Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 01-01-2020, 09:17 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Jericho , Vermont
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 11
Cutting new door and upgrading windows ???

So, let me start from the beginning ...


I have never even put a foot in an airstream or in any other trailer.


I met a woman about 10 years ago. She is paralyzed from the shoulders down as the result of a diving accident when she was 12. She needs medical care ever 4 hours, thus she had never traveled.


I got the idea of getting an RV and converting it. I ended up with a 1999 (10 years old at the time) 28 ft Bounder class A motor home (no slides) ... $18K. I gutted the interior .... installed two hospital beds ... built a track lift from front to back (to get her from her electric wheelchair to the bed), quoted $10K, built my own for $1K .... cut a new door in the side and built a wheelchair lift (quoted $25k ... built my own for less than $5K include SS door frames and such).


My mom is 80, has cancer and lives in Canada. Wanting to be with her for Christmas ... and needing to take care of the wife ... I did my best to winter equip the unit. I heat wrapped the water pipes ... put a fan and electric heater in the water / drain area at night (ran the generator so I had power for the furnace and such).


It worked. Then we decided to live in it while we built a house .... on winter turned into 3. Here in VT, we hit temps of -30. I did freeze water lines a few times but except in the worst conditions, we survived.


So now I have a 20 year old RV with 150k miles and a lot of winter driving on it.


Holes in the floors ... lots of rust for road salt (aluminum skin underneath has denigrated), transmission slipping, one by one every sensor on the engine is dying and worse parts are now obsolete (I just had to buy two ABS sensors off ebay to get the brakes working).


We are on a relative tight budget so I have limited options.

I can look for another RV .... something about 10 years old and convert it again.


Or I can buy a trailer and covert it.


We need to replace the wheelchair van (10 years old with rust holes big enough to put my fist through). We tow the mini van behind the RV ... but I could tow a trailer with a full size wheelchair van.


Sooooo ... back to my question ...... I read a lot of the posts and watched a bunch of videos.



1) can you upgrade the windows to thermopane?



2) can I cut a new door? How hard is it to work with aluminum? My thinking (just looking at a 1976 Excella) would be to move the standard door toward the front and cut a new 3 ft wide door about where the door is now. I would also need to cut a new door and built a compartment for a generator. On the RV I carefully cut out the new door ... made a cap and frame of sheet SS ... used the cut out panel as the door.



Just want to know if I am going in the right direction before I do too much homework.


Thanks ... Mike
Click image for larger version

Name:	P1040312.jpg
Views:	20
Size:	477.7 KB
ID:	358482
__________________

xtal_01 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2020, 09:59 PM   #2
3 Rivet Member
 
Spartanguy's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Louisville , Alabama
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 180
Cutting new door and upgrading windows ???

Wow, good for you all. Very personal opinion here, but I think the special edition Airstreams and the new 27 with the back door that lifts is kinda silly...you may have just found some value for it. If you want an Airstream you might look into those.

Outside of Airstream, I genuinely think the FEMA trailer thing about formaldehyde is largely bs and was used by attorneys as a way to exploit tax payers. With all that said, if you are willing to consider, because it was government, FEMA has to offer several handicap campers and most of them are still sitting unused in lots by the hundreds. They are for sale and thereís also a program for free ones???. I wouldnít really consider the typical boring FEMA trailer, but for awhile I was interested in the early FEMA Handicap edition because they were unique and kinda cool for a camper nerd like myself, ha ha. Worth a Google?
__________________

Spartanguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2020, 10:10 PM   #3
3 Rivet Member
 
Spartanguy's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Louisville , Alabama
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 180
Hereís a post maybe worth a read. I canít find the unique early handicap FEMA trailer now, I think I saw it on RVTRADER a few years ago. Also a toy hauler? You have options, Airstream is probably not the best choice, but Airstream did produce a toy hauler for a couple years, they donít any longer.

https://www.theadvocate.com/louisian...a4d9c.amp.html
Spartanguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2020, 10:13 PM   #4
3 Rivet Member
 
Spartanguy's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Louisville , Alabama
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 180
I also realize I didnít contribute to your question, apologies, but thought Iíd share given my previous interest in the unique early handicap FEMA trailer.
Spartanguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2020, 10:20 PM   #5
1 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Jericho , Vermont
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 11
Thanks ....

There is no such a thing as bad information!


I appreciate all input!


Having never had a trailer, I had no idea how many problems there were with almost any brand.


Besides liking the looks (and I would never buy one just for that reason), I just see more old airstreams than any other brand of older trailer.


