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Old 09-16-2008, 09:20 PM   #1
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I hit the home run!

Hi Guys!

I'm actually able to type about a road trip this time, rather than a repair issue! Last weekend the wife and I had our first outing in our 65 Caravel. It was absolutely great and its just the beginning of why we bought this Airstream in the first place. Its a home run for many reasons: My wife loved camping, everything in the trailer worked including the air conditioner, and my extra effort to restore the coach using non-formaldehyde materials means my highly allergic wife had no problems with the trailer all weekend. The trailer is only about 75% finished right now with the front gaucho I built from scratch and the kitchen countertop both in the finishing stages and in the basement. Also, our upholstery and curtains are still being made. Actually, the reason we went out in the Airstream for the weekend was to escape the nasty fumes from road paving on my street. My wife's allergies couldn't take all the fumes.

I couldn't have gotten through the nearly 1 year of "full monte" tear-out and refurbishment without all the great help at these forums. Also the tips from the guys at the VAP and at Vintageairstream.com.

I'll spend the next 6 months or so getting things closer to being finished and what a great boost it is to have my wife's enthusiasm to push things along. Thanks again everybody!
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Old 09-16-2008, 09:40 PM   #2
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Congrats on your first Airstream outing. The A/C working is a very good thing.

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Old 09-16-2008, 09:45 PM   #3
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Cosmos,
Congratulations on your first trip!! Sure would like to see some more pictures of your camper. What products were you avoiding because of formaldehyde?

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Old 09-16-2008, 09:51 PM   #4
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Congrats

cosmos-

Congratulations. Your trip sounds like great motivation to finish.

The '65 Caravels are great, aren't they?

John
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Old 09-16-2008, 11:02 PM   #5
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The 65's are great indeed, John. Of course I'm biased just a bit.

The formaldehyde materials we avoided are basically from glues, paints/varnish, and fabrics. Starting with the sub floor, the glues used in most plywoods are formaldehyde or phenol based. I had to paint all surfaces with several coats of Safecoat paints to block the formaldehyde. We used a safecoat formaldehyde free adhesive to install the Marmoleum sheet flooring. Marmoleum is mostly made from compressed linseed oil and jute fiber. When it came to interior panels, I used solid mahogany where possible and Columbia Purebond interior plywoods for their soybean glues. I used watr based analine dye stains and Safecoat polyurethane varnish where needed. The insulation was the new Johns-Manville formaldehyde free fiberglass mats. Even the venerable 3-M adheisive was rejected in favor of a Loctite product because of formaldehyde. The fabrics are organic cotton. I'm building matresses using old-style frame and spring technology with organic cotton batting and Jute- based underlayments. I even painted the ABS drain pipes with safe-coat to block formaldehyde and phenol as well as potentially degrading UVfrom the sun. Its a lot of extra work that most folks never need to consider. In our case, way too many paint fumes over the years has sensitized my wife an now she has allergic reactions.
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Old 09-17-2008, 06:12 AM   #6
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Hypoallergenic Airstream

Cosmos,
Congrats on your successful camping trip. It is really nice that you went to the extra measures to create a Hypoallergenic Airstream so your wife can enjoy camping. You might be on to something.
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Old 09-17-2008, 08:09 AM   #7
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Glad to hear it went so well, and having your wife enthusiastically backing you will no doubt help you complete it that much quicker.

I've seen a couple of other threads here regarding Airstream renovation with chemically-neutral components. In all cases, it usually seems to be a spouse renovating on behalf of her or his partner, in order to make a "safe zone." That is admirable and wonderful.

It makes me think of two things-- first, I think it would make an interesting article for Airstream Life magazine.

And second, I think that someday this Forum software might have the ability to store data in a wiki-style encyclopedia format, and I think that all of the materials and techniques that you are using in order to make your trailer less chemically obtrusive could serve as very valuable data for someone else in the future when they are performing a similar task. But until then, your information on this thread will no doubt be helpful.
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Old 09-17-2008, 10:56 AM   #8
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hooray for the home run!
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Old 09-18-2008, 08:10 PM   #9
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the home run inside pics

Here are a few pics of the inside so far. Its got a ways to go inside but its more than an alumium tent thankfully. The PO removed and discarded the bathroom so I'll come up with something there. The front gaucho project is nearly complete. I removed the gas appliances at my wife's request and we're going back in all electric. I'm being careful so that the original gas appliances can easily be reinstalled someday with little or no modification to the cabinets. I wired in some extra electrical outlets for the fridge, microwave, and a/c while the walls were out. I'm leaving a space for a twintemp junior heater/waterheater someday. I particularly like the A/C unit, it fit out the existing w/h hole and I framed it in with alclad and made a removable panel to close off the hole. The a/c slides in and out and we control it with a remote. We have to leave the closet door open and a floor fan boosts the airflow during the heat of the day. At least I didn't have to cut the roof open for a rooftop unit.
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Old 09-18-2008, 08:28 PM   #10
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Good news for the Cosmos. I glad it went so well
Take care
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:11 PM   #11
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the home run inside pics - 1 year later

What a difference a year makes! Here's the interior finished with organic cotton curtains and upholstery, a countertop using the hardwood plywood with soy based glue, original kitchen sink / faucet, bathroom fixtures and working plumbing. We camped somewhere every month this year since April and put nearly 1000 miles on it. I even had some spare elbow grease left over to polish it a bit. Remaining projects are replacing a porta potty with a real toilet / stainless steel black tank and a stainless steel fresh water tank.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:34 PM   #12
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Wow - nicely done. I love the clean lines and rich wood. So.... you'll be getting ready soon to do another???
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:47 PM   #13
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Wow!

cosmos-

It is awesome! Great job. I'm so glad to hear you and your bride are using the Caravel. Hopefully we'll catch up and rally sometime.

John
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:54 PM   #14
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Nice! So it looks like you have an AC in place of the water heater? Hows that work for you, and did you add an electric water heater somewhere?
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