Well the belly pan is basically off of the ’67 now, but still needs to be dragged out from under the trailer! It went fairly smoothly, but unfortunately will need to be completely replaced as there were a lot of severely damaged spots that go way beyond simple patch jobs. The entire process took probably 2-3 hours from start to finish including the banana wraps, but just spread over many days since I typically have an hour here and there to work on it and some of that time is always taken up with setup and cleanup. It was so nice to do this on a concrete floor where I could use a floor creeper/roller to easily move around.
I actually didn’t find as many surprises in the belly pan as I had expected. As you can see from the picture above the pan is down and simply resting on the axels. There is some type of nest constructed out of some very comfortable insulation towards the front of the pan and I imagine some huge rat use to call that home.
The cleanup filled up 20 gallons worth of trash, but now is ready to be removed without spreading all of that wonderful fiberglass all over the place. I am planning on cutting the pan in quarters and then storing until I get to the point of needing to create a new pan our of some new type of product. I think I will go back with the same type of aluminum, but will do a little research to see if anyone is using vinyl or anything else that might make a better belly pan material. I also spent some time moving all of my various pieces that I am keeping as templates from the ’67 into my ’77 which makes a good storage place for those various items.
I am planning on cutting the pan into quarters during my next work session and then will either begin on stripping the inner skin or removing the inner skin. I would like to remove the old zolatone, but need to talk with some people to see if it is easier to do that project while they are on the ribs or on the floor.
I took a little break today from the belly pan to finally remove all of the bathroom panels and aftermath left inside of the trailer from when we tore the bathroom apart. I know that the belly pan will be off shortly and that I need to make sure the inside of the trailer are empty and ready. I will be removing the inner skins, but have not yet decided if I am going to strip them first or just paint over them. I am leaning towards stripping them first and then removing them, even if painted in the future they will be prepped and in great shape for any type of treatment. Again I forgot to bring my camera along, but we are quickly nearing the completion of the destruction phase! It is very exciting to see the frame starting to be exposed and I can’t wait to get all of the old insulation and wiring removed from inside the walls.
No pictures today as I forgot to bring my camera to the shop, but I think I will have the belly pan off within another hours worth of work. Today I removed all of the curb side rivets along the belly pan and also began removing the rivets along the underside of the trailer. I do have to say that I am disappointed as I have found enough damage to the belly pan in the front half of the trailer that I will need to replace that with new material. There are several holes, which could be patched, but where the belly pan is riveted to the underside of the frame there has been extensive corrosion and most of riveted areas have been eaten away leaving the belly pan separating from the frame. Hopefully in the next few days I can find some additional time and get this thing off once and for all!
This was another productive day as I removed the street side banana wrap, removed all of the rivets for the belly pan along the street side, removed what I am currently calling the propane regulator, and removed the remaining gas lines.
You can see here the street side banana wrap and the gas regulator mounted to the hitch. This banana wrap contained the worst damage of any single panel on this trailer and after getting it completely removed I am now thinking I will have to fabricate an entirely new wrap instead of just creating a simple patch. The gas regulator box came off without much of a fight and the remaining gas lines are now a thing of the past. I am really still surprised how this trailer had exposed copper gas lines that were just run right under the bottom of the trailer. I haven’t exactly figured out what I am going to do, but I will not be having exposed lines.
Here you can see what it looks like with the banana wrap removed. This area was especially dirty since it had an huge hole and probably a good 3-5lbs of dirt. I vacuumed out both of these corner pockets, but I am still curious what I will find once I get the entire belly pan removed. Removing the rivets along the street side went very smoothly and went even smoother once my drill bit broke in half leaving what I now prefer for drilling out the pop rivets as it does a much better job than a new bit with a pointy tip oddly enough! I will tackle removing the rivets from the curb side next and then start on the underside and get this belly pan removed completely!
Well after a three month break due to lack of available time to devote to the ’67 project, the project is now moving forward again. The other news is that I have decided to keep the ’77 and have it waiting it in the wings for a future restoration project.
