Lithionics LiPO4 Lithium Ion Battery Unboxing

Hi everyone! Check out our newest video review and unboxing of our Lithionics Lithium Ion battery! This battery will power Wally the Airstream's lights and appliances when we're off the grid. We'll be combining this battery with our full Victron stack which includes our solar controller, inverter/charger, and external power management systems.

To see the full layout of our power system in Wally the Airstream, visit our blog post about it here: https://www.wallytheairstream.com/buildstory/2018/11/10/planning-out-our-electrical-system

See more details about our battery here: https://lithionicsbattery.com/product/12v-450ah-8dr-battery/

Smart Plug 50A Cordset Unboxing Video

We've gone with the 50 Amp 125V/250V cordset. They've got a great system going and we're excited to use Smartplug on Wally the Airstream. Check out the set that we're using here: https://smartplug.com/portfolio-item/50-amp-125v250v-50-cordset-stainless-steel-inlet-2/

For details on their system and why it's safer than the historical standards in the Marine and RV industry, check out their documentation here: https://smartplug.com/resources/faq/

Well HOWDY! It's been a while! Some updates!

Well HELLO! It’s been awhile since our last update so we thought it prudent to give some updates on what’s been going on! Kyle’s been traveling a lot for his dayjob and Jackie’s been taking care of everything else at the homestead. Unfortunately between all that and the holidays, it hasn’t made for a lot of time to work on Wally. We did however acquire a lot of new parts that get us dangerously close to having everything we need.

We were able to buy a super awesome Suburban furnace from a guy locally. We picked up the Suburban SF-35FQ which normally runs about $500 for $240. The guy we bought it from was in the middle of a schoolie reno, got a divorce and had to give up his project. We were super stoked to get his furnace and promised we’d make good on it in Wally the Airstream! You can link to the one we got below! It’s a ducted unit so it’ll be perfect for getting heat into the bathroom and bedroom!

We also picked up a few fun things Airstream for Christmas! Jackie got a sweet new Airstream sweatshirt, we got a new ornament for the tree, and we got some free pink flamingo wrapping paper from Airstream with our order!

We also got our Dickinson P-9000 propane stove. This is going to go in the bedroom, likely, and we’re super excited to get it. It’s just as beautiful as we had hoped! Check out more info here. It should give us enough heat to keep the bedroom warm without having to fire up the furnace all the time.

We also went nuts with the Vintage Trailer Supply Black Friday and New Year’s Day sales! We got some aluminum rub rail trim, some j-moulding for around the wheel wells, and a couple awesome fantastic fans. The best part about the fans are that the interior trip is gray to match the interior aluminum we’ll be using and has an auto-close mechanism if it starts to rain. Click the links for details from Vintage Trailer Supply!

Kyle also visited CES in Las Vegas in January. Furrion and a few other suppliers that we are evaluating were present. Lots of great new things from Furrion as they had a 75’ Yacht and their giant 5th wheel on-site for product demonstrations.

That sums up a lot of the work we’ve been doing! Time to get Wally together and ready for camping season. The Polar Vortex is a great time to get the work done! More videos and demonstrations to come soon! Until next time!

Rebuilding Hehr 1009 Clearview Windows

The 1958-1960 Airstreams had awning-style Hehr Clearview windows. So, that means a couple things:

  • They’re pretty rare, however, parts are pretty readily available from Vintage Trailer Supply, so that’s nice.

  • There aren’t a lot of tutorials on how to fix them.

Ours are pretty ugly, they’re pitted quite a bit, they’ve clearly leaked quite a bit before, and some joker thought it was a good idea to seal them up with silicone caulk. Anyway, they’re ugly, we’re not in the business of having an ugly Airstream, so we decided to rebuild them.

Now, I’m going to lay it straight here (Kyle typing). It’s fun to tell people that we’re remodeling a 59 year old Airstream. It’s also fun to think about all the great times we’re going to have when we’re done remodeling our 59 year old Airstream. Today and these windows made me ask myself the following questions:

  • Are we ever going to finish this thing?

  • Why did we do this?

  • How much of a bath financially would I take on it if I just listed it and all of the crap I bought for it on ebay/Craigslist/LetGo/Facebook Marketplace/RV Trader/Star Tribune/Tampa Bay Times and walked away?

