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Old 08-30-2011, 01:23 PM   #1
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1956 22' Safari
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Our '56 Safari (aka Our Retirement Home)

1956 Safari O 6344

Here's a brief "catch up" about how we came about this trailer.

About 10 years ago, we discovered the world of vintage travel trailers (through a feature of Vintage Vacations on HGTV). My wife and I wanted in. We happened upon this trailer, and in no time it was sitting at our house near Portland Oregon. The previous owner found it in Arizona, being used as a storage shed behind a Kentucky Fried Chicken on Rt. 66... he had big plans, but realized he didn't have the time or money to see things through. We promised him we would make it road worthy and enjoy it.

It needed much... about half of the interior had been removed, the floor was rotten all the away around, and it was missing a few windows. But the shell was in great condition with only a few "character marks." We were young, invincible, and thought we could conquer anything... including restoring this beauty.

I joined the WBCCI and the VAC, even gave being quartermaster a brief go (didn't have the time or gumption to deal with the red tape from the Airstream marketing folks). I puttered with the trailer for 2-3 years, replaced a few sheets of plywood, fixed the windows, welded one trouble area on the frame... and bought another trailer we could use immediately (a 15' 1956 Aloha canned ham).

Fast forward to two months ago...we had moved to a house with only room for one trailer, the Safari had been languishing in storage for about 5 years. I missed the Airstream and wanted to upgrade... so I sold the Aloha. Now it's time to get serious about the Safari!

I am impressed with how much more information is available on the net these days! Seeing how others have tackled their restorations has made our resto task seem much less daunting. Thank you bloggers and posters!!!

I considered doing a blog (similar to our home resto blog at greshamrummerfun.blogspot.com) but I am so impressed how people weigh in with comments and advice on this forum that this looks like the best place!

My wife (Haley) is wanting to focus on the interior design, so it's up to me to take care of the structural issues, and making all the systems operational. I'll be asking questions and hoping for advice and tips from you Airstream geniuses out there in ForumLand who have been there!

He are a few exterior pics to show what I'm working with. Interior pics coming soon.
Thanks!
-Steve
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:22 AM   #2
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Nice! Can't wait to follow along...always love seeing the oldies brought back to life...especially one of Birdy's "twins"! Now, about those interior pics....you know how much we like pics around here!

Shari
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Old 09-03-2011, 03:25 PM   #3
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Well it seems that my "before" pics are on a laptop with a bad power supply... They'll have to wait for another time.

Here's what I have planned for this weekend:
1) remove one more section of rotten plywood
2) clean out old insulation, critter remnants and dirt
3) spruce up the frame (wire brush surface rust, fix any problem areas, coat with rust converter and two coats of oil-based Rustoleum paint)
4) fix and reinforce step area (clean off surface rust, weld in angle iron, repair/weld two broken spots)
5) rewire electric brakes (it still looks fine, but I should probably replace it anyway... for peace of mind)
6) figure out how to smooth out the small-ish dents in the front corner (since I have access to both sides, now would be a good time to do it. Is there a thread on AirFoums that might offer a few tips? I haven't been able to find one yet.)

I'll post post-weekend pics. :-)
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Old 09-07-2011, 01:26 AM   #4
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Those pics look all too familiar! Sends shivers up my spine thinking of all that transpires from that point to "camping in it" like we did this last weekend!
Quote:
Originally Posted by SafariSteve View Post
Here's what I have planned for this weekend:
1) remove one more section of rotten plywood
2) clean out old insulation, critter remnants and dirt
3) spruce up the frame (wire brush surface rust, fix any problem areas, coat with rust converter and two coats of oil-based Rustoleum paint)
4) fix and reinforce step area (clean off surface rust, weld in angle iron, repair/weld two broken spots)
5) rewire electric brakes (it still looks fine, but I should probably replace it anyway... for peace of mind)
Whew! Sounds like quite the list for one weekend...even if it was a three-dayer! Post some pics of your progress...
Quote:
Originally Posted by SafariSteve View Post
6) figure out how to smooth out the small-ish dents in the front corner (since I have access to both sides, now would be a good time to do it. Is there a thread on AirFoums that might offer a few tips? I haven't been able to find one yet.)

