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Old 11-20-2011, 01:16 PM   #1
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Blasting Off!! '54 Cruiser...Back To Life...

OK...My wife Debbie and I bought this '54 Cruiser from: VintageCampers.com :: Vintage Campers, Vintage Trailers, Vintage Parts, Vintage Restorations

We bought the camper in Dec of 2010 and Debbie drove from MA to Peru, Indiana last month and towed it back home. Our plan is to completely redo it, shell off. We have always had trailers in our lives and recently sold our 2006 Airstream CCD Bambi so we'd have room in the driveway for the Cruiser.

Between 2005 and 2010 I built an airplane that I now have 72 hours on. I am very familiar with aluminum due to that project and have all the required tools plus some additional ones that I know will come in very handy.

I have moved the trailer into our airplane hangar, which is heated, so we can work on it over the winter. The Cruiser was in very good shape for its age and you can check out some before pics on this link: '54 Airstream Cruiser

All the pictures that appear in this thread will also be on that website, so go there if you want to see higher resolution. The pics below show the trailer in the hangar and the interior with current status.

Right now we have started the demo and have everything out except the wetbath, the broom closet and the upper aluminum cabinets. As we progress I will update this thread. I have reviewed many of the other rehab threads on the forums and those have been invaluable for me in formulating the plan of attack here.

Thanks for looking...Don and Debbie
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Old 11-24-2011, 10:39 PM   #2
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Hi Don
Looks like a great project. So whats the plan? Shell on or off? Hows the frame?etc. With your experiance with plane building, this project should be up your alley. That rivet squeezer is very handy indeed. I also love all my air drills and guns. A mig welder comes in handy as well. Good luck, keep it comming!
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:38 PM   #3
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Javier,

The plan is shell off...or at least up enough to get the old floor out and the new one in. I haven't seen the frame yet but my feeling is it's in good shape, nevertheless I'll be strengthening it in certain areas. I need to learn to weld, my airplane was all aluminum...no welding just 10,000 or so rivets. If you think that manual rivet squeezer is a good tool wait til you see my pneumatic squeezer Invaluable. Before I picked up the trailer from vintage campers I had them replace the axle with a torsion bar variety so that's done.

I'll be back at it this weekend.
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Old 01-13-2012, 02:01 PM   #4
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Ok, the holidays are over and we're back on track. Interior demo is now complete. No real mysteries here, the wet bath was kind of a chore getting out and the hunk of pipe sticking through the floor will stay in place until I take the floor out...big piece of galvanized pipe hanging though the belly skin. I cut out the corners of the shower enclosure from top to bottom...about 4" of each side. I may end up re-using these to make sure I get a good seal at the corners when I construct the new bath, at the very least they will give me a good template for the curve of the shell.
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Old 01-14-2012, 03:13 PM   #5
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Debbie went down to the hangar on Friday morning and drilled off all the lower interior skins. So far I have to say I think I got a real gem. There is one spot of corrosion which you can see in one of the pics that goes right to daylight, the area where daylight can be seen is part of the belly wrap, not the exterior skin. The interior corners with the segmented U channel are all in great shape. The floor does have some holes as you can see but it is being replaced (of course) anyway.

Next steps are to drill off the banana wrap, drop the belly skin, brace the interior and raise the shell. Not this weekend though...24/7 football from here on out. GO PATRIOTS!!!! Debbie and my daughter Jesse are going to the game, while I eat ribs on my neighbors couch
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Old 02-14-2012, 09:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NTRPRZ View Post
Debbie went down to the hangar on Friday morning and drilled off all the lower interior skins. So far I have to say I think I got a real gem. There is one spot of corrosion which you can see in one of the pics that goes right to daylight, the area where daylight can be seen is part of the belly wrap, not the exterior skin. The interior corners with the segmented U channel are all in great shape. The floor does have some holes as you can see but it is being replaced (of course) anyway.

