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Old 07-29-2015, 06:48 PM   #1
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 170
1949 Liner restoration

So a while back I found a 1949 Airstream Liner online and purchased it, driving all the way to Kansas to pick it up and haul it home. When I got it home to my driveway, it was looking a little blue.
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Old 07-29-2015, 06:53 PM   #2
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
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Posts: 170
The blues slowly went away, thanks to a lot of paint stripper, elbow grease, and sweat. Alas, what was found beneath was not shiny, though it seemed to glow in the afternoon sun.
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Old 07-29-2015, 07:04 PM   #3
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1948 22' Liner
1989 34' Limited
long beach , Mississippi
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 464
Welcome and congratulations . you got a nice little project there.. hope the aluminum can be polished out :-) how is the interior?

Our 48 liner was rough and came on a flat bed.. you could at least pull yours
have a look at our resurrection.. might give you some pointers :-)

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f60/...on-113774.html
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Resurrecting one Airstream at the time..
maybe one day i save them all
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Old 07-29-2015, 07:23 PM   #4
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
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Thanks for the welcome, Submariner. I've already been mining your post for a while now. It's just recently I decided I wanted to share my own tale.

The interior was largely missing or replaced. There were a few nice surprises, though. Three overhead cabinets ("roof lockers" in the old Airstream sales literature) were still there, and the sink cabinet (not shown) was mostly intact.

There were also a couple less pleasant surprises. Why yes, that is "wheel tub" comprising 2x4's and a bit of plywood, partially obscured by disgusting carpeting. I knew about the dents and the exterior patches from the advertising, but that one came as a surprise. Not as much of a surprise as the three layers of flooring products and two layers of plywood (three in one place; a few additional metal patches in others) that I found when I started looking around the "wheel tub."
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Old 07-29-2015, 07:35 PM   #5
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1948 22' Liner
1989 34' Limited
long beach , Mississippi
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looks at least better on the inside than ours did. do you plan a shell off and rebuild / re-inforce the frame? I bed most of the connection between the outriggers and the pipe are gone.. a way to check that is to see, you you can twist the pipe in either direction.. i could almost spin mine :-)
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Resurrecting one Airstream at the time..
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Old 07-29-2015, 07:38 PM   #6
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1949 22' Liner
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It took only a short time to dispose of the interior. The original interior pieces that could be saved were. The curtains, carpet, disgusting bed, decrepit wooden thing at the front, and rusty furnace all went to the trash. Then came the hard part. Removing the layers of flooring and plywood. It took weeks of intermittent work, wearing a P100 mask and wetting down the flooring due to concerns about possible asbestos release, before I was down to the last layer of plywood alone.

It took me another couple of days, wearing the mask again, to complete cleanup afterwards. Then I could see the inner skins and the bottom layer of plywood floor quite nicely. It came as no great shock that the plywood was completely rotted along much of the perimeter. In some areas the rot extend over a half foot inward from the perimeter.
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Old 07-30-2015, 06:23 AM   #7
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1948 22' Liner
1989 34' Limited
long beach , Mississippi
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Yep.... Looks familiar .. :-)


Sent from my iPhone using Airstream Forums
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:48 AM   #8
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1948 22' Liner
Bordeaux , Gironde
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Nice project but quiet a lot of work ! Thanks for sharing this !
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:45 AM   #9
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1948 22' Liner
Bordeaux , Gironde
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOhioSean View Post
So a while back I found a 1949 Airstream Liner online and purchased it, driving all the way to Kansas to pick it up and haul it home. When I got it home to my driveway, it was looking a little blue.
Hi,
What about your project since 2015 ? Have you finished it ?
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Old 08-24-2020, 03:30 PM   #10
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pierrew View Post
Hi,
What about your project since 2015 ? Have you finished it ?
My trailer restoration is still a work in progress, though much progress has been made. If I find time in the next few days I will look into posting a few more updates and photos.
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Old 08-25-2020, 02:59 PM   #11
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1949 22' Liner
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2014 work on 1949 Airstream Liner

As shown in earlier posts, I spent 2012-2013 removing the few tattered remnants of the interior, stripping exterior paint, and removing the layers of floor tile, sheet flooring, and extra plywood. Starting in April 2014, I began removing the inner skins and insulation. I began stripping the layers of paint from the inner skins. And I removed the rear two panels of floor plywood.

