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Old 11-10-2010, 09:23 PM   #121
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1962 22' Safari
2016 30' Classic
Southeast , Michigan
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11/1/2010 Progress:
Monday was our last work day of the weekend and we worked until 2:30am! Therefore the last photos were actually taken the next morning before I headed home.

The day started with us drilling out and removing the 12 foot long front panel that wraps around both corners. Once we had the front panel off, we realized that we cracked the front center window when we twisted and pulled on the panel. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because one of the trim pieces around the window was missing and I needed to get a replacement made. Breaking the window caused us to figure out how the front window came apart and made it obvious that a new trim piece could be easily made by someone with a metal break and a few skills. Those trim pieces actually just snap into place and besides some caulk or putty are all that holds the glass in place.

We then removed the front corner belly wraps and the two extra layers of aluminum that were riveted between the outer skin and the steel front tie down plate. You can see that many of the rivets leaked in the front panel from the amount of corrosion on these sheets. These two sheets were offset about 8 inches, one to the curb side and one to the street side. Once these reinforcing sheets were off, we straightened them and a couple of the front ribs that had been mangled when the front skin got dented fairly deeply by a previous owner.

Even though there was minimal rust on the front plate when we pulled everything apart, we primed and painted the front plate black with Rustoleum while it was exposed. I then had to touch up the A-Frame, because I did not mask anything. I didn't worry that some silver got on front plate and we put it back together that way.

We actually found that none of the front ribs were actually riveted to the floor channel, which allowed the front end to sag and float back and forth while everything was apart. When we put things back together, we pop riveted some of the front ribs to the floor channel and we pop riveted the reinforcing sheets to the ribs, This held everything in alignment when we put the front sheet on.

Once the front sheet was cut to size, we used the old skin as a template to drill just the center holes in the new front panel, so that itwould align and could be clecoed into place when we installed the front skin. With the front skin held in place by those clocoes, we then drilled all of the remaining holes using the overlapping window frame and upper skins as patterns. Of course we clecoed it in place as we went. We actually left the plastic layer on the outer surface of the skin for the test fit and hole drilling. We found that the front street side corner did not have a nice continuous radius during the test fit, so we made some aluminum shims to insert between the floor channel and belly wrap/outer skin, to improve the fit/look.

Then the front skin came back off so that we could clean out the aluminum shavings and apply a liberal bead of Vulkem everywhere. We then pulled the plastic layer off just enough to slide the front panel into place and started clecoing and buck riveting. When that was all done, we pulled the rest of the plastic off, except along the edge where the side panel had yet to go on. The last step was applying vulkem to the seams and bucked rivets inside. I will actually come back later and do the same for the remaining seams that we did not take apart, because there are many signs of past leaks along the rivet lines.

Well, that was it. I hope to head back this coming weekend to finish the job and pull the Safari back home.

Photos are:
1. Old front skin coming off
2. Another angle of the old front skin coming off
3. Front skin off
4. Front reinforcement panels and corner belly wraps off
5. Front rib after straightening
6. Front window cracked
7. Whole lotta skin off
8. Front plate before painting
9. Front plate after painting
10. Front corner belly wraps on (but not riveted to the frame from below yet)
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:34 PM   #122
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1962 22' Safari
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11/1/2010 Progress Part 2:

Just a few more photos:
1. Drilling center holes in the new front skin using the old skin as the template
2. Front reinforcement panels clecoed into place
3. New front panel clecoed into place so that remaining holes can be drilled
4. Shims inserted to smooth front corner
5. New front skin buck riveted in place
6. Closeup of new front skin
7. New front skin from the inside
8. Tom signed my Airstream