Next steps are to drill off the banana wrap, drop the belly skin, brace the interior and raise the shell. Not this weekend though...24/7 football from here on out. GO PATRIOTS!!!! Debbie and my daughter Jesse are going to the game, while I eat ribs on my neighbors couch
Make sure that you brace the shell before you disconnect the ribs from the frame. Also make really accurate measurements where the ribs connect to the outriggers. Dont ask me why....
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:20 PM   #7
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Javier...wise advise is always heeded, I will be at that point very soon so I will do that. I also plan to take some good measurements so I know where the shell should be once I lower it back down. Thanks.

Continued with drilling out all the lower perimeter solid rivets, very tedious work but it's done. After building the airplane if there's one thing I know about it's drilling out rivets. Blind rivets are obviously easy to drill out, just put the drill bit in the hole and go at it. Solid rivets are another story. The mistake most people will make is they think they have to drill right through...you don't. All you really want to do is snap off the head as this will protect the integrity of the hole. There is a small dimple on solid rivets and you should carefully place your drill bit on that, start slow and drill no more than 1/8th inch deep. Then insert a 1/8th punch in the hole and snap off the head. Then still using the punch, bang it with a hammer to remove the shop head from the other side of the aluminum. I have tried many different methods and this is the best for not compromising the hole. Invariably you will screw one up and you'll need to use the needle nose vice grips to yank it out.

Anyway the entire perimeter is done. The four hidden rivets where the front and rear quarter panels meet up with sides are also out. All that needs to done now is to cut off one rivet on the inside bottom of each rib where it attaches to the C channel and it will be time to lift.
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:23 PM   #8
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Few more pics from the work today. As always Mrs Enterprise (Debbie) is right along side me. She focussed on removing screws holding the C channel to the floor while I drilled out the rivets on the perimter. I was really psyched that the wheel well trim survived the removal process...should be able to clean these up and reattach.
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Old 02-22-2012, 04:51 PM   #9
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Great work! Nice to see that the little lady is gettin in on the action. Cant hog all the fun to ourselves now can we. With all those solid rivets you may want to purchase this tool. It makes drilling out solid rivets a snap!
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Old 02-23-2012, 06:29 PM   #10
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I actually have the tool but for some perverse reason like using the punch to remove

Last night I removed the last rivets holding the shell. Where the ribs come down to the floor there was a rivet through each rib from the folded up belly skin which was of course covered on the exterior by the shell...a very awkward location , couldn't get the drill or the dremel in to cut them so used a cold chisel from the inside to snap off the shop head and then push the universal head out between the belly skin and shell skin. Once I brace it, I can lift it
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Old 03-11-2012, 04:01 PM   #11
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Shell Lifted!!

We braced the interior using metal studs...really easyto cut to size and rivet to the ribs. I bolted in two, 2x6's, one at either end, about 7" off the floor so the jacks could fit underneath. Cranked the jacks up and voila...it lifted. A little bit of resistance at the front end. One of my jacks is too small and I'll have to get another that can lift a bit higher. I screwed together two, 2x4's to make a 4x4...made 2 of these. I need to pick up 12 concrete blocks to make 4 stacks of 3 blocks each (24" high), then I will continue jacking the shell up, slide my 4x4's on top of the blocks and under the shell, then lower the jacks and take them out.
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Old 03-31-2012, 09:32 PM   #12
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Don, Just found your thread,Great to see Another 54 Cruiser, this will be fun to watch!! Keep the pictures coming!
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Old 04-01-2012, 02:50 PM   #13
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Doug, I have been following your progress and it is keeping me inspired. Lots of things are scheming to get in the way of the work on my Cruiser...building a new house and the airplane has taken a lot of time lately...but I am on a mission. Dropping the belly pan is next.

Thanks for the advice on the battery, I will do the same.
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Old 05-23-2012, 09:47 AM   #14
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Don, Hope you are still making some progress. Here are some interesting facts on the Cruiser if you haven't seen them.
http://www.airstream.com/files/libra...b2c382c759.pdf
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