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-   -   Moving up to a Sovereign (https://www.airforums.com/forums/f221/moving-up-to-a-sovereign-49899.html)

DavidsonOverlander 04-02-2009 06:29 PM

Moving up to a Sovereign
 
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In January we bought '74 Sovereign in Michigan. It's going to need quite a bit of work, but the price seemed reasonable compared to a lot of others I'd seen advertised and the location was good for picking it up since we have relatives in the area.

This is our second Airstream. Our first is a '64 Overlander. While we've camped in it extensively and hauled it about 30000 miles, we didn't really dig deep enough at the start to make sure it was fixed properly. We made a lot of cosmetic changes to it, built a dinette and replaced the appliances with newer used ones, but there was still a lot of work to do on it and with the four kids getting bigger we got to the point where it seemed to make more sense to put our time into a trailer that would better suit the needs of the size of our family, thus the move to the Sovereign. We're keeping the Overlander and will go back and do a more thorough renovation at some point. No regrets, it suited our needs for 5 years and gave us a lot of experience with Airstream repairs and camping.

Anyone know the history behind having the state name on it? Was that a model, or just something that could be ordered to show where you were from?

This photo was taken when I went for a first look. I drove down in the Prius to have a look and make a decision, then went back a couple of weeks later with the truck and four new wheels and tires to bring it back.

DavidsonOverlander 04-02-2009 07:05 PM

Getting Started
 
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I was aware that there was some floor rot in the front and rear, so after a little bit of hoping that it wouldn't all have to be replaced I decided to start by pulling everything out so I could easily see where the floor is rotten and the frame rusty. I've now removed most of the belly pan, and will take off the rest soon. Right now I'm recovering from jaw surgery which has slowed me down a bit.

From what I've seen so far the frame is not too bad, but there are some outriggers that need to be replaced, and at least a couple of cross members. I'm going to weld in new frame parts, paint it and then replace the whole subfloor. Then I'll at least know that I'm starting from a good base.

The trailer has a recently-replaced furnace and water heater, and I think the range can be fixed up. The fridge was missing but we bought a replacement on Ebay. It had an LG electric fridge in it that I sold for enough to cover the fuel costs for going to check out the trailer and to pick it up - BONUS!

We're going to stick with the same basic layout for the bathroom and kitchen, except that we're going to add bunks in the rear bedroom and where the closets were across from the bathroom to make room for sleeping six, and put in a permanent dinette up front. We don't want to have to be converting it to a bed as we've found that to be too much of a bother in the past, especially with some of us being early risers, and the teenagers in the family wanting to sleep in. One of the things that I like about the '74 is that I can tear out the interior and not feel bad about it since I don't have any attachment to the plastic wood and aluminum extrusions.

There are signs of frame separation in the front as can be seen in the photo, and it looks like the 2 lower panels were replaced on the curb side at some point. The rivets holding them on are Olympics.

Right now I've got it levelled up on blocks and jack stands and have removed the floor back to the door. I've also purchased new plumbing vent gaskets from Inland and three Fan-Tastic Vents from Vintage trailer supply. I'm hoping that once those are installed and the old TV antenna removed most of the leaks will be taken care of.

overlander63 04-02-2009 07:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidsonOverlander (Post 683234)
Anyone know the history behind having the state name on it? Was that a model, or just something that could be ordered to show where you were from?

Grant, that was a popular thing to do back in the late 60's and early 70's. People would have the name of their state put on their trailer. Either their home state, or the state where they wintered (or summered).

Aage 04-02-2009 07:22 PM

Trailer looks to be something that you and your family can really enjoy! Hope you get done what you need to so you can enjoy the camping season with them.

Cheers,
Aage

DavidsonOverlander 05-07-2009 08:35 PM

Spare Tire Carrier
 
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The first of many questions:
Are the vertical pieces on the spare tire carrier supposed to be on a slant as shown in the photo? I suspect that they hit something and got skewed.
(My dog doesn't seem concerned!)

Thanks,
Grant

DavidsonOverlander 05-09-2009 08:32 AM

How should I fix this?
 
