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christiandpatrick 10-07-2007 04:43 PM

Our 1976 Remodel
 
3 Attachment(s)
We have decided to remodel our 1976 31' Land Yacht Sovereign. I have really enjoyed reading about everyone elses remodeling process, so I figured why not start a thread about our project.

We have had our airstream for about 5 years now. We did a cheap remodel (about $500 - $700) when we first bought it just to make it more fitting for our lifestyle. Patrick decided this summer that he was tired of worring about whether everything was going to work when we took it on trips and wanted to buy a new RV (not an Airstream). So, I suggested that we just remodel the old airstream and customize it just for us. Thankfully, he liked the idea.

So we took it to the closest Airstream dealer -about 40 miles from us- to get an estimate. They charge $100 an hour :huh: . We went through the list of things that we wanted to get done. They sent us home with a catalog and told us to come up with an idea of how much we wanted to spend.

After I went through the catalog and made a list of things I wanted to buy, our list topped over $10k just in basic materials and probably another $15k in labor. I figured what the heck...between Patrick and I can do a lot of this ourselves. Lets give it a shot. Worse case scenario we have them finish what we started.

First step- have the dealer fix the leaks and replace the vents (stuff i want guaranteed) about $1100.

Second step - gut it :brows:

Which is what we are working on now -

malconium 10-07-2007 05:04 PM

It looks like you are on your way...

Can you publish a list of some of the things you want to do? Are you making changes to the floor plan? How radical of a remodel are you planning to do?

Malcolm

Boondocker 10-07-2007 05:13 PM

Good luck with the project. If its not already on your list, I highly recommend replacing all the copper pipe with PEX. Easier to do while you are gutted and a whole world less of perpetual leak worries. I think most of us have gone with the blue pipe for cold and red for hot. Makes it easier to know whats what. Also, if you recycle the copper, you will be surprised how much it offsets your materials.

87MH 10-07-2007 05:36 PM

Incredibly Expensive....and worth it!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by christiandpatrick
We have decided to remodel our 1976 31' Land Yacht Sovereign...

From someone who has "been there and done that" -

"Stream On".

Boondocker 10-07-2007 05:45 PM

Major appliances
 
If you decide to replace the furnace, water heater, refer and so on, an excellent source is Palomino out of Michigan. Great prices and service.In dealing with them, you should understand that they are an RV manufacture who will sell you the appliance you need. You have to know what you need, but if you do, they rock.

Dureedesign 10-07-2007 06:55 PM

Great ambitions...I am with you! Getting ready to do close to the same...but Gen. Disarray recommended replacing the copper plumbing....I asked before and it remained unanswered....I currently have on the road side (drivers side) a copper pipe running along the the length of the trailer to the hot water heater, I always assumed it was gas. Should it be replaced?. All the other water and drains are either flex 3/4 inch see through flex hose or this very rigid 2-3 inch plastic drain from the kitchen down to the back. What if any should be replaced while the cabinets are out?:angel:

Boondocker 10-07-2007 07:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dureedesign
Great ambitions...I am with you! Getting ready to do close to the same...but Gen. Disarray recommended replacing the copper plumbing....I asked before and it remained unanswered....I currently have on the road side (drivers side) a copper pipe running along the the length of the trailer to the hot water heater, I always assumed it was gas. Should it be replaced?. All the other water and drains are either flex 3/4 inch see through flex hose or this very rigid 2-3 inch plastic drain from the kitchen down to the back. What if any should be replaced while the cabinets are out?:angel:

If it is gas, I think it should be OK. Have someone qualified give it a looking at while you are torn down. Others may have different thoughts.

GreatPumpkin 10-07-2007 08:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dureedesign
Great ambitions...I am with you! Getting ready to do close to the same...but Gen. Disarray recommended replacing the copper plumbing....I asked before and it remained unanswered....I currently have on the road side (drivers side) a copper pipe running along the the length of the trailer to the hot water heater, I always assumed it was gas. Should it be replaced?. All the other water and drains are either flex 3/4 inch see through flex hose or this very rigid 2-3 inch plastic drain from the kitchen down to the back. What if any should be replaced while the cabinets are out?:angel:

See my earlier reply to your question in red.

