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Old 09-03-2015, 10:39 AM   #1
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1967 28' Ambassador
1964 19' Globetrotter
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The '67 Ambassador full remodel

Today I am beginning to post my project I've been working on for several months now. Back in late May I had aquired a 1967 Ambassador from 25 mile away (luck). It was a neglected project that someone had abandoned. The trailer was already gutted with only a few items left. The water heater, furnace, old comode, A/c unit and grey tank were the only items left inside the trailer. The fridge, oven, and stove top were off to the side in a pile. All screens were present and the trailer was on old decent tires. I towed the thing home and began the project!
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Old 09-03-2015, 10:48 AM   #2
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Good luck Artisan we will watch the progress.
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Old 09-03-2015, 11:08 AM   #3
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Edgewood , Kentucky
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I then began to finish the rest of the demo work to begin running the drain system. First I had to tackle the sub-floor. There were some issues with rot located in the rear section of the trailer, where the bathroom would be. I had to remove the rear 8 feet decking of the trailer and replace with new plywood. Before I put down the new plywood I had ran the drains from both sinks and the shower to the existing black tank that will be used as a grey tank. I then roughed in the shower drain and replaced the sub-floor. The task wasn't easy, without being able to remove the shell. I had to have a lot of help with prying carefully and the use of a big persuasive hammer. Finally the sub-floor was finished. I then used oil-base paint on the floor to help with water rot. I traced out the floor plan onto the floor and framed up the black tank area directly under the ca mode but above the sub-floor. I also installed the fresh water tank in the original position. I used foam insulation on the wheel well covers. Ran all wire for the AC and DC services. Ran all PEX plumbing to the proper areas and used copper 3/8 O/D for the LP system. I then insulated the entire trailer with R11 fiberglass insulation.
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Old 09-03-2015, 11:31 AM   #4
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I removed the old exterior parking lights and buffed the spot before installing the new light. I finished replacing the exterior parking lights with a LED equivalent and sealed them on the back side to the trailer along with 3/16 rivets. once the LP and water lines were ran, I capped them off and pressure tested (50 psi) both systems for leaks. Then started the skinning process.... I chose the 4' x 8' sheets of red oak paneling for the walls and 3003 H4 aluminum .040 thickness for the ceiling. On the end caps I decided to go aluminum. This is a challenge due to not having any template to go by. I tried using an English wheel and some rather large pieces of aluminum. After an hour or so, it was back to the drawing board. I called my metal supplier and had them shear 8" strips so I could fillet the end caps into 17 pieces. It was critical to have these pieces sheared for the factory edge quality due to the edge puckering that occurs when you cut them by hand ,even with electric snips. I simply freelanced the entire cap making sure that all steps and rivets were incremental. When doing this you must concentrate and take your time. Measuring in a lot of different places will ensure your pattern is consistent. Clecos are a must with this project and in my mind you can never have too many. I used 4' x 10' aluminum panels for the ceiling which I had to have help wrestling the piece against the ceiling to rivet in place, while also cutting out for all necessary vents and lights.
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Old 09-03-2015, 12:30 PM   #5
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I also started with the custom door on the curb side near the back of the trailer. It measured 16" x 22" for a pullout propane grill idea. I had to buy the door extrusions and miter the corners perfectly. I cut the front and rear sheets of metal and put foam insulation for the core of the door. I then wrapped the entry with an 3/4" piece of aluminum angle, on the exit and entry side of the opening. Its taped in place anticipating a aluminum piano hinge and a cabinet lock. Once complete I will work on the slider unit that will slide out the grill waist height for use. This will be connected to the trailer's LP system. More pictures still to come!
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Old 09-03-2015, 06:04 PM   #6
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Now I'll focus on poly for the walls and the rubber flooring. The bathroom walls will be a Masonite white subway tile design. I am also going to do a brushed finish on all of the aluminum when the skin is complete. Any questions on the build I'll try answer. Feedback is always welcomed!
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Old 09-04-2015, 10:30 AM   #7
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Holy cow! Nice job...you are an inspiration
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Old 09-04-2015, 11:17 AM   #8
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Renovation

Get work! You have a lot of talent to get the work to so great and fit so well!
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Old 09-05-2015, 06:32 AM   #9
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Thanks for taking the time to create this thread. The mid sixties trailers are unique. Some say 68 year was one of the best for Airstream as they were making high end trailers to help justify the price of the aluminum construction. Fancy windows, nice cabinetry, modern decorating, airliner bathrooms, the control center, and the like were included in 68. The conversion to more plastics started in the seventies, although there were plenty of plastic parts in the mid sixties trailers for sure.

Your ability to fabricate an aluminum end cap deserves special recognition. Not many folks can figure out the necessary shapes to cover a spherical "dome" from flat stock. Great job. Even Airstream spent quite a bit of development work on creating aluminum end caps. Remember the 13 panel trrailers, then 7 panel, and now just three stretched formed panels make the exterior end cap.

Even making your own exterior access door is no piece of cake.

I'd like to follow along in your Ambassador recreation. I like watching other people to the work.

