,431
Images: 1
Forgive me if I did this already. I wanted to motivate you into thinking about all the great trips and adventurers you will have with that Excella 500 in the future. Might make all the work worth it.

Here is my friend's Sovereign out in the mountains. My friend and his family enjoy Airstream trips, especially to trout streams. The Airstream makes a very comfortable home base.

You are well on your way down the slippery slope of Airstream renovations.

David
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	2008 Camping-800x600.jpeg
Views:	15
Size:	86.7 KB
ID:	385351   Click image for larger version

Name:	2008 Front Room.jpg
Views:	14
Size:	119.3 KB
ID:	385352  

__________________
WBCCI #8607
VAC Region 11

See my 1966 Trade Wind Renovation Documentation:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers

See my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers

See our 1976 Sovereign Renovation Project:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers
dbj216 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-23-2020, 07:07 AM   #8
4 Rivet Member
 
Mikebrady62's Avatar

 
2019 27' International
Rogers , Arkansas
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 364
Congratulations on your new project! I'm looking forward to the project pictures. Your new layout looks fantastic. Good luck!
Mikebrady62 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2020, 06:11 PM   #9
1 Rivet Member
 
1972 31' Excella 500
Laytonville , California
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 14
Happy holidays!
Rust removal is mostly done. I ended up buying a $20 corded angle grinder so I didnít need to deal with the batteries anymore. Donít know why I didnít think of that in the first place. Outriggers and cross members arrived the other day and will get welded on soon. Iíve removed everything but the steel from the frame, dropped the axles and cut off the bottom in the rear where the original black water tank sat. The next few days will be welding and painting. I bought black and gray tanks that will arrive in the next week or so and should (hopefully) fit snugly into the bays behind the axles. Iím thinking Iíll brace with steel bars on either side and build a sort of box under them with a thin sheet metal bottom for the covers.

David- that picture should be on the cover of a magazine and I love the colors he chose for the interior!
Mikebrady62- I see youíre from Rogers.. I lived in Eureka Springs for a few years. Northwest Arkansas is one of the more beautiful and underrated areas in the US in my opinion :-)
tikaktoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-28-2020, 07:55 PM   #10
Rivet Master
 
dbj216's Avatar

 
1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 6,431
Images: 1
Small world ! My folks retired in the Eureka Springs area in the early nineties and lived there for 15 years or so. Dad loved to fish. I think it was the happiest years of their lives. We loved visiting them and exploring the town and the area. It is a great place to explore, and a great Airstream trip. We parked in Rogers area and drove in as our Airstream is too big.

David
__________________
WBCCI #8607
VAC Region 11

See my 1966 Trade Wind Renovation Documentation:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers

See my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers

See our 1976 Sovereign Renovation Project:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers
dbj216 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2020, 06:18 AM   #11
4 Rivet Member
 
Mikebrady62's Avatar

 
2019 27' International
Rogers , Arkansas
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 364
Quote:
Originally Posted by tikaktoe View Post
Happy holidays!

Mikebrady62- I see youíre from Rogers.. I lived in Eureka Springs for a few years. Northwest Arkansas is one of the more beautiful and underrated areas in the US in my opinion :-)
We love it here also. Beaver Lake is beautiful and so much outdoors stuff to do here. We moved here 95. Great place to be.
Mikebrady62 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-29-2020, 06:09 PM   #12
1 Rivet Member
 
1972 31' Excella 500
Laytonville , California
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 14
Crazy! My mom recently retired up there as well. I go back whenever possible. When I was living there I flipped a house on the side (long story).. that’s what I mainly attribute to inspiring my passion for renovation. Great town to do a project like that in- lots of friendly craftspeople, awesome architecture, millions of places to go hike on the weekends. I definitely feel now what I felt back then; completely over my head and yet incredibly excited to see everything come together! Needless to say I have many very fond memories of Eureka. For anyone interested in visiting David is right, it would be very tough to get a full sized airstream up those roads. Super fun to drive though and the bikers sure do love them!
tikaktoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-30-2020, 05:09 AM   #13
4 Rivet Member
 
Mikebrady62's Avatar

 
2019 27' International
Rogers , Arkansas
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 364
[QUOTE=tikaktoe;2445055]Crazy!

