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!"


  1. Great update and nice photography Frank. The jalousie windows look sweet. I think you should add an update on how to best seal the seams (inside and out) and other potential leaks. I've already completed that part on my trailer, but when I was doing so, I was looking all over the place for ideas.

  2. Those scratches/past emblems caught me off guard - Thanks for posting something I had not thought about.

    Wayne's automotively inclined? Should you care to grow the business, and he's old enough to know what I'm talking about, I thought about replacing the Mighty Burb's Quadrajet with a GM throttle body (EFI) system. Would my Airstream's primary tow vehicle get any real benefit for the two grand it would take to do it?

    Just curious,

  3. Looks good Frank, I LOVE our Jalousie windows on the 63 now that they have new glass and seals. I don't have that top J strip on mine yet, can't see if yours has it. Top window has a "t" channel which is smaller than the version VTS sells (I bought some and its impossible to install) and the bottom window on mine has a round slot (somewhat of a skeleton key lock shape) which nobody has a J moulding for. What did yours have and how'd you handle it?

  4. Looks great Frank! Do you polish before you reseal seams? I better stop putting it off, waiting for the garage to be built so I can really go to town!

  5. Great work as always Frank. Here's another vote for covering seam sealing!


  6. Hey Frank, you're taking better pictures than me !

    Really nice macro details, nice'n'sharp too. Glad the Lumix was a good recommendation.

    Lovely work & nice, for us & the new owners, that you're recording all the ghosts of her history - the decals etc.

    I'll look forward to your leak testing results & it would be good to know what (& how) you used on the exterior seams and how successful it was (as I'll be doing is soon).

    All the best for 2011.


  7. Great work Frank!

  8. The shine is going to blind me!! Looks great can't wait for the next installment of pics...

  9. I think you got an Airstream there, bub!