Sunday, December 23, 2012

Another Peek

I know many are curious about whats going on at FTW. I thought another little sneak peek of the Overlander was in order.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fair Trade Business

I have over the years provided parts to people who need them. If they come to me free, I pass them on free and only ask for the shipping cost in compensation. Almost every time I make one of these transactions the person on the other end adds a little on as a thank you.  I always look at this as a "fair trade." Sometimes the trade is beyond fair. 

I helped out a guy named Mike in El Paso with a Bowen water heater cover. First he sent me some green and red Hatch chile sauce. Then he sent me a check that more than covered the shipping. However, he really topped it off by sending me a dozen green chile tamales and a dozen red. I am absolutely astounded by this kind of a thoughtful gift. I love tamales more than pigs love corn!

I have eaten a lot of tamales in my life. In Mexico it is very common to find a little old lady sitting on a corner, selling them out of a big cook pot. This is a true cottage industry and probably against the law. I  however, can never resist. I was almost hit by a cab once while crossing the street to get to the tamale lady. My fixation was on the steaming pot sitting on the curb, not the cars rushing down the street. I have to say Pepe's ranks right up there. 

Mike, thank you so much! I am very grateful and touched to say the least. If you need anything, you be sure to let me know.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rocket Science

NASA didn't call us in to give them a quote, but I sure would love to work on this unusual Airstream.

Four of these custom units were built for NASA. Their purpose was to quarantine the returning astronauts of the moon missions. They were called the Mobile Quarantine Facility or MQF.

Nixon greeted the returning astronauts of Apollo 11 on the deck of the USS Hornet through that very window. The concern was that the astronauts might have picked up some space germs while on the moon walks. The movie Alien did not come out until 10 years later, but someone was considering the possibility.

NASA was playing it safe and found that nothing came back with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, or Michael Collins. Michael Collins didn't get to walk on the moon, he just got to pilot the Command Spacecraft. 

I have often said that Airstream was really embracing the space race during the 1966- 1969 era of construction. Without a doubt the Hornet 3 MQF proves it.

She sports a near perfect skin sporting an original factory finish. Not too shiny, not too dull. There is very little filiform corrosion but the seams are all glommed up and could use a bit of cleaning. 

I wonder if the hatches blow out like most 1968 models do. 

Those doors are hard to come by. I am sure it was removed to make exhibiting it easier.  It obviously is a real Airstream since it has a suicide door. Notice the hasp to the right of the door. The Hornet 3 would make a great deer camp since it already has the mandatory hasp.

That is quite the generator system on the back bumper. Hope it does not cause rear end separation. 

NASA must have been a very happy customer for they came back to buy more. The Crew Transport Vehicle or Astrovan was pressed into service, shuttling the Shuttle Crew to the Shuttle.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Peak a Boo, Can't Wait to Show This Off to You

What seems like a life time ago, we began work on a 1971 Overlander. This project has been shuffled in and out of the shop floor a number of times while other projects have been worked on. It is now the main focus. Until she is completed we are doing nothing else. I thought I would give you folks a little glimpse at some the things we are doing. 

The entire interior is all new except for the front and rear end caps. The furniture is constructed of high gloss, white laminate edged in aluminum. Keep in mind, the interior is just beginning to go back in.

The layout we are doing is fairly traditional as far as a twin bed Overlanders goes, but the surfaces are all very modern and crisp. All the materials going into this project are also very green. No, not the color green, environmentally friendly.

In this era trailer, plastic bins were used as storage drawers. We have however gone with full extension drawers. There are a lot of drawers in this trailer.

As the interior continues to go in, I promise more than a glimpse of this and that.

I would like to show you something new to me and most likely new to you also. The customer brought this material to me and I really like the way it looks. For the counter tops, we are using a plywood like product made from agricultural byproduct. This is called Kirei board

The board is made of sorghum stalks and a small amount of poplar. It is compressed and glued together to form a sheet material. It is inherently soft, so we are saturating it with West System epoxy to make it hard and impervious to water.

The contrast between this material and the gloss white is going to look very spectacular. 

