Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sixty-Four Double Door

I am so happy to be able to finally go public with this newest project. Not only will you be able to read about my progress here on this blog, but you can also listen to the commentary on a revamped Restoration Update segment on The Vintage Airstream Podcast. I cannot promise this will be as good as The Ambassador Update that Tim Shephard did, but I sure will give it my very best. So with no more a do, I want to present, The Sixty-Four Double Door.

I know, you are saying "Frank, it only has one door..." or "Frank the Factory never built a double door trailer in 1964..." On both accounts you are absolutely correct. This 1964 Sovereign only has one door at present, but when the project is finished, it will have two doors. It will also be re badged with "of the Road." This is sure to be a very interesting project for anyone curious about a complete restoration/ customization from the axles all the way through. The final product is going to have the look of a factory original, but have many modern conveniences. There will be no real changes, just a series of improvements made to make this trailer function better for my client Bruce.

Bruce gave me a hand by removing all the furniture from the walls. It came to me in a jumble stuffed inside the trailer. I was going to try and offer up some of the furniture to other people working on their own trailers, but once I took a good survey of the wood work, it was destine for the dump. The condition of things was horrible. The wood was moldy, damaged by water, and worst of all, URINE SOAKED. Yes, I had to say it. I know the VAP is a family show and I will be very good about not using too much adult language, but URINE SOAKED is the proper description.

I wadded in and began salvaging what could be reused by others or in future projects.

Everything was reduced down to a full size pickup bed of debris. The guy at the dump gave a step back when he smelled this load.

Once everything was out, I got a real good look at the floor. At some point, an owner had nailed plywood over the rotting floor. In some areas, the top layer is beginning to rot also. Most of all the perimeter is rotted.

The rear end is totally gone.

All the way around there is nothing but black, soft rotting plywood. The smell is a rather unbelievable blend of mold, rotting wood, and mouse urine. My kids even tell me how bad I smell at the end of the day.

That smell has got to go, so out come all the skins followed by all the insulation. It looks like a mouse hotel in there. I think this was an apartment unit for them. Everywhere in the insulation there is evidence of their occupying the space.

But not only where the mice at work, but so was water. Many serious leaks have been allowed to go on for many years. The windows on these 64's have a little design flaw that allows for water to seep in with every rain if not monitored. I will address windows in a future segment.

All the interior panels were carefully drilled off and engraved with their location on the backside.

With so many coats of paint on them, they will need to be stripped before new zolatone can be applied. I want to make sure I know where they go when reinstalling them.

With all the insulation gone, the smell was remarkably better. Once I power washed the entire thing with a serious disinfectant, it was almost odor free, well, sort of. There was still the rotting plywood and the URINE SOAKED insulation under the floor.

The space seems so vast with everything out of her. So much potential here, a total blank slate. The next step is to get the shell off of the chassis. My biggest concern is that when I remove the "C" channel from the deck, that too much wood will be missing and I do not want to have to extrapolate the curves or any element when putting down a new floor. I felt it best to template the channel. By creating a clear map of where all the channel sits at present, I will know where to put it in the future.

I used my scribes to mark out the 5 mm Luan I am using. I draw the curve and use a jig saw to cut the waste off. Fine adjustments to the line are made using a belt sander.

And that is how to templates the curve. These pieces will be glued together mapping out the entire inside edge of the channel all the way around the trailer.

By creating this pattern of the curves and all the cutouts, I can put this down on my new floor and know exactly where the channel should be. I will do the entire perimeter of the trailer this way and know with confidence I have it all correct.

My next post will not be until the next taping of The VAP, in two weeks. Between now and then you will have to wonder if I have lifted the shell yet, if the frame has been fixed and painted. You will need to wonder about grey water tanks, and black tanks or the lack of actually needing them. No black tank? What? You will also be wondering if Steve flew back in for another week of work. Please stay tuned for the next segment. And please help support The VAP by listening, calling in your questions, and making a periodic donation so the Boys can keep it going.


  1. Whew!! I can almost smell that thing from here. Glad its getting a quality restoration and I'm really looking forward to the second door going in.

  2. Great project Frank.
    Maybe you should run a sweepstakes as to where the 2nd door will be !

    Nice pictures & I like the templates for the curves.
    I'll look forward to the next installment.


  3. Wow Frank, this post really has me wondering:

    - Can I really wait two more weeks for another post?
    - What does adding another door do to the floorplan?
    - Does no black tank mean you know more about composting toilets than you're letting on?
    - After the (very successful) Minuet project, would my wife kill me if I had you totally redo a late-70s 24' or 26' Argosy or a 80s 25-foot center bath in a few years?

  4. Very cool.

    The project itself is great, but I'm gonna have to get me one of those scribes that a pencil attaches to. I'm tired of sharpening the lead on a compass.


  5. Whew.. I know that smell... ugh! So you add the thickness of the Channel to the template, right? Can't wait to see where that door goes... Marc