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Robfromnorth 08-18-2014 03:12 PM

It's alive! My '73 TW Restoration. A cautionary tale of the breaking of a man.
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A few weeks ago I bought my first Airstream. Of course it's a 25' Tradewind with the double beds. It towed well and didn't smell like an abattoir so I grabbed it up. The fellow selling it was in a small town and had a sign in the window that I saw on the long weekend while coming back to Calgary.

Long story short I bought it after a test tow for a song and since I was the first person with cash in hand that the fellow saw it was mine. In fact I could have sold it to a guy who showed up a little later for his viewing for an extra $1500. But no, this is my project of undoing.

Here's a few shots of the buy.
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Robfromnorth 08-18-2014 03:24 PM

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The following weekend I dived into the tear down.

Heres the rub, it's my first RV, ever... Let alone RV renovation.

It's not that bad, I do work in construction and have built approximately 250 homes in my times as a residential construction super. I haven't had to buy any tools and besides the cyclo I probably won't have to. I also work in an engineering firm now and have ready access to confidence boosting resources... But still.

And there is this great forum online where tons of folks have done the same thing and shared along the way so...

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These are about as ugly as I can get. It vacuumed up well but that's not as cool.

This week I am booked for my axle replacement and after that it's interior wall removal and a complete redo of electrical systems and plumbing/heating.

Check out this find in the furniture

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I'll grab some under and ugly photos later. If you want to see anything in particular let me know.

Robfromnorth 08-18-2014 03:27 PM

It's alive! My 73 TW Restoration. A cautionary tale of the breaking of a man.
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Also. Quick question. I have these rivets popped above the wheel wells on both sides. What are they indicative of?Attachment 219325Attachment 219326

aquinob 08-18-2014 03:55 PM

Interior didn't look too bad from the pix, though they may not show all the issues. It looked pretty original, that is usually a good thing. The rivets probably popped due to flexing of the panels as it rode down the road. Worn axles can do that when they dont properly cushion the rig from larger bumps and potholes.

So what are your intentions for this personal penance you have signed yourself up for? How does the floor look, especially in the back? Have you pulled the belly pan down to check the condition of the frame or will you be pulling up the floor and looking down? Either way getting all that old pink fiberglass out and preserving the frame is one of the first things that should get attention along with sealing up any leaks on the roof or around the windows.

Good luck, keep the pix coming, we like pix...

arktos55343 08-18-2014 03:57 PM

Congratulations on your purchase....and welcome to the Forum! It looks like a great unit, overall. Considering the broken interior wheel wells, the popped rivets may be due to a very rough ride. Also, puffiness around other rivets can be indicative of undue stress. I see your unit has been updated with newer wheels. What is the condition of the axels? What is the load rating on the tires? Pressure? Popped rivets can mean unbalanced or over-rated running gear.

Robfromnorth 08-18-2014 04:48 PM

I figured it was rough rides. The axles are riding low and actually have a negative angle on the torsion arms even with a lot of the weight out from the gutting. I spotted the bad axles right away and even priced out replacements as part of the plan. The tires are/were decent. They are D rated trailer tires but the side walls are all cracked out. I am replacing them as well as soon as I get it back from the axle shop.

What are those rivets attached to? I will see when I take out the interior skins, for now I assume it is the wheel well housing.

arktos55343 08-18-2014 08:45 PM

Those rivets probably secure the skin to the exterior wheel well

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RM66caravel 08-18-2014 10:10 PM

Yes post those gory belly pan pictures! we love pictures and any Airstream that looks worse than ours did makes them all the better!! Welcome and you are in for more fun if your memory is like mine and you did not take a bunch of reference pictures! Keep us posted please

Robfromnorth 08-20-2014 11:57 AM

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Belly pan status.

So it's in a few sections. I've noticed different materials and even different levels on the underside. For cleanliness and ease I will be getting a full set if banana wraps (from Vintage Trailer Supply unless there are other/better sources for a Canadian. I won't be making them. The compound and curve...

There is a ton of frame rust and I am pricing options to take it to a location and do the sanding myself for $120/hr or buying a small unit and doing it over a longer timeline. Really dependent on the ability to move the trailer with belly pan and floor mostly off.