I definitely feel now what I felt back then; completely over my head and yet incredibly excited to see everything come together!
That sounds like you have a truly adventurous spirit. Hopefully you maintain that feeling through all or most of this project.
Good Luck! I'm looking forward to your progress updates.
Mikebrady62 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2021, 01:53 PM   #14
New Member
 
boger's Avatar
 
1969 31' Sovereign
Des Moines , Iowa
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 3
Joel,

Project looks awesome - lots of fun ahead. I bought a 69 Sovereign 31' a year or so ago and am finally spending more time on it. You and I are very close in our renovations (I just pulled all the interior skins out yesterday, so a bit behind you). My plan is to pull the shell and build a new, beefier frame but keep the bathroom in the rear.

I came across your original thread because I too am spending an inordinate amount of time thinking/worrying about how to plan for my new holding tanks. My main question revolves around how exact I need to be with specifying inlets/connections to holding tanks at this point in the game. My assumption is that my tanks will need to be installed and plumbed by the time I replace the floor and put the shell back on, so I am worried that I will run into placement and fit issues once I finally get around to installing a toilet/shower/etc 1 or 2 years down the road.

There's still plenty more threads to search, but if you or someone else has some guidance on this topic that would be most helpful.

BTW - what program did you use for your layout - sketchup? Great way to visualize the layout. I'm also planning to do something similar!

Jared
boger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2021, 07:47 PM   #15
Rivet Master
 
dbj216's Avatar

 
1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 6,431
Images: 1
Greetings from Colorado and welcome to these Airstream Forums. More small world comments. I grew up in Des Moines and still consider it my "home town". I spent the first 40 years of my life in Iowa and still have many friends there. We lived in Des Moines, Clarion, Ames and Spencer.

I'm working on a 69 Globetrotter 21' this winter. 69 was the first year of the new body style, a major year for Airstream. I find my Globetrotter well built and worth the effort. I have a new waste water holding tank on order for this trailer.

Waste water holding tank plumbing is a significant design consideration. Waste water tanks weren't a major deal in the 60s, but by 75 all RV manufacturers began installing both a wash water tank and a black water tank. Most campgrounds have sewer connections or a dump station. But you can't dump waste water on the ground.

I also renovated a 75 Overlander 27' and kept the rear bath and toilet location. I purchased a new, larger black water tank for under the toilet, and also drain the bath vanity sink water to the black tank. Then I purchased a new grey water tank and installed it forward of the shower/tub. I drain the tub, and galley sink to this tank. I kept the rear drain manifold. Here are a couple of pictures.

There is nothing too precise with the ABS pipe drain plumbing. Most tanks have a molded in boss that clamps around a 3" ABS pipe. The water inlets and vent pipe connections can be made using a rubber grommet to seal. I do this. I locate the drain above the floor, and then penetrate the tank with a hole saw. I install the grommet and assemble the drain pipe or vent pipe.

Building a new frame is a big job. You should plan for your waste water tanks during this fabrication.

Now back to tikaktoe's Excella 500.

David
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	1802 Waste Tank Black Installed 2 (Small).JPG
Views:	6
Size:	145.5 KB
ID:	387171   Click image for larger version

Name:	1802 Waste Tanks Gray Drain (Small).JPG
Views:	8
Size:	129.2 KB
ID:	387172  

Click image for larger version

Name:	1803 Waste Tank Drain Valves (Small).JPG
Views:	6
Size:	126.8 KB
ID:	387173  
__________________
WBCCI #8607
VAC Region 11

See my 1966 Trade Wind Renovation Documentation:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers

See my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers

See our 1976 Sovereign Renovation Project:
Knowledge Base Airstream Trailers
dbj216 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2021, 01:25 PM   #16
1 Rivet Member
 
1972 31' Excella 500
Laytonville , California
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 14
Hey Jared thanks for the message. Congrats on starting your project, I would love to see your progress as well!
To add to David’s wonderful advice: as far as the 1.5” abs vent and waste plumbing going into your tanks and the 3” toilet flange, I would say the easiest and most efficient thing to do would be to plan out your layout beforehand and get those holes where they need to be before putting everything back together. I guess theoretically you could install the tanks after the subfloor from underneath, but that seems like more trouble than it’s worth to me. I am finding that there are many reasons to have a pretty good idea for what I want my layout to be early on in the project. When you start thinking about propane, water, power etc. It’s really useful to have that modeled out early as well.
I did just use the free version of sketchup. It’s very intuitive and easy after only a little practice.
tikaktoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2021, 03:29 PM   #17
1 Rivet Member
 
