Door Removal, Panel Removal, Panel Installation, & Roof Vent Removal - Part 4

As we mentioned in part 1, we had a lot of working going on the last couple days! Here’s what was on the docket:

Ahhhhh, part 4. So looking at our 1959 Ambassador, there are 3 roof vents. The mid and rear are both two cylinder twist to turn fan roof vents. At the front on our land yacht is what Airstream called the Astradome. The Astradome is 14” wide and 25” long. All three originally had aluminum covers on them. Today there are reproduction plastic and aluminum Astradome and 14”x14” vent covers. These can be seen below. Click on them to go to Vintage Trailer Supply.

Moving forward our venting situation is going to be a little bit different. First, we’ve elected to replace the original Airstream vents with old 12V fans in the them with newer Fan-tastic vent fans. These fans have a lot of modern options; wall switches, smoked lids (to let in light), gray color trim to match the aluminum, rain sensors that close the lid when water is detected, and they move a ton of air. Now, we’re going to replace the rear and the front vents with Fan-tastic fans. You probably remember me telling you that the original Astradome in the front was 14”x25”. Well, if you did, you’d be correct! We’ll be building a patch to make the 14”x25” hole a 14”x14” hole. That video to come. We’ll also be removing the middle original fan and replacing it with a full-sized air conditioner from Dometic. We’ll update as we get to that part. More videos and explanation on how to remove the roof vents will come next week. Until then, CHEERS!

Door Removal, Panel Removal, Panel Installation, & Roof Vent Removal - Part 3

As we mentioned in part 1, we had a lot of working going on the last couple days! Here’s what was on the docket:

Today we’ll talk about the new panel installation! We wrapped up our rear lower street-side panel installation finally! We had it tacked in for a long time but hadn’t finished the buck riveting and getting everything aligned. Well we finally did it. I don’t know what the problem is with some of these things. I hope someone that’s reading this can sympathize. When I work through something in my head and I can’t quite feel comfortable with the process, I have a hard time finishing something up until I can get my mind completely wrapped around it. This time it was with this panel.

We got all the buck rivets and the sealant/adhesive on the top all into place and set and I couldn’t wrap my head around getting the bottom all straight while keeping the panel from bucking while also following the contour of the rear corner. Well, it all worked out just fine. We tacked in the bottom of the panel in the gap where the rear panel will go eventually, and tightened up the bottom as tight as we could go. Then we made sure that the top of the panel was straight and aligned. Drill a couple holes, plug in some clecos and voila! we’ve got a panel aligned. The last stage was to get the buck rivets in at the top and cleco in the bottom to the bottom C-channel.

All in all it turned out perfectly. I’m super happy that the dents and crumples are gone and we have a new shiny panel all in place. I should probably not stress out so much about it being perfect.

More tomorrow about the roof vent replacements. More to come on the rear panel in place as well!

Door Removal, Panel Removal, Panel Installation, & Roof Vent Removal - Part 2

As we mentioned in part 1, we had a lot of working going on the last couple days! Here’s what was on the docket:

  • Remove and strip down the door-in-door door (Part 1)

  • Panel Removal (Part 2)

  • New Panel Installation (finally finishing it) (Part 3)

  • Beginning Roof Vent Removal (Part 4)

While we were taking the door off, we realized that the panel behind the door had some dings in it that would never look right after polishing. This was likely from years of abuse. There’s one piece of engineering that I’ve never been able to understand when it comes to Wally the Airstream. 99% of the things that they did in 1959 on these things, I agree with. Here’s one I don’t. The door has a suicide opening. Meaning, if you’re looking at the door, the hinges are on the left side. Now there’s a really good reason for this, the door opens from right to left and thus, the hinges don’t have to go where the 2 Hehr Clearview windows are stacked to the right of the door. It also means that when the door is open, it opens to the side where the old furnace and refrigerator stood and doesn’t block the windows. Ok, fine makes sense… But what doesn’t make sense at all is that if you accidentally don’t latch the door well enough, keep in mind Airstreams have a tendency to flex and change over time, when you’re cruising down the road at 65mph, if the wind catches the door and flings it open, you’ve created a hinged missile with a path of destruction for both the door handle and the panel to the left of the door.

