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Old 06-18-2006, 05:00 PM   #1
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1962 16' Bambi
1960 22' Safari
New York , New York
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 44
Is This Plan Totally Crazy?

OK. I've gotten a lot of great advice so far here on the forums and I can't thank the generous souls here enough. Your support has gotten me this far, now I'm staring over the precipice and I have really cold (frostbite!) feet.

As some of you know I'm doing a floor off restoration of my '62 Bambi. Problem is I have no garage, I live in a small apartment in Manhattan but I've been working on the trailer in my yard at a weekend place we have out in Montauk Long Island. I've gutted the interior, stripped all the interior panels, and drilled out the exterior perimeter of rivets around the bottom edge.

I'm ready to pull the shell off, but I've been listening to the Vintage Airstream Podcast and reading various threads of the good folks here who've done this already and frankly I'm worried. I'm doing this on an uneven grassy area, in a location that is often quite windy. I've seen all the posts with interior gusseting built and plan to do that, but then I was going to pull the frame over to a welder about 20 miles away for him to repair anything and beadblast and powdercoat the whole thing before returning to Montauk and replacing the bottom and shell.

I've read much about how the frame has little stability once the shell is off and that moving it around could warp it. And that if the shell is not in a perfectly level place, that even with the supports built in, the same could happen, and finally that once off the shell is so light it could totally just blow away in a big gust of wind (it often can get to 30 or 35 knots out here). Everybody really seems to emphasize that the shell off part is really, really, tricky and that many things can go wrong!

It's occurred to me that maybe a 16 foot trailer isn't as sensitive as the bigger ones, but I've tried to find a garage I could rent to do the work in for a short time out here, but to no avail. Although I'm totally new to handy things, I'm learning a lot, and enjoying it all, and I really want to try and do everything myself, but I'm thinking perhaps I might have to settle for having somebody do the frame and floor who's a professional and then taking over to build the interior back.

I'd love to get some input about this, and if anyone knows any good restorers in the east who might be willing to just lift the shell, fix the frame, replace the floor and re-attach the shell that info would be helfpul too. Otherwise should I just forge ahead, or do I absolutely have to find some kind of shop I could rent for the duration of at least the shell-off part.

Thanks so much again everybody for all your help.

Steve H.
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Old 06-18-2006, 05:12 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HamiBambi
OK. I've gotten a lot of great advice so far here on the forums and I can't thank the generous souls here enough. Your support has gotten me this far, now I'm staring over the precipice and I have really cold (frostbite!) feet.
Lots of info here, many people have done what you re about to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HamiBambi
As some of you know I'm doing a floor off restoration of my '62 Bambi. Problem is I have no garage, I live in a small apartment in Manhattan but I've been working on the trailer in my yard at a weekend place we have out in Montauk Long Island. I've gutted the interior, stripped all the interior panels, and drilled out the exterior perimeter of rivets around the bottom edge.
You're well on your way, then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HamiBambi
I'm ready to pull the shell off, but I've been listening to the Vintage Airstream Podcast and reading various threads of the good folks here who've done this already and frankly I'm worried. I'm doing this on an uneven grassy area, in a location that is often quite windy. I've seen all the posts with interior gusseting built and plan to do that, but then I was going to pull the frame over to a welder about 20 miles away for him to repair anything and beadblast and powdercoat the whole thing before returning to Montauk and replacing the bottom and shell.
Your shell is very small, only 13ft or so, and narrow. light bracing is advised, but it's not nearly as crucial as on much longer and heavier trailers. You might try and tie down the shell to something heavy, liek aboulder or stakes in teh ground that will keep it from blowing away.
Prevent air entry by keeping it close to the ground and keep doors and windows closed, that will help it from becoming airborne.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HamiBambi
I've read much about how the frame has little stability once the shell is off and that moving it around could warp it. And that if the shell is not in a perfectly level place, that even with the supports built in, the same could happen, and finally that once off the shell is so light it could totally just blow away in a big gust of wind (it often can get to 30 or 35 knots out here). Everybody really seems to emphasize that the shell off part is really, really, tricky and that many things can go wrong!
I woul dbe concerned about this, but it's usually easy enough to shore the shell so that it indeed does sit level. A little twisting will not hurt it, a lot of twisting will break the seals between the sheets, and possibly shear rivets.
Your frame is short enough that it will not be a problem towing it without support.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HamiBambi
It's occurred to me that maybe a 16 foot trailer isn't as sensitive as the bigger ones, but I've tried to find a garage I could rent to do the work in for a short time out here, but to no avail. Although I'm totally new to handy things, I'm learning a lot, and enjoying it all, and I really want to try and do everything myself, but I'm thinking perhaps I might have to settle for having somebody do the frame and floor who's a professional and then taking over to build the interior back.
That would be a nice break fr yourself from all the worries that you have expressed. Without seeing your location, it would be difficult for anyone to properly help you assess this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HamiBambi
I'd love to get some input about this, and if anyone knows any good restorers in the east who might be willing to just lift the shell, fix the frame, replace the floor and re-attach the shell that info would be helfpul too. Otherwise should I just forge ahead, or do I absolutely have to find some kind of shop I could rent for the duration of at least the shell-off part.

