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Old 01-11-2016, 05:52 PM   #1
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1968 26' Overlander
Manheim , Pennsylvania
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'68 Overlander FullMonte

Hey fellow Streamers,
Back in Mid November my wife got this crazy idea in her head, probably from Pinterest, that she wanted an old Vintage Airstream! I was like, really? OK!! Next thing we know, we are stalking craigslist and driving around random neighborhoods in Pennsylvania chasing Scammed Posts thinking we were going to find a perfect refurbished dream trailer for just a few thousand bucks! Then after a few replied emails saying "I'm out of country for military training" or "send me your full name, address, phone, mothers maiden name and birth certificate so I can set up a Pay Pal account to reserve it for you" Yada yada... I finally caught on and began to give up! But then one guy actually replied and seemed legit. A 1968 Airstream Overlander for sale and it was only an hours drive away! Seemed too good to be true, but Then the phone rang that night and we were on our way the next afternoon.
We pulled up and saw a beautiful almost brand new trailer sitting there, thinking to ourselves, is that it??? And then I saw a flash of silver down behind the house next to the shed... There she was! One man's project abandoned, left to the elements, while a shiny newer 1983 camper replaced her dream of being revived to a once streaming potential. Well, after a good long look around it, crawling underneath of it, seeing the rotten wood floors, peeling back the belly pan looking for rust, kicking the tires, all the while our wives talked about each other's back yard chickens... I decided Happy Wife, Happy Life! Plus I love workng on things and learning new skills. I had never even thought about refurbishing an Airstream, but it sure looked fun. I knew then in my head from reading on this forum that this was a full monte, so I low balled him on the price and we split the difference. That evening I drove away with my next fun project to work on and restore back to life. Click image for larger version

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Old 01-11-2016, 06:24 PM   #2
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2019 27' Flying Cloud
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Looks pretty good from here! Congratulations.
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Old 01-11-2016, 06:27 PM   #3
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1968 26' Overlander
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And then of it was DEMO DAY!!! Who doesn't like ripping things apart and throwing smelly old wood out the door into a giant pile in the yard???
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Old 01-11-2016, 06:30 PM   #4
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1968 26' Overlander
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seriously though, this thing was smelly, covered in some nasty colorful stuff growing on the walls, still sticky even after the previous owner said she had given it a thorough deep cleaning. We both decided right away that nothing interior was going to stay, for fears of the smell returning.Click image for larger version

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Old 01-11-2016, 06:33 PM   #5
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1968 26' Overlander
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Squirrels nest in the walls! I found the little guy underneath the shower drain in the little bowl that goes down in the floor boards. Looks like he climbed in there and never came out again... Nothing but a skull! Kind of cool. But having all of its little acorn crumbs fall all over me while dropping the ceiling panels. Not so cool.Click image for larger version

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Old 01-11-2016, 06:36 PM   #6
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1968 26' Overlander
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A clean slate! The smell really didn't improve entirely yet, even with all of the insulation gone. It must be the floors... Look at all that wiring? I was truly amazed and scared at the same time. And it's ALL aluminum wire??? Click image for larger version

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Old 01-11-2016, 06:42 PM   #7
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1968 26' Overlander
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It was a ton of work that first weekend, but I think we fully dove into this project! Truly committed to a full interior restoration at this point at least. Attachment 255572
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Old 01-11-2016, 06:53 PM   #8
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1968 26' Overlander
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rotten rotten floors

The back section of flooring was basically dust and squirrel droppings. So for the most part it came up very easily. I used a 3/4" Arbor Drill bit with out the center drill bit to cut a circle round all of the bolts holding the floor to the frame. It worked great! A little too great... I might have gone through the frame once. Oops! After wrestling with breaking free the spray foam, the board was tossed. Can even use it for a template to make the new one. Underneath it I found a black tank sitting on the belly skins. The angle iron that should be holding up the tank was completely gone. Just a rusty dust pile. Even the tank's aluminum insulated container itself was gone... This is when it hit me. I was going to have to go FULL MONTE!!!Click image for larger version

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Old 01-11-2016, 06:57 PM   #9
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1968 26' Overlander
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Dropping the belly pan

The next day I found more squirrel nests when I dropped the belly pan on top of myself. After crawling under this thing and trying to work above me like that, drilling out rivets and having so much fall all over me, I wanted nothing more than to shower and to be able to flip the frame when I went to put the belly pan back on after the frame was repaired...Click image for larger version

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Old 01-11-2016, 07:24 PM   #10
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1968 26' Overlander
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If you build it, they will come!

