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Old 04-29-2023, 05:07 PM   #1
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1960 28' Ambassador
Libertyville , Illinois
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Sylvie Full Monte

Greetings all! I am finally getting started on the full monte of my 1960 Airstream Ambassador. I have most of the interior skins out - all that remains are those blocked by the bath tub/black tank and those that are buck riveted along with door. I am wondering if there is anything in particular that that I should be concerned about removing the buck rivets around the door?
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Old 04-29-2023, 05:34 PM   #2
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1966 22' Safari
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I wouldn’t worry about removing the rivets around the door. All the interior panels need to be removed to install the insulation and wiring. Be sure and label the location of all panels and take a lot of pictures. Sounds like you’re gonna have a bunch of fun. Enjoy and keep us posted on your rebuild thread.
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Old 04-30-2023, 07:00 AM   #3
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1956 22' Safari
1962 28' Ambassador
Williston , Vermont
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And the fun begins..... Today, I will finish up reinstalling all of my interior panels on my Ambassador. Good move getting this blog going. The folks in this forum are an amazing resource and can help with motivation too.

Like Bubba said, no problem with rivets around the door. The rivets around the tub are another issue. I fought with them and when finished was told the solution. Apparently the molding that covers the heads is dead soft. So you bend it out of the way and then you can drill the rivets holding it in. I beat them out with a hammer and wedge. I have to try bending the molding now so that I can put the tub back in.

Looking forward to following along - Mark
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Old 04-30-2023, 08:17 AM   #4
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Look forward to following your progress.
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Old 05-01-2023, 06:36 PM   #5
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1960 28' Ambassador
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Thanks for all of your motivating words! It really does help because it is a daunting task! I started drilling out the door rivets today using the rivet removal tool. While I got the rivets out, the heads did not come off as a result of drilling. I ended up using a sharp chisel to slice off the backside of the rivet. I’m going to check out some more YouTube videos to ensure that I am doing so correctly.
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Old 05-14-2023, 05:16 PM   #6
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I have finally finished removing the interior and have the following observations.

1) It took me about 40 hours - 32 of them working by myself.
2) Having a partner to work with was helpful not only for the labor, but also having them available for consultation.
3) The interior included a wide variety of fasteners - 2 sizes of clutch head screws, straight screws, Phillips screws, pop rivets and pop rivets.
4) A wide variety of of tools were required to get the job done. Multiple drills made the job easier. Click image for larger version

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Old 10-16-2023, 05:52 PM   #7
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Incremental Progress

I found the shell removal was easier than the interior demo! It quickly became apparent that the frame was too far gone to repair. So I have already purchased all of the 2"x5" tube steel (1/8") I need except for the two main 30' long rails. I am currently cutting the outriggers and crossmembers. I am using a circular saw to cut the tube steel into U Channel. I am going to try a metal cutting blade on my bandsaw to cut the radius on the outriggers. During the winter I plan on reglazing the windows and will start looking at repairing or replacing the existing cabinets. In the spring I will find a place to bend the 30' tubes (3/16") to match the angle of the original frame.
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Old 10-16-2023, 06:22 PM   #8
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To cut the radius on the outriggers, I used jig saw blades for steel from Ace Hardware. You could only get two or three outriggers out of one blade, but they are cheap. Please explain the bend for the 30’ beam. Maybe I’m having a senior moment. You’re making great progress. Slow and steady wins the race. Good luck
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Old 10-16-2023, 07:42 PM   #9
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Frame Rail Bend

Bubba, here is a photo that shows the 30' long tube steel rail with the 74 degree bend towards the coupler forms the A frame.
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Old 10-16-2023, 07:56 PM   #10
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Gotcha. Thanks
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Old 10-17-2023, 04:39 AM   #11
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1956 22' Safari
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Williston , Vermont
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Great progress. Sorry to hear you need to build a new frame. Been there, done that. Once done, you will basically will have a new Airstream. Great piece of mind.

Couple of comments:
  • Not sure I understand what you are using for steel. What did your '60 use for the main rails? My '62 Ambassador used 2" x 4" structural steel. I had to replace the entire front A-frame on the Ambassador and the street side started at the "bend". I just cut the 74 degree angle and then boxed in the open side of the "U" with 1/8" plate and added a large fish plates on the outside and bottom. I don't think you need to bend it.
  • I would suggest building a rotisserie. Makes the entire process 100 times easier, especially the welding. As you add axels, floor and belly pan, these big trailer frames get heavy, so be careful.
  • If you are going to use the existing frame as a template/welding jig, make sure you level it with shims to the ground. These frames will bend a bunch just under their own weight.
  • Regarding the outriggers, if I were building them again, I would just cut them off at an angle and then attach PVC trim plates that you can easily cut with a radius. Wait on the PVC plates until your floor is installed so you can seal the gaps.
  • If you are replacing the axels, I would get them on order. You will want them as you are building your frame.