1972 31' Excella 500
Laytonville , California
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 14
So much for updating progress every few days, but I have gotten a little bit of work done on the airstream since I last posted. Here are the latest developments:

All the broken outriggers have been replaced. There were about 8 or 9 that got welded on. Welding is a fairly new skill for me and the result wasnít pretty but I think it will all hold. I also replaced two of the cross members in the rear. These cross members had holes in them where the original 3Ē drain pipe ran from the gray water tank out the back. The holes were pretty rusted out. Instead of trying to frankenstein something together I just replaced both. Structural integrity is something I am willing to spend a little more on in order to have peace of mind. The entire frame was then cleaned and coated in rust encapsulator paint.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0676.jpg
Views:	2
Size:	582.9 KB
ID:	388492   Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0677.jpg
Views:	3
Size:	419.8 KB
ID:	388493  

Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0678.jpg
Views:	2
Size:	415.8 KB
ID:	388494  
tikaktoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2021, 03:31 PM   #18
1 Rivet Member
 
1972 31' Excella 500
Laytonville , California
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 14
I constructed some basic holders for the tanks using angle iron. They are bolted with ĹĒ bolts instead of welded so the tanks can be removed if needed.
In order for the waste pipe to clear the wheels, the tanks needed to sit flush with the frame on the passenger side. This causes some complications with my original bathroom layout because the black tank is no longer directly beneath where I thought my toilet would go. Iím drawing out some options right now for work-arounds, including expanding the bathroom and shortening the closet, moving the whole thing to the opposite side of the trailer and moving the toilet to a seperate half bath on the other side while keeping the shower where it is.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0692.jpg
Views:	3
Size:	431.7 KB
ID:	388495   Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0687.jpg
Views:	4
Size:	435.0 KB
ID:	388496  

Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0693.jpg
Views:	3
Size:	404.7 KB
ID:	388497  
tikaktoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2021, 03:32 PM   #19
1 Rivet Member
 
1972 31' Excella 500
Laytonville , California
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 14
Meanwhile I started on the subfloor. After measuring and cutting the ⅝Ē plywood, I applied Marine Epoxy. This turned out to be a much more difficult process than I had anticipated. The epoxy does not go on smooth like paint or poly, but globs on leaving a lot of missed spots that are hard to see. In a small, unheated, poorly ventilated space which is all I had access to there were a lot of difficult factors as well. Needing to wear a respirator the whole time, figuring out where to put the finished plywood and keeping it warm for 3-5 days at 45-80 degrees all became complicated factors. Of course, the epoxy is also basically like glue and it gets everywhere. Definitely one of those jobs that I severely underestimated, but now I know for the future! If I had to do it again I would get more Epoxy (I barely made it through what I had). I would also spring for sanded plywood as I think it would go on that a lot easier. Space and heat were sort of out of my control, but I probably wouldnít even attempt this job again in a small shed with only space heaters.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0666.jpg
Views:	2
Size:	315.1 KB
ID:	388500   Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0668.jpg
Views:	3
Size:	409.9 KB
ID:	388501  

tikaktoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2021, 03:34 PM   #20
1 Rivet Member
 
1972 31' Excella 500
Laytonville , California
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 14
Disaster strikes! A massive snowstorm blew through our little town, knocking down trees all over the place and leaving us without power for over a week. As you can see, the temporary structures I was working out of did not fare well. However it could have been a lot worse. None of my tools or any of the airstream components were damaged, and we were able to pull the carport back upright with a truck and some ratchets.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0703.jpg
Views:	3
Size:	494.7 KB
ID:	388502  
tikaktoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Total interior renovation, suggestions? Dovetail Sinks, Showers & Toilets 6 04-29-2010 10:20 AM
Total Renovation... Must Haves??? oldtrucksrul General Interior Topics 5 03-08-2008 08:02 PM
Total Renovation? valc 1970 - 1973 Overlander 7 11-30-2004 02:31 AM


Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Airstream, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:04 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.