Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Yellow Submarine.

Music will be needed for this post. Take the time and watch the video, it will take you back for sure. Play it again as you read…

I always want to believe that people think they are doing the right thing. I also want to believe that inspiration is divine. In this case, I wonder what the heck he was thinking. 

I simply do not know what to say.

Burning Man?

Woodstock Redux?

Bonnaroo maybe?

Maybe just too much LSD in the past. I just do not know what to think about this paint job.
Her new owners bought her this way. Their plan is to turn it into a guest cottage. They went at the paint removal. I think it took a lot more than they expected.

About 98.89% was removed. It is that 1.11% that was our challenge. We got 98.89% of that 1.11% by the time we were done with our attempt at paint removal.

I think maybe the trailer was painted due to these chemical burns to the Alclad. It can be seen in many areas. I have never seen this sort of skin damage. It goes way down into the skin. 

A lot of people wonder what went in the box up front. It is a tractor battery. I have not seen a trailer with this battery type still in it in years. Three sit in the yard currently with this battery in them. One is leaking acid badly, one is dry, and this one is currently holding a whopping .01 volts.

There was yellow paint in every nook and cranny. Yellow Submarine yellow is what the can read I am sure.

I love this take on an astrodome. It is a piece of triple laminated glass held on with about 6 tubes of silicon. That white primer you see was wicked stubborn. The nuclear marine stripper we use is more stubborn.

Little bites eats an elephant.

Much of the skin has been tortured. Huge screws were used a great deal. I had to remove about 30 broken off #14 screws. There were also a number of tamper resistant screws rusting away and reacting with the aluminum. 

Someone didn't want to spend $9 on a pair of tin snips. Instead they drilled a bunch of holes. I don't understand what this hole was even for. The time it must have taken to do a half ass job like this is astounding.

Slowly, but surely all the paint was removed. That last 1.11% was, to be honest, a bitch. It took a lot of effort. All the holes in the skin were filled or patched over. As you can see in this image, the skin has not been well treated in the past. We did our best to make it look good again.

In my next post I will show you all the structural repairs we have done. I might even bore you with the seals, locks, dead bolt, and all that mundane stuff. Stay tuned folks!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


There will be a series of short update posts coming out. We have just begun a major project and I want to fill in the gaps before launching into that post...

If you do not love a polished Airstream, you must need serious mental help. It catches your eye from a mile away and you just cannot look away.

There has been some polishing going on a FTW as we continue to test drive the new mystery polish we call ShineOla around the shop.

Results speak for them selves.

It is a lot of work even with a polish that works as well and as fast as this one does.

At FTW we like ShineOla a lot. We are currently booking polishing jobs. Please call for a quote...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Polish Time 1 of...

We have been trying out a new polishing system that came to us via the mail. The polish does not have a name yet. I vote for Shineola. I was asked to "test drive it".

In the condensed 45 second video above you will see what it takes to do the first step of this system. It starts with a custom cotton wheel and a white rouge made to the suppliers specification. The instructions told to me repeatedly, for every square foot you do, begins with a clean wheel.  Clean, raked, wheel was emphasized. Next a touch to the rouge bar then go at it. 30 seconds later, run the wheel through the rake and repeat. Repeat till done.

Monday, May 26, 2014

1968 Caravel, ELEVEN

She is done and will be handed back to her owner tomorrow. This has been a fabulous project to work on. A true ELEVEN in my book.

I find it good to reflect back on "before". I can still smell the mold, mouse droppings, and rotting plywood.

It has new trailer smell now.

One of the roof lockers was torn from the wall and just laying on the side gaucho.

It now hangs from the ceiling and even works like new again.

The refer had been removed. It was a good thing it was, since the floor under it probably wouldn't support the weight. Nothing in the galley was working. 

Now everything functions perfectly.

In front of the shower pan was an area of exceptionally soft floor. I literally stepped through, right to my knee one day. Most of the plywood under the shower pan was rotten also. The plumbing could not function if it tried. The fresh water system was full of holes, the grey water system was completely compromised. 

Not any longer. Jump in, take a shower...

Step over the big hole and gingerly step in to use the head? I  doubt that was going to happen. 

I wonder who will be the first to try out the virgin toilet.

This is a personalized FTW item. You need a switch for the water heater and pump, so why not make it easy to identify what you are turning on?

