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Old 04-04-2020, 06:43 AM   #1
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1956 22' Safari
1962 28' Ambassador
Williston , Vermont
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1962 Ambassador Restoration – One Bite at a Time

We had so much fun restoring our Safari, we waited only about a month after it was complete to buy our next project, a 28 foot 1962 Ambassador International. Unlike the Safari which was two miles from my house, this one was in Rhode Island about a 5 hour drive.

I’ve listened to enough recovery stories on the VAP podcast to put together a pretty comprehensive recovery kit. So I jacked up the Safari so I could borrow it's wheels and spare tires, went to Harbor Freight to pick up some magnetic trailer lights, built a wooden door jamb, gathered all the aluminum duct tape I could find, about a million zip ties and enough tools to do just about any repair and we were off.

Luckily we have some good friends that live about 20 minutes from the buyer, so we used their house as a home base and they even helped with the prep.

So here are some pictures from the original ad and it’s just as we found it.
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A couple shots of the interior.
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That is an interesting choice for a furnace. Best I can tell it’s a 1927 Kerosene stove manufactured in Massachusetts. I think it functioned as heat and cook top and was well used as there was black soot on everything. When I saw all of the plywood over the windows, I assumed it was to replace broken glass, but all the glass was intact. Must have been for insulation.

The guy I bought it from was a great guy that had bought it to restore, but now was moving to Maine. He and a friend of his went above and beyond to help me get it ready to move. When he bought it I think there was someone living in it in a boat junkyard. Hard to image living in a dark, sooty, smelly shell of an Airstream.

A couple more outside shots.
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And my favorite.
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Old 04-04-2020, 06:46 AM   #2
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1956 22' Safari
1962 28' Ambassador
Williston , Vermont
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The Recovery

So what we did to get it ready to move;
• Removed the front and rear fiberglass window covers. One of my favorite features of a vintage Airstream is being able to look through the trailer to see who is following.
• Removed the smoke stack.
• Removed all the plywood from the windows. Didn’t want anyone thinking we were moving a portable drug lab.
• Repacked the bearings. They looked and felt good but better safe than sorry.
• Swapped the tires and wheels for the ones I brought
• Zip tied the magnetic lights onto the trailer bumper, just in case.
• Tried to secure the interior using the old tires and parts

And then we were off. She actually towed very nicely. My truck got almost exactly 1 MPG less than towing the Safari. Not bad for another 6 feet of room.

Here it is safely back in my driveway after no issues on the way home. Not quite as shiny as its new bunk mate.
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And here is what the interior looked like when we peeked inside. I guess those axles really do suck.
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Old 04-04-2020, 06:48 AM   #3
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1956 22' Safari
1962 28' Ambassador
Williston , Vermont
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One bite at a time?

Thought I should comment on the sub-title of this blog, “One bite at a time”. That is the mantra that I continuously repeated to myself as I was restoring the Safari. It’s the punch line from the old joke “How do you eat an Elephant?”. There are so many times one can be overwhelmed when in the middle of a project of this magnitude. It was relayed to me by someone on this forum while doing the Safari. And it has served me well.

I also found these blogs being helpful in the same way. Besides lots of helpful hints and ideas, there is lots of encouragement which is appreciated very much. It also becomes documentation which was helpful getting insurance and should we ever decide to sell. And maybe someone reading this will get some help on their own project. Anyway, thanks for reading along.
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Old 04-04-2020, 06:49 AM   #4
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
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Good going Mark. I’d love to start another project if I could find a pre-fifties. Keep us posted on how things are progressing. Good luck
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Old 04-04-2020, 09:26 AM   #5
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Roges , Arkansas
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Looking Forward to Your Progress

I like ho prepared you ere for the drive back. Having ne tires and wheels, bearings and taillights. I would like to think I would be but I doubt it.
Have fun on each "bite"
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Old 04-04-2020, 10:06 AM   #6
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1962 28' Ambassador
1961 19' Globetrotter
Mesa , Arizona
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Good luck Stein. A bite at a time breaks it down nicely.

