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Old 08-01-2016, 02:57 PM   #1
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1957 22' Caravanner
appleton , Wisconsin
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1957 Caravanner Full Monty

I am jumping in head first into the dream of owning a vintage Airstream. My wife and I have spent a bit of time debating the right timing of taking on a project like this. We had looked at a few here and there on the side of the road but were never all that serious. We were more of wait for the right one to come along and then we will know. I assumed this would be a project to keep me busy when I retired and then we found her.

Through word of mouth we heard of a guy with an old metal camper that he used to hunt from. He was too old to hunt anymore. He wasn’t looking to even get rid of the old metal camper. He figured nobody would want it and it would deteriorate into the ground. I thought, “What is the worst that can happen?” So we went to look at it.

As we drove up my wife and I couldn’t contain ourselves. What it beauty it was. Parked over 20 years ago was a 1957 13 panel Airstream Caravanner. Not only that but it was perfect. Not a dent in the side and protected from years of oxidation.

Much more to this story and what is to come. For now, how about some pics?
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Old 08-01-2016, 03:05 PM   #2
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1964 17' Bambi II
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That's pretty lucky! I'll be watching your story unfold��
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Old 08-01-2016, 03:27 PM   #3
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Looks like you have a seriously nice starting point!

After you dig her out, be sure to put a good eye on the frame. Sitting that close to the ground invites moisture.

Good luck. Looking forward to some interior pics.
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Old 08-01-2016, 03:52 PM   #4
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1957 22' Caravanner
appleton , Wisconsin
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After a couple trips to come up with a game plan to get her out of the woods we made our first attempt on July 3rd. The PO said “just hook it up and she will pull right out!” Yeah right. He says, “I greased up the bearing real good and put new tires on when I parked her” Ok, sounds great, but it’s sunk into the ground. “It’s not sunk into the ground, its leveled” Hmm, might not be so bad after all. But… it’s been sitting here for over 20 years. It will not come out that smoothly.



It was a 70 mile trip to get her home. We brought trailer tires with matching bolt pattern. We contacted everyone we could along the way in case we needed to abandon, park, and regroup. We were set.
What’s the worst that can happen?


We hooked up the F350 after a little WD40 on the hitch, seemed to clamp in place, gave a tug, and…


She popped right out of the ground.



Tires must be shot. Check the air pressure. Should be nothing??? 20 PSI on the right and 28 PSI on the left. After 20 years there is still air in the tires! We had a tank and topped each one to 35. Let’s head out.


We figured to go a gentle 35mph all the way home. My brother in law says, “She tows fine I am going to get going” So off he goes, 65 MPH all the way home. I was in the chase vehicle (no trailer lights).

We got home with not one single problem. Parked it and stared at her for hours


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Old 08-01-2016, 11:15 PM   #5
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1959 24' Tradewind
Astoria , Oregon
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A very lucky find! 57-58 Caravanners are the best of all vintage trailers, sez me. You have a lot of labor and $$ in front of you, but the end result could be outstanding. Do her justice -
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Old 08-01-2016, 11:44 PM   #6
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1973 31' Sovereign
Mount Angel , Oregon
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Great first Chapter to your story! Now, just be sure to follow up with your progress including lots of pictures.

Best of luck with your project!

Susan
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:42 AM   #7
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That's a great story so far. Great find and best of luck!

New tires next time though!
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:30 AM   #8
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1957 22' Caravanner
appleton , Wisconsin
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And then we named her...

What I love about many of these AS stories are that names that go along with name. I name everything. This would be no exception. Since we found her deep in the woods of the Upper Peninsula I figured a good Finnish name would be the right choice.

So meet Sylvi a Finnish name meaning “from the forest”.

Here is where we found her…
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:57 AM   #9
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What a great start!!!

If you hadn't made all those plans and taken the equipment Murphy would have surely shown up.

This thread is your ongoing story. You could even change the title to a 57 Caravanner named Silvi. (Not that you need to)

Those hours of staring is pure love. Welcome to Alumiholics Anonymous.
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Old 08-02-2016, 01:02 PM   #10
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1957 22' Caravanner
appleton , Wisconsin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hittenstiehl View Post
What a great start!!!

If you hadn't made all those plans and taken the equipment Murphy would have surely shown up.

This thread is your ongoing story. You could even change the title to a 57 Caravanner named Silvi. (Not that you need to)

Those hours of staring is pure love. Welcome to Alumiholics Anonymous.
Thanks all for the feedback.

Surely if I hadn't taken so many precautions it would have been a disaster. I didn't know if when we hooked it up the axle would still be in the ground or the entire frame. Having a couple loggers on my side was a huge bonus. In their words, "We pull stuff out the woods all the time."

Alumiholics Anonymous... I get that. You could add Airforums Anonymous. By the time I am done reading about all that I will need to I expect to find the end of the internet.

I fully expect this to be my ongoing journal. I will hit up the specific categories if I need more specific advice (axles, windows, polishing, etc...) but reference the project here.

Stop back, more chapters and pics to come.
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Old 08-02-2016, 01:54 PM   #11
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Perspective

I know I am going to get a lot of feedback on the challenges I have coming. That is OK. I really appreciate it and encourage it.

Here is what I know or expect. I expect this is going to be expensive. I have no reservations about that. If it gets really pricey it will just take longer. I expect that I could go out and buy a camper for less than this project will cost. If it doesn't I win. I want what I want. I can’t buy that. So, I just have to create it. It is going to be a lot of work. I assume a couple thousand hours. If it is less than that I win again. I have no time frame. I assume this is going to take a really long time. There will be no short cuts. There is only one way to do things right and that way takes much longer. I have time. I have no plans to have this done for any event or use. I retire in 20 years. If I beat that I win.

I consider this project my therapy.
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Old 08-02-2016, 06:10 PM   #12
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Man that thing is gorgeous. I love all the side windows.
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Old 08-02-2016, 06:20 PM   #13
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You sir are one lucky man! But... Change the tires..


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Old 08-02-2016, 06:21 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Bill Lynch View Post
Man that thing is gorgeous. I love all the side windows.
I couldn't agree more. The great thing is that I never knew much about the specifics of the models. It was only after we committed to this beauty that I even knew how old it was or what it was. I had to look up what it meant by 13 panels. It truly is random luck that we found her.

Now I cant stop dreaming of what is to come.
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