Airstream Forums

Airstream Forums (
-   1970 - 1973 Sovereign (
-   -   Little Girl Refurb 1972 (

Minno 10-17-2009 03:44 PM

WOOHOO!!! The frame is painted the rest of the way! I went out and started when the temp hit 48 (paint can says 50 degrees - close enough), and Chris joined me when he finished his plumbing project in the house. It's supposed to be 35 degrees tonight, so we bought some 4mil plastic and wrapped the lower part of the trailer to the ground in plastic, and put a couple of small portable heaters in her to keep it warm overnight and let the paint dry appropriately. Tomorrow the floor goes in! Supposed to be 56 or so here.
Then we'll have to button her up for the winter. Next spring (or so, depending on daughters wedding plans), we'll be able to start wiring, etc. I'm just happy we didn't end up leaving the trailer without a floor for the winter. The weather has NOT been "normal" for October in Minnesota, so far.


Minno 10-18-2009 07:40 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Success!! :band: Beautiful day today – mid 60’s and sunny! So, we spent a good part of the day working in Little Girl installing the floor. Overall, installation went much better and easier than we expected. Today, we started at the front, and the first piece went in soooo easy! We laid it flat on the frame, and rotated it into position without any trouble at all. :) But, we thought we shouldn’t get cocky about it all, so we anticipated more difficulty with the rest of the sheets. And lo and behold, we weren’t disappointed!

The first trick was getting the full size sheets into the trailer, and then orientated so we could start one end into the c-channel, and then lower the other end (without forgetting to add glue to the plywood strip that runs under the seam to strengthen it), pushing the skin out on both sides so the plywood would lay flat on the frame, and then pull the second side c-channel onto the plywood.

I planned ahead a bit, and stuck pieces of sheet metal on top of the outriggers and under the c-channel on both side, so that when we pushed the sides out to install the plywood, the c-channel did not drop completely off the outrigger. Learned that lesson installing the two rear sheets.

Attachment 89305 Attachment 89306

Here are a couple of pics showing the sheet metal we used to guide the c-channel back on top of the outriggers as we pulled the side together onto the plywood.

The shell does definitely flex enough to get plywood sheets in without having to cut them in half. The trick is not to lose the c-channel completely off the outriggers and plywood. Another trick is being able to pull the sides back in fully, and the contraption I built and used for the rear sections (post #40 above) worked wonderfully!

Attachment 89307
Here, the first two sheets are installed.

The third sheet ended up being the most difficult to get installed. Suffice it to say, that if you forget to cut the 1/2” notch out of sheet 2 and 3 for the door frame, you are never, ever going to be able to pull the sides together enough. 45 to 60 minutes later, we had that little problem fixed and continued on.

General installation was to install a plywood sheet into the c-channels, and then glue and screw the spline on for the seam, and then install the next plywood sheet, adding glue to the spline, and then screws once the sheet was centered and fully snugged up to the first one.:hammer:

After we got the first 3 sheets in, I crawled under the trailer and drilled holes up through the center cross frames. Kay then fed elevator bolts down through the holes, and I put the lock washers and nuts on and then tightened them up with my impact driver. Went much faster then when I did the two rear sheets by myself.

We then installed the final two sheets, which were really easy to get into the trailer since we could slip them in through the wheel well openings. I did have to trim a ½” off one long edge of the last sheet to get it to fit. My measurement of the first sheet’s length must have been a ½ inch too long.

Attachment 89308
Final pic showing all the new plywood installed! :bb:

Now the hard part – buttoning her up for the winter. Probably won’t be too many progress posts for a few months. This winter we’ll dream, work on floor plans, and repair the wheel well covers after I build a few furniture projects.

dieseleagle 10-19-2009 05:26 AM

Looks terrific. It always looks like soooo much space at this stage.

kelseygus 10-19-2009 10:36 AM

Hello! i was looking at the front door lock assembly. it appears you replaced the non original lock with an original . I have the original rectangular look and need parts, where did you get this replacement? Thanks John

Minno 10-19-2009 11:01 AM


Originally Posted by kelseygus (Post 761152)
Hello! i was looking at the front door lock assembly. it appears you replaced the non original lock with an original . I have the original rectangular look and need parts, where did you get this replacement? Thanks John

Hi John,

Yup - the replacment house-hold door latch bugged the heck out of both of us, plus it was starting to put a round dent on the side of the trailer where it hit. Replacment was pricey, but worth it to us. We got it at Out of Doors Mart (ODMRV , Out-of-Doors Mart). Great guys to work with.


mello mike 10-19-2009 04:33 PM

Looks great, Chris and Kay. What about the wheel well cutouts? Or are you going to leave it like that until Spring?

hessehesse 10-19-2009 06:40 PM

Minno - this is incredible (and scary). I'm curious, is there a way to remove the floorboards WITHOUT taking out the C-channel (and drilling out the olympic rivets etc) that are attached to it? So, if I unbolt the c-channel from the frame - would it be impossible to slide out old wood and slide in new?