This Caravel did not have it's magazine rack. One was found in another trailer whose owner had added things he probably bought at a rally swap meet. They were period incorrect for a 1953 but the exact fit for 1968.

The reading light was broken. The socket popped apart and the wires worn through to bare copper. It now works like brand new. Mike worked some serious magic since these are very hard to find. He even got the brushed metal look back. 

A previous owner had made the side gaucho into a full time couch. We returned it to a gaucho situation again. It pulls out like it should again and makes a double bed.

Caravels have one drawer. That drawer is just a shallow plastic tray behind a fold down door. This Caravel has a large pull out drawer with dividers for utensils.

I hope you like what you see. I am very proud of this project.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

1968 Caravel, Ten of ...

I know, I promised the next post would be the final post. It could be, because the Caravel is now 100% finished. I however could not end a project like this on the tenth post when it is a project taken to ELEVEN. So bare with me on my second to last post.

A major change to the appearance of the Caravel was loosing the 1970's aluminum Ford rims. They just did not look right to me.

As you can see they are very wide. Combined with the small tire size, they just looked odd.

The mags were replaced by powder coated steel rims. We kicked it up a notch by doing a double silver pinstripe on the flat of the rim. A nice reproduction set of baby moons from Vintage Trailer Supply tops it all off very nicely. Did I mention how much I love Carlisle tires? I do.

Perhaps as soon as tomorrow I will have a final post of the 1968 Caravel project. I am excited to show you some other things we have been doing at FTW.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Consumer Review (Public Service Announcement)

I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due.  I am a consumer just like many of you reading. I hope to alert the public about a serious, customer service issue so you can avoid wasting your time and money like I have.

If you are reading, you are aware that I have been working on restoring a 1968 Caravel. Some parts are very hard to find. Others are widely reproduced. Not all, are produced the same. Above you see the original lens for the over head lighting fixtures side by side with one of the reproductions. The company selling this reproduction charges $25.99 each and the shipping cost is astounding. They are exported from California so it must justify the extreme shipping and handling costs. 

In the description it says;  Ceiling Light Lens '67-'68(Triple thickness from original) These lenses are designed to fit over the base and are slightly taller than the original, this provides better heat disappation, a longer switch may be required

The new lens is significantly taller. 

This is how the switch protrudes from the original. There is exactly enough thread for the retaining nut and the knob covers it all giving a clean look.

On this one the switch is 1/4" below the reproduction when the base is laid inside the lens. It said in the description I would possibly have to replace the switch. Now go out and find a 4 way rotary switch, and spend an hour re wiring the fixture? This brings the actual cost of lens to around $125 each.

To make it even better, the base is actually 1/4" inside of the lens so you will need to get a switch 1/2" longer than the original one. 
I rejected these lenses and called the seller wanting to return them. I expected to get clipped with a 15% restocking fee but instead was told I could not return them. I had a similar experience with this seller before. That time I was told "too bad, make it work". First time, shame on you. The second time, shame on me. There will never* be a third chance to shame me. I will never* do business there again. A hard, costly lesson learned. If I cannot find the part I need some place else, I will declare it does not exist.

Next Reproduction

Above is the reproduction lens from Vintage Trailer Supply. It is virtually an exact copy. 

Here is the product description; We've had this inside light cover made for our customers with 1967-1971 Airstreams.  It is also used on early 1970s Streamlines.   Click on the MORE PHOTOS button to see if your light base is the same.

It measures 6-3/4" square and fits inside the edges of the base.

It is made of strong, heat-resistant Lexan® polycarbonate, rather than the original low-grade plastic which melted in the heat. It is the only replacement available that fits on the original base using your original rotary switch and requires no trimming or modifications.  It will make your fixture look brand new. 

You may want to drill vent holes in to match the original to further enhance ventilation to the fixture.

Please note we also carry switches for this fixture.

Cost pre lens; 19.95 each. Shipping and handling was very reasonable.

The only negative thing I can say is one corner of one lens was just a little short of the corner. If I were to ask to return it I know there would be no issues. I had an issue once with an item and they over nighted the replacement to me before I sent the rejected item back. Do not expect that every time, but that shows you the level of customer service dedication at Vintage Trailer Supply.

I hope this will help some of you in your reproduction parts searches.

* my Grandmother chastised me once for saying 'never'. I rarely use 'never' since it is finite.