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Buttoning Up and Riveting Down and Lighting Up

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#airstreamers airstream trailers led lighting for airstream u channel rebuilding restoration

On the way back out to work on the Airstream today, and looking at LED external lighting for the Safari. Paul, the “P” in A&P, recommended looking to the website www.led4rv.com. I have dabbled on that site before, as we Airstreamers do, looking at every single item whether it’s related to the job or not. Paul told me there was a complete set for the 1970 Safari, but I no longer see that offering.

LIGHTING UP

So what I am looking at is the LED replacement for old bulbs, and lenses for the taillights. Those appear to be this item – LED Tail light kit for Airstream units from 1969-74 SKU221 and the images below show a little of how they look and work. They simply appear to have the lens and LED’s as a unit that plugs into the existing socket. Now, there’s no way I am sticking with the existing socket, so I will have to find and install those as well, but they can be found just about everywhere. And since this is a new fit, it would be more practical to completely do away with the original bulb connector (tons of oxidization potential in there), and use a direct connect two prong all weather connector. Those are extremely common, and common sense says to make that upgrade. It involves changing both ends of the connection, but why go to all the expense of a new light, and have a forty-year-old connection? Those old bulb connections are his-to-ree.

Airstream LED light replacements

 

LEDs for Airstream Trailers

Why stick with the old connectors? Upgrade your connectors while you’re upgrading your Airstream taillights to LEDs!

BUTTONING UP

The button down process includes, in our case, removing the rare aluminum U channel from the inside walls in some places, and securing it to the floor (this is the U channel that holds the trailer to the deck) with stainless steel 5/16″ 1.5 inch long bolts and nylon locking nuts (used in practical numbers), as well as stainless screws for modest securing.

Now this has to be done because the U channel can be misaligned with new things like the new wheel wells, or because of a variation in the new decking, or for any number of other reasons. Bottom line: the U did not line up. So, attach the U to the floor (most critical) and then button (rivet) the walls to the U channel.

Take a close look at your Airstream Trailer’s U channel! It is anything but typical. The bottom of the U that contacts the floor has a couple of interesting and vital characteristics. First, it has a raised line running the length of the U. That line keeps us from sliding the U all the way to flush with the edge of the decking. Very important. Second, you’ll see some holes drilled in the U channel that have no apparent purpose. Those are called weep holes, and they are supposed to be there to allow condensation from the walls to run down, through the weep holes, down into the belly and out. Do they work that way in real life? Heck, I don’t know! So don’t cover the weep holes, or run extra screws through them. Just go with the flow.

RIVETING DOWN

Before we can run around the trailer riveting the wall back to the U channel, we have to make a full run around the trailer, drilling out all the old rivets. They can be inside and out. They can be obvious, and they can be sublime. That’s a rivet. Miss a rivet, and you have a problem. That is why it’s really smart to have two sets of eyes on this process.

Riveting an Airstream trailer is a whole other story that needs a lot of time and space to explore. If we think of a rivet and gun as the Airstream version of hammer and nails, it’s possible to learn and get proficient at using a new kind of hammer and new kind of nails. Stay tuned.

 

Crowded Times at A&P Vintage Trailer Works

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airstreamtrailers #airstreamers #airstreams

It’s always fun to check into what’s happening with other people’s trailers at A&P Vintage, and these are crowded times. I couldn’t help but take a few pictures of one special trailer that was having brand new marmoleum put down yesterday. We all agree the colors are “fun” and it’s a color scheme that can’t help but make you smile. It’s a heck of a nice trailer on the comeback trail too!

airstreamtrailers #airstreamers #airstreams

airstreamtrailers #airstreamers #airstreams

airstreamtrailers #airstreamers #airstreams

airstreamtrailers #airstreamers #airstreams

Finally Hot Enough

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airstream repair airstream trailers #airstreams #airstreaming

 

Well, it’s finally hot enough to get back to work on our Airstream out at A&P Vintage Trailer Works. I don’t even want to look and see how long it has been since I last posted here, but those of you who were excited about the site, and it’s content, TAKE HEART!

I am about to implement some major changes at another site that occupies my time www.texasflycaster.com, that should start to either, a) curtail interest, or b) generate income – either of which could possibly free me up to pursue the Airstream life a little more intensely.

Speaking of websites, Ann and Paul’s www.apvintagetrailerworks.com is doing well, and Paul and Ann are bringing it up to speed.

AIRSTREAM UPDATE

Paul replaced the back deck that was cut in error on the tail, and left us scratching our heads. NOTE – If your tail deck is rotted out, and you have to create a new plywood deck for the back CUT IT TOO LARGE! If it doesn’t fit, cut it down. What we had was too small, and that is a death sentence for that piece – that was sikalflexed – bolted – epoxied – painted with epoxy around the edges … imagine all that work lost. Thanks to Paul for coming to the rescue though.

Now we are waiting for the Marmoleum fixer to get in and fix the bubbles in the sheet of MarMo on our floor. No telling how much time has passed since that debacle, but once that is done, progress will come fast and furious.

I expect to be mobile by this fall at the absolute latest, and then who knows where?

Stuck and Unstuck

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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.

Work Gets in the Way of Work

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photo
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.

I am also undertaking the redesign of Ann & Paul’s site this summer. So keep your eyes on www.apvintagetrailerworks.com in coming weeks.

GO AIRSTREAM LOCO

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