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Old 10-24-2013, 01:38 PM   #1
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1961 16' Bambi
Avinger , Texas
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what would YOU do???

Hi all -

What would YOU do with this 1961 Bambi? Restore her to full glory, or customize her for comfortable use? Information and pics below for your consideration. Grab another cup of coffee.

We acquired this baby last week, it has been in my husband's family for about 40 years. It is not meant for future resell, as it is considered a family heirloom to be passed down.

Pics attached are trailer condition as received, prior to cleaning. She is, shall we say, in all of her naked, icky glory! The previous family member just started working on it prior to having to pass it to us due to health reasons.


Quick run-down:
  • The old tile floor has been scraped up.
  • The water heater and furnace are gone.
  • Toilet is not working right. If we cannot locate a certain part, then entire toilet will have to be replaced. Black water tank has original guillotine valve, still slides and seals. Slow drip coming from somewhere in the belly near handle, so likely a black tank leak.
  • The water tank and pressure pump ARE intact, tank appears to be in excellent condition.
  • Came with original LP tanks and rack (all surface rusted). Battery compartment lid that goes on the front is intact and in good shape, was removed for travel.
  • The stove top appears to be in great condition. The propane refrigerator has a good door seal, and I see no reason why it shouldn't work.
  • The kitchen sink cleaned up nicely! No refinish needed. Counter top is stained.
  • Interior paint is in good condition everywhere except in the shower, where it is peeling in areas.
  • All drawers are intact and work well. All original light fixtures in place and in good condition, except for kitchen lights missing covers. All drawer and hinges original and in decent condition considering age, Some patina here and there as one would expect. All wooden surfaces will have to be sanded and repainted, but surprisingly no significant damage to any of it except wall board near door.
  • NO rust, no water damage except right near front door where door gasket failed years ago - the wall board will have to be replaced, however the floor is fine. NO soft spots in floor (yeah!)
  • All windows work, screens intact, no broken glass. Windows were duct taped for travel, since the glazing does need to be replaced. We didn't want any glass to rattle and crack during the 850-mile trip.
  • All exterior lights work - hauled the trailer from eastern Tennessee to Texas, no problems with hauling. We will have the axles inspected and wheel bearings repacked before any more road miles.
Okay, now give me your comments, criticisms, ideas, etc. Money is no object! since we have none We plan on this to be a slowww process, over a few years, not a few months. And, we plan on using it for occasional short trips during the process.

Carol
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Old 10-24-2013, 01:44 PM   #2
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1976 Argosy 22
Pasadena , California
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I have a water heater and a furnace from a 76 Argosy 22' if you are interested. Just pay for shipping...
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:20 PM   #3
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I vote renovate it for comfortable use because unless you plan for a museum in the future then using it would be safer and more comfortable if it is updated. You can add antique type accents to keep the look but usable is better!
Cliff
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:29 PM   #4
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I would restore as much as possible. Updating only those items which need safety upgrades or improvement. ie, 12 pump water system, and gas appliances and fridge (guts at least). But that's just me.
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Old 10-24-2013, 02:50 PM   #5
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2016 28' Pendleton
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crabbey1 View Post
I have a water heater and a furnace from a 76 Argosy 22' if you are interested. Just pay for shipping...
If water heater works I would be interested. I am restoring a 76 Argosy.
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Old 10-24-2013, 03:14 PM   #6
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my two cents.......your$$$$$$

Do the best that you, with the money and time that you have. I have a 1973. When I cheap out and end up not being happy, it gets costly.

#1 I like my brand new fancy toilet, but your vintage toilet really looks cool. Can you possibly have the part that you can't find , made?

#2 I would use a light wood finish on the doors and cabinets. Dark wood would make it feel smaller, and paint wouldn't have the vintage vibe as much

#3 You are not going to sell it.....Make it suit your tastes, and make it fit how you are going to use it.

#4 I would TRY to salvage as much as the original look, design, and vibe as possible.

#5 I would TRY to use replacement materials that blend in, and not stand out as being modern.

