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Old 04-21-2010, 09:02 AM   #201
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I second what Jezi said!
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Old 04-21-2010, 10:13 AM   #202
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Steve, is this metal the reused metal from the orginal? Man, you did some grea work to rehab it. I would've never guessed this to be "reaclaimed" material!

I know it's sometimes hard to laugh, but I got a chuckle out of Pam's need to be organized.
Looks great!
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Old 04-21-2010, 10:46 AM   #203
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Thanks for the nice comments everyone. It was one of those days, like when the subfloor gets done, that lets you know you really are making progress. You need a few of those.

Yeah, Marc, it's mostly the original. I replaced the center piece since I got rid of the middle vent. It looks good, but not perfect by any means. The Zolatone seems to etch the aluminum and even after sanding, it's still visible. Passes the ten foot test, though.

You gotta laugh on the compulsion stuff with Pam or you'd just lose it. Most of it I'm so used to that I don't even think about it. I'm trained to put the same dishes in the drainer in exactly the right way and to never leave tablespoons in said drainer, only in the drawer. That's no problem, but my mouse. . . .just give me that one thing? Our chairs are next to each other and the mouse pad sits on the armrest, close to her, so I'm totally defenseless. I've learned from Alzheimers, though, and know that everything changes over time, so you just live with issues until they go away and you almost never really solve anything, just wait it out. Our respite care nurse, Charlene, told me when I got back that Pam had been pretty well been bouncing off the bulkheads on the boat yesterday since mid afternoon, so I knew I was in for one of those evenings.

-steve
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:17 PM   #204
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Just a thought, maybe if you give her a "fake" mouse to center, and keep a wireless one for yourself?

Great work, from here, the panels look perfect!
Marc
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Old 04-23-2010, 08:22 PM   #205
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A Piece of Steel Wool

Back in October I had sent a letter to Lopez Island to the address of someone whose last name was the same as the original owner of my trailer. Doubted there’d be any connection, but figured it was worth the cost of a stamp to try. I pretty well forgot about it, but a few weeks later I got a letter from the original owner. She said her husband had died some years earlier, but that she was 92 and that she’d get some information together for me. Exciting stuff! A few weeks later I got a call from her son, Harold, who was in high school when the trailer was new. He promised to get together with his mom and get back to me saying, “it may be awhile, but I’ll definitely get back to you before you get the trailer back on the road.”

And he did, emailing me about a week ago with some great info and stories about the trailer. We exchanged a few emails that night, he’s read this thread and the blog, and we’ll stay in touch for sure. As we get closer to Island Girl being finished, we’ll take a ferry ride out to Lopez and see if his mom approves of what I’ve done to her trailer.

Island Girl’s first owners had been tent campers who had friends who owned an Airstream and they decided they just had to have one too. They took an empty two pound coffee can, soldered the lid back on, and cut a slot in what they now referred to as the “half buck box”. Whenever either of them received a fifty cent piece in change, they’d save it and drop it in the box. Most of the money for the Airstream was saved that way and in 1957 the box was heavy enough to justify a trip to the factory to purchase a brand new Bubble. They got a deal, though, and drove home with a big, shiny, brand new Caravanner. Harold tells me he can still remember the “new car smell” inside the new Airstream. Their lot was small and the trailer would only fit in their garden next to their home in suburban Chicago.

Their first tow vehicle was the first new car they’d purchased, a 1951 Pontiac Catalina with a straight eight and a Hydramatic tranny. It pulled the trailer pretty well, but Harold reported that they sometimes needed to run the heater on full blast at the top of long climbs to keep the coolant temps down. I’ve done that a few times myself, but not in a ‘51 Pontiac. In ‘59, they bought a new International Travelall that had a six cylinder with a three speed transmission with overdrive. That first year that they had the trailer, 1957, they did the first of several trips from Chicago to Lopez, here in Washington’s San Juan Islands. In ‘58, there was a trip to Nova Scotia and the New England states. ‘59 began the towing duties for the Travelall with another trip to Lopez. Minnesota and Michigan were the destinations in 1961 and in ‘62 they returned once again to Lopez and also to the Seattle World’s Fair. A Florida trip was in 1963 and ‘64 saw a one way trip to Lopez with a garage being built for her there around 1970. The trailer was used as a home on the island while a new house was built there. From around that time period until just a few years ago, it likely never left Lopez.

