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Old 09-29-2012, 10:54 PM   #1
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Panic is setting in....

Hi Fellow Streamers!

I just purchased my first Airstream...a 1972 Trade Wind Double (25ft) and joined this site. When I bought it, I knew there were some rot issues in the rear bathroom. But I'm a carpenter, and I figured 'no problem'. I started today with removing everything on the inside (am about 2/3 done)...the kitchen and remaining wall units come out tomorrow. Then the inside will be bare (anybody need parts?)

The hot water heater, black water tank, electrical unit...and I'm not sure what else...were all removed by the former owner. I have the parts, but am not sure I am going to use them in the renovation. The belly skin is pretty much intact from the tongue back to the bathroom...where it is torn and hanging.

So, I've been reading some older threads about replacing the wood floor. And I am quickly learning that it is not going to be an easy job...especially with winter coming on. But I need to get it closed up so critters don't get inside. If anyone has any more recent words of wisdom, I sure would like to hear them before I get out the saw and start cutting.

My plan is to move the bathroom to the side wall...over and around the wheel well, and convert the former bath area in the back to a sleeping area. I would also like to hear your viewpoints on installing an on-demand water heater. Not to mention, I'm pretty sure I need to install a new power converter/inverter. I hope to save a bunch of space and weight by doing this. Oh, and then there is the a/c unit...which may or may not work...but I am thinking of replacing it with a roof mounted dual a/c-heatpump so I can eliminate duct work. I am thinking of supplementing with a radiant heat mat underneath the flooring (haven't decided on vinyl or cork.

Anyway, I'm going to continue searching through the threads to find more information on this project. If anyone has ideas....shoot them my way.

Thanks!!
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:06 AM   #2
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arktos55343-

Welcome to the forums!

You're not the first -- nor will you be the last -- to discover that Airstreams are far more work than expected! Looks like you have all the skills you need and this forum is a gold mine of information.

This thread is quite close to your question. See especially post 7 from utee94, who did a shell-on restoration as you are discussing. The link in that post is required reading for anyone considering this job. As you may know, the plywood floor is a key part of the structure and the attachment of frame to plywood to shell is critical.

Marcus wrote a good, honest thread about his experience with the shell on technique. Click here.

I plan to use an RV-500 inline water heater again as we redo our second. We are very happy with it -- only drawback is that you need a minimum flow of nearly a gpm to get it to light. We also plan to use the Intelli Power PD4045 as a combo charger/breaker panel.

In our experience, it took more than twice as long and cost more than twice as much as we expected -- but it was worth it.

Good luck.

John
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:14 AM   #3
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It will be close

It is the first of October and your in Minn. If you need it closed in you better go at it. Read the articles here on shell on floor replacement. Plan on clean and repair , as needed, the frame.....then do it. measure your old flooring carefully and try to remove it in big pieces if possible to get more accurate measurements. have your parts....carriage bolts, paints, insulation at hand so you don't waste time chasing them down. Personally, I 'd put the flooring down lengthwise (you will hear discussion about that) because its easier to install. I also use good quality Behr enamel porch paint and cover top, sides and bottom (encapsulating) the entire new wood. That paint lasted 50 years on exposed, well used, porches all over the USA.
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:25 AM   #4
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On my plate today here is finishing that last half of wire brushing the outer shells' interior to hold insulating paint.

I'm 25 minutes away from you located at the I-35E river bridge. I can make time today, or this week, to drive over and show you enough to be really dangerous, errr... help you make the best of your new project.

I'm sending you a private message with contact info.
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:09 AM   #5
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Like, Wabbiteer, we are not far from you. You are welcome to come up and see our project. We did shell-on floor replacement also. Our thread is under " Little Girl Refurb". We have been working 4 summers and have gotten her usable as of a few weeks ago (maybe we're just slooooow ). Please PM us if you would like to meet.

Kay
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:26 PM   #6
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I have to wait for a delivery from 10 - 2 Monday, then could probably slip away and meet over at the project located in the afternoon. It is in S Mpls north of the airport.
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:11 AM   #7
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Congrats on your new acquisition! I think I have the record for the longest time between purchase and actually using it, 8 1/2 years, but it was worth it. I too replaced the floor with the shell on, dropped the belly pan, raised the shell slightly and slid the ply under. Plan to take your time so you're happy with the end results, and ask lots of questions.

We went through the on demand water heater question and went with a replacement tank, with an electronic start. We have on demand at home and I like them but the cost was a turn off.

Enjoy the ride!
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:24 AM   #8
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arktos55343

Welcome to 'airforums' and enjoy your new project!

I am sure that you have found out that there are lots of useful threads and very helpful people on this forum to make your TT tasks a lot easier.

Welcome again,
Chris
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:01 AM   #9
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1972 25' Tradewind
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Peeling back the years

Thanks for all the great replies. I'm enjoying reading through all the different threads from fellow 'Streamers' who have gone through this before. Very helpful. But I must admit to staying up WAY past my bedtime exploring this forum.

Spent about 20 hours this weekend gutting the interior of the '72 TW. Next step will be to remove the inner skin. Update and rewire. Re-insulate. Replace the rotted floor. Hopefully, I will get that far before the Minnesota winter sets in (but hopefully, it will be a MILD winter this year...so I can work throughout.) I have a date with Glacier National Park next September. Though I don't plan on being finished with the renovation by then, I would at least hope to have it sealed up and new mechanicals installed...so I can use it as a big rolling tent, if nothing else.

