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Old 03-27-2021, 05:31 PM   #1
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1963 30' Sovereign
Alden , MI
Join Date: Feb 2021
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Here we go! Gutted 1963 Sovereign Land Yacht reno

Here we go! We just bought a gutted 1963 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht double bed model from a guy off of Facebook Marketplace. We are going to pick it up in the next few days.

Here is his description:

1963 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht
30ft "double" model
Gutted and ready to restore.
Frame has double coat of rust inhibitor and add I-beams welded in.
Floor has been replaced with new boat flooring.
Wiring has been left behind to show original electrical routing.
Windows are intact, just needs resealed.
Inside curved end caps are with it.
Tires good, ready to go.
Wheel wells are new.
Some pieces/parts with it.

Photos are here:
2" ball receiver.https://1963airstreamsovereign.blogs...and-yacht.html
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Old 03-27-2021, 05:43 PM   #2
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
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Scott, good looking project. Youíll have a lot of fun during the rebuild. Take your time and think several steps ahead so you donít miss anything. Good luck
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Old 03-27-2021, 10:48 PM   #3
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1963 30' Sovereign
Alden , MI
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Thanks! This is Katie, though. The question is, where do we start? I'm thinking sealing it in first. Thinking of putting Fantastic Fans and AC in the roof openings and making sure all the rivets and seams are sealed, then resealing all the windows and making sure they are operational.

Here is some more of my first things to do. I'm not sure what order we should go in.
-New Axles and lifting it.
-New brakes
- Bumper
-Exterior lights
-Compartment doors
-12v and 110 wiring
-Floorplan (we know we want quadbunks like shinytinyhome and a front bedroom
-Tanks and plumbing
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Old 03-28-2021, 10:17 AM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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I would say that the very first order of business is to learn what "good" looks like, and then confirm that the PO's floor replacement was done correctly. After that, then I would say you have roughly the right order of operations: Do all the "shell work" while the interior skins are out (replacing exterior lights, sealing windows, sealing the rivet lines and seams from the inside, installing fans, preparing for the AC installation). Then you can move on to the interior work.

When it comes to the interior, you will want to decide on your layout first, then you can decide where to put electrical outlets, run plumbing, etc. After that, you can install tanks and so on. I would save the axles and brakes to the very last, as there is no dependency (aside from the electric brake line) with the rest of the project, and you may as well not have a brand new axle just sitting there aging while you work the rest of the trailer.

Did you get the interior skins as part of the sale?

good luck!
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Old 03-28-2021, 12:28 PM   #5
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1976 Argosy 24
1961 28' Ambassador
1968 26' Overlander
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Looks like some good potential there, body panels look real good. Check every part of the frame and floor, especially where the floor goes under the edge or "C channel" of the shell. Check the step operation and condition of the outriggers for the steps. Check the fit and operation of the door and lock or latches, now would be the time to add a deadbolt which is highly recommended. Maybe post pics (closeup) of floor and body bolts and screws. I did a '61 Ambassador so very similar trailer. Complete window refurb was a major project, seemed to take forever. Save any vent parts, they may be valuable to others. Yeah, axles near the end, when you do them you'll think it one of the easiest parts of the project. Get some chairs and sit inside and dream. Mock up ideas with cardboard, 1x2 and the cheapest 1/4 sheet product you can find (often underlayment). Ask any question you want and be ready for the answers to fly. There are many full resto threads, check them out.
Get ready for some fun and challenges....
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Old 03-28-2021, 12:46 PM   #6
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1963 30' Sovereign
Alden , MI
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The interior skins are with it.

