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Old 08-10-2018, 05:24 AM   #1
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1969 31' Sovereign
Benton , Illinois
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 4
Advice on restoring

Hello my wife and I just bought a 1969 31í sovereign. It has been gutted frame has been sandblasted and por-15 sprayed on frame. And last the floor has been replaced. I need some advice on everything from air conditioner replacement , checking for leaks, insulation, plumbing, and interior.We would like to use car siding.(not sure if we need to use fiberglass end pieces). Also appliance recommendations. We paid $3000 for this camper and drive 2 1/2 hrs to pick it up so I hope we did ok on the price . The only thing Iím aware that itís missing is the belly pans.

Iím a mech/ electrician at work, and have done a lot of remodeling and carpenter work, but this is our first camper and I know nothing about best practices when restoring one. So if you guys could steer m in the right direction I would appreciate it. I donít want to cut corners and spend the money where it counts. Thanks again

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Old 08-10-2018, 06:13 AM   #2
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1961 26' Overlander
Cayce , South Carolina
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I am tinkering on a 1961 outlander. i would read all you can on this forum and here . good luck and enjoy the journey.

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Old 08-10-2018, 08:02 AM   #3
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1971 25' Tradewind
1993 34' Excella
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Your post is so broad I think it is very difficult to advise you. I recommend you compartmentalize tasks and do new posts on that subject. For example you might start with the axles. If the axles are original they certainly need replacement.

What do you mean by "car siding"?
Sail on silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine.
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Old 08-10-2018, 08:56 AM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Welcome to the Forums!

There are discussion threads here on the Forums that tackle every topic you listed. I find that it is more effective to do a google search from outside the Forums and include the word "airforums" with your other search terms.

There is also a thread that is a compilation of many "full monty" restorations (complete rebuilds). Last I looked at it, there were over 30 threads linked to this one topic. Every one of them will detail how they tackled the topics tha will be important to you.

Also, there is the Vintage Airstream Podcast (The VAP). You can buy a DVD with all the episodes--I find that the earlier episodes have the most value for the newby, as they pick a topic (like plumbing) and explore it for 45 minutes or so. You can pick up a lot of good information while commuting back and forth to work this way.

good luck!
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:05 AM   #5
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Morrill , Nebraska
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Be prepared to spend a boat load of money.
We are talking $15K at least and it goes up from there.
Do you know if it was a shell off operation to replace the floor?
How do you know it was done correctly?
You have a HUGE project ahead of you.
Thousands of hours and dollars.
Think hard before diving in any further than you are now.
Knowledge: "A gift to be shared. A treasure to receive."
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:40 AM   #6
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1974 27' Overlander
Baltimore , Maryland
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$3k isn't bad if it's exactly what you want. I would echo everyone else's advice to double-check the quality of the work that's already been done. Posting a lot of photos would be a good idea.

Advice on the details is going to depend a lot on your needs. How will you be using the trailer? Vacations or full-timing? Parked as an air bnb? On grid or off grid? Will you use solar? How many people? What's your camping style?

Lots of different ways to go about a renovation. Best thing about building your own is you can make it uniquely yours to suit you needs. So, what are your needs?
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:51 AM   #7
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2017 25' International
Port Dover , ON Canada
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Be sure and use stranded wire (rather than solid) for both the AC and DC circuits.
Ray B.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:34 PM   #8
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1969 31' Sovereign
Benton , Illinois
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Old 08-12-2018, 08:57 AM   #9
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1957 22' Custom
Lago Vista , Texas
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Posts: 371
Find and follow some of the restoration threads

That'll give you an idea what you're in for. I'm just finishing up a full Monty on a '57 Custom, and the link to my renovation is in my signature. If your frame and subfloor are done you're well on your way, but don't be fooled, you have a hell of a lot of work ahead of you. First things first, lay our your floor plan so that you can design, order and install your tanks.
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Old 08-12-2018, 10:10 AM   #10
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1983 31' Airstream310
Hillsburgh , Ontario
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The sad part about people that buy gutted AS trailers, is that they didn't get to take the trailer apart in the first place. When you take a trailer apart you get to weigh it first; get tonque weights; understand how AS designed the trailer for weight (tanks, fridge etc) in sections in the trailer and allowed for storage weight in others.

Renovating a trailer is far more science than design. You need to keep track of not only how much weight goes into it, but where that weight goes in relation to the axles; too much weight behind the axles and you have the dreaded trailer sway; too much ahead and your tonque weight will be too high.

I used Coosa board to replace my subfloor; my cabinets are all simple face frame pine with hardly any bottoms; no back, and gables just long enough to mount drawer slides on. The tops of my cabinets are the counter tops themselves.

If you're having to replace interior gables, I would suggest aluminum sheets bent up with Reboard material inbetween for strength and lightness.