For the record...Only my walls and windows are original.
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Old 10-24-2013, 03:17 PM   #7
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snip...."Okay, now give me your comments, criticisms, ideas, etc. Money is no object! since we have none We plan on this to be a slowww process, over a few years, not a few months. And, we plan on using it for occasional short trips during the process."



Carol,

You seem to already have a workable plan...get it safe, waterproof and roadworthy., and slowly use it as you go.

Thats pretty much what we did with our '63' Safari. I spent a month working quick so we could safely use it and 15 Seasons working slowly so the fun could continue.

Sweet Streams.....


Bob
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Old 10-24-2013, 03:24 PM   #8
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what would YOU do???

Greetings Carol!

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
Hi all -

What would YOU do with this 1961 Bambi? Restore her to full glory, or customize her for comfortable use? Information and pics below for your consideration. Grab another cup of coffee.

We acquired this baby last week, it has been in my husband's family for about 40 years. It is not meant for future resell, as it is considered a family heirloom to be passed down.

Pics attached are trailer condition as received, prior to cleaning. She is, shall we say, in all of her naked, icky glory! The previous family member just started working on it prior to having to pass it to us due to health reasons.



Quick run-down:
  • The old tile floor has been scraped up.
This is probably a good thing as the original 9"x9" tiles likely contained asbestos (the mastic may have also contained asbestos fibers, but this is less of a certainty). Some restorers in this circumstance will choose modern vinyl tiles and cut them down to 9"x9" to maintain the appearance of originality while others will install the 12"x12" tiles using a "vintage" pattern . . . others choose a modern floor covering to suit their tastes and plans.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • The water heater and furnace are gone.
Again, this may not be such a bad thing as it appears that the original external furnace and water heater covers are still present. Most restorers, particularly those with 1961-1963 Bambis choose to keep the original covers to use as "fascades" over the new furnace and water heater equipment. In all likelihood both the furnace and water heater were worn out and new equipment will insure more trouble-free travel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • Toilet is not working right. If we cannot locate a certain part, then entire toilet will have to be replaced. Black water tank has original guillotine valve, still slides and seals. Slow drip coming from somewhere in the belly near handle, so likely a black tank leak.
While it may be satisfying to maintain originality, the original toilets used in this era of Airstream are long obsolete and locating replacement parts can be difficult if not impossible. In today's market, it is possible to find compact china RV toilets that make for an alternative to trying to maintain the original Swirl-O-Matic.

The original dump valve can be rebuilt and will surely outlast any of the modern plastic assemblies. The down side is that the aluminum adapter for the waste hose and the aluminum terminator caps have been obsolete for years. While there isn't any reason that the OEM equipment shouldn't be used, there is the danger of loosing or misplacing the aluminum adapters and being unable to dump the waste tank. A new modern valve can be fiberglassed to the original tank insuring compatibility with either Valtera or Thetford equipment that is in current industry use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • The water tank and pressure pump ARE intact, tank appears to be in excellent condition.
While a plus, the condition of the bottom of the tank is critical. These pressure tanks were either galvanized steel with some being aluminum. Particularly with the galvanized steel, there is a problem with pin-hole perforations forming along the bottom where they cannot be seen during the typical visual inspection from the top. It isn't uncommon to find soft spots or rotted out spots below an otherwise sound appearing tank when it is removed for inspection. If the tank is found to be in good physical condition, you have the makings for a nearly silent water system. Just be forewarned that finding a replacement pressure tank to fit in an Airstream is nearly impossible.