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Old 09-05-2015, 03:36 PM   #10
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Working Aluminum

I was wondering what equipment that you had available to do this level of work? Some equipment to bend and cut sheets of metal can be very expensive.
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Old 09-06-2015, 07:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GMarugg View Post
I was wondering what equipment that you had available to do this level of work? Some equipment to bend and cut sheets of metal can be very expensive.
In order to create the end caps you see I had my metal vendor shear the pieces. I did this because you cannot replicate that edge without a shear or a break. Only problem is that a aluminum break used in most residential jobs only has a 6" throat capability. Thus only being able to cut pieces 6" or less. I wanted a 7 1/2 inch reveal and had to have my supplier shear the pieces to 8" by 5' using a 4' by 10' sheet it worked out having no waste. This would give me a minimal overlap of 1/2 from piece to piece. I had to use a 11" piece to bridge the middle, also specially sheared.

Once I obtained the pieces it was a matter of strategically creating benchmarks on the walls, ceiling and window to mirror both quadrants of the sphere shape. I started from the bottom and worked my way to the middle. Each piece I installed was pinned in place by Clecos and the next piece was held by clamps so I could determine the outlook before committing to any look. Once I felt comfortable with the placement I removed one Cleco at a time and replaced them with a rivet. While doing this you must remember to insulate as you go or before you attempt this entirely. I chose to stuff fiberglass insulation as I went layer by layer. It is critical to stay uniform and have a consistent spacing between the exterior paneling and the interior paneling.

Mind you this all sounds easier than it really is. I had to stare at it quite often and sometimes walk away and break from the action, only because this is something your trying to in vision as you go without anything to go by. I don't want to give all of my secrets out but I will say this job is not for the weak minded, it was daunting. Now that is over I can breath a sigh of relief, because it really did turn out nice.

Other tools I used were your typical aviation snips (all three direction, red for right, yellow for straight, and green for left), obviously a tape measure, and a pneumatic riveting tool. I will also note that having the clamps used for metal work made by Irwin help immensely for quick placement of pieces. While being fitted.

I hope this helped or inspired anybody to follow this path. If you have any other questions feel free to ask and feedback is always welcomed!

Thanks for reading!
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Old 09-06-2015, 07:19 PM   #12
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I haven't checked recently, but I read some time ago that Colin Hyde was developing an aluminum interior end cap kit for certain year Airstreams. He did all the measuring and cutting and you get the pieces ready to attach. I could see where there would be a good market for such kits. As you described, it is a daunting task best left to experienced sheet metal experts. I do not know if it ever reached the market.

The aluminum end cap will be the center piece of your trailer. Everyone will go ohooo, ahaaa when they enter your trailer for the first time. Very dramatic, and very Airstream.

David
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Old 09-07-2015, 07:06 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
I haven't checked recently, but I read some time ago that Colin Hyde was developing an aluminum interior end cap kit for certain year Airstreams. He did all the measuring and cutting and you get the pieces ready to attach. I could see where there would be a good market for such kits. As you described, it is a daunting task best left to experienced sheet metal experts. I do not know if it ever reached the market.

The aluminum end cap will be the center piece of your trailer. Everyone will go ohooo, ahaaa when they enter your trailer for the first time. Very dramatic, and very Airstream.

David
Thank you for the feedback! I post these projects not only to share my ideas with fellow AS owners but to get a great response from my best crictics. You guys motivate people to keep these things going! I do appreciate every comment and will continue to post as I continue. My goal is to complete this trailer before thanksgiving! If so I would like to try and take it to the next WBBCI event near Cincinnati for a debut!
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Old 09-11-2015, 10:21 AM   #14
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Lighting it up!

So I am starting to install the interior lighting this week before I rivet the rest of the ceiling in place. I am still waiting on the galley dome lights to arrive but I pre-drilled all of the center-seam rivets and used clecos to temporarily secure it, in case of needing access. I installed the two lights for the bedroom and the single light above the toilet. I also installed the fancy chandelier above the future dinette table. The dome lights were ordered online and the chandelier was ordered from IKEA. I modified the chandelier to accept a 12V DC supply, originally 120V AC. All lights will be LED warm white color. My goal is to have a flush look to the ceiling with very little extruding down from it. Along with the lights I've relocated the AC unit controls and removed the awful AC shroud surround. Then replaced it with two sleek cast aluminum floor vents for a nice finish. The chandelier came with a base that was almost 2" thick. I also recessed the base of the chandelier into the ceiling giving it also a nice finish look. Tall guys like myself will appreciate this kind of detail not emphasized in 1960's when people were considerably shorter. I would feel my hair slightly graze the original AC shroud every time I would pass under it. The next focus is finishing the ceiling out and then the D-Wall construction for the bath and shower areas. As always thanks for reading!
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Old 12-23-2015, 11:07 AM   #15
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Long days

So I have been steadily working on this project and I have officially turned the corner. Cabinets are being wrapped up before the end of the year. I am pleased with the way the interior is coming together. I haven't shared any progress in a while but I will start where I left off. I built the dinette area with two pullout drawers along with two access hatches, one for storage and the other for storage and access to the pump and strainer. I made the frame out of metal studs and then 1/2 ply on top. 1/4 ply on sides and will trim it out in wood soon as we are ready for stain. Both drawers are heavy duty drawer slides capable of 75 lbs. of storage in each. All drawers were custom made with biscuit joiner, table saw, miter saw, router, and brad nailers. I also glued all joints. just an FYI, I was in AP woodworking in high school and should have pursuit it as a career, I just couldn't see myself building with only wood forever. I still have to make all of the faces for the cabinets and drawers. The flooring material will continue on top of the dinette, along with cushions.

