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Old 07-12-2005, 12:00 AM   #15
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1979 31' Excella 500
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Thermopane window replacement

Hiya, Dallas (and other Excella 500 fans!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
I don't know of an easy fix for this. The windows were originally tinted with silver reflective tint which is peeling on some of our windows.
The fix is *gulp* easy. The OEM replacement windows are still manufactured in California, although the Thermopane variant is no longer available (too bad, I say). Jackson Center says $250 per window installed.

The riveted front windows (three of these, of course), curbside "picture window," and the two lower roadside vista views priced the same as the (cheaper to install, more expensive to manufacture) swing-outs on the two roadside salon windows, one galley and two bedroom windows, and the rear bathroom window for (let's see, carry the eight, square the drag coefficient...) something like $3k for replacement of all the nasty Thermopanes in a rear bath model. Your remaining (upper) vista views are not Thermopane.

Worth it, I say, but (for me) one of the last projects to undertake. It takes about six weeks to order the windows.

There is one other alternative that I won't consider myself but you may breaking out the inner window panes in the Thermopane units and dealing with some other issues. There are detailed postings elsewhere in the forums. The windows are one of my favorite features of this model, and I don't really want to take a hammer to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
The end cap was terminally yellowed and looked bad. It had to be painted! I was originally going to repaint it white and sponge paint on a color to match the aluminum panels. I didn't like it pure white once I painted the base layer. It was just too glaring. Then I painted it an off-white and really liked it. In fact, I decided not to sponge paint the contrasting color. I liked the solid color look. I think it's called Canvas White.
I'm dealing with this very issue now (have already masked twice and tried two colors I cannot abide... a brite white and a grey) but I have felt I was limited to colors available in Dupont Krylon because of plastic bonding issues and a desire to not remask/repaint as frequently as some other vintage owners need to do. Now I'm remasking/repainting a third time in a few short weeks anyway, so...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
I've also included a picture of the coupler from this trailer. It's unusual to see this style on an Airstream. I was wondering if yours had one like it.
I don't have this type of coupler either, but I do have the screen room (apparently unused). I did have to move the screen room couplings to the new awning roller bar when I replaced the awning and bar last year.

seeya in the neighborhood,

Johnny
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Old 07-12-2005, 10:37 AM   #16
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Johnny-

Thanks for joining in the thread! It's good to hear from another late 70's Excella owner out there!

I agree with you about the windows. I love the thermopane concept, but hate the fogging and delaminating of the inside reflective tint layer. I started moving my windows around and took the bad ones and tinted them and then moved them to the bedroom area where we mostly keep the curtains drawn all the time in the bedroom. You don't tend to have the eye drawn to the problem with the silver reflective tint that I used! If you look closely, the flaws are still visible. But your mind kind of shuts out the fogginess and says "that window's not clear because it's tinted". At least, that's what I'm hoping for! My wife enjoys having it darker in the bedroom because she likes to sleep late in the morning. I'm toying with doing the back window, but I like being able to see through the trailer when I'm driving.

I've seen posts about breaking out the inner pane on the oval windows (Vista View and portal windows down below) but I've never heard of this being done for the opening windows. Is this what you meant? If so, I'd like to see results of that. I'd be concerned about the structural integrity of the window/frame unit after that.

I ended up using the Rustoleum "Paint for Plastics" "Shell White" for the endcaps. I also repainted our screen frames in a closely matching color which was Rustoleum "Canvas White." I tried the Krylon Fusion in a white satin and it just wasn't to my liking--too dull a texture and of course, too stark white. The Rustoleum for plastics worked very well. I'm happy with the results. I've seen others sponge paint to get the original look back and I don't think I'd have the patience to do a good enough job, and from what I've seen, if it's not done right it can end up looking kinda tacky. I'd like for it just to blend in, not draw attention to itself. I painted the white tambor doors to match. Replacements of the white tambor are not available to my knowledge. My doors work fine, they're just yellowed, so the paint really freshens things up. I did a lot of masking and repainting. Let me tell you, I also learned to wear an N-95 mask! I came home with white nasal hairs the first time when I didn't inspite of having fans on to circulate air through. The paint particles also go everywhere. Be sure to cover every surface you don't want painted and even move stuff out of cabinets where it can drift in. I masked and remasked a few times, too!

I need to keep going back through the galley repainting the yellowed plastic and the tambor. I'd like to take out our spice rack which has some broken areas, mend those broken spots and repaint that, too.

You guys with screen rooms make me jealous! Do have any idea how expensive those are!?! I wish my prior owner would have just handed me one! At least I got some Zip-Dee tire covers...

Pics of the windows (Galley and Bedroom) with tinting below.
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Old 07-12-2005, 12:15 PM   #17
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Hi, Dallas,

Looking at the picture of your Excella below, I notice that your side marker lights are above the beltline. On mine, they're below. Also, the two-way reflector is actually above the bumper side trim that goes forward to meet rear curvature on mine. It looks like your's is higher up if I'm looking at the right thing. (Somebody got enthusiastic with the Vulkem on mine where the bumper cover meets the shell, but poking around inside doesn't show any discoloration or soft spots.)