Thanks so much again everybody for all your help.

Steve H.
It's doable, and it sounds like you are well on your way, armed with knowledge and courage, but perhaps a little short on logistical possibilities....it might help to talk with Colin Hyde from GSM vehicles, he's in New York ( state) as far as I remember.
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Old 06-18-2006, 05:38 PM   #3
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I think all I could add to Uwe's good advice is that the shell doesn't need to be keep perfectly level if you put some good cross bracing in. More important to get it lowered as close to the ground, or on the ground, as possible. If it's on a slight rise up or down doesn't matter.

Maybe you could throw a tarp over it, and really stake down the tarp. The trick, as Uwe said, is to keep wind from getting under it and lifting it like a big airfoil.
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Old 06-19-2006, 07:38 AM   #4
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HamiBambi, I worked on by Bambi inside. It was great. However my 55FC will not fit in my garage. I have the same question you are asking. Thanks for your questions. As far as your fears about doing some of the work. My suggestions is to keep asking questions. You can get so much information and help here on the forum. And the encouragement is very helpfully as well. I think Airstream trailers are more forgiving than you might think. Be patient, willing to do a job over several time if needed, and don't get in a hurry. Every job is a learning process. Now that my Bambi is almost finished, I find myself just sitting in it and looking at what I've done. It's way cool.
Don
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Old 06-19-2006, 07:56 AM   #5
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With such a small unit, perhaps it might be economical to have a small, level concrete pad poured at your weekend place. You would then have a nice level pad to park it on after you finish the project. The going rate around here and up in Ohio is around $3 per square foot.
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Old 06-19-2006, 08:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pick
With such a small unit, perhaps it might be economical to have a small, level concrete pad poured at your weekend place. You would then have a nice level pad to park it on after you finish the project. The going rate around here and up in Ohio is around $3 per square foot.
If a rental question or a permit problem comes up an alternative (for about the same $3 per sq ft (or a bit less) might be to pick up a pallet of "pavers" from your local big box Homer'll doit store and then a truck load of sand and retention timbers. Level the pad area with sand and timbers and pave with the "concrete blocks" in various shapes and colors.

Here in Small Town Texas it's very difficult to get a concrete permit, but we can cover the entire yard with pavers if we want - pavers are not considered "permanent".

Might be an option for you.
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Old 06-24-2006, 05:04 AM   #7
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1962 16' Bambi
1960 22' Safari
New York , New York
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Thanks for the support

Hey All,

Thanks for the support and the well wishes, especially regarding the size of the trailer being a little more forgiving than some of the larger trailers. I'd hoped this would be true. Your ideas about securing with a tarp, etc. are good. The concrete and paver idea is a good one, but our house out there is a rental and I don't think I can pull that off without alienating the landlord.

I'm going to soldier on and I'll keep all of you posted. I did try to contact the guy from upstate New York who's on the VAP podcast but I haven't heard back. And I'm still fishing around to see if I could borrow a garage out there in Montauk. The best part is I'd gotten sort of discouraged and I feel heartened again to move forward so thanks for all that!

Best!

Steve H.
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Old 06-24-2006, 07:01 AM   #8
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Pictures, pictures...we want pictures and of the AS restore too!
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Old 06-24-2006, 07:15 PM   #9
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Chin up!

Hi,

It has been 10 months and some of them looooooong since my husband started our 1963 Bambi... but we are getting close to our maiden voyage.

