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Old 06-19-2012, 01:30 AM   #1
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1952 21' Flying Cloud
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'52 Flying Cloud questions

Hi Airstream Nation,

The wife and I picked up a '52 flying cloud (sn 7321) about a year ago and are starting to get deep into a "resto-mod" type of restoration. I have read through many posts on here and they've all been extremely helpfull and insightful. I really appreciate all the time that people have spent posting how they've restored their trailers. I'll attach a couple of pics at the bottom of my post, but have a couple questions as well. With MANY MANY more sure to come! I'll start now:

1) is the radius in the floor the same in the front as it is in the back? The front floor is completely rotted out, but the rear section is mostly intact. Can I use the rear as a pattern for the front?

2) I'm doing a complete shell-off floor replacement. I'll use the old belly pan for a pattern, but does it need to be completely assembled prior to lifting in place and attaching to the aluminum channels around the edge of the floor, or can I replace each piece one at a time?

3) What's the best way to insulate the floor if you're starting with a bare frame? I've seen a few posts with hard foam and a few with "bats"....not sure the best way to proceed with that.

4) I need to replace one exterior sheet of ALCLAD between door and aft quarter just above the wheel. I believed they used Reynolds S24 ALCLAD sheet that is 0.032 thick..... What's the best source for this? I plan on using the extisting panel as the template and re-riveting it back in place.

5) What's the best source for the belly pan sheets...I believe its a bit thinner and doesn't need to be ALCLAD since it's not polished?

I very much appreciate the help. Here's a couple of "as bought" pictures. I'll post some of the "shell off" pictures when I get a chance.

As a side note, I believe this trailer to be in the original arrangement. Not in the greatest shape, but VERY original. We've take a lot of pictures prior to "digging in", so if anyone wants to see anything from a '52 FC in the original state, let me know and I might have a picture of it.

Thanks,
Lee
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:35 AM   #2
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I believe if you put bats back in they will just attract moister. I used hard blue foam. You can also get it with foil on one side to reflect the heat up.

As for belly the belly pan. I patched mine with galvanized sheet metal. And this may on may not be cheaper than aluminum. Either way, a metal shop or metal fab shop should be able to get you what you need.
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:52 AM   #3
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Hi Riv-nut and welcome to the forums. Looks like you have a real beauty there.

Lots of questions there, but I'll try a few.

Front and rear corners won't be the same and even left and right might not be the same--it would be nice to try to make a template before liftoff if you can.

We're lucky in the Seattle area to have a great source for belly pan aluminum, Alaskan Copper. You can just drive over there and pick up whatever you need. It'll be somewhere in my thread, but I think I used 5053, both .025 and .032. The belly pan can be pieced back on.

For the exterior panel, Airparts, Inc
is a good source and they will roll the sheet for shipping.

Insulation is like tow vehicle and hitch threads around here. You'll find many different ways to go. To me, it'll work whatever way you go.

cheers,
steve
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:07 PM   #4
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Hi Lee and welcome to the forums!
Steve gave you some good answers but I do have a couple points to add, the exterior aluminum is commonly called 2024-t3 and not only are the curves NOT the same front to rear-they wont be the same when you try to lower the shell as when you raised it!leave yourself some wiggle room, dont bolt the c channel down too securely at first.
It has been suggested on several threads to simply lower the shell onto the untrimmed floor then align and trace the outline. Makes more sense than trying to force the shell onto a curve which is even slightly wrong. remember- measure 3 times then cut once. And Murphy was an optimist!
tim
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:08 PM   #5
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It appears that the panal you want to replace is not as bad as you think. You can patch it. The patches will show, but if done well will just be part of the trailer. If you replace it, you will have a mismatched panel in patina. You can polish the whole trailer and it will not be noticeable, but unless kept polished, that panel will always be different. I would advise you to keep it.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:22 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone for the advice! Wow...I figured the front and aft floor radii would be the same....I'll take your advice and lower the shell back down on the un-trimmed floor and figure out the trim. Actually I had previously thought about your suggestion of not attaching the channels initially, but then nothing would be holding up the belly pan. So yes, temporarily screwing them down in only a few places seems like it would work pretty good - I'll try that.

Yes, Alaskan Copper is just down the street, I'll go there to get the belly pan material. I've visited the Airparts Inc website and have seen the ALCALD material they have.....probably go through them, was just wondering if there's any place cheaper or more local.

I had considered just patching the curbside panel, but at some point a PO lost a wheel and when it let go, it did a lot of damage to the frame "outrigger" just behind the wheel, as well as tore and stretched that exterior panel. I hear you on the patina aspect and appreciate that, but I really feel I need to replace that panel rather than patch it. Seems not too bad since I already have 1/2 the rivets out of it already by doing the shell-off. I'll need to do a lot of straightening on that wheel well too!

Here's another question: Is it possible to use the Vulkem sealant prior to installing the rivets? How much time do you have before that stuff hardens up? if it could be "painted" into the joint prior to riveting it together, that would be a much tighter seal. But if it dries too quickly, that could be a mess...

here's a picture of the bracing I put in and a little bit of a lift-off in the back. I now have it a couple feet above the deck. Thanks for taking the time to answer some of my questions....I'll have more I'm sure.

Thanks,
Lee
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:04 AM   #7
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Hi riv-nut,

Since we both have "Wonder Bread" models (mine is a '53 Flying Cloud) you may be interested in the thread I started a couple years ago here. Please have a look at the photo albums. I'm not very good at keeping up on the narrative so I kind of dropped the thread.

In my case the curves were exactly the same dimensions front and rear. The corner radii are 22". Later years when the Wonder Bread design went away, the front and rear were definitely different. Once you lift the shell, the shape is not constrained and I believe you will not get an accurate tracing of the true shape.

