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TCTradewind 12-23-2013 05:24 PM

Here we go... '68 Tradewind
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I have recently purchased a 1968 Tradewind International, and was able to line up some heated indoor storage for the winter. I'd love to have this thing road ready for the spring.

I have a background in restoring and building houses, but this is my first camper trailer, let alone airstream so its going to be a learning process. I have a tendancy to blow things open and pick up the pieces as I go and for this project I'd like to avoid doing that. I'm impressed with the details of many of your restorations, and someday I hope to get there; but for now I'd really like to fix the basics, make it safe and get on the road enjoying this thing.

It is Uhhhh 'rigional; down to the vintage bins for every shelf, owner's manual, original univolt converter, furnance, appliances and gear driven water pump.

Right now exterior / water tight is my obvious move. Seams, three window reaplacements (front, back and street side), window gaskets, and a couple of roof vents.

Where do I go from there?
Pressure test plumbing?
Pressure test gas?
Is there a right and wrong way for initial testing of appliances?

If there really isn't such a thing, and its a "start pulling rivets now" sort of gig, I'd like to hear that train of thought too. No point in goofing around for three months just to find out I have to take the whole interior apart anyhow.

Thanks in advance for any insight or suggestions.

eljay 12-23-2013 07:20 PM

Hi! Welcome! Looks great except for that white blanket of snow! Glad to hear you have indoor heated storage. I look forward to hearing how you progress.

BIGED52 12-23-2013 08:31 PM

For Starters!
Welcome to '66-'68 ownership! You need to call the closest Propane dealer and have them checkout your lines and appliances. That is the safest way to assure that you have no propane leaks. The front and rear glass is flat so you can go to a local glass dealer and have them make you up 1/8" thick heat treated glass, with bottom corners rounded, pencil sanded edges glass for much less than you can buy it anywhere else. Gaskets can be bought from any Airstream dealer. Get the "D" gaskets as they are better than the original rubber ones. Lots of info here on the forums to help you thru any issues during your prep. Most important issue is to get the holes/windows/panel seams/ and all trim and skin penetrations sealed. Moisture is the enemy of your trailer! Ed

68 TWind 12-23-2013 09:19 PM

Welcome and congratulations on the 68 TW. I am just a tad partial to that model Airstream. There are several regulars here on the forum who have redone 68 TW's so you should be able to find the answers you need. PM me when you get ready to work on the windows, I've done all of them in my trailer and have several tips I can share that will save you a lot of time and headaches. Same for the roof vent.

Be careful with the furnace. Lots of info here on the forums about the dangers of the old NT-22 model which is what you have. I won't repeat all that now, you can search and find it. Bottom line, if you don't feel you have the info you need to check out the old furnace, have someone who does to look at it. Mine seemed OK but there was a hole in the heat exchanger that could have lead to a fatal CO leak as combustion gases could mix with discharge air. Luckily a buddy in the HVAC business found it. Many of the old NT-22's are fine but many are not.

ALUMINUMINUM 12-23-2013 10:26 PM

Pardon my arrogance, I'm not an IMHO guy...
Congratulations. If you haven't already figured it out, the 68 TW may be the finest Airstream ever made. They don't seem to be terribly common these days, so you'll have to decide to what level of responsibility you want to take your restoration. If you get the urge to do a gut-out floorplan change, find a rotted seventies ambassador for your “canvas”. Your trailer is special.

I suggest reading everything ever posted on the internet about 1968 Airstreams. No one will have the time to list all you need to do, Search the Forum. Answers are already here.

While you have the best year for Phillips-Corning windows, The improved door hinge, most functional interior front end-cap, foam spray floor insulation, you may be plagued by the questionable Central Control, aluminum wiring, and the battery boiling Univolt.

Safety first, so do a thorough brake inspection and be sure they work flawlessly. New breakaway switch. 68 TW is a good candidate for Michelin ltx ms/2 tires. Inspect/rebuild the coupler.

You can think that it doesn't leak, but it most likely does. Tempro 635, Acryl-R and Captain Tolley will help. Doing it right is long and tedious.

Save your Armstrong A/C. Do not remove, rebuild in place.
Replace the Univolt. 3 Stage converter compatible with AGM battery.

Don't paint anything. Exceptions are bath plastics and endcaps.

The vinyl walls will look like new after multiple cleanings with a variety of cleansers.
The woodwork will restore beautifully. The clear-coat that is on it is sprayed lacquer. It can be removed with any cancer causing solvent.

Rebuilding the windows correctly is important. They can fall out unexpectedly. Keep closed when traveling.