I would recommend replacing all your water lines with PEX while the cabinets are out and you have unrestricted access to them. The drain lines should be fine - test for leaks while you have it uncovered.

LJH 10-07-2007 08:47 PM

Good Luck, christiandpatric. Mary and I are doing the same, 85 Soverign 27. It is a most enlightening experiance. Oh,yea, it'a lot of fun too!

christiandpatrick 10-07-2007 10:18 PM

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Thanks everyone for all the well wishes!

Malcom - Some of the things we are planning to do:

1) Patch some of the rotting flooring (there really isn't too much of this)
2) Either paint or strip the vinyl off the interior aluminum walls
3) Rebuild all the cabinetry and walls - Our previous floor plan had the 2 beds in the back (which we removed 5 years ago), bathroom on the curb-side, massive closet across from the bathroom, Kitchen in the middle, large credenza on the street side, and sofa up front. As of now, our plan is to build our queen bed into the back on top of a large dog kennel (we now travel with 3 big dogs and they need their space too - also we are tall so settiing the bed up high is a bonus); adding bunk beds where the closet was and adding a second fold-out couch where the credenza was.
4) and this is probably a controversial issue - we are getting rid of all propane and replacing with electric appliances and a generator. Considering we don't have a lot of experience with electricity, the dealer will probably be doing a lot of this for us. I'm sure we will be updating the breaker box and they will be wiring the generator through a (added I guess) plug in the front where our propane tanks now sit. We are not sure if we will mount the generator where the tanks sat or just have it in the back of the truck. I think it will just depend on the weight of the one we go with.

Rodney - Thanks for the idea about re-doing the pipes. We were trying to figure out how to work around all the copper pipe running on the floor. I think that replacing it may be a great idea. I may be messaging you later for tips on this!

What do you all think - should we strip the vinyl off the walls or just paint over it?

Also, does anyone have suggestions on what to do with cracked interior wheel well covers?

87MH 10-08-2007 06:32 AM

Thoughts on Wall Coverings and Wheel Well Covers
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by christiandpatrick
What do you all think - should we strip the vinyl off the walls or just paint over it?

Do a search for photos on the "better" Classic Motor Homes. Most of the nicer ones have fabric covered walls. The board behind the fabric is little more than cardboard - modern corregated plastic would work great. The boards are easy to cover in the fabric of your choice, and are quickly fastened on the walls with either rivets or screws. The fabric deadens sound, adds to the insulation, and are really easy to change out if you get tired of them. It's easy to hide speaker, computer, video, and other wires behind them also.



Quote:

Originally Posted by christiandpatrick
Also, does anyone have suggestions on what to do with cracked interior wheel well covers?

The wheel wells will probably be covered by something else - I would suggest repairing with built up fiberglass and sealing the sides to the walls with a modern non-hardening sealant. You could use the AS suggested ones (Inland RV has a list), or a product available at NAPA specifically for sealing Air Conditioning ducts and other wet areas...in sealants, you pretty much get what you pay for - the better stuff does not necessarily look pretty, but will last forever - just do not use anything with "silicone" in it.

On the electric - you're looking at a big generator - I would guess a 10 or 12 KW for AC, Water Heater, Stove, Oven, Microwave, fridge, and all of the "smaller" part time loads - lights, battery charger, computer, etc.

Whichever generator you decide on, remember that you will have to live with it running, that means it has to be QUIET -

The RV qualified gensets by Onan, Honda, Yamaha and others are expensive for a reason. They are all quiet AND reliable. Unfortunately, they are neither cheap nor light. By all means, either rent or borrow a generator and camp with it once or twice to make sure it is "right" for your needs.

