Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sealers of Sorts and Sizes

I got a lot of feed back asking to go into a bit more depth as to the sealers I have used on the Double Door. There are no trade secrets here. I honestly do not know if they are the best products for the job, but they sure do work well for me.

My favorite sealant is butyl tape. I love the stuff to be honest. Here you see where I used it behind the L-200 lock and the dead bolt. I like the way it bulges out over the edge. A sharp knife trims the excess right off. The wide variety of widths and thicknesses makes for a perfect fit. I use butyl behind window flanges, vent stacks, and such. I buy this at my RV Supply House. Your local RV Center with a store will have some sizes.

I have also become very fond of Acryl-R. I buy it from the Airstream Store. You buy a pump and a can of the product. One can will do a few trailers or your own for a number of seasons.

The applicator tip has a real fine orifice and once you learn how much pressure to pump and how fast to move the tip, it will give a real nice bead. I use this for the outside seams. The aluminum color helps it blend in real well.

The literature says it does up to 1/4", but I only use it on 1/8" or less. Something with a little more body, like Vulkem is good for the wider gaps.

The Acryl-R actually pulls into the seam. Capillary action helps wick the material into the seam. It is amazing to watch happen. I buy this from Airstream online.

Although very new to me, C-10 Flow Seal sealant has been used on all the interior seams. It also has a bit of capillary action going for it. I will warn you now, it has many products with "something ol u ene " in their name. If you are chemically sensitive or live in California, this is not a product for you. In good ventilation, and a 24 hour span for the product to fully cure, it is very safe and highly flexible material. It worked really well on the seams.

If two edges of aluminum join, they are sealed with the C-10.

You can see how it pulls in to the gap. I also used this to seal the Fantastic Vents to the roof and around their edge. This stuff flows slowly for about four minutes and then flashes off. To answer the inevitable: I buy it from my RV Supply House. I can ship it to you if you want. It is not cheap.

I also sealed areas using rubber gaskets. To stick the rubber to the skin, I used this adhesive.

I apply it by putting a thin bead on one surface. The bead is feathered out with a brush dipped in lacquer thinner. I then let it dry completely.

A thin bead is applied to the center of the gasket. The wet adhesive activates the dry film and the two are bonded together. You need to be sure of your placement, for once put down, it is down for good.

Well the most unusual sealant to roll through the Works has to be what I found on the back of one of the 54 Safari's. This trailer was part of a deer camp. So when sealing gaps, why not give the sealant some body and use deer fir. Yes that is deer fir and painters caulk. When it failed, hot tar filled in the pinch. You see it all on these old girls.

Hope this helps with some of the "Sealant Curious". Thanks for reading....

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rode Hard and Put Up Wet, Over and Over Again.

I had strong suspicions that the Double Door had been ridden very hard over the years. The banana wraps were so beat that there were pits almost through them. The gauge of aluminum is fairly thick and it takes a lot of road debris to get to that extent.

Polishing brings out all the scratches big and small. The corners of the trailer have rubbed many bushes, branches, or barriers.

I chalk this up as road history. Unfortunately polishing accentuates these in a big way. Once cleaned out with solvent and you take a step or two back they go away visually. Any decal leaves a tell tale sign on the skin too. The edge of the decal tends to stay crisp and the exposed skin around it oxidizes leaving a permanent shadow in the Alclad.

Sometimes, you do not see this halo until you polish. Sometimes, this halo illuminates some history as to why she was rode so hard and put up so wet:
As a brand new rig she went with Howard and Matilda Ehmann on Caravan #34 to Western Canada with the Wally Byam Caravan Club. In the Winter of 1965 they went on Caravan #42 to Mexico. They must have loved Mexico because they went on Caravan #65 to Eastern Mexico in 1969. They also did a Canada Capital to USA Capitol Caravan in 1972. Canada is a lovely place so in 1982 they attended Caravan #142 to Eastern Canada. Howard passed away in 1983. I never once saw any of the Ehmann's decal on the trailer even in full direct sun light. The polishing highlighted the oxide around where years ago it had been. I am glad it did. The Double Door (then single door)passed into a new owners hands a while later. I am still working on the second owners history. Perhaps in my next post.

