Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Oh, boy. Do I have a lot to tell you about...

So, it has been much much too long to make a post. No, I have not burned out on the project. I have not moved on to easier things like stamp collecting, etc. I have been shoulder to grindstone on the flying cloud. While waiting so long to post, I would like to say the project is finished -- it is not. It is close, maybe only a page full of boxes to check on the punch list. But when we started this six and a half months ago, there was a book full of check boxes. First photo to share is of our most recent trip to friends property in North Idaho:

And next, one picture from the maiden trip to the beautiful Washington coast:

These two photos make all of the hard work worth it up to today. So now, I'll back up to share some of the grind. I pulled a few all nighters getting the trailer ready. Not too proud of that, I like to think I'm better at time management. But sometimes you do what you have to do in order to make the deadline. We've had several mini deadlines with this project -- all leading up to one big deadline.

A few weeks before the 18 footer was stolen from our home, we had booked the first trip of the season. A late July trip to Grayland Beach State Park. When the 18 footer was stolen, we vowed to get another Airstream ready to camp by that trip. Since then, we've pushed hard to make that happen.

Backing up to the end of June, just after my last blog entry. The shell needs closing up, and I took an evening after work to glue and screw on two new Fantastic Fans.

First, I set a thick bead of Vulkem and laid the first vent down. The screws provided by Fantastic Fan were a little disappointing, so I used my own
stainless steel screws to attach the vents

I do like the look of the fans from outside especially, and the inside look good to.

Next day, I mounted the plug that connects to the tow vehicle.

Next, I wired the running lights.

Also got the breakaway switch mounted and wired. Most of this stuff came from Vintage Trailer Supply.

Finally got to get the trailer out of the shop at this point. I towed it for the first time, brought it home so Katie and I could rough in the wiring.

New outlet for the original placement.

Looks better out of the shop:

Finally ran out of wire, so we got to go to bed.

Took it back to the shop to finish all the wiring before insulation.

Got some help from Norm and his beer to insulate and hang some skin.

Third Hand tool comes in handy when your riveting end caps with a friend or by yourself.

Shameless posed beer shot.

Tired riveters.

Finished up the insulation and readied the walls for the rest of the skin.

Next day, I pulled the trailer to Portland to spray Zolatone and start installing cabinets.

Katie took this photo of a label on the inside of the sink cabinet. Like the tribal theme...

We started the interior skin painting with a primer coat. I used all Zolatone paints, which are excellent. Their tech support is very helpful at specifying finishes and amounts needed for each step. We sprayed a gunmetal gray color primer. Next time, I'll just stick with white.

Next is the sheer coat using the Zolatone paint. I have learned so much this time around spraying this paint, I'd definitely spray other peoples trailers. The smell is growing on me too (Yes, I wear a respirator).

The next day (after the all nighter painting), my parents went to work mounting cabinets. They graciously refinished all the original cabinets. My dad is a master carpenter, trained in furniture making. He has also been a professional cabinet maker for many years. I am one lucky guy. Not only did they refinish the original mahogany cabinets, they made a full dinette from mahogany. He has not made cabinets or furniture for years, but they have caught the Airstream bug. He would like to make cabinets for others. So as of this project, he is for hire.

I made the final electrical connections before the dinette went in.

The cabinet in the foreground was remade to accommodate the replacement refrigerator.

Back in Seattle, I wired the electrical panel.

On the left is the electrical panel and on the right is the SeeLevel tank monitoring gauge.

Another major project and the start of another all nighter was to install the water heater. The original water heater was an electric only model. As we intend to do a lot of dry camping, I wanted a full featured Suburban water heater.

As the old saying goes, measure ten times, cut twice.

After test fit or two, I made the 110V AC connection and finished the placement.

Successful install for my first try...

Back to Portland a week later for the final fitting and installation of the dinette. Nice looking work, Dad!

His design is a good one and it fit like a glove.

While Dad was working on the dinette, I stayed out of his way and worked on the fresh water plumbing.

And mounted a few accessory items.

Spare tire is finally in.

Really looking like a finished trailer.

Don't forget to tickle the baby!!!

Back in Seattle again, grinding away. Original furnace is mounted with a new vent pipe. The furnace was serviced and tested by Evergreen RV.

Photo from the back looking forward.

Whenever I can, I like to reuse original parts. Just like with the 18 footer, we restored the original toilet. The toilet base was sandblasted. I soaked the china bowl in bleach water for weeks to get it looking better than new. From off the shelf parts, I was able to reconnect the base and bowl. Parts were ordered from Vintage Trailer Supply.

Time to go camping!! We made the deadline. While the trailer is not complete, we were able to camp in luxury at Greyland Beach State Park as dreamed about all winter long. Most appreciative may have been Georgia, she does love the beach.

And so does Emmett.

For that matter, who doesn't love camping at the beach?

Spending time with friends and family is worth it's weight in gold.

Washing off sand from the beach with warm water.

One happy baby in a baby sized window.

'What are you looking at?'

Uncle Wilson's lap dog.

I am not kissing that, thank you very much.

Once again, the overview.

A few detail photos:


Always nice to travel with other vintage Airstreams, this is Katie's parents '75 in the front and her brother's family's '70 behind ours.

Parting shot with us getting ready to leave Idaho last weekend. Soon, more finishing of projects and much more camping.


  1. Wow, just amazing. Fantastic work, and you did it in record time. I'm so glad you made your camping trip as scheduled.

    Also, any chance your Dad wants to make a trip down to Austin? :)


  2. That is an awesome update. Congratulations!

  3. What a great post, Ryan!!

    Congrats to all you guys for getting an amazing amount of work done. Everything looks great.


  4. Congratulations on getting back on the road!! You guys do absolutely amazing work.

  5. I love that you finally posted something! I kept checking all the time! You guys rock in the making airstreams! It is absolutely beautiful! Good job! Love the pics of the kids and Georgia! Take care-al and lar

  6. A post and a half and a job and a three quarters - congratulations. You (& your Dad) have done a stunning job and in record time. I'm still trying to get my shell back on my chassis ! Great to see you made it in time to catch some summer camping - enjoy.

  7. WOW, I just found all this. I'm out of breath from reading the last post, talk about a marathon wrap-up! That's a serious compression of a whole bunch of work, and beautiful work at that.

    Fabulous pics, great looking family, and I just love Georgia. I'm a sucker for Australian Cattle Dogs.

  8. Looks amazing!!!!Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow /Hey thanks man!! you are so good. I think this the perfect work.

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