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....


  1. The slanted window would bug that heck out of me. I'd try to fix it and probably make it worse and regret trying.

  2. I think you have answered this when you mentioned how much this bothers you. (i would fix it) Things like this tend to cause other problems like being obvious when you least expect it, like when you doing some as yet unplanned interior work. Keep up the good work.

  3. I think if you pointed it out to me, it'd bug the heck out of me! Having said that, how hard is it too fix? Do you have to reframe the window and reskin the area? If I was of limited budget, then perhaps I'd learn to live with my "unique" trailer.

    LOVE the new windows... I really like the look.

  4. Nice progress. Did you notice the window was crooked before you took the inner skins off? What is going under the window, if anything, that might cause one to really notice the slope? I know you have a meticulous eye and if it wasn't noticable and it would be a big money and time issue I might just leave it although, in the end, what does Bruce want you to do?

  5. The sign says "Professionally customized, renovated, and restored aluminum travel trailers" I think you fix it!

  6. Definately fix the window, it shows, I noticed it before reading the text. It'll never get easier to fix than right now!

  7. If you decide to straighten the window, you might want to look at beefing the rib at the the door jamb. We looked at a '64 Sovereign that had a busted rib from the door being slammed too much. Just a friendly heads-up. Looking great, anxious to see more as you progress!