Take a peak into the Airstream factory!
The original belly pan aluminum was a nasty, smelly, mess with lots of corrosion and some pretty big mouse holes in it. Replacing it was never a question. We purchased the belly pan aluminum (.025 5052 H32) and the thicker exterior aluminum (.032 2024T3 Alclad) used for the side wraps and patches at Airparts. We have ordered aluminum from them several times and have found them to be quick to ship and very reasonable in their shipping charges.
The process is pretty simple. Cut it to fit and rivet it up. If your under 50…easy peasy lemon squeezy! Over 50…get out the Motrin. As brutal as it is to lay under there for several days in a row, we still thought…when we are 80 we are going to WISH we could do this again! So, we just tried to be in the moment and enjoy it! It looks so good when it’s done, you forget all the bad stuff anyway! We have only one suggestion. When you get ready to wrap those side wraps back under the trailer, especially the long streetside section, it helps to have some leverage. Dan screwed some 2X4s’ together as shown in the picture. I held it up while he drilled the holes and put the clecos in. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy! (Sorry, too much Walking Dead!)
Thanks for following along with us!
Scene 3: After lowering the shell and bolting it to the frame, Steph attempts to close the door.
Steph: The door won’t close now? You have to lift up on it?
Dan: Inspecting the door, opening, closing, lifting. Hmmm... that’s a problem. Looks like the hinge is worn.
Steph: Oh…..okay….Want me to google it?
And so it begins. I google, Dan goes to the Air Forums and YouTube, and we read everything we can find on replacing the hinge pin. We found this article first and that gave us some direction. Good information, but we should have known better to pay too much attention to the part that says, “the hinge pin will come out in a matter of only a few minutes.”
Our trailer has a repair panel from the door opening back to just in front of the wheel well. We are assuming that the door blew open and damaged the skin requiring a repair panel to be overlayed. It is a good repair, and we didn’t even notice it until after we bought the trailer, but this meant the hinge had been removed once before. Maybe that’s why the keeper pin was missing? Or is a piece of it in there? So many questions! Call Paul!
Paul and Graham at A & P Vintage Trailer Works gave us some great tips but the first one was the most important…… DON’T BREAK THE HINGE! They don’t make them and we don’t have any! Ok…so don’t break the hinge…got it. No pressure there! The next important thing is to support the trailer at the hinge rib so that it doesn’t bounce as you use your rivet gun to push the pin out. Be patient, take your time, and DON’T BREAK THE HINGE!
The first thing we did was start spraying the hinge with PB Blaster. Every time we walked past it, for several days, we sprayed it. After several tries, over several days, with no results, something did finally happen. The entire hinge started coming loose from the trailer. Next step, drill out the rivets and take the door off. With the door off the trailer, we drilled the rivets holding the hinge to the door and mounted the hinge to a 2 X 6 with screws. We noticed the hinge didn’t swing freely on the board, it was binding. There is a slight curve in the hinge that we had to compensate for by shimming it away from the board with pieces of aluminum. We then stood the board on end and attached it securely to a shelf. There should be no chance of it bouncing now. With the hinge secure, Dan started impacting. First from the top down, then the bottom up. Over and over. Nothing. Spray, blow out the rusty oil, spray, impact, spray, blow, impact, spray, impact…wait…did it move? Finally! Maybe a centimeter back and forth but….it moved! With every up and down motion it started coming out a little further until half of the pin came out. Yes, half. It was broken in the center. We did our best to keep the hinge lined up and kept gently impacting until the other half came out. WooHoo! It was nerve wracking as hell! All we kept thinking was...DON’T BREAK THE HINGE!
Dan was so relieved and excited to have the hinge pin out and the hinge apart he had the holes drilled and the new bushings installed before I could take any pictures. He ran a long 5/16″ drill bit through the door side of the hinge. That’s the side that wears and gets enlarged. Next he installed bronze bushings into the holes and used a small “C” clamp to press them in place. We bought the drill bit at Home Depot and found the bushings on Amazon. The bushing are 1/4″ Bore, 5/16″ OD X 1/2″ long. He used two in each hole and used a file to smooth the ends. He then cleaned out the holes with a QTip. We bought the new pin at Vintage Trailer Supply . The following pictures show the drill bit, the bushing size we used and the original broken hinge pin.
