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!
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
A friend recently told me about these great old documentaries available on YouTube. The first one is Wally (in his beret!) leading a caravan through Mexico and then in the second video he leads the famous Capetown to Cairo caravan through the desert. The last one is of a caravan to Guatemala narrated by the young and handsome Ricardo Maltalban! Amazing footage of incredible trailers, cool tow vehicles, and some very adventurous souls! Enjoy!
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!
Ok all you Airstream lovers…. I want to share a very cool trailer with you. If you didn’t already know this, my husband Dan and I have an upholstery shop (Matney’s Upholstery). We recently worked on a 1975 Sovereign that our friends at A & P Vintage Trailerworks transformed into one retro cool trailer. The owners had some great ideas, design choices, and a vision of what they wanted and A & P delivered! The huge front booth style dinette they built needed custom cushions and bolsters designed, not only for comfortable seating, but to fit over the drop down table that makes into a bed. The rear goucho and dinette were covered in dove grey Sunbrella with Volt Spark Sunbrella on the pillows. I love the way this trailer turned out. Dan and I LOVE 70’s trailers and thought this one was fantastic! If you aren’t a fan of the original wood grain laminate then you probably aren’t going to dig this trailer, but you have to appreciate how it all came together with all the modern choices. We are all proud of the way it turned out and know the new owners are too. They just did a write up about it in D Magazine so…see for yourself! UPDATE: A & P Are on fire! Another great article in RV Life Magazine!! Congrats you guys!
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!
Our Safari may be in a million pieces right now but…she looks good sitting there! We took the wheels to Wise Powdercoating in Chico and had them powder coated black. They did an excellent job, were very reasonable, and fast! The original babymoons were re-chromed, and for tires, we went with a Yokohoma P235/75R15 truck tire. WooHooo…Let’s go!
After several months of being derailed by work, we are back on track! We have made a little progress here and there over the last few months, but it doesn’t seem like much. Although, when I finally uploaded our pictures starting in January, yes…January :/, we have accomplished more than I thought!
Our trailer never had an A/C unit. From what we understand the proper placement of an A/C unit, if you wanted to add one, was to cut another hole between the two rear vent holes. To us this seemed crazy. Why wouldn’t you just put it in the center? Then we realized the ribs weren’t continuous at the center vent hole. They stopped half way up on either side. To fix the problem, Dan riveted aluminum channel to the existing ribs and buck riveted it to the outer skin. Now the vent hole will be strong enough to hold a new A/C unit and it will be centered on the roof. I’m happy!
We used Trempro to seal all the seams from the inside, installed all the new wiring, got the new 7-way plug wired up and installed new seals on the two front stationary windows. We insulated behind the end caps and got those big boys back up! It was a challenge for two people so we used some big wood closet rods we had to help support them.
That brings us up to date on our progress since the Holidays! Sure doesn’t seam like much but…we are BACK ON TRACK!
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!
With the shell off, the next step was to remove the old floor and start on frame repairs. We knew this trailer had spent some time in the Florida Keys so we were holding our breath and expecting the worse. What a pleasant surprise to see that the only bad area was right at the front door. The floor was bad there so this was no big surprise. We originally thought the door was leaking and causing the problem but after we took off the inner skins we could see that the door hinge was a bad leak source too. We ordered two new outriggers and the right hand step outrigger from Out of Doors Mart. We replaced all the belly pan strapping that runs between the outriggers also. Dan welded some angle iron in the frame section behind the axle to attach the pan that will hold up the new grey tank and in the back section for the new black tank as well. He also added a piece of angle above the black tank in front of the toilet area. This was a pretty large unsupported area of the floor in a heavy traffic spot so we decided it was worth the extra weight. We did the same across the front to support the weight of the fresh water tank and the new location for the battery. When the welding was complete, we used a wire wheel on the frame, cleaned it, and used Metal Prep everywhere. After a day in the sun drying we pulled it back under the car port and brushed on the POR-15. We love this stuff! It covers great, levels out, and dries rock hard. Next we brushed Sterling Silver Topcoat on the bumper, steps, and A-frame. We weren’t exactly thrilled with that though. It dried really fast making it impossible to get a smooth finish. The next day we sanded it all and tried spraying it. The good news was no brush marks but, once again, it dried too fast and has a rough finish. It’s not great but we are calling it “good enough” …for now anyway!
The new 5000 lb. axle and the new waste tanks should be here in a week or so. In the mean time, we can get the new floor cut and ready to install, run the new brake wire, clean, repair, and paint the inner fender wells; and start making an electrical plan. Our initial plan to keep this trailer original has been scrapped. We want to make it better than original! Someone once recited a Wally Byam quote to me that was something like, “Don’t make changes, only improvements”. That’s our plan…to make the improvements that we feel we need to do to be comfortable, and to make the necessary upgrades to keep our ’66 Safari on the road for another 48 years!
Hope to see you all at the HOTCU Halloween Camp Out at the LBJ Grasslands! We, of course, won’t be camping (BOO), but we will be visiting all weekend. Trick or Treat!