Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Slave Labor

Getting ready to weld some steel on the already painted frame. Got to grind the POR-15 off first. By the way, those shoes are OSHA approved.
All the kids wanted to help out, so I put them to work washing the Airstream. It was probably the first bath it's had in 10 years or more.
Once I got the scum off, the trailer actually looked really, really nice! Check out the reflection in the skin. That's dry aluminum, not wet shiney aluminum. Not bad for 47 years old.
I will not polish this trailer. She shines as she sits. I cleaned the scum to about 4 or 5 inches above the drip edge. Maybe it acted as a preservative all these years.

Watching the kids...

Laurie worked today, so I got to spend the whole day with my kids. When my daughter went down for a nap, the boys and I went out behind the shop to do some final work on the frame. About 5 minutes into it, the welder quit. Out of wire. Great.
So, I made the most of it and went and laid down with my daughter and took a nap. When she woke up, we all took a ride to the hardwear store for a spool of wire. I know i should have bought two, but they last so long...
Here's what I was cleaning up. The frame had some pretty thin spots. I noticed them when I was painting the frame, but ignored them. I wouldn't be able to put wood over it, though, so I had to fix it. I drilled holes through the thicker metal, then spot welded good metal across the weak.
Yeah, I saw this when I was painting the frame. I chose to ignore it. It chose to keep me awake at night thinking about it.
"Hey Dad, can I put water on it and watch it steam?"

Monday, July 28, 2008


I've sort of stalled on my trailer project lately. Too much work, too many trips to the beach, too many basketball games in the driveway with the kids, and too many "honey do's" have taken their toll. I still need to finish the last bit of welding on the frame, but the weather has not cooperated at all. It's been raining a lot, and I don't want to take my welder out of the shop and get it wet. I will have a window of time to work on it tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be sliding the new floor in soon.

I looked up some pictures of my old 1986 32 footer for inspiration. I love the vintage units so much more than the one I had. It was more like an apartment with fine wood, lots of plastic, and just a general feeling of cheesiness to it. I'm into things that are utilitarian. Tools. Cars with rubber floors rather than carpet. Old land Rovers that you can clean out with a hose. Things like that. My vintage trailer will be nice, but it will be utilitarian. Something I can take the family to the wilderness with and not have to worry about. It will have rod lockers for fishing poles. It will have an area for a cooler to keep bait. It will not have carpeting, and it will not feel like 5th Avenue on Wheels (sorry about that , Wally). Self contained, off the grid, base for exploration. It will get used, get dirty, and be loved. More like a Super Cub on bush wheels and less like a Lear jet. And like a Super Cub, it will be coveted by my children. Unlike the Lear, which is most times just turned back in at the end of the lease. Unloved.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Shop Time

I was able to get out to the shop last night. I used the old, rear most piece of flooring as a template and traced the shape onto a sheet of new 19/32" plywood. The piece of painted wood holding the two halves together came in very handy when lining everything up. Then I screwed the whole deal to the new plywood so it wouldn't move around, got out my pencil and traced it. I used the good edge to make a cardboard template for the rotted edge, then I just flipped it and used the mirror image to trace my line.

Now to to hardware store to get some paint brushes so I can apply the Olympic water sealer. I always need to buy new paintbrushes. That will happen when you have 3 boys who like to do "projects", but don't like cleaning brushes. That's why I use the $0.79 ones from True Value.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Getting Materials

I took a trip to Lowes today to get plywood for the floor. I went with 19/32" flooring, which acording to my caliper is the same thickness as the original. I was going to use marine plywood, but after striking out with all of my local suppliers and cabinet makers, and discovering that if I ordered it shipping would cost almost twice the price of the plywood, I went with regular old plywood. I also bought a gallon of Olympic waterproof for wood to protect it. That's my 1973 Land Rover that I used to get it home, and the reason I have the name RoverOwner on Airforums. 2 sheets of plywood, 13 bags of mulch, 4 kids, 1 dog, 1 wife, a bag of garbage that I forgot to drop in the dumpster at work, and me all fit in there. Gotta love everything vintage, when having a utility vehicle meant utility and not fashion.
Yeah, about that mulch that I mentioned above. I didn't get to do any actual work on the trailer when we got home as laurie had other plans for me...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Vintage Trailer Jam

My boys and I headed to Saratoga last Saturday to check out the Vintage Trailer Jam. What an awesome spectacle! Seeing all the old trailers got me that much more fired up to get my own finished. The best part was finally meeting in person all of the people I have gotten to know on line in the Airstream community. The reason I took time out from a family vacation and drove 2 hours, though, was to meet Frank Yensan in person and get a close up look at Anna. Frank, along with Rob Baker, have fueled my passion for vintage trailers and been a guiding light in my restoration. Frank even brought my c-channel up from Baltimore for me. What a guy. Check out the picture of me and The Man. As Sheriff Beuford T. Justice once said "You sounded a bit taller on radio".
Chatting up the ladies. Frank too time out from baking pies and entertaining me to answer this gracious older woman's questions.
My boys, watching a man cook for the first time in the lives. They're wondering if baking power and baking soda are interchangable, too.
As I walked around the field looking at all the beautiful rigs, what struck me was the number of young families and kids that were camping. I got a feel of why I got back into Airstreams with a vintage unit this time. It's all about fun. There was no regimentation that I saw, no "bull pen", nobody in a suit and tie. Just kids running all over the place, strollers galore, friends hanging out, pies being baked, and even an inflatable kiddie pool being blown up. It was a really cool vibe and I can't wait until I can park with these guys and join the fun. I will definately have my trailer ready for Rob's installation rally come October.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ready For The Floor

The frame is now done! My welder finally came by this morning and did his thing. I spent last night giving my frame a coat of POR-15, and today I put on another coat and also painted the area that was just welded. I'll have to hit that area again, since it's recommended to use two coats with POR-15 to ensure good coverage. My left leg looks like a leopard from the knee down, as I was kneeling in drips while I was painting. Oh well, it wears off in 3 weeks. At least I didn't get any on my face (this time. I had a bad expeience once while coating the underside of a Land Rover)

Some non-Airstream news: Last night I got a call from the Chenango Couty Sheriff's office at 3:00am telling me that my drug store had been broken into. I headed to town to meet the deputy and check out the damage. Thankfully, it was minor. No drugs were taken (thank God), and they only got a small amount of cash. The criminal cut himself on the door glass on the way in, and left a nice blood trail leading right to the back door of his house. I'm good friends with the lead investigator, so I got to help him track the blood. It felt like I was looking for a shot deer. After a few hundred yards, we lost the trail but my friend really amazed me when he spotted footpints in a newly mowed lawn that he followed until we picked up the blood trail again. How he saw those footprints I have no idea. He was standing over them telling me "Look, right here! See how they go over there...". I couldn't see a damn thing, but he sure could. When we got near where the trail ended and it went toward a house, he unholstered his gun and told me to go back to the drug store and wait. It's amazing the set of balls police officers have when they deal with this sort of stuff. My friend has a wife and two beautiful kids at home, and here he was going alone to the door of someone who was obviously unstable. The suspect was not at home, but I shudder to think what could have happened if he had been. My friend, John Fern, has my utmost respect and admiration. Later in the day they tracked down the suspect, arrested him, and got my money back. All in all, what started out as a very bad day and ended up being an amazing experience. Not that I hope it happens ever again, mind you.

By the way, Frank, check out my carpentry skills. Yup, did that myself.