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Airstream Trailer Living and Repair

Archive for the ‘ Skins ’ Category

New Airstream End Cap From Fiberglass Molded to Aluminum Skin

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changing from fiberglass to aluminum end cap on an airstream

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One of the changes I wanted to our 1970 Airstream Safari was getting rid of the molded fiberglass front end cap, and replacing it with brighter, more spacious (as in headroom) aluminum skin.

It was a great surprise when we arrived at AP Vintage Trailer the other day, and Paul had cut and was putting up that skin end cap. It’s not as hard as you would think, and losing the old one may be sentimentally difficult, but the end result is a lot brighter, and leads to a pleasant updated look.

Airstream Eyelids – Who Knew Airstreams Have Eyes?

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Installing skins and interior trim on the 1970 Airstream Safari.

airstream aluminum buck rivets being drilled

We made the trip to A&P today, and although it wasn’t a full day, Leslie did get squared up with where the interior “eyelids” are riveted though the body exterior, through the plastic eyelid trim pieces in the interior. In typical Airstream fashion, nothing was typical about the original install. Some of the six rivets (3 top 3 bottom each side) are aluminum buck rivets, and others are olympic rivets. We will be going back in with olympics. Removal of each type of rivet is a distinctly different process.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?

Airstream 12 Volt RUNNING LIGHTS

Well, since I was floating the ground from light-to-light for the running lights, I had to pick a spot and ground to the trailer so that the single wire exterior running lights (grounded only by the socket’s contact with the body) can work. That will also take care of the light above the door. All of this would probably be fine with the final big grounding at the power center, but I just had to make them work before I started closing up the inside skins.

HOT WATER

We have a donated hot water heater – gas of course, and with tank. I was moving it around, and realized it had water in it, so I drained it. Whether it makes a difference, there was a good amount of mineral deposits that drained out as well.

VENTING THE Airstream DUAL REFRIGERATOR

Our fridge runs on electric and gas. The old fridge ran the same way. Venting is pretty critical. I was recalling that the trailer had a permanent open rectangular hole in the floor where air could pass from outside up to the fridge, and then pass through the big curved wall vent. We’re talking A LOT of circulation! What I don’t know is; do the new refrigerators need the same amount of venting?

CONCLUSION

It is certainly a warm fuzzy feeling to see the skins on the verge of going back on – after we get all the trim done, and electrical … and and and. No matter what, this IS the build-back. No more rebuild, no more demolition.

Hard At Work

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airstream rebuild #airstreamlife airstreaming grote scare light led license plate light

THE PUSH IS ON TO MAKE HAY

There’s a push on, what with 80-degree January days, to get a lot done on the Airstream. As you probably know, we’re parked at A&P Vintage Trailer Works out in Paradise (Cottondale) Texas, and they’re even more busy due to the break in typical winter weather.

Just before we left last night, the owner of the prominent Airforums.com came out to check on his trailer and drop off a load of parts to go into that ground-up rebuild. His trailer has a great looking body, and the frame – built from scratch – is just as much a work of modern engineering art.

I was so busy putting the new belly pans up on our trailer, and the physical demands of drilling so great (drilling rivet holes through aluminum sheet then a steel frame – some of it boxed), that I didn’t have the energy to take photographs.

We’re doing a lot of little things to begin to button up the outside for good. That includes finding a new scare light that will substitute for the holes that once held the radio antenna – on the front road-side curved panel.

And there will be some time involved in retrofitting a new bank of LED’s into the old license plate housing that on this Airstream model, is separated from the license plate. Oh the joys of a unique trailer. That shouldn’t be a problem though. We also patched the old ventilation hole that was just below that light, the screened hole that provided air circulation for the old lead batteries and inverter. (This is all at the tail of the trailer.)

Now that the back inside fiberglass end cap is down, all access is granted to the taillights, the body panel seams, the running light mounting, the wire running to all that, and finally access to the end cap itself.

THE END CAP

As you can imagine with a 45-year-old piece of curved cooked fiberglass, there are a few hairline cracks in it. What we do for repairing those cracks is to drill two small holes just beyond the end of the cracks, and then glass it again – on the backside.

