Airstream Forums

Airstream Forums (
-   1950-1955 Flying Cloud (
-   -   Resuscitating our '51 Flying Cloud (

calais66 10-07-2013 11:46 PM

Resuscitating our '51 Flying Cloud
Well, the time has come to start a thread about our in-process 1951 Flying Cloud. From tolling around here for the last few months I've come to realize people get a little touchy when it comes to the whole restore/remodel thing and I'm not the kind of guy wont to provoke discussions over semantics, so we're calling it a 'resuscitation'. We'd like to keep all the original bits that are still intact, but we're updating/upgrading the parts that are missing as well as adding some new toys, so this would fall somewhere between the more traditional definitions.

In any case, we'd been looking for close to two years before finding the vintage AS that fit our taste (vintage), price (reasonable) and condition (project). We'd actually given up looking when we happened on this one right in our backyard and at the risk of sounding like a total cornball it was meant to be. The '51 FC is the perfect size and style for us and we're anxious to get on the road, after all the fun of getting her built back up, of course.

I've been at the resuscitation since July. I thought about adding the photos I've taken in that time spread out over several posts to make it look like I'm some sort of super-stud when it comes to demoing the interiors of mid-century trailers, but honestly prevails and I'll be putting the ones I have to this point in the following mega-post.

calais66 10-08-2013 12:05 AM

How We Found Her
10 Attachment(s)
Here she is how we bought her. She'd been sitting for several years and had been used as the obligatory guest room. As you can see all the original wood had been painted over in a sort of sky blue and then at some other point that blue had been painted over with a thin coat of white paint. Very shabby chic, with an emphasis on shabby. Some of the multiple POs modifications include a bathroom (you can see it behind the starboard closet-the toilet is gone and all that remains is a hole through the floor and the belly pan straight down to the ground. Was there ever a toilet there to begin with? Given the smell it's anyone's guess. I choose not to think too much about it) and a homemade bunk bed made of 2x4s in the aft port quarter. There's also tons of interesting Sharpie graffiti, mostly phone numbers and dates. Cryptic.

First stop was the tire store for some new kicks, and then off to the boatyard where we've been storing and working on her. Also including a close-up of the pattern in the formica table top and galley counter top. Love that pattern and definitely going to be one of the original elements we're keeping.

calais66 10-08-2013 12:17 AM

The Gutting
7 Attachment(s)
The sub-floor was totally rotted out, which made the removal of the galley, dinette, closets, etc. pretty easy. Taking off the overhead storage bins revealed the original finish on the closet. What an improvement that paint was, right? Yikes. I love bright work and refinishing the original wood is what I'm looking forward to most, but baby steps...

pickerdd 10-08-2013 07:55 AM

This is very cool. I look forward to following your progress. Good luck!

calais66 10-08-2013 09:04 PM

Fore End Cap Floor & Belly Pans
6 Attachment(s)
As I said, the sub-floor was reduced to absolute pulp and had to come out. I decided to start in the fore end cap and got it out in almost one piece. But I should be able to cobble what's left to make a template for the new floor. We'll see how that goes. In the meantime enjoy the obligatory giant rat's nest photo replete with petrified acorns and turds.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the frame and belly pans to be in pretty good shape. From what the PO told me this trailer spent a significant portion of its life as a house so it didn't see too much road travel. The frame just had surface rust which I treated with Loctite rust converter and hit with a couple coats of Rustoleum. The belly pans were nearly completely corrosion free (except for a patch which I'm guessing sat directly beneath rat mansion's bathroom). Granted, there's some holes here and there from installs that were removed and some dents and dings, but the way I see it I'd rather just button it up and patch than completely replace just to bang it up myself down the road, and that's what I did. I also wanted to protect it, so after I cleaned it out (ended up using an orbital sander to get all the caked on dirt out) I hit it with a couple coats of Rustoleum Aluminum Primer and then a couple coats of regular Rustoleum to (hopefully) seal them up and insulate them from future non-housebroken rodents. They'll never be seen, so worst case is the next owner will open up the floor to find a bunch of peeled paint in about thirty to forty years. Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that the frame around the wheel wells is in as good a shape.

