November 11, 2007

#45 - Why Aistream Restorations Are So Slow

I've noticed that many, many Airstream restorations stretch on for years. For most people, a lack of money and time are the two biggest culprits. Here's my excuse.

Click on her picture and you'll see my point. Her name is Sadie and she's now 7 months old. You'll notice my last post is about the same age.

I'm supposed to be polishing window frames so they can be reinstalled in the rough openings in my trailer walls. It's hard to justify time in a garage with an air compressor when I can be bouncing Sadie on my knee. But I'm motivated by camping next summer with my wife Michele and Sadie, so I expect to get back in the saddle soon.

May 19, 2007

#44 - How to Make an Astradome

With new Fan-Tastic fans installed in 2 out of 3 of my 14" roof vents, I decided to get creative with the third opening.

Starting in either 1957 or 1958, Airstream offered an extra large unpowered roof vent called an "Astradome." It was the standard 14" wide, but 25" long. It's a neat 50s Airstream feature that I decided to add to my trailer.

The hardware is all the same as a standard 14" square opening, so all I needed to do was stretch the opening and mount a reproduction lid. The only thing left undone is to make a long screen for it.

Now my living room area will have a large opening in the ceiling and my galley and rear bedroom will have powered fans.

April 11, 2007

#43 - New Roof Vents

My Caravanner has 3 roof vents. Originally, all three were standard 14"x14" aluminum Hehr vents. They were in poor condition, with missing and seized cranks and dented and missing lids. The first photo shows a giant Tupperware lid being used as a temporary lid on one of them.


Between my two trailers and parts I've accumulated on eBay and elsewhere, I have plenty of good spare parts to make all 3 open and close almost like new again...the only problem was the old fans in them. Even if I could get those working, the old Hehr aluminum blade fans were just too noisy and inefficient.

I decided that I would like to have 2 of the 3 vents outfitted with modern powered fans. By far, the best powered fans on the market today are made by Fan-Tastic Vent. Recently, my company Vintage Trailer Supply started selling gray Fantastic units with gray flat lids. I worked with Fantastic to develop this special style unit specifically for vintage Airstreams. To demonstrate how great they look on vintage trailers, I put them in the rear two locations on my trailer.


March 21, 2007

#42 - Scary Old Wiring

Once the insulation is out, we really got a good look at the ratty old wiring circa 1956. Instead of using boxes at junctions and around outlets, they simply wrapped wire connections with electrical tape. The black stuff on the aluminum is seam and rivet sealant. The masking tape was used to hold the wiring in place. The writings in black Sharpie are new notes to remember where everything goes.


#41 - Removing the Remaining Interior

Chris is removing the remaining inside walls by simply drilling out the rivets. The bottom wall segments were removed earlier so the shell could be attached to the floor, but we waited on the upper segments to give the shell structural stability until after the shell was firmly attached to the floor.



March 05, 2007

#40 - Buried in Snow

Jaime Martorano sent me this photo today showing his and my trailers somewhat buried in the snows we've been getting here in the Northeast. I will use this as this week's excuse for no progress on my Airstream project. My trailer is the second one. Jaime's is the third.

January 09, 2007

#39 - I Want A Rear Hatch

The photo below shows the rear panel on my #2 shell (the good shell) all taped up for the winter with aluminum foil tape. You can see that the panel below the window is just a plain panel with no storage compartment access door. With a rear bedroom trailer, a rear storage compartment seems like a must-have to get access to all that great storage space. You will also notice there's a round vent in the panel. That vent may have been for the bathroom, but it is no longer necessary.

The next photo shows the rear panel on my #1 shell (the junker shell). The panel is in great condition and even has a hatch with a good door and drip cap. The rusty handle is bad, but that part is on my list of parts to find and add to the inventory at Vintage Trailer Supply.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Apparently Santo is. What an easy way to add a hatch. Just a few rivets and it will be finished. Gotta love having a parts trailer! (I know Santo looks miffed, but that's just because Colin is taking his photo and micro-managing him at the same time!)

The demise of the #1 shell continues, but now I'll have a rear hatch and a perfectly good panel on my trailer!

Here's the hatch being installed on my good shell. The framing in the wall will need to be modified to fit the opening. Notice that using buck rivets is a two-person job, with one person inside holding the bucking bar behind each rivet as it is installed. If the inside wall was already in place, buck rivets couldn't be used. That's why Olympic shave head blind rivets were invented.