This especially a problem when that Bargman 77 vertical lock that’s on the outside of the door is impossible to find replacements if it slams into the skin. Even better, it’s made of poured metal and a little brittle 60 years later. More than that, when one does show up on the market, they’re about $1400 for the set. So, yea. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

So, back to the original story, our hinged missile clearly made its way into the wall a few times as there were quite a few dents and as the aluminum is 60 years old, we decided, since we’re now Airstream panel fabrication specialists, to replace it with new.

First step, decide where to run the new panel. This is the bottom curb-side panel that stretches from the door frame back to the rear lower cap on the exterior. As I didn’t need to replace the whole stretch and I didn’t want to have to un-rivet and re-rivet all of the bottoms of the windows, I elected to go to the stud that is just to the right (aft) of the windows in mid-cabin.

Second step, drill out all of the rivets.

Third step, Cut the panel with our electric shears and pull it down.

Here’s a video of the process:

Time to order some aluminum from Airparts! I’ll be back with Part 3 tomorrow!

Door Removal, Panel Removal, Panel Installation, & Roof Vent Removal - Part 1

Today was a busy day. Kyle had Jackie’s dad Don along to help today. We got a lot done today. Here’s what’s on the docket:

  • Remove and strip down the door-in-door door

  • Panel Removal

  • New Panel Installation (finally finishing it)

  • Beginning Roof Vent Removal

We started off by getting the door off the side of the Airstream and getting it laid down on a work surface. It looked like the door had been reattached at some point as evidenced by the use of low-quality steel pop rivets. This doesn’t work on a lot of levels. First, steel rusts. They had already begun to rust. Second, Pop rivets look terrible compared to buck or Olympic rivets. Third, they look awful. Fourth, they look awful. So, we drilled out the pop rivets and got the door laid out. In the process of looking more closely at the door, it was decided that both the interior and exterior skins of the door would look a lot better if they were new aluminum. So, here I am (Kyle) putting a large order into Airparts for some 2024-T3 AlClad .032 Aluminum. I’m getting pretty decent at this. Truth be told, I need a bunch of stuff from Airparts as you’ll see in the next couple couple paragraphs. Here’s a video of stripping down the interior panels from the door-in-door model.

Part 2 to come tomorrow will be about the surprise panel removal we made today! Stay tuned for more!

Harbor Freight Media Blasting Cabinet

Some of the original hardware on Wally the Airstream is in pretty sad shape. So, we elected to purchase the Harbor Freight Media Blasting Cabinet (Click here to get one - I got it on sale for about $150). I bought the cabinet and some walnut and glass bead media.

Putting this sucker together was a chore. You can see our super sped up assembly video below.

Building the Scaffolding for Roof Work

Without the interior skins attached to the studs inside, the exterior aluminum isn’t strong enough to hold weight on the roof. So, to be able to polish the roof and replace the vents and add an air conditioner, we needed a place to work from. Enter scaffolding. We looked into buying metal scaffold but it’s too wide and too expensive. So we made our own.

Here’s the video of the build process at 30x speed.

A 360 Degree Walkthrough of Wally the Airstream

A few people have asked for a walkthrough of Wally the Airstream, so Jackie and I make a 360 degree video and uploaded it to YouTube! If you have VR goggles, check it out!

If you don’t have VR goggles, you can drag your mouse around or, if viewing on a smartphone, you can move your phone and look around a bit!

Dickinson P9000 Propane Fireplace Video

Today we introduce the Dickinson P9000 fireplace for Wally the Airstream. We've selected this fireplace for the bedroom in Wally the Airstream because it is clean burning and looks great!

Historically Dickinson has been known for their use in the marine industry. Dickinson makes super high quality stainless steel appliances and the P9000 is no exception. We're excited to get the P9000 installed in Wally the Airstream!

Learn more about this fireplace at:

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:

See more details about our battery here:

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:

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:

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


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 with any comments you may have! We’d love to hear them!


We’ve gotten some great feedback from the folks at 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!