Chris
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Old 06-23-2012, 01:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Star-Man View Post
Hi riv-nut,

Since we both have "Wonder Bread" models (mine is a '53 Flying Cloud) you may be interested in the thread I started a couple years ago here. Please have a look at the photo albums. I'm not very good at keeping up on the narrative so I kind of dropped the thread.

In my case the curves were exactly the same dimensions front and rear. The corner radii are 22". Later years when the Wonder Bread design went away, the front and rear were definitely different. Once you lift the shell, the shape is not constrained and I believe you will not get an accurate tracing of the true shape.

Chris
Wow....Chris, I finally got chance to look at your photos!! Amazing progress! Between a few other projects and 4 kids, I don't get too much time to work on ours. It will be a slow process for sure.

Thanks for the info about the radii. This will be a huge help since my floor is pretty far gone around the edges.....making it a poor pattern. I also love your idea of making a mock-up of the frame in the front for forming the fwd belly pan! You don't live anywhere near Seattle do you :-) I'd love to use your mock-up....or better yet, just have you make me a front belly pan!!

Anyway, thanks for the info and all the pictures....this will go a long way in helping me get a new floor in mine. I'll add a pictures as I go.

Thanks,
Lee
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:10 AM   #9
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Thanks again for all the advice. I wanted to take some careful measurments prior to complete floor/bellpan removal. I made a couple little sketchs just in case anyone else can use it. This should help me put things back together. I'm hoping to get the floor off in the next couple of days, then wire wheel and get a good coat of rust encapulator paint on the frame. I'll post progress as I go.

Thanks,
Lee
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:02 PM   #10
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More pictures

Riv-nut,
Congratulations on your acquisition. We are new owners of a 51 Flying Cloud with most of the interior missing, and more exterior damage. We would be very interested in seeing more of your pre-work pictures (especially front and rear areas and the bath area), as well as your in-progress work.
Ours has the kitchen, but little else.
Looks like your windows are in good shape--ours are going to need a lot of TLC.
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:56 PM   #11
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Not to hijack this post but if you want to see some interior pictures, have you seen this site? There are four examples of 51 flying clouds....


1951 Flying Cloud 21' - Vintage Airstream



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Riv-nut,
Congratulations on your acquisition. We are new owners of a 51 Flying Cloud with most of the interior missing, and more exterior damage. We would be very interested in seeing more of your pre-work pictures (especially front and rear areas and the bath area), as well as your in-progress work.
Ours has the kitchen, but little else.
Looks like your windows are in good shape--ours are going to need a lot of TLC.
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:29 PM   #12
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Hi Shelly,
Yes, thanks, we've already been spending time at that site--terrific reference base.

Riv-nut's seems to be close to our 51 original layout with channel frame and flat front and rear ends, so I'm looking for more details on the dinette area and anything on the rear bed/bath area. Our '51 has 15 panels instead of 13panels that a lot of early trailers had; can't tell how many panels Riv-nut's 52 has.

Eileen
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Old 07-30-2012, 02:18 AM   #13
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Hi Eileen,

Thanks for the comments..... Our '52 does seem to be unique as other '52's seem to have different options. Ours doesn't have a bathroom....but I think a dealer (or someone) installed a toilet between to two twin beds in the back. Seems kind of a grose place to put a toilet IMHO. Anyway, I've slowly been making a little progress. I'm hoping to get the floor down and the belly pan on this summer/fall. I just got the wheel wells off....they're kind of a mess. It would be nice to find some reproductions of these, but that's probably dreaming. I'll need to do some pounding out of dents and some welding on them. Seems like a PO lost a wheel going down the road on the curb side and really buggered things up. I'll probably replace the outer skin on that side as well.

The front area in ours has two couches facing each other with a table between them. Most other models I've seen has built in couches. Theres also a nice built in cabinet and "knick knack" shelf at the very front under the windo. I think this is really cool and I'll replace most of the wood on it since it got wet under the window. Also, in the back ours came with two twins on each side. I think we'll replace this with one big bed across the entire width. This will help with our 4 kids :-)

here's a couple of pictures of the front and the rear....and current progress.

I think your 15 panel is pretty rare. I've only seen a few pictures of those! Our is a 13 panel.

Thanks reinergirl for posting the link to the '51's.... It's always amazing to see the differences AND the similarities!!!

Thanks,
Lee
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:31 PM   #14
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Hi Lee and welcome. Congratulations on your find, it is actually in pretty good shape for a vintage trailer. Mine was much worse inside and none of the woodwork was salvageable. Keep taking lots of pictures, not just to share but as a reference for later when you cant remember where or how things go together. As far as the wheel wells go, most were of galvanized steel and are easily replaced. Just take them down to a local heating/AC sheetmetal shop and have a new set made. Note- the outside skin is slightly curved at this point so be sure to point this out! Mine were beautifully done for about $150 and for a bit more you could opt for stainless. Pretty painless as airstream parts go. Take a good look at the outriggers on the damaged side while you are there as they are commonly damaged in blow out accidents. As a matter of fact it will be a good time to evaluate your entire frame once you get the floor off especially since you are already shell off. Some of the things you find will amaze you, I know they did me! decide on tanks and placement now and it will come together much smoother later. If you are keeping the original leaf springs you can decide on axles, brakes, shocks and such much later on but if you are modernizing now may be easier than later.
Dont be afraid to ask questions, somebody here almost always has a good answer (along with a few comical ones) You will probably have only one shot at this so do your research and do it right the first time. Might seem longer initially but it will save your sanity in the long run.
have fun with this
Tim
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