December 04, 2006

#36 - Swapping Shells

Here's something you'll probably never see again: Today, Colin's crew swapped the shells and chassis from two identical vintage Airstreams.

The ordeal was necessary because my #1 1956 Caravanner has a beautifully restored and customized chassis and my #2 1956 Caravanner has a much better shell. By marrying the #1 chassis and #2 shell, we'll get the best of both trailers. The photos below will show the general steps they followed.

First, Caravanner #1 was brought inside the shop...

The shell of #1 is separated from its chassis and lifted high enough to clear the wheel wells.

The good #1 chassis is pulled out from under its shell and set aside for the time being.

Next, a spare old rusty chassis is pushed underneath. This one just happens to have belonged to movie star Matthew McConaughey. Colin's crew is working on Matthew's trailer simultaneously, and they built him a brand new chassis rather than restoring his original.

Shell #1 is set down on Matthew's old chassis and minimally fastened so it doesn't fall off. They will be towed off to the back part of the lot where they will be used for parts for my trailer and others.

Now Caravanner #2 is brought inside...

The #2 shell and chassis are separated.

With the shell up in the air, the #2 chassis is pulled out from underneath. That #2 chassis is set aside for now. I will try to find a loving home for it since it is in restorable condition.

Here, my restored chassis from #1 is brought back in the shop and pushed underneath the #2 shell.

Finally, the #2 shell is carefully lowered down on the #1 chassis. Fortunately, it fits! With each 50s Airstreams being somewhat unique in construction, we couldn't be 100% sure until the moment of completion.

The next step will be to finish installing the plywood floor and then secure the #2 shell to it's "new" chassis.