And for some odd reason no matter what orientation these pictures are originally they default back to these positions so some appear upside down, if anybody knows how to fix this annoyance please PM.
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Old 12-23-2015, 12:17 PM   #16
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Kitchen Galley

Once the dinette was close to being finished I went to building the galley kitchen area. I started by building the lower cabinets and stringing the counter top. I then I ran a rough in layout for fitment. Then made a custom built pull-out pantry / silverware drawer. It was purposefully built to hold cans and large bulky items, I staggered the shelving so there was some versatility with oddly shaped items. Then ran your usual silverware drawer directly on top of the pantry accompanied by a "junk drawer" area. Once I finished that I made two pull-outs alongside the oven. The left pull-out is primarily for spices and such and the right one is for cooking utensils and a knife holder. I also built a pull-out underneath the sink for the waste and recycling baskets. Once again I still need to face all of the cabinets and lay the Formica top. The stove-top was placed directly above the oven and the sink is placed centered under the sink. I went with a 13" x 22" stainless dawn kitchen sink. I am hoping to use the existing vintage appliances hinging on if I can re-chrome a lot of the old parts. If not ill revisit that issue. I then ran the 10' upper cabinet unit. This was tricky giving that I wanted to keep the ceiling exposed inside of the cabinets and keep the contour of the ceiling. After lots of stringing and squaring, I managed to set the cabinet and begin to wire it for lighting. The cabinets were mounted with L-type brackets for framing houses, eight of them with three of them riveted into a rib. I tested it with 220 lbs. and did not even flinch. The back of it is sitting on a ledge that was built up to support the cabinets. I have ran aluminum underneath the cabinets with LED spot task lighting. I will soon light the inside of the cabinets with LED activated when opened. Then top it out with crown and a accent light above that. Soon to come!
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Old 12-23-2015, 12:51 PM   #17
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Electrical System

Now I'll explain my electrical system install. I made the coffin box on the street side in front of the wheel well, 16" x 16" x 72". Those dimensions work great for storing batteries and an inverter. It also doubles as a full size bed. I will install another piece of ply on top of the cover with a piano hinge. When folded out, it will be the width of a full size bed. I made the box out of 1 5/8 metal studs and 1/2 plywood.

For the service, I went with 50 amp. I mounted the shore power twist-and-lock hookup in the back bumper and ran 6/3 romex to the box. I am using a Magnum inverter 2012 2000 watt pure sine wave, recommended by some great support (thanks Lew!). I understand now why he is so adamant about these systems. I will never install anything other than Magnum brand in my trailers. I also partnered it with a Magnum battery monitoring system, DC shunt, 300 amp fuse, and the control panel. I used the Blue Sea disconnect switch ,transfer switch, and DC fuse panel. The transfer switch is for when (if ever) you would like to only run off of the TV power and not the bank. It will switch between the bank and the TV power, they are never married due to different battery charging rates. For the batteries I went with six 6 volt 220 Amp Hour AGM Trojan batteries. They are ran in a parallel series to equal out to 12 volts @ 660 AH. The inverter has adequate spacing above it because I used lexan between the inverter and the mounted accessories, raised off of the inverter. I used 1/8" x 1" copper bar for the run between the batteries and the inverter all bent and shrink wrapped. I installed the AC breaker box and DC fuse box on the exterior of the box for easy access.
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Artisan Airstreams
Custom restorations and renovations
www.artisanairstreams.com
Keeping the Art on the road, one project at a time
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Old 12-23-2015, 02:58 PM   #18
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1962 28' Ambassador
1961 19' Globetrotter
Mesa , Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 4,078
Images: 9
Wow, nice
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Old 12-24-2015, 06:49 PM   #19
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5,308
Images: 1
Wow is right! You have made some tremendous progress on your rebuild. Your aluminum end cap and "flat" ceiling look great. So does the woodwork. Cabinet building is one of the hardest aspects of an Airstream renovation. Your overhead locker in the galley is great.

Thanks for posting the thread for all to see. It is a very special trailer.

David
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Old 12-24-2015, 10:01 PM   #20
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boca raton , Florida
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Thanks for keeping us up to date. We have a new to us 68 overlander that I am getting ready to start on. Are you going to build the rear end cap also? It looks like you have changed the bathroom layout. Are you keeping the shower or converting to a wet bath? Im 6' and im going to toss the shower and maybe shretch the bathroom out an extra foot so I can take a comfortable shower.
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