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Old 06-30-2015, 06:36 PM   #1
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Noob airstreamer getting ready to redesign, would love feedback and ideas!

I'm new here and i'm about to start in on an airstream project but had a few questions for some of you experienced airstreamers. First off, I know that a large amount of the structural integrity is in the sub flooring.

So my question is, can I get away with still being able to tow it without any walls inside? if I removed all of the inner walls and had in open inside, would it still be road worthy?
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:29 AM   #2
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Welcome to the Forums!

I would say yes. I used my trailer as an "Aluminum tent" for about a year, towed it down the road without any interior skins, bulkheads, cabinetry, etc., and with an air conditioner bouncing along on the roof, and never saw any signs that I was risking causing a problem.

It may be true that the interior skins provide some additional support/rigidification to the shell, but just the fact that the exterior skins are held together by a bucked rivet every 3/4" or so, and the interior skins are held in place by a 1/8" pop rivet every 12" so should give you an idea of the proportional contribution the interior skins might be offering. I would actually go further to say that if the exterior skin-and-ribs combination were to allow very much movement at all, that the pop rivets holding your interior skins in place would simply shear, and that would be that.

Now, all that being said, I could imagine that without any interior, your shell may become more "flexible," so I would not trust your entry door to remain latched as you go down the road, and would advise you to tape all of your doors, hatches, and windows closed just in case, and to make a wooden door closing brace that slips under the grab handle on the exterior and firmly keeps the door from opening. You can do a search to find the popular design for this gadget.

good luck!
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Old 07-01-2015, 09:59 AM   #3
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Yeah …..good luck…..trying to find the thread

The forums search function can be frustrating.. Try a google search using the word " Airforum "

I quick like made one when my lock broke right before a trip.

I used a foot long, one by two piece of pine and a thin bungee.

But the sky is the limit. You could utilize Tee nuts ( countersink them so they don't scratch the finish), thumb screws, a U shaped pipe strap.

Slip the wood underneath the grab handle, so that it prevents the door from opening.
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Old 07-01-2015, 10:56 AM   #4
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For the record the interior skin is a structural component of the trailer as anyone who has reskinned their door can attest. It is geometrically essential to the rigidity of the ribs Without the interior skin the door is just a floppy mess. Removing a structural component and asking if the trailer will still perform the same as if it had it is asking for trouble at some point. Can you drive it? Yes. Will it fly apart on the road? Probably not. But under certain circumstances who knows. Definitely don't get up on the roof. The ribs can twist and snap with nothing to hold the inside edge of the rib. IMHO.
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
...and to make a wooden door closing brace that slips under the grab handle on the exterior and firmly keeps the door from opening. You can do a search to find the popular design for this gadget.

good luck!
Or as I like to call it - The Doohickey

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f453...sed-19369.html
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Old 07-01-2015, 02:29 PM   #6
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By "Interior Walls" I assume you mean the bulkheads? Mine has been without the original bulkheads for quite a while, no problems. I believe that they are designed to slide around in their channels, ask me how I know this? When I made my new spiffy bulkheads fit perfectly, I noticed that they came loose after a particularly strenuous leveling session!
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Old 07-01-2015, 02:52 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Stefrobrts View Post
Or as I like to call it - The Doohickey

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f453...sed-19369.html

How to make one here: Make Your Own Suicide Door Security Latch
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Old 07-02-2015, 01:42 PM   #8
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Good point Suzy. I thought they were referring to the interior skin. If they are referring to the bulkheads. ie the thin plywood walls that divides each area then by all means remove them. They aren't structural.
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Old 07-02-2015, 07:25 PM   #9
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I've been towing all over Colorado and points further north and south for years with no problems whatsoever, however my trailer is quite unique. In my opinion the interior skin adds little to the integrity of the trailer. Just make sure that the frame and subfloor are in good repair and as mentioned above the door should be complete
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:04 PM   #10
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thanks for all the feedback guys!
And to be clear, I was talking about the bulkheads! I figured they weren't necessary but wanted to make sure. My original design was gonna be minimal with no walls, but then I decided to throw a bathroom in, cause, who doesn't like showers? so it looks like a few bulkheads will be put in anyways.

