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SuzyHomemakr 12-25-2013 06:30 PM

'72 Ambassador makeover
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Made the plunge and bought the trailer a week ago. First time Airstream owner, long time woodworker/remodeler with occasional incursions into boatbuilding. I also dabble in fine arts (sculpture and acrylic painting), and freelance 3D modeling/CAD. It's my plan to integrate my various skills to create a dramatically beautiful interior for my new baby.

Overall, the trailer is in fine shape, if you like cheap '60's plastic and room to store far more things than should be carried. I brought the trailer down from Ocala, FL to the Suzy F. Homemaker Diabolical Lair in Boynton Beach, FL in about 4 hours, a fine ride. TV is a Chevy Express Van 3500, which pulled with zero problems. Other than a door which kept flying open due to a bad door latch. I was able to clamp the thing closed with a spare strap, and have since ordered the offending door bolt from Vintage Trailer.

It's a rear bathroom, which absolutely will not do. I'll pretty much gut the trailer, and rebuild to my (and my wife's) liking. We want to use as many LEED and other environmentally-friendly materials as possible, and incorporate some of the lessons that we learned while we were cruising in our pre-Airstream catamaran. Reducing weight will also be a prime factor in the design process, as will be efficiency, spaciousness and comfort. Though ultimately the root metaphor of Design Darwinism applies: Only the prettiest survive!

I've already been utilizing the AirForums and ordering up parts like a madman, so I'll use this thread to chronicle my efforts. Please feel free to ask questions, offer hints, point out mistakes, etc. I welcome all feedback!

SuzyHomemakr 12-25-2013 07:01 PM

Initial Floor Plan
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So here's my current thinking on the new plan.
Some of the interesting features:
Sliding drawers that accommodate airline max overhead bin luggage
Up/down mechanism that hides TV
DVD receiver over sink that plays what is on the main TV
A wet head- the shower is inside the area with toilet and sink.
Requires careful placement of TP
Composting head
Deck prisms with LED illumination
Kerei Board countertops (a product made from sorghum stalks)
Bamboo flooring
Birch paneling with mahogany accents
Integrated desk for creative musing and Internet bitching
U-shaped settee converts to bed (duh)
Pull out pantry cabinet

SuzyHomemakr 12-25-2013 07:09 PM

Initial Renderings
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I've been working up my ideas in 3D, using Autodesk 3dsmax and the V-Ray renderer. Went through a few iterations that were far too ornate and otherwise stupid. Had wonderful ideas that were dashed when I realized they conflicted with things that I didn't want to move unnecessarily. Lots of stuff isn't in yet, some things are dummied in with simple geometry, but this has much of what should be.

I like to get a design down "on paper" to start checking out the various permutations, and look for errors.

Aviator 12-25-2013 07:19 PM

It looks like a nice arrangement.

RM66caravel 12-25-2013 07:25 PM

Love it a flying airstream with blue sky's and a view out the door! Would like to see more current interior pictures and so are you planning to replace the black tank? Look forward to following your progress.

perryg114 12-25-2013 08:31 PM

Nice Software Package. You must do this sort of thing for a living. I like the layout. I would have some way of keeping the microwave above the fridge from falling out. I am not sure you have gotten to that level of detail yet. Good job


SuzyHomemakr 12-26-2013 07:11 AM

Current pics
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Thanks for the replies!

RM66caravel: I've attached current pics of the interior. Yes, the black water tank will soon be no more, to be replaced with a Nature's Head composting toilet. I've heard great things about them from the cruising community, and can't wait to try it out! I'll have to empty the pee bottle on a regular basis, but the solids supposedly need changing out once a year, with weekend use. It uses a little muffin fan (like in a computer) that has to run constantly, so there is some battery drain.

Looks like I'll be replacing the water heater as well, as it's right where I want to walk around the new bed. I've been reading the forums about the debate between expensive inside vs. cheap outside on-demand heaters. So far, I'm leaning towards the Eccotemp L10, which the model that the manufacturer recommends for RV installs.

I'll probably find more stuff in the way as I demo the interior... sigh.

perryg114 12-26-2013 09:45 AM

The interior is not in bad shape. If you end up not using the tambor I could use some of the larger pieces. I would part the interior out to folks on here that are trying to find some missing pieces for their trailers. My 81 is a rear bedroom and we like that layout. You can put twins or a queen bed in the back, where with the mid ship bunks, you are sorta stuck with that.


Minno 12-26-2013 11:16 AM

Looks like a nice layout you're planning. We had looked at switching ours to a rear bedroom but found a few things that bothered us. We had trouble walking around the mock up for our bed due to the narrow dimensions for the trailer. We also (mostly me) really didn't like canceling out most of our exterior storage as interior we had planned didn't line up with exterior hatches. I don't like patching exterior, but that's just me. Plenty of people do it with good results. We ended up with a mid ships bed and rear bath that we are happy with. My biggest recommendations to you are to mock up the new interior with cardboard boxes after you've demo'd, and play with your plan. Also take LOTS of pictures as you demo as some things will definitely help as you put things back together.
I also vote with Perry that parting out what you're not going to reuse is nice for people who are looking for parts. We offered stuff on the forums to people for free if they paid shipping. Many things got new homes!
Good luck and keep posting!