We also have a 62Ambsdr. Ours curbside window is larger and over the axle. We bought ours after a owner started with a professional renovation and moved on from the project. Ours is empty but we have the innards for template if needed.
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Old 04-04-2020, 10:40 AM   #7
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Looking forward to following along.
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Old 04-04-2020, 11:04 AM   #8
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1972 27' Overlander
Heinsburg , AB
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Congratulations, she's a beaut! Rough ride home; it's almost like the trip home upset her stomach, lol. Looking forward to following your progress, you did such a great job on the Safari. Good luck.
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Old 04-04-2020, 01:08 PM   #9
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1975 26' Argosy 26
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I’m itching for another project trailer, but wife says I have too many home improvements to finish up first. Wah
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Old 04-05-2020, 05:52 AM   #10
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1956 22' Safari
1962 28' Ambassador
Williston , Vermont
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 279
As Delivered and End Game

After spending time with the old girl, she appears to be about what I would expect. I knew what I was getting into.

Some notes on condition:
• Overall, the shell looks very good. No major dents or creases.
• There is a little pitting under the battery box in the front of the trailer. A small panel may need to be replaced.
• The belly pan is junk. Sagging everywhere and corroded through all around the perimeter.
• Windows look good.
• Floor is all junk
• Not one usable piece of built in furniture. Maybe the inside of the drawers could be reused, but not the face plates.
• Gaucho might be usable with new cushions if we wanted one
• Of course all cushions and mattress are junk
• Smell is pretty bad, not mouse smell, but old trailer smell. I would have trouble spending the night.
• Refrigerator might be worth restoring. It is a good size and would have room under it for a compressor should I decide to upgrade.
• Other appliances are junk. Both sinks have chips and rust.
• A lot of water stains on the walls indicate there may be a bunch of leaks.
• The frame is of different construction than the Safari, being a heavy U channel instead of a box. Hopefully that will mean less rust. Will only know when the shell is off.

So, what’s the plan? After camping all of two trips in the Safari, we have some ideas on what we would like in our next trailer. We don’t plan on selling the Safari, but when this one is done, we will have to make a decision. We don’t plan on keeping two.

Our design goals
• Provide three privacy zones, front room, bedroom and bath, I get up early with my espresso and Lynne likes to sleep
• Prefer two twins to a single double. No crawl overs.
• Provide at least 40 gallons grey water
• Solar power sufficient for indefinite boon docking in sun shine
• Provide battery sufficient for 3 days of low sun
• Provide dining seating for 6 and sleeping for 4
• Provide refrigeration during boon docking preferably electric
• Provide air conditioning when on shore power
• Provide storage for outdoor furniture
• Provide organized storage pantry for food

The Ambassador from the factory met a few of these goals, but not all. So we are going to be doing some re-engineering. Unlike the Safari which was a real restoration, this will be more of a renovation. - Mark
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Old 04-05-2020, 07:18 AM   #11
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1962 19' Globetrotter
Waunakee , Wisconsin
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Good luck on the new project! Those first few moments of exploratory investigation are so exciting/surprising/interesting all rolled into one.
I Liked reading about the zip ties/duct tape/temp lights!
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Old 04-05-2020, 08:49 AM   #12
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1962 22' Safari
2016 30' Classic
Southeast , Michigan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hittenstiehl View Post
Good luck Stein. A bite at a time breaks it down nicely.

We also have a 62Ambsdr. Ours curbside window is larger and over the axle. We bought ours after a owner started with a professional renovation and moved on from the project. Ours is empty but we have the innards for template if needed.
A bigger curbside window in that location suggests you might either have a California built 1962 Amabassador or a Twin bed Ohio model. The trailer in this thread is an Ohio double bed model. Though some twin bed Ambassadors might actually have a double window in that location.
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Old 04-05-2020, 10:17 AM   #13
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2004 28' International CCD
1948 22' Liner
1963 22' Safari
Oakland , Florida
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Great Find!
I enjoy seeing a successful Airstream rescue/recovery mission and what’s found inside after the recovery. This will be a great project. From looking at the pictures the exterior looks in great shape. I think what you expected and found when you got into the bones of it is what anyone should be advised to expect when they take on a vintage camper project. Looks like a good solid set of goals for the trailer and we look forward to following along with the journey. Thanks for bringing us along!
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Old 04-05-2020, 11:38 AM   #14
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1958 26' Overlander
Battle Ground , Washington
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Look forward to seeing the progress.
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Old 04-05-2020, 03:52 PM   #15
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1956 22' Safari
1962 28' Ambassador
Williston , Vermont
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First bites not too Bad