So, shortly thereafter, I came to my senses, Jackie encouraged me to stop being a little whiner and move on. Okay back to 3rd person…

Let’s talk about these windows. There’s essentially 4 parts to them:

  1. The aluminum frame

  2. The glass

  3. Double sided butyl tape to seal between the glass and the frame

  4. Hehr Clear-view Glazing Strip

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Clearview Window

Schematic for Window Rebuild

1958-1960 Airstream Windows

The frames are old. They have quite a bit of pitting and some corrosion. The glass is old and brittle. As far as we can tell, they’ve never been replaced. The factory glazing strips were originally made of a vinyl. Over the years of use and UV exposure they have shrunk in some cases as much as 2”. (The new replacements that we bought from Vintage Trailer Supply are a silicone-based formulation and are not supposed to shrink.) Then, the aforementioned joker, filled the gaps with silicone caulk. SUPER attractive. Lastly, is the factory installed butyl tape. Where it didn’t leak, it’s super strong. where it did leak, it’s awful and broken down and flaky. Here’s some foreshadowing, flaky is good. There’s not a lot of flaky.

Here’s the steps we followed to rebuild the windows, with some tips for the things that we did wrong:

  1. First, we cleaned the windows. There was about 50 years of dirt and debris all over them. They needed a good scrubbing which we did with warm water and Dove liquid dish detergent.

  2. Second, we removed the old vinyl glazing strips and tried to clean up all of the silicone caulk that previously mentioned joker used to seal them up.

  3. Third, we took a razorblade from the back side and attempted to separate the glass for the old butyl tape from the rear. Overall we were pretty successful at this. However, we mentioned that the old glass was brittle right? Well, we broke two windows. Not that big of a deal, we have a glass shop right up the street and it’s somewhat unlikely the old glass is tempered anyway. So, we’ll just replace them. There’s nothing we could have done differently here other than be a little more careful to not flex the glass.

    *Could have done better: Our thoughts were that it would be easier to soak the butyl tape in a orange-based solvent (GooGone) to loosen some things up prior to trying to separate the frame from the glass. So, we soaked it in GooGone. This made an enormous mess and even worse, the GooGone seemed to reactivate the butyl tape and made it sticky and nasty and pretty much the worst thing on earth to work with. After learning this lesson, we found it easier to separate the glass and frame with a razor blade easier and cleaner while it was dry. You hope to get as much as possible on the glass rather than the frame as it’s much easier to clean it off the glass than the frame.

  4. Fourth, you clean the glass with GooGone and a razor blade. Then, try to get as much of the butyl tape off of the aluminum frame as possible. Then, soak the remnants on the frame with GooGone and remove with a rag/paper towel a few hours later after it’s been softened. Warning: It’s a flipping mess.

  5. Fifth, clean off all of the GooGone with mineral spirits and as there was some old crusty adhesive in our frame pieces, we hit the frame with a wire wheel on a dremel to be sure that the new butyl tape has a great surface for adherence. We also elected to buff out the aluminum exterior frame at this point too since the glass is still out.

  6. Lastly, reapply the butyl tape, lay in the glass, and insert the new glazing strips into the frame.

When we type it all out, it doesn’t sound all the bad. It’s awful. We got about half-way through our 10 windows and it took most of the day. Give yourself enough time and make sure you bring your patience with you. It’s a long, frustrating process. But we’ll have some good looking, good as new, watertight windows for Wally the Airstream now.

Planning Out Our Electrical System

It’s time to start planning out our power system for Wally the Airstream. In the two previous posts about the power system, we’ve talked about the solar panel system and we’ve gone to great detail about our selection of a Lithionics lithium ion battery. We’ve picked up a few new items for the power system that we’re excited to talk about:

  1. We grabbed a Victron MPPT 100/30 solar controller for the solar panels UPDATE: we’re updating this to a Victron MPPT 100/50 solar controller.

  2. We bought a Victron Multiplus 3000/50 3000W/50A charge controller

  3. We’re working on acquiring the solar panels from Renogy. We’ve selected the Renogy Eclipse 100W 12V solar panels for their efficiency. We’ll be putting 4 of these panels in a series parallel configuration.

