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Two Daze Gone

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doing the full monty on the airstream - building the skeleton
All bolts are ground off, and now Leslie is building the internal skeleton for doing the full monty.

Two days out at A&P Vintage Trailer in Cottondale, and I’m beat down, dazed, but less confused.

Of course we waited until temperatures began to kiss triple digits before we finally got back out to Ann and Paul’s, just like most of our projects … wait until it’s the ultimate torture test, then start it up.

We are all the way down to the bottom of the curve, with all the rivets out of the outside bottom skins, while Leslie began building the framework for the inside lift.

Now, the images here are the exact information I’ve been looking for on doing the Full Monty – FOR YEARS! I really don’t recommend you try this yourself at home until you have passed some kind of mechanical competency test, but in the meantime feel free to ask for more information so that all the blanks can be filled in, and you can decide whether you want to go down this slippery road.

The step-by-step process includes going through the channels (inside and flat U channels on the plywood floor) and grinding off the heads of bolts that reach all the way through the floor, and the phillips screws that simply reach into the 1970 plywood.

Grinding is a more finesse process than you would imagine because you want to preserve the channel, which is riveted into the side of the external Airstream skin. Things like these channels are hard, if not impossible to find. Use a thin metal cutting disc to grind off the heads with a four inch electric grinder. You may have to remove the safety shield from the grinder to get into hard to reach spots – always use protective glasses or a shield because sparks will fly. Keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby in case some of the old plywood decides to smolder or ignite. Use CAUTION.

Drilling the rivets is what it is, after hundreds if not thousands of rivets drilled out by now. If you’ve drilled one rivet, then you can surely drill out any remaining rivets that hold the wheel wells to the outer skin, any of the rivets that hold the curved bottom skins to the back corners, etc … The front bananas should already be long gone, and in safe keeping because they are rare indeed. My luck ran a little thin along the back driver’s side corner, where the plumbing mess was, and I had to drill out about ten steel rivets which are much more of a pain than aluminum rivets. Whoever uses steel rivets on aluminum should have their rivet gun confiscated immediately.

Leslie cuts every individual piece for the internal skeleton
Each piece of the internal skeleton measures differently when you are working on a curved surface.

I piddled my way through punching out the remains of the bolts, through the plywood subfloor and into daylight. Meanwhile Leslie was using her vast wood skills to build the new ribcage that would be used to hoist the body off the floor. If this sounds daunting, well heck yes it is. And without someone as experienced as Paul to answer the minute questions, we wouldn’t stand a chance.

By the time it got too hot to continue, all my rivets, all the bolts, all the phillips screws, all had been at least hit if not removed, and Leslie had the verticals up on the skeleton. Leslie’s work was more technical and construction while you’ve probably gathered I was still in the demo mode. I LIKE DEMO.

Paul, knows his limitations, so he was smart enough to take a siesta from working on a ’67 Safari, we worked until the heat finished us off completely. It’s like Eastwood said, “A man’s gotta’ know his limitations,” and I was certainly finding mine.

While our labor has no price, we are headed toward some materials that do. It’s time for the plywood – marine grade 5/8″ is on the top of the list now, and the axle looms as the next major thing. Our Safari, thank goodness, is a single axle, so at least our expense is half what dual axle Airstreams cost. I am sure I will touch on the downside of single axles along a roadside, at altitude, someday.

Headed back out to A&P’s tomorrow to finish the internal skeleton. If we aren’t at the bottom of the build, at least we can see the bottom now.

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2 Responses to “Two Daze Gone”

  1. FrankD says:

    Leslie should have on protective eye gear. Her left hand is way too close to the saw blade. It seems that this is a “set up” picture but still…

  2. admin says:

    She was just moving the wood around and saw was not engaged. She knows what missing fingers looks like – her dad is a professional woodworker, and is missing part of two. Not set up enough I guess?!

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