It is a lot of work, but so rewarding in the end! Hey, post every day you make any progress, or at least let everyone know what your progress is... any questions, problems, or "hey, look what I did!" you should post ~ and of course, with lots and lots of pictures! The good folks on the forum were very supportive and it kept hubby of mine cheerful and ready to tackle another day! Even through our wet and cold winter. So, hang it there, post pictures from every day...we want to see a "before" pic too! You can do this!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi
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Old 06-24-2006, 07:28 PM   #10
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Do Not rush Quality

6 long years ours has been in a state of grace. All kinds of terrible things can happen and do. Wonderful things happen as well. Currently, we live Airstream dreams through others efforts while we wait for the right time. Stripers on Montauk? Remember, we are all pulling for you and we love pictures. You will love the pictures when your are done and looking back. Rob
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Old 06-25-2006, 08:19 PM   #11
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1962 16' Bambi
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Aluminitus Possibly Terminal

Hey Everyone!

Thanks for the support and yes, I'll start posting some pictures of the process. To aid with the process of completing the Bambi and to help my lovely and supportive wife Jocelyn from feeling too stressed and anxious about it, we've gone out and done it again. We bought a 22 foot 1960 Safari this weekends so that we can hit some rallies and have some guests come visit us in Montauk. (This was the original reason we bought the Bambi in the first place.) I was really beginning to regret that I'd pulled the thing apart before we actually got to enjoy it at all when in retrospect we should have gone to a couple of rallies and had some friends come and stay first. But now we have it all! A beautiful original Safari that "doesn't need any work", and the Bambi project to keep me busy for the next two years to come. I'll keep you posted (with pictures I promise!) on all and thanks again for all your support.

Somehow, despite all the precautions I've got this Aluminum bug bad!
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Old 06-26-2006, 05:06 AM   #12
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Congratulation,

It is now confirmed.............your life as a "multiple owner" will never be the same. God bless the innocent.
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Old 06-30-2006, 04:04 PM   #13
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1962 16' Bambi
1960 22' Safari
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Hey Mrs. NorCal Bambi! (And everyone else of course, but she sent the most smiley faces.) Thank you for your support and good wishes. So inspiring that you've driven me to get another one. Here's our new baby! We got it home to Montauk via three different ferry rides and a mission impossible style connection with the sellers who drove from Maine on the New London Ferry dock on a foggy foggy morning. Now, since this one technically only needs some aesthetic things taken care of for now, it's my wife Jocelyn's project so we can work side by side while I keep plugging away on the Bambi!
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Old 06-30-2006, 05:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Pictures, pictures... of the AS restore too!
...x2
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Old 07-05-2006, 06:19 PM   #15
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1962 16' Bambi
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The Bambi Shell is OFF!!!!

Hi Everyone,

Inspired by all of your support and encouragement I've decided to proceed and this weekend, since it was my birthday (4th of July!) and I had several friends visiting I went for it. We moved the new 1960 Safari (photo above) into the spot where the Bambi had lived and I moved the Bambi out to the flatter and more protected area in front of the house and decided to just get it done once and for all.

I built a basic cross bracing out of 2 by 4s (not as elaborate as some I've seen) and created 2 handles that went out wide and then with my friend Chris and I lifted the shell enough to get each of the handle pieces under and then we slowly propped the whole thing up on cinder blocks one side at a time until we were high enough to walk the chassis (with wheel wells attached) out from under. Then we lowered it down one block at a time and I hammered 4 metal fence posts into the ground and screwed them onto the wooden frame we'd built to keep the whole thing (hopefully) from flying away.

The body flexed quite a bit (more than I expected even after all the warnings) but I think that although it's not perfectly level we've got it placed in such a way that there are minimal torquing stresses, I don't think anything was damaged (no rivets popped or anything) and I think it's going to be OK until I can get the frame finished and the new floor and C channel in place. I was confused about whether the C Channel was coming up with it all or whether the C Channel remained behind and in the end it seemed that the removal of the lower rivets had released the body in such a way that it would come up without the C channel and that's how it happened.

