UPDATE: The Ibsen Family Reunion!

While we are still dizzy from the experience, the Ibsen’s are having a CELEBRATION!

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Five of the seven Ibsen children were able to gather in Austin for what must have been an incredible experience for them. One of the siblings, Eric, left the most beautiful comment that explains it all better than I ever could. Thank you all Ibsen Family for sharing your evening with us. We wish you many happy adventures!

Peace and Love from the Matney’s!

Dear Steph and Dan,
As I just read your update, I must admit that I am moved to tears. I’m one of those toe-headed Ibsen kids that absolutely loved the Overlander! My brother Ole didn’t know or remember this, but in 1999 I actually started searching for our Airstream! I looked and looked using all the internet resources available at the time, contacting the Wally Byam Club, to no avail. I reluctantly was forced to accept that it was lost forever.

I’m the little guy on the top left in the pic of us on the beds & bunks with my brother, Bill, Airstream_Family_1969-2019hugging the poodle. I thought you might like to know that to welcome this incredibly precious gift home appropriately, five of our seven siblings managed to spontaneously gather in Austin this last Friday! Bill flew in from Atlanta and I flew in from San Francisco.

We marveled at the absolutely spectacular design decisions and craftsmanship you put into the restoration! It is simply perfect! The pictures you so thoughtfully printed and placed throughout were delightful! We were all smiling ear to ear the whole evening. We toasted champagne, explored, reminisced and thought about our parents, Ole and Diana, and how they were there, with us in spirit and we were certain that they, like us, were grinning and weeping with hearts full of joy, admiration and a flood of emotions and memories of what was for all of us, some the very best parts of our childhoods. We talked about memories of our trips and… and we laughed… a lot! Seeing my 5 and 7 year old nephews, Kosmos and Ole Ibsen III, nestled on the bed, watching their iPad and giggling was a moment of sublime beauty. To me it represented that Airstreams are so much more than just trailers, they are vehicles that bring us and other lucky families together. Now, thanks to you, and in our case, for 3 generations. We are truly amazed that you are so generous of spirit, that you even considered selling your baby to us! “Thank you” is not a strong enough expression of our gratitude for your kindness! We will always remember your kindness. You have shown that Wally Byam’s spirit and vision clearly endures and reflects the best parts in each of us.

We will be sending you pictures of our joyful reunion and we recreated one of the pictures! The journey continues and now in unimaginable style shall we, in the words of Wally Byam, “Strive endlessly. Stir the venturesome spirit within”!
Thank you again for everything Dan and Steph.
Warmest regards and gratitude,
Eric Ibsen

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The Ibsen Family Overlander

I wrote in a previous blog post that the moment we laid eyes on our Overlander, she whispered to us, “Take me home and make me fabulous”.  It’s funny the things you remember about that first walk through. The smell, the squeaks in the rotten floor, the sound of the cabinets when they latch.  I remembered asking about all the weird brackets hanging everywhere. The owner told us they were for bunk beds. He said the original owner had four of them installed from the Airstream dealer for all his kids. There were two over the twin beds, one over the sofa bed, and one, believe it or not, over the sink and cooktop! I had visions of kids hanging everywhere in there! I thought about all those kids many times during the restoration and after a long year, she is FABULOUS! But, turns out, she wasn’t “home”.

The manual and many of the original documents from the original purchaser in 1967 were still inside the trailer when we got it.  I saved them all and one item in particular always seemed to haunt me. It was the original “Lifetime Warranty Identification Card”. I had it on my desk for several months and kept thinking I would make a magnet out of it or find something creative to do with it.  One morning I decided to google the name on the card. Up popped the same name, in the same city, but with a “the second” behind it.  I think my heart skipped a beat! An image of all those kids hanging everywhere popped in my head.  I wrote a letter and filed it away with the plan of mailing it once the trailer was finished, then just before our first big adventure at Christmas to the coast, I pulled out the letter and placed it in a Christmas Card. I mailed it and waited.

 

Dear Mr. Ibsen,img_0887

Last year my husband and I purchased a 1967 Overlander to restore. The original “Lifetime Warranty” information was still inside and listed the purchaser as Ole N. Ibsen of Bloomington, Illinois. I’m hoping this was your father’s trailer. If not, I apologize for the intrusion and you can stop reading now. If it was indeed your father’s trailer, I thought you might be interested in seeing what has become of it.

I have documented the restoration through a blog and a short youtube video.

http://www.al13airstream.com

We would love to hear any memories you and your family have shared in the Overlander and look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Holidays

I thought about the letter several times while we were on our trip. Did he receive it? Was it him? Did he care about his Dad’s old trailer? Did he think I was crazy for writing him? Would he contact us? Did he have pictures? A few days after we got back home from our trip we received an email that would turn our world upside down.

Dan and Steph, yes, this is our 1967 Airstream Overlander. I cried when I watched the restoration video. We have such fond memories of camping in the Airstream and going to Airstream Rallies. I have always remembered our Wally Byam number 18976. We had 7 img_5970-2 (medium)children and I am the oldest boy. I worked side by side with my Dad as we set up the trailer at the campgrounds and traveled with the whole family. It was too expensive to stay in hotels/motels, so an Airstream was the next best thing. My parents purchased the unit in 1967 brand new for $7000. I was there when they bought it from Mann’s Travel Trailer Sales in Normal, Illinois. I remember the shape of the key as my Dad had it behind his ear when he shared he had made the “purchase” to my Mom. One fond memory I have is listening to the radio in the Airstream as Neil Armstrong was setting foot on the moon while camping in Florida during July 1969. My youngest brother did a search about 2 years ago in hopes of locating our family’s Airstream to no avail. We thought for sure it was gone for good.

