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).


  1. Great info on the Aluminum, thickness etc. Frank! Your a wealth of information! Glad you share it!

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