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Old 07-24-2016, 09:57 AM   #1
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
Laramie , Wyoming
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If You Give A Girl An Airstream....

I got a Flying Cloud for Valentine's Day this year. Title says 57, but according to the serial number, it's a '53. The clerk's office says it was built in October '53, and that the new title, once we can get it, will say '54 on it.

But the consensus on the forum here, is that it's clearly a '53 due to the windows, the breadbox shape, etc. You can find my intro thread here: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f411...ay-146778.html
(they still haven't moved and renamed it )

So, since Valentine's Day, I've been reading the forums and dreaming (planning) what to do with it. I really feel that a vintage Airstream, is very much like that "If you give a mouse a cookie" book, if you're familiar with it. Every single action you take, leads to another!

There's a lot of opinion on where to start with restorations. We decided to start with the outside in. And I'll tell you why. (and InsideOut if you're reading this, I giggle when I see your posts now cause I feel like your opposite now, OutsideIn!)

When we bought the trailer, we thought we did everything we needed to. I learned as much as I could about condition of trailers and what to expect with them, how to determine one that is in good shape from one that is in bad. I knew we'd probably be doing a shell off restoration, but I wanted one that had a lot of original character, and when we found one with a rear bedroom, I jumped. It does need the floor replaced, and it has a crunch on the front that needs fixing or replacing, but it's nothing that I wasn't expecting on another trailer of this age. This is older than I really expected to find, but I'm thrilled with the trailer, as you can see it has some really unique details, and we hope to keep them. (the bathroom sink especially)

So what we didn't do, was make sure that when the guy told us it had a clean title, that the title was actually in HIS name. He never registered it when he got it, so he had the title from the people he bought it from. Our clerk's office will not retitle it for us, we need to get him to title it first. This is now going on since February, back and forth with the guy, and he's jumping through hoops for us to try to get things sorted out. (a notarized bill of sale to him from the first owner, then a notarized bill of sale to us may be enough according to a clerk I know, but we won't know till we try.) The other option is to drive it back down to the guy, have him register in his name, then sign HIS title over to us, but at this point, we may be looking at a bonded title.

In the meantime, I haven't wanted to do any work to the thing, because of this. It's been sitting pretty in our driveway, and the very VERY short season of good weather we have here has started to get to me. We'll be looking at snow as early as September, and it'll be too cold to do too much to it once October or November roll around, so to think this title issue could go on much longer is just killing me.

So I can't take the thing apart yet, just in case we need to tow it out of state again to get the guy to retitle it for us, not to mention that we would also need to tow it to the sherrif's office to check the VIN (which we can NOT find) So, what can I do? Just sit and watch the year go by without doing anything at all?

No, we decided to start from the outside in. It needed the seams resealed anyway, and new gaskets on the windows and doors, and it makes little sense to do that until it's polished, and if we're polishing it, we should change out the lights...

So here we are. I am replacing all the clearance marker lights (14 of them!!!) with the new LED ones from VTS. I'm replacing the window gaskets (and broken glass in two windows) and putting on a new porch light, redoing the really REALLY bad patch job on the side, and replacing a smaller patch that was done in steel (!!) and replacing a few pop rivets with olympics, putting olympics in the various holes around that had screws in them. Coming up with something to cover the holes that will be left by the GIANT LAG BOLTS screwed through the inner and outer skins next to the door. (seriously, what is that??) And polishing the skin, and then sealing the seams.
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Old 07-24-2016, 10:26 AM   #2
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
Laramie , Wyoming
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 37
So at the outset, you decide you need to remove the crappy silicone that was present EVERYWHERE. I took down what I could by hand, but that stuff really sticks.

I used some garbage from 3M and it took any of the vulkem down that was around, but didn't touch the silicone except to make it shiny. Bunch of garbage! So I got some of the silicone remover in the purple tube, the stuff that is sold by VTS but I picked it up locally.

So this really badly done patch, is the worst of it. I believe they attached it with silicone. Then stuck silicone around it. They also sealed the awning attachment to the roof with silicone. And the ugly lamp thing where the porch light should be.


So look how beautiful this patch job is! I'm sure that's the correct gauge of aluminum too, and the rivet pattern is the bomb! I just may leave it as is because it screams sexy:


I've already taken all the silicone off, and the awning bar, and this gorgeous patch of painted rusted steel that was held on with rusty screws and silicone! OMG don't you just love silicone? I do!