I have so much to share with you all and would love to chat with you. We have 3 of our 7 siblings living here in Austin, Texas. I am in the “market” to purchase a Prevost Tour Bus, but the thought of being able to get the old Airstream…words cannot describe. My phone number is ***-***-**** and we moved to Austin in October of 2018. Can we come and see the unit?

Thank you so much for reaching out to us. I look forward to hearing from you.

Warmest Regards,
Ole N. Ibsen II

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We cried, had goosebumps, and were like deer in the headlights. Stunned with excitement and happiness for this man that finally found his Family Overlander.  We looked at each other and said, “We have this man’s trailer”.  Before we had a chance to process what we just read, the phone rang. The voice on the other end was tearful when he said his name.  More tears, more goosebumps, and a wild, wonderful, crazy conversation ensued. Somewhere in there, I heard him say, “If you ever want to sell the trailer”. I don’t think I even responded. It was too much. We couldn’t possibly do that. No way.  He said he wanted to get with one of his brother’s and arrange a time so they could come out and see the trailer once again. When the call ended, I looked at Dan and knew everything had changed in an instant.  It felt like a gut punch and a big hug at the same time.  After much thought and a couple of sleepless nights we came to the conclusion that this was indeed his trailer,  we could find another one. So, we sent the email.

Hi Ole,

Wow…wow…wow. Dan and I haven’t been able to think of anything other than you, your family, and the Overlander ever since we read your heartfelt email and then our wonderful phone conversation. We have always believed that everything happens for a reason. We have had some life changes over the past year that have also influenced our decision but mostly, it just feels right. If you are interested in buying the trailer, it is for sale.

Whether you are interested in buying the trailer or not, we would love to have you, your wife, and any of your family come up and enjoy the trailer…anytime!

In about five minutes the phone rang. Through tears, I heard, “Yes, Yes, Yes…we want the trailer”.

 

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This has been one of the most amazing and unbelievable experiences of our lives.  We could never imagine selling this trailer.  It was that email! I get weepy every time I read it!  I’m sure that sounds crazy, but all you fellow Vintage lovers know what we are talking about. We buy these trailers, spend a year or two (or more!) working on them, all the while dreaming, planning, and wondering;  not only of our future travels but of it’s past. Where has it been? Has it been on Caravans or to International Rallies?  What was it towed with?  What were the people like? Wonder what happened to all those kids that hung everywhere in here? All those questions have been answered.  Unbelievable!

Many of the original accessories were still with the trailer when we purchased it. The original aluminum wheel chocks, (Dan really wanted to keep those! They are so cool!) the Airstream jack plate, the separate second folding step that slid into the one on the trailer, and….yes…all four bunk beds! We had given them to Paul at A & P Vintage Trailer Works in the event he had a customer that might want to use them in their restoration. He still had them! The new/old owner will be reinstalling them in the trailer to accommodate the next generation of his family in the official, “Ibsen Family Overlander”!

As for us, I’m afraid our restoration days are behind us. We saved three trailers on this wonderful Airstream journey and the thought of them all being on the road for another 50 years feels good.  Really, really, good! We never knew anything about the original owners of our 1976 Overlander, only that she used Chanel moisturizer and they lived near Lake Texoma. Our Safari had spent time in the Keys and the original owner met Perry Como once while on a camping trip there! And now we know our 1967 Overlander was owned by a big family that loved her and never, ever forgot about her. ❤

We started searching for another trailer once the shock of selling this one wore off and BAM! There she was! One mile from our old house in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma! Another strange coincidence? I think not! The Airstream Spirits were working their magic! The moment we saw her, we knew she was THE ONE! I’ll save the details for another post. But, for now……

Happy Trails Sweet Overlander! You look FABULOUS! Welcome Home!

 

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Time to go camping!

One year, one month, and 2 weeks later…we are done! It seems like yesterday we sold the Safari and started the search for our Overlander. We are beyond thrilled to have it done and are excited to embark on our first big adventure. Since blog posts were few and far between on this trailer, here’s the condensed version of the process and our completed trailer. Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year to you all!

Overdue Overlander Update!

We have made slow but steady progress in the 8 months since our last post.  I hesitated to do a blog post because it didn’t seem like we had made much progress but, we have! Thank goodness for pictures. It’s easy to forget how far you’ve come!

  • Refrigerator vent fans installed.
  • Wiring finished.
  • Insulation up.
  • Inner skins back up, patched and painted.
  • Original bathroom components repaired and painted with marine epoxy paint.
  • A/C Installed.
  • 4 – 100-watt solar panels installed.
  • TV, radio and Sirius XM antenna installed.
  • MaxxAir fans up.
  • New black and grey tanks and pans up, dump valves installed.
  • Armstrong VCT tile down.
  • Pex plumbing and waste vents in and leak checked.
  • Water pump and fresh water tank installed.
  • Hot water heater installed.
  • Outdoor shower installed in the trunk.
  • Bathroom components, toilet, and new laminate walls and cabinetry installed.
  • New laminate on the pocket door and installed.
  • Closets complete.
  • A/C and furnace thermostat wired.
  • Propane lines ran.

Our next step is to build out the twin bed frames and get that wiring finished up! We are still optimistic we will be camping by Halloween! Thanks to everyone who is still following along with us! Happy Trails!

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The Belly is Buttoned Up!

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 you’re 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!

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Hinge Pin Replacement

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! 

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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 bushings 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!

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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!

Making Progress!

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 differently 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.

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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!

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