I was thinking about putting my kitchen at the front of the trailer. (near the door and where to jack rests on the ground)
I do know it needs to be somewhat balanced and was wondering, if I have the bathroom, with the grey water underneath at the back of the trailer and my kitchen in the front. Simple diagram here:



would it be to unbalanced? I'm assuming because the jack is at the front it would be more then okay to put the kitchen (which will more the likely be a little bit heavier then the bathroom) in the front. Just looking for feedback and more info about it!

Was also wondering if anyone has suggestions as to books I could get or any other resources I could use too help gain more knowledge and an understanding of how outside the box I can be with my redesign without messing with the roadworthiness of the airstream its self.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:50 PM   #11
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Just remember that when it comes to weight, it is not only a matter of front-to-back weight distribution, but also side to side. The weight distribution is not really that important for when the trailer is sitting in the campsite (ie., on its stabilizing jacks), as much as for when it is going down the road.

One way to simplify this process may be to take a look at your original layout, and make a note of where furnishings and appliances were placed, and try to maintain a similar "balance" as you move the layout around. For example, in my trailer, the galley (think oven and refrigerator) and battery were on one side of the trailer, and the water heater, a gaucho, the furnace were directly on the other side. These "heavy-wight" items straddled the axle so that they balanced one another both side to side and front to back. The aft end was just the bathroom, which is mostly plastic and empty space, and the front most area was a gaucho. The 500 lbs of tongue weight was provided by the placement of the axle and the water in the FW tank, just in front of the axle.

You will also want to find out what your original tongue weight was supposed to be, and try to make your final tongue weight be about the same. If you move a whole bunch of heavy kitchen appliances up to the very front of the trailer, you may be substantially increasing your tongue weight. The trailer should be tongue heavy, but not overly so.

As far as books go, I am not aware of any "how-to" volumes out there. Your best bet is probably to skim through the "full monty" restorations here on the Forums, and/or to get the old episodes of the Vintage Airstream Podcast, and have a listen as you commute to work or run errands. You can absorb a lot of information that way.

good luck!
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Old 07-31-2015, 05:45 PM   #12
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Just keep in mind that you have exterior openings for most of the appliances. The furnace, the water fill, the fridge vent, the water heater and the plumbing vents all have some type of opening to the outside and if you start moving things around, you will either have to patch them and move them or rework the plan. In all the layouts I have seen for most fairly modern airstream (60's and up) I've never seen one for a front kitchen. There may be a reason for that, but if there is, Im not aware of it.

Look at all the supply issues that are involved with the appliances: water, gas, electric and sewer/drainage. Before you move ahead, figure out how much you will have to do to make it all work. It may end up that by going less radical with the redesign, you may cut out a great deal of extra work. Just something to think about.
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Old 08-01-2015, 07:50 AM   #13
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Kitchen in front!

Putting the galley in front makes perfect sense to me, especially in the shorter Airstreams. I used to have a '62 Shasta canned ham with that config, and it worked well.

Here's a fast sketch of what I'd do if I had a Safari... please don't let me do this, one Airstream is enough for me!

Some practical considerations: the front window is lower than the side windows, at least in my Ambassador. Something strange would have to be done to accommodate it. This design is for a composting toilet and a wet head- not to everyone's liking. Not much storage, as both of the "tall" storage areas have to fit under the windows. Very little prep area in the galley

Great as a party machine, though! Woo-hoo!
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:30 AM   #14
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So a couple other thoughts about putting the galley up front: The refrigerator needs to have air flow from low to high across the coils in the back in order to work properly. In the typical vintage configuration, that means there is a vent built into the floor behind the frig that allows air in, a scoop that takes the air from the counter top up the wall to the ceiling, and a vent up to the roof for its escape. Move that fridge up front, and you will not only have to relocate both the floor and the ceiling vents, but you may end up with the scoop going across a window. Note also, that you probably have a hood-vent above your stove that sucks up smoke and steam. If you want to maintain that vent, it to will have to be relocated and end up smack in the front of your front end caps. This will become a funnel for water when driving through a rain storm.

So what year and model of trailer are we talking about?

good luck!
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