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Old 08-11-2006, 11:22 AM   #1
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1972 31' Sovereign
wakefield , Massachusetts
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Unhappy help '72 31ft Sovereign

First please excuse me I am new to this and hope this is okay. We (my husband, 10 year old son and myself) just bought 1972 a/s it is on a camping site and we will probably never take it on the road. P/O told us of a few minor problems, looked like all it needed was a good cleaning. We thought we could handle the repairs. We were wrong. Pulled up rug found holes in floor, all the copper pipes are no good, vista? windows leak and have gray chaulking hanging in between the windows, and forget about the mice that keep getting in somehow. Paid a plumber $300. to fix pipes that burst again from water pressure, water coming from back of toilet and hot water heater. We want to fix the leaking windows, and replace the floor with the shell on a little at a time, working front to back, and replace copper with pex. I have been looking at the forums for a month and have become very confused. Any suggestions, help, wisdoms would be helpful. I have bought the service manual from A/S, window "stuff" from Inland? and the pex replacement pipes. We are not very handy and are beginning to think we have bitten off more then we can chew.HELP....
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Old 08-11-2006, 12:24 PM   #2
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1973 31' Sovereign
Danielsville , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2004
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If you're not very handy, you probably have bitten off more than you can chew.

Not to try to discourage you, but you're probably looking at the tip of the iceberg. What you have is certainly restorable, but it won't be quick and it won't be cheap. (Although if you learn to be handy, you'll save quite a bit in labor.)

If it were me, I would remove all of inside from the axles back, exposing the entire floor. The water heater is probably not worth keeping, as are any of the other appliances if they're original (unless they've been meticulously cared for). (Furnace, fridge, water heater=$2000 +)

If you have water damage on the floor, your steel frame underneath is probably rusted and in need of repair. (see rear end separation, tail sag, etc.). The belly pan should be removed as well. (Actually, if you back the trailer up onto some 6"x6" blocks, you can drill out the belly pan rivets and get a quick look at what you're up against without removing all the interior)
(Wear goggles and a respirator as you won't like what falls out.)

You can't know the extent of repairs until you remove the belly pan aft of the axles. This is where most of your water damage will occur. (Although if your freshwater plumbing crosses over under the freshwater tank up forward and burst, you'll have quite a bit of frame corrosion up front as well, as I have found myself. This is a center bath issue that only pertains to units where bath and kitchen are on opposite sides of trailer. Pre '75 I think.)

I have restored one '72 Overlander which I literally gave away for $7000 in March and have a '73 Sovereign center bath sitting idle under a tarp awaiting my attention. Unfortunately, I've been a bit busy with other projects so my Airstream work has been slack lately. The amount of time required is significant but it can be done if you're willing to learn, ask questions, and perservere. But I'll guarantee this: When you get done, you'll think $10K sounds pretty reasonable for a restored airstream in decent condition, even unpolished!!

Good luck, the forum can help you quite a bit.

P.S. - Spend $60 on a tarp to cover it up and prevent any further water damage from window leaks. The vista views can be fixed relatively easily in the 72 models.

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Old 08-11-2006, 12:57 PM   #3
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1973 31' Excella 500
Incline Village , Nevada
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cjackie, I feel your pain, we (my goddess and I) bought a '72 31 Excella a few months ago. PO told us it just needed a new water tank. We then made the critical error and looked under the rugs. My goddess (of destruction) took drill-driver and sawzall to it and we suddenly had a nearly empty AS shell. We patched the floor and laid a new laminate floor longways Oops! just addded expansion joints to keep the laminate from buckling. Anyway, my greatest problem has been the mice.. Cute little White Footed Deer Mice (the source of Hantavirus), been killing them in droves. My task has become Mouse assasination and remediation. If you havent tried it yet there is a product called natures miracle (get it pet stores) you can use after bleaching or lysoling (1:10 dilutions) the mouse krispies (mouse poops) to kill the virus that lives in mouse poop and urine. The product info says to use the natures miracle first but then you have to wear the N-95 respirator until after your'e done cleaning. Lots more info at CDC. Good luck - Joe
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Old 08-11-2006, 03:29 PM   #4
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Lake Wlmo , Minnesota
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 587
I agree with Pizza Chop's recommendation for starting with the back end of the trailer. You will only help your mouse problem by starting on the floor. Getting the plumbing replaced and replacing your water heater (very wise if you have the trailer pulled apart and you have the extra $350 - $500 depending on your choice of heater) will be much easier with the back end pulled apart.