Globie64 10-19-2009 06:41 PM

Wow, what a great job! It is inspirational to see something done right... Good luck with that tank!


Minno 10-19-2009 08:09 PM

Mello Mike: yes we're leaving the wheel well cutouts for spring - Chris wondered how long it would take for someone to ask!:lol:

Hessee squared :D : We did exactly that: unbolted the c channel from the frame, slid the old wood out (or rather, broke it out in pieces since it was so rotted in spots), slid the new wood in and rebolt down. We don't have everything totally bolted yet, but will probably finish in the spring. There are dozens of screws in addition to the bolts holding the c channel to the plywood, that have to be removed too. They are actually harder to see and get out than the bolts because they were so rusted.

Globie64: Thanks! :blush:We've learned it all from the forums....and years of remodeling our house, of course. Do it right, and do it yourself!:bb:

Kay (a rather sore and achy Kay)

Minno 03-07-2010 03:17 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Wow - been a long winter. Not that we haven’t kept busy – Kay has been quilting and I’ve had a couple of woodworking projects ( and a lingerie chest that I just finished). Plus working on wedding plans for our daughter (June 17th). And every so often, I’d work on floor plans, wiring diagrams, and other airstream related stuff to keep the dream alive. We bought a few items over the winter as well. A new Winegard TV antennae, 3 new vents (2 MaxxFan and one standard vent without a fan – all smoke vent covers so they match), a new Marinco 30 amp connector and shore power cord, and a matching Marinco marine TV coax/phone connector. Both are chrome so they’ll blend in nicely. Trying to get the rest of the stuff we’ll need to make her completely weather tight next Summer.

Yesterday though, I was finally able to get back doing work on Little Girl! Woo Hoo!!! :band:

First project, since it’s one I can work on in my workshop, it to repair the black plastic inner wheel wells. They both had come loose over the years, and between that and the eventual axel sagging, both had sustained some damage. There were several holes and about a half dozen cracks in each one, but, nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a bit of epoxy and fiberglass fabric. These show the worst of the damage on one of the wheel wells.

Attachment 97630 Attachment 97631

Here’s the current stage of the project. One layer of fiberglass and epoxy over each crack and hole on both the inside and outside of the plastic to give two layers total for all of the cracks. I then added a third layer of fiberglass on the inside of each of the holes to strengthen them a bit more. Kinda ugly looking right now, but what the heck, they’re wheel wells! :)

Attachment 97632 Attachment 97633
Attachment 97634
I do plan on sanding them a bit to get rid of the high and rough spots that’ll end up collecting road grime, plus I’m thinking about spraying an undercoat on the inside of the wells to further protect them. Just a spray undercoating that I can pick up at the local auto parts store - nothing fancy.

Not sure what the next project is, or when it’ll happen. Even though it’s been in the upper 40’s the past several days, we still have a good 4 to 6 inches of snow on the ground. But, Spring is coming… :clap:


Minno 04-24-2010 01:03 PM

6 Attachment(s)
A couple of weekends ago, we got the bug real bad again... Decided to not do anything we needed to do and do something we wanted to do, which was work on Little Girl for a day.

While Kay worked inside removing the rear inside end cap and the rest of the insulation and wiring, I tackled the front roof vent. This vent was completely missing its cover when we bought her. I had fabricated a quick panel out of 3/4” plywood covered in plastic and held in place with a combination of elevator bolts, pieces of wood to act as fillers, washers, and wing nuts. Stayed on the 1300 mile trip home and stayed watertight. But, a functioning roof vent that’s easy to open and close, and perhaps actually provide some ventilation was needed.
Attachment 101197

For the front and rear vents, we bought Maxxfan vents over the winter, and a standard non-fan vent for the middle. Actually, we bought a lot of stuff over the winter that I hope to get installed this year, but I digress.

