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Old 04-13-2020, 07:13 PM   #1
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2005 25' Safari
1968 17' Caravel
Leawood , Kansas
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Restoration | Monkey Business | the '68 Caravel

About a year and a half ago, a 64 Globetrotter got away from me that was going to be my semi-retirement project. That's an interesting story, but I'll save it for later.

There was enough to this that I got real serious about finding the right short mid-60's trailer. I passed by an RV shop about 45 miles from my house that's about 10 miles from a small farm that I have. He often had an Airstream or two in his gravel lot. One trip to the farm, I noticed enough of one to guess it was 22' or shorter and a 5 panel. I guessed his overhead was low, and I stopped in one day to discuss a short punch list on my '05 Safari to get it ready for a tip to the East Coast. He was friendly and let me look around. The short trailer was a Safari, but he didn't know the year. It was pretty rough with dents in three of 4 upper endcap corners, but everything was intact inside. He said he was doing work for a lady who bought it to fix up and she was hoping to make a little money on it. It was pretty easy to pass on it, since I didn't think the perfectionist in me could live with the big dents, though patina didn't bother me.

Then one Friday around 2 pm, I searched RV Trader and just minutes before, a '68 Caravel was posted for sale, with just 4 blurry pictures.
A text to the number "is this trailer still available" returned a "yes"
More pics were sent and the price wasn't cheap, but wasn't out of line for what it was. It was pretty much intact and looked original, though the pics are never what it looks like up close.

I didn't think it would stay on the market more than a day, so the old guy who owned it had me talk to his daughter to put a deposit on it. We could have issued a credit on his credit card and maybe had a little recourse if things went south, but we ended up sending a few hundred electronically to his closest Walmart after getting a pic of a drivers license and a physical address where the trailer was.

I was planning on hopping a Southwest flight on Wednesday the next week on my day off, but just thought it wouldn't be there by then.

So here's where the trailer name came from. Friday before the bank closed, my office manager went to two bank branches and got the Benjamins and I double wrapped them into aluminum foil and was off at dawn in my little tweety bird, as if to make a drug deal. The owner and his son pulled into the FBO where I landed with the tiny trailer pulled behind an F-450 Dually. That was a mismatch of all TVs.

I had purchased a plane before that I wasn't prepared to fly home and there are procedures to make sure you get what you paid for, but this wasn't quite the same. There wasn't a hangar that I could rent for a week to stash it away and then retrieve it a few days later. So, I left with the title and all the original paperwork in the plane, and he went home with my trailer and my brick of cash, but with as many things to have recourse as I could think of. The owner had been dabbling in fishing boats and Airstreams for some time and suggested Ushipit.com, which worked out better than I thought it might, but that's a story for a later time. He was just a little shady, but just enough legit. After sleeping on edge Sunday through Tuesday night, Wednesday around Midnight, about 5 hrs after the eta, Monkey Business was in my circle drive.

Many people have commented that they wished they had chronicled their restoration, so, forgive me for being a newbie, but I'm going to go back to all my PM's and saved favorites and over a few posts that aren't as long bring things to where the project stands today.

Monkey Business is back from a shell off, new frame with the addition of a fresh water tank below the floor forward of the axle and a grey water tank aft of that. The rest will be what my talented helper Dustin and I do from here. Comments and suggestions are always welcome. Here's how it started.
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Old 04-17-2020, 10:09 PM   #2
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1967 17' Caravel
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Subscribed. I'm anxious to hear what you are doing, but surely "Monkey Business" isn't a dignified enough name for an AIRSTREAM?!

Vivian
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Old 04-22-2020, 03:43 PM   #3
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2005 25' Safari
1968 17' Caravel
Leawood , Kansas
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It has to do more with the purchase going down like a drug deal. Also, hoping there is a little ornery fun had once it's back on the road.
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Old 04-22-2020, 04:31 PM   #4
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2005 25' Safari
1968 17' Caravel
Leawood , Kansas
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 236
Images: 7
Blog Entries: 2
The Initial Assessment

The next morning after arrival, the assessment began. The floor had a Pergo type of laminate over carpet over the original asbestos tile squares. I pulled out the curb side seating to start pulling up the floor covering in its layers. Fortunately, I thought to put on a respirator, thinking of mold, but after doing a quick search found that the tile had asbestos as a component.

I moved around to the streetside bench up front and completed the floor repair. Each step along the way, I put the benches back in their original location with screws, so that I could keep things straight.