If you have a boat load of money, a helper, and can put 80 hour weeks into it, You will indeed have it ready for Spring. Hartwick pines next May??

Always include pictures with your inquiries. It will illicit more interest in your project, and a broader range of knowledgeable solutions.

Your trailer will teach new things and expand your skillset. Working on it will become an addiction. It will be the only thing you want to do. Do you yet know badly you want electric sheet metal shears, pneumatic planisher, English wheel, pneumatic nibbler, rivet guns...???

There are volumes to explain, but that's it from me for now. You'll find helpful people here.


TouringDan 12-23-2013 11:10 PM

Welcome to the forums. I have a 66 TW, the the 68 may indeed be the best year and model Airstream has ever built.
Two no brainers are to replace the univolt and the furnace.
Congrats, you really did find a good one.
Do lots of reading here on the Tradewind threads and other restoration threads.
I just towed a 95 34' from Vassar, Mi to Virginia.


RM66caravel 12-24-2013 03:55 AM

I do like your choice of Airstream but We are not quite sure how to best answer your questions with out more interior pictures! Hve you been able to look into or under (so to speak) the belly pan? and how about some pictures of under the sink in the closet bottoms and a shot of the water lines going from front to back? My copper water lines averaged a patch or a split every 2.3 feet! congrats on the new addition and welcome to the site!

falcon-N-Air 12-24-2013 06:48 AM

Welcome, we too are proud owners of a 68 Tradewind. If you have the time to check out the Tires,running gear,electric and gas systems, you could very easily be ready for a maiden voyage by Spring. We know our next big step is to replace our Axles. I hope someday to have our trailer restored to original condition,but for now we are enjoying it and doing what we can as we go. Good luck!

TCTradewind 12-24-2013 08:42 AM

Feeling welcomed
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This place (and AS owners in general) are a special group of people. You could tell in the willingness to share and answer questions, I approached and talked to enough owners at campgrounds, I know!

I searched for 66-68. I love the look, the uniquness to it. I had it down to a 66 overlander and the 68 tradewind: one was much closer to home. Glad to hear ya'll like this particular year so well. Its great body shape, and the interior is fairly clean, and everything is there. It has some leaks, make no mistake about it. Needs some work.

Couple of responses.

Furnance. I've heard enough to scare the heck out of me about the furnances. I want to replace it (and hoard all pieces I remove from this thing). Here's my plan: the current AC unit is bagged over. The gasket is GONE, and a source of leaks. I dont even know the functionality of the current AC unit. I planned on removing it, and replacing it with a low profile AC with heat pump; hoping that would be enough to take the chill off if needed early spring / late fall. Ed you mentioned NOT replacing that AC unit... I will have to read up on it to find out more about it. I attached an interior pic, you can see bits of foam everywhere, thats the dissolved / animal shredded gasket.

I bought it from a front yard and towed it right to an AS dealer / service shop. The trailer wiring was a mess. Every internior light worked when hooked up to a external power source. There currently is no battery in the trailer. The exterior lights were a mess. I'm having the exterior light wiring, brakes, and wheel bearings looked at professionally before I get my hands on it. Just to be on the safe side.

There is some concern about the belly pan. The service mgr and I started pulling out a few rivets to remove the belly, however, soon realized reattaching it could be an issue. The strapping to rivet to seemed sparce and rusted. Good news, the frame that was within view looked solid. This seemed like one of those can of worms I may need to wait for a rainy day to solve. I would imagine welding new strapping in is the only way to fix attachment points for belly rivets.

Exterior. Holes. When to patch vs rivet? Holes from an old TV attenna mount plate. Rivet and some caulk I think, Id like to avoid a patch, but is there a rule of thumb when decided? See photo for spot.

One ridge vent is cracked off, and a fridge vent in bad shape (which I have a replacement for already). These things seem straight forward in replacing; but gives you an idea about the trailer condition.

Thanks again everyone. Exciting stuff. Twin pines. Sounds great! So does a trip to Eaton Rapids next fall for the Urban Air event. Which I would also love to try and have something similar in Traverse City. Talk about a destination!

northfayston 12-24-2013 09:13 AM

Tradewind 68
Have fun. It's a huge undertaking and learning curve. We redid a 1963 Globetrotter that took 7 years, about 5 years of sitting until we had more money. This past fall we went out and bought a 1965 Tradewind double, which we hope to have finished in two years! We'll see.

Take lots of before pictures, general views, close ups of everything, so you can look back at how things go together.

You need to start with the bottom and go up. You need a strong foundation.
First - Axles, frame, floor (most likely rot in the back) This means you will have to remove most of the interior to tackle the floor.