This morning I began the work of removing the belly pan and plan on having it completely removed this week. I started with the curb side banana wrap and had fun getting use to some of the larger sized rivets. I was able to get the wrap completely removed and also removed all of the gas lines that ran under the trailer outside of the belly pan. I plan on running the gas lines in a way that keeps them from being as exposed from the elements, but still easily accessible for repairs.
The plan for next week will be to start the arduous task of stripping the interior panels. Then that will pave the way to remove the inner panels and floor so that the restoration of the frame can begin.
No new progress to report on the ’67 this week as I’ve been busy with work and other obligations. Over the past few weeks we have been looking for a good used vintage Airstream for some close friends of ours that would like to become Airstreamers. A few weekends ago we came across a hidden jem on the side of a highway that looked like it would be perfect for them. The trailer wasn’t listed in any paper or Craigslist, so we thought they might get a good deal.
We went to look at the ’77 with them last week and it was in really great condition for the price. The trailer had three awnings in incredible condition, all windows, and the exterior panels were all in excellent condition. Our friends decided that it wasn’t quite right for them with their current tow vehicle and my friend is starting up a side business that has quickly started to build up speed and looks to keep him very busy for some time. They still want an Airstream, but decided to pass on this 1977 31′ Sovereign and look for a 25′ trailer once his new side business is up and running.
Now, also last week at the same time, I started to research how I could obtain a Zip Dee awning for the curb side of our ’67. A few phone calls and getting quotes on new replacements I was finding that it would cost about $1,500 to purchase a new awning and assembly (before shipping). That just seemed like way too much money with all of the other items I know I will need to finish off this trailer.
I then started to think about how the trailer that my friends had looked at and thinking of those three Zip Dee awnings that were in near perfect condition! Once I was sure that my friends were not interested in the trailer, I offered the seller some money just for the awnings, but he declined. I then decided it wouldn’t hurt if I low-balled him an offer for the entire trailer, with the intent of removing the awnings and then selling the trailer myself. To our surprise he accepted my first offer for the trailer and tonight we sealed the deal. I will bring it to the shop this weekend to sit next to the ’67, while I decide what I am going to do with this new trailer.
Now the problem is us deciding if we want to fix up the ’77 a little and use it while we are restoring the ’67. The trailers are each unique in their own ways and the ’67 is vintage, while the ’77 looks classic. I think they would both be great campers and now can understand why a lot of the members of the airforums.com forums have multiple trailers!
I woke up before it was light today to tackle ripping the bathroom out of the AS, before beginning my day job. My dad will be helping me on/off as he has time and today he joined in for the fun. The bathroom took a lot of time for such a small space and was like taking a puzzle apart.
I had originally thought that I would be able to save and repurpose a lot of the items in the bathroom, but after spending more time in there, I am not sure I want to build the bathroom anything like it was originally designed. I would love to know how someone kept the area around the toilet clean in this original design! The components were in decent shape, but there were several fiberglass panels that would need some repair. The black water tank was in unusable condition and was literally falling out of the bottom of the trailer. We didn’t even bother removing the toilet since they both needed to go and we simply cut the tank away from the valve and gave her the heave-ho (well actually we carried it out very gently since it was not empty…).
This entire process would have literally taken me 2x as long if it weren’t for the help of my dad (thank you Dad). When we finally got the dividing walls down, then we could see under the cabinets and there is no telling how many creatures have called that space home over the years. The hot water heater had seen better days and the floor had a very interesting patch job. We laughed several times as I recalled that the seller had said that this trailer just needed some new linoleum and it would be good to go. I can’t wait to get the belly pan off and the inner-skins, but I am guessing that those will hold the true treasures and surprise from rodents that thought the AS would make a great home. Where did I put my hazmat suit?
I wish I could say that I have already organized the items from the bathroom that I will keep for the time being, but almost the entire bathroom is sitting in the front half of the trailer. I guess I know what my next project will be.
