Monday, September 8, 2014

It Always Get's Ugly Before it Get's Beautiful

I am doing some catch up with this post since all of what I am posting is about a month or so old...

We began the preparations for lifting the shell on the 53'. 

She is entirely gutted out here. These next two photos were taken before the windows were removed from the shell. All the windows were removed from the shell entirely. This era had a gasket that is riveted to the window frame. To replace it, one must totally remove the window. The same issue affects replacing the screens. All 17 windows were removed and are being rebuilt. More on that in a later post since it is a post on to it's self.

Interestingly, the construction of the shell and ribs is almost identical to today's Airstreams. They just used better materials.

The guy labeling the alclad sheets wanted to make sure it was clear what the material was. Generally I feel lucky when there is one stripe of information on the back of the sheet. 

Usually when someone tries to hide the rotten floor, they add a layer of luan or similar material. In this girl, they used layers of linoleum. 

Out of sight, out of mind. 

The gantry is all set up and the shell is free.

One, two, three,… PULL.

At one point in this trailer's life some floor was replaced(very improperly) and they installed a  ton of new insulation in the belly. This made for a nasty mess of fiberglass, detritus, and droppings. 

Michael jumped right in with a power washer and made the best of cleaning it up.

Keep in mind that the modern ladder frame was not introduced but two years previously. If you ever take apart a pipe frame trailer, you will see a situation similar to this where the belly is actually carried by an aluminum channel made from .032 aluminum.

You will also notice the engineers at Airstream were trying to find out just how long they could make outriggers. This one is 21" long. It is rotted off and actually held on with a 2x3 glued inside of it. You might also notice the lack of "c" channel around the front and rear curve. The shell is held with 3" long chunks every 8" or so.

The rear axle was free spinning and the front axle had electric brakes. The old running gear will be refurbished or replaced. Electric brakes will be on both axles going forward. Many of you might be wondering if I plan to install modern torsion axles. No. I plan to install new leaf spring axles. The goal is to look as if it still is all original. The owner also does not plan a lot of off roading with this trailer in the future.

Here is the frame in it's naked form. Like I said, this is a very early generation ladder frame. There is absolutely no metal on the underside of the frame. The cross members are 1 1/2" angle and nothing more. The frame members are 4" channel and the bumper is 5" channel. The frame measures exactly 29 feet from the bumper to the tip of the hitch. What surprised me the most was that the frame does not sag or droop. I expected it to be very flimsy but instead it is incredibly stout. With any other Airstream frame I would have to use numerous jack stands to keep it straight and level. The metal is incredibly hard also. In later steps, I was breaking drill bits way too often.

1 comment:

  1. As a fellow 53 owner, albeit no so long, I agree about the strength & solidity of the frame. I found on mine we had very little welding repair was needed, only a couple of outriggers needed attention.
    Was she just a shell or do you have the original interior ? If so, I'd love to see some pictures.
    Lovely work as ever…now get of the tinternet & get on with that restoration !
    Very best