As you can see from the photos, a lot of the old plywood was rotten, there is a big dent in one of the exterior skin panels on the streetside toward the rear, and the central pipe on the old pipe frame was rusty. I had planned to address that in 2014, but that was not to be.

By early July 2014 my attention had turned from the Airstream to the shed that was sinking into the mud and gravel. That had to be placed on a new foundation, and also moved back about eight feet to allow better clearance for the trailer. And then the shed had to be fixed a bit - painting good wood and replacing bad. Alas, by the time that was done, and the spot where the shed used to be had pavers down, it was 2015.
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Old 08-25-2020, 03:18 PM   #12
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1949 22' Liner
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2015 work on 1949 Airstream Liner (part 1)

Early 2015 was spent finishing work on paving where the shed had been, plus rerunning the now-longer electric line to it. It was June 2015 before I resumed work on the Liner.

A pleasant surprise was that a previous owner had welded some steel angle extensions to the short steel frame rails rearwards, and welded a cross-piece between the channels and the central pipe. Alas, this meant more rusty steel to sand clean, prime, and paint.

The horribly crumpled section of belly pan beneath the dent came out. The first sections of new plywood went in. I sealed the plywood with three coats of polyurethane.
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Old 08-25-2020, 03:31 PM   #13
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
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2015 work on 1949 Airstream Liner (part 2)

The remainder of 2015's Airstream season was spent bending aluminum sheet. First, I built a metal bending brake based on plans I found on the internet. Then, I used the brake and some hand tools to create two trapezoidal wheel tubs to replace the one missing and one mangled half-cylinder wheel tubs. Alas, my limited fabrication skills did not extend to replicating the half cylinders, though I have since learned enough I could probably manage with some hammer-forming.

Additional aluminum was bent to create brackets for connecting the steel frame extensions with the rearmost aluminum floor joist. Some also went to fabricating partial floor joist to replace some that had been mangled by the dent.

Alas, that was about it for 2015. And nothing much Airstream-related happened in 2016. So my next post will resume coverage in the very productive year of 2017.
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Old 08-25-2020, 04:22 PM   #14
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
Fredericksburg , Texas
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A 49 Liner is a neat vintage. Taking a renovation project slowly allows plenty of time to think ahead and only do it once. Looking forward to Part 3. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 08-26-2020, 08:26 AM   #15
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubba L View Post
A 49 Liner is a neat vintage. Taking a renovation project slowly allows plenty of time to think ahead and only do it once. Looking forward to Part 3. Good luck and keep us posted.
Thanks, Bubba L. There's more to come/
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Old 08-26-2020, 08:46 AM   #16
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
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2015 work on 1949 Airstream Liner (part 3)

I thought I'd be moving on to 2017, but I found some more work I did in 2015.

There was a nasty dent and a poor patch toward the rear of the streetside.

Replacing the poor patch with a better patch proved more tricky than I was prepared to deal with at the time. There's just enough of a compound curve that a flat sheet of aluminum refused to conform well. So I taped some Reflectix over the hole to keep the weather out.

I drilled out a few rivets to free up the dented outer skin panel and attempted to bend the panel back into shape. It was only partially successful, and I am still contemplating cutting that section of the skin out and replacing it with fresh aluminum. Below the dent, the C channel and a section of the belly pan were quite mangled. I removed them at the this time.

More successful was patching where the furnace had been. I cut a rectangular patch. I placed it into position and initially attached with Trempro, then drilled holes and riveted it into place with Olympic rivets.