As we get more of this trailer put together, I promise to share more of the details with you. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Skin Tear

We had a 1953, 18 footer come for some insurance damage work. Under that black duct tape is a big puncture caused by a flat bed tow truck.  The truck turned too tight and the bed went right through. It actually went all the way through. 

We removed the interior furniture, the interior skin, the 59 year old insulation, and then the exterior panel. The original panel was copied exactly from the original. Here you see the new skin fit back into place. Cleckos are holding it in place until buck rivets were set into place. The blue stuff is a film coating to keep from scratching the Alclad.

All bucked into place. Just need to put the belt line back on. 

All fixed and back together. Better than new...

The Shiny Hiney left us this week. She sure is a sexy trailer.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In High Demand

I get a lot of calls about eyebrows for pre 1963 Airstreams. This particular item is probably the greatest thing one can replace on a vintage Airstream to improve it's curb appeal. The eye is instantly drawn to this location whether or not you realize. It is a subconscious act. Now that I have pointed this out, you too, will make the realization that as you walk up to an Airstream, the eye is drawn to this location followed by the door, followed by overall shape of the body. You do not realize it, but it is just how the the eye takes it all in. If the arch is all wobbly and misshapen, you have already degraded the overall visual appeal. The one above was drilled off of a 1960 Pacer and sent to me. It has seen much better days to say the least. 

I will give you the basics on how to make one yourself, but I cannot reveal everything, for I might tell you too much and get less calls for eyebrows. The first step is to flatten it out. Oddly, of the two dozen original examples I have on the shelf, none are the same. The 1962 eyebrow(last year for this quintessential Airstream element) is much wider at the center than those of earlier years. The early 1950's eyebrows are very narrow and long in comparison.

Next you need the proper material. I use 2024 T0 Alclad. This is NOT the same as the skin material. The skin material is 2024 T3. That T3 refers to the hardness of the aluminum alloy. If you were to use T3, it would snap when you get to a future step of fabrication. T0 is very soft and a thin strip can be tied in a knot without breaking. While looking at this photo, you might also note that the thickness is .040 not the usual .032 that the skin is constructed of. This extra thickness is to help compensate for the softer alloy. Now, you just trace out the original and cut out the new one.

Oh, no, it is suddenly done! I will give you some clues. The front lip is bent on a brake. Originally it was 1/8". I increase this edge to 1/4" to give it a little more beef and to help shed more water away from the door. Visually it looks better to me and no one ever knows the difference. The curved edge, which goes against the skin is slowly bent using a pair of hand brakes. The curve shape will slowly and automatically form as the rear flange is bent. This bend is not 90 degrees like the front edge, it varies as it goes around. The curve at this point is not perfect and I have found my left leg makes a great form. I slowly pull it back and forth while gently(very gently as it can fold right in half if you are too aggressive) pulling on the far edges. This is not a hard item to make, it just takes a little practice. If you mess up, just make a new one. Learn from your mistakes and you can learn a lot. If you are not up to this task, just drill the original and send it to me. I will be more than glad to make one for you. If you own a post 1962 Airstream, sorry, I do not have the equipment to fabricate the extrusion that went over  the door to serves as an eyebrow. What does something like this cost? Less than $100 (with shipping).

Monday, September 24, 2012



I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth, I have just been very busy. More posts will be coming soon. I promise...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ovation for Donations

Last week two boxes showed up at FTW from fellow Airstreamers. In both boxes were all the left overs from two different restoration projects. To many this looks like junk, but oddly in each box there was at least two items that were needed on the Toaster project.

I have been saving every single unwanted item and find that often I have to go look through the various boxes; "Interior Lighting", "Cabinet Latches & Catches", "Exterior Lighting", "Locks, Dead Bolts, & Hold backs"... There are about ten such boxes on my parts shelf. At least once a week I go route through, looking for this or that. Nothing that ever comes from these boxes is added to the bill unless I had to pay money for it. Many of you might find this a lost revenue stream, but to me, it is just the right thing to do.
A few months back, we did some Fantastic Vent installations. The original vents were carefully drilled off and put on the shelf, the next day a trailer came in with a bad roof vent and I was able to take one right off the shelf and install it at no cost but the labor. I just love this form of recycling!