I'll post post-weekend pics. :-)
We used what we affectionately call a "Kip Roller" to remove shallow dents from our banana wraps. It got it's name from a buddy who made one for working on his skins (then we made one too!) It's proved to worth it's weight in gold...

Shari
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Old 09-07-2011, 10:26 PM   #5
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Hope those pics didn't bring back too many painful memories! We can't wait until we are "camping in it" too!

It was an ambitious list, and I really didn't expect to get it ALL completed this weekend but I find that making lists helps me focus on the job at hand, rather than just stand in the doorway, feel overwhelmed then go for a dip in the pool.

Here's what we managed to get done:
1) check! One more rotten sheet of plywood is out.
2) check! It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Mostly fiberglass insulation and plenty of red Arizona powdery dirt.
3) check! We've been lucky with the frame so far -- only had to deal with surface rust.
4) almost check! The step needed more work than I thought it did. The top front angle piece had split and required about 1' of repair welding to firm things up again. We (my father in law actually) welded the long split, fixed one small crack, and we decided to break for dinner. When we came back to finish the job, the welder would not cooperate. there's still a small tack needed at the back, and I cut a 2" piece of angle iron to reinforce the weal area. Hopefully we will tackle that next weekend.
5) nope. I don't know what kind of wire to use. It looks like 12 gauge strand wire, but I'm not sure.
6) nope... Well sort of. My father in law is a serious car guy and knows about such things. He recommended I cut a few pieces of wood to roughly the same radius and gently tap out the divots from the inside, and try to push out the bigger ones using the wood on the inside.
I like the "Kip Roller" idea and will follow another listers lead and try to make one using an old skateboard wheel. Yes... I will post the results.

Thank you for checking up on me. Accountability is a good motivator!
-Steve
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Old 09-24-2011, 08:46 PM   #6
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Just a quick update after a busy Saturday.
Since I live in Oregon and it tends to rain every now and then... I thought I had better get things sealed up ASAP.

So I spent the day digging out old sealant with sharpened popsicle sticks. Tedious, but necessary.

Then things got exciting... I had resisted any kind of polishing in fear of having our trailer labeled a "polished turd" (classy, I know.) But I've read that polishing can pull out fresh sealant and turn a potentially shiny trailer into a smeared up mess. So I got out the rotary polisher and went to work on the freshly cleaned out seams.

Wow. I cannot wait until I get to the polish-the-whole-trailer phase! It looks great! And it wasn't as difficult as I expected it to be. I wish I had more time today but I had to get the Acryl-R into place with the fancy pump applicator. It all went into place smoothly and aside from a couple of areas (vents, door eyebrow...) I think I'm ready for 3 seasons of rain.

QUESTION: do I need to remove the pump from the can of Acryl-R? I put it in the refrigerator with the little wire in the tip for now, but will that hold it? THANKS

It's too dark to take pictures now. So I'll out some up tomorrow.
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Old 09-25-2011, 09:02 AM   #7
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Steve,

Wow, you don't mess around. Nice work and I'm looking forward to following this one.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:56 PM   #8
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Well, the rain is here and we may not dry out until July. I still have some sealing up to do, looks to be mostly around the vents (all 3 are original Hehr vents. And they are all complete... the electric fan in the galley vent is a little noisy, but it works!). I hope Acryl-R will adhere to a wet surface.

Also, I haven't been able to find a welder (machine or person) to borrow to finish reinforcing the step,

Brake wiring... 12 gauge? Solid? Strand? The original looks to be stranded wire.

Here are a few pics of polishing around a side seam with what I think are dazzling results!
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:16 AM   #9
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Steve,
Looks great. I'm in Portland working on a 1964 22' Safari. Also trying to get it sealed up before the rain sets in for good. Let me know if you are interested in getting together and comparing notes sometime.
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcole
Steve,
Looks great. I'm in Portland working on a 1964 22' Safari. Also trying to get it sealed up before the rain sets in for good. Let me know if you are interested in getting together and comparing notes sometime.
Dharma Cole
Sounds great! I'll send a PM and we can commiserate. :-)
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Old 10-05-2011, 05:33 AM   #11
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Your work looks great.

Just a note on the wiring. All wire in a moving vehicle should be stranded. It won't break with movement/vibration like solid wire. And, it is easier to make connections on.