Regarding the last photo, we found the name "Tom" brushed on the inside of one of the front endcap panels using the black seam sealer stuff. I wonder who Tom was? He must have worked at the Jackson Center factory in 1955.
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:02 PM   #123
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airstream graffiti!!
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Old 11-11-2010, 05:07 AM   #124
Restorations done right
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Joe, on all the trailers I have worked on, up till the 1977 which is the youngest in age, the ribs never go all the way down to the channel in the front or back. On every single one, the only ribs to touch the channel is the main hoop that holds the entire end cap. It seems counter intuitive, does it not? Well, there is a reason... Semi Monocoque construction. Old Buckminster Fuller and his crazy design concepts were adopted by Airstream and employed in the ends. Not sure if you changed anything or if it will even make a difference. The ribs not extending all the way was not a short coming at the factory, it was 100% intentional. The entire reason you are replacing those panel is short comings however. The tongue is too short and when turning really hard, the bumper ends up in the panel. All the 54/55 Safari and Flying Clouds have that issue. Both of the ones I own will need this same panel replacement done.
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Old 11-11-2010, 06:59 AM   #125
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Thanks for the update Frank.

I don't think the pop rivets we added will be an issue (but they could always be drilled out from the back if desired), because whole thing is very secure once the front skin was re-bucked to the front plate. The ribs originally overlapped the floor channel, they were just not riveted together. Maybe leaving them off originally somehow made assembly easier, but in our case, adding them made getting rivet holes through 4 or 5 layers aligned easier.

Regarding the tongue length, we added almost a foot when the tongue was rebuilt on my Safari, so tight turns shouldn't be an issue anymore for this trailer.
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:22 PM   #126
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Got back home with the Safari today! The exterior panels are all bucked into place as are the side belly wraps. Doug and I also massaged the front endcap dents. There are still some minor ripples, but the large dents are out.

No time to download the photos from my camera today, but it sure is great to have the exterior more or less buttoned up (minus the belly wrap between the rails, since that is waiting until I figure out what to do for holding tanks). Photos to follow in a few days as I get time.
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Old 11-15-2010, 08:25 PM   #127
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Good to hear, hurry and get not busy so we can get some photos!
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:12 AM   #128
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Wow....I am worn out from re-reading your entire thread. Nice work.... and how lucky we all are to have talented friends here like Frank and Scott. Now, back to work and more pictures.
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:03 PM   #129
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melody Ranch View Post
Wow....I am worn out from re-reading your entire thread. Nice work.... and how lucky we all are to have talented friends here like Frank and Scott. Now, back to work and more pictures.
Thanks for the compliment and thanks for reminding me that I had more photos to post.

I am just trying to show the step by step process so that others are inspired to do it themselves. None of this is rocket science. It is all pretty simple, really. It just takes little thought, a few skills (that you can learn), A few friends, and a lot of hard work.

I will use the next couple of posts to bring the photos story up to day.
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:17 PM   #130
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11/13/2010 Progress:
I drove back to Doug's house on Saturday 11/13/2010 and we got back to work.

The work started with us fitting the street side belly wraps, which were then pop riveted to the floor channel and otherwise clecoed together so that we could overlay the main street side panel.

We then fit the main street side panel into place and drilled and clecoed it, all with the plastic still on it. We had to use tape to transfer rivet holes for the ribs to the new panel. But rather than reuse the original holes, we drilled new holes offset slightly from the original rib rivet holes to make sure the buck rivets had good metal to grab on to.

We then removed the panel, cleaned up the metal shavings, put in a good bead of Vulkem. We removed the plastic from the panel and then reinstalled it, first with cleoes, and then with bucked rivets. We reused the shim stack on the forward rib that came out when the old streetside panel was removed, but we also had to make some new custom shims out of scrap aluminum to get a good fit in one or two places.

That was all we got done on Saturday, but it concluded re-installation of the MAJOR panels, leaving us with just some belly wraps and trim to deal with the next day.

Photos are:
1. Fitting street side belly wraps
2. Fitting the main street side panel
3. Street side panel cleocoed into place (still with plastic in place)
4. Street side panel re-cleocoed into place (without plastic)
5. Street side panel bucked into place
6. New Street side panel from the inside
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:39 PM   #131
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11/14/2010 Progress #1:
Sunday started with us completing riveting of the street side belly wraps. We installed and shaved Olympic Rivets on the curves where they would be visible and used simple pop rivets below where they would not be visible.

