Monday, January 16, 2012

Addendum To Long Awaited Update Part 1

In order to clarify the replacement panel fiasco I talked about in one of my previous posts, I have decided to explain with better photos. They speak for themselves.

This is a #11(front street side corner) replacement segment installed in a 1971 Overlander. It is a factory original, produced from the exact molds, in the exact same factory, as the original panel were. It fits absolutely perfectly. The bottom edge came pre drilled for rivets and amazingly, 95% of the new holes matched up perfect to the ones drilled in 1971. Well, of course silly, I did say it was made from the same mold in the same factory. There is just one major problem.

The aluminum used today to build Airstreams is the same alloy as license plates are made from. In 1971 Airstream produced the trailers out of same aluminum as Boeing jets. Big difference folks. Unfortunately, as I was told by Airstream customer service "that is how we make them. It is close enough and you are just going to have to live with it." Well, "close enough" is good enough for Airstream, but not for me. I do not claim to know Wally Byam, but I am fairly certain that "close enough" would never be good enough. I seriously doubt, "good enough" was in his vocabulary. A man that led families across Africa to prove his product was the best, would never stand for good enough.

That panel is a factory original too. However it was pressed in 1973 and spent it's life on a 31 footer. Oh yeah, it is also the #3 segment(rear curb side corner), not the #11(front street side corner). I purchased this panel from Ryan at RV Revive. Ryan was very straight and honest with me. Ryan took a good deal of time understanding my needs. He first sent me photos of all the possible segments he had in the yard. He was VERY straight up about each and every flaw the choices had. Unfortunately, the #11 segments all had damage that deemed them not good enough for either of us. Ryan then went to plan B of using a #3 segment. Ryan was very hesitant about selling me the segment as he thought that there was not enough face metal to cover the need.
I told him I was willing to try it out and two days later a well constructed crate arrived from Waterloo, Iowa. Inside it was the entire segment, literally cut right out of the side. All the ribs and everything were still attached. We drilled it out, trimmed it down, fit it into the opening, then stripped it of the clear coat finish. We then riveted it into place for the rest of it's life. Guess what, about 90% of the rivet holes on the bottom edge lined up. No, this time it was serendipity.

Once the riveting was complete we went about polishing the segment. What is that cool saffron colored paste on the segment? I have never seen a polish that color before. Is that the super secret polish you are testing out? YYYUUUUUPPPPPPPP!!! However it is not super secret. It has a real fancy name too Aluminum Trailer Polish. Once I test it out a little more, I will probably become the North American distributor. The results I am seeing at present are very encouraging.

Well? Good enough now? Perfect match.

How about that polish job? Good enough now?


  1. Thanks for the message here Frank, So often I too hear "close enough" and then I buy it only to do twice as much to get it right, knowing all along it will never be right. Next time I wont choose "close enough". You are right.

  2. Happy New Year to you Frank, you clearly deserved your fishy reward
    (see previous nautical post).

    Looks like that Nu-polish could be the Yen-Shine of the future, but as a confirmed Arty-Farty type (its a British thing !), I need to know what the reflected artwork is on Franks Trailer, Shine & Art GalleryWorks is...

    Very best to all for a brilliant & SHINY 2012


  3. Are those paintings on the shop wall in your “good enough now” reflection?

  4. Awesome work, thanks for the clarification. I'm surprised (and glad) that the "wrong" panel worked. The first one just wouldn't do.

    I'm a bit surprised that Airstream won't press panels out of the correct allow, surely there are enough restorations in process to warrant the cost, which they'd just pass on to the customer anyway?

  5. Thanks for continuing the blog. I think by sharing what you are doing is good PR for you and brings in business. It educates people to what they can do and not do on their own. I chose my restoration person by the fact they were willing to talk and share their knowledge. I felt like I picked someone who knew what they were doing. Nancy