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Old 06-10-2008, 02:41 PM   #1
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Fabric interior walls - why not?

I have been thinking for some time about various approaches for customizing the interior of my 1973 31' Airstream. It is really a blank canvas since it was mostly gutted when I bought it. One approach that I have thought about is to use fabric walls instead of hard walls. On a recent airline trip I did some sketching about possible ways to build such walls. I decided to formalize my sketch a bit by quickly drawing it in AutoCAD. Hopefully the attached PDF file is clear enough but if not please let me know. The general idea is based on a few main principles and/or material types as follows:

1.) The molding shown attached to the inner Airstream walls is a flexible plastic molding of a type that I have found at Home Depot. It comes in white or a couple of wood grain finishes. The important characteristics are that it is flexible enough to follow the curve of the wall and it holds staples. Its overall dimensions are something like 3/8" x 3/4" or so. I envision attaching it to the wall with pop rivets every so often. If it were to be a permanent installation I would probably use some type of adhesive.

2.) The aluminum screen frame material is pretty interesting stuff. Again I found it at Home Depot in the window screen department. It is also about 3/8" x 3/4" in dimensions. The neat thing is that it is available in several colors and mill finish aluminum in lengths up to 7'. That is long enough to go from floor to ceiling in an Airstream. I don't see any reason why fabric couldn't be used instead of sceen in the slotted edge of the frame. If the fabric is too thick you would at least have to consider a smaller diameter rubber gasket bead.

3.) I though it should be possible to find some appropriate type of hinge. It occurred to me that what might work nicely is the plastic strip hinge if it could be found with a leg dimension of 3/4".

4.) I have not zeroed in on a type of latch for a door opening but there should be several types of things that would work including perhaps magnetic cabinet latches.

5.) The screen frames also have nice corner brackets and optional cross members for tall screens that would give extra stiffness if that is needed.

For the walls on either side of a door the general idea is to attach the fabric to the aluminum screen frames first and secure the vertical frame members. Then with just one strip of plastic trim on the wall and floor (maybe aluminum frame on floor too?) I would carefully stretch and staple the fabric to the trim. Once that was done I would add the second piece of trim to cover the staples and give a more finished. look.

I am not sure what the best thing to use for attaching the aluminum trim to the ceiling and floor would be. Perhaps just a simple small L shaped bracket would be fine.

Anyway I hope this launches some creative thinking on the use of fabric for walls - whether temporary or permanent.

Malcolm
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Old 06-10-2008, 03:02 PM   #2
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Malcolm, just make sure the fabric you choose is nonflammable and generates no or low volumes of smoke and toxic fumes when exposed to flames. With a solid wall material, there is a time element allowing one to (hopefully) make an escape from the trailer in the event of a conflagration. Fabric without a solid backing is often significantly faster to ignite and flash over, thus losing that small amount of time to effect egress.

Good luck!
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Old 06-10-2008, 03:13 PM   #3
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I do not see a pdf file. It would be interesting so if you can try and post again.

As for fabric inside on the walls I have one comment. Mold. The first place mold will collect in an Airstream is on the interior walls generally behind any type of wall covering. Unless you can maintain a low humidity level in the trailer I would reconsider. Many Airstreamers that leave their trailers in Fl. leave a dehumidifier running inside.

I would think your area will be very pron to condensation and thus mold.
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Old 06-10-2008, 03:17 PM   #4
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Malcomb.

Most fabrics that could be used on the interior walls, absorb odors, such as that from smoking and cooking.

In due time, just from normal cooking, the fabric will absorb enough of those odors, that most people would object to.

Vinyls are OK, since they can also be scrubbed.

Andy
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Old 06-10-2008, 05:17 PM   #5
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Hmmm.... computing....

Quote:
Originally Posted by olddog299 View Post
Malcolm, just make sure the fabric you choose is nonflammable and generates no or low volumes of smoke and toxic fumes when exposed to flames. With a solid wall material, there is a time element allowing one to (hopefully) make an escape from the trailer in the event of a conflagration. Fabric without a solid backing is often significantly faster to ignite and flash over, thus losing that small amount of time to effect egress.

Good luck!
Ever seen the coffin lining like interior of a Classic? Draperies on top of draperies on top of blinds...

I'm a CCD bare walls fan, so I'm the last one to ask, BUT (said she ignoring all common sense) One or two walls? As an Accent? Why not?

Look at the "mouse fur" interior of the basic safari line. Bland, bland, bland. Going wild with TOO much fabric could get way too "cutsie". A few years ago there was a "Hello Kitty" airstream auctioned off for charity. Most people would actually be able to live with that interior for 10 minutes, and someone will surely post a picture of Pamela Anderson's Airstream, complete with stripper pole (puke). There is a good thread going on right now about customizing your interior - bedspreads, pillows, slipcovers, etc. Check that first. The neat thing is that if boredom sets in, presto changeo. What you select for your walls and cabinets you'll be living with practically forever. Go for conservative and durable THERE.

