Thursday, October 28, 2010

Full Throttle Ahead

If you are not aware, I am also documenting this project on the Vintage Airstream Podcast. You can hear some explanation that might add to what you read here. Go back to episode #120 to find the beginning.

Some days seem to go nowhere fast and others plow through full throttle. There are so many details to deal with before I could drop the shell back down.

An area of concern for me was where the frame rails and the plywood meet. There is this gap in the belly wrap. This is a serious weak spot in the amour. At all four spots where the frame meets the body this situation exists.

I made this plate to protect that spot. The back side is filled with Vulkem and there is no water going back under there now.

I am always blown away by how much supplies and tools accumulate doing the most simple of tasks. This is all associated with wiring the brakes and the emergency break away system.

I went with an independent break away system, not dependent on the trailer batteries. The unit has a battery and charger working off the umbilical cord. In the event the trailer falls off the ball, this will set the brakes fast to stop the trailer from rolling.

Eventually the time came to roll the chassis back under. I was fortunate to have the help of Ace Goldberg for this task. Ace came on down from Pittsburgh and gave me two solid days. He did an awesome job.

We got the chassis as close as possible before lowering the shell down.

Nice and slow. Push here, pull there. Wiggle, wiggle wiggle...

We got the front plate lined up and just started filling holes. With Ace's awesome help we managed to get the key areas riveted around the belt line . The only ones we did not do around the belt line, were where panels are being replaced. Ace was a huge help to me. Just like Steve, I wish he lived closer so we could work together more often.

Bruce, my client, came for two days. He stayed in Anna, our 62 Overlander, and we spent the time working out many of the details associated with layout. We sat and communed with the trailer a good deal. The layout will be very functional. More of that in the future. For now, the main focus is structure.

Here is an aspect of the project I thought the input of some of you readers might come in handy with this. At some point in the past this trailer was hit. The rib to the left of the jalousies window was replaced. When things were bucked back together, the left side of the window was bucked in 1/2" lower than the right side. Should I correct this? What would you do if you were me? Most people would never pick up on this down hill slope. I bothers me tremendously.

Here you can see the different sized ribs used to replace the damaged one. One was added under the original and a second was used as a splint. If it were you, would you correct this slanting jalousie. The window functions perfectly. The rivet lines all looks good from the outside, but what would you do. Reader votes solves my decision.

At some point this segment was replaced also. I think all this repair work was done at the factory or by an Airstream service center. It was done very well.

My next step was to launch into body work. I need to create a weather tight shell with all functioning windows and hatches. I also need to move a window, add a window, and install the second door, creating the one and only 1964 double door.

I am stripping the exterior of everything. All vent pipe penetrations are coming off and most are being patched over. The awning rail is being replaced with new straight stock so that also is being stripped. Look at all that dirt build up behind it. If it protrudes, it is getting removed.

We are going with three new Fantastic Fans up here. All three will have rain sensors in them. Bruce is forgoing air conditioning, so the Fantastic Fans will need to be able to move a good deal of air.

I also removed all the glass from the jalousie windows. All the glass will be new in every window throughout.

Even the porch light will be replaced. Ahhh.... BEAUTIFUL FALL DAY IN MARYLAND!!!!!

Another discovery was how the wheel wells shape had been raise up to give more tire changing clearance. I always thought it a weird shape, but had never studied it closely. This photo is a great "BEFORE" photo. Ready to see a big change? Seriously, are you ready?

Whoa... Where did that third safari style window come from? Nice look if you ask me. Much better balance with that one there. See the 12 foot panel under those three windows? It is getting replaced. So is the same one on the other side for that matter.

Bruce wanted a lot of air and light in his trailer. I made that desire come true for sure. With the curb side changes you will see in the next post, that dream is going to be an ELEVEN.

Now that is a nice set of windows. When that big crease is gone and the wheel wells are cut out this side will look tremendous. I am very proud of the direction this is heading.

For my next post, I should have the second door installed and the jalousie window next to it. By the next post, this Sovereign will be a double door for sure. Hopefully the next few weeks will be as productive as these were. Thanks for reading and listening. Send me your opinions on the slanted jalousie window....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sneaking One In

I have been doing a VAP exclusive with my current project, but I really felt the need to sneak this post in. FTW is moving into a rather large and somewhat spartan space. There is no office or break room, so I am bringing one in.