LED TAIL LIGHTS

I’v now been around the track twice in order to finally settle on a replacement LED taillight for our particular trailer. They typically go by terms like, “replaces old Grote Can,” and come in varying degrees of fit and finish – all at an extremely high price. The ones I settled on are / were sold at Airstream Supply – www.airstreamsupply.com, and the ones shipped first were the wrong ones, and completely unlike the photograph shown – Round LED Airstream Tail Light – the ones shipped are the type that get “glued” or essentially Sikaflexed into the original mounts, and have those modern 3-pin connectors. You’ve seen them everywhere.

That is a big nogo for me. I let them know, and was informed that there are only five (red) lights left in the world, and they would trade them out for the extinct ones. So four of the last five in the world – screw in LED light replacements for vintage Airstream with 20 led’s – are headed to me as I write.

I’ll make sure to get photographs of the extinct tail lights when they arrive and maybe as they go in. No matter what, we will be doing away with old school connection that plugs into the old bulb socket. Those old sockets are only still working because they’re inside a hermetically sealed, and never opened housing. Eventually they will go out (remember the springs and oxidization?).

Time to get back to work on the Thursday Texas Fly Fishing Report. You can see that crossover (if you want) at www.texasflycaster.com.

Thanks for reading!

Hard At Work on the Airstream

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It’s impossible not to take advantage of the great weather we’re having here in North Texas these January days! I’ve put in a few full days straight out at AP Vintage, and am making great progress on buttoning up the belly of the Airstream.

And I am also helping out with doing some work for Paul and Ann to see of they can make some rapid progress on the growing number of Airstream trailers parked there for repair. Right now, I am once again working on prepping a brand new frame for an Airstream that is having a “Full-Monty” moment. It’ll be primed and painted, but the weather may close us out tomorrow afternoon.

Back to our Airstream …

I am finding the new belly pan job to be a lot more “simple” rather than the complexities of the interior of the trailer right now. Inside, there’s now insulation just about covering everything, and dangling wiring where I began running wires for 12-volt as well as 110-volt wire also finding its way through the area of the trailer – on top of the insulation, and eventually just under the inner skins.

I took the liberty of making a slight change in the order of how belly pan skins were “put back” onto the Airstream. Originally, you will know, the Airstream comes from the factory with big belly pans that are joined to form huge sheets. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But when you’re going back in with smaller sheets, you have to “cut-and-paste” smaller pieces atop each other to cover. There’s the angles of the corners to deal with when cutting, and long runs to cut straight as you’re running the pieces that reach the long walls – street-side and curbside.

For all I know, the order they go in is pretty trivial, but I wanted to change the original way Airstream put their huge pans in overlapping the flat pan and putting the curves of the outer walls underneath. That is certainly an easier way to drill and rivet those spots, but when rain runs down the wall it seems like it would go straight into the belly if there are any gaps.

SO I started with the rectangular center belly pan skins, then went to the next pieces which run the outer edge (outrigger area). Finally that skin was tucked UNDER the outer curved side wall skins. That means every belly pan skin overlaps from the center out to the outer walls. It just makes sense to me – unless we find ourselves in zero gravity.

REMEMBER to use belly pan rivets to secure these skins, as holes can get wallowed when drilling through heavy steel to set the rivets.

REMEMBER that the space where the vent for the refrigerator (if gas) underneath the trailer can be left with a couple of “spot” rivets until it gets finished out with ventilation (a hole in the floor, mesh covering a cutout in the belly skin). This leaves a cavity for fresh air to accumulate and updraft later on.

ON ORDER

I finally broke down and ordered four red LED taillight replacements from Airstream Supply. That’s a hard bullet to bite, at $34.50 each, but they definitely have a high LED count at 24, and I like the way they appear in the photograph – with nicely done screw holes through the lens housing.

NOTE – I will be adding a post here with photography to help with visualizing these repairs, and will also show you what the new taillights look like once they arrive.

 

Airstream Scare Light

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scare light #airstream airstreamparts #airstreamrepairs

So we are looking for a quality Airstream scare light, and I am not finding anything worthy of such a prominent exterior location – on the internet. Does anyone have an idea of where to find one — good chroming, good metal (doesn’t rust) and looking a lot like the originals? I am simply trying to make the best of holes in the side of the Airstream Safari — by making one big hole that encompasses them all with a functional (instead of patch) purpose.

Anybody?

 

http://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Lights/Optronics/RVSL21.html

https://www.rvadenver.com/lights_&_lenses.htm