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!
Over the Thanksgiving holiday we had a few days to work on the trailer and made some major progress….finally! Dan cut the wood for the new floor, using the old floor as a pattern. After some tweaking, we were satisfied with the fit and bolted it down. We positioned the trailer frame under the shell by hand, using a floor jack. With the frame level, we started lowering the shell back down using the same method we used to raise it. On this trailer, the front and rear banana wraps were installed first, and then the shell over them. When we were within a few inches of the floor we did a test fit of the front wraps. They were pretty beat up and Dan did a great job hammering the dents out of them using a sandbag and an auto body dolly. We cut new aluminum for the rear wraps from the old patterns, making sure to cut them exactly as they were. Fitting them was definitely a two man job and difficult. It took awhile, but we got them on. Once the shell was all the way down we noticed something just wasn’t quite right at the doorway. The shell seemed to be pushed out at the threshold and the fender wells weren’t lining up perfectly with the shell. Then Dan remembered reading a post on the forums that said something about the floor being notched out at the threshold. Our floor was rotted away in that spot so with no pattern to go by we had no way of knowing that. Once again, great information obtained from the Airforums! We raised the shell back up a little, notched out the floor a 1/2″ the entire width of the door jamb, lowered it back down, and…PERFECT FIT! The rivet holes lined up everywhere…amazing! Rivets are all bucked and our “honey” looks very happy to be back together again. The new axle gave the old girl some lift and she looks like she’s ready to hit the highway! Of course we have a few more things to do…just a few. 😉
The Christmas campout with the HOTCU is this weekend…see you there! Merry Christmas!
When we raised the shell on the Overlander, it was a nail biter. It wasn’t just the raising and securing of the shell, it was the fear, for weeks, that a big storm would blow in and off it would go…like a tin can rolling across the highway! This time was a very different experience. We removed the skins and braced the shell as if we knew what we were doing, then before I knew it Dan started pumping those jacks, and it was up. Now we have the shop space to keep it inside while we work on the frame and install the new tanks and floor, so we have no worries of wind and hail storms. It was a long day but…it’s up and off!
Removing the interior of an Airstream is like putting a puzzle together…in reverse. You have to start at the front and work your way back. We made it to the bathroom and stopped so we could figure out exactly what we are going to do back there. The original toilet has been removed and the fiberglass was cut out to make room for a newer model toilet. We will have to make more modifications to make way for an even newer model toilet. In doing that we may need to replace the black tank. And then there’s the plan to add a grey tank. So much to think about! We have consulted with our friends at A & P Vintage Trailerworks, browsed the Airforums and researched tanks at Vintage Trailer Supply and others. We still don’t have a firm plan but at least we have some ideas. We have decided to replace the floor instead of trying to repair it. You know what that means…. the shell has to come off. I knew in my heart we would end up doing a shell off the day we bought it. This is our “forever trailer” and we want it to last as long as we do!
It will be a few weeks before work can resume on the trailer but, in the meantime, I plan on working on those rusty window clips, gaskets and screens. Dan will be sewing up cushions, curtains and an awning for a beautiful 1970 Caravel brought to us by A & P Vintage Trailer Works. I’ll post pictures when it is complete. It’s a WOWzer! Enjoy the cooler weather…fall is on it’s way!
In all the excitement of finding a new trailer to restore, we have avoided talking about what we knew had to happen. We have to find a new home for our beloved Overlander. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time, money, or space to properly care for more than one trailer at a time. I just have to look at it like this…we rescued her from near death, performed major reconstructive surgery, rehabilitated her and prepared her for an exciting future of travel and adventure for many years to come. In return, she opened up the world of the WBCCI and Airstreaming to us. We have met the most fantastic people, made life long friends, and had a blast at camp outs and rallies with the HOTCU. She provided us with a temporary home while we built our permanent one and taught us to “See More, Do More, Live More“.
Edit: Our trailer is sold but you may be able to view the listing on Airstream Classifieds here.
It was year ago when we finally finished our Airstream rennovation and I posted this video on youtube. I never did post it here for some reason so…here it is!
In a few days, it will be one year since we started the process of bringing a neglected 1976 Airstream back to life. It’s been more work than we ever imagined, cost way more than we thought it would, and has been the most challenging and exciting project we have ever done. We are really happy with the way it turned out but there’s two things we should have done differently. The first thing is the flooring. The VCT tile we used looks great and we don’t have any complaints, but Marmoleum would have been awesome! The second is the axles. I have no idea why we didn’t replace them when the shell was off. Sure would have been easier! We plan to order them in the next couple of weeks though. Live and learn!
Our first official camp-out is planned for Halloween weekend with The Heart of Texas Camping Unit at Fort Richardson State Park in Jacksboro and we can’t wait! Happy Camping!