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!

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.

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!

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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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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Doing some exterior body work

 Doing some exterior body work

Wally had some dents and dings in his previous life! A few of them, we just weren't okay with leaving them where they were at.  One of the challenges of working with a 59 year old Airstream is the 59 year old aluminum skin.  While we have some AWESOME friends that have some amazing metal working skills (Rob is a master fabricator at Donnie Smith's in Blaine, MN), the metal is so old and oxidized that it has become brittle and a little more difficult than new to work with.  So, we're moving forward with removing the two rear panels that were the worst offenders and replacing them.  Drilling out rivets is fun! /sarcasm. 

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