Hope some of this helps, good luck - Mark
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Old 10-18-2023, 08:24 AM   #12
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For my steel it is grade B – A 500 which is structural steel. The form is 1/8“ x 2 x 5 for the outriggers and crossmembers. The main rails will also be tube steel, but 3/16 x 2“ x 5“. As far as bending it, There’s a place in Chicago that will do it or there’s a place in Michigan where my trailer is that I believe will do it. Great idea on the rotisserie. I was looking at the one that Miller’s garage made on YouTube that makes use of my existing Gantries. I’m already talking with Colin Hyde about axles. Thanks for sending along your comments Mark.
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Old 10-18-2023, 10:03 AM   #13
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Just for my own knowledge base, did the older frames have a different angle for the A-frame? The, now, North American standard is 50* at the coupler....or 65* bend in the frame member.
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Old 10-19-2023, 05:07 AM   #14
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Nice, that should be a really stout frame. What were the dimensions of the original steel? Box or channel? Airstream tried many different types over the years. I just picked up a '54 Cruiser, 26' with a 2" x 3" channel which seems too small. My Safari is a 2" x 4" box and the Ambassador a 2" x 4" channel. The 5" will give you a bunch of room in the belly pan for tanks if that's what you are doing.

I have seen a number of people use their gantries to lift and spin. I have a tractor with a bucket loader that I used to lift the frame. I just built of some separate pivots out of 2"x 8" pressure treated lumber that I used for both frames.

One suggestion I forgot to add is you might think about adding a spare tire carrier into the belly pan, like on new trailers. I did that for both of my frames and am happy I did. I did need to change the angle of the A-frame in the Safari. - Mark
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Old 10-19-2023, 12:16 PM   #15
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Mark, my original frame was 2 x 4 box which has a lot of bounce to it behind the axles. With the 5 inch tall box I plan on putting all three tanks under the floor. I will have some time to play with creating a rotisserie that will work on the gantries because my frame will be welded until April or May. I am already planning on putting the spare tire in the A-frame as you did. I think that’s a great solution! How much room did you leave between the top of the tire and the bottom of the floor?
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Old 10-19-2023, 06:57 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
Just for my own knowledge base, did the older frames have a different angle for the A-frame? The, now, North American standard is 50* at the coupler....or 65* bend in the frame member.
I am by no means an expert, however I would say than angle changed due to the frame becoming wider over the decades. My 1960 floor width is 88" wide while a modern wide body airstream is 102" wide. If I recall my geometry correctly, the 3 angles of the A frame must add up to 180 degrees and if the goal is to keep the A frame around 36", the angles on these two frames will be different.
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Old 10-20-2023, 03:40 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Short563 View Post
I am already planning on putting the spare tire in the A-frame as you did. I think that’s a great solution! How much room did you leave between the top of the tire and the bottom of the floor?
I used the spare to set the depth of the cavity. The goal being a snug fit. Could be a problem if I should get a "fat" spare tire, but I wanted to minimize any movement. Between the tire and the floor is a layer of Prodex insulation and the aluminum box sealing the belly pan. - Mark
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Old 12-13-2023, 07:36 AM   #18
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Water Tank

I have been busily acquiring vintage parts, striping paint and preparing to strip cabinets on the Ambassador. As it relates to the actual rebuild, I am looking at a large water tank that will facilitate dispersed camping. I would appreciate some guidance to ensure that I am thinking correctly.

My main frame rails are 54" apart. I can make the distance between them whatever I need to as I am also building a new frame. As it relates to this 39-gallon tank - I am thinking that I can add the fill hose and the vent ports to the top of the tank. Next, I would like to add the low point drain and tube out to feed the plumbing system in the bottom ‘well’. I am thinking that the first three out of the four won’t create any discussion. However, the fourth would mean that water line out would be lower than the bottom of the 5” tall frame. Not only that, but it would need to cross over into the adjacent bay to come back up above the floor.

Questions: 1) Is this a reasonable approach when the tank is taller than the frame? 2) is all normal for the tank to fill almost 100% of the bay? 3) can a self-priming pump reside inside the Ambassador and still draw the water up into the plumbing system?
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Old 12-14-2023, 09:49 PM   #19
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As to changing the distance between the frame rails, keep in mind that the axels mount to those frame rails and it may present some issues in getting the correct size axels. Not really sure on that but It could be a problem. Having the fresh water up top helps keep it from freezing, plus it's hard to get that much fresh water between the rails down below.
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Old 05-05-2024, 09:51 AM   #20
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1960 28' Ambassador
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I took the winter to get the frame design completed. At long last, here is the CAD for my 1960 28' Ambassador frame. I have hired a fabricator who is scheduled to start before Memorial Day. I know the cross member spacing is unconventional; however this is not an issue due to the one piece floor I have purchased. Any other thoughts or comments would be appreciated.
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