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Old 12-18-2011, 08:53 PM   #1
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Grand Rapids , Michigan
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Another '55 FC

Late last year, my wife and I somehow caught the Airstream bug, mesmerized by the silvery twinkie trailers. All of your posts didnt help the situation. We finally succumbed to temptation and officially signed onboard, and began our search or the trailer that would best suit our own level of skill, risk, and of course budget.


In May we began our task. After looking at about a half dozen trailers we thought it was becoming easier to discriminate between those that should be sold for salvage, and those we thought we could afford to rehabilitate. We finally found one about three hours away by car. It seemed to have all of the original interior albeit in a layout we had never seen before on any Airstream post or site. But it appeared that the worst problems began with the tongue of the hitch and extend below the skirt. The hitch tongue was so rusted that I personally was uncomfortable towing it anywhere. The trailer has been sitting in one place for nearly 15 years and it smelled like it had a moisture problem on the interior. After negotiating with the owner, we agreed to make the purchase if he could get the trailer safely to the local airstream dealer three hours away for a thorough physical examination. To our surprise the trailer arrived safely. The wait for the exam was excruciatingly long. It sat out back waiting for six months.

The physical took place last week. We quickly learned that the frame was in overall good condition but did need some repair. With that news we decided to put this Airstream back in original condition (with obscure but important upgrades). Images are attached showing the pan removed and dis-assembly of the interior. The tear-down took very little time to get to the point shown and we should have the complete interior removed by mid-week. We are saving every piece for refinishing, or to be used as a template when replacement is needed.


It turned out that during demo, we discovered rotten floor in several placed. I was not surprised given the smell and the critters that feel out of the bottom when the pan was removed. I have decided to remove the shell from the trailer to make the necessary repairs to the frame easier. My plan is to have the trailer blasted, remove and replace those bad spots, increase the length of the tongue, and make some modifications for the black and grey water tanks, a hidden spare tire (winchable into a nook in the frame), and fold-down stablizing jacks. I have yet to work out the details, but expect it to be rather straight forward. Once those changes are made, I plan to treat and paint the trailer frame so it will long outlast me. I will post images on the progress.

If anyone has any experience on these matters that I should be aware of before I get in over my head, please let me know. Your suggestions are always welcome.
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Old 12-18-2011, 09:21 PM   #2
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1991 34' Excella
1963 26' Overlander
1961 26' Overlander
Central , Mississippi
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Cool trailer! We are doing a shell of on our '63.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f109...ome-71609.html

Keep us posted...
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Old 12-18-2011, 09:27 PM   #3
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
Wentzville , Missouri
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Get ready for the fun! What ever you set for a budget..........times it by 8, how ever long you think it will take, double it. If you have bad spots in the floor your best bet is to pull off the shell and like your plan rebuild the frame. Take lots of pics every step of the way, they make great reference material later. The best advice I can give you is once you have everything out grab a chair and a few drinks. Set your self in the emtpy trailer and really think about how you want it to go back together. Get your plan together before you start spending money. Measure everything. Having a good plan and the money are the two most important things, time is the third. You can follow the build of my FC in the 1953 FC section. The thread is started my Soldermedic, I bought the trailer and am now finishing it.
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Old 12-19-2011, 08:34 PM   #4
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Grand Rapids , Michigan
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Another 55 FC Update

Just thought I would provide an update on the dismantling and removal of the interior. The last of the cabinety has been removed and set aside for refinishing/rebuilding. Will soon have to organize things alot better.

With the dismantling complete, one fully appreciates just how much rot had taken place. Sections of the floor had been replaced through the rear access without removing the bed. This explains why back of the trailer was disconnected from the frame and bounced. Obvious signs of water damage exist below the shower pan. The shower drain went directly through the floor to ground. A later model polymeric black tank was set on top of the shower pan. Someone decided not to reconnect the vent tube that extended to the roof, but put a cork in the tank with a small vent hole. Needless to say, the cork popped resulting in sewage overflow below the cover, and draining around the periphery of the hole for the waste pipe, permeating the wood. Time to wear rubber gloves for the rest of the demo in this area.

With the cabinetly out, removal of the interior skins began. The insulation beneath was remarkably in good condition with little signs of rodent activity. Removal of the remainder of the skin will continue followed by the building and installation of interior supports once the insulation is removed. Although the insulation seems in good order, it has an oder and will not be too expensive to replace. With the bracing in place, the bolts connecting the shell to the frame will be cut freeing the frame. Will provide photos showing how that goes.
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:50 AM   #5
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1991 34' Excella
1963 26' Overlander
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You are moving right along! It does look like you have a great trailer for a rebuild, keep posting...
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:50 PM   #6
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Grand Rapids , Michigan
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Undressing the interior of the '55 FC

December 21, 2011 – This site keeps offering new learning opportunities. Every time I provide an update, I invariably make mistakes in typing and then often lose the entire post. After re-typing the post, I learned that it was best to type this elsewhere and then cut and past. Wish I could cut and paste the changes to the trailer.

