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Old 10-17-2008, 11:37 PM   #1
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My New '55 Safari

I purchased my "new to me" 1955 22' Safari about 2 months ago, but finally went from Michigan all the way to Massachusetts to pick it up this last weekend, getting home late Thursday evening. The whole trip was quite an adventure, involving picking up additional parts (stove, toilet, etc.) in New York and Pennsylvania on the way home to eventually restore the trailer. And I had the joy of a trailer tire blow out on I-80 on the return trip. But we made it home safely, even including a stop by Jackson Center, Ohio to tour the plant and buy a few parts for the '94 Excella.

I had not wanted to post photo's until I had the trailer in my possession (superstitious, I guess), but here are a couple of teasers until I can take some more detailed shots.

This is the culmination of a dream. Lorrie and I fell in love with the mid-50's Safari front kitchen floor plan when we were in one earlier this summer. We are now thrilled to have one of our own. But now my mind is racing with options. Do I mainly try to use the Safari "as is" for a while? Do I tear into a "body on" floor replacement? Etc. Being that winter is coming to Michigan soon, either way the real fun likely starts next spring.
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Old 10-18-2008, 12:47 AM   #2
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Congratulations!

Congratulations Lorrie and Joe!

She looks great!

We had a similar tire blow out experience when we picked up our 1961 Bambi, earlier this month. Apparently she sat in a yard for four years without being driven. There was a small leak in the street side tire. We drove the twenty five miles home gingerly, all the while praying to the god of hemi's and handbags (his and mine). We made it home fine, only to have the tire blow right in front of our driveway-not in our driveway mind you-oh no! It blew in the middle of our tiny, narrow, winding street at midnight! We quickly became acquainted with the fact that not all tire changing thingies work on fifteen inch wheels. (Apparently, it's Gemma who's writing).

We're glad you made it home safely and hope you have many fun filled adventures down the road,

Gemma (and Murray)
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Old 10-18-2008, 05:39 AM   #3
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Lorrie and Joe,
Glad you got your rig home safely and nice meeting you both.
Jaime
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Old 10-18-2008, 06:17 AM   #4
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Congratulations Lorrie and Joe, 13 panel Airstream in good shape are very hard to find and it looks like you have found a great one. We meet at one of the Detroit Rallys at Apple Creek a couple of years ago, we had the shinning 1965 Caravel. I'm in the process of doing a full shell off restoration on a 1955 Safari now http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...ent-38289.html

You should join us at the T.C.T. spring rally in Milford, Michigan http://www.tincantourists.com/

Keep the picture coming.
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Old 10-18-2008, 08:32 AM   #5
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Congratulations Lorrie and Joe, 13 panel Airstream in good shape are very hard to find and it looks like you have found a great one. We meet at one of the Detroit Rallys at Apple Creek a couple of years ago, we had the shinning 1965 Caravel. I'm in the process of doing a full shell off restoration on a 1955 Safari now http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...ent-38289.html

You should join us at the T.C.T. spring rally in Milford, Michigan Tin Can Tourists

Keep the picture coming.
Toastie,
You know, the funny thing is for years we used to occasionally drive by the '55 Safari you bought - it was less than 10 miles from where we live, but when it showed up on eBay the first time it was gone (stored up north somewhere). When it went back on eBay the second time it was home, so I contacted the owner about stopping by to take a look, and he didn't seem to enthused about the idea, so it never happened and I never bid on the auction. How odd that I miss one 10 miles away and then go 700+ miles one way to get another one. And before this one, I said I'd never buy "sight unseen", although in this case the PO sent me many photo's and videos, so I felt pretty confortable that I knew what I was getting.

All old Airstreams all need work, and this one will eventually get a floor replacement, probably some frame work, some more period correct interior goodies (stove, toilet, front floor cabinet & drawers, etc.), maybe black and or gray tanks, and there are a few exterior dents to eventually address (but they are "beauty marks" for now), but for local rallies I think it should be usable more or less "as is" for a while. My thoughts at the moment revolve around just maintaing the exterior for now - a little caulking, maybe replace the maker lights or at least making gaskets for them, more polishing (the 1st pass of polishing is already done), etc. Then I can get into the more intensive things when I have a place at home to work on it (can't do that at the current time).

I would love to see your '55 when it is done, and yes this trailer will eventually make it to some Metro-Detroit Rallies and Tin Can Tourist, too. Hope to see you there.
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Old 10-18-2008, 08:34 AM   #6
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Lorrie and Joe,
Glad you got your rig home safely and nice meeting you both.
Jaime
Jaime,
Lorrie and I really enjoyed meeting you, too. Thanks for the parts and good luck with your trailer.
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:07 AM   #7
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Welcome to the 13 panel club!! Look snice Joe, can't wist to see it up close.
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Old 10-21-2008, 01:14 PM   #8
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Nice find Joe. There is just something about the look of the 13 panel trailers that hits a home run with me every time I see one. I'm fortunate that both my buddies also bought similar trailers to mine so I get to see more than just my own boring trailer.

I'm looking forward to more pictures and how you decide to move forward with it. Building them out is great fun but nothing compares to going down the road with one and camping takes on a new meaning when people are always coming over and asking for tours.

Enjoy

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Old 10-21-2008, 04:28 PM   #9
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WoooHooo! Gotta love those mid-50's Safaris ~ so cool, another one to track!

