The Airstream Diary

Airstream Trailer Answers and Questions

Dragging Bottom

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The trailer is finally at the bottom, and we have virtually all parts assembled to begin the rise from the bottom on the longest restoration curve for an Airstream that I have ever heard of.

There won’t be much left of the frame except the two long rails running front to back, and even those rails will be chopped about five feet from the back because they were so rusted past that (where the bathroom and tail rot were located) that they rusted all the way through. Needless to say, I am ecstatic that we went this far and are doing all this. Nothing could have been worse (from my perspective) than to build a house on shifting sand. And shifting sand is what you get when you rebuild an airstream on a rusted frame.

Essentially, the frame was a fleck of rust away from worst case scenario. All outrigger frame pieces will be replaced, and I will be cutting those with the plasma cutter this week. All the cross members / beams, or whatever you want to call them – are to be cut out. We have all the steel for that job as well. And the rear section of rails, both side will be replaced and boxed. So the front and rear will be boxed.

Our new 35-degree axle with disc brakes will be on hand when it’s time, but that time is still a ways away.

Decisions Decisions

Now that all parts – marine grade decking, 11 gauge C channel steel beams for cross members, outriggers and tail boxing, 35-degree axle – are gathered and ready for the build-back, some  other decisions do pop up.

ONE – what kind of plumbing will we want and where? The 1970 Safari didn’t have a grey tank, and now we will be adding one, but before we do, we need to know where the plumbing is going to be.

TWO – Part of the plumbing decisions are contingent on what kind of commode we are going with for the Airstream bathroom. We have done a complete 180 from the original idea of no bathroom at all, and see the light and logic of having  a full bathroom – commode, shower and sink. Along the way, Paul mentioned these composting toilets, and we are intrigued by that possibility. There was so much damage from bad commode plumbing in the original Airstream that it would have made anyone  think twice about adding back a commode. Plumbing really is the root of all evil in a travel trailer.

As most internet searches in the disheveled world of Airstream internet presence go, I came across more NOT related to commodes in Airstreams than direct information on commodes. I came across an interesting site On The Green Road at which is an interesting site. The Green Road hit sites directly addressing the composting commode – Nature’s Head and Sun Mar .

It looks like the Nature’s Head runs in the $800-dollar range, and that, is probably about what a nice fully plumbed traditional commode setup will run – especially since I am determined to have a stainless black tank if we have to have one.

As disinterested as I am in commodes, I can still find time to think about the lesser details that are also so much more simple. Do I need shock absorbers for the new axle? And do I replace the tire rims with new ones, or powder coat the old ones and go from there. These tiny things that barely matter help me keep my mind off the next phases of rebuilding the frame on the Airstream.


If I didn’t have the knowledgeable help of Paul at A&P, I probably would have just started cutting the cross members off the frame right where it sits. Unfortunately, what WOULD HAVE happened is the long rails would have lost all their square, everything remaining would have been free to twist, and the trailer would be permanently flawed and potentially impossible to reassemble. SOLUTION – We have to square the frame up on leveling stands, jack stands, and whatever other stands I can get – to square the frame up BEFORE cutting off of the old frame parts begins. Replacement will go one at a time instead of cutting off all, then replacing all.




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