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?

Looking for a Spring Break

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The wind is swirling around North Texas today, as winter’s last gasp is a big breath.

Yesterday, we went out to A&P to see if we could lay the Marmoleum and also some flooring that goes under the back bed. That last item, flooring under the new bed at back, was no small task. I am the one that was “hard to please” when it came to a small patch of flooring that no one will ever see.

Seeing as we have a massive new area under the bed at the rear of the Airstream, I wanted to find some kind of floor that would reflect light in that new cavern of space. I went down a road that lead to the wrong item – snap together plastic coin flooring. It certainly is white, but too thick and … plastic! So that’s getting shipped back, and as you can see, once I got my mind off white it was easy to find flooring that worked.

We found it at Home Depot, and it’s about the right thickness, is fitted together like a puzzle, and extremely durable. We bought enough to go over the edges, then trimmed it to the edge of the deck – doing away with the exposed tabs and tucking it under where the support wall for the bed will hit the floor (that sitting on top of marmoleum). It’s a very dark grey and still has the “coin” pattern. The pattern combined with the composition of the tiles should prevent things from sliding around too much, but eventually I will be going back in with velcro tabs and ties for the things that need to be secured but removable underneath the bed.

Airstream Trailer floor
It may be invisible, but it’s a place that could get a lot of wear – flooring for compartment under bed.

DSC_3122
Overlap reasonably.

cutting airstream flooring
Cut carefully. Red arrow denotes one of those epoxied forstner countersunk elevator bolt holes – sanded SMOOTH.

The rain let up, and we were finally able to lay out that flooring and trim the round edges, and also allowed the plywood deck to dry out. Leslie was anxious to lay the marmoleum and drop the shell back on top, but I knew we needed our advisers to tell us what we were getting into …

Thank goodness we waited until Ann & Paul returned to talk laying marmoleum. What we didn’t know is that marmoleum gets brittle in colder temperatures and WILL CRACK if flexed just wrong! Disaster averted. So we unloaded the roll of Maromleum (probably about 125 pounds), re-covered the deck, and retreated to A&P’s for an afternoon imbibing of a “Dark & Stormy” which looks the color of ice tea, and is anything but Texas tea.

Airstream flooring
Flooring gets put together, placed, marked underneath with pencil, un-puzzled, and then cut.

So the marmoleum is ready to lay, and is in waiting for warmer weather to make it more pliable. Then we will roll it out, cut the wheel well from the template Leslie created, roll it up and then roll it back out on the deck. There are a few things to know, and remember about using Marmoleum on Airstream trailer floors.

First, Marmoleum is sheet style rolls of linoleum. It’s organic.
Second, make sure temperatures are at least in the mid-60′s and 70′s to 80′s is even better – when handling sheets of Marmoleum.
Third, cutting Marmoleum is like cutting linoleum – use one of those hook tipped knives, new and sharp. I will make sure to demonstrate the cutting technique in a later post.

I’ll detail the amount of Marmoleum we used to cover (not completely) our floor. Rolls of Marmoleum are not the full width of an Airstream trailer floor. That means there will be a seam. That means we had to order extra to cover that remaining area, but that seam will not show – except for a small area coming out from under the kitchen toward the front street side (long ways).

There are a few nuances to putting in new flooring during a full monty restoration of an Airstream. You can put the trailer back together and then flush cut your flooring to the walls of the trailer. OR you can lay the flooring and then put the trailer back onto the decking, sandwiching the flooring under the U channel and creating something of a gasket between the trailer and the floor. I chose the latter because it is a lot easier to simply draw around the rounded corners of the deck (from underneath) onto whatever flooring is used, and have a highly accurate cut-to-fit.

The reason I was adamant about getting some floor covering under the bed before we put the trailer back together is because of that sandwich effect. Imagine allowing part of the trailer to rest on a sandwich of Marmoleum and part of it resting on the plywood decking. There’s the probability that the old rivet holes for the inside skins would not line up to the tune of 1/8-inch. So if you are going to sandwich, sandwich it all. Many folks with better financial means would choose to go Marmoleum front to back (under the bed and all), but I wanted something more durable that Marmoleum for that back storage – who knows what’s going under there? These rubber coin tiles cost a fraction of Marmoleum, and are within thickness tolerances of Marmoleum – making for an even sandwich.