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There is a ripple in the skin of our Sovereign where the front curb side quarter panel is attached to the front panel and the steel hold down plate. I can see that this quarter panel and the section above were replaced at some time, because they're held with Olympic rivets. Also the quarter panel does not fit tight to the C-channel at the floor. The quarter panel curves out in relation to the side of the trailer, unlike the other side of the trailer. I tried to show this in the third photo which is a top view of a straight-edge being held along each side of the trailer. The left half of the photo (curb side) shows where the skins curves out in front of the rivet line, and the right side of the photo (street side) shows that the skin curves in toward the centre of the trailer. The quarter panel that has been replaced also bulges out at the front of the trailer next to where it's attached to the front panel.

The last two photos show the gap between the quarter panel and the C-Channel. I could probably fill this with strips of aluminum, but that seems like a makeshift fix when I've got the opportunity to make it right while everything is opened up.

I'm thinking I should replace these two panels. If I'm going to do that I'll probably do the street side quarter panel too as it has a lot of stone dings in it.

I look forward to your suggestions and comments.
Thanks,
Grant

Inland RV Center, In 05-09-2009 09:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidsonOverlander (Post 695816)
There is a ripple in the skin of our Sovereign where the front curb side quarter panel is attached to the front panel and the steel hold down plate. I can see that this quarter panel and the section above were replaced at some time, because they're held with Olympic rivets. Also the quarter panel does not fit tight to the C-channel at the floor. The quarter panel curves out in relation to the side of the trailer, unlike the other side of the trailer. I tried to show this in the third photo which is a top view of a straight-edge being held along each side of the trailer. The left half of the photo (curb side) shows where the skins curves out in front of the rivet line, and the right side of the photo (street side) shows that the skin curves in toward the centre of the trailer. The quarter panel that has been replaced also bulges out at the front of the trailer next to where it's attached to the front panel.

The last two photos show the gap between the quarter panel and the C-Channel. I could probably fill this with strips of aluminum, but that seems like a makeshift fix when I've got the opportunity to make it right while everything is opened up.

I'm thinking I should replace these two panels. If I'm going to do that I'll probably do the street side quarter panel too as it has a lot of stone dings in it.

I look forward to your suggestions and comments.
Thanks,
Grant

Grant.

You should also pull the front plate, that's the panel below the front window.

You should find some metal damage at the vertical extrusion that's between the front panel and the curb side quarter panel.

That damages suggests bottoming out, caused by a heavy duty tow vehicle, excessive rated hitch bars and/or bad axles.

When you reassemble, add two more rows of rivets that are holding the front shell to the front steel hold down plate. There are 3 rows there now. That will help by adding addition strength to the hold down area.

Use plenty of Vulkem sealer, with the replacement panels.

If you wish,you can remove the front lounge, take off the interior 3 pieces of vinyl clad metal that are on the backside of the quarter panels and front plate.

Then when you rebuild, you can buck rivet the outer metal with ease.

The other important thing is to make the entire shell waterproof, so as to stop any further damages. Gaskets, galore.

More questions?

Ask away.

Andy

PINKBIKE 05-09-2009 09:37 AM

was this trailer located in Gaylord by chance?

DavidsonOverlander 05-09-2009 12:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rollerboy (Post 695837)
was this trailer located in Gaylord by chance?

I bought it in Reed City, MI, so it may have been in Gaylord prior to that. Do you know something about it?

DavidsonOverlander 05-09-2009 12:25 PM

Thanks for your quick reply, Andy.
Just to clarify, you're suggesting that I should replace the quarter panel and the front plate. Right?

I've removed the floor and belly pan and the interior panels around the bottom, so everything is accessible. I have some welding to do on the frame and then I'll replace the floor.

Thanks,
Grant

PINKBIKE 05-09-2009 01:41 PM

pretty sure it was for sale in Gaylord towards the middle to end of summer,other then that I know nothing about it ...

Inland RV Center, In 05-09-2009 01:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidsonOverlander (Post 695886)
Thanks for your quick reply, Andy.
Just to clarify, you're suggesting that I should replace the quarter panel and the front plate. Right?

