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Old 02-11-2014, 01:23 PM   #1
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Building Airstream From Scratch - What would you do?

Hello.

What started out as an old canned ham trailer I found in a field has turned into building an Airstream from scratch. At least using similar construction methods.

Right now I have the metal trailer frame, new leaf spring drop axle (i'll put torsion on there after I finish it and weigh it. I messed up there.) , deck built. After talking to a pro airstream restorer he's convinced me to abandon the stick built frame and go all aluminum C channel, buck rivets with 2024t3 skin.

I fear no project. But first things first.

I'm going to buy the Buck Rivet kit from:

Airstream Buck Riveting Kit

1/16 or .032 C Channel from my local shop here in Austin.

Aluminum 2024T3 from aircraftsrpruce.com or aircraft parts.com depending on length.

1st Question.

I feel like I'm kinda starting over now that i've decide to abandon wood. If you had a 10ft by 7 ft deck ready to build on…. what design would you fancy?

I've attached my original canned ham concept based on the donor trailer that seems do-able since it looks like the lovely curved top corners of Airstreams require some special shaped aluminum? Of course this means trim on the outside corners…. hmmmm….

What would you do?

Cheers!
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Old 02-11-2014, 01:31 PM   #2
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I think that if you wanted to replicate the shape with a 15-panel end cap, it can be made from regular flat stock. (This is just my impression from reading AIRForums way too much, hopefully someone with direct experience with 15-panel end caps will confirm or deny my guess definitively.) The newer shapes with fewer panels on the endcap do require specially-formed pieces.

Since you're starting with a different sort of structural underpinning than an Airstream frame, you should look into the way Avions and Silver Streaks were built and see if that might be easier to replicate when building from scratch.
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Old 02-11-2014, 01:44 PM   #3
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Colin Hyde has been working on a 13 panel end cap kit. Contact him at ColinHydeTrailerRestorations or through TheVAP.com.

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Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
I think that if you wanted to replicate the shape with a 15-panel end cap, it can be made from regular flat stock. (This is just my impression from reading AIRForums way too much, hopefully someone with direct experience with 15-panel end caps will confirm or deny my guess definitively.) The newer shapes with fewer panels on the endcap do require specially-formed pieces.

Since you're starting with a different sort of structural underpinning than an Airstream frame, you should look into the way Avions and Silver Streaks were built and see if that might be easier to replicate when building from scratch.
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Old 02-11-2014, 01:48 PM   #4
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D'oh! I should've written 13-panel rather than 15-panel... While I have seen one 15-panel Airstream that a friend owns, the 13-panel "normal" 50s shape was the one I had in my head.
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Old 02-11-2014, 02:10 PM   #5
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Or you might consider going a totally different route with the design.

Check out this discussion thread.......

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f48/...ml#post1229075
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Old 02-11-2014, 02:12 PM   #6
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According to your graphic the ends would just be rolled around the edge with aluminum flat stock. The frame "L" angles would have to be shrank to form the radius you desire. If you are looking for the side pieces to radius into the forward and aft ends then you will have to make segmented panels. So a little more detail is needed here as to your intentions.
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Old 02-11-2014, 04:00 PM   #7
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Have you thought of a design similar to the first Airstream that was sold as a kit? This would really look "retro".
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Old 02-11-2014, 06:08 PM   #8
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One thing I would do would be make the wheel wells rounded like automobiles have. The 90 degree edges make for wasted space when making access along the side of the trailer.
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Old 02-11-2014, 07:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airtandem View Post
Have you thought of a design similar to the first Airstream that was sold as a kit? This would really look "retro".
Kind of a home built Basecamp?
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Old 02-12-2014, 08:56 AM   #10
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Great Ideas! Thanks so much to all!

As one poster said… more details. I agree.

The trailer design will have to fulfill some requirements.

a. It has to sleep, Dad, Wife, Kid. The original donor had that bunk they put in the front of some canned hams. We liked that idea for the tot.
b. We live in Austin. 90% of it's life it will be on our property and serve as a guest house/studio. When on the road it will primarily go to two very hot places. The Beach at Port Aransas. Off Grid. And Big Bend National Park… in the fall when it's not so brutal. My point is… Windows! Lot's of them. I already have 6 Jalousie windows from the donor Trailer.I was hoping to use them. And It doesnt look like you can mount them at a "reverse" angle. And the Torpedo looks hot!

I've already bought/designed 30 amp service, small AC, Dickinson P9000 fireplace, Atwood drop in 2 burner stainless stove, propane components and tools, High end Madisound speaker system, Glass Door/stainless mini fridge. And other nicknacks.

So to make a long story short… Considering the small footprint of 10 x 7 I'm still leaning towards the original canned ham shape. Sortofa Modified Boles Aero.

So now, if you don't mind. I have some really basic questions.

I've got the deck. Now what? I assume I build the Frame and then skin it? Is that right?

If that's true. I have many follow up questions about construction. You guys are great.
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Old 02-12-2014, 10:46 AM   #11
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So here is my notes on process. Please let me know if this sounds nuts or just needs tweaking. Thanks!

0. Seal Deck with CPES, penetrating epoxy by smith from Vintage Trailer Supply

1. Build a frame with 1 1/2 inch 1/16 inch thick C channel posts for upward strength and rungs where I need windows/doors. "L" Channel /Angle aluminum for edges, rounded corners, rounded with pie cuts when needed. 1 1/2 by 1/8 thick square aluminum tube for roof beams since I'll have solar panels and possible a Heliatos water panel up there.

2. Attach frame unions with Rivets or using Clecos where I will want to rivet on the skin or exterior moulding later.

Can I use sheet metal screws/bolts for the framing in spots?

2.5 Bolt entire frame to deck with Grade 5 x 1/4inch bolts and big washers through bottom of frame which will be upturned C channel through to outriggers.

3. Place, Pre-drill, de-burr skins. Then run a bead of vulcem under sheets between the line of rivet holes and the edge of the aluminum. Rivet with a helper holding bucking bar where necessary. Whipe off excess vulcem with mineral spirits. Rivet line is all around outside permitter and along horizontal/lateral line where the top and bottom sheets on the side meet.

Do I need MORE rivets in the center somewhere?

How far apart are rivets anyway?

4. Build in a shingled fashion overlapping tops over bottoms to avoid leaks.

5. Edges - 90 degree edges will be L Shaped aluminum angle iron bent with Pie cuts. From bottom to top the union is: Angle Iron aluminum frame, 2024t3 .025 aluminum sheet, vulceam, 90 degree trim molding from where.

Where, what moulding should I use?

6. Windows have C channel interior frames and are riveted on, vulcem everywhere.

7. When finished Vulcem all interior seams and rivets.

8. Water test.

Yay! I'm an ameture!
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Old 02-13-2014, 12:24 PM   #12
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C Channel pricing

I got a local sheet metal shop to make C Channel for me. Wondering if this sounds OK. Price seems good? It's "anodized". EG.. coated, painted. Seems fine to me.

1.5 inches on all three side

.040 - anodized, clear

2.19 a foot

20 x 10 foot pieces = 200 feet total
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Old 02-13-2014, 12:37 PM   #13
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I don't have any technical suggestions as you're already getting good advice and are making excellent decisions on your own.
I just want to applaud your creativity and initiative to do this.
Please keep us posted as you make progress.
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Old 02-13-2014, 12:53 PM   #14
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That seems ridiculously high to me $220 for 'c' channel is way to much.
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