Around 1999 it was sold to someone who lived on San Juan Island, but had property on Lopez, where they set up the Airstream. They almost certainly never moved the trailer until selling it to the family I purchased it from, who moved it only the very short ferry ride between the two islands.

And the piece of steel wool? Harold was called by his parents in the early 90’s to figure out how mice had gotten into the trailer. He found the only likely entry around the freshwater tank drain and filled the gap with a piece of stainless steel wool. I clearly remember removing that piece of steel wool when I dropped the bellypan.

-steve
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Old 04-23-2010, 08:47 PM   #206
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Steve, I enjoyed reading that, I too have been emailing back and forth with the PO of our Tradewind! The information they provide is priceless and I am so glad we remain in touch, I hope it continues through the years! I think that it is so important. Before we handed over the check and the TW was on our bumper, I remember hugging the PO and reassuring them that we would take very good care of her. I hope that was good for them and especially the Mrs. to hear, for I could tell she was sad to see it go down the road, away.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:24 AM   #207
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Our "new" 1971 TradeWind is going to Lopez this summer. We've had land there for about 25 years and hope to use the Airstream to help us bootstrap building something more permanent. My inlaws have lived on Lopez for over 25 years. I wonder if they've met your "Island Girl." It's a small world.

Our original plan was to park the trailer on the land and leave it. But we've had so much fun restoring it and have gotten so many ideas of places to go, that it will come home with us when we come. The ferry fare is pricey, but cheaper than lodging.
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Old 04-24-2010, 01:18 AM   #208
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Steve, that story is priceless! Interesting about how the trailer sat on the island... my Tradewind has sat in WA state since 1978.. although I"m not sure where, and likely, had a much "rougher" life than your Island Girl... I might refer to her more as the "Street Girl"... I think she may have become a meth lab if left out in Granite Falls much longer... I prefer to call her "Fanny"... as in "frugal Fanny." I promised my wife it would be a "cheap" remodel... hmmmmm

Anyway, I too recall trips over the Grapevine in summer with my Dad blasting the heater on our 70's Dodge Dart Swinger with it's straight six. Never overheated, but sure was uncomfortable at times!

I wonder how big a coffee can one would need now to save up and get a modern Airstream???
Marc
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Old 04-25-2010, 10:14 AM   #209
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Steve, I'm so tickled that you've gotten some history from the PO's. I can totally relate about how special that is. Steel wool. Something as simple as a piece of steel wool draws a direct connection.

Now your Airstream has provenance!
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Old 04-30-2010, 05:56 AM   #210
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbearsailor View Post
Back in October I had sent a letter to Lopez Island to the address of someone whose last name was the same as the original owner of my trailer. Doubted there’d be any connection, but figured it was worth the cost of a stamp to try. I pretty well forgot about it, but a few weeks later I got a letter from the original owner. She said her husband had died some years earlier, but that she was 92 and that she’d get some information together for me. Exciting stuff! A few weeks later I got a call from her son, Harold, who was in high school when the trailer was new. He promised to get together with his mom and get back to me saying, “it may be awhile, but I’ll definitely get back to you before you get the trailer back on the road.”

And he did, emailing me about a week ago with some great info and stories about the trailer. We exchanged a few emails that night, he’s read this thread and the blog, and we’ll stay in touch for sure. As we get closer to Island Girl being finished, we’ll take a ferry ride out to Lopez and see if his mom approves of what I’ve done to her trailer.