Good luck!
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:03 AM   #12
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Cool! Another NW trailer! Looking good! Just fyi, Harbor Freight has some cheap welders on sale now.
Marc
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:21 AM   #13
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Keeping tabs on this thread - you're not tooo far ahead of us!
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdalrymple
Your work looks great.

Just a note on the wiring. All wire in a moving vehicle should be stranded. It won't break with movement/vibration like solid wire. And, it is easier to make connections on.

Good luck!
Thanks! Ah ha! I figured that there must have been a reason to use stranded wire or Airstream wouldn't have done it... and now I know why!
Thank you again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3Ms75Argosy
Cool! Another NW trailer! Looking good! Just fyi, Harbor Freight has some cheap welders on sale now.
Marc
hmmm another reason to buy new tools. I like your thinkin! It's a love/hate thing: love new tools, hate spending money on something I wont use very often.
I've had a couple of friends offer the services of their welder equipped friends, but I think I may have room in my garage for a welder... Hmmmmm...

Hope to see you 'round the NW campgrounds next summer (after our monsoon season!).
Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bredlo
Keeping tabs on this thread - you're not tooo far ahead of us!
I hope my exploits won't be TOO discouraging! ;-) Have you started a thread on your Safari?
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Old 10-26-2011, 12:20 AM   #15
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Well, I think the step is solid and good for another 55 years.

I repaired the one broken section of the step but wasn't happy with my laughable welding skills, so I added a 2" long piece of angle iron that really seemed to shore things up.

I had planned on welding a horizontal reinforcement piece in there, but decided that I'll stick with Wally's original design of bolting a piece of angle iron to the underside of the two pieces of plywood that meet at the doorway. (my welding difficulties had nothing to do with my decision... Really!)

I'll attach a few pics as soon as I grind down the offensive welding splatter and cover it all up with paint. :-)
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Old 10-26-2011, 01:23 AM   #16
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Step Weld

Steve,
Very nice work on that step...I know how much you want to practice a bit...so CA is a such a short drive...My offer on the steak remains

Getting a welder in these parts is like finding gold ....need to get one lined up now for January ....seriously...they ALL work the windmill farms at millions of dollars a week, and really dont want any small jobs on the side....ohhhh the trials of CA living....

Keep up the posts...looking forward to sharing with you!
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Old 10-26-2011, 07:28 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elf1
Steve,
Very nice work on that step...I know how much you want to practice a bit...so CA is a such a short drive...My offer on the steak remains

Getting a welder in these parts is like finding gold ....need to get one lined up now for January ....seriously...they ALL work the windmill farms at millions of dollars a week, and really dont want any small jobs on the side....ohhhh the trials of CA living....

Keep up the posts...looking forward to sharing with you!
Elf 1
I bet this welding job won't get me a second job at a California windmill farm... Much less doing any repair for for Elf1, eh?

Luckily with a little grinding and a few coats of paint no one will be the wiser. Besides, it'll all be hidden under the new plywood anyway.
Judging by the broken bits, I think it must have been driven over a rock or curb or two at some time. Remember to put the step up before moving the trailer!

Looks aside, now the step is nice and solid. :-)
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Old 10-26-2011, 07:38 PM   #18
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Great progress SS! Ya might double check the operation of your step latch...in photo 4/5 where ya welded up that big-o-split, that MIGHT keep you from latchin/unlatchin the step. My '63 has a similar split that allows the front part to flex out and release the step.

Once again...great work!
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Old 10-27-2011, 12:21 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiHoAgRV
Great progress SS! Ya might double check the operation of your step latch...in photo 4/5 where ya welded up that big-o-split, that MIGHT keep you from latchin/unlatchin the step. My '63 has a similar split that allows the front part to flex out and release the step.

Once again...great work!
Thanks for the kind words HiHo!

The step seems to open and close just fine. My father in law (who unlike me has REAL welding skills) closed up that big-o-split, and I think it is as good as, if not better than new. Time will tell, though. I'm hoping it won't open up while driving down the road... I really don't want to have to fix it again!
:-)
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Old 11-26-2011, 03:29 PM   #20
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Here are a few pics of my skateboard wheel version of the infamous "Kip Roller."
I'll be attached a threaded pole of some kind to the end of the handle for more leverage, but so far it has worked well in a few areas of the belly pan.
I will be attacking this section soon.
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