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Old 09-04-2007, 02:24 PM   #1
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Designer in Ohio - Senior Thesis

So my senior thesis is coming around in 6 months and I decided that I was going to strip an old airstream and completly redesign the interior. - Plumbing/electronics/furnature - everything.

So I have started looking around for a good Airstream to use for this project.

I am looking for a sub 20ft airstream (so that my little tacoma can pull it) and am interested in finding one that is not going to have any issues rolling (suspension/brakes/axles)

I only have 10 weeks to design/finish the thing so I need to find one and have it stripped by late march 2008.

That being said I know nothing about the specifics of the airstreams and have come to this forum for help.

You will probably see me around on the boards alot more when school starts up late september as I have been known to be a forum adict in the past (audiworld/paintballnation/MGexperience)


Anyway its good to be here and I hope to learn alot :beer:
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Old 09-04-2007, 02:33 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums Cursh. Use the search function in the blue bar above for any topic you need. There is usually someone who has "been there, done that" when it comes to restoring/customizing an Airstream.

In fact, if you do a search I think that you will find that a young lady did her design thesis a couple of years ago on her personal Airstream that she and her husband lived in while she was in school. I can't remember the name of the college she was attending, but I do remember that she went with a Hawaiian them. Turned out nice. Perhaps you can get some ideas of what worked and what didn't. IIRC, there was a link to an article about her project. Like you, she faced a compressed time frame.

Good luck and again welcome to the forums.
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Old 09-04-2007, 02:42 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forums!

First off, good luck! This sounds like a great project. Although potentially a little to ambitious. It took me 10 weeks to figure out the refrigerator in mine!

What will be your budget? I suspect a starting project, especially sub 20', like you describe will be $5,000.

Maybe you can consider a slightly different approach. I don't know if it has ever been done, but what about a "speed build" airstream style? Ohio has many talented Airstream fans. Perhaps you could plan a 10 day stay somewhere with a full shop where a group of people could help you get a major chunk of renovation done. I, for one, would love to take part in something like this.

Do you plan on having other classes or work during these ten short weeks?

Wow, you got me thinking on this project. It could really be cool and fun. But, it could also be expensive.
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Old 09-04-2007, 02:48 PM   #4
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Welcome!

Keep an eye out on Craigslist and the like for Airstreams that are already gutted. They can usually be had for a fraction of the price of a functional unit from folks who may have started the restoration process and ran out of time/energy/money to complete it. Good luck.
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Old 09-04-2007, 06:40 PM   #5
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Hi Cursh,

I assume you are going to UC. I did my graduate work at DAAP (the old building) & have a nephew and niece going there right now.

I did see one for sale in Dayton recently that would have been a perfect candidate for you on eBay – it was pretty well gutted. Just keep your eyes open and cruise the back roads – they do turn up in the darndest places.

You can blow a ton of money on any Airstream project so begin with the brakes on your wallet. I suggest in your parameters you set a budget ahead of time. Remember, if it’s a restore project you are making a complete home – full rolling environmental systems. Food, storage, sanitary, shelter, heat and cold. That extends well beyond a polish job! Look to recycled systems and unique passive solutions.

Perhaps you could simply redefine what one of those silver bullets is: maybe a diner, office, party barge, modular housing unit, carnival thrill ride, whatever.

I like DanB's speed build suggestion. If I were doing the project, once the goal is set, I would assemble a set of teams to first assess the various problems – you become project director. Maybe look across campus to allied areas and then set up a series of Charrettes to attack the problem in stages.

In any event you have come to the right site – the people here have taught me volumes.

One caution, it will take more money and time than you expect. Plan accordingly.
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Old 09-04-2007, 06:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digger bear

Perhaps you could simply redefine what one of those silver bullets is: maybe a diner, office, party barge, modular housing unit, carnival thrill ride, whatever.

I like DanB's speed build suggestion. If I were doing the project, once the goal is set, I would assemble a set of teams to first assess the various problems – you become project director. Maybe look across campus to allied areas and then set up a series of Charrettes to attack the problem in stages.

In any event you have come to the right site – the people here have taught me volumes.

One caution, it will take more money and time than you expect. Plan accordingly.
All good suggestions. Wow, talk about a word that doesn’t pop up everyday outside of design. I had to explain what a Charrette was to a coworker just this afternoon.