The second owners red numbers are fairly visible. The big push has been to button her up and make a weather tight shell. Here you can also see the new holes for the marker light. The base screw holes match perfectly, but the hole for the wire feed needed to be drilled in a new location. I added a rubber grommet to the hole also to prevent the possibility of chaffing.

The reproduction lights are a fairly good match to the originals. I just wish the bases could be a heavier gauge metal, and, uh, the lenses were glass also, just dreaming...

The new Airstream badges look sharp too. All dem stinkin badges are bucked on permanent now.

The jalousie windows got a good deal of attention. After cleaning as much oxidation as possible, it was time to start putting windows back together. There are a few seals that needed to be installed. At the top and bottom of the window there is an "O" profile. Along the sides is a fuzzy seal. Once the seals are installed, the glass can be slid into the retainers. Finding these retainers was a chore. Lucky for me, Scott in Yakima Washington, had a couple he could let me have.

The glass is held tight in the retainer by those little rubber bumpers.

Boy, do the jalousie window look sharp with new glass and all the parts bright and shiny.

A great deal of air will be passing through. Nice new porch light. Hey, that matches the one at the front door.

One negative aspect of the jalousie window is that they do not always seal up tight. I am working to over come this issue. I think the real problem is a design issue. The windows only use one operator to control the glass. On the side with the operator, it is nice and tight when closed.

However, on the side without the operator, the glass cannot pull down tight, there is always a gap. I have a trick up my sleeve. I just cut a slot into the window frame and add a left hand operator. Now, both sides can pull the glass tight against the seal.

1964 has a unique window type. The serial number begins with a "C". These were a one year run of windows. The present day demand for gaskets, operators, and such is very low so finding replacement becomes difficult. Sometimes one must be creative.

When the window sash is slid out of the frame, a little piece of plastic often falls to the ground and is lost. This little part is important in keeping the window from sliding back and forth in the opening. Out of six windows, I had three of these parts. Only one would meet my standards of being usable. Good luck finding replacements. Can you say "O B S O L E T E "? What to do?

Make it, just make your own. I went and purchased some nylon and just reproduce it. Problem solved, all windows now have brand new inserts to screw the keeper into. Next step, replace all the window cranks and install all new gaskets around the openings. With one more day the windows will all be 100% new again.

Some other things that happened since my last post was the sealing of all the interior and exterior seams. I did not have any photos of this. It is honestly not very exciting to see. I will try and cover this more, if anyone shows interest. Next week we will leak test her and start in on the insulation.

"WE" you say? "We" I say. I want to introduce Wayne. Wayne is the newest craftsman to come work at FTW. Wayne has many years experience are a shade tree mechanic and hot rod dabbler. He needed work and I needed help. He has been working out very well and is willing to learn how to do what ever it takes. Wayne, you like polishing? " I am just trying to do a good job for ya here. If it is what needs to be done, I'm all over it!"

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On The Down Low

It has been just a tad too long since I posted last. I had been trying to keep my posts corresponding to the new episodes of The Vintage Airstream Podcast. Due to the holidays, the Show has taken a little time off, but Frank's Trailer Works has been going full steam ahead. The Double Door is getting closer and closer to being a water tight shell.

A considerable amount of time has gone into cleaning all the openings. I can not be certain if it was a factory job, or a later upgrade, but the adhesive used to hold all the door seals was very thick and very resistant to removal. We actually had to melt it off with solvents. Usually a heat gun is all that is needed, but this stuff was nuclear. We persisted and the openings are now as clean as the day the trailer was built.

It is very important to me that when this trailer leave here, it not leak. I have no illusions that it never will. They all leak eventually, but this trailer is going out dry. Before I can get all my seams sealed 100%, I need the trailer to be polished. I had Charles and Tony from 1st Impressions come down and take care of this. The first step was to flash off the aluminum. I know, I just opened myself up to some serious criticism, but I will be doing EVERY seam over from the front and back. The flashing material is a diluted acid that reacts to the aluminum oxide. The surface, after washed off, is soft and silky...

... and after a little alchemy, and lots of dirt and grime, you have a polished shell.

I know I have not gotten too deep into details in this post. I just wanted to give a little peek into what has been going on. This Thursday is a taping of The Vintage Airstream Podcast and I promise to give a more in depth post of the prepping,the polishing, and working on those pesky 1964 Hehr Clear View windows. No wonder they were only used for one year. That could be a whole VAP show in it's self.

Till then, Happy New Year.