The pull-out couch along the streetside was last that day. A quick check with a punch or an awl of the subfloor, led me to believe that the damage to the plywood was pretty minimal. I posted on the forum for suggestions on how to assess the subfloor without belly pan removal. https://www.airforums.com/forums/f36...al-188813.html It looked like I might be able to see enough of the frame to make a good assessment of structure and if sound proceed without a shell off, full monte.

Ultimately the outer plywood from the width of the frame rails were removed on both sides forward of the wheel wells and across the front. Half lap joints were set up with a rabbeting bit on a router and cut straight with a ledger board secured to the central subfloor.

After getting the lap joints made with a router, my first test fit with new marine 3/4" plywood would not fit between frame outriggers and the C-channel of the shell. A little soft persuasion of the shell with a pair of quick supports https://www.northerntool.com/shop/to...k-support-rods allowed us to put some temporary spacers in place.

With the prep work done and the lap jointed new plywood in place, things were looking positive. But that joy would not last. While on hands and knees all day with a router, tapping the new pieces of subfloor into position, what was not evident until the requisite adult beverage and view from the door, was that the entire streetside outriggers sloped down, and with a straightedge on the floor left to right the drop was almost 3/8". This was a game changer and a waste of three Saturdays, in retrospect.
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Old 04-22-2020, 05:01 PM   #5
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2005 25' Safari
1968 17' Caravel
Leawood , Kansas
Join Date: Jul 2014
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Who was that guy that did your trailer???

My concern when I had the dry rot removed was a slight question about how the street side A-frame looked. I wasn't sure if there was a small spring to the frame or not. I could certainly see why it wouldn't be advisable to use a weight distribution hitch on a 3" frame trailer. One deep pothole and the frame might just get bent somewhere between the hitch and the axle attach points.

One of our Vintage Club members had the artistic eye to see their trailer complete, but didn't have the space and experience for a frame-off. I still wanted to do the bulk of what this trailer needed and had done some major restoration and construction projects with my helper of 21 yrs. I had a hangar that I could have done the shell off in and I knew how to weld, but I also had a day job.

The owner's of the 61 Flying Cloud were very complimentary of their experience with Paul Mayeux in Paradise, TX, so on the next Monday, I gave Paul a call to tell him what I found and to see what he would do.

His recommendation was like a house I had bought to remodel, when a friend who helped me with that said do you want the good news or the bad news first. That's always an eye opener. The bad news for the house was that my friend could tear the existing house down and build the structure the architect had drawn for the same price as the addition. Hmmmm.

What Paul said was that I could have a brand new frame under the trailer for about the same price as the sandblasting and frame repair.

Next question was what if I want a gray water tank and what if I want to move the fresh water tank below the floor. Answer about the same as sanblasting and frame repair.

Well, tell me when to bring it down, and by the way, what can I do that will save me some money? Answer--pull the bathroom/bulkeheads/lower skins. No problem.

Just one problem...getting the Hydro-Flame heater flue pipe apart. The inner pipe, which is the exhaust rusts together and there's no place to lever or get any rotation. What ultimately worked was to separate a couple of the tabs that held the outer galvanized pipe to the inner one and getting an oversize pair of battery pliers on it after days of PB Blaster and with rotation it gave way and was ready for re-use. A little brazing down the road will fix those tabs.
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Old 04-22-2020, 05:20 PM   #6
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2005 25' Safari
1968 17' Caravel
Leawood , Kansas
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It's like Visitor Sunday

Within any successful shop like Paul's, there has to be a mix of projects as well as general service, just for cash flow. It would be hard to pay the bills if you just rolled out one project every 9 months or so. It may be some shops nightmare, but I always like to check up on things. I was at a conference in Dallas, and it wasn't much of a big deal to run over to check on things. The frame wasn't done yet, and the old one was at the fabricators, but the shell was there under the gantry hoist. Good photo op, and chance to keep tabs on progress.
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Old 04-22-2020, 05:36 PM   #7
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2005 25' Safari
1968 17' Caravel
Leawood , Kansas
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Frame back from Fabricator

A lot of decisions have to be made about what you want in your project as it unfolds. What do you think about originality, vs modernization. Do you want your modernization to show or not?

Most people on the forum think they got it about as good as it gets with the Caravel and especially with the '68. The bathroom has a central shower pan with the toilet to the streetside and the lavatory to the curbside. The two pantries are about as big as can fit in a little trailer and the three upper lockers on the streetside, the two above the galley and the forward one are hard to improve upon.