Good luck
Sidekick Tony
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ďItís a recession when your neighbor loses his job; itís a depression when you lose your own.Ē "Harry S Truman"
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Old 08-12-2018, 07:23 PM   #11
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Knoxville , TN
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Jared - Welcome to the wonderful world of Airstreams. I would echo the recommendation to compartmentalize your questions and work priorities. Don't get to up tight about those saying you will have to spend tens of thousands of dollars. It's really up to you how far you go. Your purchase price sounds reasonable. There are a number of threads of people who have already done a renewal and several of us in the middle of renewals. I would start with a little bit of research and then set a budget. Not having a belly pan gives you the ability to check out the frame and ensure it is sound. You should post a few photo of what you have and what came with the camper.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:56 PM   #12
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1969 31' Sovereign
Benton , Illinois
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Why do need to use stranded instead of solid wire? I’m leaning toward a park model (no 12volt, no batteries) for what I plan on doing( using full hook up) I thought it would be a waste of money?
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:58 PM   #13
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1969 31' Sovereign
Benton , Illinois
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The shell was taken off floor ripped out and the frame has been sand blasted and painted with por-15. Them new floor installed. They polyurethane the floor.
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Old 08-13-2018, 02:23 PM   #14
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1975 Argosy 28
Springville , Alabama
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Welcome. I did the same as you (bought a gutted airstream) but yours is at a great starting point!
Now you need to figure out the layout. Then from there choose waste tanks. Then electrical. Then insulation. Flooring and interior skins. My thread is Argosy redo. Have fun. Btw what is car siding? I'm assuming it was a typo.
Also, this forum is made up of many people with different opinions and personalities. What works for them may not work for you. Remember, it's your camper, your money and your time. Great advice and knowledge plus experience is offered here. Post some pics and what your plan is.
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Old 08-13-2018, 02:26 PM   #15
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1968 26' Overlander
Beaver County , Pennsylvania
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Welcome to the forums and congratulations on your project. Probably the best part of renewing a vintage Airstream is that you can do what you want and make it fit your needs. The forums is an excellent source of ideas and answers. When you run into a snag, someone here has been there and solved it and is usually willing to share their experiences (good and bad). We've restored two vintage AS's and there is a marked improvement after we discovered the forums and "borrowed" many concepts. Our latest project was a 1968 Overlander and is documented here; if interested.

A couple of thoughts on your questions, stranded wire does tend to stand up better to the bumps and vibrations of a trailer being towed. If you're going to permanently place it somewhere, like a guest house, camp shelter, etc., then that's not an issue. You may want to consider resale, however, as someone down the line may want to tow the trailer. The same is true for the 12 v battery and system. All the towing required lights are 12v and compatible with a tow vehicle system. The battery provides power to the electric brakes which have an emergency pull out switch in the unlikely event the trailer becomes disconnected from the tow vehicle. It applies all brakes to hopefully reduce collateral damage. Again, for a permanent location, not a big deal. For resale, a consideration. Additionally, for a permanent location, you may not need to reinstall the belly pan, just insulate and add a vapor barrier.

Having the frame done and painted with POR and the floor reinstalled is a great starting point. You've got a blank canvas and can make it what you want.

We found, we enjoyed the project phase almost as much as we've enjoyed traveling with our trailers. We hope your experience is also enjoyable.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress. When you figure out the photo posting thing here, we'd love to see some photos.

Roy and Marie
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:10 PM   #16
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1969 31' Sovereign
Paris , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 76
I too have a 1969 31ft Sovereign. Pics of what you currently have would definitely help. Has the original AC been removed. If not, I would recommend keeping the original unit and just have it serviced/repaired. With you having a blank slate you have more options than we did with ours. We still have the rear bathroom and midship bunks. If we were to completely gut and start over I would move the bedroom to the rear and install a queen bed.

Your in at a good price point with the flooring and frame work already done. Take your time. First thing is to make certain it is weatherproof. Install new window and door gaskets. Check and double check for leaks. Take care of the wing windows. 1969 is the only year for that style. Check the rear where the frame comes out from the floor. If not flashed properly water will get in and ruin the new floor and cause all kinds of headaches.
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Old 08-13-2018, 04:29 PM   #17
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1969 18' Caravel
Greenville , whereEverIroam
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If you want to make your AS stationary, weight and balance issues aren't as important, unless you want to resale later on.

AS trailers have all- Aluminum construction, and AL is a great thermal conductor, which means AS is not a four-season trailer. Are you planning on planting it in IL and use it all year round? If so, read up on some insulation threads. It will not be comfortable to stay in during winter in IL unless you are prepared to spend lots of $$ for heat. Remember, it is better than a tent, but only slightly so. Main insulation problem is the AL outer skin riveted to AL ribs, riveted to AL inner skin. No matter how great the insulation in-between the ribs, the ribs are going to conduct. And don't forget the single pane windows as well. And if you somehow make it air-tight, you will have condensation issues. Lots of people have done many ingenious things to improve the insulation, but there is only so much you can do in that space with these materials.

Biggest issues with trailers this age is the floor. Plywood was and is not the best material for this design, (that would be Coosa Board) but it's fairly cheap and if you slop enough goop on it, it might last another 30-40 years if you are lucky. Lots and lots of threads here on floors.

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