This trailer lived in Arizona before it moved to Michigan. In the cabinet between the beds, I found some silver heat-reflective bubble-like strips cut to fit the rear access door. I wonder if it once had a full set of them?

I theorize that the little tabs loose in the windows might have just had a function in holding the glass together until the stuff cured. My glass feels intact when I squeeze the edges, so I don't think I've lost any structural integrity. Also, I don't have the extra framing around the main and lower windows on the streetside. Their frames are separate and don't touch each other.

Annoyingly, the top strip between the glass on the picture window is sagging in the middle where the ends meet.

If these windows were Thermopanes, I think they have long since peeled.

Lamar
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Old 07-12-2005, 12:59 PM   #18
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Hiya Doc!

Thanks so much for the welcome. It's especially nice to be here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
I agree with you about the windows. I love the thermopane concept, but hate the fogging and delaminating of the inside reflective tint layer.
Delamination is not an issue for me (one year later, and much darker factory tint from a different process) but the "fogging" caused by moisture entering the air gap, and the streaks caused by moisture transport certainly remain even if you do have to look more carefully to see it.

Thermopanes are not just a concept, though. Their greater R-value really does help with a huge source of heat loss, and they are still much more effective a thermal barrier than single-pane installations even with the loss of their seal efficacy.

It's a feature that is in sad disregard among AS owners. Airstream corporate took this disregard as encouragement to simply drop the feature rather than improve the Thermopane installation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
If you look closely, the flaws are still visible. But your mind kind of shuts out the...
Ain't that how it is!

I remember how, once, a body shop painter explained to me his system for rating a particular paint application. "Thirty feet, twenty feet, ten feet, three feet, and 'on contact' are the ratings," he explained. "It's how close you have to be to see the flaws."

Of course, that system was developed for the calibre of work he was doing at a body shop performing Ferarri warranty work. Over the years I have found many more folks who rate such work by the number of alcoholic beverages you must ingest to make their work look acceptable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
I've seen posts about breaking out the inner pane on the oval windows (Vista View and portal windows down below) but I've never heard of this being done for the opening windows. Is this what you meant? If so, I'd like to see results of that. I'd be concerned about the structural integrity of the window/frame unit after that.
Me too, actually. Dunno if the applications included the "opening" windows. Sorry. I didn't look all that closely at those posts. As I said, I don't really want to take a hammer to them (or automatic center punch, or any other process that is accompanied by the sound of breaking glass).

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
I ended up using the Rustoleum "Paint for Plastics" "Shell White" for the endcaps. I also repainted our screen frames in a closely matching color which was Rustoleum "Canvas White." I tried the Krylon Fusion in a white satin and it just wasn't to my liking--too dull a texture and of course, too stark white. The Rustoleum for plastics worked very well. I'm happy with the results.
In addition to trying two colors, I also tried both finishes (gloss and satin). I guess I actually had to try four different remaskings/repaintings.

I know what you mean about the satin finish. It was actually gritty to touch. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll try the Rustoleum products later this week.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD
Let me tell you, I also learned to wear an N-95 mask!
Considering the high incidence of occupational respiratory illness for painters (and users of solvents with MDSs that almost promise cancer), I'm surprised that you are not using a N-99 mask with organic solvent cartridges.

I do.
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Old 07-12-2005, 01:17 PM   #19
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Hi Lamar,

Quote:
Originally Posted by SafeHarbor
My glass feels intact when I squeeze the edges, so I don't think I've lost any structural integrity.

If these windows were Thermopanes, I think they have long since peeled.

Lamar
I think the "loss of structural integrity," as used by Dallas, refers to any issues which may result from the removal of the inner pane of glass.

"Thermopane" refers to a branded process used to fabricate windows with two (or more) panes of glass separated by an "air gap" and without regard for any tinting (whether laminar plastic or incorporated into the glass). So, if your windows were Thermopane, then they remain Thermopane until you try the hammer/center punch route or replace them with new, single-pane units.
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Old 07-12-2005, 03:17 PM   #20
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Ive been trying for years to find someone with an excella 500 safe to lend/copy me keys for their safe. My trailer didn't come with keys for the safe, so I've never been in it.

If someone lends me a set of keys that works, I'll split whatever is in the safe with you....

Craig
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Old 07-12-2005, 05:37 PM   #21
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Craig-

Welcome to the thread! I've helped people out with keys before at rallys. It's not suprising that some Airstream keys will work in other's trailers! My Mom and Dad were Airstreamers back in the '70's. There were always stories--possibly with a grain of truth--about a gentleman who would come home late at night and unlock 'his' trailer only to find a woman inside who was not his wife!

Anyway, I took pictures of my keys. Maybe if someone else can take pictures of theirs we can compare and see if these were all the same key combination! I'm afraid, though, just by looking at these keys that they are a lot like safety deposit box keys and I bet they are all pretty different. We lost a key to our safety deposit box in a fire and they had to drill the lock to get it open....

Maybe we'll meet up at a rally someday!

In regards to the windows: I really like having the two panes of glass in order to cut down on sweating on the inside. I also think it helps reduce noise transfer as well. I've try to remind myself of all these benefits as I'm looking through a cloudy window!