Paula
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:46 PM   #6
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Nicely said Paula. I agree 100%.
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Old 06-10-2008, 07:12 PM   #7
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Rivet Design Options

I also have to agree with Paula,

There is plenty of room for creativity and still retain flexibility.

After I:
1. Replace the refrigerator
2. Replace the carpet with cork
3. Replace the dinette with the new one
4. I am going to replace the faux walnut cabinet and closet doors (http://www.airforums.com/photos/show...0&userid=17830) with new plywood doors covered with ash (probably) accented with zebrawood (definitely) with updated stainless pulls and latches.

I can live with the dark tambour on the credenza. I havenít decided what to do about the vinyl faux walnut on the bulkheads, though.

Thanks for the mention of the screen frame material. I picked up a couple of pieces on the way home this afternoon. I am going to make a shower door similar to Terryís (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f314...tml#post574143). For my side bath Excella, it can be a single pane, simplicity itself!

On second thought, it will have to fold. While it would clear the towel rack even in its horizontal position, it wouldnít leave much room for anything else inside when closing. Like me!
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:35 PM   #8
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Missing PDF file...

I see that for some reason the PDF attachment file seems to be missing. I will try attaching it again. The drawing by the way is intended to be a top view of a typical interior wall from side to side of the Airstream with a door.

Also it would appear that there is some misunderstanding about what I meant by using fabric for interior walls. I did not mean using fabric as a wall covering over the existing walls. I was refering to the use of fabric as partition walls instead of more rigid forms of partitions.

The fire issue is certainly a good one to keep in mind. As far as mold is concerned that seems to be an issue for any type of wall if the moisture levels are not kept under control. In the case of what I was suggesting though since the walls would typically be exposed on both sides there would be plenty of air circulation on both sides to help with this problem. Also picking something that would not absorb odors is a good idea. So what type of fabrics would this be?

Malcolm
Attached Files
File Type: pdf FabricWallsPDF.pdf (49.1 KB, 76 views)
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:59 PM   #9
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Maybe foil insluation?

It occurs to me that one type of thin material that might be an OK choice for some people would be foil insulation. Of course it is aluminum and it shines. The quilted effect would be intersting and I suppose it would help deaden sound transmission through the walls. I believe that from what I have seen of it that it would compress just fine for fitting into the aluminum channel or for stapeling to the plastic frame members.

Perhaps other types of thin films would work too. As Andy commented vinyl of some sort might work. I suppose that there might be some type of mylar film that would work. I had originally thought that rip-stop nylon in bright colors could be a good choice. Theatrical canvas could work too. It would be possible to paint it as though it were a theatrical background.

Malcolm
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Old 06-11-2008, 12:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
Ever seen the coffin lining like interior of a Classic? Draperies on top of draperies on top of blinds...

I'm a CCD bare walls fan, so I'm the last one to ask, BUT (said she ignoring all common sense) One or two walls? As an Accent? Why not?

Look at the "mouse fur" interior of the basic safari line. Bland, bland, bland. Going wild with TOO much fabric could get way too "cutsie". A few years ago there was a "Hello Kitty" airstream auctioned off for charity. Most people would actually be able to live with that interior for 10 minutes, and someone will surely post a picture of Pamela Anderson's Airstream, complete with stripper pole (puke). There is a good thread going on right now about customizing your interior - bedspreads, pillows, slipcovers, etc. Check that first. The neat thing is that if boredom sets in, presto changeo. What you select for your walls and cabinets you'll be living with practically forever. Go for conservative and durable THERE.

Paula
Hi, I think the "Mouse Fur" is warm and cuddley. And I can hang pictures with velcro. Nothing Bland, Bland, Bland, about my BVD Safari. Thank You Very Much.
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Old 06-11-2008, 12:27 AM   #11
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I wonder if anyone has tried shooting a toner lacquer over the real wood cabinets that were used on A/S trailers (I'm guessing) pre-1970? Today, very light wood colours and very dark ones are popular now (again), and when carefully used together, the two tones can be used to make a interesting contrast and avoid the "blahs", while sticking to very simple, plain finishes. Or your can do it all one colour, to keep things simple.

The prep work to shoot toning lacquer is fairly intense, as it really has to have bare wood to start with in order to have predictable results, but striking finishes can be attained quickly. I have to admit that I haven't actually done it myself, but I'm quite familiar with the method, since it was a very popular way to finish old radios of the era I collect ('40s and '50s).

Remember the "blonde" finish of wood that was so popular in the late '40s and early '50s? That was achieved by shoot a toner lacquer finish. Any colour is possible, while still leaving the grain somewhat visible to make the wood look "real". Once you have the colour you want, seal it with your favourite sealer and you're good for another 30 years, as they say.

Maybe it's not practical, since you would have to remove anything you were going to spray and have some kind of a properly-vented spray booth jury-rigged, but it wouldn't be an expensive way to get some great results, if you did your own labour. A lot less than new cabinets, I'd wager.

A gun like this one, along with that compressor you probably already have, and you have all the equipment necessary.

Just a thought...

Aage
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