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!
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 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!
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!
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 lose some countertop 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!
Originally, our Safari had a bi-fold door that tucked around and against the wall in the bathroom. It was a great design, and we intended on replicating it when we had time, but in the meantime, we made a quickie curtain and hung it on a wire. Not a great look, but it worked! Just before the Christmas camp out, we decided it was time for an upgrade. We abandoned the plan of rebuilding the original wood bi-fold door and decided to try something different. We purchased a white plastic accordion style door at Lowe’s for $27.00, cut the length to fit, and then covered it in Sunbrella fabric. The solid white looked great on the bathroom side but we felt it would look better on the outside of the bath covered in fabric. We are really happy with the results and think this is a great alternative to a curtain. Hope it works for someone else! Happy Trails!
When we purchased the Safari a few years ago, I googled “events of 1966” to see what was going on when our little trailer first hit the road. I quickly discovered that the National Parks Service celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary that year! I instantly became inspired to incorporate this into the decor. The first thing I purchased was a First Day of Issue postcard with the commemorative stamp attached and postmarked Yellowstone National Park, August 25, 1966.
My great design idea kinda fizzled out after that…until this year! Suddenly it was the 100th Anniversary and I was able to find inspiration everywhere. My favorite things are the two large pillows we lean on when we watch TV. We have started buying patches from everywhere we visit and sewing them on. I hope one day we run out of room on them and have to start two more!
Our National Parks truly are… America’s Best Idea. I’m so proud that our country has protected them for all of us to enjoy and look forward to visiting as many as possible in my lifetime. Who knows, 50 years from now someone may be blogging about their 100 year old Airstream and still have that framed stamp hanging on the wall! I hope so. Happy Trails!
“There is nothing so American as our national parks…. The fundamental idea behind the parks…is that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us.” – President Franklin D. Roosevelt
I’m not sure if an Airstream restoration is ever really finished! It seems there is always some new fun gadget to add, new technology comes along, not to mention the decor. I’m so indecisive I’ve already made two sets of curtains! But, after almost two years, we are calling it done. I published a YouTube video of the restoration process we did on the Overlander and enjoyed the comments and feedback we received so much, I made one for the Safari as well. It’s a little long, so if you would like to skip the video and just see the after pictures, they are below the video link. Thanks for following our progress and Happy Trails!
Our goal for the last several months has been to have the trailer ready in time to attend The Texas Country Air Rally in Quanah, Texas last weekend and…we made it!
The last month or so has been “all trailer, all the time”. Every spare minute has been spent hoping to get it ready to roll. During that time we installed the new Suburban furnace and ducts, pex plumbing, Dometic Penguin low-profile A/C, solar panels, new Dometic refrigerator, Trimetric Battery Monitor, SeeLevel Tank Monitoring system, new cabinetry, countertops, curtains, and upholstery. There are a few things we weren’t able to finish up though. We still need to install the door jamb, header and bi-fold door at the bathroom. We hung a temporary curtain there for now. (I love the bug fabric from Ikea!) The front bed still needs the cabinet face, drawers and doors installed. The green skirt is just temporary as are the spiders and other Halloween decor. We plan to cover the mattress in the same Sunbrella fabric we used on the dinette cushions so when the sheets are off the bed it still looks nice. We still have much to do (polishing…yuck!) but couldn’t be happier to have it this far along! We slept great and are looking forward to leaving many Happy Trails!
The Texas Plains Unit were the hosts of the Texas Country Air Rally and the people of Quanah were amazing. They welcomed 95+ Airstream trailers and motorhomes into their downtown area for three days of non-stop activities, food and fun. When we arrived at the Hardeman County Safety Area we were met by the County’s Mayor and Judge. They presented us with a big bag of welcome goodies and escorted us to the town square. They parked us in front of the beautiful, newly restored, Hardeman County Courthouse. The highlight of our trip was a guided tour of the courthouse by Judge Ronald Ingram. He was full of information about the history of Hardeman county, Quanah, and the restoration of the courthouse. It was an excellent tour…all the way to the top! Thank you, Judge Ingram! Several outdoor areas were set up for meals and the Three Rivers Ballroom was the meeting place for just about everything else. There were seminars to attend on everything from astronomy to outdoor pizza oven construction, concerts in the ballroom every evening, walking tours of the town, Historical Museums, and an open house on Friday for everyone to show off their trailers. We met many new and interesting people we hope to camp with again someday, and of course, it was great to see all our friends in The Heart of Texas Camping Unit again!