Sunday, April 12, 2015

They All Leak(is a tiresome rule to live by)


Lucky for me, just about every day this week it has rained. This is a good thing since it allows me to roll the Caravanner outside and let Mother Nature do the heavy lifting of finding the leaks. Unfortunately, it did not rain this past Friday. I created my own rain. 


And we are down to one leak. Oddly this leak did not show until this (what I hoped was) final test. It's all fine. This is a process. I rolled it back inside and went to killing yet another leak. Monday morning she will go back out to the leak test chamber again. 


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hoping For Rain


What do you see? Maybe you should lay back on my couch. Take in the photo and tell me what you see. My name is not Rorschach but this is a test.


This is not a Franz Kline painting. Not everything is black and white. I even shot in color for this post.



It is the result of chasing leaks. The 57 is at that stage where I do my best to make sure it will not leak going forward. They all leak. They leave my shop not leaking for a while at least.


Fortunately it has been raining everyday. This makes finding the leaks a lot easier.


I love those reproduction tail lights from Vintage Trailer Supply. They are dead ringers for the originals, just not rusted and faded. Only time can reproduce that.



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Slow Down You Move Too Fast


As you may or might not know I am parting out a 1978 Sovereign. There is not a lot to work with. Somethings cannot be discarded. I thin I will hold on to a little interior skin.


Hello, lamppost, what'cha knowin'?
I've come to watch your flowers growin'


I don't know what they were thinking in 1978 but when it came to bathroom decor, 
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy
Ba da da da da da da da, feelin' groovy

Friday, April 3, 2015

Handbuilt (for sure)


As you may have heard, Airstreams are a hand made product. I should say they used to be a more hand made product. The factory now uses computers to cut out and pre drill many of the holes used in assembly. It was not always this way. At one time they were completely assembled by hand. Above you see a 1961 Overlander built at the Ohio factory. Everything looks normal right? I know the indicator lights are weird, they were added by a previous owner. I am asking you to look at the window and it's relation to the segments. 


If I measure from the left edge of the name badge to the center segment I get 3 1/4". So?


But when I measure from the right hand edge of the name badge to the center segment I get 6 3/4". Whoa, wait a second! There is a 2 1/2" difference? Seriously? 


So if I put tape on the edge of the eyebrow and measure to the first segment line I get 7 1/4".


However measuring from the left I get 6 1/8". We don't need no stink in measuring tools! No one will ever notice it! Looks good from my house! 

Oddly in 1961 the boys at the Factory in Ohio were putting out some of the best built Airstreams they had and would manufacture. The quality in this time period is the best it would ever be. The attention to fit and finish was very important. The intersections of panels all over this trailer is virtually perfect. The  back window however was put in just a little off center. It took 54 years for some guy, sitting eating his lunch to notice things are just a little askew.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

National Lumber


In my continuing series of the vendors who make my life better, I want to high light National Lumber. In all honesty doing business with National is a no brainer for me. National Lumber is what going to the hardware store used to be like before the big orange box and giant blue rectangle came onto the scene. BTW, I will be attending that Bull Roast on May 7. I would not miss it for anything.


Since 1919 National Lumber has been selling contractors and home owners everything they might need to build or maintain any structure. 20 years ago, place like National were the norm. Then the big box hardware vendors popped up. People forgot about the stores that built their communities and were drawn in by a giant store where everything is easily seen and where the prices appear low. What they gave up however is service, knowledge, and a person who actually wants to keep their job. Most think they are saving money. I don't agree. 


Every time I walk into National, Ryan welcomes me. Ryan runs the retail desk. Something I like about Ryan is he knows his stuff. He is more than willing to help and if he does not know, he will find out and get back to you. He also gets to hang out with the pocket knife case. A real hardware store always has a knife case. A display of every possible hammer is an added bonus.


In the back is the contractor desk. Normally this area is as busy as Command Central in Houston. The phones are ringing like a PBS telethon. Salesman are quickly throwing together orders so that the community can continue to be built. From this desk building materials are being ordered, to be trucked as far as Central Virginia. Something a contractor must have; a good materials supplier. National is one of the best. Not the biggest, but very excellent service and quality materials.


