Airstream Forums

Airstream Forums (
-   General Repair Forum (
-   -   Help me get JoyBug on the road! (

girasoledonn 06-13-2019 12:09 PM

Help me get JoyBug on the road!
Hey Guys.

Short synopsis of my story. My name is Anj. In 2017, I purchased a 1975 Argosy that I lovingly named "JoyBug". I was as green as they come. Never held a drill. Didn't know a rivet from a screw. Thought I'd move in, slap some paint on the walls and be on the road in a week. Then, as I started to "peel away the layers" and found damage, I decided to gut her. Before I knew it, i was finding mouse poop in the walls, and floor rot and taking her down to the shell and frame. Still thought I'd be on the road... in say... 3 months. :lol:

Here I am two summers later, and Joybug is still a work in progress. I've got scars all over my body from metal work, bumping my shins on the exposed frame, power washing my foot, dropping the air conditioner on my leg, and on and on. But i have learned a ton, and done most of the work myself, and I'm proud of that.

The story has been epic, from learning how to gut it myself, installing the subfloor and repairing the frame, building a mock-up, then being struck down with Mono for 9 months, rushing to do whatever possible to raise 10K to get it to a restoration company in NY so that the belly pan could be put back on etc before winter hit. (I actually recorded an album while in and out of the hospital to raise the money, and raised a little bit online too). I took it to his company because the owner had been my mentor, charging me hourly for his advice throughout the project, and I thought putting it in his hands was a good idea.

Well, it stayed up at that company from December until one week ago, mostly sitting there for months and months while other bigger projects were granted priority, estimates totally ignored, promises broken, absolutely no communication for weeks at a time, deadlines totally ignored, costs billed for materials and labor I never approved - it got so bad that I had to threaten legal action, and amend the invoice myself, and go up and take my trailer back. When I got there, the materials I had purchased were locked away so that I couldn't access them, held at ransom for the remaining amount I refused to pay, and now I'll never see those materials again. Then the live document invoice was changed to reflect a lie so that I couldn't take him to small claims court. The experience was an absolute nightmare.

I spent $25,000 (though being billed $30,000) at this restoration company, and the trailer came back to me still an empty shell. It was in no way worth what I spent and frankly should never have paid. The grey tanks were installed - it did have the belly pan on, patches I made were bucked on, fantastic vans installed, and it was sanded for painting. Still, it ended extremely ugly with this person, who I no longer have as a "paid mentor" and now the project which was designed with his ideas in mind I am left to finish alone; putting together his pieces and trying to figure out what he had in mind when he made certain decisions along the way.

So, now I need the help of other experts to clean up this mess and continue on.

I've been very active on the Airstream Addicts forum on FB. But while there are 40,000 people on the site, I know there aren't many experts there. So i came here.

I wanted to start a thread where all the info could be in one place, as I continue with my project and see it through to completion.

I'm going to post my first question underneath here. Hoping you guys and gals can help me see my dream become reality.

A Girl and her Argosy, "JoyBug."

Hittenstiehl 06-13-2019 03:18 PM

Well you have come to the right place. Since you have worked on it a long time, you likely know more than you realize and now have access to lots of real experts. And many more who aren't experts but well-intentioned.

Lots of people come here just like this so run this as your thread and people will start reading eventually and offering up some advice. You may have to post your questions outside this thread every once in awhile and then come back here and update it.

If you pay an annual $20 supporting member fee here you can post as many pictures as you like.

girasoledonn 06-13-2019 05:27 PM

Thanks :) Yes that was my idea to make this my thread and try to keep it all in one place if possible. Paying $20 to be able to post pictures sounds great. Thank you

girasoledonn 06-14-2019 08:34 AM

how do i pay the $20? I have questions I want to ask and pics would be a big help!

Hittenstiehl 06-14-2019 10:47 AM

In the beginning you can post pictures without a fee but there is a limit I'm not sure what it is but it may state the amount in the customer info portal. Pictures sometimes need to be resized slightly small to post.

Once you exceed the limit you will no longer be able to be able to post pictures but then if you pay the supporting member fee you will he able to post again.

Look for supporting member and follow the cues there to become a supporting member.

RJJ 06-14-2019 12:34 PM


You've absolutely come to the right place for help.


kendrick.l.j 06-14-2019 12:59 PM

Hi Girl, welcome to the forum. As Hittestiehl said you are in the right place. I bought a 2017 Classic a few years back and found my way here for education and advice, 95% of the advice has been dead on, that 5% that wasn’t, well learned who to listen to and who to pass on.
From the drop down menu you can scroll through topics, models, makes and years. You’re not the first to show up in your condition and probably won’t be the last. Anything you need done I’d bit a six pack someone else has already done and posted pictures.
I believe Argosy has there very own thread and the blue search box is a great place to start looking for FREE mentoring, advice and resources/research.
I’m so sorry you found the forum now and not 2 years ago but you have learned a lot hopefully going forward you’ll be on the right track. I’m not trying to discourage you but it’s all to common that folks find “a hidden gem” only to find out how expensive it is to remodel, refurbish, or rescue a vintage travel trailer only to find out it’s 4 times as expensive and takes 3 years longer to finish and they may have been better off to just buy a new TT and go have fun now. You’ve already put in some time and cash into this one so I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that you’ll be able to stick it out and get her back on the road.
Wishing you all the best.

