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Old 12-21-2020, 11:37 PM   #1
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Denver , Colorado
Join Date: Dec 2020
Posts: 78
1974 Ambassador - Full Restoration

I have lurked Air Forums for too long!

Last weekend I landed on a 1974 29' Ambassador. I had it towed up from Texas to Denver after a "craigslist find" purchase. The upside potential appeared to be worth the risk of buying site unseen.

I got the trailer in late on Saturday night. I started DEMO on Saturday. As of today I have removed all the interior skins/shell, insulation, plumbing (not tanks) window trim (saved it) and wiring. Next up is subfloor to see what we are working with down below.

I imagine I will have many questions along the way and would love your support! I have a lot to learn, but I have wanted to do this for a long time.

We are also posting on instagram under the handle of boondockorbust

Goals:
This is NOT a flip. This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. We had a 21' micro Minnie winnebago before having kids. Loved it, but anytime I drove by an Airstream I knew it was meant to be. We sold our micro Minnie a few years back before the kids showed up. Now, I want to build out the family weekend warrior aistream to get them time away from screens and enjoy what open land has to offer.

Rear Twin Beds
Convertible front U sofa to bed
Limited kitchen (Range, Fridge, Sink) (no microwave or oven)
Bathroom with "walk in" shower
Electrical: Build for boon docking. Large battery bank, solar, inverter/converter, limited power hungry appliances.
Plumbing: Black/Grey Tanks, Fresh tank with filtration system & tankless hot water.
Entertainment: 2 TV's & satellite
Exterior: Outsource polish at a later date

First question (if you read this far down) - On the drivers side of the trailer there is a door in front of the wheels. It had a piece of plywood over it. What was it for? More importantly can I find a replacement or should I wait for floor plan and if necessary patch it up?
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Old 12-22-2020, 12:15 AM   #2
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1980 24' Caravelle
vallejo , California
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welcome to the forums! that is the access hatch for the back of the fridge. your trailer looks nice and straight. looking forward to see your progress. kurt
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Old 12-22-2020, 07:46 AM   #3
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1970 23' Safari
Marion , New York
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 125
Congratulations on finding your Airstream and welcome to the forum. It looks like you wasted no time in starting the restoration.

As someone already mentioned, the missing door is for service access to the back of the refrigerator. The door may have been louvered to vent heat from the refrigerator. I think this may be a difficult item for you to find.

I look forward to watching your progress.
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Old 12-22-2020, 08:07 AM   #4
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1972 29' Ambassador
saint louis , Missouri
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 103
i'm working on a '72 ambassador. hoping to have it road worthy by fall of next year. its a lot of work but worth it.
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Old 12-22-2020, 09:18 AM   #5
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1973 29' Ambassador
Sacramento , California
Join Date: Sep 2020
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1973

I’m currently working on a 1973. Look forward to seeing your progress!
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Old 12-22-2020, 09:52 AM   #6
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1966 26' Overlander
1981 31' Excella Limited
1964 22' Safari
Ramona , California
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 95
No microwave

I was curious that you specified no micro or range. Having owned 4 vintage airstreams my wife and I both found a microwave to be pretty essential to enjoying the experience. Only 1 was built in with others being secured in a cabinet or countertop. I love grilling out as much as possible but there are many times when a microwave really was the best option. We dont use the gas oven as much but when boondocking it is pretty useful.
We all have different preferences so just sharing ours.
You will have a great airstream when you are finished and sure to make many family memories!
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Old 12-22-2020, 10:05 AM   #7
CC
 
1972 27' Overlander
Heinsburg , AB
Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 201
Congratulations and Welcome, loved the pictures and can see the excitiment in your eyes! We have made so many family memories camping with our kids. I look forward to watching your progress.
CC
PS: your missing door is exactly where my fridge is.
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Old 12-22-2020, 10:07 AM   #8
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1973 31' Sovereign
Novi , MI
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 8
I’m doing a very similar renovation on a 73 31’ Sovereign. One difference is I just bought new custom tanks and axles. Currently working on the windows restoration, tank installation, and subfloor. Reach out if you have questions.
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Old 12-22-2020, 10:37 AM   #9
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Denver , Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenfconnor View Post
I was curious that you specified no micro or range. Having owned 4 vintage airstreams my wife and I both found a microwave to be pretty essential to enjoying the experience. Only 1 was built in with others being secured in a cabinet or countertop. I love grilling out as much as possible but there are many times when a microwave really was the best option. We dont use the gas oven as much but when boondocking it is pretty useful.

We all have different preferences so just sharing ours.

You will have a great airstream when you are finished and sure to make many family memories!


The decision to not include a microwave or oven is an initial plan. The thought was that storage in AS are limited. Both these items take up significant space. However, you are right that we could miss having them. When we start drawing up floor plans it will have to be decided. But we thought back to when we had our Winnebago. We didn’t use the microwave a single time and the oven was used once for some cinnamon rolls. The hope is nearly every food item can be cooked on the stove or grill/fireplace. But we shall see!
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Old 12-22-2020, 10:38 AM   #10
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Denver , Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Kubbe View Post
I’m doing a very similar renovation on a 73 31’ Sovereign. One difference is I just bought new custom tanks and axles. Currently working on the windows restoration, tank installation, and subfloor. Reach out if you have questions.


Thank you!

I am not looking forward to removing the rest of the plumbing and tanks, but only option is to start fresh. What are the details on the tanks you had made?