Island Girl’s first owners had been tent campers who had friends who owned an Airstream and they decided they just had to have one too. They took an empty two pound coffee can, soldered the lid back on, and cut a slot in what they now referred to as the “half buck box”. Whenever either of them received a fifty cent piece in change, they’d save it and drop it in the box. Most of the money for the Airstream was saved that way and in 1957 the box was heavy enough to justify a trip to the factory to purchase a brand new Bubble. They got a deal, though, and drove home with a big, shiny, brand new Caravanner. Harold tells me he can still remember the “new car smell” inside the new Airstream. Their lot was small and the trailer would only fit in their garden next to their home in suburban Chicago.

Their first tow vehicle was the first new car they’d purchased, a 1951 Pontiac Catalina with a straight eight and a Hydramatic tranny. It pulled the trailer pretty well, but Harold reported that they sometimes needed to run the heater on full blast at the top of long climbs to keep the coolant temps down. I’ve done that a few times myself, but not in a ‘51 Pontiac. In ‘59, they bought a new International Travelall that had a six cylinder with a three speed transmission with overdrive. That first year that they had the trailer, 1957, they did the first of several trips from Chicago to Lopez, here in Washington’s San Juan Islands. In ‘58, there was a trip to Nova Scotia and the New England states. ‘59 began the towing duties for the Travelall with another trip to Lopez. Minnesota and Michigan were the destinations in 1961 and in ‘62 they returned once again to Lopez and also to the Seattle World’s Fair. A Florida trip was in 1963 and ‘64 saw a one way trip to Lopez with a garage being built for her there around 1970. The trailer was used as a home on the island while a new house was built there. From around that time period until just a few years ago, it likely never left Lopez.
-steve
This is great info, Steve.....I suppose it would be asking too much ask if they had photos of some of their travels? I attempted to contact the previous owners of my 62' but with no luck. These old photos scan well and would add to the long history of your trailer.

Thanks
Gary
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:58 AM   #211
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This is great info, Steve.....I suppose it would be asking too much ask if they had photos of some of their travels? I attempted to contact the previous owners of my 62' but with no luck. These old photos scan well and would add to the long history of your trailer.

Thanks
Gary
I think I'll be able to get some in time, Gary. Apparently she just doesn't want to go through any of her old pictures, Airstream or otherwise. The funny part of that, though, is Harold told me there would be no pictures just of the Airstream, they'd only be of it in the background. He said his dad's thinking would have been, "I'm not gonna' get rid of this trailer for a long time, so why would I take pictures of it when I own it?"

cheers,
steve
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Old 05-03-2010, 06:46 AM   #212
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Heh!

I must be the opposite. We just took ours down to the beach over the weekend, and upon looking at pictures on our digital camera, my wife commented that I seem to have taken more pictures of the Airstream than I did of my kids...
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:35 AM   #213
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Heh!

I must be the opposite. We just took ours down to the beach over the weekend, and upon looking at pictures on our digital camera, my wife commented that I seem to have taken more pictures of the Airstream than I did of my kids...
I dunno, Marcus, sounds like another Aluminitus symptom to me. Maybe you couldn't catch it in the 50's.

Meanwhile, I've been experiencing another symptom myself. I've had the MP-3 player running through the radio speaker while I've been working on the trailer and for awhile it was the normal (for me) music. Now, I'm playing all stuff that came out around 1957, mostly Jazz, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Monk. The only thing that saves me is LED lighting--I know they didn't have it in 1957, so I must still be ok, sorta.

cheers,
steve
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:58 PM   #214
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Three More Panels of Birch

I’ve been working on the rest of the upper interior panels for the last week or so. Just three panels of birch, but a lot of cutting and fitting and cutting and fitting, followed by sanding and four coats of finish. All three are at least clecoed in place now and I've started riveting using mostly Olympics, particularly on the panel seams where the Olympic rivets will hopefully be pretty close in appearance to the long line of bucked rivets on the aluminum panels.