girasoledonn 06-14-2019 03:24 PM

thanks everybody for your responses. Yea, I also wish I had found this forum two years ago and not recently, because the project was a very modest amount of cash for the work I did alone - but now has become so insanely expensive BECAUSE I have been taken by crooks who could see me coming a mile away. Im tens of thousands of dollars into this project, but more than that, its my dream, and I am NEVER GIVING UP. I'm just so upset that I was taken advantage of so badly by someone who is so well-known in the airstream community, and someone who claimed to be my friend. He really brain washed me into thinking that he was the only one I could trust, and the only one who was an expert. There is another guy who is also very active on here and on AA who took me in 2017 for 4K... he was traveling the country in his Airstream with his family and did a "mild electrical update" and then left after I paid him early before the work was done. And now I got stuck in another situation where someone took advantage - so I just feel like a moron.

Anyway, I will definitely peruse this site for questions, but the support is also welcomed and I'll post questions here.

My first question is that I have removed the trim with racing stripe from my argosy and I do not want to replace it. Can I fill the screw holes from where the trim fastened to the body with olympic rivets? They are not uniform so I wanted them to sort of disappear. Or am i looking at counter sunk rivets? The walls are off inside so it should be easy enough to do this - but I'd like advice on how is best to fill these holes.

I can't figure out how to post a photo without an URL to a website..

Thanks again

Al and Missy 06-14-2019 05:05 PM

If you use Olympic rivets and shave the heads they will be virtually invisible alongside all the other rivets, in my opinion, at least. They can be done completely from the outside. You will need a pop rivet tool, a pair of side cutters, a rivet shaver, and a (preferably cordless) drill to operate it. Out of Doors Mart will rent you a shaver if you don't want to buy one.

To post pictures, click on the Go Advanced (first time) or Preview Post (all subsequent times) tab under the editing window. Scroll down until you see Manage Attachments in the Additional Options window and click on that. A window will open that will allow you to select and upload pictures. It only lets you upload 4 at a time but you can do the whole process again to get more.

After you upload the pictures click on the Preview Post window. your pictures will all appear at the bottom of your text. You can then position your cursor in your post where you want a picture and click on the paper clip icon at the top of the editing window and a text designation will appear at that location. When you hit Preview Post again you will se the post with the picture inserted where your cursor was.


Camper Crazy 06-14-2019 06:30 PM

Girasoledonn, wow, expensive education! Well, you found a wealth of information here. Looking forward to seeing pictures and following your progress. Forward from here, good luck!

Belegedhel 06-14-2019 10:11 PM

If you want those rivet heads to "disappear," and as, you mentioned, they aren't in a nice straight line, then I would say your best bet is to countersink the holes and buck in a flat headed rivet that is designed to seat in that countersunk hole.

On another note, I am now even more curious who these bad actors were who took advantage of you... I don't mean to make this forum into a "wall of shame," but maybe there is some value in steering the next potential victim out of harm's way. Pretty much anyone can hang out their shingle and claim to be a "per-feshional trailer fixer."

Good luck!

girasoledonn 06-16-2019 03:58 PM

How do i fill these holes :/
4 Attachment(s)
Ok... I'm getting a ton of conflicting advice on the AA forum on facebook about these holes and my brain feels like its going to explode. Ill just be asking here now haha but I need to clarify the info.


The holes were obviously screw holes that held the trim to the body. Some basic questions.. how do I counter sink screw holes.. can you rivet into a screw hole that has been threaded?

Some people are telling me I should use olympic rivets. Others are saying flat headed/flush rivets? I am only familiar with Olympic, Buck and Pop so what are flush rivets? Which rivet should I use for this part of the project?

Next question - to install them - I have a buck riveting kit from VTS. Some people are telling me I need an Olympic rivet kit or at least a shaver for the head of the rivet. Some are saying my buck riveting kit will be enough. I should mention the trailer is a shell and the walls are out.

There are two sets of holes along the bottom of the trailer. The original holes from the trim with rubber racing stripe, and the second set of holes drilled by the restoration company. How should I fill the holes that held the old trim on? They will be covered by the new trim but i'm assuming they still need to be filled?

Probably a stupid question, but can I just tig weld these holes closed or do they have to be rivets?

Thanks guys!

girasoledonn 06-16-2019 04:00 PM

I.... don't know if I should name them or not. The one who charged me 30K is a huge name in this world and I don't want drama. On the other hand, I wish someone had warned me....

Belegedhel 06-16-2019 04:42 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Olympic rivets are essentially fancy pop (or "blind") rivets that are designed to be installed from the outside fo the trailer when you only have access to the exterior side fo the shell. A regular old pop rivet leaves a relatively flat head, whereas, an Olympic rivet leaves a rounded head (that looks like a bucked rivet), with the broken mandrel sticking out. The "shaver" is used to tool the head and mandrel of an Olympic rivet so that it looks like a bucked rivet head.