Windows are in good shape except for the “sun lights”. I’ll post a picture later but looks like the internal gaskets have slipped “into” the window. I’ll do some homework on these but if anyone has pointers I’ll take them.
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Old 12-22-2020, 10:40 AM   #11
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Denver , Colorado
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Originally Posted by DremStremer View Post
Congratulations on finding your Airstream and welcome to the forum. It looks like you wasted no time in starting the restoration.



As someone already mentioned, the missing door is for service access to the back of the refrigerator. The door may have been louvered to vent heat from the refrigerator. I think this may be a difficult item for you to find.



I look forward to watching your progress.


Thanks for the door info. Sure it will be hard to find. May not need a “door” or vent there depending on layout.
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Old 12-22-2020, 10:43 AM   #12
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1972 25' Tradewind
1976 31' Excella 500
1974 31' Excella 500
1975 24' Argosy 24
Denver , Colorado
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You can always set a microwave or toaster oven on a table, but believe me, especially with kids, you're going to want one. You will often pull into a spot when it's pouring down rain and everyone's hungry, and a microwave-oven-toaster will be like gold.



With that much space (a 29 foot trailer), why not just build in a space for it, so it's not in your way when you realize how badly you need it.



Also, once you take care of the subfloor and frame, one of the most important things you're going to need to think about is insulation. Don't miss out on doing this uber-important step correctly, because it's the one thing that you can't go back and fix.
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Old 12-22-2020, 10:49 AM   #13
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1972 25' Tradewind
1976 31' Excella 500
1974 31' Excella 500
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p.s. When planning your layout, the most helpful thing you can do is *be in* as many Airstreams as possible to see what will work for you and what might be unnecessary. Over years of "real Airstream life" I've learned that what you think are clever ideas don't always turn out to be. Sometimes they do, but often they don't, and then you're stuck wasting adventure time "undoing things."
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Old 12-22-2020, 10:55 AM   #14
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Robbinsville , New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aopsahl7 View Post
Thanks for the door info. Sure it will be hard to find. May not need a “door” or vent there depending on layout.
If you use a fridge that can run on propane you NEED the back of the fridge sealed off from the inside of the trailer and NEED a vented door near bottom of fridge and vent over fridge to not KILL people in trailer with carbon monoxide.
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Old 12-22-2020, 11:05 AM   #15
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Knoxville , TN
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That missing door gives you access to the back of the refrigerator so you can service it from time to time. If you replace it with a 12 volt unit then you no longer need that access. You can also delete top and bottom vents which are points of access for insects and possibly other critters. Food for thought. Also you can replace the oven with a microwave / convection oven. Airstream is doing both of these thing on new models along with a number of other manufactures.
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Old 12-22-2020, 12:50 PM   #16
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1974 25' Tradewind
1976 27' Overlander
Stillwater , Minnesota
Join Date: Nov 2009
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Refrigerator access door

On my 1974 Overlander the access door is not vented but the floor has an opening with screen that vents from the bottom of the refrigerator and the vent hood on top. Yours may have been a similar set up. And to reiterate a previous poster you will need to seal the enclosure for the refrigerator from the living area if you will run on propane.
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Old 12-22-2020, 02:17 PM   #17
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Denver , Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kidjedi View Post
You can always set a microwave or toaster oven on a table, but believe me, especially with kids, you're going to want one. You will often pull into a spot when it's pouring down rain and everyone's hungry, and a microwave-oven-toaster will be like gold.



With that much space (a 29 foot trailer), why not just build in a space for it, so it's not in your way when you realize how badly you need it.



Also, once you take care of the subfloor and frame, one of the most important things you're going to need to think about is insulation. Don't miss out on doing this uber-important step correctly, because it's the one thing that you can't go back and fix.


This is a very very good point on the kiddos pulling in late and needing some quick food. The driving factor is storage space but also my refusal to stay at any campsite so need to stay low on power consumption. I am planning on a 2k Watt inverter which I guess could handle a microwave.

10-4 on insulation.
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Old 12-22-2020, 02:18 PM   #18
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Denver , Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wazbro View Post
If you use a fridge that can run on propane you NEED the back of the fridge sealed off from the inside of the trailer and NEED a vented door near bottom of fridge and vent over fridge to not KILL people in trailer with carbon monoxide.


Yes. Let’s not kill the family. Planning on a 120v AC compressor fridge.
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Old 12-22-2020, 04:02 PM   #19
Ronald Witherspoon
 
1974 29' Ambassador
Shawnigan Lake , British Columbia
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 18
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I have a 74, that is mostly original

We never leave home with out a microwave and instant pot. Some day I plan on replacing the stove/range with an induction cook top with a microwave/convection below it. (These are called speed ovens in Europe, we have one in our house, but they are spendy).
We are still trying to decide on high end individual recliners or a built in diner/couch U shaped for the front.
I'm with you on the 12 volt fridge as I am sourcing a large propane generator as a back up to solar. I camp on Vancouver Island exclusively, and it's easy to keep things cold. Also, we have trees you would not believe, so my solar will be a movable ground unit.
Lastly, what other trailer can you use for 50 years and give to your kids to use for another 50? You made a good choice.
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Old 12-22-2020, 04:53 PM   #20
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Denver , Colorado
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Question:

Does it make more sense to post questions/plans/thoughts specific to things like appliance selection, layout, power diagrams etc all within this thread or create individual specific threads? Would love to keep it all in one place, but also dont expect people to read through pages upon pages of the entire process to help with a specific question. Trying to play nice in the forum world...And yes I will use the search bar and find as much as I can to not repeat questions.
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