As far as the axles, as we see this as a long term project, (We want to take our time and do it right.) we are planning on taking it out camping long before it is done. We have a cassette toilet from an old camper we stripped for parts. So we can have a toilet before we get the plumbing and tanks done. Early on, we figure that it will be glorified tent camping in a camper with mattresses on the floor and using a Coleman stove and a cooler. So weíd like to get it roadworthy. Though probably our camping would be close to home would be close to home. So that is why we felt like doing the axles sooner rather than later is a good idea. But if the current ones are decent, it is a great point to wait until later if we arenít going to be driving it much.
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Old 03-28-2021, 01:15 PM   #7
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Rubber torsion axles only last 20-25 years, so if yours are the original axles, then they are surely shot. So I agree, if you are going to tow it, then get the axles, brakes, etc., up to snuff.
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Old 03-28-2021, 01:35 PM   #8
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1977 31' Sovereign
Rochester , WASHINGTON
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Rubber torsion axles only last 20-25 years, so if yours are the original axles, then they are surely shot. So I agree, if you are going to tow it, then get the axles, brakes, etc., up to snuff.
Agreed, new Dexter Axles are complete with electric brakes.Get rid of all the old junk running gear.
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Old 03-29-2021, 02:37 PM   #9
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2006 34' Classic S/O
Fort Worth , Texas
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If you want to re-axle and lift I would install 35 degree arms, That is a much cheaper solution that axles then lifts.
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Old 03-29-2021, 07:01 PM   #10
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1956 22' Safari
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Conifer/Evergreen , Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wagvan View Post
-Floorplan (we know we want quadbunks like shinytinyhome and a front bedroom
Quad Bunks? Do you mean 4 beds or 8 beds plus the bedroom? From the looks of your signature line, it sounds like a full house regardless...and you'll need 8+ beds!

Curious as to the floorpan you come up with ~ but you have time to think about that from the state it's in now. We camped in our as we were restoring too - it was a "hard tent" for the first couple of trips.

Shari
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Old 03-30-2021, 07:47 AM   #11
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1962 28' Ambassador
1961 19' Globetrotter
1962 26' Overlander
Mesa , Arizona
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We love TinyShineyHome they did a nice reno on their trailer and are having fun in the desert now.

As mentioned, If you are going to tow it about, road worthiness, safety and towability first. Axels are all outside work so whoever does those might be able to handle tires, tongue, 7 pin, coupler, breakaway etc. Think of new axels as assisting with the ride of the trailer. One you put innards in, (even your camping gear) you want to protect their transport. Without new axels you are pounding your trailer and frame on our nations severely under maintained roads.

Once it's road worthy you can silver tent camp quite comfortably for a long time. Have fun!
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Old 03-30-2021, 08:09 AM   #12
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1966 24' Tradewind
1995 34' Excella
Lynchburg , Virginia
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Sounds like a great project Airstream. Welcome.

I agree that you should go ahead and replace the axles and brakes, then go ahead and use it as a hard tent and go camping. Some of your camping time will then be used figuring out solutions to some of the many challenges you will run into.

Lots of decisions to make. One is drum or disc brakes. Drum brakes is the easier and cheaper solution. I installed disc brakes and so glad I did. There is a thread on it and some information in my project thread- Danís 66 Tradewind Solutions.

Dan
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Old 03-31-2021, 08:36 PM   #13
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1963 30' Sovereign
Alden , MI
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Rubber torsion axles only last 20-25 years, so if yours are the original axles, then they are surely shot. So I agree, if you are going to tow it, then get the axles, brakes, etc., up to snuff.
I donít yet know if they are the original axles or not. Hubby is towing it home as we speak. Since the frame and floor is redone, it is possible they redid the axles. The tires are new looking. Once it is here, we will check it out.

Unfortunately, being a Pastor and this being Holy Week, I wont have a lot of time to play and check it out until after Sunday. Hubby being retired, got to go get the trailer, but I had to stay home to work. So I wont even get to see it until he gets home tomorrow around lunchtime.
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Old 03-31-2021, 08:40 PM   #14
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1963 30' Sovereign
Alden , MI
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guskmg View Post
If you want to re-axle and lift I would install 35 degree arms, That is a much cheaper solution that axles then lifts.
guskmg
I donít know what that means! We have a great place that flipped the axles on our old camper, so Iím assuming that they will know what that means? We donít plan on DIYing the axles. We are all about being frugal, but we also want to do it right.
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Old 03-31-2021, 08:47 PM   #15
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1963 30' Sovereign
Alden , MI
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut View Post
Quad Bunks? Do you mean 4 beds or 8 beds plus the bedroom? From the looks of your signature line, it sounds like a full house regardless...and you'll need 8+ beds!