If you have access to both sides of the skin, and you already have the bucked rivet tools, then ignore everyone's advice about installing Olympic rivets.

So to confirm your application, you have a row of holes that at one time held the rub rail in place. They do not make a consistent line, and they will be hidden by the reinstallation of the rub-rail, correct? So in this case, aesthetics are not important, but you also don't want a rounded rivet head (bucked or Olympic) standing proud, because it will interfere with the re-installation of the rail. You could probably get away with just filling the old holes with vulkem, but if you want greater assurance, you could install a flat head, countersunk screw slightly bigger than the hole with a nut on the inside, or buck in a countersunk rivet.

If you go the countersunk bucked rivet route, you only have a handfull of rivets to install, so I would suggest minimizing the hardware you buy. You can countersink the holes using a wood working countersink, and you can make your own countersunk rivets by taking a piece of random ~1/4" thick piece of steel, drill a hole through it the size of your rivet mandrel, and then (deeply) countersink the hole. You can then take a regular bucked rivet and use a flat rivet set to beat it into the jig you just created. Your resultant rivets should look like a flat headed rivet with an underside angle that matches your countersink (see pics). Install your home made rivets with the flat rivet set, and they should end up practically flush with the skin, and as water tichet as any other rivet on the trailer.

Attached aare pics of my home made flat rivets, and a flat rivet set.

Good luck!

Hittenstiehl 06-16-2019 06:30 PM

No you should not name them here. You can leave a negative Google or Yelp review and when potential customers do their homework they can see it and reach out to you.

sheriff1 06-16-2019 06:33 PM

For a 30k failure you should certainly let us all know who it is!

Belegedhel 06-16-2019 09:44 PM

No need for a public pillory of accused villains (despite my earlier urging)--If someone is really interested, they can PM the OP. End of the day, its is up to everyone to do their own due dilligence, and as usual, there is always more than one side to a story.

I wouldn't have made the suggestion in the first place, except, I couldn't help feel that with the generalness of the story, it could put several unintended pros in the crosshairs of suspicion.

girasoledonn 06-17-2019 06:30 AM

not my intention to put anyone in the crosshairs of suspicion. Just is a big part of my story, and relevant I feel to mention what happened to me - so people understand why I have so many questions that come from the restoration company that cannot be answered. And yes, a google or yelp review is the best idea. So.. the process of creating my own rivets sound quite complex and difficult... and i believe the suggestion was to do this for the rub rail only, or was it for the trim around the middle of the body as well? I was confused there. If i use buck rivets along the middle of the body (sounds like there is no reason to use olympic), can i just countersink them so they're lower rather than trying to create a flush rivet? Or is there an actual flush rivet I could purchase rather than creating it? Honestly I'm at the point where I may not care if there are random rivets out of the line. It'll be yellow anyway I dunno how many people will notice.

mimiandrews 06-17-2019 06:58 AM

Or is there an actual flush rivet I could purchase rather than creating it?

Flush rivets are very common in aircraft work, and the tools to countersink or dimple the aluminum around the hole are readily available. Look for AN426-x-x rivets on an aircraft supply site--Aircraft Spruce and Specialty Co. is a good one. The first x in the number is the diameter of the rivet in 32nds of an inch, and the second is the length of the rivet in 16ths of an inch.

No, you can't just grind the head of an ordinary rivet down to make it flush with the skin, because that would destroy the rivet's holding power.

Also, I'd disagree with using a woodworking countersink because the angle of the cut is different. An aircraft countersink tool enables you to set the depth of cut exactly right and holds the cutter straight while the countersink is being formed. Or, there are tools on sale now that use a pop rivet tool to form a dimple in the aluminum that's just right to receive a flush rivet. Look at Aircraft Tool Supply online.

Check to see if the Experimental Aircraft Association has a local chapter near you. Those folks build their own airplanes, and often have someone in their chapter with lots of experience with aircraft rivets in their various forms. They're usually friendly and willing to help.

Belegedhel 06-17-2019 09:32 AM


Looking back at your earlier post:


For this case, it sounds like you just need to fill the holes left behind by the screws that used to hold this trim in place. Easiest option: Put in standard bucked rivets. They will be painted and probably not noticeable amonst all the other rivets on the trailer. More complicated: Use countersunk flush rivets--whether you make DIY flush rivets as I suggested or buy a bunch of specialty tools, this option is still probably overkill.

And then there is the second case:

There are two sets of holes along the bottom of the trailer. The original holes from the trim with rubber racing stripe, and the second set of holes drilled by the restoration company. How should I fill the holes that held the old trim on? They will be covered by the new trim but i'm assuming they still need to be filled? "

This is the case I was thinking of in the earlier post. I would say here that you need to plug the unwanted holes in such a way that the surface remains flat so that you don't interfere with the installation of your new trim. Since nobody is going to see this anyway, and it doesn't really need a bunch of structural integrity, try getting a flat rivet set, and just bucking in your standard rivets. The heads will flatten out, maybe not completely flat, but probably flat enough. I would try it on a test piece first.

good luck!

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:28 PM.

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