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Airstream Trailer Living and Repair

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.


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.


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.


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?


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.

Installing a New 110 Outlet on Outside Wall of Airstream

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airstream 110 wiring outlet #airstream #airstreamers 12 volt wiring

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ON THE 110 Volt SIDE

Some things are simple, and some are not. When you’re dealing with a piece of Airstream that reaches from the outside to the in of your trailer, that’s a vulnerable spot. And all kinds of bad things can happen where these exposures are.

I think if you take a look at the way we installed and sealed the 110 single outlet, it makes sense, and really isn’t that difficult of a repair – all Airstream repairs considered. Inside, the skins are still off, but the insulation is going in, and I am running the 110 wiring circuits as instructed. I am actually using some outdoor quality wire (by local manufacturer United Copper Industries).

Running 110 in the Airstream Safari 23′:

  • Curb Side Circuit – That 110 outlet / a 110 inside back / refrigerator
  • Top Single Circuit – A/C
  • Street Side Circuit – Kitchen 110 / Bathroom 110 / Dining 110

I think this is accurate, but of course will get the approval of my supervisor along the way. It’s certainly possible to run another circuit, and simple stuff. The draw from the A/C is the greatest single draw of our particular trailer. We all know electric heaters and hair driers can be huge draws as well.


Inside any Airstream Trailer, there’s plenty of 12 volt action going on as well. And it’s cleanly divided into two flavors. Right now, I am in the midst of wiring the new lights we installed on the trailer a few weeks ago. And I am still looking for a practical (spelled affordable) LED solution for the tail lights. All the external Airstream running lights are wired on their own accord, and powered / controlled only by their connection to the tow vehicle. All of these external turn/brake and running lights are powered by LED’s and use a fraction of the power needed to run the old style Edison bulbs. What a world! Nevertheless, there is the need to be efficient in how these lights are wired and run inside the skins because it’s hard to imagine breaking open the skins again to find a problem.

  • We’re using LEDs I purchased at a local truck stop on the outside of the trailer – for the amber and red running lights.
  • I am using 16 gauge marine grade (aluminum coated copper) wire from
  • I am using heat shrink butt-to-butt connectors for the running light connections (and all 12V connections).
  • We are leaving enough “slack” in the wires to be able to pull them out, away from the body – when polishing time comes.
  • Every place where it’s logical to secure the wires against the inside of the outside skin, I am using a powerful outdoor double-sided 3M foam holding tape (used for taping mailboxes to brick and such).
  • Every place that wires run through those round holes in the inside “studs” (for lack of a better term) – will have RUBBER grommeting to prevent friction wear for every single wire or group of wires running throughout the trailer. I’ve seen what happens to those plastic snap-in grommets, and it isn’t pretty; they are cooked by years of heat and crumble away.

I have seen and done wiring since I was a kid, car stereos and such, so I would hope to be a little better than average at this part of the Airstream rebuild. In general terms, a lot has changed for this 1970 Airstream’s wiring –

We’re moving all the controlling devices, battery, inverter, breaker boxes – to the front of the trailer – AWAY FROM the very back of the trailer. This does not pose any problems (due to the inside skins being out), and is a significant weight relief to the back end of the trailer. It’s entire probable we will end up running two batteries when all is said-and-done.