In these photos you can also see one of PO's least attractive mods--the cut out front window frames and plywood window shade. Same old story, a guy with a hacksaw decides he wants a residential AC unit and cuts up a window to make it fit. Still wondering how I'm going to address that, but again, baby steps. Gotta get a floor in first.

epperp 10-08-2013 09:20 PM

Thanks for documenting your work! We'll be very interested to follow along and get a preview of what awaits us on our 51 Cloud.
Yours is in much better shape on the shell than ours. We are missing a window frame (the movable panel) on the rear side so we will be curious how you handle your window surgery.
Looking at the frame pics--did you add the extra pieces over the frame crossmembers and outriggers? Is that how the belly pan attches to the frame?

calais66 10-08-2013 09:38 PM


Originally Posted by epperp (Post 1364648)
Thanks for documenting your work! We'll be very interested to follow along and get a preview of what awaits us on our 51 Cloud.
Yours is in much better shape on the shell than ours. We are missing a window frame (the movable panel) on the rear side so we will be curious how you handle your window surgery.
Looking at the frame pics--did you add the extra pieces over the frame crossmembers and outriggers? Is that how the belly pan attches to the frame?

It's how the belly pan is attached to the frame, just a 'C' shaped piece of aluminum that is riveted to the top edge of the frame. They put about four inches or so between the bottom of the frame and the pan and they're most all bent, presumably from bottoming out on uneven terrain. Between the wheels the belly pan is attached directly to the frame so there's a bit of a channel above the axle. Not sure if this is common or not--be interesting to see what others say.

Globie64 10-08-2013 09:57 PM

Yes, thanks for showing pics of progress. Our floor looked pretty much like yours, it was easy to remove stuff fastened to the floor, because there was no floor. I'll be a beauty, those old old ones are great.

calais66 10-10-2013 05:58 PM

Thanks, Globie. Definitely looking forward to when her beauty is fully restored. My aunt and uncle just broke ground on their home at Sea Ranch so maybe someday in the (hopefully) not too distant future you'll be able to see her for yourself!

calais66 10-10-2013 09:56 PM

Getting Under Her Skin
4 Attachment(s)
So I have most of her interior skin removed--basically everything except the ceiling panels and end caps. Pretty happy to see there wasn't too much corrosion along the bottom of the interior sides of the outer skin, but as the insulation came out found a bunch of corrosion behind where the galley was, presumably from the stove vent and/or some roof leaks. Since all this will be covered by the interior skins eventually, I hit the corrosion with the orbital sander and most all of it came right off. I tack ragged the wall then hit it with two coats of aluminum primer and two coats of Rustoleum protective enamel. Again, the thinking here is to keep as much of the moisture away from direct contact with the aluminum as possible. I started with just the corroded panels but then got a 'what the hell' type feeling and went ahead and did them all.

I'd like to install reflective (foil) insulation as I've seen so many do on this site. From reading up on the subject it seems to me it would be more effective to apply the insulation to the inside of the inner skin than it would be to apply it directly to the outer skin (the foil needs space between itself and the heat source {outer skin} in order to reflect the heat). Does anyone have any opinions on/experience with this?

FC7039 10-10-2013 10:35 PM

I did some test. After all that I suggest you put the foil in between either pink stuff on one side or the other or both. The foil as a radiant barrier cannot be touching else it is conductive. Unless you glue it to a skin it will for the most part have an air gap. Even if it does touch the skin it's ability to hold heat and then conduct it is minimal. Most heat will go through the ribs. There is such little space that any air touching skin heats and in practical manners conducts (I know in air you call it converts but convect is just air conducting) the heat from one side to the other. Your best is to clean the skins, the sides you can't see and even polish them as this lessens radiation. Now think about a parabolic curve and how it can radiate heat to a great level. Now stand in your trailer and look at the parabolic shape of the ceiling. The trailer design is not great for the people inside.

calais66 10-10-2013 11:30 PM

Great info, thanks! Would having the pink in direct contact with the foil impede it's ability to reflect the heat? I realize there's air space in the fiberglass, but from what I've read it seems that anything in direct contact with the foil (even dust) will reduce its effectiveness. It's such an inve$tment I want to make sure I'm doing it right.

calais66 10-11-2013 12:55 AM

1 Attachment(s)
...of course pretty much anything would be better that this. Behold, the brown paper bag filled with shredded newspaper that a PO had used to replace some of the rotted out fiberglass.

RM66caravel 10-11-2013 04:16 AM

Most of the prodex installs I have read show it with 1inch foam board strips glued to the shell then the prodex. That is what I am planning to do.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:50 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.