Just seed to me that they must be built well ... but maybe not suitable for what I want.


I figure you guys know best and could give me some insight.


Thanks ... Mike
xtal_01 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2020, 10:29 PM   #6
3 Rivet Member
 
Spartanguy's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Louisville , Alabama
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 180
Itís ok just to buy an Airstream based on the looks, ha ha. They are beautiful Will post a photo of a couple I have in mind if I come across them. Airstreams quality is on par with others, the problem is our expectation that humans can be robots, a lot more human manufacturing and little parts and poor pay with campers than with cars. With that said, Airstreams quality control isnít on par with their price tag. Most RVs are owned by Thor and nearly all RVs put the same Dometic owned appliances in them. Itís like telescopes, tons of brands, in the end, all telescopes come out of 1 of 2 factories in China.
Spartanguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2020, 10:33 PM   #7
3 Rivet Member
 
Spartanguy's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Louisville , Alabama
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 180
ďPan AmericaĒ thatís the word, ok, that is kind of a cool Airstream. I think thereís a guy on here with one, probably a hard one to come across, but idk...Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_7572.JPG
Views:	14
Size:	64.1 KB
ID:	358484Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_7573.JPG
Views:	16
Size:	28.8 KB
ID:	358485
Spartanguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-01-2020, 10:57 PM   #8
1 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Jericho , Vermont
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 11
Interesting ... drive right up

Wow, I didn't know airstream made one. That is a good idea. Most toy haulers open the entire back ... let all the air out. This one has a much smaller door.


Just thinking .... with the large windows in the front, I would most likely use the back for the bedroom. so you can't enter the back.


This is why I am thinking a door in the front ... place to park the chair. A rail lift front the front to the back so I can get my wife to the beds. Might have to move the bathroom or ??? I did all these things to my RV... Even had to "lift" the A/C a bit so that I could get the lift under (need enough head room so the lift can get her out of the chair and bed. Lots of tinkering to get everything right.



The reason I am looking at a trailer is that I think I could get a few more years out of one than an RV.


On a limited budget, I will get a used unit be it a trailer or an RV.


Like I said, I replaced the furnace in the RV twice ... put a new board in the water heater ... all kinds of "little" things that would keep a camper going.


The RV has the added complication of a drive train.


In this case, parts are now going obsolete. I am trying to find parts just to keep it on the road. Plus it needs to pass inspection each year.


I could live in the RV all winter but can't drive it around the block.


My thinking at this point is that the van to pull it will always need to be in good shape as it would be driven daily. I can keep a trailer "usable" without much effort.


If I am going through all the work of converting a vehicle, then it would be great if it lasted longer then 10 years.


Thanks again .... Mike
xtal_01 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 06:28 AM   #9
3 Rivet Member
 
Spartanguy's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Currently Looking...
Louisville , Alabama
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 180
A van as a tow vehicle is quite reasonable, YouTubers Less Junk More Journey pulled their AS with a van. I wouldnít want an RV, but thatís just me, I like being able to detach. The pan American isnít made anymore, but new higher end models have flat ducted AC with vents and no Air Conditioner to be in the way on the inside. I have a cousin paralyzed from the shoulders down due to a small plane accident and he lives a good life with some pretty cool toys. He drives around in one of these, always inspired by disabled people who live good quality of lives. Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_7583.JPG
Views:	13
Size:	225.9 KB
ID:	358487
Spartanguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 08:06 AM   #10
Rivet Master
 
1969 18' Caravel
Greenville , whereEverIroam
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 567
Images: 5
challenges

If I understand your situation, there are a few key factors that make utilizing an Airstream challenging:
  • limitied budget
  • using over winter
  • adding a large door

Here is a helpful picture of the interior structure of a typical 26' Airstream that has been gutted for a complete redo:


Note the number and spacing of the aluminum ribs - these are placed in-between the inner and outer skins and function like wall studs in a wood frame house. Putting in a large door would likely require a similar tear-down and rebuild, a lengthy endeavor that usually takes months, if not years if you are doing it yourself on a limited budget.

And getting an Airstream on a limited budget is possible, but AS trailers retain a larger portion of their high purchase cost than do other trailers. The cost of a 10 year old trailer will likely be 70-95% of it's purchase price, which translates into tens of thousands of dollars, or, in other words, the cost of a used AS is often more than the cost of a new SOB (some other brand) trailer.

Older AS trailers can be found for far less; the occasional "barn-find" or "field-find" trailers may be had for as little as $1000, but are little more than empty and corroded shells requiring major rebuilds of pretty much everything.

