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Old 05-03-2016, 01:46 PM   #1
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Classic Newb mistake...

Well, we have been wanting an Airstream for quite a while and finally found one we THOUGHT would be great. A '66 28" Ambassador Double. Exterior and interior both in nice enough shape not to be a full gut. Serviceable. A Great starting point....

The floor past the wheel sloped down but, no big deal right?

So we started the restoration by first pulling the entire belly pan to see what we were dealing with. Plan was to get the rear end re-welded, run new gas lines, reinsulate, button it back up and then move on to the next step. Well, the trailer went to the welder today who took a look and determined the frame too far gone to fix. Nothing to tie into for new steel. His advice, cut our losses.

So...what now? We can't in good conscious sell to someone else without full disclosure. Do we part it out? How do we find someone who might be willing to go farther than we were willing and do frame off and reassemble? How much is a new frame and where can one be found?

Needless to say our dreams are feeling pretty crushed right now and looking for advice on how to sell this one and reassess or encouragement to forge ahead...

Thanks.
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Old 05-03-2016, 01:56 PM   #2
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If the shell and interior are in good condition then why not build a new frame and start anew? Surprises such as yours are common place, and while discouraging, frame work isn't all that complicated, especially if you are a handy person.
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Old 05-03-2016, 03:45 PM   #3
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Do you have pics of the damage! More than opinion is great wisdom! Always consult more than one person. On here you have hundreds. Just take some pics and post them here. What you have may be repairable
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Old 05-06-2016, 09:13 PM   #4
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If the shell and interior are in good condition then why not build a new frame and start anew? Surprises such as yours are common place, and while discouraging, frame work isn't all that complicated, especially if you are a handy person.
Well...I think we may have decided to go this route. On Monday we were ready to cut bait and run and today it looks like we are going to take the shell off and have a new frame built. The IDEAL candidate was my neighbor who is a skilled metal fabricator but he said the job is too big for his shop. I even talked to him about the possibilities of an Aluminum frame but he recommended talking to a aluminum trailer shop like Aluma and see what they say.

I hate to ask questions that have been asked here over and over, I know that can be annoying for established forum members, but is there a thread you might direct me to that might be a good reference for how to find a good candidate for making a new frame? My neighbor was saying it's not (at least in the case of doing an aluminum frame) simply finding someone who can weld some metal together, but finding someone who is engineering the frame correctly. We are most likely going to take the old frame to the fabricator to be used as a template.
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Old 05-06-2016, 09:41 PM   #5
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Ballparking only - much depends on how many good welders there are and whether they have a backlog. Minimum cost for a new frame in comparable materials to the old one $1500-2000. Go ahead bite the bullet HARD and spring for new "loaded" axles - that plus good tires will get your "ride" issues taken care of... The old axles are shot and will transfer all the vibration of a rough road surface into the new frame shortening it's life. A loaded axle has new hubs, brakes, etc.

For searching - go to the drop down "google search" and type in "full monte" for one good "how to" on frame off restorations. Another search with "contemporization" as your key word will show a really unique custom job on a basically sound unit. "new frame" and "frame off" will get you a lot of good stuff too.

You can get the frame done, a floor fabricated, put the body back on the shell, wire up the lights and brakes and go camping in an "aluminum tent." Add a porta potty for rainy nights, then an nice air mattress, and a hotplate with an extension cord or a propane grill... and do bits and pieces of the reno while still camping in your ever-improving classic Airstream. Most people can surprise themselves when they find out they can safely and properly do their own plumbing, wiring and propane systems as well as a lot of the carpentry. I paid to have a lot of work done - fans, leaks, floors, appliance and plumbing upgrades and new linoleum flooring, but I'm doing all of the soft stuff like curtains, upholstery, bedding, etc.

Tell the kids Harvard is out if they can't get a full boat scholarship. Let the Air Force recruiter talk to them about becoming a dentist or doctor - with just a modest amount of service as an officer to repay the educational costs.

Go one day at a time - and take time to attend or at least visit a rally or two in your area. You'll find some other vintage fans who'll help and advise you.

You can bring your Airstream back to the gem it once was, hope we can continue to give you moral support. Paula
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Old 05-06-2016, 09:44 PM   #6
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http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...ad-118881.html


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Old 05-06-2016, 09:47 PM   #7
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Imho there is very little reason to go aluminum with a frame. It will cost twice as much as steel or more for very little overall gain.