Well I didn’t actually get any additional work done on the trailer tonight, but I did spend several hours going through most of the things that I had removed from the trailer. I am keeping some pieces to either reuse or for patterns. Most everything that was wood or cloth is being thrown after documenting dimensions. I am ready to remove the bathroom and then start removing the belly pan. I am hoping that by the end of next week I will have that done and the inner skins removed.
Cleanup Before & After
I finally got around to ordering axles, brakes, wheels, and replacement windows (missing 4 at the moment). I decided to go with the Henschen Dura Torque Axle from Inland RV after talking with many other vintage AS owners that recommend the Henschen after having them for some time. Andy gets a lot of flack on the airforums.com forums in the Henschen vs. Dexture flame threads, but in the end I felt that the Henschen was the best choice for my trailer. The new axles are rated 3500# and have 12″ electric brakes. My tow vehicle is a beast and the trailer actually handled great when I hauled it home with the old shot axles and no trailer brakes. I imagine that the new setup will perform really well.
I will post pictures of the wheels once they arrive and I have the tires installed. We are going with a retro look and will either use Baby Moon or Smoothie hub caps, depending on if I can find Baby Moons that will fit my 15″ wheels. The Smoothie actually looks great on the other vintage AS trailers that I have seen and can be easily found.
This morning I removed the existing bedroom. I took my time as I found several old used syringes and eventually a Tupperware full of pot and other paraphernalia. Those that know me, know that I have never drunk alcohol, smoked anything, and never done any drugs so I am not 100% of my odd findings. I believe the PO was a musician in the Austin, TX area so these findings don’t come as a huge surprise.
This was probably one of the scariest looking rooms of the trailer before I began this full trailer demolition project. I purchased this trailer from a guy that buys old trailers like these and he had purchased the trailer from the Austin musician. The guy I bought the trailer from was really nice and sells most of his trailers to people wanting to put these trailers onto leases. He had told me, “it just needs some new linoleum”. I don’t know about you, but even before I found the scary items today I wouldn’t want to sleep in this trailer even with new linoleum.
The bulkheads, closets, and beds came out without much work. They were all still firmly attached to the trailer, but all of the screws and pop rivets were easily accessible. I did also find a bird that had been dead for several years in the street side utility access door area near the closet.
Bedroom Before & After
I spent some more time removing some fixtures from the living room and kitchen area, before wrapping up my morning of work. I am very much looking forward to drilling out all of the pop rivets, as that has been really fun so far. I bought both a buck and blind rivet remover tool, so we will see if those help out with the job. I really think now those tools might have been unnecessary as my new favorite tool, a spring loaded center punch, would have worked fine for getting me started on the buck rivets. The AS is now very spacious, but is lacking character on the interior at this point.
I spent a few hours this evening and was able to remove the existing kitchen. This was much more work than the living room, as all of the cabinets were still very much intact. I am still amazed at all of the dust and little stuff that I find in the nooks as things are pulled away revealing areas that have not seen light in who knows how long. Tonight the big find was a butterfly knife and a leather dog collar that has begun the petrification process, but I guess those are better than finding a dead mouse or rat.
The upper cabinets were the most challenging to remove, but once I figured out how they were attached, a little persistence and they both came off. The PO had removed the original refrigerator and the wall on the door side. They had replaced the original fridge with a dorm type 4-5′ tall fridge and had strapped it to the mount that use to hold the door side wood wall in place. I will have to hit up some other ’67 owners in the airforums for some pictures of what it looked like originally.
Kitchen Before & After
There is a pretty wicked looking wasp nest in the furnace exhaust vent that still has some living wasps. They weren’t so happy when I was banging around on their quarters, but they will soon have to flee or else, once I have time to remove the old furnace.
Kitchen Salvage Pile
The next bit of work will be going through the kitchen salvage pile and determining what I want to keep for patterns, scraps, resale, or junking. If anyone is interested in the old furnace or original oven, please let me know as I am planning on going with something newer.