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Old 06-18-2008, 02:01 PM   #1
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MCS and gutting Airstream, need help! :)

We have a 66 Globetrotter we are going to make environmentally safe for me. We are needing to gut it down to the studs and remove all the insulation. Can the end walls and end wall/bathroom (rear) be taken out carefully somehow and sealed (we have a special sealer) and put back in? Or can we replace each end wall with something that is ok for me? We have to take out the insulation and replace it and we have to get rid of the Airstream smell. Instead of taking out the walls we have thought of covering the plastic end caps and walls with Denny Foil to seal everything in, but it would look nicer if we could just take it all out, clean it up, put new insulation in and seal everything on both sides and put it all back.

I realize fixing an Airstream for people like me with MCS if far different from renovating one for travel.

We would appreciate any instructions on the "how to's" of our steps that anyone would offer. Thanks
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Old 06-18-2008, 04:01 PM   #2
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Yes it is possible but a lot of work. The trailer can be stripped down to the shell and fiberglass removed and replaced with foil type insulation but the glass is also under the floorboards and to remove it completely requires removal of the floor which requires the removal of the shell.
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Old 06-18-2008, 04:40 PM   #3
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Welcome to the Forum.
I an assuming that you bought a vintage unit because of the lack of foam and plastics used in that era when compared to the newer units.
That being said, the front interior end cap is the largest chunk of plastic to be found. I would guess that after 42 years itís probably done out-gassing by now. The same would hold true for the fiberglass rear bath fixtures.
Itís been found that most of the "airstream smell" is from moisture, mold, mildew and the various critters that have taken up residence over the years. Make sure the shell is leak-free.
The interior wall panels un-rivet fairly easily. Some people have replaced them with unfinished aluminum sheet for the more modern look. End caps could be a problem though. A thorough cleaning after removing the interior should solve most odor problems. Note: The original floor tile may contain asbestos. Mine came up relatively intact as the mastic had dried out.
Not knowing your level of sensitivity, it will interesting to see what you choose for interior furnishings. Metal pieces or natural wood? Once again the original cabinets and couches in mine are hardwood, screwed together with a minimum of glue. Could your old ones, if you have them, be sealed?
If you decide to go ahead with your project keep us posted. We love pictures.

Hope you find this helpful.
Tom.
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Old 06-18-2008, 04:53 PM   #4
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Oops. Forgot to mention the Search button on the top blue bar.
Sometimes it may be a bit cumbersome and return results with little to do with your query. It will provide hours of reading on every topic concerning repairs and remodeling. Bet you find info by someone whoís done it, doing it or planning it.

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Old 06-18-2008, 07:00 PM   #5
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A chemist's try

PilgrimSouth-

Let me try this from a chemist's point of view, but with less Airstream experience than others like Aerowood. I'll try to give you some perspective and some of the best links I've found here. You'll find this site to be a tremendous but overwhelming source of information.

Your budgetary constraints and plans for use of the trailer -- specifically your travel plans -- would help those looking to reply.

My understanding of MCS is that organic chemicals and solvents are the worst problems, followed closely by smoke and the like. The term organic chemicals is used here in the context of carbon-based chemistry, rather than the pesticide-free context.

Given that, I hope your floor is solid and mildew-free. If not, it may be part of the "airstream smell". Finding a solid replacement without chemicals will be a challenge. If you don't plan to move the trailer, you can certainly use solid wood planks but have the challenge of sealing them with non-toxic chemicals. Maybe the "old house" method of hemp rope stuffed between panels would work. Consider cork or marmoleum floors to cover the base. If you plan to travel, you need a solid structural replacement for the plywood. Do not underestimate the critical structural role of the floor in the design. The floor will be difficult to replace with a chemical-free solution. If you want to see what is involved in replacing a floor, start with http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...mbi-17925.html

You certainly can pull the interior skins off the trailer. They are much easier to clean and remove years of tobacco smoke when removed. Put them on a flat deck and sand the heck out of the surfaces. You can even polish them like http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...ent-38289.html . Once cleaned, they can oxidize naturally and need no further treatment.

Panels are not hard to reproduce with new aluminum, consider Airparts Inc. Homepage for replacement. You can even replace the fiberglass domes with aluminum. I think Overlander62 (Frank) did this at Anna Lumanum Be sure to give him Karma if you like his ideas.


Given your MCS sensitivity, fiberglass is probably best for insulation. The foil insulation method pionered by malconium -- see http://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...cks-30196.htmlat uses a polymer bubble foam with Styrofoam offsets using polyurethane or equivalent adhesive. It is my choice and it appears to be the best in thermal performance, but I wouldn't recommend it for your use. As Aerowood noted above, insulation is present in the walls of the trailer and below the floor. Make sure you remove all the old insulation -- hopefully it is the only source of smell.