I hear people say that they prefer the orange box because of the selection. I prefer to come here since I will find that weird screw, bolt, or plumbing item I need. If I cannot find it, Ryan will. If he does not have it, he will get it in for me. 


They have signs at the blue rectangle. They don't have this kind of selection.


Uhm, right handed, left handed? Uhm.. I don't know what you mean...


Yeah, we got that profile...



"My man!.. Let me get that for you. I'll be right back"


You need block? Gravel? Bank sand? Pea or crushed gravel?


Doors, windows kerosene? God Bless America and for the sake of your fellow man, BUY AMERICAN!


And miles of lumber on the level.


This is the difference between a big box store and a builders supply. Coming here is a no brainer...


Friday, March 27, 2015

57 Caravanner 6 of...


I try to practice modesty. In all honesty, I am very self critical and even occasionally self loathing. What you see in the photo above however, impresses even myself. It has been a very long journey to the photo above. It has cost me a great deal of lost time, struggle, unwisely spent money, and many nights of lost sleep. Now that I am here, I would not trade it for anything.


Many posts ago, I waxed poetics about how easy that damaged segment was going to be to replace. If this trailer had been any year besides 1957, it would have been very simple. Unfortunately for me, in 1957 the Ohio factory decided that they were going to show great skill in a simple edge detail. The factory did a full roll over of the edge. This is not a regular detail. It takes special tooling and special skills. I spent many hours seeking out this talent. Even though I visited a lot of metal shops and talked to many old time tin benders, not one could do it. Not one, knew even where to send me. They all kept saying it was a roll over die.


It takes a very special die to make this edge correctly. After three incorrect die purchases(Price them. You will be surprised) I finally found Joe at Hoosier Profiles. He custom made a die just for me. It took him two tries to get it correct. I admire a company that stands behind what they do and will make it right. Hoosier Profiles did a great job for me.
I was trained as a cabinet maker by a man named Mr Fitzgerald. Mr Fitzgerald was a serious hard ass, old school master woodworker. He trained me well and I am forever indebted to him for the direction he gave me. One of Mr Fitzgerald's favorite things to say was "it's either right, or it's wrong" This edge detail became an obsession to get it correct. With perseverance, I got it 100% spot on correct.


The new segment slipped into place as if it was originally made for it.


Such a sexy curve. It amazes me that flat pieces of aluminum can be made into a half circle like this. 


We bucked the new segment in. Copious amounts of Trempro 626 were used. I told Wayne I want squeeze out. I got it.


Once polished, no one will be able to pick this segment out from the rest. It is work like this that sets my shop apart from the rest. anyone else would have said close enough and cut their losses. Not me. It is either right, or it is wrong. 

 I will get a message asking. I have nothing to hide. 
This segment, billed to the client; Materials: $100
Labor 2.5 hrs@ $70: $175
$275 total
Actual materials spent $457
Actual hours spent: 26


Celebrity Visit


We were anticipating a visit from celebrities. I had Wayne clean the bathroom extra special knowing three of them were women. Just incase, I wanted everything comfortable at FTW for their visit. They came a day early however. They kind of caught me running out the door. 


Brian and Lynnetta came by with their vivacious kids for a visit. I love kids that will look you in the eye and talk to you, kids that are engaging.  It gives me hope for America's future. 
I have been following their blog since they started. I deeply admired how they have been able to combine work, travel, and raising kids into an Airstream lifestyle. 


They have a super sweet 1959 Overlander. It is classic Airstream, classic American icon. The fact it looks so original appeals to a guy like me. The way they use it should inspire you also. I highly encourage you to read their blog


It was an honor that in their itinerary of seeing the Baltimore/ Washington region they made their first stop FTW.


I was trying to get a good candid photo of the whole family together.



Every time I pushed shutter, someone was hiding. Sarah hid the best. 


I wish the Sanders Godspeed.