With the old frame beside the new one, Paul was able to lay out the floor drain location for the shower and keep the same vent locations with the curbside one venting the new gray water tank and the street side on venting the black water tank.

When figuring some of this stuff out one has to ask, how long can you and your spouse be on the road in 14' foot of interior space. We guessed we'd be fine for 3 days, whereas we can be comfortable in our 25' 05 Safari for about 10-12 days. We plan on this trailer being our Rally trailer and our weekend Boondocker.

Here's the new frame with the sub-floor ready to mark out the penetrations for plumbing.
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Old 04-22-2020, 06:17 PM   #8
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
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It looks really good. Iím a big believer in a sizable hold down plate. Just wondering, had you planned for a rear plate, or do you have the rear storage with an exterior hatch? As far as restoration or renovation, we rebuilt the inside of both our trailers to the exact look of the originals. We have all modern amenities, just hidden. It works for us. Good luck on your project.
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Old 04-22-2020, 09:53 PM   #9
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2005 25' Safari
1968 17' Caravel
Leawood , Kansas
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I had thought about maybe mounting my spare tire on the rear, though I had enough space left up front for mounting it vertical. I think the rear hold down plate requires a lot of precision, and can't really be welded in after the fact with the Airstream design. The rear still looks like the water intrusion flaw in the whole design.

That's my plan, hide the modern, with the exception of a bulkhead mounted TV.
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Old 04-22-2020, 10:09 PM   #10
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1967 17' Caravel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docflyboy View Post
About a year and a half ago, a 64 Globetrotter got away from me that was going to be my semi-retirement project. That's an interesting story, but I'll save it for later.]
OK, it's later now: what's the story of the 64 Globetrotter that got away from you??

Vivian
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Old 04-22-2020, 11:58 PM   #11
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2005 25' Safari
1968 17' Caravel
Leawood , Kansas
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The one that got away

I never saw the Airstream in the yard behind my Mom's house, but in 2017, Mom got sick and following a short demise passed away. She was in the process of rehabbing the house two doors down that she had been renting for several years. I'm one of 6 surviving kids and this property was one in need of some work that not all my sibs had in their wheelhouse. I took it on, and in the process did a little survey of the neighborhood. To my surprise an Airstream had sat one half block away on the street that ran parallel to Mom's back yard.

My best guess based on the window pattern was that it was a 65 GT. I sent the owner a letter telling him of my prior restoration activities in airplanes and Corvettes and offered to purchase the trailer at a fair price. I sent the letter to the address that the house had been deeded to.

No response.

Turns out the owner had never re-deeded the house after inheriting it from his father, so my letter was addressed to the father, not the surviving 80ish year old son.

My Mom had been the parish secretary for probably 40 years in this neighborhood and it turned out that the owner went to church every day, and then was suddenly a no show at church. The owner was without heirs and the parish was under the impression that his estate was pledged to the parish on his passing. At the same time, my Mom's successor at the parish was the caretaker of one of my patients, and also a grade school classmate. For reasons, that I may not know in this life, that classmate mentioned the owner's absence from church services to me in the office, and the patient was an attorney. I looked online and saw that a will had been presented to the County Court. She got me a copy and a mystery writer would probably make a novel out of the third party.

A Designated Representative had executed a will leaving all assets of the deceased to the Designated Representative. The Designated Representative on further internet search has a business of "death investigations".

The Parish not having a copy of a prior will was not in a position to contest, and that was that, so it seemed.

I contacted the Designated Representative via phone and told him that I'd like to purchase the trailer at a fair price that he had the opportunity to set, but that afternoon the trailer was out of the yard, and on its way to Montana.

Never say anything about the dead, but that seems fishy to me.

Turns out the Designated Representative happened to inherit the entire estate of another man two years previously.

And like Forrest Gump says...And that's all I'm going to say about that....
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Old 04-24-2020, 02:11 PM   #12
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1967 17' Caravel
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Originally Posted by docflyboy View Post
I contacted the Designated Representative via phone and told him that I'd like to purchase the trailer at a fair price that he had the opportunity to set, but that afternoon the trailer was out of the yard, and on its way to Montana.

Never say anything about the dead, but that seems fishy to me.

Turns out the Designated Representative happened to inherit the entire estate of another man two years previously.

And like Forrest Gump says...And that's all I'm going to say about that....
Hooeee! Sounds like the beginning of a very good whodunit. Veddy inteddesting.... Thanks for sharing that story!

Vivian
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