So some beautiful holes to share with you:

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Old 07-24-2016, 10:30 AM   #3
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Looking good! Keep us posted!
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Old 07-24-2016, 10:40 AM   #4
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
Laramie , Wyoming
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So after I got everything pulled off (still not the large panel, but that's coming!) it was time to learn how to use a compound polisher. I know there's a ton of different views on what to use, and it's better to use this, and it's faster to use that (yes I read THOSE threads!) But I decided to stick with the tried and true, Nuvite with a compounding tool using a twisted wool pad. I picked up a DeWalt variable speed compounder, 3 wool pads, a spur tool and some F7, C and S. (I am now thinking I may need some F9 for some of the worse spots)

So what's a girl to do who's never used one of these before? Who's read concerns about burning the very delicate AlClad on the sensitive skin of her Airstream? (hubby's named her Lagertha by the way, cause she's a kick ass warrior woman, seeing how slow to start her we are, Laggy for short works for now!)

Well, that girl climbs on the roof! I thought, if I start up there, and mess up, no one will see it but me and the birds. This is my very first pass ever:



It gets really hot on the roof! Luckily, our daytime temps don't get too bad, but I needed to throw a blanket on top of the skin to sit on, so that I didn't touch it! I had my wireless earphones on, and listened to the VAP (highly recommended while polishing!) and had a big water bottle filled with ice hidden under the blanket.

I got half the roof done one pass the first day, and the other half done the second. There's a lot of pitting up there, and I'm not going to bother with working on it, at least for now, because I haven't decided yet, if I want to paint it white up there like so many recommend, and I know we'll be putting solar up there in a couple years, so the extra effort now, I just may hold off on.

Here's the roof after a quick shower that forced me to stop working:


And here's me showing off how glamorous polishing is, safety first!
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Old 07-24-2016, 10:57 AM   #5
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
Laramie , Wyoming
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 37
So now I've been working on the door, (I'll go back up and work my way down after I get a piece of scaffolding to put on my ladder. It's one of those little giant ones, but I'm too short and too chicken to reach just on the ladder) and have done several passes on the small door.

I figured it was in super bad shape, it has a ton of scratches and some damage on it so it was another good place to practice, and see just how hard it is to hide that stuff, and if it's at all possible. I know there are areas that need patching (there's a corroded area so bad inside the door that I may redo that whole panel) But I just wanted to work on something that would help my learning curve.

I know the scratches won't come out with the compounder. I'm not sure if I want to try sandpaper, and just patch the section with the hole near the outside, or if I want to just replace the whole panel. I'm leaning towards just seeing if I can clean it up first. I do know that there is some corrosion that is bad enough, that I'll be picking up an F9 and thinking the swirls it'll produce can't possibly be worse to get out, than just doing 15 passes with the F7.

As it is now, I've done 5 passes on the door near the bottom, where it's the worst. I'll share the first pass and then compare to the 5th, so you can see that it's actually coming out. Today I'm going to do a few more passes on the door. (yesterday hubby wanted me to work on some of the less damaged skin to see what it looks like, so the door didn't get any attn) Then I'm going to start working around the holes where the lights go. Now that my package came in, I want to clean up the skin 100% around them and put them back up. I'm guessing that means I get to play with my cyclo too soon!!!

So this is the first pass, you can see how bad the pitting is.


Here's after 5 passes:

So you can see that it's coming out, but it's still showing up all the pits, and I know it needs a lot more work.


And here's where I ended up yesterday:


So today, it's back to the door, and then that panel again, then start on working where all the lights go on.

Also, posting this stuff takes longer than you think, I won't be doing it in the morning again, cause it's eating up my day! So you'll get me later, when I've cleaned up and put stuff away, hopefully not too drained and cranky.
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Old 07-24-2016, 11:26 PM   #6
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
Laramie , Wyoming
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 37
I did five more passes on the door inset, and have a good understanding now of what F7 can and can't do. The scratches on the door, they're not as horrible now as they were, but they aren't coming out. I may try wet sanding them to see what that does, otherwise I'm not sure what I'll do. I'm guessing I'll wait to see how it looks compared to the entire trailer once finished, then replace the whole panel or patch depending on how bad it is beside.

The corrosion at the bottom is now very minor, it's like orange skin. The F7 isn't taking it down more, but each of the dimples seem to be shiny now too. I'm going to get some F9 and try it, because the bottom of the trailer all around is like this. It's really hard to take photos showing the dimples, especially with the gravel reflecting!
Here's the bottom of the door inset after 10 passes:

Here's the door below that after 5, and there's not a huge difference other than the pitting is shiny now on the other one:


I had one of my dogs hanging out with me all day, the other one was on the other side ignoring me:

Here's the door all shiny, the scratches are still an issue, and there's a bit more corrosion up top to clean up, but it is cleaning up!:


And after the door, I did two more passes on the panel I hit yesterday, and one pass started on the panel below. This has a lot of pitting on the bottom, perhaps they parked it in winter on salted roads? I don't know but it's bad!