Deconstruction continues. Final interior skins have been removed and the insulation bagged. This exposed the original wiring. I was surprised the wiring did not short over time. The connections were secured simply with electrical tape and many of the twisted wire ends were exposed. The removal of the skins also exposed the ends of unusual rivets used in a repair. An expert took a look and said they were expanded by black powder. As I understand it the rivet is put in place and then like a bullet, they are fired to expand the end – making a big pop. I had to think those were the original pop rivets.

Well with the interior skins off, the task of removing the frame bolts began. All are very rusted so they are being cut. This is what the interior looks like as of today. The next step is the internal bracing. I am looking forward to getting the frame out from under the shell and addressing the frame. This aspect of the job I am concerned will take the longest as I am torn between having the frame back to original, or updating it with the mods I had considered (crank down stabilizers and retractable spare tire carrier).

Hope you find the pics helpful if not of interest.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:20 PM   #7
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
Grand Rapids , Michigan
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Exposing the Undies

Seven days since my last post. Bracing for the shell is in place, and sufficient space has been made to place the shell. The holidays interfered with progress just a bit, but finally the shell is off and placed adjacent the trailer frame. The floor came away readily exposing the good and the bad about the trailer frame. With everything exposed, there is much more rust that I had initially thought from the initial inspection when the underbelly was first removed. Just like any remodel job, the worst appears once the drywall is removed.

It appears that the entire street side stringer is rusted from stern to well ahead of the undercarriage. Almost all of the cross-braces with the exception of the last at the back can be reused. All of the outriggers appear to be in good shape as well. I have decided to have the entire frame professionally sandblasted to expose the rot. I envision the entire street side stringer will need replacement. While at this point I am contemplating having the A-frame cut out and replaced to accept a spare tire using the modern stowing system between the A-frame members. The tongue of the A-frame has substantial rust erosion so it makes sense to make this modification now. I am also going to make accomodation for placing stabilization jacks. Not sure at this point whether to have them welded in place or have a bolt-on option. I will provide additional pictures after sandblasting.

While the trailer frame is being sandblasted, it is time to tackle the cabinetry. Water from an open roof vent over a period of time has caused the bathroom door to delaminate. One of the closet doors and two of the upper cabinet doors have also suffered similar damage from the water. Right now I am not sure whether to replace all of the door fronts with a dissimilar yet complimentary wood (i.e., cherry or maple) or stay with the birch. I have found sheets of Baltic birch that provide a very consistent wood grain figuring as a possible substitute. However, there are many pieces that do not need replacing. I am considering sanding every wood surface down or using a stripper to remove the existing finish. One option is to reduce everything to bare wood and give it a new stain. But I am concerned that I will lose that nice rich color obtained with the mellowing of the finish. This is an area where I have the most trepidation. I am lousy with matching finishes and am looking at options. Perhaps an expert is called for here. Any advice would be welcome.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:13 PM   #8
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
Grand Rapids , Michigan
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Attacking the trailer frame and new modifications

An update on the status of my restoration. The holidays slowed things up a bit, but everything is back on track. Just before the holidays, the shell was removed from the bed and the flooring removed from the frame. With the bones revealed, the rust had taken its toll more than I has suspected from the underbelly inspection. The tail end of the frame was gone. The street-side stringer which I initially thought could be salvaged, was swiss-cheese along its entire length. The A-frame was also toast. I have attached a picture showing the amount of rust. My estimation is that less than 1/10 of the integrity of the frame on the street side remained.

The remainder of the frame was inspected with a ball-peen hammer. Probative slices were made in those suspect areas to see how much of the metal has been rusted. The bad metal was cut away to clean solid stock. The cuts were made to save the outriggers as much as possible.

Now was the time to make a decision regarding the frame. I decided that since the A-frame was going to be replaced, that I would extend the frame and reconfigure it to accommodate the spare tire toward the front of the fame. I also extended the rear of the trailer by 9 inches to allow for a storage space between the bumper and the end of the shell, much like the newer models. I am also adding a two-inch receiver on the back of the trailer to handle bicycle racks, or perhaps an exterior shelf or platform for added storage. The tongue is also a bit longer. I plan to enclose the battery and provide a nice platform for two 30 pound aluminum LPG bottles. Hopefully the added length and longer and wider tongue will improve the towing and balance of the trailer. In the last picture you can see the taper of the stringers for the old A-frame. The spare tire box was added forward of that area and then a wider A-frame was added forward of the space tire stow area.

