Sunday, May 17, 2009

I am a man in a Bubble

I have gotten a ton of phone calls and emails asking "Frank what gives with the X251? Are you working on it?" Well the answer is yes. I have been working on removing all the add ons and serious Jerry rigs done by previous owners. Wally always said "make no changes only improvements" I am still waiting to see where his instructions were followed. 
The pile of absolute garbage is growing steadily. I am hesitant about discarding things, but this stuff is all junk. Just after this photo was taken I added the three way refrigerator. It would not run on 110, 12 volt, or gas. I tried it on all three. Not sure why it was glued into it's opening with construction adhesive not hooked up to any of the three energy sources. A question for the seller or a now dead previous owner I guess.

Anything of value is being saved and labeled. Screws are labeled in ziplock baggies and put in a box for sorting out later. The Princess stove is not original, but in very good shape. That is something else to be sorted out too.
Here is one of those changes. To the left is the original dinette base, but the wooden part is an add on. It is aluminum extrusion with plywood put on the face. All of this is now gone except the dinette base and that tank.
I think this tank is the original water tank. It was inside of a closet that was removed at some point. The X251 had the toilet right inside the door in this front curbside corner like the typical Bubble layout. 
There is the original direct drop hole for the toilet. Someone put a patch over the larger hole in the belly. You can just make out the rectangle of the toilet base.
In the dinette base is the electrical components. Some are original components and some are something someone thought was needed. I once saw a picture of these switches used to control the electrical system and it was discribed as Wally's control center. Well the switches were manufactured in 1972. Wally could not have touched any switch you see. I see this as a "change" and a bad one. Behind the front is a jumble of wires.

If anyone knows what that thing is to the left of the circut box, please let me know. I have never seen anything like this and have no clue. I suspect it is something having to do with the 6 volt, yes, 6 volt system.

Here is an original unit. All this is being saved as patterns for future cabinet reproduction. Two drawers on the end and a lift up bin in the seat. 

Another stupid "change" was the placement of a dead refrigerator into this wardrobe cabinet. I have to wonder if it ever worked. It was however firmly glued into the aluminum extrusion frame someone riveted into the cabinet. A chase for the fumes was made out of wood grained flashing material. 
An air inlet was cut into the side of the trailer. Did I mention "changes"?
And a large vent was cut through the roof of the trailer. This thing is fairly large. Might be somewhat hard to make go away. I will find a way to make it happen. 
Something that I need to make happen is replace the entire floor. I am not sure what it was that was used, but the flooring is totally falling apart. It is either some kind of experimental plywood or laminated solid wood. I am going to use a very huge improvement that was not available back in 1954 when the X251 was built. It is in the works and I am  hopeful this contributor will work with me. If they come through, you will hear all about their product very soon. The other cool thing about this product, it will be a one piece floor.
This issue will never happen again when I am finished. This new mystery product will insure that also. It will also revolutionize trailer restorations and possibly new Airstreams too. I am very hopeful. 
And now for some very cool finds. This is the original Zolatone. The color is a little off in the photo, but the next picture is almost spot on. 
A very cool find is on this wheel well. Someone used their finger to write "Airstream" in the wet paint. 
Here is the original hub caps and possibly the original spare. Nice wide white walled Atlas tire. The same type of tires appears in the early photos of the trailer. I think when done, the trailer needs wide whites again.

And this was found in a crack by the wall. I cannot help but wonder if Stella dropped it one rainy day while camped on the banks of the Rhine, the Seine, or the Danube, something to pass a dreary day in the spring of 1955.


  1. Great update Frank, I love watching you employ your archeology skills as you perform this "dig."

    The finished product is going to be even more amazing.


  2. Frank, that thing on the left appears to be a resistor. We used to have them mounted on the firewall of our cars. When cranking the engine, the ignition system got a full 12 volts for a good spark. Once the engine was running, you released the key and the 12 volts went thru the resistor, dropped the voltage down and extended the life of the coil and points. I have no idea what it would be doing on the trailer unless someone needed reduced voltage for something.


  3. I agree with Alumanutz on the mystery component be a resistor. It's purpose may have been for the trailer brakes - Early brake controllers used a tapped resistor bank to limit current to electric brakes. The bank was usually mounted on the tow vehicle's firewall.


  4. Frank,
    Ditto from the last two comments your mystery part is a ballast resistor. I remember seeing them on the firewall of antique / classic cars. Maybe somebody was using a 12V battery and needed to drop the voltage down to 6V.


  5. Great documentation Frank - you're a true Airstream archeologist ! So important to record all those little details, even if they seem unimportant at the time. Lots of decisions... but I'm sure you'll make the right ones.
    Keep us posted with Wally's intimate details.


  6. Sure glad to see your progress on this historic gem. Sure is looking different from when I last saw it. I salute you.


  7. This is going to be good!
    It's exhilarating documentation.
    Thank you.


  8. frank you must be on cloud 9, and I bet client #2 can't wait for the restoration to really start.
    one question, did the x251 really have hubcaps, in those old photos I could not see any?