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Old 09-24-2017, 07:50 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1963 26' Overlander
Coleman , United States
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 14
1963 Overlander Restoration - Lots of questions, any help appreciated

Hello, I've just started the reconstruction of my 1963 Airstream Overlander and will be working 3-4 full days on it starting this week but have questions. This has been completely gutted and we will be doing a shell off floor replacement this week along with other miscellaneous work.

FYI: 31 year old female so forgive me if not using appropriate terminology or lack of understanding!

Lift Off: Any tips or tricks I should know about? The plan is to de-rivet belly pan then lift off top, pull out chassis underneath, place top on ground.

Chassis: The floor will remain on until we lift off so we can trace the floor replacement. The floor is so deteriorated that this will be the best way to obtain accurate measurements. Since we aren't taking floor off, we aren't sure how many outriggers we will need but the entire back 8 feel has extreme water damage (you can fall through the subfloor) so I'm assuming I'll need at least 8-10. Is there any way to know the size of outriggers for a 1963 Overlander? Or should I just replace all of the outriggers? Any recommendation on where to purchase that will ship in a couple days? Or is this an item I can source locally, if needed?

Belly Pan: Roughly how many flange rivets will I need to re-rivet the belly pan back on?

Windows: The windows have been sealed many times over the years. Any recommended products to get those out and remove all the gunk? Then, any special product for putting them back in?

Patches: I have many patches that need done on the exterior, would you advise .025 or .032 sheets? Also, any special product to put between the two sheets of aluminum for water sealant?

AC/Furnace: Any recommendations on which one's to purchase?

Vents: Since we aren't doing a formal kitchen or a bathroom, we aren't sure these are needed. Are there windows we could purchase in place of those?

Attached is my current list of items to purchase. Any other recommendations?

Thank you in advance!!

PS, we have a machine shop so I have access to interior working space, tall fork lifts, sandblasting, welding and so forth... just in case those questions arise!
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Old 09-24-2017, 08:17 PM   #2
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
Fredericksburg , Texas
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 2,921
Welcome. Sounds like a great project. You have legitimate questions. When I tackled my first reno, I read all the renovation threads I found on the forums. When I had the sequencing down, I customized my rebuild. Everyone has different skill sets and facilities. Log and label all items removed. Take a lot of pictures. Don't get in a hurry and have fun. Do all repairs while the shell is off so you don't regret not doing a repair when you had the opportunity. Good luck and post any questions you may have int the future. Bubba
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Old 09-24-2017, 08:41 PM   #3
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1974 27' Overlander
Baltimore , Maryland
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 1,042
Lift Off: Go slow. There will be hidden rivets. Of it's not moving, you probably need to find a few more rivets.

Chassis: if you don't need the hole in the middle, an outrigger is just a piece of steel channel with the right curve cut into it. A local welding shop will probably be able to fabricate new outriggers for you cheaper than you can buy them online. Or if you have the tools in your machine shop, you can make them yourself. But you can buy them. has them, as well as a few other places.

Belly Pan: Figure 5 or 6 rivets per crossmember. Maybe get a few extras.

Windows: I like the white 3m bristle disc, carb cleaner, and a bunch of rags to dig out old polyurethane sealant. I like Sikaflex 221 applied with a syringe for resealing. The painters tape method never worked for me -- I just apply, smooth, and wipe off the excess with a rag soaked in carb cleaner. For removing window gaskets, I like to cut as much as possible off with a sharp new razor blade, soak in GooGone (in the metal tin) and scrub with a soft bristle stainless wire brush. Wipe with carb cleaner to remove the Goo Gone before reapplying new gaskets. This leaves a sort of brushed finish, but you're covering the area with a new gasket, anyway. Don't use the wire brush anywhere you don't want scratched.

Patches: 0.032 allclad aluminum. Use polyurethane (Sikaflex, Trempro, or Vulkem) to seal between the sheets. Use buck rivets if possible. Olympics only if you have no other choice, the ones with no gasket, installed "wet" with a dab of polyurethane. Definitely not pop rivets.

AC/Furnace: I used a Coleman Mach 8. Dometic Penguin is also a very popular choice. I heat with a tiny wood stove, so I don't have input on the furnace.
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Old 09-24-2017, 11:29 PM   #4
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1958 26' Overlander
Battle Ground , Washington
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 871
Images: 22
In preparation for pulling the shell, I would recommend some cross braces at the base of the shell ribs. I used 3 pieces of plywood and bolted through the rib. With 3 pieces you are squeezing the rib and have a wide base for setting the shell down. It can assist in resetting the shell back on the frame, since the width dimension has not changed and you can focus on front to back/side to side positioning.

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I recommend you also remove the wheel house(s) before lifting. Not sure if your year has one or two per side. I did not leave the C channel on the shell because of the modifications I was going to make to the frame and the shell attachment (see my thread below). A lot may depend on whether your's are in good enough shape to reuse. Suggest you query other members for their input.

For lifting I created a box beam out of 2X4's and lifted through the front and rear roof vent opening. The shell is not that heavy, but it can lean to the door side, due to the door weight. I took the door off first and it only tilted an inch or two. As you'll see the beam doesn't have to be solid on all 4 sides. Nor were my 2X4's the length of the beam. I used 12 footers and just staggered the joints. Put together with kreg screws and just disassembled after I reset the shell. If you have an old a/c unit in place I'd pull it before you left the shell.

