The Airstream Diary

Airstream Trailer Answers and Questions

Behind but Gaining Fast

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We managed to get the elevator bolts (in countersunk forstner bit “cups”) covered with a concoction of epoxy (from West Marine) and powdered wood sawdust. Amazingly, it wasn’t as messy as it sounds.

When I think epoxy, I think of the project my Grandpa gave me when I was, oh, about 11-years-old. The Dargle scooter was leaking along its seams, and he gave me the glass and epoxy, and said something to the effect of, “no problem.” I did get it done, and actually it passed inspection, but not before I put too much hardener in with the resin and started a small but pesky fire. NOTE TO SELF – mix your epoxy properly!

Today, it was back out to A&P Vintage Trailer to cover the deck again, as it awaits our sanding and between today and the next chance I get to get out there – rain.

If you are in the Athens, Texas, area – be sure to check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s annual “Fly Fish Texas” event at the Texas Freshwater Fishery on Saturday. I have attended two of these, and will be speaking at this one on Saturday. Mark your calendar for Saturday at 3-pm.

Anna the Airstream Towing Dog

One of our dogs is getting old and feeling pretty bad the last couple of days, so I needed to take her “little” sister Anna, for a ride, get her out of the house, and some quality time. She was quite happy to be out and about.

Front Section of Airstream Safari converted for spare tire

We are pulling the belly pan back a section and installing an Airstream factory spare tire holder in the first section behind the tongue. It just seemed logical.

Epoxy applied to elevator bolts on Airstream Decking
Underneath the epoxy is the elevator bolt that holds the deck down.

Where the door meets the decking needs notching
Don’t forget to notch the plywood where the door jamb is located. It’s about a 1/4″ notch that keeps everything flush. We haven’t done that yet (in this image).

New Airstream Decking Now Bolted Down

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Just the day before we left for a respite in Santa Fe, NM, we spent half of that day finishing the laying of the decking on the Airstream trailer. The slideshow shows what the new deck construction is all about, and is a far cry from where we came.

The deck is pilot drilled with a small bit, then drilled with a forstner bit for square edged countersinking, and then I came back through and drilled the 5/8” final hole through the deck and cross beams and outriggers.

Since some of the sheets of plywood share a common beam, we still have to stagger the elevator bolts getting close to the edge of the plywood, and sometimes close to the edge of the underlying steel cross member.

Before the plywood is finally laid on the frame, we hit every surface with calk that provides a seal and adhesive.

Since the plywood was lifted, you can see Leslie using a long, heavy punch to realign the holes.

We then dropped in elevator bolts on the perimeter. If the elevator bolts don’t go, realign them because the threads are very soft and easily shredded.

Use a regular washer and lock washer on the bolt. We tried nylon lockers and locking nuts, but they all spin the elevator bolt head, so they don’t work when you are bolting down the Airstream deck.

TAIL SNOT

As you may recall, the tail of this particular Airstream was through-and-through rotten. That was mostly due to plumbing issues, but the curvature of the trailer also funnels water right down into this vulnerable area. SOLUTION: Lots of calk in the sandwich that includes plywood, the unique angled piece of steel, a sheet of aluminum (for attaching the back bumper box lid. All these are bolted SNUG against the frame. The holes drilled should go through the sandwich.

Just like all areas that get calked, work fast, and get tightened down to compress that calk to the edges and get the compression on the whole thing.

AIRSTREAM LOOK PRETTY STUFF

MarmoleumLeslie is hooked on the look of Marmoleum, and the efficiency of sheet flooring, the organic nature of the product, and the great colors all make it our hands-down choice for flooring. So we’re looking at colors, and leaning toward the yellow side of the wheel.

To get an idea of where we have come from on the Airstream Safari, be sure to look back at previous stories. Here’s a link to show you the original appearance of the Airstream deck and frame.

The Beat Goes On

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New GoPro Image of Airstream

All the decking is half bolted down, and just like the rest of this rebuild, it’s heavy duty and each elevator bolt gives me reassurance. And that’s just the bolts!

Weather is changing again here in North Texas, where we have gone from soupy fog the last couple of nights, to a cold front and the look of rain out here on the Barnett Shale. While I’m out here working on flowbacks, my mind goes to the Airstream, and the little bit of heavy lifting that remains. After all these years, I feel like denting the aluminum (not really) with a bottle of champagne, or ripple – after we bolt it back together. The fact I am even talking about it is amazing.

