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Old 02-03-2012, 06:44 PM   #1
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Where is the 'soul' of a vintage trailer? And how bad is too bad for a frame?

While removing the subfloor today, we made some unhappy discoveries: Penetrating Rust.


Of the 3 crossmembers we can see, two and a half need to be replaced!

At what point do we throw up our hands and a) buy a nice tent or b)buy a new frame?
Since I live in RV manufacturing land and have connections to the underworld of RV parts, buying a new frame isn't out of the question. By the time you figure in costs to have new metal welded into the frame, having it sandblasted, painted with POR-15... All this adds up fast, making it almost as economical just to buy a new frame.

Which begs the question: Where is the "soul" of a vintage trailer located? In the axle? That's being replaced. The interior skins? Gone. Original lights? In the trash. The frame? Begging for its life. Exterior skin? Two panels will be replaced. At what point do I stop owning a "Vintage Airstream" and just have a very expensive pile of scrap metal?

All that to say, at what point should I give up on the old frame and opt for new? Help!
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Old 02-03-2012, 06:59 PM   #2
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Looks familiar

Quote:
Originally Posted by aluminitus View Post
While removing the subfloor today, we made some unhappy discoveries: Penetrating Rust.


Of the 3 crossmembers we can see, two and a half need to be replaced!

At what point do we throw up our hands and a) buy a nice tent or b)buy a new frame?
Since I live in RV manufacturing land and have connections to the underworld of RV parts, buying a new frame isn't out of the question. By the time you figure in costs to have new metal welded into the frame, having it sandblasted, painted with POR-15... All this adds up fast, making it almost as economical just to buy a new frame.

Which begs the question: Where is the "soul" of a vintage trailer located? In the axle? That's being replaced. The interior skins? Gone. Original lights? In the trash. The frame? Begging for its life. Exterior skin? Two panels will be replaced. At what point do I stop owning a "Vintage Airstream" and just have a very expensive pile of scrap metal?

All that to say, at what point should I give up on the old frame and opt for new? Help!
Once we got our Albatross torn apart and had several people take a look at it, we were to the point of either a) crying...especially me... b) sobbing....me...c) foul language....not me...mostly. The time and money it would have cost to try to repair what was there was too much and we opted for a new frame from front to back. Added in all new outriggers as well. The only things that we ended up being able to salvage were the steps, bumper, and tongue.

Yours looks a lot like ours was and I wish you luck on getting that fixed up. I think starting over was easier than trying to piece and cut and weld and fix. I don't know beyond our one AS so far so others can add a lot more here than I can.
Sandy
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Old 02-03-2012, 08:12 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aluminitus View Post
While removing the subfloor today, we made some unhappy discoveries: Penetrating Rust.............. At what point do I stop owning a "Vintage Airstream" and just have a very expensive pile of scrap metal?

All that to say, at what point should I give up on the old frame and opt for new? Help!
Looks like you'r already there.
I've done a couple of these, and I find it overpowering to think of the whole job. Just start with the idea of finishing it in bites, one job at a time. That way you can celabrate finishing over and over. It also helps if you have another trailer that you can use while working on the rebuild. Keeps you motivated to get finished.
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Old 02-03-2012, 08:16 PM   #4
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Your OK

If that is yours in the image gallery....with the body above the frame....your OK. The body looks great and the frame is fully exposed. A welder can fix the rust problem where needed and if you POR you should not sandblast. It is called paint over rust after all. Then have fun putting it together like you want it.....with your own concessions to modernization. Wiring is a breeze and with the new PEX type plumbing you can do that too. Insulation goes quick and is no more difficult that cut and paste. Take a deep breath....your almost there.
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Old 02-03-2012, 08:44 PM   #5
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Just saw this in the classified section. Might be just what you need.
Airstream Safari Frame For Sale - Airstream Trailer Classifieds - Airstreams Trailers For Sale
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Old 02-03-2012, 08:50 PM   #6
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I may have shared this before ...

A few years ago I was in a boat repair shop and I saw a ChrisCraft runabout being restored. The shop had replaced every single piece of wood except the transom. I mentioned this to the shop owner and he said that he was using the transom as a guide to getting the new parts to fit, but when he was done he would replace the transom also. That would mean that there wouldn't be so much as a screw left from the original boat. I asked "Wouldn't it have been easier to just get the blueprint and build it from scratch?" He looked at me quizzically and finally said "Well, then it wouldn't be a ChrisCraft."
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Old 02-03-2012, 08:57 PM   #7
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The term, as pointed out to me on these forums, is Lincoln's Axe. Look it up.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:27 PM   #8
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as others have suggested...

