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Looking for a Spring Break

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The wind is swirling around North Texas today, as winter’s last gasp is a big breath.

Yesterday, we went out to A&P to see if we could lay the Marmoleum and also some flooring that goes under the back bed. That last item, flooring under the new bed at back, was no small task. I am the one that was “hard to please” when it came to a small patch of flooring that no one will ever see.

Seeing as we have a massive new area under the bed at the rear of the Airstream, I wanted to find some kind of floor that would reflect light in that new cavern of space. I went down a road that lead to the wrong item – snap together plastic coin flooring. It certainly is white, but too thick and … plastic! So that’s getting shipped back, and as you can see, once I got my mind off white it was easy to find flooring that worked.

We found it at Home Depot, and it’s about the right thickness, is fitted together like a puzzle, and extremely durable. We bought enough to go over the edges, then trimmed it to the edge of the deck – doing away with the exposed tabs and tucking it under where the support wall for the bed will hit the floor (that sitting on top of marmoleum). It’s a very dark grey and still has the “coin” pattern. The pattern combined with the composition of the tiles should prevent things from sliding around too much, but eventually I will be going back in with velcro tabs and ties for the things that need to be secured but removable underneath the bed.

Airstream Trailer floor
It may be invisible, but it’s a place that could get a lot of wear – flooring for compartment under bed.

Overlap reasonably.

cutting airstream flooring
Cut carefully. Red arrow denotes one of those epoxied forstner countersunk elevator bolt holes – sanded SMOOTH.

The rain let up, and we were finally able to lay out that flooring and trim the round edges, and also allowed the plywood deck to dry out. Leslie was anxious to lay the marmoleum and drop the shell back on top, but I knew we needed our advisers to tell us what we were getting into …

Thank goodness we waited until Ann & Paul returned to talk laying marmoleum. What we didn’t know is that marmoleum gets brittle in colder temperatures and WILL CRACK if flexed just wrong! Disaster averted. So we unloaded the roll of Maromleum (probably about 125 pounds), re-covered the deck, and retreated to A&P’s for an afternoon imbibing of a “Dark & Stormy” which looks the color of ice tea, and is anything but Texas tea.

Airstream flooring
Flooring gets put together, placed, marked underneath with pencil, un-puzzled, and then cut.

So the marmoleum is ready to lay, and is in waiting for warmer weather to make it more pliable. Then we will roll it out, cut the wheel well from the template Leslie created, roll it up and then roll it back out on the deck. There are a few things to know, and remember about using Marmoleum on Airstream trailer floors.

First, Marmoleum is sheet style rolls of linoleum. It’s organic.
Second, make sure temperatures are at least in the mid-60’s and 70’s to 80’s is even better – when handling sheets of Marmoleum.
Third, cutting Marmoleum is like cutting linoleum – use one of those hook tipped knives, new and sharp. I will make sure to demonstrate the cutting technique in a later post.

I’ll detail the amount of Marmoleum we used to cover (not completely) our floor. Rolls of Marmoleum are not the full width of an Airstream trailer floor. That means there will be a seam. That means we had to order extra to cover that remaining area, but that seam will not show – except for a small area coming out from under the kitchen toward the front street side (long ways).

There are a few nuances to putting in new flooring during a full monty restoration of an Airstream. You can put the trailer back together and then flush cut your flooring to the walls of the trailer. OR you can lay the flooring and then put the trailer back onto the decking, sandwiching the flooring under the U channel and creating something of a gasket between the trailer and the floor. I chose the latter because it is a lot easier to simply draw around the rounded corners of the deck (from underneath) onto whatever flooring is used, and have a highly accurate cut-to-fit.

The reason I was adamant about getting some floor covering under the bed before we put the trailer back together is because of that sandwich effect. Imagine allowing part of the trailer to rest on a sandwich of Marmoleum and part of it resting on the plywood decking. There’s the probability that the old rivet holes for the inside skins would not line up to the tune of 1/8-inch. So if you are going to sandwich, sandwich it all. Many folks with better financial means would choose to go Marmoleum front to back (under the bed and all), but I wanted something more durable that Marmoleum for that back storage – who knows what’s going under there? These rubber coin tiles cost a fraction of Marmoleum, and are within thickness tolerances of Marmoleum – making for an even sandwich.