The first round of stripping is done on the overhead cabinets, too. I’ve considered replacing them with the same type in birch, but I’m pretty sure I’ll just polish the originals and use birch doors. It’s pretty hard to improve on the originals—functional and very lightweight.

Hauled two golf cart batteries home from Costco yesterday, too, so this old trailer should be able to get powered up pretty soon.

-steve
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Old 05-05-2010, 05:44 PM   #215
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Cool cool

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Originally Posted by pbearsailor View Post
I dunno, Marcus, sounds like another Aluminitus symptom to me. Maybe you couldn't catch it in the 50's.

Meanwhile, I've been experiencing another symptom myself. I've had the MP-3 player running through the radio speaker while I've been working on the trailer and for awhile it was the normal (for me) music. Now, I'm playing all stuff that came out around 1957, mostly Jazz, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Monk. The only thing that saves me is LED lighting--I know they didn't have it in 1957, so I must still be ok, sorta.

cheers,
steve
It's all that machine age craftsmanship you have immersed yourself in and in fact recreating, Steve.

I think your music choices are right on...aluminum is not heavy metal!

Check out this book and touring museum exhibit sometime. The Birth of the Cool. Named after a Miles Davis album (remember those?) It was a really fun collection of furniture art, music, and architecture that came out of the late fifties into the early sixties.

Here is a link I hope works from the Oakland, Ca museum.

Birth of the Cool California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:38 PM   #216
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I think your music choices are right on...aluminum is not heavy metal!
I like that, Gary!

Thx for the link to the museum exhibit, pretty cool.

-steve
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:02 PM   #217
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Steve, that's some beautiful woodwork! Can you remind me what you're using to finish it? It looks so warm! Is the wood riveted on top of the existing interior panels? I also like the "scoop" you did around the front light...

Just wondering if you're keeping the front door Zolotone or not... I think some shiny alumanum (or heck, change it up with some copper!) might look nice.
Thanks for keeping us updated!
Marc
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:17 PM   #218
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Hey Marc,

Thanks. The aluminum is gone on those sections with the birch. Just one rib on each side involved, so I'm thinking I'm not altering structure very much. It rivets just fine with pop rivets or Olympics and can handle buck rivets too (around the door frame).

I'm using waterlox for the finish. Somebody mentioned it in Shari's thread on interior finishes and I happened to see it locally. First couple of coats really soak into the wood. I refinished the original table with it and the color is very close to what I'm getting with the Baltic birch ply.

Roger that on the aluminum door. That's the plan. Looks like the only Zolatone might be on the inside of the upper cabinets, left original. If the weather decides to get nice, I'll do the door (pop rivets are in the hinges now) and the bellypan sometime soonish.

cheers,
steve
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Old 05-08-2010, 10:45 PM   #219
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One Polished and One Not

Worked mostly on the overhead cabinets today. Mine are in two sections mounted next to each other. I’ve stripped both, but today I spent some polish time on the front one for a big difference in appearance.

I wanted a transition between the warm wood in front and the cool polished aluminum in the back. The original cabinets that will return to the curbside do it fine on that side. On the streetside, though, I don’t like the polished look on the end of that overhead. Made a test fit with a piece of birch on the end and think it will look better that way. I’ve definitely settled on birch for the sliding doors, too.



I replaced the navigation lights on the boat this week. There has been a plan for the old ones. I have a strong emotional bond with our boat. She’s been our home for 22 years and she always took care of us during our trip around the world. There’s no way to use her now with Pam and I know, like last year, we won’t leave the dock at all. I’ll not even bend the sails back on this year. We’re nearing the end with the boat.

The old bronze nav lights will be refitted with LED’s and will be accent lights for the 13 panel front endcap. No polish, either, as they’re going to stay just like they are, showing the wear from all the winds and waves they’ve faced. I’ll be able to look up at them and remember the boat and that’ll make me happy.

cheers,
steve
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Old 05-09-2010, 07:53 AM   #220
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Love the old weathered nav lights, Steve. And the rest looks fantastic, too.

-Marcus
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