Saturday, December 3, 2016

The End

If you reach this page thank you for visiting. Frank's Trailer Works has officially closed its doors. The information that this blog contains may perhaps be helpful in someones restoration project. I will leave the blog up so it can be accessed. 
The best of luck in what ever you might pursue.

Monday, October 10, 2016

1966-68 Windows 101..

 I have previously done one of these tutorials for the Herh Hallmark 12 windows, I think it only fitting that I do the same for the windows used by Airstream 1966- 1968. The following photos and explanation are fairly universal for all three years. These windows are extremely temperamental and are the cause of a great deal of water damage to Airstreams of this period. They are notorious leakers. I am going to show you how to rebuild them and end the issues with the 
All cranks, latches, seals, and even replacement glass is available through Vintage Trailer Supply. They have worked very hard to make exact replacements. In most cases the replacements are better quality than the originals.

The window glass used during these years was a new invention. It was a chemically tempered glass produced by Corning Glass,  molded to the curve of the trailer. This created a very sleek look mimicking  the trailer body. When open, these windows almost disappear visually. The glass itself is fairly delicate. It has been known to spontaneously explode. In the past something struck the glass and it just has not gotten around to shattering until that moment.

The reason these windows leak is the foam seals. The glass must sit firmly against the gasket. 

Over time they dry out, get hard and cease sealing the water out. I recommend you replace them every five years. You can keep them working a while longer through an annual application of glycerin. That is an old time solution to keeping rubber supple longer.

You can clearly see how wide the gap currently is at this window. When it rains the water just curves right into the trailers interior.

Usually someone will whip out a tube of silicon and inject it into the gap at the edge of the window.  Rarely does this fix the leak. More often than not, it makes it even worse. Often they run a bead along the hinge edge too which is completely futile and only creates stress for the window cranks.

Here is how to stop the leak properly.

You don't have to, but I find it easiest to remove the entire window. First you pop the "c"clip on the crank arm. 

You could also pop it off at this end. Next remove the screws holding the top of the sash to hinge. There are three on most windows. Five screws on the rear and front windows. Apply some PB Blaster the day before since that is a steel screw into an aluminum frame. Rocking the screw loose and tight often helps get it turning in the proper direction. Take your time, you DO NOT WANT TO SNAP THE SCREW. It is best to hold the bottom edge of the window with one arm and loosen the screws with the other. Once the screws are out, the top bar will separate from the hinge. 
You can do all the steps with the glass still attached. I just find it easier to clean everything completely while it on the bench.

See all that silicon? You can't really get to it while it is still mounted to the hinge.It really needs to all be removed.

Here the old seal has been cut away with a razor knife. To get the rest off you might have to try a variety of solvents to get all the old adhesive off of the frames. I find lacquer thinner to be the best thing if the original seals are still present. 

You need to get the frame 100% completely clean. You can use steel tools on this surface. I often use red Scotch Bright 3M pads. A wire well might be a little too aggressive however.

You also need to clean the nooks and corners of the insides of the window frames. These corners are then sealed with Acryl- R. 

Pay special attention to these bottom corners while cleaning. You cannot use metal tools here, but rags, solvent and wooden points can help getting all the old stuff out. These areas need to be sealed before going further.

After is is all cleaned well and the seams all sealed, you measure from the hinge to the corners.

I have this tool called a Notcher. It cuts out a perfect corner. I leave 1/16th of the seal so when folded, it makes a perfect corner. You can do this with a razor knife just not as accurately.

The seals have adhesive on the back side. Before I peal the protective strip, I dry fit the piece I cut. Next I wipe all the surfaces with denatured alcohol. This assures all the hand oils are cleaned off and any dust. It is essential to making the adhesive stick well. This is what the seal looks like when installed. 
Re install the window back into the hinge.
Reinstall the crank arms.

The original window latch clips were made of mild steel. They are usually very rusty and quite often they snap off. I suggest replacing them at this point.

The new replacements are made of stainless steel and this replacement only needs to happen once. 

Occasionally, a replacement glass will have a little more curve than the trailer actually does. In this situation you might need to use a thicker seal. I have occasionally had to use a "d" seal instead of the rectangular seal that is a perfect match to the originals. The latest generation of replacement glass is a much better fit than the previous generation was. 

The best thing about this project is that by the time you get to the last window you will be pretty good at it.

good luck.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

1967 Overlander 2 of...

 Two posts ago I was telling you about the 1967 Overlander in for structural repairs. I want to continue with that project in this post.

To kick things off, I feel the need to say there are a lot of aspects of these projects people never ever notice. A lot of thought and effort goes into these structural and systems repairs/ improvements. Most tend to only see the furnishings and never consider what is holding it all up. Many hours go completely unseen or even thought about.

As with most projects, there is always more than meets the eye initially. Once the the floor came up, it became painfully obvious that the pan that holds the black tank was completely shot. These were originally made of galvanized steel. More than 40% of this pan was rusted away. The closet flange and vent pipes were what was keeping the tank from crashing to the ground. The tank itself was cracked around the inlet and the vent. I wondering why this tank did not fall out on the road. The pan was easy enough to replicate out of 14 gauge aluminum. 

The tank was not as easy. I looked into replacing it but 1967 is a grey year for manufactures. The inlet location and vent locations are unique to this year so the tanks are just not available for replacement. I missed it by one year. You can see the spiral crack going 70% of the way around the 3" inlet. The vent outlet was cracked all the way around. Some threads of plastic were keeping it from falling off. My only option was to repair the tank. Here you see it after multiple bleach baths. 