We riveted half the hinge back on the trailer and the other half back to the door. We referred back to photos to determine the original spacer replacement. Dan put the new hinge pin in a cordless drill and slowly inserted the new pin from the bottom up. Our door now opens and closes perfectly!
This is one of those projects that takes time and patience. The worst part was the fear of DON’T BREAK THE HINGE! We are very happy to have that project behind us. On to the belly pan!
It’s been a little over two months since we found our Overlander and we have made major progress! Woohoo! We removed the shell, cleaned out the nasty belly pan and our buddy the pack rats’ acorn stash, repaired the frame, painted it with POR-15, cut new marine plywood for the floor, bolted it down, lowered the shell, and insulated the belly pan. The one thing we did different on this trailer was the belly pan insulation. In the past we have stuck with the fiberglass insulation that was used originally. This time we decided to try 2″ foam board insulation. We used fender washers and screws to attach it to the floor so there will be no chance of it falling down.
The window hardware has been cleaned up, painted and installed along with new gaskets. We removed the old rusty window clips and installed new stainless ones and the windows are back in. We have done a lot of cleaning on the exterior. And I mean A LOT! Silicone…UGH! With all the seams cleaned and silicone removed we have started re-sealing with Parbond. Dan has patched the center vent hole, cut a new one for the A/C, and patched several places where original antennas were. We inspected the rivets and replaced several that were obvious leakers and after cleaning the seams on the inside, we sealed them with Sikaflex-221 sealant. We have started on the wiring and are hoping for some warmer days so we can get started on the polishing. With every small accomplishment we become more and more excited. Love, Love, Love this trailer!
Stay warm…Spring is coming!
We found our trailer!!! We’ve been searching for a 60’s Overlander and finally found a 1967 that is perfect. When you start with a great shell, original baby moons, and those fantastic curved windows that only the ’66 and ’67 have, you can’t go wrong. There’s nothing like finding a vintage Airstream that speaks to you, and this trailer was softly whispering, “Take me home and make me fabulous…please!” It’s been two weeks and we’ve made progress already. I think being without a trailer tends to light a fire under you!
After a good scrubbing, we took all the exterior lights, vents, etc. off and stripped the clear coat with PPG Aerospace PR-5044 Peroxide-Activated Stripper from Vintage Trailer Supply. Apply it with a paint roller on a warm day, let it sit awhile, then pressure wash it off. Works great!
My grandmother had a saying, “I’ll go now and let you get on with your rat killing.” I always thought it was such an odd and funny thing to say, until now…I get it! Next step was to get on with our rat killing! We had a pack rat. A BIG pack rat that didn’t want to leave. We pulled the belly pan down on one side to give him an escape route but, with a belly pan full of acorns, he wasn’t going anywhere. It took a few tries but his luck ran out. No more rat. We won’t get a good look at his stash until we lift the shell and pull the floor up but, I’m sure it’s going to be epic!
The next step was to gut the nasty interior, pull the floor tile up, and remove the lower inner skins and insulation. We are now ready to support the shell and have a weekend lift off!
We are both so excited we can hardly stay focused on our real job! There is so much to think about. It’s a little like playing chess. You have to think ahead to your next 5 or 10 moves. We spent some time sitting in the trailer and getting a feel for the layout before we gutted it and have decided we love the layout and are keeping it. The only change will be a larger refrigerator. We will loose some counter top space, but it’s worth it.
We have set a rather lofty goal for a completion date. October 29, 2018. That’s our 30th Anniversary! If we make it, we will most likely be at the Annual Halloween Campout at the LBJ Grasslands with our friends in the HOTCU! Happy Trails and see you then!
We sold our Safari! It was gut wrenching watching her pull away, but knowing she has a new home with some great people that will love her as much as we did made it a lot easier. We know there’s another trailer out there with our name on it…we just have to find it! Happy Trails sweet Safari…. “ADVENTURE AWAITS”!
Dan and I are “project people”. We love a good challenge and have enjoyed every minute of restoring the 1976 Overlander and our 1966 Safari. The satisfaction we get from the work we put into a trailer is almost greater than the fun and excitement of traveling in it. Therefore, we have decided…we have one more in us! We would like to rescue another Airstream, and to do that, we have to part with our Safari. I can’t tell you how much we have enjoyed this trailer but, it’s time for someone else to take her on their own exciting adventures. There is nothing like a Vintage Airstream!
You can view the listing here: The Airstream Trailer Classifieds
If you, or someone you know is interested, give us a call!