OK, that's it for 2015, really.
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Old 08-26-2020, 02:27 PM   #17
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
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2015 work on 1949 Airstream Liner (part 4)

I found more work I did in 2015 that I forgot, so the jump to 2017 is delayed a bit more. As you can see from the picture, the door hinges were rusty, the side marker lights were missing (broken; I removed their remnants), and the Air-O-Lite window next to the door had broken glass.

In 2015 I replaced the marker lights with new ones from Vintage Trailer Supply. I rebuilt the window, but I may redo it with a proper reproduction gasket from VTS instead of just sealant. And I sanded and painted the door hinges.

The vintage rear brake light and license plate holder was covered in paint. I stripped the paint, sanded down to clean steel, then sprayed it with silver paint. Then I screwed the assembly back on.

2017 next time... probably.
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Old 08-26-2020, 03:05 PM   #18
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
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2017 work on 1949 Airstream Liner (part 1)

So when the year 2017 began, I was still working on the floor and dented outer skin at the rear, as well as the wheel tubs. One wheel tub was missing when I got it, and the other was mangled. Over the course of February and March I dry fit the curbside new wheel tub, removed the mangled streetside wheel tub, and dry fit the streetside new wheel tub. Based upon the dry fit, I found I needed to tub the bottom of the outward sides of the tubs to match the notch in the outer skins.

Along the way I removed the rotting middle sheet of plywood floor and cleaned up beneath. This sheet of plywood was covering the front of the wheel tubs, the rear of the step area, and where the leaf springs attach to the steel rails. I sanded the worst of the rust off of the steel, all the way down to clean steel in some cases, then coated with rusty metal primer and a couple coats of top coat. I also fabricated some aluminum pieces to better seal off the belly pan area along the sides.

With the middle area cleaned up and ready, I finally installed the wheel tubs, and then permanently installed the plywood over the wheel tub flanges. With that done, 60% of the new plywood floor was in at rear and middle, and about 40% of the old rotting plywood was still in place in front, if with a few cuts to let the middle sheet of new plywood floor to go in.
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Old 08-31-2020, 01:16 PM   #19
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
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2017 work on 1949 Airstream Liner (part 2)

Where the dent was on the rear streetside, the lower portion of the ribs were quite bent. The C channel was in a pretty sorry state, Using my limited metal fabrication skills and tools, I put together some new pieces to replace them. (For the ribs, now, I'd probably try hammer forming, or some crude DIY stamping.) The C channel came out OK. The ribs came out... well, they came out less twisted than what they were replacing. Then I reattached the outer skin using Olympic rivets. This all took place more-or-less in parallel with the installation of the new wheel tubs.

Yeah, the dent's still there. Better than it was, but still worse than I'd like. I am considering completely redoing this section with new skin, new rib pieces, solid rivets, etc.
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Old 09-01-2020, 01:51 PM   #20
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1949 22' Liner
Cincinnati , Ohio
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Posts: 170
2017 work on 1949 Airstream Liner (part 3)

With the new wheel tubs installed and the dented area somewhat improved and riveted back into place, and the new floor plywood in place, there was still the forward portion of the trailer floor to deal with. The blue and white wires seen in the photos are lines for future electric trailer brakes.

Removing the next section of rotting plywood floor revealed fallen fiberglass insulation and rodent droppings, along with a rusting center pipe and corroded floor joists. Not a pretty picture. A couple of days of work got the filth removed and the worst of the rust off of the pipe.

Before I did any further work on the front, I replaced the rotting wood of the step, and sanded, primed, and painted the steel frame rails beside the step. Then I primed and painted the steel center pipe.

Next, I fabricated some partial floor joists to reinforce the existing joists, some of which were considerably corroded. I dry fit them, but did not install them yet. That pretty much wrapped up my 2017 work on my Airstream.
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