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Old 06-28-2004, 08:07 PM   #1
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1954 15' Byam Holiday
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renovation vs restoration

Hello all, I'm not sure this is the best place to post this, but...

I have, what I've come to understand is, a one of a kind "Airstream." It's the 53 Wally Byam Holiday. As of yet, I've only dreamed about starting the renovation/restoration. But while I wait for the time, I thought I could do my research. It still has everything it came with, even has every options, save one. Many things unfortunately are in pretty sad shape.

I plan an off frame bottom to top redo. I did it to an 86 Casita down to every last rivet and just had the time of my life.

My question is, what are my guidelines for renovation/restoration. Should I renovate or restore? I'd like to add things like hot water and a 12 volt system, neither were available on the Holiday. My idea was to do things that wouldn't show and try to keep the look as close to how it shipped as I possibly can. The skin is in really great shape considering so I don't want to cut any new openings etc.

Are there guidelines for what should and shouldn't be done. I'm feeling guilty about the "renovation" vs. "restoration" if it truly is the only one left. But without some changes I'm not sure I will ever get my wife to come with me.
Advice?
lanny
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Old 06-28-2004, 09:11 PM   #2
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If you bring this to the Airstream factory they will trade you for a new Airstream of your choice!

Just kidding!

Seriously though call them and see just to make sure.

I would personally get another camper to use that has the convieniences you need and leave this one Bone stock.
The day you start working on it the value goes down untill you are finished, and anything you do that isnt right will not add value as the only person that would pay big bucks for that one would want it original.

Seriously though since I have never researched this model I dont have a clue how many there were but if it is a rare a you think it belongs in a museam!

Please post some pictures!
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Old 06-28-2004, 11:33 PM   #3
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Lanny: Because yours is the only Wally Byam Holiday trailer we are aware of to date, I'd recommend you leave it as is or restore it to original stock condition. At least one should be preseved to maintain the Holiday history and manufacturing techniques. If it was a more common trailer, then I'd say refurbish it to whatever you want. But as the only known example, I agree with Richardt that you will only decrease its historical and monetary value by updating and modifying it. If you want newer conveniences in an old shell, find a gutted trailer that requires a new interior and appliances and build it up the way you want it. There are plenty of "shell" candidates around. Or buy another Casita to use when you and your wife go camping together and keep the Holiday for short solo trips.

Here's another idea. If your wife is agreeable to using campground facilities, then you can limit the Holiday's use to camping at campgrounds where their facilities augment what the trailer lacks. If you wife limits herself to trailer-contained facilities, then I'd suggest you trade or sell the Holiday for a newer trailer than has the amentities your wife requires and restore that newer trailer.

For exmple, the 1961-63 Bambi is popular because it is self-contained and already has all the conveniences you are looking for in the decade earlier Holiday. I like '64 Globe Trotters for all the amentities and vast storage space packed into a small 19' trailer. Avoid the 55-57 Bubble because it is not self-contained or usually wired for 12 volts, and you'll face the same issues you now have with the Holiday.

The Holiday has survived in its original condition for over 50 years. Why purposely destroy that preserved history now? There are plenty of other trailers out there that need an upgraded modernization to be functional. Find one of those to restore to your level of desired moderninization and comfort and preserve the singular known Holiday by passing it along to someone who can use it in its original condition.

Best regards,
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Old 06-29-2004, 07:21 AM   #4
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Thanks Guys,
Well, As much as I REALLY wanted to add a few amenities, I guess the reason I posted this in the first place was that I was having a hard time rectifying in my own mind changing the only one left.

That being said, I'm still in a similar situation as to guidelines. As a for instance, the toilet just flushes through a hole in the floor? Since I cant find anything on what went there, did the early model Airstreams with toilets have holding tanks? I find it hard to believe they just dumped into a slop bucket. The toilet is just to the right of the front door. That scenario would have been pretty odoriferous.

If I add a small holding tank underneath without altering the existing structure, would that be acceptable? I think that's my main concern on improvements. I can live with everything else.

I have found the needed 1/8 inch bendable birch and other necessary woods. I have a source for re chroming the faucet. I don't think the foam cushions in front are original. They are REALY dense foam and heavy as concrete. The back mattress is gone and replaced with a futon but I have read a number of post on replacing the cushions so I'm good there.

The exterior trim and windows was attached with steel standard screws. I found a source for square head aluminum screws which won't cause corrosion. Will this fly? Am I taking "restoration" too seriously? I guess that's the crutch of my question. Where do you draw the line?

Fred, you mentioned in your article on the Holiday that the same floor plan was used in the 55-57 Bubble. Should I sort of use those as my guide in lieu of Holiday information.

lanny
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Old 06-29-2004, 07:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwebb
Thanks Guys,


That being said, I'm still in a similar situation as to guidelines. As a for instance, the toilet just flushes through a hole in the floor? Since I cant find anything on what went there, did the early model Airstreams with toilets have holding tanks? I find it hard to believe they just dumped into a slop bucket. The toilet is just to the right of the front door. That scenario would have been pretty odoriferous.
They would hook a hose to that and put it in a gopher hole, a hole dug a few feet down with a board on top that hade a hole in in to put the hose into,
and bury then this hole when they were done.
The world was easier back then.
You can buy a portable holding tank.
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Old 06-29-2004, 09:41 AM   #6
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Normally I would say to use it as you wish, but! Being that this is the last example
PLEASE do not change it.
I would ask that you take the responsibility of historical preservation that comes with owning a historically important piece such as this. I know you didn't ask for it but you now own it.
I would like to suggest that have a talk with a conservator at a large museum about the philosophy of conservation of historical artifacts. Learn what you can about historical conservation techniques. Get a good handle on your plan before you even wash it.
If you don't feel up to the project, that is OK, please find someone who will preserve an important piece of Airstream history.
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Old 06-29-2004, 09:47 AM   #7
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WOW that is a neat coach.