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Old 10-21-2008, 05:55 PM   #10
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Wow...looks nice...Id love to find one like that around here!
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:27 PM   #11
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Spenty much of the past weekend cleaning and winterizing the Safari and just had the time to sort thru the photo's, so I have a few more to share.

To start off, here are a few more exterior photos . . .
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:36 PM   #12
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Here are a few interior shots from the front of the Safari . . .

The toilet is a 1970's Mini-Monomatic Recriculating model with a 3 gallon internal holding tank. I even found two boxes of it's formaldahyde based chemical under the bathroom sink, which is no longer made and which probably can't be dumped anywhere anyway. Looking this toilet up on the internet, they seemed to claim up to 80 flushes without changing the water - Yuck! That's gotta go.

The stove, drawers, and fridge were probably re-done back in the 70's when the toilet ws changed. A few 12V lights were added at that time, too.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:43 PM   #13
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Here are a few interior photos towards the rear . . .

The Barnes Fresh Air Heater between the beds was probably also added in the 1970's. It uses propane and has an integral 12V electric fan. Not sure I am even going to try to get it working. Combustion gases vent out the little cover on the reat streetside corner.
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:49 PM   #14
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And finally, here are a couple middle interior photo's, including one of a the stangest Water Heater I have ever seen under the front dinette seat. It appears to be a 110VAC electric only model and is shaped like a scuba tank. It and the electric air pump to pressurize the water system were also added in the 1970's, I assume.

Also attached are some photo's of the extra parts I picked up along the return trip in New York and Pennsylvania to aid me in the restoration. Among the bigger pickups was the stove, drawers, and countertop from a 1956 Safari, and the toilet from a 1962 Overlander. I also got a lot of micellaneous smaller parts, knobs and light fixtures, etc.
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:03 PM   #15
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So what does this all mean? I don't know. The interior Zolatone and woodwork is in mostly good shape and the exterior skin isn't too bad - it has a few dents, but the first cut of polishing is done. I was hoping to use the trailer "as is" for a while. But now I am beginning to think I'd like to do some of the updates (e.g. toilet) and repairs (e.g. plumbing, electrical), but it makes no sense to put much effort into these tasks until I have repaired the soft spots in the floor (actually I would plan to replace the whole floor just be safe). And some of the plumbing issues (i.e. leaks) and electrical issues (i.e. some outlets and lights that don't work) would definitely be easier to repair when the interior out for the floor replacement. So the question is, how much roughing it are Lorrie and I up to? Should we just dive in to the big overhaul, replacing the floor, repairing the frame, redoing the wiring, adding black and/or gray tanks, etc.? I guess I've got until spring to make a decision unless I can find an indoor place to work on the trailer. But that gives me lots of time to plan. And lots of time to admire the mid-50's Safari floor plan with that big bank of windows down the streetside. I love it! I may just have to go sit in the trailer in the storage yard from time to time throughout the winter and dream of camping in it.
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:42 PM   #16
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Wow, and you found her in my home state of Massachusetts!! Congrats! Was she out in western MA? I grew up on the South Shore and rarely (if ever) saw Airstreams in my neck of the woods. But then again, maybe I just didn't realize them before I got a little older and out of my parent's place. And definitely not a lot of places to park one once you get closer to Boston.

that material used to cover the "mattresses" in the back sure looks like it's right out of the 70's!! YIKES! I think my grandmother had a couch done up like that!!

I'm so jealous you found one in MA! I just brought mine home this weekend and am going to start washing and cleaning her up on the outside-I am sure it will take more than one scrubdown!
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Old 10-22-2008, 05:23 AM   #17
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I thought I'd add one pleaseant observation from the trip home pulling the '55 Safari. Since it is smaller and lighter than the '94 Excella, I found I could tow it in Overdrive (4th) and Tow/Haul without heating up the transmission. This allowed me to get 10.5 to 11.5 mpg on the trip home while pulling it. The lower number came in the mountainy areas and the higher on the flats. That's definitely better than the 9.5 to 10.0 mpg I usually get pulling the Excella in 3rd and Tow/Haul. Both numbers represent a maximum towing speed of 60 mph.
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Old 10-22-2008, 09:22 PM   #18
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Wow, and you found her in my home state of Massachusetts!! Congrats! Was she out in western MA? I grew up on the South Shore and rarely (if ever) saw Airstreams in my neck of the woods. But then again, maybe I just didn't realize them before I got a little older and out of my parent's place. And definitely not a lot of places to park one once you get closer to Boston.

that material used to cover the "mattresses" in the back sure looks like it's right out of the 70's!! YIKES! I think my grandmother had a couch done up like that!!

I'm so jealous you found one in MA! I just brought mine home this weekend and am going to start washing and cleaning her up on the outside-I am sure it will take more than one scrubdown!
It did come from eastern Massachusetts (a small town NW of Boston). The two owners before me were both in MA and had it for 8 years or so between them according to what I have been told. I have no idea where it spent it's life before that. Perhaps it's first 45 years or so were spent outside MA. Or not. I doubt I'll ever know.
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Old 10-23-2008, 06:53 AM   #19
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Joe, It looks like a great find. I stumbled onto a 1956 22 foot Safari back in the summer, but a number of modifications had been done. Good to see the interior pictures of yours to get some ideas as to what one should really look like.
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Old 10-25-2008, 05:14 PM   #20
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That's a great coach, Joe. You don't see the front kitchen very often, only over just a couple of years in the 50's.
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