Saturday, September 24, 2011

Slackers 2

During my goofing off period(see last post) we did some Airstream work on location in Bowie Maryland. Wayne and I commuted down a few days last week to replace the rear floor and reconnect the shell on a 1971 Overlander. The project was begun by her owner, but has been handed over to us to complete. Working on site allowed us to get the trailer ready to tow to the shop.

Michelle and Larry fell in love at first sight with their trailer. Their plate reads; LAFS It was spotted just a few miles from their house. An Airstream trailer has been a life long dream of Michelle's and now Larry is pretty well sold on it too. They have very unique ideas about the style they want and this project promises to be very fun.

Larry had all the frame repairs taken care of and took care of the priming and painting. We fabricated all new belly pan and Wayne did his best to make the highly abused banana wraps look as good as possible.

The belly work was all riveted into place while in Michelle and Larry's yard.

The bumper hatch was removed as it directly led to the major issues found in the back area. This entire area will be re engineered. I know I often tell people that there is no need to re invent the wheel, but the bumper hatch design of this era is a serious problem. Make no changes, only improvements...

Since not only was the floor rotted out, but so was all the aluminum in this area, I think an improvement will be no problem.

I love blank slates like this. I see nothing but pure potential.

I hate seeing damage like this however. That is what a crow bar does in the hands of a thief. Someone once tried to break in and this is the result. Not sure how I will make this one go away. I promise to do my best.

They all have road history. Some road history needs to be forgotten however.

It's just a little aluminum, so why not just remove it?

A new piece can just be made to fit and away go all those bad memories.


A close friend who reads this blog, commented that he thought I was goofing off due to the lack of posts lately. In all honesty, the lack of posts has been due to working hard, not slacking off.
Just to prove this, I will post about some of the things we have been doing here at Frank's Trailer Works in past few weeks.

Have you seen the 1950 Liner? This 1950 is about 95% completely original. Very little has been altered or changed over the years. This era of trailer was all built by hand. Airstream was still very much in it's infancy when this unit was built at 1755 North Main Street, Los Angeles California. Nothing was standard except making the customer very happy. One could walk into the show room and Wally would roll out a piece of paper and a full size layout could be done while the customer walked through their rig. Anything was possible back then.

She came in missing the back window. These windows were Plexiglass back in the day. Plastics was still an industry in it's infancy back then also and if an original piece of plexi is still in one of these units, it is toast. The plastic just gets brittle and it blows out when towing.

For a 62 year old trailer, she still looks very nice. There are a number of history marks on her, but from 15 feet back, you do not really see them.

The front window was a failed attempt at replacing the Plexiglass. Though in the opening, the shape is all wrong to make the curve. The 1/2" gaps at the edges is just not going to cut it either.

Good old pipe frame construction. Everything looks solid on the frame. The floor however, is not holding tight in the front end. Front end separation is very common in the pipe frame construction. Hopefully the green light shines my way to make this repair also.

It has such an odd shaped window. Honestly, the Silver Streaks, and Curtis Wrights have a much nicer appeal with two windows instead of the single.

When you walk in that door, you step right back in time. The urge to find the jigger and the martini glasses comes across me every time I cross the threshold. Every time I step out, I am rubbing my head however. The door is super low and I consistently bash my head right into it.

Here is is with new Optix acrylic in the opening.

I am very proud of the final results. It only took me a few(off the clock, all "learning" is done off the clock. Only actual work is billed) attempts to "learn" how to do it. I also want to point out that both the front and the back windows were made by hand. The two pieces of glass are totally different shapes and sizes. The frames show very clear signs of being shaped using a bender/ stretcher. Remember, this trailer was really hand made. There were not just some rivets bucked by hand, into computer drilled holes, these openings were fabricated by hand.

The shape is not an oval as it appears to the eye. The shape is kind of like a smile or a hotdog shape. The curve from center vertical line to the tops of the round ends is a few inches. Without this curve, the glass will not curve as you want it. It is a very good thing I found this out using a cardboard template and not an actual piece of acrylic like whoever made the front window did.

Another "learning experience" was the way the glass is held in. The retainer is that piece of aluminum tube bent to the pringle shape of the opening. The glass has a neoprene gasket over the edge, and the aluminum inner skin has a "u" channel over that, Everything is held in by pressure. No wonder these windows are notorious leakers. Not the best design, but cutting edge for the time.

Later in the day I will tell you about some other projects that have been coming through the Works. Can you say 1970's? How about a California 1970's trailer? I promise it will be groovy baby!