New axles going on this week. I drop it off today and get it back on the 28th.

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Corrosion on the front where copper line (LP) met this replacement material

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Flashing holdings sections up.

And a shot of the old axles.
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perryg114 08-20-2014 01:07 PM

Pull the belly skins and see what the frame looks like behind the wheels. Sometimes the frame can break causing the rear end to sag which makes the wheel wells bow out and that maybe what popped the rivets or if you are lucky they popped from vibration. My trailer had a lot of what I would call wheel balance issues. Areas around the wheel wells had popped interior rivets from all the vibration. A few pop rivets fixed most of the issues and adding a little more structure where Airstream skimped.


Robfromnorth 08-20-2014 01:57 PM

After the axle is on the whole of the subfloor and the belly pan will be replaced. The main "section" left on the belly pan is in good shape and can be re-used. It does droop and sag and need better mounting so I'll be doing that if it reusable but only a deeper look will tell.

The rest of the belly pan will be rebuilt in the sections they came off in with 4x8 sheeting. Here's where things may get controversial.

I use a lot of products in my business for building envelopes and I am sort of wary of Vulkem 921 for use as a sealer in my interior walls and especially the belly pan. It was a great option but there are way better ones these days that are proven in their environments.

I am planning on using a product called Blueseal as it has a better elasticity and temperature variance than Vulkem (ie I can move the trailer in -25C weather and not crack up my seals). As well it can stand up against chlorinated water (ie potable city water) in the event of a water line leak. After cleaning and blasting the frame I will also look at designing the belly pan with a drainage management system rather than a tight envelope to allow water to escape. Same with my vertical walls.

I fear saying so because folks like what they like and the reps of the supply companies even hang out here but I have the data sheets side by side and Vulkem is old tech. Proven in its time but not always the best. I have also looked at Sikaflex and it's a good looking product with few limitations just sourcing and quantity supply are tricky.

aquinob 08-20-2014 03:55 PM

The belly pan helps to keep moisture from the subfloor, the insulation and frame and to make the underside more aerodynamic. I don't think the belly pan needs to be sealed up, I'm of the opinion that any water that can get in there, needs a quick way to get out. So having some strategic holes in the middle that allow drainage are good to have. Removing the existing spun fiberglass insulation also helps with any future rust since it generally holds moisture up against the frame.

I replaced the fiberglass with some closed cell urethane foam boards secured to the subfloor with decking screws and fender washers. I reused part of the existing belly pan aluminum even though it was significantly corroded in parts, it was still intact enough to do its job. If I could have found a different material that would have served the purpose without being any heavier, I would considered that as well. Having aluminum in close contact with steel isn't great in my book, but it is what they have been doing for years.

Some folks have also provided for drainage in the bottom of the c channels as well. This is doable if you have all the interior skins off, on mine that only occurred in the rear bath.

So by all means keep thinking out of the box, there are lots of newer products that can work better than what was used when these trailers were new.

Robfromnorth 08-20-2014 08:46 PM

Thats a great looking setup. Thanks for the pictures.

Did you put any additional insulation beneath that? I plan on still using the trailer after it begins to freeze overnight and convection cooling from the bottom is a concern. I like that system a lot for its clean and dry approach though. That is probably worth a lot more in the long run? How cool is it where you camp? If it's a hot region light insulation down low is ok because of shaded area I imagine.

Anyway. Trailer is at the axle shop for a week. I have a weekend in my life that isn't all work on the trailer.

aquinob 08-21-2014 07:01 AM

No, that was it. Its the equivalent of R8. We live down in Virginia and don't plan on using the trailer in the winter. Cooling it is much more of a concern than heating. If I was up in Alberta I think I would worry more about heat loss through the shell than through the floor anyway. Aluminum transmits the heat or cold quite well and there is only an inch and a half of insulation possible in the walls anyway. I think in really cold climates I'd try and heat the hell out of it to keep up with the temp loss. You also need to make sure the waste tanks and the fresh water tanks are insulated and properly heated to keep them from freezing. I'd think about using some heat tape on anything that cant take a direct freeze with liquid in it.

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