Looks like we are still stuck at GO as far as the Marmoleum issue goes. Just wish we had gotten it right to begin with. I am trying to avoid calling the Marmoleum a “worst case scenario,” but that’s where we’re headed – cost and appearance. Once I can bring myself to think about this entire episode, much later in life, I will go back through and tell you what all went wrong, and how you can avoid my mistakes.
CAN’T GO UNDER IT. CAN’T GO OVER IT. HAVE TO GO AROUND IT!
However, I finally decided to bypass what I thought would be the normal order of things, and am fast at work – bolting down the trailer, and working my way to the back where I had to remove rivets to the back center outer skin – in order to get the uniquely angled steel piece to go in AND MOST IMPORTANTLY – be Sikaflex-ed and bolted down – through the U channel, through the flooring, through the plywood, through the skeleton piece of steel angle that was abandoned and through the new back crossmember. Also found that the bottom edge of that back inside skin had corrosion progressing quickly (remember the tail rot?). So that will have to be backed or fronted with a new sliver – the location is just below the back hatch if you are playing along.
FRONT END CAP
The front end cap is out. That revealed another tiny skeleton – this one a lizard. Removing the Airstream end caps also lets you get a look for evidence of leaking, and test for water leaks before you put it all back together. That funky Airstream smell is just about gone, and I think these last vestiges of pink fiberglass insulation will be the final hint of “that smell.”
Starting at one end and working to the other is the way you want to check leaks and go back together. In previous weeks / months rains, I found a freight train of water running down outside the diagonal seam in the front end cap, and straight under the window frames of both curved front side windows (note photo of aluminum tape which diverted the flood). It was a non-stop torrent. The process for removing those windows is to first TAP the centers of the rivets, and second – drill out those rivets. The windows are still in, but according to Paul, they are jinked behind the frame of the front center window to some extent, and the final remove takes some real strong sensitivity (how’s that for an oxymoron!).
The end cap itself is in perfect condition, and will need some custom woodwork for the opening that had the gauges and speakers, as well as a new door on the wide compartment that is at the bottom of the end cap (below the gauges and all).
I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW
Leslie has done a quick and fantastic job of replacing the gaskets around the windows, and is down to her last window which just needs to have the new foam (D Pattern) stuck on (came pre-backed with sticky covered with peal off paper backing.
NOTE – I shot some video of work done to prepare windows for new D Gaskets. If you want to see it, let me know.
I typically get teased when I arrive at A&P Vintage to work on the Safari 23′. “Waited until it got hot enough I see!” is a typical greeting. Truth is, the last few times I’ve been out it has been raining, steaming, leaking or burning hot.
There’s nothing quite like welding upside down outside in the heat, laying in the dirt, taking slag to the body and knowing the pain will stop before I put the fire out on my burning skin. Burn up, burn out.
Then, the leaks that are coming in from the rains are presenting themselves as another daunting task. It is less the opening windows, and more about the curved windows at the front of the trailer. They have dried out and the seam that runs from the top down the side and into the window is conducting water right under the dried out seals and inside the trailer. Another beat down.
Even if I feel beat and beat down, I know I have to push on. The list of body blows, and damage to the morale seems to be stable – give a little, get a little. None of the problems are magically disappearing.
I was watching a documentary on the Eagles, and they did a video after they reunited that had them sitting on the steps of Airstreams belting out the song, “How Long.”
The new double-wide Airstream belly runners. This is where the sides and belly pan come together.
Yeah, an Airstream rebuild is a humbling experience. You think you’re going to snap it back together, like a pile of LEGOs that you just pulled apart, but nooooo!
I hear it when Paul (AP VT Works) says, “things don’t always go back the way they were,” but maybe I don’t always listen.
I had no idea the runners – that run along the bottom of the outriggers, and are where the side panels and belly pan get overlapped and riveted – would be so far off my dead center measurement of the originals, that I would have to go back in and weld in another whole set of runners.
I figured that having a double wide set of runners, rather than cutting out the old or moving the old, I would totally eliminate the margin of error (and tacked the two together along the length) … and be done with this SNAFU. Let me tell you, welding upside down with floor attached is a whole different deal. Put that together with days that start early and end by noon-ish due to the heat, and it’s a recipe for a good old fashion beat down. And that’s exactly what it was.