The air pressure pump is a plus as well, particularly if you find that the fresh water tank is in good condition. My understanding is that these pumps can be rebuilt if they begin to fail.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • Came with original LP tanks and rack (all surface rusted). Battery compartment lid that goes on the front is intact and in good shape, was removed for travel.
From your description, it sounds as if you likely have steel LP tanks. It will be your call whether originality or practicality prevails. It isn't generally considered advisable to upgrade old steel tanks to OPD valves with current inspection, but you may find the cost acceptable to keep your Bambi as close to its original configuration as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • The stove top appears to be in great condition. The propane refrigerator has a good door seal, and I see no reason why it shouldn't work.
Since the refrigerator and stovetop must live in such close proximity, you are fortunate that both appear to be in good condition. Even if the refrigerator might require a new cooling unit, you will likely find that rebuilding will be more economical than finding modern replacements that will fit in the existing space.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • The kitchen sink cleaned up nicely! No refinish needed. Counter top is stained.
The original sink is a plus. The Formica on the countertops was fairly generic, and close matches can be found in today's marketplace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • Interior paint is in good condition everywhere except in the shower, where it is peeling in areas.
Your Bambi likely came from the factory with Zolatone interior paint so the paint you see peeling isn't likely Zolatone as it is VERY uncommon to experience failures of the original Zolatone. It is quire common to find the original Zolatone painted over as the OEM colors often didn't coordinate with the color scheme of the owner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • All drawers are intact and work well. All original light fixtures in place and in good condition, except for kitchen lights missing covers. All drawer and hinges original and in decent condition considering age, Some patina here and there as one would expect. All wooden surfaces will have to be sanded and repainted, but surprisingly no significant damage to any of it except wall board near door.
You may find that the covers for the original light fixtures are still available . . . both Inland RV and Vintage Trailer Supply have a number of reproduction covers/lenses.

The original cabinet hardware in good condition is a plus as is having drawers and doors in good functional condition. Your Bambi likely came from the factory with "Blonded" or "Blond Oak" stain finish on the hardwood veneer plywood. This finish was on its way out in the early 1960s and it is not uncommon to find that it has been painted over. This is another place where you can choose to keep the appearance of the heirloom as it is remembered in the family opposed to a "true" restoration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • NO rust, no water damage except right near front door where door gasket failed years ago - the wall board will have to be replaced, however the floor is fine. NO soft spots in floor (yeah!)
You are fortunate to have sound floors as this can be a daunting project even in a coach the size of the Bambi. The weather seals for the door and is jalousie window should be readily available through Vintage friendly parts vendors here on the forums.

Before installing your new flooring, you might want to consider adding a coat of penetrating epoxy to the plywood subfloor as an added layer of protection against potential rot.

You are likely to find that any cabinetry as well as interior walls is composed of various thicknesses of hardwood plywood. When originality is a great concern, some restorers choose to laminate new hardwood veneer to the original panels . . . it becomes a choice for the owner as to which method most closely meets his/her goals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • All windows work, screens intact, no broken glass. Windows were duct taped for travel, since the glazing does need to be replaced. We didn't want any glass to rattle and crack during the 850-mile trip.
A definite plus to have all windows, hardware, and operators present. You should find that the various glazing and sealing products are readily available from Vintage friendly parts vendors here on the Forums. My suggestion would be to keep you eye peeled for replacement operators as locating one to fix a failed operator when traveling can be difficult and more expensive than leisurely finding a replacement when one is not needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post
  • All exterior lights work - hauled the trailer from eastern Tennessee to Texas, no problems with hauling. We will have the axles inspected and wheel bearings repacked before any more road miles.
Operable exterior lights are a definite plus. The tail light lenses may be available through various Vintage friendly parts vendors if they are the "Wedding Cake" Bargman 99 lenses. There is a thread here on the Forums with instructions on upgrading to LED while maintaining the OEM lenses . . . I followed those instructions with my Overlander and the improvement in visibility is astounding!

While you are working on the running gear, you might consider the following:
  • Install a pair of fully loaded backing plates to upgrade your Bambi's brakes to all modern hardware. It is also beneficial to have the drums surfaced to match the shoes . . . I had this done with my Overlander and it made a huge difference in smoothness of braking.
  • You might consider having the leaf springs rebuilt . . . this is assuming that it isn't among the 1961 Bambis that came with Dura-Torque axle. If you have the leaf spring axle, you may also find it advisable to have new bushings and bolts installed in the shackles.
  • Examine your Bambi's tires/wheels. While they appear to be solid wheels in your photos, there is a remote chance that they may be split-rims, and if so should probably be replaced to insure ease of service while on the road. Another consideration is that finding tires in the OEM 13" size is becoming difficult in today's environment so you may find it necessary to upgrade to either 14" or 15" tires/rims to find tire with adequate capacity (wheel wells will require careful measurement to determine just what might fit).
Quote:
Originally Posted by grayling View Post

Okay, now give me your comments, criticisms, ideas, etc. Money is no object! since we have none We plan on this to be a slowww process, over a few years, not a few months. And, we plan on using it for occasional short trips during the process.

