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Old 03-13-2019, 03:51 PM   #1
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What skills have you acquired?

Researching, purchasing, maintaining and enjoying your Airstreams are all worthwhile endeavors. I am interested in hearing about any skills you’ve acquired (or fine tuned) along the journey.

Have you become a better carpenter, cook, electrician, driver, medic, troubleshooter, negotiator, traveler, etc. as a result of this Airstream lifestyle? Inquiring minds want to know!
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Old 03-13-2019, 05:28 PM   #2
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1988 25' Excella
1987 32' Excella
Knoxville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Better traveler for sure. Learned PEX plumbing. Learned how hard it is to actually reach a problem in a trailer with more than one finger tip to actually work on it. Learned how to replace brakes and bearings and dump valves and converters.

Have not yet mastered fixing leaks in the skin but getting lots of chances to learn.

Have learned not to worry about it but to just deal with it when it happens.

Have learned to get reservations for the 4th of July and for Labor Day.

Have learned that traveling 3-4 months in the summer and wintering 3 months in Florida and 2 periods of repair and rest at home in Tennessee in between is a wonderful way to spend a year.
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Old 03-13-2019, 05:53 PM   #3
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2017 25' Flying Cloud
Apollo Beach , Florida
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Learned to pull brake hubs and install new brake assemblies (of course as an emergency roadside repair in the mountains).

Learned how to install solar panels with associated wiring and components. Learned how to live indefinitely within the limitations of 400W of solar and 230AH of batteries.

Learned how to buy a payload appropriate tow vehicle and how to use a CAT scale. Learned how to install and fine tune a Blue Ox SwayPro and a ProPride weight distribution hitch.

Learned how to travel without a schedule or reservations by learning how to boondock and by finding first-come-first-serve campgrounds. Learned how to find beautiful places that are not popular and overcrowded.

Learned that driveway camping is a great way to visit relatives.
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:09 PM   #4
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1979 31' Sovereign
Spring , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2014
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Working on a curvy girl has made us question our carpentry skills occasionally. I also know more about electrical systems than I thought I would.

We're mostly seat-of-the-pants travelers. Rarely make reservations but we do plan routes & know our options along the way. Reservations just don't work so well for my husband, who is a disabled veteran. Sometimes we need to call it a day earlier than expected. We usually stop for the day early in the afternoon & stay 2 nights. People with disabilites & over 65 should definitely look into the America the Beautiful Pass. Sometimes you can get it for free. Just depends on your circumstances. Don't be too afraid to get off the interstates. We usually have our best luck with campgrounds off the beaten path a bit. You might occasionally encounter a road which will make you wonder what you were thinking though. Keep paper maps handy, & when entering a state new to you, make a point of stopping at the visitor's center/rest area just across state line. Pick up the tourism goodies & free folding state map. My biggest gripe with digital maps like Google is that numbers & letters don't enlarge much. Even on a tablet, & that's the info I really want to see.
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:21 PM   #5
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1998 36' Land Yacht Widebody
Shepardstown , West Virginia
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First lesson was learning how to change out control modules on the gas appliances.

Second lesson was learning how to service and repair my dash AC.
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Old 03-13-2019, 10:19 PM   #6
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2007 22' International CCD
Corona , California
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 6,218
What skills have you acquired?

Was already a darn near professional handyman with plenty of electrical, mechanical, carpentry and structural skills—on houses and cars. So it did take a bit more learning, research, and forum-reading to gain Airstream knowledge. Still learning, but I think it helps a lot to be handy, cause I’m sure not handsome by any means.

Besides, it’s a grand excuse to acquire more specialized tools, like a pneumatic rivet puller or a rivnut setting toolkit.

Learning keeps the mind active, and as I always say, I used to be young, and foolish. Now I am no longer young, but need to keep learning to keep my mind healthy. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
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Old 03-13-2019, 11:39 PM   #7
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2012 Avenue Coach
Corpus Christi , Texas
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Taught maybe; but Acquired is too strong a word.

Maybe I'll start by saying it's what I've been "taught", more than what I've acquired. I hesitate to use the word acquired because I'm not sure if I had to do them again that I wouldn't have to do all the research and ask for help all over again. I've always considered myself "handy", but if called upon to repeat a task after a volume of time has elapsed, I often feel like I'm looking at it for the first time.

Many of the many things I've done to my Avenue class b are things I would never have attempted without the advice on this forum, and of course Youtube. That being said, in the past 18 months of ownership I've done all repairs and troubleshooting resulting in zero days in the shop

Some of the things I've been successful at are the following
:
-Victron Solar Controller upgrade and re-purpose old CAT5 from Sunxplorer Monitor into a USB charge outlet.
-Add insulation, ventilation cuts, and ventilation fan install behind compressor fridge. Why? Because AS chose to ignore the manufacturer's minimum ventilation requirements.
-Relocate antenna wire and Winegard signal booster from a dark remote cabinet to above the TV.
-Roof A/C replacement (I did get my son-in-law to help lift it into place).
-Onan generator RPM and governor adjustment.
-Install new exhaust strap for generator tailpipe.
-Replace galley faucet and leaking low point drains.
-Replace kinked fresh water fill hose.
-Insulate windows with reflectix.
-Replace macerator pump and hose.
-Replace & wire new 30A outlet connection.
-Install new Maxxfan gearset for roof vent.
-Replace water pump and wire in lighted switch to indicate when it is on.
-Replaced water heater 120v switch, and both temp limiter/reset switches.
-Re-secured loose leading edges of all three tank heater pads with gasket adhesive as recommended on this forum.
-Replaced porch light with one that actually puts out more than a "night light" amount of illumination.
-Added indicator light for battery disconnect switch.
-Replaced or added several drawer latches to keep things closed.
-Added 12v/USB/Volt indicators in strategic places.


