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Old 08-12-2009, 08:58 AM   #15
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1965 17' Caravel
Birmingham , Alabama
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 173
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Thanks for all the encouragement everybody!

Stephanie, the A/C slips out a removable panel when we are camping. It does occupy the space where the original WH went. I left room under the bathroom sink for a Precisiontemp twintemp junior water heater/ space heater which exhausts thru the floor. Or maybe a 2 gallon GE electric water heater.

THe A/C works reasonably well but we have to place a small floor fan in the back and direct the air forward and up to the ceiling. We have to leave the closet door open. THe A/C came with a remote control that also works as a remote thermostat, so we leave that up front. It kept us comfortable in the full Florida sun last month, but the air runs continuously. If the A/C quits, its back to Walmart for another $100 unit. The best thing is that I didn't have to enlarge the existing WH access hole so it could all go back like original. Also this way we can keep the clean, smooth lines of our roof without an air conditioner and keep the A/C weight down low for better stability. I'll admit that a rooftop unit is more convenient to use, though.

By the way, instead of foam mattresses, we used recliner / couch construction methods: wood frames with zigzag spring suspension. We used a burlap base and stuffed it with kapok before stretching over the thick organic cotton covering. The result is light weight and the Kapok resists compaction and mold naturally. Kapok is one of the stuffings that used to be used in furniture and life preservers before synthetics were invented.

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Old 08-12-2009, 09:35 AM   #16
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1968 17' Caravel
Battle Ground , Washington
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The mattress construction sounds very interesting. Did you get any pictures of that while you were building it?


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Old 08-12-2009, 10:01 AM   #17
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1959 24' Tradewind
Phoenix , Arizona
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: I currently do not own a 2nd Airstream
Posts: 4,325
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Glad to hear and see its progressing. The wood is beautiful. Glad its working out so well for you both. Keep us posted on your resto and trips.

4CU 2699 / AIR 10 / TAC AZ-1

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Old 08-12-2009, 09:23 PM   #18
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1965 17' Caravel
Birmingham , Alabama
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 173
Images: 8
Our Mattress Construction

Sorry if this is TMI. If you pull up the cushions on your recliner or couch and feel the support underneath you will find "zigzag spring construction". I copied this method over to the gaucho mattress. The pictures show the various stages of construction. It took about 5 evenings to make one mattress.

Here's the pros and cons for this kind of construction:

Pros: lower cost, light weight, materials are not hard to get, its more comfortable than the original foam on plywood (for my taste, anyway), no foam with petrochemical outgassing, less upholstery skill required.

Cons: takes woodworking skills, frames need to be glued and screwed securely together to accomodate the spring load, dealing with the "hard valley" where the two frames lay flat together, getting the spring tension just right so you don't sit down and feel the cross braces.

There are several sites selling spring material on the net. The vendors gave me good installation tips. I found upholstery books at the library helpful. The spring wire comes in a roll and I had to stretch it across the wood frame with a home made tool. (you can see this in one picture). The frame has to be strong and reinforced with cross pieces to withstand this spring load.

After the frame and springs are assembled, the main tools are a staple gun and scissors. I tied the springs with string so they don't spread apart. I followed up with a row of wire reinforcement just to be sure. Then I stapled on the burlap layer. Next I made a burlap envelope and stitched it into segments. I stuffed the segments with kapok. (this keeps the padding from shifting around when you sit on it). THis pad goes on top of the burlap layer. Then I stretched the heavy organic cotton fabric over the frame and stapled it in place.

There is a hard valley created when you lie the back down to make the bed. I had to plan the back and seat widths so that we don't end up laying on this hard joint. We minimized the joint hardness and the valley effect by laying a long, skinny tubular pillow there (we call it the pillow snake).

Finally, you can see the little removable legs at the edge of the bed. The original wooden gaucho slides were cracked and worn from this unsupported overhang. I made all new ones (not easy!) and the legs will help keep the new slides from breaking. We just toss them in a compartment when we push the bed back into a couch.


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