We them moved on the the streetside wheel well trim. I had bought new trim from Vintage Trailer Supply and thankfully bought two pieces to be safe, even though one was enough to do both sides on the Safari when cut in half. That extra peice was needed because we snapped one in half the first time we tried bending it. We soon figured out that it takes a LOT of heat to remove the temper so that the trim can be bent into the correct shape. You need to hold the piece under a gas torch for a few seconds to heat it enough to remove the temper. You will start to see what looks like white "crazing" when it has been heated enough. Once it has been softened, you can bend it while still hot/warm, but it also bends fairly well even after it has cooled back down. And you can always apply a little more heat if you need to.

I recommend buying extra so that you have enough to practice on before getting to the real thing. Once we broke the first piece, we did a lot of testing on the scraps, heating it some, then heating it more, then outright melting it. We also tested different techniques to bend it once it was softened. When heated properly, it can be bent into a fairly tight radius if there are enough notches cut into the big flange. Once we got the feel of it, we moved on the the real thing.

The actual process we used to form and install the trim was as follows. We used the old wheel well trim as a template and cut notches where it would be bent. We then heated it under the torch and then bent it into approximate shape using the old trim as a template. We then took it to the trailer and worked it into place slowly. We used a dead blow hammer to slowly work it to an exact fit around the wheel well opening. If you take your time, you can get a good fit with no kinks.

Once it was fitted into place, we drilled rivet holes, pulled it off to apply a bead of vulkem between the skin and wheel well liner, and then reinstalled the trim, cleoced it, and then bucked it into place. Some people suggest you need a rivet squeezer to apply buck rivets to the wheel well lip, but Doug actually bucked them by himself holding the rivet gun in one hand and bucking bar in the other.

Photos are:
1. Street side belly wrap riveted in place
2. Closeup of belly wrap shaved olympic rivets
3. Heating the wheel well trim with a torch
4. Bending the wheel well trim into shape
5. More bending the wheel well trim into shape
6. Street side wheel well trim clecoed in place
7. Street side wheel well trim bucked in place
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:55 PM   #132
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11/14/2010 Progress #2:
Once the streetside was done, we moved on to the cub side, first cutting, fitting, and bucking the belly wrap sections into place, then cutting, heating, bending, and installing the curb side wheel well trim.

The last thing we did was to remove one of the roof maker lights and massage the dents out of the from end cap as best we could. It takes quite a bit of force to beat the dents out. Most of the time I was inside holding different things (some hard, some softer) against the inside of the end cap while Doug beat on the high spots from the outside using a dead blow hammer. About 1000 hits later, the worst of the dents were out and progress was getting pretty slow, so we stopped calling it "good enough". All of the bending and beating did loosen up a couple of end cap seam rivets, so we gave then a couple of hits with the gun and bucking bar to tighten them back up.

Photos are:
1. Fitting the front curbside belly wrap
2. Bucking the front curbside belly wrap
3. Fitting the middle curbside belly wrap
4. Middle and rear curb side belly wraps clecoed into place
5. Middle and rear curb side belly wraps bucked into place
6. Bucking the curb side wheel well trim
7. Front end cap dents after much hammering
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Old 11-30-2010, 10:58 PM   #133
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Well that brings everything up to date. On Monday 11/15/2010 I pulled the Safari back home and put it in the storage yard, where it will probably sit until spring when I can get back to work on it. Here is a final photo of the Safari showing what it looked like when I got it back home.

Edit: I forgot to mention that between my two trips to Doug's house, he got new glass cut and reinstalled for the front center window. He was able to use his metal break to make a replacement trim piece to hold the glass in place. When I bought the Safari two years ago, the piece of trim on the street side of the front center window was missing and a piece of wood was screwed in it's place place and painted silver. It obviously didn't look right and was deteriorating due to weather exposure. These trim pieces are fairly simple in design. Doug was able to use the curb side piece as a perfect template for reproducing the street side piece. Sorry I have no photos of these trim pieces, neither off the trailer nor reinstalled. Thanks Doug!
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:18 PM   #134
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She looks great Joe, love those nice straight panels, and the longer tongue too. Row of windows will be so nice and open!
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:44 PM   #135
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She looks great Joe, love those nice straight panels, and the longer tongue too. Row of windows will be so nice and open!
I gotta say it feels good to get this far!