Finally, because of the highly thermally conductive Aluminum construction, AS trailers are not at all easily camped in when temperatures move to below freezing. Even if you spend loads of money heating the interior using brute force, the condensation that forms on the walls and windows will require constant wiping down. And even then, condensation that will form inside the walls will pool on the floor and if you use plywood, will rot the floor underneath the shell. You can use composite material like Coosa Board in your rebuild but it costs nearly 10x more than plywood.

Redoing the windows to be double pane is possible, but costly and time consuming: the windows have a subtle curve to them. Some have painstakingly added a plexiglass inner pane, but getting it airtight is vital to avoid condensation forming in-between.

In short, what you seek to do is possible, but doing with an AS trailer will not be the cheapest easiest route by a long shot. If I can talk you out if it, then I will have saved you untold grief and expense, not to mention thousands of man-hours away from your wife. If I cannot talk you out of it, then you have the will and determination (and stubborn bull-headedness) necessary to take on such a demanding challenge.
skyguyscott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 08:44 AM   #11
Rivet Master
 
1969 18' Caravel
Greenville , whereEverIroam
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 567
Images: 5
Ballpark costs.

Since you are new to travel trailers in general and AS trailers in particular, you may be shocked at the high prices AS trailers command.

Others here may have a different perspective, but I can't imagine doing what you envision for less than $100,000 - and that does not count any labor, on your part or otherwise. That includes the cost of the trailer itself, in whatever condition, and the cost of the materials needed to install the large door, chair lift, and window treatments and getting the interior ready for a hospital bed and wheelchair-friendly.

This assumes the cheaper the purchase price of the trailer, the more it might cost to fix any issues with the frame, flooring, axles, brakes, etc. And in general, whatever amount you might save in money, you then spend in time and effort.
skyguyscott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 09:30 AM   #12
Rivet Master
 
rowiebowie's Avatar
 
2012 Avenue Coach
Corpus Christi , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 1,242
Welcome to the forum xtal 01!

Wow. You are very handy and very caring.

I hope you again find a reasonable cost solution to your needs. I would also go on rvtrader.com and search for lift-equipped rvs. They are very rare, but I see them from time to time. Good luck.
rowiebowie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 09:46 AM   #13
Rivet Master
 
Minno's Avatar

 
1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 3,596
Other than the door issue, with need to modify ribs for support, etc., my concern would be that Airstreams are not very tall inside compared to some other type trailers. That would make putting a lift system to transport your wife around the trailer very challenging. You would also have to beef up the roof/wall structure to carry the weight. As much as I love Airstreams, I'm not sure that's the right trailer for your needs. It's probably doable, but would be more of a challenge than a taller, more square trailer.
You're right in that Airstreams can be redone and in general the structure lasts longer than cheaper box trailers. It comes at a price point, though.
I wish you and yours the best as you continue to meet your challenges! You're a saint!

Kay
Minno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 09:47 AM   #14
Rivet Slave
 
Rocinante's Avatar

 
2014 27' FB International
Green Cove Springs , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 5,359
Blog Entries: 49
This won't be what you want to hear, but given your requirements, I don't believe Airstream is the brand you're looking for.

Given the thin exterior walls with aluminum on both sides and aluminum ribs between them and minimal standard insulation, they are terrible four season campers. Sure, you could try to put in thermopane, but it would be a challenge, especially the curved windows in front and/or back, and even if you did, the interior walls would sweat like crazy in cold weather. There are entire threads here about attempting to use Airstreams as four season campers. Some folks block up all their windows with Reflectix. Others run dehumidifiers. Still others ventilate the trailer regularly to get the moisture out. A truly cold winter of full time living is frankly no fun in an Airstream.

Yes, if you can find a Pan American model you can get a nice rear door and a ramp, but that's only going to help you if you're willing to use the trailer's wheels as a climate control device, moving south when it gets too cold to live comfortably in the trailer. Oh, and per comments above, the ceiling of an Airstream will be low relative to your motor home, and that may also be an issue.

Given your requirements and the fact that your toad is also nearing the end of its useful life, I'd suggest looking for a good used RV that's truly rated for four seasons, be it a motor home, fifth wheel or travel trailer. Once you find the camper you want to live in, then you can solve the vehicle problem, e.g. do you want a tow vehicle or a toad and what can you find in your price range?