Also, I don't know of any campgrounds offering more than a 50 amp hookup - a 50 amp limitation would seriously limit cooking options with an all electric kitchen AND attempting the run the AC at the same time.

Boondocker 10-08-2007 11:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by christiandpatrick
4) and this is probably a controversial issue - we are getting rid of all propane and replacing with electric appliances and a generator. Considering we don't have a lot of experience with electricity, the dealer will probably be doing a lot of this for us. I'm sure we will be updating the breaker box and they will be wiring the generator through a (added I guess) plug in the front where our propane tanks now sit. We are not sure if we will mount the generator where the tanks sat or just have it in the back of the truck. I think it will just depend on the weight of the one we go with.

Hmm. I would like to hear your reasoning on this plan. Might make an interesting thread all one its own. I can think of several reasons off hand why I wouldn't go that route, it would be interesting to hear your thinking on why it is....

christiandpatrick 10-08-2007 11:59 AM

Thanks again for all the comments and help - I really appreciate it

Dennis -
Our Airstream definitely has the aluminum under the vinyl-clad walls. We still have the nasty plastic (ours are cracked) endcaps. I think that we are leaning toward paint as I just don't think I want to undergo the massive project of removing the vinyl.

I am begining to think that I should just silicone those cracked covers closed and build a box around them so I don't have to look at them.

I really don't plan on camping without electricity very often if at all, so I am not too very worried about the noise of the generator.

You do have a good point about the 50 amp campground plugs. Aren't there some that are only 30 amp? We'll be running an A/C, Fridge, water heater, occasional stove top, microwave, and ever-important hairdryer...on top of all the lights.

I spent some time this morning browsing through others projects - mostly looking for PEX info, pics etc. I think this is probably something we should do as well. It really does not freeze that much where we live, but while I have it exposed, I might as well.

How do we know if we need to replace the water heater?

87MH 10-08-2007 12:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by christiandpatrick
Our Airstream definitely has the aluminum under the vinyl-clad walls. We still have the nasty plastic (ours are cracked) endcaps. I think that we are leaning toward paint as I just don't think I want to undergo the massive project of removing the vinyl.

I do not know of an option for the endcaps except to stop drill the cracks and/or fiberglass the bad areas - vibration, age, and heat does the 30+ year old plastic in.

On the vinyl clad walls, this is what is done on the AS Classic MoHo's. A fabric covered "board" (1/8" or less), covered by the fabric of your choice (I used a better grade of white linen on the 345), is screwed or riveted over the existing vinyl/aluminum walls. The fabric is stapled or glued to the board. This enhances the interior, does not add much weight, and is easily changed to fit your future interior styles. Most of the interior walls are relatively flat, and the fabric covered "boards" are flexible enough to hug the interior surfaces.


Quote:

Originally Posted by christiandpatrick
I am begining to think that I should just silicone those cracked covers closed and build a box around them so I don't have to look at them.

There are many anti-silicone posts here on the Forum. A good synthetic rubber based sealant is far superior in many ways to silicone. Silicone might "finish" nicer than the synthetic rubber, but there are many reasons NOT to use silicone.


Quote:

Originally Posted by christiandpatrick
I really don't plan on camping without electricity very often if at all, so I am not too very worried about the noise of the generator. You do have a good point about the 50 amp campground plugs. Aren't there some that are only 30 amp? We'll be running an A/C, Fridge, water heater, occasional stove top, microwave, and ever-important hairdryer...on top of all the lights.

A 30 amp circuit is pretty well loaded up with just the "stock" trailer as you purchased it (with propane cooking, heating, water heater and alt. fridge requirements). To go to (just) an electric water heater instead of a propane WH you are looking at an additional 15 or 20 amp circuit...and that does not even begin to address your heating or cooking requirements. You might have to rethink an "all electric" trailer.

The two of you might want to visit a dealer with some new Motor Homes on the floor. Some of the Motor Homes have central "switch systems" which allow you to choose just which electrical appliances you may want to use at any given time. These "switches" lock out other systems to prevent the umbilical connection from being overloaded. You may even find a knowledgeable salesperson (not necessarily an oxymoron) to explain the electrical system and requirements to you.