There's more, but that's most of it. How long before I start replacing things I've already replaced? A long time I hope.
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Old 03-14-2019, 01:48 PM   #8
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1976 31' Excella 500
Chappell Hill , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2017
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I like to think I'm a pretty good handyman too. I'm a licensed plumber and HVAC tech. A so-so welder and fabricator. Just a half fast carpenter.

Since buying an Airstream, I've learned not to buy a used Airstream with all the Vista View windows and each rivet on them sealed with globs of silicone.

Learned to remove silicone and how long it can take to do it without scratching the skin (takes forever).

No sealant lasts forever but urethane is the sealant of choice for Airstreams. Choose the correct one for each application though.

Learned to inspect the frame before buying. Buying a portable flexible head remote camera snake tool would have saved me much more than the cost of the camera.

Learned 12V wiring.
Learned Airstream wiring is not always similar to Airstream wiring diagrams shown in the manuals. Still learning.
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Old 03-14-2019, 02:50 PM   #9
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2017 30' Classic
1969 31' Sovereign
Kerrville , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2015
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I use a telescope ladder on Roscoe to do my annuals on the roof. Works great. A soft barrier on the top rungs is a must between the ladder and the skin of the AS.

Try to pick a place as close to where your working and try to get on a side rib to lean against.

The round pool floaters work very well for that purpose. Also wear tennis shoes and only step on the ribs. There are easy to spot as a line of buc rivets running side to side about 24” apart.

Take anything you may need in a nail apron (puddy knife, sealent, shop towel, etc) so you have everything and can keep it rounded up. I have been known to tie the nail apron to a small rope and haul it up after I get on top. Repeat the process to get down so both hands are free to steady yourself.


Take your time and don’t rush it. Also when descending, get down on knees and back off the roof slowly to the ladder so you don’t lose balance or loose the ladder.

If you fall, that is not too bad, it is just the sudden stop that can be problematic.

Stay safe.
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Old 03-14-2019, 02:54 PM   #10
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1964 26' Overlander
1964 19' Globetrotter
OlyPen , Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyCityGal View Post
Researching, purchasing, maintaining and enjoying your Airstreams are all worthwhile endeavors. I am interested in hearing about any skills you’ve acquired (or fine tuned) along the journey.

Have you become a better carpenter, cook, electrician, driver, medic, troubleshooter, negotiator, traveler, etc. as a result of this Airstream lifestyle? Inquiring minds want to know!

Renovating a couple of trailers has been a catalyst to learn to do basic upholstery, shave rivets, learn my way around pex fittings and bunch of other things along this line. I'm cheap and so if I can do these things myself, I'll try. I've learned that water heaters are notoriously trouble prone. The darker, wetter or colder the weather, the more likely they are to refuse to engage.

Camping in an Airstream however has been the bigger learning experience and often humbling. Backing into a tight space when there is an audience comes to mind.

I've learned to take time to stop at rest areas and small town diners and talk to folks who invariably have questions. I've come to recognize that look of longing that folks have when they first screw up their courage to ask questions. Women in particular have asked "do you tow that yourself" or "aren't you nervous about all that travel" but in the next breath will say "I always wanted to do this".

Take away: Life is short; what the heck are you waiting for!
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Old 03-14-2019, 03:00 PM   #11
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2014 23' International
Dadeville , Alabama
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I think I’ve learned how to Blog. Describing how to or how you did something to others is not as easy as it sounds.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/blogs/105870-gmfl.html
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:06 PM   #12
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1979 31' Sovereign
Spring , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 364
If you're planning to work on a project trailer, keep a first aid kit handy. And yes, like it or not first-aid skills may be needed while traveling. If you need to brush up, check with your local Red Cross for classes. We also travel with a power station which can jump our vehicle battery, has a small air compressor, 12V & AC electric plugs. It does need to have its battery recharged periodically. There is a plug on the back for recharging & we bring at least one 3-prong extension cord along. If you're staying somewhere with shore power you can often find an addtional outlet on the 30/50 amp powerpost. Bring a decent sized tool box & at least 1-2 sealers. Weather radios are a good idea too. We haven't always been notified by weather apps even we have them set by GPS rather than our home location.

One thing to be aware of with the power stations or emergency air compressors. They can do up to 5 lbs. of air. Which is fine if you're topping off in a campground or trying to get just enough air into a tire to reach safety/assistance. If you have the room, it may not be a bad idea to bring a small air compressor. Road-side assistance can be useful to have, but think carefully about all the places you may want to visit. It might not be immediately available in less populated areas & you certainly don't want to be waiting for help when it's starting to get dark. Brush up other skills too, like changing tires.
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Old 03-14-2019, 05:41 PM   #13
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2017 26' Flying Cloud
Tampa , Florida
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I learned how to call ahead for reservations, although I hate doing it.
I learned how to make battery cables, and darn proud of it!
I learned how to install metal valve stems and can say I don't recommend it unless you're as stubborn as I am.
AND, I learned how much spring tension is in a broken awning support arm. That's one class I won't repeat!
The black and blue is almost gone (six months)
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Old 03-14-2019, 06:50 PM   #14
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2012 Avenue Coach
Corpus Christi , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
I learned how to call ahead for reservations, although I hate doing it.
I learned how to make battery cables, and darn proud of it!
I learned how to install metal valve stems and can say I don't recommend it unless you're as stubborn as I am.
AND, I learned how much spring tension is in a broken awning support arm. That's one class I won't repeat!
The black and blue is almost gone (six months)

Wear your scars proudly!
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