Friday, May 30, 2008

On my back in the dirt.

When it came to removing the bolts securing the plywood to the frame, I was a little bit intimidated. The wood is bolted to the frame with "elevator bolts". One of my kids asked me why they are called elevator bolts. I told him it's because they use a lot of them to build elevators. He seemed satisfied with the answer. You have to remove these bent, rusted, 47 year old (in my case) fasteners some how. I was not looking forward to it.

When I was underneath the trailer looking at these little suckers, I was cursing the sadistic Airstream line worker who put them in years ago. I was thinking that he must have been having a bad day and decided to make life a living hell for whoever restored this trailer someday. It looked like there were 50 of them for every 4 feet of floor.

My first attempt at removing them was to put a 1/2 inch open end wrench on the nut and give it a try. Bent, rusty, 47 year old parts that were designed not to come apart do not come apart that easily. Nice try. My second attempt involved an angle grinder. It worked, but I almost caught my hair on fire with the sparks. Note - it was a Harbour Freight angle grinder. If I'd had a DeWalt or Milwaukee grinder all I would have had to do is wave it at the bolts and they would have fallen right out. Finally, I was on Skype with Rob one evening and I asked him how he did it. He said it was easy. He just wrote a check to Colin at GSM. Rob was, however, chatting with Frank on another channel at the time so he asked him for me. A few minutes later Rob replied that all I had to do was grab the nut with some Vise Grips, wiggle it back and forth, and it would come right out. I thought they were pulling my leg.

When will I learn to trust? Sure enough, all I had to do was get a good grip on the nut, wiggle it a bit, and it snapped right off. The first one I thought was a fluke it came off so easily. But it was no fluke. They all came apart just as easily. Sometimes it was a challenge to get a good grip on the nut, but once on there it was "wiggle, wiggle, snap".

After they were all off, I went back and used a punch to push the broken stud up through the floor. Some were trapped under the old linoleum, but a tap with a hammer and they broke right through. Next is to remove the bolts holding the c-channel from above, cut the wood, and remove the floor.

Monday, May 26, 2008

No work today.

The Airstream stayed at home while the family and I went to Long Lake in the Adirondacks on Sunday and Monday. As much as I enjoy working on my trailer, I enjoy being with my family even more. Some day, when the Airstream is done, I'll be able to enjoy both at the same time. This picture is taken on a 30 foot by 30 foot granite boulder that is a little island in Lake Eaton, town of Long Lake, NY.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tonight after dinner...

My friend Don Dubois told me when I first started having kids, "It's not about quality time, it's about quantity of time". I try to spend as much time with my kids as I can, even when it would be easier to do a job by myself. Last night my youngest son wanted to help me work on the trailer, so out to the trailer we went. Our job was to drill out some rivets holding the inner skin on, so we got to it. After helping Josh drill the first 5 rivets or so, I let him go at it. He was able to get almost all of them himself, and we had a great time. What I thought would be slow going turned out to be a great discovery: my son has great mechanical intuition and sympathy. He never forced the drill, if a rivet started to spin on the drill he figured out what to do, and he never got frustrated. Not bad for a kid! Notice the iPod player near Josh's feet: We listen to The VAP while we work. I'll take care of the higher rivets
If you look closely, you can see a black line drawn down along the wall between the windows. I'll cut the aluminum sheet here with my shears. When I put it back I'll patch it together with a strip of aluminum so that it all looks almost factory installed. I am doing it like this because I'm only doing the back half of the trailer, but this sheet runs nearly the entire length.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A tip from Frank

I spoke to my guru, Frank (from Handmade Trailer Company), tonight for some guidance in my trailer restoration. He gave me a tip that will aid tremendously in using the old floor for the template when I cut the plywood for the new floor. I screwed a piece of plywood onto the old floor right above where I will be making a cut with my circular saw. I then spray painted all the way around it, making sure to get the top of the board, the sides of the board, and also on the old floor that's still in the trailer. When this dries, I will take the plywood off, make my cut, and will then have a way to orient the template back to it's original shape. This way I will not have to worry about the thickness that was taken away by the thickness of the saw blade. The paint will allow me to get everything lined back up when I trace my new flooring for cutting.
Rear trim removed and rivets drilled. Getting ready to take off the rest of the belly pan so I can get to work on the frame.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Some time to work.

The wife and kids were still in the Adirondacks today, so I had a good chunk of time to play in the Airstream after getting out of work at 1:00pm. I pulled the lower interior walls out in the back, and was very surprised to see that the insulation was in such good shape. I've heard horror stories about mouse urine soaked insulation, dead critters, etc. It was raining pretty good today, and it looks like water is getting in someplace and making it moist in the rear curbside corner. I'll have to investigate that further.
Next step: Get all the elevator bolts out of the floor, get the screws out that are helping hold the c-channel in place, cut the floor, and get ready for some welding. I love working with metal, so I can't wait to get at it.

Digging deeper.

The back half of the trailer is now gutted. I took this picture before the curbside bed platform was removed as I was running out of daylight and I wanted to get photos for the blog. Everything from the kitchen walls back is out. Well, except for all the crap, dirt, and dust all over the floor. That all comes out this afternoon. Then I can get started on pulling the floor up, so I can get started on the frame repairs, so I can install a grey tank, so I can get started on step at a time.
Pile of "templates" ready to go to Frank.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Getting back at it

It's been 2 months since my last blog entry. I have all of the normal excuses; other projects to wrap up, home repairs, spring cleaning, little league games and practices to attend, too many work hours, etc. Well, most of that is done and I can now focus on the trailer again. Here's a picture of the Airstream peaking out from behind the shop, wondering where I am.
I got the black tank out and took the closet flange off. Like most things, what should have been a simple job turned into a real job. The flange was held onto the tank with pounds of JB Weld. I spent one evening chipping most of that off so that I could unscrew the flange from the tank.
I was very careful about not damaging the black tank, at it appeared to be in good shape. However, once I got all the JB Weld off, I found some serious damage to the area where the flange screws in. I guess now I know why the PO used JB Weld. I'm looking into having a stainless black tank built by the welder that Rob Baker uses. I'm going to try and use the philosophy of "fix it once, fix it forever" on this project, so a nice stainless tank makes sense.
Anybody need a closet flange?