Curious as to the floorpan you come up with ~ but you have time to think about that from the state it's in now. We camped in our as we were restoring too - it was a "hard tent" for the first couple of trips.

Shari
Quad bunks are 2 sets of bunkbeds. So 4 beds total. Our oldest 3 kids are all married and live away from home, and my 17 and 18yo often stay home from camping. So we really donít need that many beds. Though we do want to be sure to have plenty of kid friendly space because we hope to bring grandkids camping with us one day. Iím curious to the floor plan that we are going to come up with too! We know we want the quad bunks. We think we want a front bedroom for the adults like our old 30í camper, but we are open to figuring something else too. We do like the u shaped dinettes, but Iím not sure how comfy it would be to sleep on and we feel like we want a little more privacy for ďmom and dad alone timeĒ <wink, wink> But one of the things we like about the Airstreams that we have seen photos of is the openness, so Iím not sure about putting a big wall up. Lotís to consider...
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Old 04-07-2021, 09:27 AM   #16
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1969 18' Caravel
Park City , Utah
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I would not trust the tires, new looks don't mean much with a trailer. There should be a date stamp on them. If they are over 3 years old replace them before you take any kind of trip. Speaking from experience a blow-out is no fun....
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Old 04-07-2021, 09:56 AM   #17
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1961 22' Spaceliner
Portland , Oregon
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Hey Wagvan,

Welcome to the adventure. Been down this road and you can check out my blog/log for the order I went through. The first winter after I got it was the "road-worthy aluminum tent" phase, after which we spent a summer enjoying it with air mattresses and fold up tables etc. If you're really going to hit the road with it, replace and upgrade everything.

The biggest thing that wasted my time and money was I started wiring it up myself just trying to follow the original design and later decided to go fully modern.

Have fun!
--503
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Old 04-07-2021, 10:07 AM   #18
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
Fredericksburg , Texas
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Youíre right 503. If youíre going to re-wire, itís smart to have all the modern 12vdc outlets for things that arenít designed for 120vac. Modern is a good thing.
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Old 04-07-2021, 05:43 PM   #19
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1956 22' Safari
1962 28' Ambassador
Williston , Vermont
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Welcome to club. It is a big job to bring one these back to useable condition, but very rewarding.

When we bought our Safari, it had a "new" floor put in by someone who seemed competent, they did it for a living anyway. When we couldn't get rid of the mouse smell, we tool a look under the "new" floor. The jerks had put the new floor in over top of the old insulation, mouse carcasses and all. Not only that, they cut through the main rails in several locations to remove the original floor. So we took the complete floor up. That's when we found the A-frame had buckled. Time for a new frame.

Hopefully your seller had lots of photos of his repairs. Not surprisingly, my seller didn't have any. Since your guy went to the trouble of adding steel, he sounds like they probably did it right.

I hope you are going to continue this thread with your restoration progress. I got so much help from the folks on this forum. I tried to document the complete process with photos which came in very handy when we had our trailer appraised. We could prove everything we had done.

I agree with the previous posters, install new running gear and tires and go camping. I can't wait to see what you come up with for a layout. I am finding I am having more trouble with that on my Ambassador than I did building the frame on the Safari. - Mark
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Old 04-07-2021, 07:38 PM   #20
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1975 27' Overlander
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Hello from Colorado. I wanted to join your thread as I like vintage Airstreams and I like the longer ones. You are embarking on a big project needing many different skills from woodwork to sheet metal to plumbing to electrical and mechanics. You will enjoy it and learn alot along the way. These Forums are a wealth of knowledge.

I spent the winter of 2020 under my friend's 76 Sovereign 31'. We got it completely renovated from major frame repairs, subfloor repairs, new axles, new plumbing, rebuilt cabinetry, new appliances and many other things along the way. Here is a photo of them out boondocking here in Colorado. They enjoy the great outdoors. I hope the phots will motivate you to press on regardless. You and your family will have many fond memories of Airstream adventures.

David
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