By now, I assume you have found sources for upholstery. I'd be curious to see what you use for comfort cushioning.

Best of luck,

John
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Old 06-18-2008, 09:38 PM   #6
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It's also possible to totally replace or cover the plastic/fiberglass end caps with aluminum. At least four members have done this in the last year and Aerowood is about to do his.

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Old 06-19-2008, 07:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerowood View Post
Yes it is possible but a lot of work. The trailer can be stripped down to the shell and fiberglass removed and replaced with foil type insulation but the glass is also under the floorboards and to remove it completely requires removal of the floor which requires the removal of the shell.
Thanks, we have already figured out that we need to replace the floor, it does hold the smell and is rotted in a few places. Will mention why we are taking the skins out when I reply to another post. We would love step by step instructions from someone who has already removed the inside skins including the ends!!
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Old 06-19-2008, 08:31 AM   #8
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You are right! I could not even go in a new Airstream without it making me very ill! We did 2 other Airstreams for me years ago and Airstream suggested buying one older than the 80's.

That being said, the front interior end cap is the largest chunk of plastic to be found. I would guess that after 42 years itís probably done out-gassing by now. The same would hold true for the fiberglass rear bath fixtures.

Well, not really, what happens is that after all these years the plastic and wood has absorbed all the smells & chemicals that have been inside the trailer. We either have replace it or take it out and seal both sides and put it back.

Itís been found that most of the "airstream smell" is from moisture, mold, mildew and the various critters that have taken up residence over the years. Make sure the shell is leak-free.

The smell we have it typical of Airstream so I am guessing its the actual plastic after absorbing the tank chemicals etc. We had 2 other Airstreams we redid for me 15 years ago (sold one, lost on in a flood) and we never did get rid of the smell, but we didn't take the inside skins out.
The interior wall panels un-rivet fairly easily. Some people have replaced them with unfinished aluminum sheet for the more modern look. End caps could be a problem though. A thorough cleaning after removing the interior should solve most odor problems. Note: The original floor tile may contain asbestos. Mine came up relatively intact as the mastic had dried out.
We want to seal the inside skins, inside and out. The end caps are what we think will probably break up when we take them out and have to do something in place of them probably. We won't be using the sink and toilet anyway, will use permanent regular fixtures. It will stay stationary, but for a few moves to new locations. It will be hooked up to the utilities like a regular house, no 12 volt, regular water lines, new elec 110 wiring etc. Its only going to have a bathroom and bedroom. Someone else already took up the floor.

Not knowing your level of sensitivity, it will interesting to see what you choose for interior furnishings. Metal pieces or natural wood? Once again the original cabinets and couches in mine are hardwood, screwed together with a minimum of glue. Could your old ones, if you have them, be sealed?
If you decide to go ahead with your project keep us posted. We love pictures.

Very sensitive, I am called a Universal Reactor. We can use metal and wood, just so we seal them on both sides. We do have some of the original insides, i.e. the bathroom wood entrance walls with closets, kitchen cupboards etc. We can seal them and still use them if we want. You are VERY helpful! We appreicate it!!
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Old 06-19-2008, 08:38 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Zeppelinium View Post
It's also possible to totally replace or cover the plastic/fiberglass end caps with aluminum. At least four members have done this in the last year and Aerowood is about to do his.

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Thanks for the great pictures!!!
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Old 06-19-2008, 08:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pilgrimsouth View Post
You are right! I could not even go in a new Airstream without it making me very ill! We did 2 other Airstreams for me years ago and Airstream suggested buying one older than the 80's. ....

Very sensitive, I am called a Universal Reactor. We can use metal and wood, just so we seal them on both sides. We do have some of the original insides, i.e. the bathroom wood entrance walls with closets, kitchen cupboards etc. We can seal them and still use them if we want. You are VERY helpful! We appreicate it!!
You've come to the right place to get the information you need. As you've already found, the people around here are extremely helpful, and very nice as well.

Out of curiosity, what product can you use to seal the various surfaces so that they are safe and non-reactive for you?
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Old 06-19-2008, 08:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by 65CV View Post
PilgrimSouth-

Let me try this from a chemist's point of view, but with less Airstream experience than others like Aerowood. I'll try to give you some perspective and some of the best links I've found here. You'll find this site to be a tremendous but overwhelming source of information.

Your budgetary constraints and plans for use of the trailer -- specifically your travel plans -- would help those looking to reply.

Very limited budget, like a thin shoe string

My understanding of MCS is that organic chemicals and solvents are the worst problems, followed closely by smoke and the like. The term organic chemicals is used here in the context of carbon-based chemistry, rather than the pesticide-free context.

Yes, your right, organic chemicals are bad, but for me and many others so are most everything man made. Everyone is different. I have to just get a sample of something and sit in a small room with it to see if I do ok with it.