  4. We’ve been working with Smart Plug for our shore power plugs and power cable. We have an entire post coming up soon on this, but what Smart Plug has done is amazing. We’ll post more soon, but we’ve gone with the 30’ 50A stainless steel cord set from them.

We’ve been planning out the layout for the system. There are a few things to keep in mind while figuring all of this out.

Starting at the roof, between the solar panels and the roof junction box we’ll be using 12/2 copper wire. The amps here shouldn’t exceed 8A or 9A considering we’re using 100W panels in series/parallel configuration. Between the junction box on the roof and the charge controller we’ll bump up the wire to 10/2 to accommodate the extra current at 16-20A.

The charge controller, solar controller, and lithium ion battery should be within 12-24” from each other. This is to reduce the line losses at relatively low voltage (12V) and high amperage. We’ll use 2/0 gauge wire for this. 2/0 gauge wire is about the thickness of your thumb and super pricey. We’ll stash all of this under the dinette or the front couch she we have good access to everything, can vent it, and so we have enough room for all of the components.

Lastly, we’ll use the Smart Plug system noted above to bring shore power into the Airstream. The shore power will go directly into the charging system of the Victron Multiplus and then branch out to the AC panels. The first AC panel is for the inverter panel and will generate 110VAC from the 12V lithium ion battery. The second panel will only be energized when we are connected to shore power or are running off of the generator. The shore power cable will plug into the generator to recharge the batteries or to run the A/C when we’re low on battery power. The second AC panel will also connect to the 110VAC side of the refrigerator so we don’t have to burn propane when shore power is readily accessible.

We’re super interested in getting feedback from those of you that have designed solar systems in the past. Please feel free to reach out to solar@wallytheairstream.com with any comments you may have! We’d love to hear them!

UPDATE:

We’ve gotten some great feedback from the folks at Airforums.com and have updated our schematic layout for our electrical system! We’ve added a Victron Color GX controller to keep everything organized, updated the MPPT controller to a 100/50, added a couple switches and fuses in some important places, and added a Victron BMS 712 to control the charger. Great stuff here and awesome feedback!

You can follow the full thread here if you’re interested in some great reading!

LiIons, and Chargers, and Panels, OH MY! - Part 2 - Lithionics Battery Factory

LiIons, and Chargers, and Panels, OH MY! - Part 2 - Lithionics Battery Factory

As we mentioned in the previous post, we visited the Lithionics battery factory in Clearwater, Florida.  We met with Stephen Tartaglia, the company owner and Chief Engineer and Jackson D’Ettore, product manager.  It was great to sit down with them in their facility and ask a ton of questions that we had about lithium ion technology.  We also got to see a bit of where the manufacturing happens right here in Clearwater, FL. 

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Interior Insulation - Spray Foam

Interior Insulation - Spray Foam

Hi everyone! Minor update here but thought it would be fun for a lot of you. Since we have all of the interior skins stripped, we’ve elected to go with spray foam insulation between the exterior and interior skins. This offers a lot of advantages. Spray foam is lightweight, it has a high insulation value with appropriately sprayed, and also acts as a sealant and vapor barrier. The lightweight and sealant portion of that is music to our ears!

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Hehr Clearview Window Removal

It was time for us to get started on the windows. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the gaskets around our windows were made from vinyl originally from the factory. At the time it was a great flexible material to use. Unfortuantely, over great periods of time, 59 years for example, vinyl begins to shrink. From the photos below, you can see that at some point the gaps in the gaskets were filled with caulk. So, it’s time to take out the windows so that we can re-seal and polish them up. The video below and shows how to remove the windows so that we can begin to get them in order!

LiIons, and Chargers, and Panels, OH MY! - Part 1

LiIons, and Chargers, and Panels, OH MY! - Part 1

This is the first article in a series of many around the choices that we’ve made for the power system for Wally the Airstream.  There are many brands and products out there for powering your RV so we’ll try to explain our choices for each below.  Wally’s power system can be broken down into 3 major systems:

1)    The charging system (solar, shore power, and generator)

2)    The storage system (batteries, battery management system, charging system)

3)    The power system (inverter, 12VDC panel, 110VAC panel)

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Lithionics Battery Co - Site Visit

Lithionics Battery Co - Site Visit

We visited Lithionics Battery’s factory in Clearwater, Fl this week and we can’t wait to tell you about it! Turns out they have the perfect 400-500 Ah solution for what we need to power Wally when we’re off-grid in places like the National Parks! 