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Take lots of photos during the disassembly.

If you're frig is elevated like mine, you can place the furnace underneath it. That's what I'm doing. 35K BTU suburban with ducts. It will be a pain to get at once its all done, so it is risky for maintenance.

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Old 09-25-2017, 01:28 PM   #5
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1972 29' Ambassador
Boynton Beach , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 568
Wow! Great project. Can you post some pics?

Are you removing the inner skin? If so, plan on re-insulating. That's the major thing that I wish I had done on mine. I'm using twin ACs, and sometimes can't get the inside temp out of the 80s. Gotta still love Florida!

When you replace the floor, you might consider doing the whole thing in a single piece of linoleum. Not the bargain crap at the box stores, but the old-school stuff. Check out David Winnick's site:

No bathroom? They are a hassle, but sure are nice. Maybe look into a composting head?

You can get aluminum patches at Vintage Trailer.

If you don't have a pneumatic rivet tool, now's the time to get one! Harbor Freight has a cheapo one that seems to work pretty good.

I tore out my furnace and replaced it with the second "portable" AC. I camp all over Florida, and use a space heater in the winter.

As for caulking, I've used Sashco Big Stretch (Amazon) on the interior and TremPro 635 (Vintage Trailer Supply) on the exterior. Regular caulking doesn't cut it.

Good luck, and keep us posted!
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Old 09-25-2017, 02:20 PM   #6
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,311
On your Lift Off--you mention de-riveting the bellypan--realize also that you are going to have to remove at least the lower-most interior skins to expose the bolts that pass through the C-channel, through the floor, and into the ends of the outriggers. There may also be a hold-down plate in the front and in the back that rivet the shell to the frame.

There is no rocket science behind the construction of the outriggers. I would wait to see how many you need first, and then consider fabricating your own. If you have the ability to cut and bend sheet steel, you will probably be able to make your own rather easily.

I would also caution you to manage your expectations in terms of the time a "full monty" project like this takes. 3-4 full days is just the tip of the iceberg!

good luck!
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Old 09-25-2017, 02:36 PM   #7
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1957 22' Caravanner
1965 26' Overlander
appleton , Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 137
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post

I would also caution you to manage your expectations in terms of the time a "full monty" project like this takes. 3-4 full days is just the tip of the iceberg!

good luck!
Best advice yet.
1957 Caravanner Full Monty
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Old 09-25-2017, 03:58 PM   #8
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1967 26' Overlander
Haute-Aboujagane , New Brunswick
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 255
Congratulations and good luck with your new project. We are renovating a 1967 Overlander. Separating the shell from the frame was a nerve racking process. Putting it back on even worse. Here is a link to our reno. If you have any questions , my husband would be happy to help.
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Old 09-25-2017, 05:59 PM   #9
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1991 34' Excella
1963 26' Overlander
1961 26' Overlander
Central , Mississippi
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There are several threads on '63 Overlanders and doing The Full Monty. Sounds like you have a pretty good plan. My only 2 suggestions are
1) screw a piece of ply across the bottom of the door opening before lifting the shell. It tends to stretch open and will cause trouble when you reassemble.
2) measure the perimeter of the floor around all of the old C channel immediately after shell lift off. This dimension should be matched just before you reinstall the shell. It's easy to make the new floor too big (shell has to stretch to fit it) or too small and you have gaps that cause the shell to wrinkle when you start re riveting.
Hi Ho Silver RV! Vernon, Sarah, Mac the Border Collie(RIP) -
A honkin' long 34' named AlumaTherapy
and a 26' '63 Overlander, Dolly
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Old 09-25-2017, 07:39 PM   #10
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 5
I am also in the process of a shell off restoration on a 1975 ,25 foot Trade Wind. I did support the shell with 2 by 4s. After drilling out all the rivets I jacked the shell and place the wheel hubs on dollies to pull the frame out. You will probably need new axles. Dextor axles is what Airstream uses. I had a entire new frame made because mine was to far gone . The out riggers are fairly inexpensive and can be bought . This is my first Airstream project so we are both going through growing pains. You can by parts at the Airstream factory but you have to pick them up. If you text me I can send you photos of the supports and the shell off the frame.
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Old 09-26-2017, 06:54 AM   #11
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1963 26' Overlander
Coleman , United States
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 14
Thank you all for your replies! Currently, the interior is completely gutted with skins/insulation removed so we should be good. Also, we have 4 days off work and will complete what we can but the total goal time for the Lift Off, Chassis Work, Floor Replacement, Axles, Tires, Braking Systems, Shell Back On, Insulation and Interior Skins back on is 8 weeks. We're pushing a tight timeline but trying to get this done before we store it for the winter since we are located in Michigan.

Once again, thank you all for your assistance and support!
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Old 09-26-2017, 10:42 AM   #12
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 5
Where in Michigan. I live in Angola which is 30 minutes from Coldwater Michigan. If you want to drive down and look at my project.
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Old 09-26-2017, 11:26 AM   #13
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1967 17' Caravel
Oak Creek , Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,547
Images: 3
I'm in Michigan also. Any questions feel free to ask. I'm just finishing up my 67.
Hope it all goes smoothly for you!
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Old 09-26-2017, 03:46 PM   #14
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1957 22' Caravanner
1965 26' Overlander
appleton , Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2016
Posts: 137
I got mine in Michigan. Does that count?
1957 Caravanner Full Monty
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