I've removed the floor and belly pan and the interior panels around the bottom, so everything is accessible. I have some welding to do on the frame and then I'll replace the floor.

Thanks,
Grant

Just now looked at the photo's.

You should see some damage to that vertical stiffner as I mentioned. That must be repaired. You can smooth those wrinkles out some what, but they will still be seen.

If you want to get rid of the damaged front end look, you will have to go for replacements.

The vertical hangers for the spare carrier, are supposed to be straight up and down.


Andy

DavidsonOverlander 07-10-2009 05:40 AM

Frame Repair Progress
 
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I decided to start at the rear and work forward. I replaced the last two cross members and repaired or replaced the outriggers as needed. I'm now at the point where the frame has been repaired and painted with POR 15 up to the front of the wheel wells, and the first two pieces of plywood have been replaced (just one shown in photo). I love the look of a freshly painted frame. I'm coating the plywood with WEST system epoxy around the outside edges, and will cover the whole floor with epoxy after it's all in.
The holding tank boxes were in good shape, with only a little surface rust. I painted the rusty spots with POR 15.

crispyboy 07-10-2009 06:55 AM

You are doing a spectacular job - you might have to sell that thing to me when you complete the extensive repairs.
Have you seen any cracks in the frame?

DavidsonOverlander 07-10-2009 09:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crispyboy (Post 719759)
You are doing a spectacular job - you might have to sell that thing to me when you complete the extensive repairs.
Have you seen any cracks in the frame?

Thanks. No cracks in the frame, but a few areas that I need to reinforce where it was rusted through.

davidkg4buo 07-10-2009 09:47 AM

i have a 73 sovern and it has 7.00 17lt tires on it. did you have to replace your tires? i have not been able to find any tires to replace mine. davidkg4buo

DavidsonOverlander 07-10-2009 02:43 PM

Tires
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by davidkg4buo (Post 719835)
i have a 73 sovern and it has 7.00 17lt tires on it. did you have to replace your tires? i have not been able to find any tires to replace mine. davidkg4buo

I bought new rims with Goodyear Marathon ST225/75R15s. I had originally planned to keep the rims that came with the trailer and just replace the tires, but the rims on it were not all the same. Two of them had a different offset.

DavidsonOverlander 08-07-2009 08:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In (Post 695895)
Just now looked at the photo's.
If you want to get rid of the damaged front end look, you will have to go for replacements.
Andy

I've decided to replace the three lower front panels. I've ordered 2024T3 ALUM SHEET .040 from Aircraft Spruce which I'll pick up at their Brantford, ON location when it's in.
Will .040 bend around the front corners okay, or do I need .032 for that. I just placed the order this morning, so I could probably still change it if necessary.

Thanks
Grant

DavidsonOverlander 08-08-2009 02:26 PM

Answering my own question
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by DavidsonOverlander (Post 731916)
I've decided to replace the three lower front panels. I've ordered 2024T3 ALUM SHEET .040 from Aircraft Spruce which I'll pick up at their Brantford, ON location when it's in.
Will .040 bend around the front corners okay, or do I need .032 for that. I just placed the order this morning, so I could probably still change it if necessary.

I didn't get a response to my question here, so I phoned Inland RV and talked to Gary (I think that was his name) who informed me that the lower front corner sections on my '74 Sovereign have a compound curve and are preformed. Good thing I found that out before ordering flat aluminum to replace them. They really aren't that bad, so I'm just going to replace the front centre panel. Maybe eventually I'll look for a set of rock guards to cover them up as suggested by Smokeless Joe.

DavidsonOverlander 08-08-2009 03:01 PM

Step Support
 
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Before everything was dismantled I noticed that the step was a bit shaky from side to side. I think that this is due to the outriggers being well supported at the top, but not having much support at the bottom, unless you count a few rivets through the belly pan.
I decided to try to make the step more firm by welding a brace from the main frame rail to the bottom of each of the outriggers that support the step. The floor is still not in, but with the step back in place it definitely feels more solid.
The piece of plywood in the picture is just laid there temporarily to stand on.


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