Cheers!
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:05 AM   #10
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Thanks very much! I would love to stop by sometime and see what you have done.
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Old 10-01-2012, 08:16 AM   #11
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If you plan on heating it with a heat pump, that won't work below the 30's. Below around 40˚, they become inefficient and require 120 v., so boondocking will be out and any camping when it gets cold.

You'll find you are spending a lot of time here learning, and you can add that into your restoration schedule.

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Old 10-01-2012, 09:14 AM   #12
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78 argosy 24' with similar issues

Hey - all I am in southern Brooklyn Park and have similar issues. My trailer has been at Airstream park in Clear Lake MN for the past few years since I bought it but the floor repair (under the rear bathroom) and some plumbing work are becoming more urgent as they have deteriorated some.

this will be the first year that i will be bringing the trailer to my home to hopefully get some of the work done over the winter. I am not a carpenter but comfortable with mechanical assembly/disassembly and may be looking for some help once I can see the floor and the damage. I am thinking a partial flooring repair would be nice as I intend to keep my trailer as original looking as possible, just upgrading mechanical systems where I can.

I will probably start a new thread when I get it home and can start taking pictures and really looking at the details. I would love a chance to see what some others that are local here have done and may be able to trade some work/time if you run into things where additional hands would be helpful.

Jon
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Old 10-01-2012, 10:51 AM   #13
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Thanks for the info on heat-pumps. I had run across similar info. Still considering it down the road, as I am probably more of a fair weather camper anyways...and there are other ways to supplement heat on chillier days/nights...as in radiant floor heating and a space heater here or there. Plus, I plan to really up the R value of the insulation once I get that far. Long way to go before I get to the mechanicals.
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Old 10-01-2012, 10:57 AM   #14
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Happy to share information with you as we go along on a similar road here. My rear bath area is totally rotted out. Plus I have a few soft spots and a couple holes in other areas. So, I figure a total floor replacement is in the works. I just ordered my new on-demand hot water system. So while the floor is out, I will be reconfiguring all the water lines, gas lines and tanks. Not to mention doing any necessary work on the frame (not looking forward to that). I gutted my trailer, as I am not planning on having an 'original' look. I'll be building all new cabinets...the works. Hoping for a very mild winter here.... LOL
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Old 10-01-2012, 10:58 AM   #15
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Figuring things out here....

Sorry if my posts appear out of order.... still trying to figure out how this forum works.....
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:27 AM   #16
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I am all for making your things yours in what ever way they make sense to you.

I like original because I found a trailer where it suites me - it is complete and has a twin bunk bed layout that works for my family; even the upholstery is pretty intact.

I may find out that doing the complete floor once makes more sense than than patching multiple times but I don't want to lose the use of the trailer any longer than necessary. I like using things while they are in progress which means small steps where possible.
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:53 AM   #17
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I still think an A/C with heat pump is useful when temps are cool, but not down below 35 or 40˚. The newer thermostats turn off the heat pump around 28˚ and turn on the furnace, but they are noisy, so we use a catalytic heater—Lasko makes a gazillion versions and they are cheap and work well. Either way you are using campground electricity rather than your propane for the furnace. The A/C/heat pump is noisy too.

I'm all for a redesign of a trailer. I'm sure your cabinets will be far superior in quality to anything made by Airstream. But there are limits. The most weight should be over the axles. Plenty of storage at floor level brings the center of gravity down. All trailer companies have to deal with these constants and there aren't a whole of lot of options. Kitchen and bath go in the middle, bed and dinette at the ends. When Airstream made trailers with either the bath or especially the kitchen at one end they eventually got rear- or front-end separation. Many Airstreams have the shower over the wheel wells and that limits floor space to turn around, so if I were doing it, I'd look for a way to have the shower just before and after the wheel wells, but the shower takes up a lot of space, so that may not be easy.

Water tanks should be in the middle too. Yours may not have had a grey water tank, so you'll want one of those for boondocking. And you need heat to be directed to those tanks for cold mornings (and days). Only the furnace can heat the tanks.

Radiant floor heating means a hot water system. Airstream installs that in trailers meant for Europe, so there is knowledge about that, but I don't know if the tanks are heated in those models. Can you use a propane fueled heater to heat the hot water for radiant heat—I'm sure you can and use it for domestic hot water too, but what is the efficiency of that compared to a regular RV furnace? Ho9w do you prevent using so much domestic hot water than you drain the heating system? One of the problems with the furnace is it is noisy and inefficient. One reason is the flexible ducts used by Airstream. If there were straight metal ducts with few bends in them, it would be quieter and more efficient, but routing ducts can be a big challenge. That's why they use flexible ones. They require little skill and are not as labor intensive as metal duct work.

Insulation is also something to think about. Airstream is still using fiberglass and it is not as good as foam products. You also have to think about adding paths for water vapor to exit the trailer. You can count on leaks, but attaching roof items with double sided industrial strength tape for fans, skylight and vents helps, though I'm not sure the A/C should be attached with tape.

Gene
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:45 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Radiant floor heating means a hot water system.
I'll bet the OP was referring to electric radiant floor heating system.
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:50 PM   #19
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I'll bet the OP was referring to electric radiant floor heating system.
Could be. It would restrict him to campgrounds and maybe he would need 50 amp spaces.

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Old 10-01-2012, 04:18 PM   #20
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Would love to have you and Harker70 come up. We kind of enjoy showing off what we've done so far. PM when you want to come! Hopefully we're past needing extra help now: just cabinetry to build. However we're available to help if you need extra hands (but you're on your own dropping the bellypan - eeewwwww! It was pretty gross.).

Kay
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