The cross members are thin to begin with and now is the time to fish or cut bait. I have no idea what that means since I do not fish, but replacing the cross members is not a big job. If you are not familar with metal work find friendly local welder to do the installation. Prep the job yourself to save money and sawall and grind away for a day. After doing this watching the welder work will add to the excitement.

While you are at it beef them up with slighty heavier stock and plan for gray tanks if they are part of the plan. Make sure it is all leveled and square before adding the new metal.

It will be ready for another fifty years.

And like Abe said, make sure ye tools are sharp and always wear eye and ear protection!

The hard part is over, except for those interior end pieces and all the cabinetry......oh... and putting the body back on.

Gary
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:41 PM   #9
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Where is the "soul" of a vintage trailer located?
Your vintage Airstream's soul is located within the breath of life that you breathe into it.
Your Airstream Spirit nourishes your trailer's soul and vice-versa.

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Old 02-04-2012, 06:11 AM   #10
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I am the “Soul Proprietor” of my trailer. I think Airstreams have an aura. The owner provides the soul. Whether you patch it back to life, or start anew, it will still have soul.
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Bill View Post
I may have shared this before ...

A few years ago I was in a boat repair shop and I saw a ChrisCraft runabout being restored. The shop had replaced every single piece of wood except the transom. I mentioned this to the shop owner and he said that he was using the transom as a guide to getting the new parts to fit, but when he was done he would replace the transom also. That would mean that there wouldn't be so much as a screw left from the original boat. I asked "Wouldn't it have been easier to just get the blueprint and build it from scratch?" He looked at me quizzically and finally said "Well, then it wouldn't be a ChrisCraft."
Reminds me of the story my father always told. It was how a man smoked the same pipe for 30 years. Had 25 new stems and 30 new bowls.

My numbers are probably wrong but you get the gist.
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:30 AM   #12
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I have a 1961 Scotty that falls right into this same situation. The frame is about all that is original at this point.
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Old 02-04-2012, 09:28 AM   #13
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Keep as much of the trailer as you can while still building it to your design. The spirit and soul come from the stories and occupants, the rest is just aluminum and wood. The rusty frame isn't much of a problem, replace pieces or the complete frame. imagine what the ford pickup in your first picture will look like after 50 years?
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:03 AM   #14
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complete 1940 Ford 5 window coupe

Bob Drake is reproducing a 1940 Ford coupe body-complete. He also trade marked the expression: "Everybody wants a '40". This thread should stand as a reminder to those who want a vintage trailer. Find a title, and have one built-it will take less time, and save money.
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Old 02-04-2012, 10:21 AM   #15
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At least I still have the faded "lifetime warranty" paper glued to the old closet door. That ought to count for at least half a soul!
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Old 02-04-2012, 09:03 PM   #16
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At least I still have the faded "lifetime warranty" paper glued to the old closet door. That ought to count for at least half a soul!
I think that counts for a lot! My husband likes to mock me about my trailer. He says the only thing you need to make it "vintage" or an Airstream for that matter is the VIN badge! My Bambi II will only have the outer shell and some of the interior sheets as original material. My husband & son made me a new frame & everything else on the interior will be new. I just look at it as a hobby that might be useful someday! I made a trip out to Elkhart & SW Michigan for lots of stuff for my interior. You're lucky to be so close! It was great fun (like a kid in a candy store, that's for sure!). Good luck with whatever you choose to do!
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Old 02-05-2012, 05:50 AM   #17
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This reminds me of an old airplane story.

The Douglas DC-3 was the greatest aircraft of its day. It was faster and more capable than anything flying at the time.
Even as they began to age, they remained in commercial use for years. To keep them flying, parts and body skins were replaced.
Sometimes a point was reached that it could be said that the only thing left original on a particular aircraft was the serial number plate and the shadow the airframe left on the ground…….
Good Luck with whatever route you choose.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:47 AM   #18
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Its a dilemma for sure. The frame is surprisingly fixable. I guess the real questions are:
1) How much did you pay?
2) How much do you got?!
A friend told me regarding my resto project "..dude you are eating an Elephant sandwich. Deep breaths and small bites."
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:33 PM   #19
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My father-in-law owns and RV conversion business (they turn horse trailers into living quarters and horse trailers) so he is checking on the price of a new frame. All is not lost on the old frame, however. As we pulled up more floor, it turns out that the back two and the front crossmember, as well as the two front outriggers need to be replaced. Everything else looks in pretty good shape. I will start sandblasting this week (hopefully) and then we can send it off for some welding.
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:46 PM   #20
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Boy, if that's the case, then the best advice is to concentrate on keeping your marriage in great shape... and let those in-laws take care of the rest!
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