The last observation is one that’s easily overlooked. ONCE YOU have your new flooring on your new decking, and your trailer on your frame, it needs to be immediately WEATHER PROOF. Before it goes back together, we have three fan holes (take that down to two?) and a gaping hole where there used to be an air conditioner. All of these need filling, and preferably with the actual appliances – obviously not before the framing comes out from inside, but as soon as that framing comes out and those holes are accessible —- SAME DAY. The search now begins for fans and a new air conditioner. After the A/C there’s really only one major high cost appliance left – the refrigerator.

Black Grey Marmoleum and Coin

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The pieces are coming in fast and furious now! The sheet Marmoleum has arrived at Green Living in Dallas, and UPS just left the second of two tanks on our front porch, meaning we have the black and grey water tanks on hand and ready to go. The “Coin” I’m referring to is this click together garage flooring that will go in the hidden floorspace under the bed at the back of the Airstream. It came from Garage Flooring, Inc., and seems like the perfect material for where it goes.

I’ve had a sample of this stuff sitting on the floor in my fly shop for awhile, and it is holding up quite well. The sheet version of this has two distinct drawbacks; 1) color choices are limited, and 2) it only comes in large rolls. The fact it’s for garage floors means it’s plenty tough, and I picked white so we could have some reflectivity as light bounces around in the large cavity under the bed (enabling me to locate that woolly bugger that worked so well).

More epoxy added before sanding level
This one is a redo. I added more epoxy to bring above flush with decking, and then sanded with belt sander. Will make a photograph of the sanded area when we are out there this weekend.

A couple of days ago I belt sanded the remaining epoxy mounds that I had made over the first ones – the critical thing being to fill those that had cupped (concave), and then bring them back to flush with the overall floor. My belt sander skills were non existent, but I managed to get it done.

Extra shim to prevent possible issues
This is the only spot where the seam between sheets of marine grade did not reach out over an outrigger. I put some plywood underneath and screwed it in – just in case weight finds itself on one of these edges.

I also shimmed a couple of edges between sheets of plywood where the joints did not fall on an outrigger – by taking a leftover piece of plywood, putting a bead of calk on it and slapping it up underneath the joint. Wood screws pulled it all together tight and flush on top. It’s an area that will never show, but could take weight at just the wrong place and cause problems issues.

If you have never done anything with epoxy, it’s not nearly the intense mess I remember it being from my childhood experience. Let me know if you want more information on what we used and how it is mixed.

Behind but Gaining Fast

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We managed to get the elevator bolts (in countersunk forstner bit “cups”) covered with a concoction of epoxy (from West Marine) and powdered wood sawdust. Amazingly, it wasn’t as messy as it sounds.

When I think epoxy, I think of the project my Grandpa gave me when I was, oh, about 11-years-old. The Dargle scooter was leaking along its seams, and he gave me the glass and epoxy, and said something to the effect of, “no problem.” I did get it done, and actually it passed inspection, but not before I put too much hardener in with the resin and started a small but pesky fire. NOTE TO SELF – mix your epoxy properly!

Today, it was back out to A&P Vintage Trailer to cover the deck again, as it awaits our sanding and between today and the next chance I get to get out there – rain.

If you are in the Athens, Texas, area – be sure to check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s annual “Fly Fish Texas” event at the Texas Freshwater Fishery on Saturday. I have attended two of these, and will be speaking at this one on Saturday. Mark your calendar for Saturday at 3-pm.

Anna the Airstream Towing Dog

One of our dogs is getting old and feeling pretty bad the last couple of days, so I needed to take her “little” sister Anna, for a ride, get her out of the house, and some quality time. She was quite happy to be out and about.

Front Section of Airstream Safari converted for spare tire

We are pulling the belly pan back a section and installing an Airstream factory spare tire holder in the first section behind the tongue. It just seemed logical.

Epoxy applied to elevator bolts on Airstream Decking
Underneath the epoxy is the elevator bolt that holds the deck down.

Where the door meets the decking needs notching
Don’t forget to notch the plywood where the door jamb is located. It’s about a 1/4″ notch that keeps everything flush. We haven’t done that yet (in this image).

Why Do a Full Monty?

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Rat in the kitchen, what I'm a gonna' do?
There’s a mouse in the aluminum house, what I’m a gonna’ do?

The reason you do a Full Monty is because you never know what lurks beneath. We didn’t have any snakeskins to accompany the petrified mouse, but you want to take care of YOUR AIRSTREAM no matter the year. Or, you too could have little furry ones burrowing through fiberglass (imagine that) to create their happy warm little homes under your feet. Imagine that.

Rat butt in Fiberglass. Art?
Mouse butt in fiberglass. Some would call it art.

Frame out and exposed
That’s why our Airstream looks like this. We were just looking for what was causing that smell.

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