After figuring out how to get up on the roof under the tarp lean-to I have erected over Little Girl without killing myself or the trailer, I spent a couple of hours drilling and then grinding out the 40 odd rivets that held the old roof vent in place. Then spent some time cleaning of the old sealant, and marking the new opening. About 15 minutes with tin snips, and the new opening was ready for the new vent. Lots of vulkum and 18 stainless screws later, she was installed.
Attachment 101198 Attachment 101199 Attachment 101200

On a side note, while I was up there, I quickly discovered that the old TV antenna was actually replaced at one point, and the PO, like in so many other places, used regular steel pop rivets. And a boat load of silicone. Since the antenna was falling apart already and non-functional, I removed it. If you look at the pictures below a bit closely, you can see where the silicone has eaten away at the aluminum skin. It’s close to paper-thin in a few spots. I’ll reinforce that area with a patch before installing the new TV antenna. Right now, it’s cleaned up a bit and covered with duct tape to keep the critters out.
Attachment 101201 Attachment 101202


Globie64 04-25-2010 01:01 PM

wow, so that's what silicone does to aluminum, yikes!

Minno 04-26-2010 10:06 AM

Yah - not pretty. That's why I thought I'd post a couple of pics.

Minno 05-30-2010 03:26 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Now that most of the projects that we need to get finished before our daughter’s wedding in a couple of weeks are done, we’re finding a bit more time to work on Little Girl again. Since our last post in April, we’ve finalized the wiring diagram and we started running wiring. We’re starting with the 110 VAC wiring, and I decided to use the clad style, mostly because when I went to buy 12/2 wire, it was on sale… :) Plus I figured a little bit of extra insurance against critters chewing though it couldn’t hurt either.

Attachment 103583 Attachment 103584Attachment 103585
We’re moving the converter/charger to a future cabinet that will sit just aft of the fridge. So, I started all the 110 VAC wiring runs from here, and went up the wall to the wire chases in the center of the roof, and then either forward or aft.

One thing I learned last Thursday – I’m terrible at estimating the linear feet of wire needed to run 6 separate circuits inside an 8 by 28 foot room. I figured 150 feet of wire would be plenty, but I’m about 30 to 40 feet short right now. So, one of my home store runs here shortly will be to buy another 50 feet of 12/2 wire.

Attachment 103586
Friday evening, I installed screens on the screen fames, and re-mounted them so we can open the windows and not end up with a trailer full of bugs.

Attachment 103587Attachment 103588
Yesterday morning, I “installed” a temporary 12 VDC power source so I could run the new roof vent fan. Works great! Really pulls the air though the trailer and will make working inside her a bit more bearable in 90 degree heat like we had yesterday. Ran the fan on the battery all day yesterday. Then I plugged in the charger for the night. I've been thinking about running a temporary circuit from my workshop out to the trailer so I can run the a/c. But, we’ll see how things go over the next few weeks to figure out if that’s worthwhile or not.

Attachment 103589Attachment 103590
I spent the bulk of yesterday afternoon cleaning the old vulkum and silicone off the windows and hatches, and resealing them all. The goal is get her watertight so than I can remove the tarp that protects her right now. The tarp is very much in the way of replacing the two remaining roof vents and TV antennae.

Attachment 103591Attachment 103592
We also discovered a few popped rivets and 2 missing rivets in the roof on the port side by the a/c and going forward 3 ribs. 2 or 3 buck rivets in each rib had popped free of the ribs, with one gone AWOL in two ribs. I drilled out the popped rivets and replaced them all. Amazing how far the shell can pull away from the ribs with 3 missing rivets (a good ½” or so).

Right now, we feel pretty confident that we have the water leaks fixed in the shell and around the windows and hatches. Next project (hopefully tomorrow) is to tackle the door and get it sealed and water tight. Then back to the roof vents and TV antennae.


mello mike 05-30-2010 05:21 PM

Looking good, Chris.

Minno 05-31-2010 06:17 PM

10 Attachment(s)
Another very productive day working on Little Girl. :)

First project today was to tackle the door and see if I could get it to seal better at the bottom. After reading some of the threads about adjusting doors, and re-reading the service manual, I thought this would be a fairly straight forward project that was destined for failure… Simply put, I didn’t think it work very well. But, I was dead wrong – the adjustment procedure in the service manual works quite well! With one minor glitch that I’ll get to.

Attachment 103647
Here’s what we started with. The bottom front edge of the door has about a ¾” gap to the frame, and the rear of the door has about a ¼” gap.

Attachment 103648
Following the service manual procedures, I drilled out the pop rivets that held the bottom inner skin to the door frame. In doing this, I discovered that several of the pop rivets were already missing their heads, which probably contributed to the gap.