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Old 05-06-2016, 10:28 PM   #8
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Thanks for the shoutout J Morgan, was going to chime in but there's the link to my page.

Brother I have been there and know what you are going through. Honest opinion, unless you are super motivated, decently skilled, and ready to shell out another 20K you might want to sell it as a backyard camper, static food truck, etc.

Read through my thread, I am more than happy to advise if you decide to go for it. I am just over 2 years in and 15K in parts and material. The only thing I haven't done myself was the frame and the metal fabrication of 2 new wheel wells.

IF you do decide to go for it, buy a used pop-up so you can get camping ASAP and not stress about finishing quickly.


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Old 05-06-2016, 10:34 PM   #9
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I seem to recall that Airstream will supply a frame for any model from 1950 thru the 60s for something around $3900 including axles and brakes. You might see if Andy at InlandRV can't find a NOS frame lying around somewhere.
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Old 05-07-2016, 10:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
For searching - go to the drop down "google search" and type in "full monte" for one good "how to" on frame off restorations. Another search with "contemporization" as your key word will show a really unique custom job on a basically sound unit. "new frame" and "frame off" will get you a lot of good stuff too.
Thanks for these suggestions, I'll take a look!

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LOL!!, I'm actually in the process of making my way through this one as we "speak".

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Originally Posted by millertimeUS View Post
Thanks for the shoutout J Morgan, was going to chime in but there's the link to my page.

Brother I have been there and know what you are going through. Honest opinion, unless you are super motivated, decently skilled, and ready to shell out another 20K you might want to sell it as a backyard camper, static food truck, etc.

Read through my thread, I am more than happy to advise if you decide to go for it. I am just over 2 years in and 15K in parts and material. The only thing I haven't done myself was the frame and the metal fabrication of 2 new wheel wells.

IF you do decide to go for it, buy a used pop-up so you can get camping ASAP and not stress about finishing quickly.
Well SPEAK OF THE DEVIL , we are traditionally tent campers so we will continue to go that route until the project is completed. We will be the only family we camp with that uses a camper of any sort so waiting until it's ready is no big deal. I think we will be discussing our options more later today but we are definitely soliciting bids for a new frame. Your thread is an inspiration though and a true account of the "OH CRAP what DID. I. GET MYSELF INTO." to "Ok, I think I can do this..." to "WE DID IT!!"

Quote:
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I seem to recall that Airstream will supply a frame for any model from 1950 thru the 60s for something around $3900 including axles and brakes. You might see if Andy at InlandRV can't find a NOS frame lying around somewhere.
JEEZ, this would be AMAZING if it pans out to be true. Fingers crossed... We have "THE WORLDS LARGEST AIRSTREAM DEALER" (our some marketing message like that) in our metro area and we'll be sure to bring this up with them.

THANKS EVERYONE!!
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Old 05-07-2016, 10:31 AM   #11
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I REALLY loved what someone posted in MillerTime's thread about "we thought we'd just put down some new floors and hang some new curtains and...". It's funny because it's true and that truly naive entry into the Airstream fantasy. When I was super optimistic and dumb I made this rendering of the before and after of our trailer. I know some will find it sacrilege to paint one of these beauties but we were hoping for something even MORE different than a vintage Airstream. Also attached photos of what she looks like today.
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Old 05-15-2016, 11:03 PM   #12
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So what's happening with your trailer? Need some updates!


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Old 05-17-2016, 01:24 PM   #13
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So what's happening with your trailer? Need some updates!


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Thanks for checking back! We are walking through the same steps you did I guess, weighing risk/vs. reward. Bummer is what this has done to our timeline but, we are currently waiting on a bid to build a new frame. My Father-in-Law has a friend who is a welder and builds trailers as well. He is recommending building the main rails out of rectangular tube vs. c-channel. Does anyone know of any pitfalls with going this route? He also mentioned building more stout outriggers. I thought I had seen somewhere where both of this ideas sound good in THEORY but might not be as good in practice. Is this true?

THANKS!!
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Old 05-17-2016, 02:20 PM   #14
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Go for it! I boxed my c channel in and the rotten outriggers I welded 2x5 rectangular tube cut to the original shape
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