 

GoPro on the Airstream Curve

I thought I would throw this strange accidental image in for grins. I took this with a GoPro 3 Black, and obviously don’t quite know what I am doing. I think I was looking at the front of it to see if it was on.

Yamaha Generator & Decking

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We had to hustle yesterday at A&P to get about half of the decking bolted down on the Airstream. I will detail that process – and include some photographs – next time. We went home the night before expecting a dry twelve hours, but instead were treated to an unusual soupy fog that coated everything with a mist of water – the frame, the plywood, hardware – everything. We had to do some drying out before we started bolting down. Come to find out, the calk we are using between the deck and frame (and in every other nook and cranny) sets with moisture (BSF Sonolastic NP1). The decking is half done, but it’s plain to see where my rebuilding of the frame went a little caddywompus – we are having to do some post welding “tweaking” of the deck to get to a near flat dance floor.

The elevator bolts are countersunk so we can fill the cup in the plywood with leveling stuff (not there yet). We tried some self locking nuts, and neither those nor nylon lockers would go on without spinning the heads of those big-headed bolts. So we retreated to flat washer / lock washer / standard 5/16″ nut. What we are (with proper guidance)doing with materials and the nuts and bolts of it is so far beyond what Airstream does …

Paul Mayeux at A&P Vintage Trailer is looking to sell a new Yamaha Generator, which I can’t pull off even at his bargain price right now. Contact him at A&P Vintage Trailer Works - (817) 919-3651.

A Short Day at A&P Vintage

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We put in a short day at A&P Vintage just because the work didn’t time out with the daylight. It’s not like we were tired from yesterday’s work, or anything like that!

Leslie and Anne took a look at colors for the Airstream’s new Marmoleum floor and Multispec by Multi Color Specialties, Inc. (resembles original Airstream zolatone). There’s still plenty of hard design decisions to be made above deck, but the path is set for everything happening below the Airstream’s marine grade plywood flooring. While they were talking, I managed to finish the edge painting of the ply wood and covered known wet areas (specifically the doorway and bathroom area) with a coat of paint just to have a shot at beading water instead of absorbing it.

One thing I had forgotten about, and really hadn’t decided, was where to put the spare Airstream’s spare tire carrier. It didn’t come with one, and there was no place for one evident in the old configuration of the Safari ’23. So, while we are in so deep, I decided to put a standard Airstream spare tire carrier that mounts between the main rails just behind the tongue – up and under the floor. That means leaving off a section of belly pan / insulation, and laying a sheet of aluminum below the marine grade plywood and sandwiched against the frame and the ply wood. We will lose some R value right there, but the ability to carry a spare up and out of the way is well worth another tradeoff.

It is amazing how much more real the project looks with pieces of plywood decking fitted neatly and almost puzzle perfect atop the frame. Now the frame begins to disappear, a time capsule for someone else to unwrap and say, “We can do so much better with today’s materials and technology. Bring in the magnetic levitation axle, and activate hail forcefield, ” in about a hundred years.

Earlier, I mentioned the possibility of the Airstream wheel wells being off, way off. I took one of the old ones (never throw your old wheel wells away until the new ones are completely installed)out to compare to the new ones that I left in Cottondale yesterday. For my money, in mymind’s eye, they were exactly the same, but Paul had a heck of a time with the ones I had made for a ’63 Safari that we assumed would be the same. It turns out my Airstream wheel wells are an exact match to my Airstream (1970 Safari), but not even in the ballpark for the ’63. Such is the Airstream life. I breathed a sigh of relief, and knew that the wheel wells wouldn’t be costing us any extra time.

On the other side of the design spectrum, apparently the best way to lay down these full sheets of Marmoleum is to lay it directly on the deck before we drop the fuselage back onto the deck – sandwiching the edges under the Airstream’s U channel support / bolt down strip.  That makes for a clean install, and still stays true to floating the flooring (allowing for expansion and contraction of the surface).

Below is a good look at the wheel wells, and how they meet with the decking. It may take some adjusting, and further notching inside the wheel well decking, but remember the very outer edge of the well (where it meets the deck) is flush with the deck. Those little tabs running over the top are for securing the inner skin with rivets. If you have problems here, don’t fret! Much of this will disappear beneath a lot of further construction.

 

airstream wheel well

Decking is just laying on flange of wheel well here. If you get this tight of fit, you are doing great. Otherwise you may have to trim back the decking to make everything line up.

 

 

airstream wheel well replacement

Note how I folded down the tab on the piece that is below deck. If your wells look like this, do the same.

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