Carol
Some things that you may want to consider as you chart your course of restoration/refurbishment:
  • What do you want in terms of 12-volt DC electrics inside of your Bambi?
    • The original configuration was just a small 12-volt farm implement battery supplemented by a charge line connection to the tow vehicle. The OEM configuration had no provision for on-board charging of the battery or alternate sources of 12-volt DC power.
    • Many owners choose to locate a modern battery box and battery somewhere on the tongue or within a coach while maintaining a stock 12-volt electrical system . . . a 12-volt battery charger is often carried and used to keep the battery charged when shore power is available.
    • Some owners upgrade the battery and add a modern multi-stage charger/power converter to insure a near "seamless" operation of the 12-volt appliances.'
    • Air conditioning. Not many of these Bambi's had air conditioning in their early years, but many owners have added either roof-top or concealed air conditioners over the years. The coach wasn't prepared for rooftop air conditioning from the factory so its installation requires someone familiar with the bracing that must be added as well as the 120-volt AC wiring that must be added.
You have a beautiful family heirloom, and it is obvious that you care deeply for the coach. I am sure that it will provide you and your family many years of fun and travel pleasure!

Good luck with your Bambi!

Kevin
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Old 10-24-2013, 03:27 PM   #9
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I would restore and polish the outside, and customize and update the inside with all new appliances, furnace, pump etc. to suit my lifestyle.
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:26 PM   #10
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I have a water heater and a furnace from a 76 Argosy 22' if you are interested. Just pay for shipping...
I am interested in the furnace. I sent you a PM
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Old 10-25-2013, 03:07 AM   #11
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I asked myself the same thing with the caravel and my beautiful BFF and life mate answered with "I bought it to use and I it will be updated and useable with tasteful looks" so new wires, insulation, plumbing and cushions. The oven out and a microwave in adding a cooktop of course. My old touch tone phone still worked as did the tube tv and yes have more class than that crazy cell phone but I replaced them for ease of use and comfort. You must do what makes YOU happy and we can not possibly know what that is! So renovate update or restore, just post some pictures please and if you need help (advise) just ask and you shall receive!
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Old 10-25-2013, 07:22 AM   #12
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I'll tell you what I would do:

Contact the seller of this trailer:
1962 Airstream Bambi 16’ for sale in St. Marys, Ontario

Offer him a swap of your trailer and $$$'s for a trade of his trailer!

In the end, you will save time, money and effort and you'll have a trailer you can go camping in tomorrow. I know of no one that has ever saved money by doing a trailer or old car, it's always cheaper to buy them redone when you add in the time, money for parts, busted knuckles and the many tools you will have to buy to do the job right.

One has to ask, if you knew you where going to die in the next year or two would you rather spend that time redoing an old trailer or spend that time seeing America in an old trailer already redone??

Your choice, but coming from someone who currently owns five trailers and four old cars, I've seen this played out one to many times.

Enjoy,
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Old 10-25-2013, 07:38 AM   #13
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........ snip.."We acquired this baby last week, it has been in my husband's family for about 40 years. It is not meant for future resell, as it is considered a family heirloom to be passed down."

Paul,

I would venture that your suggestion will not even be considered...... notwithstanding it's obvious practicality.

Bob...the custodian of a vehicle thats been in the Family since new.
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Old 10-25-2013, 07:58 AM   #14
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Robert,

If that's how a family treats a "family heirloom", I'd hate to see how something is treated they don't care about. Not trying to be mean, just honest.

I'd still go with my suggestion and swap the "data plates" that way no one five generations from now will ever know.

Enjoy,
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