Building the Gantries was actually really quite straight forward and easy. Thanks to a lot of research here on the forums and also seeing some posts on Instagram. I was able to put together a basic and inexpensive design to lift the frame. 4x4 pressure treated wood, 12' high and 10' wide. Brace at the top angles. 2x6 boards at the bottom, and lots of lag bolts to hold it all together. I actually made a fortunate mistake and used 10" lag bolts instead of 8". This actually allowed me to slip an old lawn mower wheel on one of the lags on each post and slide the gantries around on the ground pretty easily! Then I ordered three two ton chain hoists (an extra to help flip the frame) then it was time to rivet rivet rivet and grind away the C-channel bolts. Click image for larger version

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Old 01-11-2016, 07:33 PM   #11
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1968 26' Overlander
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And here I thought it was going to be blue??? I'm digging it though... Too bad it was shot

Anyone else curse and swear while trying to remove the bolts tha hold the arms to the body? They quickly snapped in half. Still holding the shell to the channel. It's scary, but sometimes taking a saw-za to your airstream is necessary.

This thing was HEAVY! Be sure to remove it before lifting the shell or the uneven weight on the curb side ( already heavier from the door frame) will kick it way out of balance and possible swing into your gantry posts causing body damage. Attachment 255577
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Old 01-11-2016, 07:47 PM   #12
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1968 26' Overlander
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full monte bracing

i cleaned out all of my tools, bags of garbage, and a few beer bottles from the inside. Then I ground down all of the rivets to the front steel panel from the inside and popped them out with a small screw drivers. To find any hidden rivets, I used a cheap metal plaster spatula between the C-channel and the outside walls. I braced the shell with 2x4s by laying them down on the top of the c-channel and screwed them to each wall stud. This way, in theory, the 2x4s should lay back down on the new flooring c-channel and hopefully line up. The. I simply dropped the chains of the hoists through the vent holes, strapped them around a long 2x6x16 and pulled it up all the way to te ceiling!Click image for larger version

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Old 01-11-2016, 07:50 PM   #13
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1968 26' Overlander
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We have lift off!

After a few clingy rivets finally let loose, with a loud pow!!! She lifted...


So scary!Click image for larger version

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Old 01-11-2016, 07:56 PM   #14
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1968 26' Overlander
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With a little help from my father-in-law and brother-in-law (I'm blessed with marrying into a good family with a big field to work in!) we were able to lift it high enough to drive the trailer out from under it while holding the banana wraps out of the way.

Kind of puts a new meaning to "air"streaming doesn't it?
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Old 01-11-2016, 07:59 PM   #15
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1968 26' Overlander
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Full shell off Restoration

That was a stressful but extremely thrilling day! I can honestly say I was beaming with excitement after actually pulling this off... Now it's time to work on the frame! Click image for larger version

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Old 01-11-2016, 08:03 PM   #16
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I admire your enthusiasm and look forward to this thread! Just want to make sure you have the shell tied down securely to the ground! One gust of wind and these shells can roll and crumple . Not good!
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Old 01-11-2016, 08:06 PM   #17
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1968 26' Overlander
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Rusty Frame

So here is exactly why I decided to lift the shell. To repair this much steel and do so much repair to the frame with the shell on would just be even more work. I need eight new outriggers at the fron step. It's like the water just never stopped coming in the front door. They step outriggers are all but gone. So lots of work to be done! Click image for larger version

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Working with a local welder who has a CNC machine and a metal brake to make replica outriggers. Those are in the works right now. Should be fun to FINALLY put something back ON to my airstream rather than ripping it off!
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Old 01-11-2016, 08:12 PM   #18
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1968 26' Overlander
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Live Riveted

Sanding and grinding away the rusty bones. Trying to decide between A lot more sanding and grinding with an angle grinder, or just biting the bullet on having someone sandblast the entire frame. A local guy also happens to have a 30' oven to cook it with powder coat! What's everyone's thoughts on frame finishing??

Remember to always wear protection! And live riveted Click image for larger version

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Old 01-12-2016, 09:06 PM   #19
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1968 26' Overlander
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Tying down separated shell for the winter?

After seeing the forecast and reading reinergirl's comment last night, I went over tonight to "tie down the shell" for the winter until it's ready to be remounted. I'm not really sure the best way to do it. I have 2x4 braces running across the base of the shell, so I strapped them to a dozen cinder blocks. Hoping that is enough weight to hold it down, but afraid the braces will just rip off from the wall studs in a strong enough wind gust... What would you do??Click image for larger version

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Old 01-14-2016, 09:49 PM   #20
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Nice. Sounds just like my story. The wife wanted an old airstream, probably because she was tired of tent camping in the everglades. We have the same camper and it needs the same work, so i will be following tou closely. Im going to start on mine in the next couple of weeks. We have a year to get it back together and roadworthy.
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