I'm finding that my pads get burnished really fast with polish. There's no reverse on this, and I'm using a spur rake. Is there a better way to clean out the burnishing?

I also notice that when it needs to be cleaned, a weird thing happens to the skin that I'm polishing, it's like the wool is taking off the polish but then it starts laying it back down in little black specks, not like having too much polish, but like it's starting to deposit it back on the skin again. So I can get an area that is pretty shiny, but if I pass over it again, it suddenly goes a little cloudy.

Also, how do you know when it's time to go to the next cut? I'm aiming for taking out any inconsistencies in the metal first, but there's some areas that are shiny, and only show swirls on the surface, but kind of look like they were rained on and not cleaned, like little water cloudy marks that are a little whitish inside the metal. Will these come out in the next cut? Or do I still need to do a bunch more passes? I'll try to get a pic of it tomorrow.
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Old 07-25-2016, 11:09 AM   #7
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What is the dog doing?
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Old 07-25-2016, 11:37 AM   #8
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1958 22' Flying Cloud
portola valley , California
Join Date: May 2016
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We have a 1959 Flying Cloud that we redid most of the inside first and are doing outside replacing axel wheels and tires propane tanks and system. We are replacing the toilet with Nautre's head composting toilet so that we only need a gray water and fresh water tank and do not have to deal with a stinky slinky! All of the original stove,oven and refrigerator and wall heater work! Big bonus It has been in the works since May and we hope to have in done by end of August so that we can take it out for fun in September. Lots of fun and vintage is the way to go. It does get costly as we added solar panels and lithium ion batteries and a generator that will run off propane. It will be more efficir=ent that the original but it still has all the essentials to make it so charming! Good luck with it!!
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Old 07-25-2016, 12:34 PM   #9
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
Laramie , Wyoming
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m.hony View Post
What is the dog doing?
She's mowing the grass under the trailer! Shade underneath it is apparently premium stuff.
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Old 07-25-2016, 12:38 PM   #10
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
Laramie , Wyoming
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Driftin Di View Post
We have a 1959 Flying Cloud that we redid most of the inside first and are doing outside replacing axel wheels and tires propane tanks and system. We are replacing the toilet with Nautre's head composting toilet so that we only need a gray water and fresh water tank and do not have to deal with a stinky slinky! All of the original stove,oven and refrigerator and wall heater work! Big bonus It has been in the works since May and we hope to have in done by end of August so that we can take it out for fun in September. Lots of fun and vintage is the way to go. It does get costly as we added solar panels and lithium ion batteries and a generator that will run off propane. It will be more efficir=ent that the original but it still has all the essentials to make it so charming! Good luck with it!!
Dianne
Sounds like fun times soon! I'm planning on pulling the interior out to work on inside during the winter, and will redo the floor, electrical and insulation next year,then put it back together. I want solar too, but that may need to wait a little longer. We're not in a rush, we backpack for fun right now, but do want to travel with it in a few years.
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Old 07-25-2016, 10:54 PM   #11
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
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Today I did a few passes over the lower panel, behind the door, and started on the right hand side of it with a few passes. Everything on the trailer now has 3 passes, other than the door inset, which is at 10. I'm working tomorrow, so hoping my F9 arrives for Wednesday, though I'm thinking it likely won't. I can work on making a patch to cover that hole now, and one to replace the ugly one. I really think it's a good idea to mark where you're going to drill holes, so that it can be even! I intend to use the same spacing the rest of the airstream has, and go with a larger patch to hide that ugly.

So this is today's pic:


The dog's just chilling while I put things away.

And, this is how filthy you get doing this, just so people are aware. I had on huge goggles, and a tyvek suit, and gloves, and I still got this dirty. You can see how it sprays across my neck, what you can't see, is that it's dripped down to my bra. So ladies.. if you're polishing, wear stuff you don't like anyway. None of the expensive bras, luckily the ones I've been wearing are old, they're now my polishing bras.



I clean up nice though, but you do need to moisturize extensively afterwards!

I spent the night polishing up some vintage melmac dinnerware I got to use in the Airstream. I'll finish the rest up tomorrow, but it's a non Airstream day. I'm lucky to only work 2-3 days a week. (this is partly why you see me doing all the work and not my husband. The other reason would be because when you only have one tool to use, and you have one person doing it on their days off, they may get a little bit anal about how it gets done, and say things like "having two people working on it with different experience levels will leave it looking different in different areas" or some other excuses like that so that I can do it myself without worrying about someone else not doing it the way I would. Don't tell me I'm the only one who doesn't want to share the work?)

I also forgot to get a pic of the whitish areas under the skin. I swear, the skin is polished but has this milky fog under it.
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Old 08-08-2016, 04:56 PM   #12
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You Go Girl .....
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