Here is the FTW office/ break room. She is a 1960 Fan. Aluminum skin, but not riveted like an Airstream. I know many of you think I am an Airstream dude(my nickname at the Port of Baltimore. A number of Port workers call me that as if they know me. I only know Diane. She is the nice lady that makes my paper work official. There is very little I would not do to keep her happy. My wife even knows, if the call comes, I might have to take one for the team) however I have a strong affection for many other brands. While I am being honest and direct, Airstream, well, how to phrase this kindly,... are not "THE BEST" as many think. There are some much nicer and much better built trailers out there. I just happen to like Airstreams the best, and have only worked on them so far. Moving on.

This little Fan is not however better built than an Airstream. It is a stick built, screw, nail, and staple trailer. Quality and longevity were not the motivation for it's construction, use was. Big bang for the buck. Functionality over design.

So many trailers are built in Indiana. Does anyone know why? I realize you think I have all the answers, but I do not know the correct answer to this one.

Wakarusa Indiana. Wakarusa is right next door to Elkhart. Elkhart seems to be the epicenter of trailer fabrication. Why?

I really dig this aluminum siding. The Hehr Standard windows are a big hit with me too. The steel screws, not so hot on those.

Kind of a nice pedunka dunk...

That is the smallest Herh window I have ever seen. 6" tall including the frame.

Nice big window in the door.

A small but efficient galley. A good place to make coffee, heat up some soup. Heck with a nice cast iron griddle, I could fix anything on that stove top Princess. Hopefully the Dometic works so that I can keep some Natty Boh cold. For when clients and visitors come, not for me, I would never have a cold one at the end of a hard day.

A nice spot to eat lunch, go over details, shop for parts...

Cold water washing of dishes. Might need a grey tank for that. The space does have hot and cold water. Maybe I can pipe it in..

And if I get too tired, a place to lay my head.

If either of my daughters are rendered into indentured servitude to me, I have a bunk for them.

I will have Saintly protection. Is Saint Anne the patron Saint of trailer restorers?

The Fan has or has had a few leaks. They all leak ya know.

If the power ever goes out I can fire up the Humphry lamp and keep right on going.

Hope you enjoyed the tour of my soon to be office trailer. My next post will be back on track with the 64 double door.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Back on Her Own Four Feet(Wheels, but that does not sound as catchy)

The past two weeks have not seen as much production as I would have cared for. I am not going to make excuses, but a major reason for slow forward progress has been the weather. Fall is here now and with it comes many rainy days. Lost days has lead me to find a solution. The solution is leasing a commercial space. Finding the right space, negotiating a lease, and lining up the required trades to make the space fully functional has also taken me away from working on the Double Door. As of December 1 Frank's Trailer Works will have a large facility so that there will no longer be lost days due to the weather.
I have not been a total slacker however. Things have happened that were highly productive. Bruce came for a day and a half visit. We spent a good deal of time doing a conceptual layout that we both feel will work very well for his needs. Both of us made some compromises in our visions so that we can create a highly functional trailer.

Something that has caused slight delays was the waiting on axles. The time delay ultimately falls on me for not creating enough lead time. I ordered these Axis axles through Colin Hyde Trailer Restorations. Colin was extremely helpful in ordering and held my hand through the whole thing. You do have to do some measuring, careful measuring I might add. It is not difficult and he will walk you right through it. My total came rather quickly via email as to the cost with shipping. I simply mailed off a check and a few days later received a build date of the following week. From the time Colin received my check to the delivery was exactly three weeks. The axles came well protected on a pallet. All hardware was included with the order. I only had to acquire the shocks and that was very easy.

The chassis is now back on the ground sitting on her tires. The wires you see are for the brakes. Once the belly is installed they will all drop down at the hub through a rubber grommet.

Another delay has been the grey water tank. The manufacturer punched in the wrong model number and sent me a 53 gallon tank instead of the 30 gallon, I not only ordered, but altered the frame to accommodate. I was held up many days waiting for the wrong tank to come and even more days for the correct one to show up. They finally got it right, and the tank went into the frame as if it was made for it. Oh, yeah, it was made for it.

From the side of the tank I ran the drain line forward for the shower. The entire Bathroom will be a wet bath configuration. More details on all of this will come forth in the near future.

I also drilled into the top of the tank for the feed from the kitchen. This will also serve as the vent for the tank.

Originally all the umbilical wires connected to the trailer wires in the belly. I hate laying on my back messing with trouble shooting wires, so I eliminated the need to do that by bringing all the wires up in the front. In this area we will have a wiring compartment. Trouble shooting will be very easy.
All of these things needed to take place before I can install the belly pan. The installation of the belly pan began this afternoon but did not get to point that much can be said about it. Perhaps in my next post, this will be highlighted.
By next post, I feel confident that the shell will be back into place. Please stay tuned...