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All the Trimmings – Airstream Trim Pieces and Banana Skins

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#airstream #airstreamrepair airstream trailers airstreamers airstream trailer repairs aluminum banana skins

 

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It’s almost as bad as fly fishing – the crazy names Airstreamers come up with for pieces and parts of our beloved trailers. If you were wondering what a “Banana Skin” is, it’s the curved piece that goes around the corners between the side skins and the belly / belly pan area.

As you can see, when your Airstream comes to you with someone else’s battle scars, or invasive surgery scars, you have want to do the patching that accomplishes two important things – keeps the rodent population at bay, and keeps the water from having an easy entry into the bottom of the trailer.

As much as we would like to think we are building our Airstreams in the likeness of our houses, I have come to find that it’s better to think of it as building our trailers to be “super tents” instead. I have spent enough nights on the ground, in a tent, in the rain, in sleet, in snow … that an Airstream is a long way up the chain from the tent days, in my new-found opinion.

We not only put the banana skins back on the trailer, we also:

– gently beat some of the dents out of the leading (front) edge bananas — that came from rocks

– patched the bananas

– cleaned the Airstream trim pieces – BACK and front before riveting them in place

– coated the edge of the “belly board” – that will he holding the new fresh water tank – with epoxy

– riveted all the trim (between the bananas and side / the side and around back) back into place (It’s the lower trim piece

That lower trim piece has several functions, and a certain way I seemed to think made it go back on better.

The turns are where a bent, or protruding trim piece will show most, so that is where I started my rivets – securing the turns, and then coming around to the sides / front / or back flat runs. There were places with significant gaps between the trim and the side of the trailer (not so much along the straight runs). And those places seemed to be caused by the body skin being dented at some time, perhaps during the full monty. So we got back inside and took a soft mallet to actually hammer the skin back out to a natural position that closed the gap. Makes sense.

TRIM YOUR RIVETS

Another thing that makes sense is to trim the rivet if you find them getting too close to a raised edge of the trim piece. As you see in the photographs, just take a pair of metal cutters, and trim the edge that would otherwise keep the rivet from being flush. For whatever reason, be prepared to have two different size rivets along the way as well – and make them the “Medium” length while you’re at it. Those holes can start off different sized, or after 43-years, they can end up different sized … can’t we all?

SEAL THAT EDGE

Sealing the edge of the plywood that goes on the belly of the trailer makes sense because it will be (indirectly) exposed to all the elements we find on the road. Once the plywood is dry – hardened fiberglass resin – I will finish the piece with a thin piece of aluminum or galvanized tin sheet metal to prevent road damage. YOU HAVE TO IMAGINE all the things that will be hitting the bottom of your trailer along the way, and although it’s a thick piece of plywood, that last cladding of the plywood makes it bulletproof.

BE A TRAILER

I try and imagine myself tied to the bottom of the trailer, face down, facing the road. That makes me think about all the things coming at the trailer – rain, rocks, snow, low clearance crossings and all the things we see on major roads these days. Just go with a worst case scenario, and prepare the bottom of your trailer for that – that should do the trick. Cladding, the skins, a good seal, all of these things are what we do to prepare the trailer itself. From there, later on, we prepare the vehicle to minimize what it throws a trailer’s way, but that’s another story for another day!

 

 

 

Getting Things Done – Many Things

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airstream trailers lifestyle airstream culture
All my spare moments right now are going to continue the build of Ann & Paul’s new A&P Vintage Trailer Works website, and it is finally starting to look like a real website!

Meanwhile, there’s a lot going on in the fly fishing world. An article I was interviewed for last year finally ran in England. Amazing that we are so easily part of a story thousands of miles away, because of this right here. Anyway, it’s a story on the ramping up of fracking in England and the interview is an environmental piece in a fly fishing magazine.

You may recall that we picked up the pace on our Safari when we got busy working on the Barnett Shale, and chances are the Airstream would have been rolling (to well sites) long ago … if natural gas supplies hadn’t outrun demand in a serious way. And that’s where the Barnett sits – pretty much idled down.

If you get the chance, you can read more about fracking in England by visiting – “Water Wednesday – All Over the Map” at Texas Fly Caster.

Photography at A&P Vintage
Grabbed a reflection that caught my eye while I was working on photography at A&P for their website.


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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.

Do As I Say – Not as I Did

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double wide airstream runners
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.
Folding over side Airstream panel

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.

Airstream Polishing in action
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?!

Still Waiting

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We’re still waiting around for the weather to warm enough to roll out the Marmoleum, but there are still holes as well …

We have three fan holes in the roof and the A/C hole that need to be plugged with proper appliances. I don’t know how many of you have been down the A/C road, but if anyone has an opinion on which brand is best, I sure would like to know about it. Maybe I can create a “quick poll” and throw it on the site. We’re going to have to ask about a refrigerator as well, and I’d just as soon tap into the knowledge of the masses, as to have and research and learn and make an unsubstantiated decision.

Another thing I wonder about the whole A/C thing is: I am seeing these heater add-ons for A/C’s and wondering if that is something that works or is worth it?

Meanwhile, I am looking for other cool Airstream websites – cool content and cool looking, and built on a wordpress platform, so if you see any, please send me the links.

GO AIRSTREAM LOCO

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