Given that, I hope your floor is solid and mildew-free. If not, it may be part of the "airstream smell". Finding a solid replacement without chemicals will be a challenge. If you don't plan to move the trailer, you can certainly use solid wood planks but have the challenge of sealing them with non-toxic chemicals. Maybe the "old house" method of hemp rope stuffed between panels would work. Consider cork or marmoleum floors to cover the base.

We do have several choices, battle ship linoleum, solid wood floor etc. if they are sealed. They make special sealers for people like me.

If you plan to travel, you need a solid structural replacement for the plywood. Do not underestimate the critical structural role of the floor in the design. The floor will be difficult to replace with a chemical-free solution. If you want to see what is involved in replacing a floor, start with http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...mbi-17925.html

Thanks, this will help my husband a lot!

You certainly can pull the interior skins off the trailer. They are much easier to clean and remove years of tobacco smoke when removed. Put them on a flat deck and sand the heck out of the surfaces. You can even polish them like http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...ent-38289.html . Once cleaned, they can oxidize naturally and need no further treatment.

Is there anywhere with instructions on how to actually do this and also deal with the end skins?

Panels are not hard to reproduce with new aluminum, consider Airparts Inc. Homepage for replacement. You can even replace the fiberglass domes with aluminum. I think Overlander62 (Frank) did this at Anna Lumanum Be sure to give him Karma if you like his ideas.
Given your MCS sensitivity, fiberglass is probably best for insulation. The foil insulation method pionered by malconium -- see http://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...cks-30196.htmlat uses a polymer bubble foam with Styrofoam offsets using polyurethane or equivalent adhesive. It is my choice and it appears to be the best in thermal performance, but I wouldn't recommend it for your use. As Aerowood noted above, insulation is present in the walls of the trailer and below the floor. Make sure you remove all the old insulation -- hopefully it is the only source of smell.

We actually have something called Denny Foil that I do very well with. We are thinking of using it for insulation and have even thought of using it to replace the inside skin in the dome area. But, it doesn't do anything structurally since its a foil. Its double sided aluminum foil with paper in the middle, but does form to whatever shape you want. You use aluminum tape with it. MCS people have used it for years for lots of things. Would it be a problem structurally if we replaced the domes with it? We could cover it with fabric to protect it somewhat. We are not traveling with our trailer, using it for my bedroom and bathroom on our land. We may move it from time to time to new locations but that's all.

By now, I assume you have found sources for upholstery. I'd be curious to see what you use for comfort cushioning.

Can't use upholstery. Solid wood (even though hard) is my best friend when sealed. For comfort I can have organic feather pillows though.

Best of luck,

John
I have posted my reply above within your quotes, thanks so much for the help!
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:12 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by utee94 View Post
You've come to the right place to get the information you need. As you've already found, the people around here are extremely helpful, and very nice as well.

Out of curiosity, what product can you use to seal the various surfaces so that they are safe and non-reactive for you?
There are several...AFM Products makes paints and sealers for sensitive people. I do ok with some and not ok with others. We used a sealer years ago from Pace Chem that was wonderful but they are out of business. We are currently looking for another one. I have to ask my mcs friends for recommendations for more.
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:15 AM   #13
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Thanks for the great pictures!!!
My guess is that it would be too expensive for us to put new aluminum in it. Not sure I could have it either. Toying with the idea of using Denny Foil to cover then studs. Its a paper and foil insullation but with just me in it, I wouldn't damage it much and could repair anything with aluminum tape. Just wonder if it would be ok structurally to be without its inside skins on the ends. Anyone know?
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:38 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pilgrimsouth View Post
My guess is that it would be too expensive for us to put new aluminum in it. Not sure I could have it either.
Materials are less than $100 (one 4x8 sheet of aluminum if you cut it accurately), but it's a complicated job. The job is a lot easier if you retain the inner plastic end cap and attach the tapered panels to it, using it as a form. 62Overlander did it that way, and I think C_Ferguson also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pilgrimsouth View Post
Toying with the idea of using Denny Foil to cover then studs. Its a paper and foil insullation but with just me in it, I wouldn't damage it much and could repair anything with aluminum tape. Just wonder if it would be ok structurally to be without its inside skins on the ends. Anyone know?
The inner dome is not attached to the outer dome, except at the rib where the straight shell meets the end caps. What's more, the plastic inside end caps are not very rigid--I don't think they provide significant strutural strength and you can do without them.

On the other hand, the interior skins, riveted to the ribs, do provide added structural stiffness. Not half, by any means, but it's significant. I don't think you'd want to routinely tow an Airstream without interior skins. The exception would be a gutted Airstream--very light, so you wouldn't need the added strength from the interior skin. A few members have used their gutted Airstreams as aluminum "tents" and have not reported any trouble.

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