I felt like an N-95 mask was adequate for a short term project like this. If I was doing it everyday for a living, then higher requirements would be reasonable. I definitely recommend opening up all the windows you can to get ventilation. It's also better to paint first, then rescreen the windows...don't ask me how I know that!

Some of my thermopanes have peeled so badly that there is just a pile of crumblies in the bottom of the window and the panes are almost completely peeled back to clear! Just another few years, I guess!
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Old 07-13-2005, 05:00 PM   #22
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Hi, guys,

I posted two more shots of the interior of my trailer to my gallery, so that covers the entire interior now.

Next, give it a bath and get some exterior shots.
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Old 07-15-2005, 02:00 AM   #23
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Just discovered the forum today, looks to be a plethora of good info! Here is my floor plan... 79 Excella 500, it is the rear twin/center bath, with the credenza up front and side gaucho. I'll try to post my own photos soon in the gallery, but for now some pics are still on the web at http://www.spradsrv.com/Details.aspx?sn=3117
Yep, new owner. All appliances, upholstery, flooring seems to be 100% original. Even the Nutone appliances are in their boxes. Oh, the lounge chair is still there with original fabric, wearing just a bit thin on the arms. Does have the parquet wood floor in the galley, in good shape.
I also was given a 1980 brochure, it calls the spice rack a new luxury option?
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Old 07-15-2005, 02:31 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinder
Just discovered the forum today... it calls the spice rack a new luxury option?
Hiya Kinder

Welcome. Expect some backflips from Lamar when he sees that you, too, are in the centre bath, rear twins club. Expect a decoder ring and secret handshake, at the very least! *grin*

Only if you actually put spices in it. Something about the way the folks cook there in Jackson Center.

At least the Hobo's Restaurant does have Tabasco even if it's only the standard stuff and not the (drum roll, please) habanero variety. *bigger grin*

Enjoy your new Airstream. For goodmess sakes, go camping!
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Old 07-15-2005, 08:54 AM   #25
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Hi, Kinder,

Welcome to the forums. I look forward to seeing your pictures in the gallery.

No bannana on this one being an identical twin, however. You've got the side caucho and I have the front gaucho. Hmm... a front Zip-Dee. I bet it really looks good with all the awnings out.

Where does your parquet flooring start at? Somewhere in line with the range?

On mine it goes to the front, under the credenza, and tucks just under the gaucho. There's a small peice of goldish brown carpet under the two doors under the microwave compartment. I don't know if my parquet is original, but it does look like it was installed all the same time, and they would have had to do some disassembly to get it UNDER the credenza.

It looks like you got a really nice trailer. Like the sixer says, time to top off and go camping!
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Old 07-15-2005, 09:06 AM   #26
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Hi guys, we own a 78 Excella 500 31'. Although we've owned it only a few months, the forums here have been a fantastic resource to help with a few of the restoration jobs we needed to do (like restoring our vista windows). Fortunately ours is in great shape. I found this 78 Airstream Sales brochure on the web, see link http://www.dwmorrison.com/78brochure1.pdf

The complete link for the site is http://www.dwmorrison.com/airstream.htm

Although the brochure doesnt mention Excella models, it seems to include photos of our unit (including the "5th Avenue Lounge" and "Hollywood Bathroom".) It has some good pics of layouts - perhaps it will help.

Regards Rob
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Old 07-15-2005, 09:59 AM   #27
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Thanks for the welcomes.
SafeHarbor, the parquet floors start a couple feet under the side gaucho/in line with the door. Must have been installed before the gaucho. A little wear as that is the first steps you take into the trailer, I'll have to do just a bit of work to restore that section. As to the awnings, I have one on each side!

I won't get a chance to work on pictures until next week, headed out of town this weekend, unfortunately not with the Excella... then again my vehicle is a 98 Subaru, so it's for the best! I will be full-timing though starting in four weeks, just cleaning out the house now.
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Old 07-15-2005, 10:19 AM   #28
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Kinder-

Welcome to the Forum!!! It must be a great feeling getting your new Airstream! I looked at the pictures and it looks really wonderful. I think the ad from the RV place was right "This one won't last." Well, that doesn't sound right taken out of context, but you know what I mean!

From what I see there are many original features still there. It's great you got an original chair. Definitely would hang onto that! It looks like you might have an original table lamp on the credenza, too. The curtains look very original and appear to be in good shape, too. I can see the Dishmaster is still there! The blind in the bathroom appears original, too. Does your table pull out from the front of the trailer, or from the curbside?

Your gas bottle covers are authentic to the trailer, too. I bet you there's an eight-track lurking in there somewhere! Definitely hang on to those Nutone appliances! What a great find. See if the original built-in vacuum is in there, too. A lot of those were removed--may not have worked well from the get go.

I want to point out one other thing I noticed. Your unit appears to have the vacuum disc brake setup as evidenced by the box behind the gas bottles. I hope you're prepared for that setup because it is different from the norm and what you AND the RV place may be used to. Maybe they've been converted over to electric and they just kept the box in place.

Good luck and stay in touch!
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