Quote:

Originally Posted by christiandpatrick
How do we know if we need to replace the water heater?

If the tank leaks water, you just about have to replace it - it is not cost effective to repair. Same thing goes for the propane and burner portion of the water heater - 30+ years is a sufficient life expectancy for a relatively inexpensive appliance. I gave a lot of thought to "rebuilding" the water heater in the '78 - logic and safety won out and I replaced it for less than 300 bucks.

christiandpatrick 10-08-2007 12:39 PM

Electric vs Propane
 
A little info about how we use our TT

We are not really long-term campers. I work a lot and it is hard for me to justify escaping the office for more than a long weekend unless it is during the holidays. But when we do travel, we take our dogs, so hotel stays are not too realistic for that one and I simply like having my own space. We do however also use our Airstream as the "guest house" for friends and family when they visit. I don't usually cook a whole lot when we travel as we like to sample the local restaurants.

Why we decided to get rid of the propane -

Our previous fridge worked on propane only - the electrical portion did not work. It usually just was not worth the hassle to turn it on. (rarely used)

I've only used the stovetop maybe 5 or 6 times and the oven once or twice.

I used the furnace once, but our AC has a heater on it so it is really not needed.

The water heater was used frequently when we traveled, but because the trailer is not taken out frequent enough, it always took about 30 minutes to get the air out of the lines and get the heater lit. If it was windy, I would be out there frequently relighting it. Nowadays a lot of people use the electric wands in their water heaters anyways.

I really like the idea of just being able to plug in the things that I want to use and be ready to go. Not have to stand around outside getting things running when I could be enjoying my time away from work doing other things. I enjoy camping, but it was starting to be a real drag to get everything set up to use. We got to the point where we would only hook up to electricity for the AC and lights, eat out and use the campground showers and bathrooms.

Quite honestly we probably won't even use the generator that often...just on special occasions.

Who knows though...maybe in a couple of years..and I hopefully have a little more leisure time, I'll wish I had propane. :rolleyes:

christiandpatrick 10-08-2007 12:49 PM

Quote:

A good synthetic rubber based sealant is far superior in many ways to silicone.
Thank you for that advice, I will definitely have to do some research on that! I would not have even thought to check that out on here.

Quote:

Some of the Motor Homes have central "switch systems" which allow you to choose just which electrical appliances you may want to use at any given time. These "switches" lock out other systems to prevent the umbilical connection from being overloaded.
I had not thought of that. I was just planning on keeping everything unplugged unless we need it. Great idea!

Boondocker 10-08-2007 01:05 PM

Don't forget resale
 
It sounds like you are getting ready to spend a bunch of money on this project, and you should certainly make it the way you want. Having said that, don't forget that it is likely that at some point you are going to want to sell the camper. In all honesty, going all electric will limit the number of interested buyers and lower the value of the unit. If you can live with that, fine, but I would hate for it to come as a nasty surprise down the road.

christiandpatrick 10-08-2007 02:35 PM

Resale value
 
Quote:

going all electric will limit the number of interested buyers and lower the value of the unit
Actually that was one of the first things we discussed when we considered doing this. This airstream is something that we plan to keep for a really long time. (example: we are building in bunkbeds for kids that are still completely non-existant). We really just made the decision that this is something that we are keeping for the long-run.

christiandpatrick 10-08-2007 10:57 PM

Todays picture, almost gutted.
 
1 Attachment(s)
hey all,

Just wanted to give you an update on our remodel project. We are as close to being gutted. See pic. Had way to much fun doing this.:lol:
Stay tuned,
Patrick and Christi

Jared129 10-09-2007 09:23 PM

I just stumbled upon this site and I have to admit that I am hooked already. I wish you luck on your remod. and I most definitely will be following your progress since I need to do the same sooner than later!


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