I've been picking away at the appliances and furniture for the last week. Only one gotcha so far. It appears whom ever installed the tub must of had some separation issues. It was a monster to get out. Here is a link to a thread I started to get some help. For this thread lets cut to the chase. All of these rivets had to be pulled thru the wall as the heads were buried behind the tub flange locked into the aluminum trim extrusion.
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It is amazing how much you can get done with some good help. Here is a picture of my better half having fun with fiberglass. I'm a lucky guy.
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Once the tub was out, all of the inner walls came out pretty easy. The fiberglass end caps are in really good condition. We did find some mouse infestations but nothing like the Safari.
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We also found a lot of corrosion. Here you can see a pile of white flakes collecting on a rib. We also found a fair amount of wet insulation. Most of the leaks seem to be around the vents. I plan to wire brush this off and paint with some kind of primer. Do you guys have any favorite primers for raw aluminum?
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All and all, a good weekends worth of work. - Mark
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Old 04-05-2020, 05:50 PM   #16
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Yes 66 overlander we do have a California version.

Wow Stein you have got quite a bunch of work done already.
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Old 04-05-2020, 06:29 PM   #17
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All you had to do to remove the tub was to bend the trim flange up from inside the tub to access the rivet heads. Pretty easy. I would have been happy to provide this detail and photos from my disassembly of the tub in my '62 Safari had I seen your plea/other thread. Sorry I didn't see it.

In some ways it is best to ask your questions in an established thread. Some of us don't go looking at new threads often, but get notifications when threads we are following are updated, so we are more likely to answer in an established thread.
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Old 04-06-2020, 05:28 AM   #18
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1956 22' Safari
1962 28' Ambassador
Williston , Vermont
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 66Overlander View Post
All you had to do to remove the tub was to bend the trim flange up from inside the tub to access the rivet heads.
Joe, do you think this is how it was built? The extrusion seems pretty smooth to have been bent back over the heads. I thought maybe the channel was installed first and the tub slipped under and in.

Yea, I wish you would have seen it too. I didn't have an active thread yet other than the Safari and didn't want to pollute it. I will add your comments to the other thread. Thanks - Mark
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Old 04-06-2020, 08:40 AM   #19
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Joe, do you think this is how it was built? The extrusion seems pretty smooth to have been bent back over the heads. I thought maybe the channel was installed first and the tub slipped under and in.

Yea, I wish you would have seen it too. I didn't have an active thread yet other than the Safari and didn't want to pollute it. I will add your comments to the other thread. Thanks - Mark
I am positive that this is the way it was built because the fasteners go thru the edge of the fiberglass tub in addition to the back flange of the aluminum trim.

I went back and looked at my disassembly photos and did not have great photos showing the tub trim pried up to expose the rivets to the inner skin and the screws to the bedroom wall (likely the closet wall in your larger Ambassador), but I am attaching one that shows the trim to the bedroom wall pried up after I removed the screws, but you can see the holes thru the fiberglass. I am also attaching one showing the tub and trim after removal. The trim was easily pried up with a putty knife and it bent back down OK after the tub was reinstalled.

P.S. I have to admit that I only found this thread from your 1956 Safari thread that I'd been following a long time.
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Old 04-06-2020, 09:57 AM   #20
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That trim piece was probably pretty soft (pliable) when first installed, to make it easy to conform to the curve. I'll assume it started as a 90 degree angle. The completion of that 180 bend would have work hardened the bend and made your efforts to straighten very difficult.

Educated guess from trying to make some pieces during my project .
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