I'm trying to decide what to do next. I of course am trying to get down to bare frame. The belly pan wraps around the C-channel all the way around and I'm wondering if I should un wrap all the belly pan, or cut the bolts and try to sort of remove the C channel with the belly pan still attached to it. If I do this will I be able to drop the belly pan without taking it completely apart or is this a pipe dream? I downloaded Nor Cal Bambi's whole thread and I'm going to do some studying tonight to see if there's some insight in there. I guess it's time to order the new axle. I'm going to put the disk brakes on it. Beadblast and repair the frame and then totally powdercoat it. I'm thinking of a contrasting color instead of plain old silver. Maybe black or maybe even a deep hunter green. Any thoughts? Is this blasphemy or perhaps a unique (albeit reversible) detail?

I will post pictures of the process tomorrow, but they're all on Jocelyn's camera right now and I don't have the cable to put them on my computer until we get back to the office.

Thanks again for you support. I promise the pictures will begin to come.

Steve H.
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Old 07-06-2006, 09:23 AM   #16
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1960 22' Safari
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Pictures of the Bambi Shell Off

Here's some photos of the rig I set up and of the finally free trailer chassis.

I used fenceposts hammered about a foot and a half into the ground and screwed them to the wooden frame to help keep the shell from blowing away.

Despite recommendations to keep it on the ground I felt I needed to maintain a little bit of distance to aid in lifting it up again so I left one set of cinder blocks all around.

The circumference arc is really secure. There's one stringer holding out the ends to maintain their shape. I'm counting on the structure to keep them from drooping, but I notice in the pictures especially one from the back that there must be some droop because the midsection appears a little narrower than the back section. All in all though as I said there does not seem to be excessive stress on any joints or sections and there was no shearing that I'm aware of although I do feel a little concerned that the seam along the front endcap may have overflexed a little.
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Old 07-08-2006, 07:13 AM   #17
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
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The pay off

Hi, we just returned from our first rally in our restored Bambi. The work was well worth it. We enjoy our new TARDIS. Great pictures. Keep them coming.
Don
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Old 07-08-2006, 10:47 PM   #18
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Hi,

We have questions here. Is the tube looking thing on the roof of your Bambi an awning? Or is it a storage tube for your awning? Ours is quite different on our 1963 Bambi.

Keep the pictures coming! Looking good so far!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi traveling in S Tardis
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Old 07-09-2006, 09:07 AM   #19
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1962 16' Bambi
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The Tube Looking Thing is In Fact An Awning

It's a "Trans Awn 2000" (sounds like a product from a cartoon huh?) a large aftermarket awning that is quite nice, but I feel like it ruins the lines of the trailer and I'm going to take it off and sell it to someone with a newer trailer or perhaps SOB. I also discovered after getting the interior walls off and working in the rain that the screws used to attach this behemouth are a terrific source for leaks. Or at least one of them is. I'm going to take it off and sell it on ebay. I have the strip along the roof line that you have that is for what I think they call the "zip dee" awnings and I intend to get one of those.

Here's a picture of the trailer with the awning open.
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Old 07-09-2006, 09:22 AM   #20
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1962 16' Bambi
1960 22' Safari
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Belly Pan off first or floor off first?

Now that I've got the shell off I spent the day yesterday peeling the belly pan off the c-channel where it comes up from below and wraps around. The belly pan dropped away all around the perimeter but remains secured around the middle of the belly. This morning I tried to tackle the "elevator bolts" in an effort to remove the floor from the chassis. (By the way, do they call them "elevator bolts" because they actually are used on "elevators" or because "elevation" is inherrently a part of their function or construction? This has always puzzled me a little.)

I was able to get a sawzall in and cut a few of them by slipping it in between the c-channel and the (largely rotted) floor, but this created holes in the c-channels as it sawed through the bolt. (I think I'm going to replace these assuming that they're avreadily available form of aluminum.) But some of the bolts I can't get to with the sawzall. I've heard people talk on the forums about "breaking them off" but I tried pounding on the ones I could get to with a hammer but they wouldn't snap they just bent. How do people "break" these off? The floor's rotted enough that I oculd probably rip it up but I'm trying to preserve it as best I can so I can use it as a template for the new floor.

Also I thought the floor would be only attached by the bolts around the perimeter but mine seems to be attached somehow in the middle too. (This may just be one section that appears to have been replaced before and there are screws going all the way accross the seam where the newer panel meets what appears to original floor.) Anyway, I'm at a loss. Should I get underneath and try to remove the whole belly pan first? Even if I do this how am I gonna get those rusty bolts broken or sawed off? I'm stuck for now.
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