The best part? They’re local and UL listed. They’re the only one to produce batteries in the 12-24V range that live up to the safety standards to get UL listed. Many of you remember the Samsung Galaxy fires in the past. The last thing we want to risk is a Lithium ion battery fire in our Airstream.  

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The Aluminum Sourcing Saga

The Aluminum Sourcing Saga

Hey all! Sorry we’ve been so slow on the updates lately! There’s been a lot going on both good and bad! Kyle has been traveling a ton for his job the last few weeks so progress has slowed a bit. But, we’ve also had a couple of other small issues.

First, the sheet of aluminum that we ordered from Discount Steel for the street-side lower rear panel looked funny when it arrived. It’s the piece that we shared the video of Kyle cutting a couple weeks ago. It was dull, wouldn’t shine, and it seemed to look the same on both sides. It also didn’t match the piece that we had laser cut for the rear.

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Got a Haul of Supplies from VTS

Vintage Trailer Supply is a great spot, ok, top spot to get all the vintage Airstream parts. They have a little bit of everything and have great advice for the parts that you need per unit/year. They’re insanely helpful. Give them a look. Here’s an unboxing of some replacement parts for our renovation!

Cutting out the New Rear Street-side Panel

Cutting out the New Rear Street-side Panel

Here we're cutting the 0.040" 2024 T3 AlClad aluminum for the rear street-side lower panel replacement. Our previous panel was really beat up and rather than putting all the time on an English wheel to straighten it out, we elected to just replace the panel. This one is a little thicker compared to the original panel that was 0.032" thickness. After making a template from the old panel with cardboard, we marked up our panel and got to work! Here I'm using the Harbor Freight 18 gauge, 3.5 amp heavy duty metal shears. They cut through the aluminum like butter.

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Selling our Pop-up!

Selling our Pop-up!

With progress coming along on Wally, we've decided it's time to sell our trusty Pop-up Camper! She's served us well and I've ton a ton of upgrades to her over the last few years! She had a furnace, water pump, water tank, heated mattress pads, roof a/c unit, a television and stand, all new high speed trailer tires, new awning and screenroom, great functioning 3-way fridge, stove top, new gas bottle, external propane grill, and tons of other little accessories.  We love this little pop-up but we should be ready to start moving over to our Airstream soon! 

Contact me at kyle@wallytheairstream.com if you have any questions or are interested in purchasing!  We're asking $3k.

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Rear Laser Cut Aluminum Sheet Arrived

Rear Laser Cut Aluminum Sheet Arrived

As we had previously posted, we had a new piece of a aluminum cut at Discount Steel and we received delivery today. Those with a discerning eye will identify that the piece is like a U-shape that encompasses the rear window.  This isn't exactly like the original.  When Jim did the shell-off restoration of the frame and the flooring, the new flooring ended up being a tad bit wider than the original.  Because of that, the rear of the shell didn't fit exactly back together where it was originally riveted.  Now, most would say, "Hey, that's not good", well, in this case it's actually okay with me.  I like the idea of this new aluminum, which I purchased at a slightly thicker grade than original (.040 vs. .032) will support the window better.  Also, the rivet holes that were drilled in the rear are a little too big for my comfort in the original pieces so this new piece will cover them over.  All in a good day's work!

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Labor Day Vacation to the Black Hills

Labor Day Vacation to the Black Hills

One of Jackie and my favorite places to visit are the Black Hills of South Dakota.  With our friends Rachael and Brandon, we ride the trails, camp, and have an overall great time.  If you've not been to the the area, I strongly suggest it! With so much to see, Mount Rushmore, Keystone, Deadwood, Lead, Custer State Park, the Badlands, etc, it's not to be missed.  We have such a great time year after year! Contact us for info if you're looking for an itinerary!

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