Attachment 103649Attachment 103650
The manual says to re-bend the arch of the door to match the curve of the door frame, re-drill the rivet holes and put in new pop rivets to hold the new arch of the door in place. One minor problem with that – getting the inner skin out so you can re-bend the arch! The door frame overlaps the inner skin by about 1/16 of an inch all the way around. Not much, but just enough that I had to pry the inner skin out of the frame before I could attempt any re-bending of the arch. I trimmed the inner skin down a tad on the sides and bottom to make it easier to re-assemble. I was ok in doing this because one of our future projects is to replace the inner door skins since they are so beat up.

Attachment 103651Attachment 103652
I made a template of the curve of the door frame, and taped it to the door using that magical all purpose tool – duct tape. As you can maybe see in the pictures, the door arch is now about an 1¼” off where it needs to be at the bottom. The right edge of the template should line up with the inner edge of the door frame as you’ll see in the next set of pictures.

Attachment 103653Attachment 103654
Using a piece of plywood to protect the side of the trailer, I used a second piece of wood as a brace to hold the bottom of the door away from the trailer while I pushed in on the middle of the door by the lockset. I pushed until the curve of the door matched the template, and then held it there while I drilled new rivet holes. I installed a cleco in the new hole, and then checked the curve again. I repeated this process until I had a half dozen or so new rivet holes on the outside edge of the door, all held by clecos. I then moved to the hinge side of the door and repeated this process with a template taped to that edge of the door, until I had about a dozen new rivet holes all held with clecos. I was amazed that this worked so well! Hard to see in the picture, but the inner edge of the door frame lines up with the template perfectly.

Attachment 103655 Attachment 103656
I then replaced the clecos one at a time with pop rivets, and checked the fit of the door. Bottom fits perfectly now. I installed a new gasket, and it seems to seal very well around the bottom half of the door, and most of the top half. I still have a gap at the top forward corner curve of the door that I’ll need to deal with when we replace the inner skins, For now, I doubled up the gasket and it seems to seal ok. :flowers:

The water test is still to come though… :blink:

Minno 05-31-2010 06:33 PM

8 Attachment(s)
Second project today was to patch the hole in the roof where the old TV antenna was attached. But before getting to the actual work on the patch, I set up a plywood platform on top of the tarp frame we put up around Little Girl last summer.

Attachment 103661Attachment 103662Attachment 103663
This is a heck of a lot easier than working on a ladder and climbing on top of the roof! I can lie down on the plywood, and the roof is only about 12 inches below the top of the tarp frame. Now that we have her pretty water tight, I can work on the rest of the roof items by cutting holes in the tarp for access. Once all the roof leaks and vents are taken care of, we’ll remove the tarp and frame.

Attachment 103664Attachment 103665
Making the patch and installing it was very straight forward. I cleaned off the top of the trailer with a wire brush. As I mentioned in post 71, the old antenna had gobs of silicone under the base and around it in a vane attempt to keep it from leaking years ago.

Attachment 103666Attachment 103667Attachment 103668
I cut a piece of aluminum for the patch, and drilled all the holes to rivet it in place. I then put a liberal amount of vulkum on the underside of the patch, and olympic riveted it in place.

We plan on installing the new TV antenna in this same location, but that’s another project and another day.:bb:


Aviator 05-31-2010 07:19 PM

Chris and Kay,

What a great thread and awesome work on Little Girl. Thank you for documenting it so well! I look forward to your future posts. From what I have seen, she will be beautiful when you finish.

72BamaStream 06-01-2010 08:32 PM

Hey Chris & Kay!
Oh my gosh... what else can we say but: wow. It is always amazing to see what you kids are up to... I hope all the the peeps know that you two are only 18 & 19 years old. Respectively. Little Girl looks amazing! Good luck with the wedding:)
Hugs from the deep, deep, unfortunately-now-oil-soaked, South,
Shar & Tina:D

Minno 06-02-2010 04:41 PM

18 and 19 years old, eh? So, our youngest child of 23 is getting married........ :angel: As I recall, I think we could be YOUR parents! But, we're young at heart, so mental age we're really only 16. Chris IS older than I am though, 11 whole days makes a lot of difference!:cool:
Poor Little Girl currently looks like an aluminum tent! But the floor feels so different than the old one, and the windows seal, and the door now shuts all the way (no more snaking the extention cord out the bottom of the door!:D AND, the new vent fan pulls a huge amount of air through the front half of the trailer. Can't wait to get the other 2 installed, and water test her for any hidden leaks!
It's good to hear from you all! Esp. Shar and Tina! Stay tooned, especially when Chris starts building furniture - he's GOOD!


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:35 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.