When I got the Safari, I thought the restoration would take 2 years. It's now been 2 years and almost 4 months and I am still (probably under) estimating 2 years to completion, but I've got the most intimidating items behind me: frame, floor, exterior skin, and belly wraps.

Electrical, plumbing, and reconstruction/reinstallation of the interior will be a lot of work, but I'll need less help to handle most of those items (at least I hope so).

And yeah, I love the long bank of street side windows over the dinette. It is a cool floor plan!
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Old 12-03-2010, 06:29 PM   #136
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The trailer looks great! It is a fantastic transformation from when you got it. I am very impressed with the Doug's work, and I have a feeling I will be talking to him soon. I am glad you committed the resources to truly bring this trailer back.
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:54 AM   #137
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Originally Posted by drag'nwagon View Post
The trailer looks great! It is a fantastic transformation from when you got it. I am very impressed with the Doug's work, and I have a feeling I will be talking to him soon. I am glad you committed the resources to truly bring this trailer back.
Dave, let me know if you are having a problem with something, maybe I can help from here.
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Old 12-05-2010, 08:38 AM   #138
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Originally Posted by drag'nwagon View Post
The trailer looks great! It is a fantastic transformation from when you got it. I am very impressed with the Doug's work, and I have a feeling I will be talking to him soon. I am glad you committed the resources to truly bring this trailer back.
Thanks Dave! I couldn't have gotten this far without your help! First for getting me in touch with Bob, who did the frame work. Then for your personal help, and finally for running this years Metro-Detroit Forum Rally, where I got reacquainted with Doug and got the wheels in motion for the skin replacement.

Next year I do need to get the Safari up to Bob's new place to get a rear bumper installed, and maybe a spare tire mount on the tongue. At least that's the idea at the moment, and if so, the battery will go in the rear storage compartment.

My mind is now free to really ponder electrical and plumbing and holding tanks, etc. There is one side of me thinking about converting the Safari to a wet bath to make it more usable for longer trips, but then there is the desire to keep it "original", meaning keeping the bath as it is, except for addition of a black tank. Lorrie likes the originality idea, so I'll probably go with that, but I do like the idea of engineering a wet bath, just for the challenge.
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Old 12-05-2010, 05:33 PM   #139
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1974 31' Sovereign
1970 23' Safari
1956 26' Cruiser Overlander
Lambertville , Michigan
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,174
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Originally Posted by Shacksman View Post
Dave, let me know if you are having a problem with something, maybe I can help from here.
Thanks Doug, I appreciate the support.
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TAC# MI-1
Operation "Save Rudy" Strike Team (charter member)

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Old 12-05-2010, 05:37 PM   #140
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1974 31' Sovereign
1970 23' Safari
1956 26' Cruiser Overlander
Lambertville , Michigan
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,174
Quote:
Originally Posted by 66Overlander View Post
Thanks Dave! I couldn't have gotten this far without your help! First for getting me in touch with Bob, who did the frame work. Then for your personal help, and finally for running this years Metro-Detroit Forum Rally, where I got reacquainted with Doug and got the wheels in motion for the skin replacement.

Next year I do need to get the Safari up to Bob's new place to get a rear bumper installed, and maybe a spare tire mount on the tongue. At least that's the idea at the moment, and if so, the battery will go in the rear storage compartment.

My mind is now free to really ponder electrical and plumbing and holding tanks, etc. There is one side of me thinking about converting the Safari to a wet bath to make it more usable for longer trips, but then there is the desire to keep it "original", meaning keeping the bath as it is, except for addition of a black tank. Lorrie likes the originality idea, so I'll probably go with that, but I do like the idea of engineering a wet bath, just for the challenge.
Your welcome Joe. It was good to see you and Lorie today, and I hope that the holidays are kind to you and the trailers. I like the wet bath idea, and I think it could be done by stealth to maintain most of the original look.
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TAC# MI-1
Operation "Save Rudy" Strike Team (charter member)

Yes, I am still working on it.
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