Tomorrow I am having the entire frame sandblasted and cleaned. The frame will then be epoxy coated. This will take about a week to ten days. During that time I will focus on restoring some of the interior such as the old Sunray Model 5600 LPG stove. I plan on gutting that, giving it a good power wash cleaning and degreasing, and sand blast the old iron burners before repainting. The pilot system was not working so I will have to investigate why that is not functioning. My largest concern is the inability to obtain parts for anything missing or broken. So far, I think the radiating tubes that extend from the burner to the pilot are the only thing missing. I will provide pictures on that if anyone is interested.

On a last note, you may recall this trailer had a F-18-B Panelray heater that was removed during the gutting. I have decided that I am not going to re-install that heater as part of the restoration. Rather I am strongly considering radiant heat using a new method that was shared with me. This person claims it is inventive and I am precluded from sharing it now. But the concept is very cool and lends itself perfectly to this application without all of the stiff rigid mastic/float. As a backup plan, I am planning on wiring for a heat pump to be fitted in the middle roof vent. Time for that decision will come soon enough. In the meantime, I plan to offer the Panelray for sale. The last picture shows the appeance, but I cannot speak to function. I have not tested it. Perhaps I will do that while restoring the Sunray stove to good working and condition.
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:03 AM   #9
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
Wentzville , Missouri
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Do you need a stove/oven? I have the original one out of my 53 FC that I am not using. It's free to a good home. All I ask is that if you take it you use it.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:52 PM   #10
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
Grand Rapids , Michigan
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Uoshane-
Thank you so much for the offer on your stove/oven. I would / will be interested if I cannot get the Sunray in shape. Are you willing to keep that offer open for the next 7 to 10 days? Today I tested the Sunray and things seem to work, albeit not as originally intended. I am already looking for parts such as the oven thermostat and pilot tubes to each of the burners. Perhaps in the meantime you would be willing to share some information about the stove. The next question I would have is how to get it?

Barry

P.S. I have shared with others your saying about the evils of drinking beer.. it always gets a great laugh.
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Old 01-18-2012, 06:58 PM   #11
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
mapleton , Utah
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more frame pics?

as the proud owner of another 55 fc i have to say Great find!
I am also in the frame resto stage and wonder if you have any more pics of the frame- especially the short front outriggers and the section aft of the axle. mine was butchered by a p.o. and while i think i can reconstruct it it would be really nice to have confirmation of my design. my front outriggers are clearly original but are simple pieces of 1.5x1.5 angle iron and dont provide much support. one thing i am rapidly learning is that there was NO standardization in these things!
tim aka rumrunner
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Old 01-21-2012, 03:05 PM   #12
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Latest photos of the frame

Quote:
Originally Posted by rumrunner View Post
as the proud owner of another 55 fc i have to say Great find!
I am also in the frame resto stage and wonder if you have any more pics of the frame- especially the short front outriggers and the section aft of the axle. mine was butchered by a p.o. and while i think i can reconstruct it it would be really nice to have confirmation of my design. my front outriggers are clearly original but are simple pieces of 1.5x1.5 angle iron and dont provide much support. one thing i am rapidly learning is that there was NO standardization in these things!
tim aka rumrunner
Rumrunner - After making repairs, the frame went off for sandblasting. It took them two weeks to work it into their schedule. They finished it Friday and set it outside for pickup. Since we had just had a snow, and the sun was out, I took the following pictures of the now poly coated frame and outriggers. Hope these help.

Keep in the mind that the front of the A-frame has been modified to include a spot for a spare tire. You can see the adjustment from the first taper of the a-frame forward. This caused the outriggers to be adjusted, in this case shortened because the original outriggers had to extend in further to meet the a-frame, now a box. You can also see that the frame was extended at the back end by about 12 inches. Also added was a two-inch receiver. The added room at the back will receive a box for storing waste tank hoses. The receiver was added to accomodate our bicycle rack.

The frame will go back to the garage. The tongue and groove plywood will be layed out on the frame, and then the shell will go back on to trace the pattern and make sure everything is supported by the outriggers. Once that is all checked, everything will come back off to fit new tanks (fresh and grey) as well as the stabilizing jacks. Pans will be made for the tanks and the jacks so they will be recessed below the belly pan. Best to do this while everything is accessible. Those picks will follow.
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Old 01-21-2012, 04:27 PM   #13
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1955 26' Cruiser Overlander
Yakima Valley , Washington
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Wow nice work!
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:07 PM   #14
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
mapleton , Utah
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pics

thanks for the extra effort photos! that looks like a lot of snow. the pics are really helpful and appreciated.
Tim
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