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Old 08-22-2006, 11:57 AM   #1
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1963 26' Overlander
Julian , North Carolina
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Airstream Blasphemy

I pull an interior skin on my 63 Overlander in the area of the rear bath and was amazed at the lack of craftsmenship installing the ribs. Does anyone know if it was common practice to piece ribs together in the curved area? Also there were several voids in the fiberglass insulation that also suprised me. This unit has never been apart before and I know how everyone goes on about the quality of workmanship and experience of the folks who originally built these things so I was taken aback by what I found. Maybe this one unit was built on a Monday by a worker who didn't make the cut and was let go on Friday.
The reason for pulling the skin was to repair floor rot that was not cause by leaking plumbing but rather (I believe) a gap between the outer shell and the banana wrap at the back below the window and under the trim. An opening of approximately 1/8" X 16" long just above the hose storage compartment allowed water to invade the interior since day one.
Has anyone else ran into similiar issues with other 7 panel models?

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Old 08-22-2006, 12:20 PM   #2
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Hey, just remember that you are working on a 33 year old travel trailer....are you sure it has never been apart?

It is also possible that this Airstream had an accident during its long life and may have need some repairs, hence the splicing and maybe the insulation drooping.

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Old 08-22-2006, 12:48 PM   #3
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1963 26' Overlander
Julian , North Carolina
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I feel reasonably confident that it's not been redone. Based on what I know of it's PO'ers. I had not found any pictures or references to this type of problem, just looking for confirmation. However no one can be sure of a 43 year piece of metal art.
Please don't misunderstand, I've bitten into bad apples before, but I still love apples.
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Old 08-22-2006, 06:26 PM   #4
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Yreka , California
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We have a 1963 Bambi, and my husband did a frame off restoration. Just about everything came apart first. He had always expected "aircraft type" craftsmanship.... it just wasn't so... just used some of the same kind of tools. Lots of parts were sorta slapped together. Part of it, we determined saved weight. He beefed up some of the things he felt were necessary. It is amazing, however, even with the less than perfect craftsmanship our Bambi was fairly sturdy before restoration!

Even if she isn't/wasn't perfect. We love our Bambi!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis)
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Old 08-22-2006, 11:47 PM   #5
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1960 24' Tradewind
santa barbara , California
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Hello Noel ,
I also agree that while these airstreams are high quality units ,not all was
perfect .I notice on most all longer coaches and many areas such as the sides the aluminum is not always perfectly flat .wavy ,pulled in here or there
even in Bryan Burkharts book about airstreams ,the new coaches show
this kind of thing ,so I think this was common place really ,but still a great
wonderful trailer for sure .Ive looked at mine alot a 24ftr trdwnd 1960.
i thought this or that cannot be right ,but as I look around at others
I realize this is how they were made ,and they are 40 some years old .
So I fix or improve and accept whatever it is ,still love it ,wouldn't sell it.

Scott of scottanlily
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Old 08-23-2006, 12:02 AM   #6
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Remember, it was the 60's.


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Old 08-23-2006, 05:48 AM   #7
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1966 22' Safari
Covington , Georgia
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left over wood parts

I was going to ask a similar question. I have just started restoring the wood surfaces in my '66 Safari with Restore-a-Finish. I am amazed at how many different types of wood were used. It appears that my trailer was built using whatever they had left over. I don't believe a PO had replaced doors, etc., as all of the hinges are exactly the same and they don't appear to have ever been removed. What really made me think this was a splice of veneer along the refrigerator side, the woods don't even appear to be the same species. I have cherry and oak and birch, possibly some poplar as well. Has anyone else noticed similar conditions with their wood surfaces, or was mine built at the end of a cycle using the left-overs?

Oh, and BTW I am a newbie. Just purchased the trailer last week and am really looking forward to our first trip. I have been trying to learn as much as I can from all of you over the past several months prior to buying. I thank you all for sharing your knowlwdge.

Randy Vinson
Covington. Georgia
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Old 08-23-2006, 07:29 AM   #8
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Cool Huh?

Is this what you call an oxymoron?

Remember, it was the 60's.
1975 Trade Wind
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:18 AM   #9
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More on "workmanship"


Talking to my hubby today about your original post... he said our 55 Flying Cloud has most of the curved parts in pieces... apparently that was what they did then. Hummmmmmm...

By the way, the comment on the 60's... if you can "remember" the 60's then you probably weren't there.... at least that is what I have heard.

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis)
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Old 08-24-2006, 06:04 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Melody Ranch
Is this what you call an oxymoron?

Remember, it was the 60's.
1975 Trade Wind
Well I concur with all of the above. I remember the 60's... right up till about 1968... then there's this gaps, until about 1973.
I was a fine art major, what's your excuse???

Funny thing though is that I went straight from university to Ford Motor Comany. That's where I built Pinto and Maverick rust buckets.... talk about quality!

Insulation issues are a big factor as you live/work/travel in a tin can. I find the insulation of our Airstreams to leave lots to be desired.
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Old 08-24-2006, 08:25 AM   #11
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Gotta remember a couple of things, even tho Airstreams are built using "aircraft techniques" and "aircraft" qualtiy materials doesn't mean they were built using aircraft quality personel and I am sure there has been the occasional problem with aircraft construction too. But I think that the fact that they are still on the road and very viable after 15,20,30,40, and even 50 years speaks volumes. I have seen 5 year old SOB's(and not just the low end ones either) that were literally falling apart after being used similarly to an Airstream. Also an Airstream is going to flex it is part of the nature of the beast, ever been flying and seen the wings on a jetliner going up and down? I am sure there as some wrinkles in the side panels somewhere. As far as the OP question about '75 had a layer of 3.5" paperfaced fiberglass laid over the frame from the top. Then had what appeared to be 6"? unfaced laid into the frame cavity. Based on various pictures I have seen, I think what occurs is they install the belly pan first, pack it full of unfaced, then roll the faced over the frame and install the floor, or maybe it was the install the faced, then the floor, roll the frame over and install the unfaced and the belly pan. Either way Airstreams are not known for their insulative qualities...

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Old 08-24-2006, 10:39 AM   #12
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I think the thing to remember about Airstreams beyond the aircraft materials is that they are hand made. People make mistakes, but if you spend some time at the factory and get to meet and talk with the people there, you'll not find a better worker in my view. Anytime you hand make something with tens of thousands of parts, there may be some issues, but "the proof is in the pudding" as they say. And find me another trailer with half the quality as Airstream.

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