Honestly other then the lack of a black water tank it looks very well appointed and servicable. I would do all I could to preserve it intact. You could Blue belly the sewage but a small tank could easily be added to that coach and hidden that it was not original. The tank would form a step the toilet would sit on just like many Airstreams already have. You would remove the extension on the bottom of the toilet to keep the hight right. Probably find a suitable tank ready made.
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Old 06-29-2004, 10:30 AM   #8
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I'm always on the lookout for one of those - think they are really cool. I also keep looking for a 1931 Silver Cloud - gotta be one of those somewhere.

Anyway, yup I'd keep it original toilet and all. What I would do is not throw away anything that came with the trailer - I think new upholstory is going to be a necessity and alum screws is ok too, that concrete upholstery may be original and I'd put the old screws in a bag and hang on to them - can always put them back.

Seems to me you have a basic decision to make - a museum piece or do you want to camp in it - if you want to camp in it, may have to do a few hopefully minor things so as to make it usable.

Doc Holloman's son still drives his 1935 camper all over the place to rallies - that is the oldest known airstream. So I would not be afraid to fix it up and use it a bit.

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Old 06-29-2004, 02:27 PM   #9
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Lanny:

There aren't any current travel trailer "restoration" guidelines I'm aware of. The hobby is fairly new and we're in a stage where we are creating the guidelines as issues such as yours arise. We can look to related hobbies, such as motor vehicle collecting, for ideas and sensitivities, but trailers raise some new and different issues.

The enjoyable challenge you (and other early vintage trailer owners) face is to make an old trailer more useable without permanently changing it. Think supplementation, not alteration. You already have a propane stove and interior lamp for heat and light. What benefit would a permanent 12 volt system offer that you could not duplicate with battery operated appliances? Use battery operated radios, TVS, flashlights, and a rechargeable or straight battery lantern. A small gas cylinder fed catalytic propane heater can take off a chill. A portable container serves for potable water storage when remote camping; a wash water blue boy stores waste water for later disposal.

For using my ‘48 Wee Wind in campgrounds, I've built outdoor stackable units which contain shaded storage for a vintage cooler, a microwave oven that plugs into the campground utility post, and a propane grill for outdoor cooking. If insufficient, I'll replace the ice cooler with a small 120 volt dorm fridge or an efficient Danforth compressor cooler that also runs while in the tow vehicle. These exterior accessories supplement and update my camping equipment without altering the Wee Wind one iota. Information on these will appear in the next issue of Airstream Life.

A small custom made black water holding tank underneath the toilet could be acceptable if installed so it can eventually be removed and the trailer returned to original condition. The holding tank can drain out the same floor hole the toilet presently uses, but venting thru the roof likely will require a new hole be drilled topside. A vintage mushroom shaped vent cap can help disguise the alteration. Save and identify all the old parts, and take photos of the removal and installation process.

The problem I see with using a plastic blue boy for the toilet black water tank is lack of a "U" trap that would keep the odors in the blue boy instead of allowing them to rise to the toilet and escape into the trailer. You might be able to rig up a rubber hose roof level blue boy air vent to help alleviate that problem. But will you have sufficient flushing water volume to get stuff "thru the U"? An sufficient tank capacity to hold all that water? These are some reasons why using a porta-pottie in place of the toilet might be more convenient in the long run, and perhaps less messy to dump than a built in black water tank.

Replacing rusted steel screws with stainless ones certainly seems responsible. New soft goods (cushions, fabric covers, curtains) are fine, but save the original fabrics for historical reference.

Most 55-57 Bubbles had no more amenities and features than your ‘53 Holiday. Only the very few Bubbles with the International package approached self-containment, and they would be a good inspiration for your subtle Holiday upgrades.

Slop buckets were used into the 1950s. Bryan Burkhart's Airstream book at page 47 has a photo of some underneath trailers at a 1957 rally.
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Old 07-05-2004, 08:30 AM   #10
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Well the feeling seems to be overwhelmingly in favor of a "museum" restoration. That's a challenge but I'll go at it with all the advice you guys can give me.

Fred, I was thinking more of color schemes etc, fabrics and formica when I mentioned the 55-57s. The current upholstery, I'm pretty sure isn't original. I'd be surprised. since I have only the brochure pictures you sent me. I wonder about things like, was the birch paneling always dark like old orange shellac or could it have been light when new?

The Holiday, as you are well aware, was an economy model. Even the wiring was exposed. Didn't have to be as there seems to be space behind the paneling that would accommodate it but I'm sure leaving it out in the open was a cost measure. From the above comments, I guess I should leave it as is but things like exposed wiring will be frustrating to leave. Another frustration is they used 5/8" cut strips of 1/8" Birch plywood as molding where two pieces of plywood come together. The plywood strips have rough edges and exposed plys, birch hardwood screen mold would sure look a lot better.

Anyway thanks everyone for the thoughts, I'm glad I asked before "destroying" the Holiday.
Lanny
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Old 07-05-2004, 10:45 AM   #11
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Lanny
I salute you!
I hope your enjoyment of the restoration process is as great as any use you may get out of your treasure.
Good Luck
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