Sounds like a good project. Best of luck, and keep up informed.
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Old 09-04-2007, 08:23 PM   #7
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Thumbs up Senior Thesis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cursh
...I am looking for a sub 20ft airstream...and am interested in finding one that is not going to have any issues rolling (suspension/brakes/axles)
Hi Cursh, welcome This sounds like a fun project though I see the budget as a real buzzkill. Don't overlook the Airstream Argosy in your search. I found my 20'er for $1,500. "Rolling" issures are not as big a problem as you might think and any reasonably priced trailer will need some attention in the unsprung areas. The "speed build" idea is interesting. We have a strong knowledge/skill base up north here. I'm not sure about down your way, but I bet eager help would crawl out of the woodwork if you asked. Attend a local rally, meet some members who have done a gut/restoration and pick their brains.

Airstream thesis thread

Please keep us posted. It will be fun to watch your progress!

Best wishes,

Steve
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Old 09-04-2007, 08:27 PM   #8
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Very ambitious! I had a hard enough time pulling together a model and presentaion boards for my Architectural thesis
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Old 09-04-2007, 08:31 PM   #9
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if you get an argosy, you can paint it without being beaten up at the rallys. i always wanted to get one, paint it like a watermelon and do the interior in pink with black throw pillows...

wonder what kinda grade that would fetch?



jp
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Old 09-04-2007, 09:03 PM   #10
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Let me see if I have my dates right design times right.

You need to find and buy an existing Airstream frame of 20 ft or less to rebuild.

After buying the right Airstream frame you are going to totally strip every mechanical unit above the frame of the by 03/2008.

Then, within 10 weeks, you are going to re-design or improve the all plumbing, electrical 12v and 120v systems, the heating, airconditioning and ventilation systems plans, and make them all opperational.

I'm very interested. I can hardly wait.
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Old 09-05-2007, 12:26 AM   #11
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Welcome to the Airforums and good luck with your project. It does sound ambitious, but then that's what a thesis is all about, right? You are definitely in the right place to find a lot of information and knowledgeable folks to offer input and moral support...especially if you're a forum junkie.

Glad you have joined the fray!

TB
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Old 09-05-2007, 02:23 AM   #12
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Going Vintage might give you flexibility on the size, older ones from the 60's weigh less than newer ones of the same length. Staying under 5000 pounds on your truck should be pretty easy if you go for an older one. But if you find one in good shape don't gut it, leave it for someone wanting a nice origianl AS. If you watch Ebay and Craigslist you will find plenty of older units needs to be redone.
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:55 AM   #13
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Ha ha - thank you for all of the pointers.

Money - I have a good chunk that was left to me by my grandmother to use as "a down payment on a nice house for your kids to grow up in" Part of the direction of the trailer into a liveable space is based on my justification on using these funds to redesign a travel trailer. Lets just say that if I so desired I could purchase a new bambi with the finances available.

As far as the "ambition" of my project. I have already started sketching on systems solutions. I am more seriously considering taking my next work experience in egypt for 5 weeks (an opportunity that has recently surfaces) as opposed to the normal 10 week experience we are usually presented with. This will allow me a good portion of jan-march to dedicate myself to working on the front end of the project. In addition to this extra time I am working to make available I am also given full freedom from march to june (with the exception of one or two business classes) to work on my thesis. All other design classes are fully dedicated to thesis completion.

The final goal is to be as "off the grid" as possible. Integration of the vintage awning into this seems to make this option more feasable with the sub 20" restriction I have placed on myself. Considering my possible geographic locations I am considering looking into personal wind turbines as a further source of power. I have very little expericen in sourcing alternative energy systems but am blessed to be involved in a program that was closely affiliated with the latest Solar Decathalon and have a large pool of resources to draw from that project.

I will be happy to look into the argosy as I have no real emotional attachment to the silver bullets (other than the late model bambi I fell in love with a year or so ago after spotting it in the driveway of someones seaside home in california)

At this point I have come to the conclusion that I will need to be in posession of a travel trailor by christmas and should have a concrete knowledge of the systems I have decided on using.

As for the skeptics know that I am a design student. I have been in school for 5 years learning how to solve problems efficiently. Alot of problems can be solved in ten weeks when all you have to do is solve problems and you only sleep 4-5 hours a night.

Have faith - I will update with pictures in a new thread when that begins to make sense.


Thank you all for your warm welcome and all of your help so far.

-Ben Lewis
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:42 PM   #14
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Good luck, man! I love watching these come together. I'm elbow deep in a custom 1959 18 footer at the moment, with my next one already queued up! I always seem to run out of free time, though, so I'm on my second year, and JUST starting the cabinets! ha!

jp
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