Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And There Was Light.

I finally got around to plugging in the trailer to see what kind of shape the electrics are in. Well, so sparks, no smell of burning wires or whiffs of ozone. All of the lights lit up like they are supposed to. That's good. Next step will be to hook up a battery and check the 12 volt circuit. The previous owner lost the keys to the trailer so I can't open the access hatch to where the power cord is stored. That's ok, just run the cord out the window.

Anybody know where I can find a porch light? I heard there's a guy on eBay selling them.
I started cleaning up some of the woodwork to see what it would look like without all the dirt. An application of cotton cleanser followed by some wood feeder with bees wax really brought out the shine. The original (?) hardware cleaned up nicely with 0000 steel wool, but is a little bit pitted. If I can determine that this hardware is actually original to the trailer I'll keep it, otherwise it will be replaced with new.
Next I hope to pull the carpet and inspect the entire floor from above. I have signed up for the East Coast Vintage Rally being put on by the VAC in June. My goal is to be ready to roll for that. I have to get this thing cleaned up first so laurie will want to go.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Not as bad as it seems.

The trailer is actually in very good shape. In the above picture you can see the only really significant floor rot. Old (and new) Airstreams tend to leak, and then the water sits on the floor and rots it out. I will be taking out flooring front and rear to deal with some frame rot, however. I'll probably replace it with marine plywood for a good, long lasting repair.
Some of the frame rot that I found. This is in the rear on the street side.
Above is a picture of the floor just under the entry door. This section is almost always a problem on Airstreams. This floor is in good shape.
Here are a few more "before" pictures. I want to be able to look back and laugh while I'm parked on the beach in North Carolina, enjoying a beer underneath my awning with Laurie while our kids splash away in the surf. That's the goal. I'm going to have to get rid of this mouse nest first, though. Ugh.

Safe At Home

Home safe and sound in the driveway. I was going to take her for a bath at the carwash, but we received about 4 inches of snow overnight. Just enough to make the roads a sloppy mess.

So, as long as I was unable to clean the outside, I decided to get busy digging all the crap from the inside. What a mess! I hope to have this ready to go by early summer. A little elbow grease, a couple dollars for parts, and we'll be on the road!Right Laurie?

"If you buy it, I'll help you get it!"

My friend Rob goaded me into buying the trailer by promising to help me go pick it up. I happily took him up on the offer, as Rob has got lots of experience in picking these things up. I loaded every hand tool I could into the van, along with 2 twenty ton bottle jacks, 1 floor jack, 1 hi-lift jack, 5 good rims, 4 new tires and 1 not-so-new-but-still-looks-good tire, $130 worth of bearings, races, and seals, temporary electrical lights, and lots of Mountain Dew, SoBe energy drinks, a thermos full of coffee and five pounds of Slim Jims and picked Rob up at his house at 3:00am. We had made it to Cape Cod by 8:30am with the intention of changing to the new tires and replacing or at least repacking the bearings before the long tow home. However, on the ride out we had been talking to our friend Frank who gave us the advise of "Just hook on and tow, man". We took his advise. We blew up the tires, re-wired the connection from van to trailer and headed down the road.

We found out that we had trailer brakes as soon as I stepped on the brake pedal, which was odd since I did not have any brake controller on the van. We decided to drive with the brake lights activating the brakes on the trailer until we tried to puill away from the first stop sign. With the blinkers blinking for a left hand turn, I took my foot off the brake and our rig lurched in time with the flashing of the blinker. Yup, somehow out blinkers were wired into our trailer brakes! No problem, out came the wire cutters and we were on the road without brakes.

We made it home with no problems, except for once when one of the brakes on the trailer decided to lock up coming out of a toll plaza. Quick pull over and check, the problem went away and we drove the rest of the way home without incident. 720 miles, 18.25 miles per gallon, and 16 hours with my good buddy Robbie.

I need to go vintage...

"I need to go Vintage". That was my thought back a few months ago when I started to feel the itch again; the aluminum itch. So I started searching eBay, the classifieds, and every other classified site and vintage trailer dealer I could find. Finally, I found what I was looking for. It was a 1961 Airstream Ambassador 28 foot travel trailer. To be honest, at this point in my life I do not need another project. There are many other things I should probably be directing my time, energy, and money towards right now. Thank God I had my friends Rob and Frank to push me over the edge and back into Airstream ownership. And thank God for my lovely and understanding wife Laurie, who had initially suggested that I not buy an Airstream right now. Of course I listened to her an intended to respect her wishes, but somehow one night in January I managed to hit the "Buy It Now" button on an eBay auction. That night I approached Laurie, hat in hand and feeling low, and told her what I had done. As I watched the smile spread across her face, I knew that I had made the right choice in hitting that button as well as in chosing my life partner.