Best wishes, and if you prove me wrong regarding whether an Airstream is right for your needs, no one would be happier than me.
__________________
Rocinante is our 2014 International Signature 27FB
(Named for John Steinbeck's camper from "Travels With Charley")


Rocinante is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 10:57 AM   #15
3 Rivet Member
 
2017 25' International
Framingham , Massachusetts
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spartanguy View Post
ďPan AmericaĒ thatís the word, ok, that is kind of a cool Airstream. I think thereís a guy on here with one, probably a hard one to come across, but idk...Attachment 358484Attachment 358485
Unfortunately, Airstream made only 19 of these so scoring one of these will require perseverance to say the least.
quietguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 02:01 PM   #16
2 Rivet Member
 
1994 34' Excella
San Antonio , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 39
Just thoughts . . .

Back in 1999 I had ACL surgery and lost the use of my left leg for a couple of months. At the same time, my wife and I moved into our 1994 Excella A/S near Miami, FL while selling our home and waiting for a job transfer.

Wow! That was an experience. The 34 foot A/S was very confining and very difficult to move around in. Being immobile in an A/S has many challenges. Unless you gut the A/S, living will be burdonsome. There has to be better choices.

I just read through https://camperreport.com/best-cold-w...-extreme-cold/ website. It was an interesting article with many comments following the write-up. Perhaps a few of these type articles will give you some ideas. There is a very good article for first-time campers in the very beginning!

May God richly BLESS you for the support you provide your loved-ones. Happy New Year.
delongj is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 02:59 PM   #17
2 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Griffin , Georgia
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 23
Cutting New Door & Upgrading Windows - Reply

Have you considered building a "schoolie"? There is room in a schoolie to put in beds, bath, overhead lifting tracks, wheelchair lifts (can probably buy one at auction with a lift in place) and insulate it for year round living. You can pull a wheelchair handling van behind it with relative ease.

I don't see a real cheap way to do what you want via any means, but there are ways within a budget to do a lot - if you can do a lot of the work yourself, and hopefully get help from friends and other nice people.

Best of luck with finding a solution that works for you.
Travel Pro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 07:14 PM   #18
Rivet Master
 
1988 32' Excella
Robbinsville , New Jersey
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1,095
As others have said the low roof and weak frame of an AS would be hard to overcome.
You might be a great candidate for building a "Tiny House" trailer. If done well can last decades and be custom made for your needs.
Wazbro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 08:11 PM   #19
Rivet Master
 
1969 18' Caravel
Greenville , whereEverIroam
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 567
Images: 5
Not sure AS trailer is ideal for you or not, but others have mentioned the PanAmerica or some of the branded trailers that have the rear hatch.

The rear hatch would certainly simplify ingress and egress, and the more I think about it, is probably the easiest, safest and quickest way to go about it, for an AS trailer. You might even be able to load and unload w/o having to deploy the stabilizers.

Here are some pics, note the layout is reversed from the more traditional layouts. These layouts are referred to as FB (front bedroom) e.g. Globetrotter 27FB.







Some of the names of these trailers with the rear hatch are Eddie Bauer Edition, Pendleton Edition, Tony Bahama Edition, (all now out of production) and the current Globetrotter model. Incidentally, the MSRP of the 2020 25' model is $105,900 and the 27' is $112,900 (and you might be able to get up to 20% off the MSRP from a good dealer if you were to buy new) Remarkably, these are far from the most expensive new AS trailers currently available.

But even if you were to find a used EB or TB version for sale at an acceptable price, (here's one for sale in MN ~ $79K, ) you would still have the poor performance of the trailer in below freezing weather.

Not sure the hospital bed would fit in the rear, but some handy torching and cutting of the mattress could probably make it fit in the curved corner.

Anyway, thought this might provide some ideas, or perhaps steer you in a better direction.
skyguyscott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2020, 09:32 PM   #20
Rivet Master
 
Caffeinated's Avatar
 
2015 27' Flying Cloud
Portland , Oregon
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 975
I think you woul d be better off buying a used school bus with a wheelchair lift an remodeling it for your needs. As the feds constantly update safety standards on school busses, there are lots of used ones available relatively cheap.
Mike
__________________

__________________
2015 27ft FC FB
WBCCI #3960
2019 F150 ecoboost
Caffeinated is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Replacing 1966 original handles without cutting door. missyloopy Cabinets, Counter Tops & Furnishings 0 08-08-2013 10:38 AM
Upgrading my windows Cathy&Pete Windows & Screens 2 08-19-2007 04:20 PM
Upgrading my windows Cathy&Pete Windows & Screens 2 08-19-2007 03:34 PM
Windows, windows, windows... Balquin Windows & Screens 4 07-04-2006 07:35 PM
Door windows vs. no door windows? Craftsman Doors & Locks 33 02-05-2006 08:29 PM


Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Airstream, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:08 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.