So, when these two boxes came, I was elated. Not only was it all good usable stuff, but some of it actually replenished some items I was getting low on. A huge THANK YOU to Sam B and Marcus M for these donations to the cause. I promise to use them in an honorable way.

I want to firmly state, I am NOT a parts dealer. As profitable as parts are, I use the parts and really do not want get into selling them.

If anyone has unwanted items, I would be glad to take them off your hands. I would even be willing to compensate you for shipping and or the item(s). That said, if your looking to make some money by sending me your parts, please just list them on a classified website. Not everything in this World needs to be about making money.

FTW is located at 824 Landay Avenue Suite D, Baltimore Maryland 21237. We would be glad to accept anything left over, from screws to complete trailers(yes, twice now I have been given free trailers). I can give you my word, I will find a good home for any and all of it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fire and Ice

I do not know why I am so fascinated by how this...

... can produce this. We had a trailer in for an evaluation last week. Every system checked out and the flame kept burning. From fire comes ice.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Go Out and Play With Your Friends

It is always bitter sweet to see one of our projects leave. We spend hundreds of hours working toward the day, but when it comes, I feel an incredible amount of sadness. Yesterday was Toasters day to go out and play again.

Even though she has been towable, she just wasn't up to the task of camping in any capacity other than as an aluminum tent.

Now she is fully functioning in all of her intended capacities. She is fully self contained as Wally Byam had intended her to be back in 1961. 

From what I understand, her first trip will be back to where she was born 51 years ago. Her stewards are taking her to Alumapoluza next week in Jackson Center Ohio.  The original factory is across the street from the present day factory. She rolled out of one of the three doors on the East end of the building if making a return to place of birth is important to you.

You might note Toaster sports her original patina. All the patches and repairs were done using salvaged aluminum so that they would blend right in. Usually my clients want a shiny trailer, but Toasters stewards wanted her to look original and untouched. I like this aesthetic and hope that many of my future jobs go this same way. My own trailer had an even deeper patina than Toaster. I thought polishing her was the way to go, but now wish I could have the patina back. I guess each situation is unique. 

Keep your eyes open for this cute little rear end going down the road near you.

Every attempt was made to keep the interior looking original. For those of you with 58- 62 International models, you will feel very much at home looking over these photos. There have been a few changes and modifications, but the look is pretty darn faithful to what it was like originally.

I think I posted a photo of the sink cabinet earlier, but here it is with the stove cover down and the counter top trim put back down. Note, both 110 and 12 volt lights working. This is a very cool feature in these International units. I also really love the towel paper holder (not original) that we recycled.

I bet a plate of bacon and eggs would taste tremendous sitting at that dinette. I know everything tastes better with bacon, but the location can really add to the experience...

Why did they stop using these metal cabinets? I love them and with the Zolatone on them, they really look part of the trailer instead of a fixture.

 Stand up shower anyone? The vintage valve was a serious challenge. I had to find the the right rubber washers, felt packing and nut packing for the valves. I have my fingers crossed they give years of service now. Most things are still available at the 1958- 62 Airstream RV Super Store(Lowes) but not always. Sometimes a visit to an old plumber who has dusty jars of stuff in his shop is needed too.

The Saniware toilet was also a challenge that beat me. Unfortunately we could not get it to hold water properly. It works if you use the wash down hose to flush with. Due to time constraints, we are making due. When Toaster comes back from her maiden voyage, we will be replacing the bowl with a new Thetfort Aquamagic.

This is my favorite window in the trailer. I love how it is framed by the cabinets. Originally the counter top was a fake, oak wood grain pattern. It looked very plastic. With the new counter top, not trying to visually compete with the real wood, it looks like it belongs.

The cushions and drapes are not present in any of these shots. They will be made this weekend by Toasters stewards. I look forward to getting some shots when she is all decked out with these things. 

Keep you batteries topped off and your tanks empty. See Ya'll down the Road!!!