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Old 06-10-2011, 09:46 AM   #1
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New Idea for '70s overhead lights - LED / Fantastic

I had the dreaded 70's vents in my Airstream. I replaced all three of these vents with some fantastic vents. The nice thing is that during the day, I get a bunch more light in the camper. The bad thing, is that at night, I lost all of the overhead lights. Here is the solution that I came up with. My interior is clear maple and birdseye maple. I decided to go with LED lighting. I bought 2 rolls (16ft each) of LED strip lighting. I used the warm light color. I then molded a piece of maple and ran a groove in the middle that would accept the LED strip. The LED strip is about 5/16" wide and it has some peel and stick tape on the back. I recessed the strip so that the LED's were not protruding beyond the surface of the maple. I made a frame that was a 1/4" bigger than the the size of the Fantastic vent cover. The strip of LED's can be cut every 3" or so. I used 14" per leg of the frame. I then soldered wire to the end's of the strip so that I could join all 4 pieces together. The final wire goes into the frame and is routed to a switch that I bought at Radio Shack. It is a micro switch that can handle up to 3 amps. Each light assembly that I made uses 0.5 amps per hour as measured by my tri-metic. The frames are flat and the ceiling is not, so I made ups some filler strips that I will install to close the gap at the front and rear of the assemblies. I will admit that before this project, I was not that good at soldering. I am now an expert. I also used the same lighting strips to change out the bulbs in the bathroom. I included a picture of that project also. These LED's are expensive. The cheapest that I could find the rolls was $45 / 16'roll. They come in all colors and they even have LED's that can change color. I have a strip of these LED's under the shelf that is above the sink and it provides plenty of light. I am also going to run a 5' straight section in the hallway between the beds. I eventually will have bunk beds in that location. A strip light will do a great job of lighting up the hall way. What do you fellow Airstreamers think of my lighting solution? Anybody find these LED's cheaper? Any suggestions or comments are more than welcome.
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Old 06-10-2011, 09:55 AM   #2
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That looks great, will be even better when covered in wood grained plastic...we can't be allowing any of the '70's trailers to have REAL wood...

Seriously, those look really cool. I had a '77 and know exactly what you are dealing with. My '91 also uses huge covers over the lamp/vent so I lost it when the fantastic fan went in. I ended up with a pair of strip lights that don't look nearly as nice as your setup.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:17 AM   #3
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Sweet! I need to do something (permanent) where I made the same replacements. My battery LED lights keep falling from the ceiling....

Laura
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:29 AM   #4
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Nice solution!

Now, to heck with the lights. I want to see some photos of your maple interior.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:35 AM   #5
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Nice solution!

Now, to heck with the lights. I want to see some photos of your maple interior.
Me, too! Did you put that maple finish in yourself??

ps: I do like the lighting idea, too
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:10 AM   #6
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Thanks for the comments. I did do the maple interior myself. I got lucky on the Birdseye. I bought (4) sheets of Maple plywood. The stuff I bought was an A/B grade. Good on one side, OK on the other. My "B" side was highly figured Birdseye maple. I was making a partition wall out of a cardboard template and transferred it to the maple. I wanted the good side to face the kitchen and the "B" side to face the beds. I had accidentally reversed the panel when I was copying the template and that is when I noticed that it was highly figured veneer. I then checked all of the sheets that I purchased and realized what I had. At that point I selectively chose what panels I wanted facing out and was able to make all the doors for the cabinets out of the plywood. I was able to book-match the doors and they look awesome. I am still in the process of finishing the interior, and I am wondering if I ever will finish. Sadly I have not updated my blog, but I have kept a good photo record. Here are few more shots of the interior. Sorry, but I chose real wood and not particle board covered in “wood grained plastic.!” I know that some people prefer the original look of the plastic. “70’s RULE” why do you think they sold more Airstreams in the 70’s than any other era of trailer?


All my pictures : https://picasaweb.google.com/1086033...75/ERocks7802#






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Old 06-12-2011, 11:49 AM   #7
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I think the maple looks great! I have been looking at birdseye maple veneers and thinking how good the cabinets and closets of my Excella would look in that instead of the terrible plastic "walnut." I even bought a set of drawer pulls like the ones you used.
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Old 06-12-2011, 10:50 PM   #8
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That's beautiful maple, erock53! Makes me plenty jealous.
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Old 06-13-2011, 06:50 AM   #9
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That maple is beautiful! Is that a cork floor? It would be great to have details on the floor as well! I have to redo my floor and that floor is stunning!
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Old 07-14-2011, 02:00 PM   #10
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My floor is Cork. I bought mine from Lumber Liquidators. The style is Dali Cork. The stuff is not cheap, but I love the look of it, and it was super easy to install. The stuff just clicks together and you are done.
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Old 07-14-2011, 02:36 PM   #11
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Nice!

I really like your lights! Great work. I had the bright idea I would make an aluminum track for mine, hoping that it wouldn't short out. No such luck. The lights would work for a while in the track, but eventually it would short. Too bad it was a really nice track.

I was in a time crunch so I didn't use any casing and just put them up on the ceiling. I will eventually follow your lead and make a wood track. I too went with warm white, and got the brighter ones. Everyone that comes in my trailer is shocked on how much light one strip gives.

Here is mine currently:
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Old 07-15-2011, 07:04 AM   #12
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I have had the same response. People are amazed that I can have that much light and use so little 12v power. I was going to put some accent lights hidden in the tracks above the windows, but I may not do that now because I don't need it. I am pleased with how my wooden track has turned out.
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:04 PM   #13
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Great idea, thanks!

(And a very good looking trailer, too)
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