There are wonderful resources out there

1. Search the forum for example "floor rot"
2. Vintage Airstream - Airstream Trailer Resource excellent site with lots of good info.
3. theVAP podcast - going on show #200. Check the table of contents and the index, send in your questions The Vintage Airstream Podcast | Vintage Trailer Restoration
4. Join other lists such as Airstream List on Yahoo, Vintage Airstream List
5. There are several professional restorers who have blogs or photo albums that are helpful. Here are two.

Frank's Trailer Works Blog

Lance at Texas Vintage Campers has an amazing photo record of restoring various trailers and one is a Tradewind.
Top's Texas Vintage Camper Restorations | Harker Heights, TX 76548

ALUMINUMINUM 12-24-2013 10:01 AM

Hi There,

Not 100% clearly depicted in photo, but I don't recognize that A/C as the original TAC110. It would be near impossible for a rodent to transfer the Tac110 “gasket” material through the shell. It may be that someone has already hawged out the roof for a 14” square hole replacement A/C, and that is the source of the foam. I don't know if a heat strip will bring the Michigan morning chill to a comfortable level.
You might enjoy the comfort and security the ducted forced air provides to you and your tanks.

There is a “show us your patches” thread here somewhere. I put a rivet in all my errant holes.

I too saved all the old or unused scraps and pieces. Someone will need them.


RM66caravel 12-24-2013 02:57 PM

Vintage trailer supply has the vents oft the plumbing I bought 2. Plastic breaks down so we must replace it!

dbj216 12-24-2013 04:34 PM

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I too welcome you to the forums. I have found a wealth of information right here. The Airstream Knowledge Forums are model and year specific where you can get detail on the details of your Airstream Tradewind.

Yes indeed, Airstream built a top line camper back in the mid sixties. I have a 66 Trade Wind and a 86 Limited. The 66 is better built in my opinion, except for the cabinetry. Yours is the best year, and the top of the line International trim. Mine is a Land Yacht with a couple of options.

Expect some disappointments as you carefully access the condition of your trailer. It is 45 years old for goodness sakes. Imagine the condition of a 1968 Mustang. You can imagine the repairs necessary to get it restored.

I knew mine needed appliances. I knew mine needed bathroom floor repair. I knew mine needed plumbing and propane. I knew mine needed some exterior patching. I wanted a project. I have a new toilet, new water heater, new furnace, and new axles ready to install. I have removed the axles, pulled down the belly pan, removed the insulation, and cleaned the frame. I have POR 15 rust preventative paint on the frame, and I have replaced the rotted sections of bathroom floor. Hooray, I'm ready to start putting things back together again. I've spent $2900 on it already! I want mine functional, reliable, safe, clean and ready to explore what ever location sounds interesting. I love the way Airstreams handle on the road.

Touring Dan helped me with the bathroom disassembly, Big Ed helped me with window closers, Colin helped me with axles, Inland Andy helped me with furnace selection, and on and on. Many helpful people here.
I'll answer your questions if I can. But I'm a beginner compared to the many experts on this forum.


BIGED52 12-25-2013 12:02 AM

Lots to consider...
TCT, If it is indeed the original A/C unit it can be repaired and recharged by almost anyone from a shop that does residential cooling units but I have found that techs who work on semi trailer refrigeration are really good with the Armstrong unit. Also, it will cool twice as good as any newer A/C unit. The heat strip models leave a lot to be desired from all I have heard. You can have the Airstream dealer bench test all of your propane appliances if you are wary of doing so yourself. Many NT-22 furnaces had an upgrade done to the furnace that may have been done to the one in your trailer which would make it safer than the original build. A dealer has the original service bulletin on the safety issue and can advise if it was done to your unit. I am not a firm believer that because it is old it should be replaced. If there is a issue like heat exchanger or rusted out burner then yes replace it with new but if it ain't broke don't replace it just to get new. I've heard all the stuff on piece of mind but a new furnace is a major cost item in a restoration and requires fitting a new unit to your existing duct work and venting. Use the resources of a good service tech and remember that a service manager usually will recommend replacing with new because he gets a bonus on all new parts he can sell you. The Univolt is a no-brainer, It has to go if you want to keep healthy charging on your battery system and you won't regret that cost in the longer run. Boiling a battery is not a fun experience! You will need to remove the belly pan sooner than later to know what shape your frame is in. So bite the bullet. You can remove it a section at a time if cost is an issue. Also the replacement metal does not need to be a continuous sheet from front to rear. Post any pictures you can and ask all the questions you run across. Use the search function tab on the blue tool tab above as there is a load of good info here. Use keywords for your search to see specific posts. Happy Trails, Ed

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