Removing the pieces of your trailer isn't all that tough if you think a little and learn how to drill out a rivet. (search on drilling rivet for several threads that talk about this)

Searching this forum will become your best asset.

I would recommend that instead of a tarp over your trailer, that you consider a 10x20 tent that you can get for under $100. Putting a tarp on your aluminum trailer has been discussed at length in this forum. I agree with the basic principle of stopping the inside damage by covering the outside.
72 Sovereign: L couch, mid-twin, rear-bath
"When you come to a fork in the road, take it"
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Old 08-19-2006, 09:15 AM   #5
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1972 27' Overlander
Longmont , Colorado
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trailer covers

hi- just my 2 cents worth on the cover issue, as I have had my '72 covered for about 8 months now. It is covered because my coach has to be parked under a large pine tree, which oozes both sap and "bird sap". I bought a polypropylene cover from JCWhitney for about $140, it would fit a much taller trailer but completely encloses the airstream, with enough slop in it to allow the side by the door to be pulled, and clamped, up over the door to allow access. I just went out and crawled up inside the cover at several places around the trailer, standing on a stool so I could see the lower curve of the roofline. I saw nothing except the clean aluminum that went under the cover last october- no black marks, no rub-throughs, no abrasions. These covers are lightweight and breatheable, unlike heavier tarps of the past. So, in my experience, the cover has served me well. I think if you had roof or window leakage issues that you couldn't deal with right away, a cover would be the least of your potential damages. -tim
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Old 08-19-2006, 03:14 PM   #6
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1978 31' Excella 500
Venice , California
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Then there's this approach...

Since you're not intending to tow the AS around, you can ignore some of the issues those of us who do need to address. You might consider sheet metal on the floor where the holes are and leave the wholesale replacement to the NO.
Plumbing with pex is relatively easy once you get over any unfamiliarity with it. You might want to check the incoming water pressure and perhaps lower it with a regulator. Seal up leaks on the outside with vulkem polyurethane sealant. Mice are clever little oportunists. You will need to inspect the underside of the AS for mouse sized holes (thimble size or larger) and plug them up with sheeting or screen or a little of each. Since you are not trying to be roadworthy, you have a little more lattitude in the manner in which you chose to effect your repairs. Whatever you do, keep in mind that the NO will need to deal with that too. Chose one item at a time and research it here and ask questions–could turn out to be fun!?
"Not all who are laundering are washed" say Bill & Heidi

'78 Excella 500,"The Silver Pullit". vacuum over hydraulic disc brakes, center bath, rear twin. '67 Travelall 1200 B 4X4 WBCCI 3737
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Old 08-22-2006, 11:05 AM   #7
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1972 31' Sovereign
wakefield , Massachusetts
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Thanks everyone for the replys. We are still "thinking" this out we did replace all the rubber around the excess doors and put steelwool in the hole in the floor near the sink then I placed 8 traps all over the place and I must say that after 9 days still no mice. That alone makes me very happy.
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Old 08-22-2006, 02:38 PM   #8
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Woodstock , Georgia
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sounds like you are on the right track. Now read up on repairing the plumbing, the flooring and such and go slow. You can do this with the help of those here many who have been thru what you are going thru and way more.
If you are able to fix it to where you can enjoy the trailer, it will be a rewarding and educational experience.
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:19 PM   #9
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1979 31' Excella 500
1975 28' Argosy 28
Rutledge , Georgia
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Hi, cjackie,

What is the plan now? Still to leave it sitting?

I ask because if you're going to fix 'er up, then you might as well go all the way and fix 'er up for rolling camping. These are not "mobile homes" designed to sit. They are rolling homes designed to explore and enjoy.

How many repairs can you effectually do at the campsite? If you decide to really take this on, you'll need to take it home.

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