The Maiden Voyage ended today with my return to Massachusetts. In total, about 1750 trouble free miles. Considering that this old rig hasn't really been driven more than a couple hundred miles over the past few years, I don't know whether I'm more more shocked or relieved. Well, they say that God looks out for fools and children, and I know which category that puts me in.
Day one brought me from Minnesota to Madison, Wisconsin, and proved that this old moho is as tight as a drum. Not a single leak through some really heavy thundershowers. Since I've never been in love with those big old wipers, I had applied a couple of coats of Rain-X prior to departing, and was glad that I did. If you've never used it, you will be amazed. Not only does rain bead up and magically run off the glass, but bug-splatter wipes off with ease. You'll seldom need wipers again.
Next day, drove from Madison to Jackson Center, Ohio to the Airstream Factory. Pulled in around 11:00PM and was surprised to see activity. A security guard directed me to the "Terraport" which I scoped out on foot in search of a pull-through parking spot. At 37 feet long, plus car in tow, I didn't want to drive into a dead end. Fortunately, a few days earlier I had witnessed someone with the same Demco Kar Kaddy attempt to back it up. Basically, it can't be done. He'll be wondering who put those big dents in the sides of his Mini Cooper. Evidently, the same design that tracks your toad perfectly behind you when going forward, makes it jack knife almost inevitably if you try to back up. Thankfully I didn't have to learn this lesson the hard way; alone at night, in the rain, in the midst of a dozen Airstream trailers with lights flicking on, and people with flashlights in pajamas coming out to see what that big crunching sound was.
By the time I got up next morning, everyone was long gone. Headed to the office to pay the $10 overnight fee, and was told that the Factory Tour didn't start until 2:00PM which gave me several hours to roam around the grounds.
Met a fellow from my own town that was having his late model trailer serviced. When all else fails, and at an added cost of about $250, the service tech will seal the roof vents, pressurize the trailer with air, then head topside with soapy water to look for bubbles. He told me the labor rate was $100 per hour. The good news is that they found his leak! Even when new, I doubt our antiques were ever tight enough for that technique to work.
Finally its time for the tour. About thirty people have signed up, all for different reasons. Everyone is given safety glasses and ear plugs. In the office we get a brief Airstream history lesson, then head out front for a show and tell of some nicely restored, historically significant old trailers. From there, we walk past the service bays, and head for the main building. Hard to say, but I would guess its at least the size of a couple of football fields. So without having signed any sort of waiver of accident or injury, into the factory we go; young and old, women and children, right down the assembly line. We're passing by containers overhanging with sharp edged aluminum scrap, walking over air hoses and extension cords, crossing paths with workers and fork lifts.
IT WAS GREAT!
For all of us trying to maintain these old beasts, one could only dream of having access to all these tools and materials. What is really cool is that despite the scale of production, these trailers are still essentially hand built with screws and rivets just like the old days. Production is about 50 trailers each week with a constant running back log of over 1000 units on order.
Completed the tour at 3:30, back to the moho (which cruelly acted as if it didn't want to start), then back on the road to Syracuse, NY. The 370 continued to run like a champ, blessed with the 70 degree weather of the cool front pushing down from Canada that had set off those thunder storms the day before. Another great nights sleep in a highway rest stop before the final drive home.
Now having had a little time to look her over, I'm even happier with the overall condition of things. Great aluminum skin that I can't wait to strip and polish, all parts present and mostly functional, generator with only 300 hours, both roof AC units working. We could really go places together!