SuzyHomemakr 12-27-2013 07:13 AM

I'll definitely be re-homing any parts that I pull as the work progresses. We'll keep the galley functional until after Alumaflamingo in Feb. I was hoping to find local Airstreamers, as boxing up things can cut into valuable remodeling time! I'll post in the classifieds as parts come available. Maybe do a "you remove it, and it's yours" deal?

Now if I can only find a new exterior door latch, I can't get the locking part on mine working. Even after spending the $$$ on a new sliding bolt! I have a deadbolt welded onto the side, so I guess that I don't really need the lock anyway... looks like the trailer was broken into at some point, and not really repaired all that well. I have to do some mods on the jamb so that the door will latch when swung shut.

In my case, I'll have tons of exterior-entry storage through the rear hatch. Right now, there's just a few inches to access some plumbing. Having half of the area under the queen bed will be sweet!

SuzyHomemakr 12-27-2013 03:09 PM

New window film
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Robert from Heatwave Mobile Tinting in Lake Worth just finished up the Airstream, does it ever look cool! I went with ASWF Reflection 20, as it had the highest total solar energy rejection at 82%. Almost as mirror-bright as the trailer skin, already feels much cooler on the inside. Very reasonable price, as well. Here in S. Fla, there's loads of competition, so prices are low. It took him a while to get the two curved windows right, and was able to use the same film as the rest of the trailer. Glad it wasn't me doing it!

mccrosti 12-27-2013 04:18 PM

Nice job!

Alphonse 12-28-2013 03:53 PM

Very nice job and interesting plans. Trailer appears to be in outstanding condition for a 72 model. Have you been able to check the condition of the frame itself? I am betting it is okay. From the looks of the trailer in the photos, it must have spent much of its life under cover.

A couple of questions about your planned layout:
1. Did you consider a separate shower? Ours get a workout.
2. How much space will the TV in the disappearing scheme take up? The curved in wall will cause it to be vertically inboard a bit in the retracted position. Also I have found it nice to be able to see it from a broader viewing position in the trailer.

Very slick use of Autodesk by the way. Your package is yielding outstanding models and perspectives.

Keep it coming so we can all enjoy your progress.

Happy New Years

SuzyHomemakr 12-29-2013 09:58 AM

Hi Alphonse!

The exterior is pretty much what sold me. I had looked at a local trailer that was in terrible shape for almost as much as I paid for mine. A fellow from Texas showed up while I was looking at it, so I had to do a cash on the spot deal to secure it.

The wet head- I had a similar design on my Gemini 105 catamaran, and grew to love it. If you figure that the minimum for a shower is 24" X 24", that's a lot of real estate for a single-purpose area. The lav faucet is the shower head, when you pull it out. I'll probably use epoxy glass to coat the interior walls so that the entire room is waterproof. It can also be used as a bidet, not to put too fine of a point on it. Toilet paper hides in the vanity cabinet under the sink. Sink is a SS mixing bowl undermounted to the epoxied Kerei-board countertop. It's right at the wheel well, so I have to mount the Nature's Head composting toilet before I can set the wall.

The hiding TV- Making this happen was a crucial part of the design. A TV, even when turned off, begs to be stared at. Why bother talking to a mere person, when the TV promises untold entertainment delights? ;) Don't get me started about sports bars! The model that I plan to use is 29" X 17.5" X 2" (a 32" model). As it only weighs 13.4 pounds, there's no need for those expensive power lifts that take up so much room. Basically, I'm thinking that this will be a big drawer with wood glides mounted vertically. Pull it up, then use sliding bolts to lock it in place. Interesting comment about being able to see the TV from different angles. Maybe I should make the "bottom of the drawer" hinged, so that the TV can swing out into the space. Looks like I'll have to set the TV before I can build the setee to insure proper clearance.

I found a DVD receiver with a 7" screen that I'll mount over the sink, and can be slaved to the main AV system. It's one of those kind for people who get easily bored when watching the road while driving. :ohmy:It was about the same money as a regular unit, but can play DVD MP3 disks. So no need for the iPod. Full Bluetooth, so I can wirelessly connect to my phone for SiriusXM, Pandora, or those tremendously important conference calls that I never seem to make.

Thanks for the happy words on my renderings. Not quite up to my regular commercial standards, as the trailer skin isn't really detailed well. Using 3D in this complicated curved space really helps to keep horrid mistakes (like mounting the TV too close to the wall) from happening. Though I have found that design review sessions with the wife seem to deplete my wine and craft beer supply rather dramatically!

I'll import parts of the model into Trimble SketchUp, to be able to delineate all of the parts and make my cutting diagrams. Very nice to be able to get maximum efficiency out of those expensive sheets of exotic plywood. I'll make any useful models/drawings available for free download, or if someone has a request for a particular part that they see. There's a free version of the software available, and some interesting dialog on using SketchUp for Airstreams here on the AirForums. I'm not all that skilled in its use, seems fairly clunky compared to 3ds max. Though I have seem some pretty great modeling come out of it...

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