After consulting with a professional plastics guy, the cracks were welded shut  and the top was reinforced with roving and epoxy. A new valve had to be installed. Above you see it sitting where it will eventually live. You also can see the grey water tank that was installed just behind the rear axle. Grey water tanks did not begin to be utilized for many years after this trailer was built. Holding back the grey water is a modern essential.

The wheel wells on this trailer were toast. The bottom inch all the way around each one was completely gone. Occasionally this damage is limited and a repair can be made, in this case new ones were fabricated using 11 gauge aluminum.

Once the frame was all straightened back out, the black tank repaired, the new grey tank installed, the new floor put down,  the wheel wells installed, an umbilical cord installed into terminal box with the brakes wired up, the new belly pan installed, then, and only then, it became time to lower the shell back onto the chassis.

My attentions next turned to making the shell sound again and water tight. There are a lot of steps to complete. My focus turned to fixing the damage to the shell. Numerous times this trailer has been hit and repaired. There is evidence that it was struck on both sides and two different end segments.  None of these repairs were executed properly. They were all done by going from the outside. 
The photo above is damage that was covered up with a flat panel. It is difficult to see but both ribs were pushed inward. 

In the rear there was this rather large hole that had been patched over. 

They used a cedar shake to keep the skin from caving back in. The  aluminum used to make the repair in this area was roofing flashing.

I installed a salvaged baggage door. The hole goes away and suddenly there is easy access to the shower p-trap. This looks 100% intentional and original.

You can see the rather wide gap between the skin and the bent rib. Please note the extensive scrapes to the skin. The entire panel had these down the side. They even went over portions of the door skin. 

These are very difficult to fix. I have to utilize hydraulic pressure to fix this stuff.

This entire side was hit or perhaps it was the trailer that was dragged against something harder than aluminum. There are creases running the entire 12 feet of this panel. Two photos ago showed these creases from the inside. This entire panel was replaced.

I won't bore you, but panel comes off. A copy is made in new alclad aluminum...

... the new panel is then riveted into place. 

This post would not be a normal one if I did not rant just a little;
Above you see one reason my shop will always be repairing rotten floor. That is an Olympic style of rivet. They are approved for Airstream body repairs. Some shops even claim they are approved for structural repairs. These rivets allowed someone to replace a good deal of aluminum without bucking a single rivet. All the work can be done from the outside. Most often the technique used is to overlay the damage with a new panel then to olympic the panel back on. These rivets get shaved down with a special tool. From 5 feet they appear to be real, bucked rivets. When done, the customer leaves loving how good it all looks. Shortly after, the center of the rivet begins to wiggle. The mandrel eventually starts to work itself out and the rivet begins leaking. Within a short time the floor starts to weaken and a shop like mine gets contacted.
We replaced every single one with a bucked rivet. There were at least 500 of these olympic style rivets removed and replaced.

Damage like this is just left in place and a new skin covers it all. From the outside it all looks fine but under neath is a damaged structure. 

A repair done correctly.

The front panel had a spare tire mount screwed to it. The dissimilar metals destroyed this panel. It too  was replaced with new alclad.

Doesn't that look a whole lot better?

Starting in 1964Airstream used these banana wraps in the front corners. On this trailer someone had filled the dents numerous times with bondo and primer to be topped with some sort of silver-ish paint. I stripped the paint and bondo, then removed all the dents using my beloved shot bag and dolly.

Dolly, hammer, shot bag, patience....

The original trim goes one once all of the shell has been riveted back to the c channel.

The cabin door has proven to be a serious challenge. For added security someone installed a pad lock hasp. Big, honking screws were used to mount it. Someone still tried to use a crow bar to enter. I think of all the jobs I have looked at or done over the years, a hasp is a guarantee of attempted entry using a crowbar. When this trailer pulled into my yard the door would not latch or stayed closed. The floor below it was completely rotted away. It now opens and closes. It even locks shut. It is far from perfect and will require a little more attention.

As stated, the door closes less than stellar. Here you see some of that damage I mentioned earlier. Once aluminum is creased it becomes very difficult to bend it back.

Here you can see how a previous owner adjusted for the door not working properly. I see so much of this stuff.

This is something that cannot be so easily fixed. New lights were added. Someone thought a wire wheel to be the perfect solution  for getting off the old sealant. Unfortunately those scratches can never be polished out. The hole was not in the right place so a dremel was used to widen the hole. Thankfully the marker lights cover most of this. Unfortunately, it does not cover all of it. I always hope they thought they were doing the right thing.

Someone also thought they were doing the right thing by making rain gutters. They too were fabricated using flashing aluminum. It is a shame they could not keep the gutters in a straight line. They slope down hill toward the front. An awning rail could cover this nicely if it were not for the fact it would visually accentuate the down hill run. Rain gutters are not really needed "IF' the windows are maintained.

Rain gutters were a Plan D, maybe even Plan E. They were put on to correct the inherently leaky 1966-68 windows. The windows need continuous diligence in making sure the window seals stay completely fresh. After just a few years they compress down and stop sealing. Instead of replacing the gasket a tube of sealant is pulled out and injected into the corners. It helps widen the gap, in turn increasing the leak. Over and over the attempt is made to fix the seal but never the correct way. 

Work continues on towards completing a water tight shell. There are a vast number of holes to take care of. All of that will go unseen and be completely out of thought once the draperies go up. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

84 Out the Door...

I posted about the 1984 Avion in for a renovation a while back.

I thought I would snap a few shots of her before she rolled out the door.

Please look past the sofa, that upholstery work is going to take place in the future...

Rear bedroom office...

Lighted closets...