The last observation is one that’s easily overlooked. ONCE YOU have your new flooring on your new decking, and your trailer on your frame, it needs to be immediately WEATHER PROOF. Before it goes back together, we have three fan holes (take that down to two?) and a gaping hole where there used to be an air conditioner. All of these need filling, and preferably with the actual appliances – obviously not before the framing comes out from inside, but as soon as that framing comes out and those holes are accessible —- SAME DAY. The search now begins for fans and a new air conditioner. After the A/C there’s really only one major high cost appliance left – the refrigerator.

Black Grey Marmoleum and Coin

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The pieces are coming in fast and furious now! The sheet Marmoleum has arrived at Green Living in Dallas, and UPS just left the second of two tanks on our front porch, meaning we have the black and grey water tanks on hand and ready to go. The “Coin” I’m referring to is this click together garage flooring that will go in the hidden floorspace under the bed at the back of the Airstream. It came from Garage Flooring, Inc., and seems like the perfect material for where it goes.

I’ve had a sample of this stuff sitting on the floor in my fly shop for awhile, and it is holding up quite well. The sheet version of this has two distinct drawbacks; 1) color choices are limited, and 2) it only comes in large rolls. The fact it’s for garage floors means it’s plenty tough, and I picked white so we could have some reflectivity as light bounces around in the large cavity under the bed (enabling me to locate that woolly bugger that worked so well).

More epoxy added before sanding level
This one is a redo. I added more epoxy to bring above flush with decking, and then sanded with belt sander. Will make a photograph of the sanded area when we are out there this weekend.

A couple of days ago I belt sanded the remaining epoxy mounds that I had made over the first ones – the critical thing being to fill those that had cupped (concave), and then bring them back to flush with the overall floor. My belt sander skills were non existent, but I managed to get it done.

Extra shim to prevent possible issues
This is the only spot where the seam between sheets of marine grade did not reach out over an outrigger. I put some plywood underneath and screwed it in – just in case weight finds itself on one of these edges.

I also shimmed a couple of edges between sheets of plywood where the joints did not fall on an outrigger – by taking a leftover piece of plywood, putting a bead of calk on it and slapping it up underneath the joint. Wood screws pulled it all together tight and flush on top. It’s an area that will never show, but could take weight at just the wrong place and cause problems issues.

If you have never done anything with epoxy, it’s not nearly the intense mess I remember it being from my childhood experience. Let me know if you want more information on what we used and how it is mixed.

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).

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.

New Decking for Airstream Going Down – Retro Modern Design Going Up

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Remember to create your templates for the curved front and back of your Airstream deck when replacing decking! I am the metal guy, and Leslie is the wood chick (borrowed from my Aunt Pattie). Yesterday, we started working on the decking, cutting and painting the edges (my requirement), and this morning we are talking “design” already. Anything to avoid the TV on this Super Bowl Sunday.

Here’s how we’re defining our version of a RETRO MODERN AIRSTREAM interior:

  • Floor – warm golden wheat color – Marmoleum
  • Galley Wall – raw polished aluminum backsplashed
  • Dinette Cushions – textured charcoal fabric
  • Zolatone walls – creme with grey fleck (many to choose from)
  • Room Dividers – Originals stained black satin finish | Or new with circles drilled out
  • Other Cabinets  – light ash ’60’s oak look
  • Galley Counter top / Dinette Top – Boomerang Formica | Grey-White or White-Grey
  • Curtains – Prefer mini blinds to fit curves
  • Accent Colors Throughout – Yellow-green, Aqua and Brick Red

My role is obviously still “heavy metal,” and painting, with the major crisis of the week being – get the wheel wells replaced because of a design flaw that I never noticed, but Paul had to work through in another trailer which I had a set of wells made for – for him. It’s bad. Once the wells are replaced, the remaining deck goes down (over the wheel well flanges), and the fuselage goes over and on. Amazing.

Note – Work got in the way for a couple of months, as did the holiday season and winter cold requirement. How I wish I had the Airstream on the last frack job I was on, and thought about it every day I was out in a SOB (Some Other Brand) trailer on the Barnett Shale! I will put together a photo gallery tonight to show the Airstream decking, the templates, the new stove and the water tank testing.



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