The Airstream Diary

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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.

New Airstream Decking Now Bolted Down

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Just the day before we left for a respite in Santa Fe, NM, we spent half of that day finishing the laying of the decking on the Airstream trailer. The slideshow shows what the new deck construction is all about, and is a far cry from where we came.

The deck is pilot drilled with a small bit, then drilled with a forstner bit for square edged countersinking, and then I came back through and drilled the 5/8” final hole through the deck and cross beams and outriggers.

Since some of the sheets of plywood share a common beam, we still have to stagger the elevator bolts getting close to the edge of the plywood, and sometimes close to the edge of the underlying steel cross member.

Before the plywood is finally laid on the frame, we hit every surface with calk that provides a seal and adhesive.

Since the plywood was lifted, you can see Leslie using a long, heavy punch to realign the holes.

We then dropped in elevator bolts on the perimeter. If the elevator bolts don’t go, realign them because the threads are very soft and easily shredded.

Use a regular washer and lock washer on the bolt. We tried nylon lockers and locking nuts, but they all spin the elevator bolt head, so they don’t work when you are bolting down the Airstream deck.

TAIL SNOT

As you may recall, the tail of this particular Airstream was through-and-through rotten. That was mostly due to plumbing issues, but the curvature of the trailer also funnels water right down into this vulnerable area. SOLUTION: Lots of calk in the sandwich that includes plywood, the unique angled piece of steel, a sheet of aluminum (for attaching the back bumper box lid. All these are bolted SNUG against the frame. The holes drilled should go through the sandwich.

Just like all areas that get calked, work fast, and get tightened down to compress that calk to the edges and get the compression on the whole thing.

AIRSTREAM LOOK PRETTY STUFF

MarmoleumLeslie is hooked on the look of Marmoleum, and the efficiency of sheet flooring, the organic nature of the product, and the great colors all make it our hands-down choice for flooring. So we’re looking at colors, and leaning toward the yellow side of the wheel.

To get an idea of where we have come from on the Airstream Safari, be sure to look back at previous stories. Here’s a link to show you the original appearance of the Airstream deck and frame.

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