NOTE TO YOU WHO ATTEMPT THIS – Save these runners for the last welding you do after the shell is back on. Fold under the side panels, measure and weld for the new location of these runners. The old measurement will not work.
Appliances are starting to roll in now. We have a brand new Dometic A/C and I picked up our new toilet the Dometic 310 this week as well. We are starting the search for a refrigerator now. Amazing what trailer (gas + electric) cost these days, and always I guess. It’s hardly aligned with what you get for the dollar in a home refrigerator, so just put those comparisons right out of your mind.
There is a polisher working out at AP right now, and he gave me a cost on polishing the Safari. I would have to remove the clear coat, and Paul said that’s a pretty simple chemical process. For $2400., we can gaze at the landscape in the side of the Safari. Time to call in some debts?!
Ahhhhhhh! I forgot and left the Airstream home alone (actually at A&P’s) for 45 days!
Finally made it back out to Cottondale, Texas, today. It’s been so long I may have to remind you that is where the Safari 23 resides, among many more Airstreams at A&P Vintage Trailer Repair, aka. Ann & Paul’s.
I described the feeling to Ann as what I would imagine a parent to feel when they look up two months later, and remember they forgot to pick their kid up at school. You hope they are still there.It felt like the inanimate Airstream was a little upset being left out there in the rain, wind and hail. Thank goodness we have so little of all of those in North Texas these days. Global something, you know.
As many steps as we made forward before the work hiatus (when I actually went to work), I also took a couple of steps back, and they feel like they were knee-deep into mud. First, the angle iron (custom bent as you recall) that runs along the back wall – sandwiched between the wall and U channel – had to be cut out with the plasma cutter. It didn’t line up properly AND I had already sandwiched the bottom of the angle between the floor and the frame with liberal amounts of that bonding calk. Done, cut out and gone. SECOND, the perfectly straight runners that go underneath along the outriggers (they are where the belly pan and outside wall panels curve under, meet and get riveted), no longer line up the same distance in as they did on the original frame. Rather than cut those out, I ordered a whole new run of them, and they will run doublewide down the length of both sides of the trailer. None of that would be a big deal, but I am the guy who hates rust. That means everything that has been cut out was already painted – well painted. That means I now have to paint the runners, crawl around on the ground with a welder, and act like a weldor again. I hoped I was done with that, but NOooo.
On the cooler side, I did order our new Dometic air conditioner today. We went for the biggest they have, since it is Texas after all. I should have that in a couple of days.
The checklist gets longer not shorter now.
There’s still the sheet of plywood that supports the freshwater tank. Somebody remind me why I threw the old one away. It’s a funny thing. This sheet of plywood really needs to be bullet proof. It covers a huge area of the bottom of the trailer, is exposed to all the elements we will be navigating (think Stony Pass water crossings), and it supports a lot of weight. What a recipe. The original wasn’t in too good a shape, but it did appear to have the sheet of aluminum adhered to it quite well – almost like another layer of plywood veneer! So, I have to bomb-proof that piece of plywood.
We also have a buckle in the marmoleum flooring that runs in a visible spot. The floor laid out fine before we dropped the shell back on it, but now with heat (or whatever) it is a serious problem. It looks like we will have to cut a splice in the marmoleum, gather and glue it.
NOTE – Just to give you guys the heads-up, I am about to pump some serious energy into this website. You will notice a “Instagram” photo in the sidebar, and a twitter feed as well. I have put off really “plugging in” this site until I was ready to deal with what it means for readers and traffic here. If you ever see anything you don’t like, let me know. I AM ALSO MAKING IT EASIER TO COMMENT on this site. You can comment and ask questions without having to register or login. Your comment will be held for approval, but that’s only prudent.
Here’s the video I shot of the shell going back onto the frame. I was using a new GoPro camera, and they are quite finicky cameras. This time, it froze up before the process was complete, but you can see kind of how things work during this process. It was complicated a little by the wind, but basically other than a few screws in the C channel that had to be removed before dropping the shell on, it was a clean drop. The audio is from the internal speaker, which is encased in a waterproof case. That equals bad sound, but since the video was corrupted, I didn’t even bother to do a voice over. As soon as the Airstream videos get better, I am sure I won’t be able to resist hearing myself on a voiceover.