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Old 06-19-2003, 02:19 AM   #1
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retro re-creation


My wife and I are just starting to look at Airstreams. Some of the brand new models have great 'retro' interiors. Can anyone tell me if there are companies out there that would restore used Airstreams (maybe 5 years old?), to give the interiors that 'retro' look?

Also, does anyone have any ideas how to estimate what such a re-creation might cost?

just starting to search!
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Old 06-19-2003, 09:33 AM   #2
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Retro look

Most of the interior furniture of the retro (CCD) line is simply 3/4" plywood with laminates applied to the surfaces. The "guts" of the furniture can be readily seen by downloading the parts manuals from the Airstream site. Any cabinet shop should be able to duplicate the look.

One notable exception is the CCD overhead cabinets. I would expect that these could be ordered through an Airstream dealer. Probably rather pricey though.

Matching laminate could also be applied to existing walls and furniture. Everything in an Airstream will fit through the door so that all furniture can be upgraded in a shop instead of in the trailer. Relaminating is not difficult; there are many examples on this forum.

I know of one other owner who has obtained the oval bathroom door window and the lights that are used in the CCD to install in his Safari because he liked the retro look.
John W. Irwin
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Old 06-19-2003, 09:57 AM   #3
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There is currently such a unit up for bid on eBay.(1969, 23' Safari) The opening bid is $18000 and the seller has had NO takers (this is the second auction attempt). The makeover appears to be nicely done (I do not like the swirl pattern on the interior skin, but that is personal). The exterior has also been polished.

There is a second unit ('79, 31') also up for bid that is a total interior redo (custom solid cherry cabinets, etc, but NOT retro) and the starting bid is $16,000.

I mention these two NOT as recommendations but as examples of total interior makeovers.

The actual asking price is higher on both these units as they both have reserves that have not been met (again, no bids on either at this point).

Doing a total retro interior is not cheap as it involves LOTS of craftmanship and labor, not to mention the materials. The whole A/S retro trend was started when Wilsonart approached A/S with a retro design that featured Wilsonart solid surface and laminate materials. If you go the Wilsonart web site, you can still see the concept design (computer generated). The concept was not initially accepted by A/S but apparently the seeds were sown for the current CCD look.

Good luck, and remember that you want to make POSITIVE of the underlying mechanicals as well as the systems before spending a bundle on an interior only to find that you have major problems elsewhere.
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Old 06-19-2003, 11:06 AM   #4
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Retro Re-Creation

Greeings DarkStar!

There are two possibilities that spring to mind when one mentions interior refurbishment/restoration/modification. One possibilty, at least at one time not too long ago, was the Airstream factory - - I looked at two different Airstreams (a late 1970s and a late 1980s) that had been updated by the Airstream factory for the previous owners. The second possibility is a shop near Paducah, Kentucky (Symsonia, KY) that specializes in Interior Restoration/Refurbishiment/Redesign - - Fowler Interiors.

Fowler Interiors restored the interiors of both my '78 Argosy and the '64 Overlander. The quality of their work is beyond reproach, and they worked with me to achieve precisely the results that I wanted. The '64 was more of a refurbishment rather than restoration as I wanted several changes from original in color and appointments, but all of the original cabinetry and fixtures were retained - - beautifully refinished to their original luster. The '78 Argosy was also a refurbishment but retained the original color scheme - - new drapes in a fabric that was a near match for the original, new upholstery reflecting the original colors of burnt orange, forrest green and golden brown (an autumn print was chosen rather than the original geometric design), new Armstrong laminate flooring in a cherry wood finish/design was chosen as it appeared to be the only reasonable alternative to carpeting (the coach has aluminum composite floors that are attached to the structure with rivets), and all of the original cabinetry was cleaned and polished. A ball-park figure for both interior refurbishments was $300/linear foot (measuring front to rear inside the coach) - - the actual cost is quite dependent upon the fabrics chosen and the degree of reconstruction necessary to achieve the desired end result - - neither of my projects required much wood working - - one cabinet end and a new table top in the '64 Airstream; and a new credenza and table top and birch veneer upper cabinet doors (with pickling stain to simulate the original off-white platic laminate that is no longer available) in the '78 Argosy.

It is quite possible to find shops specializing in refurbishing/redesigning Airstream interiors, but be prepared for the cost of craftsmanship - - it does seem like the old addage "you get what you pay for" applies in this situation (IMHO).

Good luck with your decision!

Kevin D. Allen
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Old 06-19-2003, 11:52 AM   #5
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The risk of over-investing

Keep in mind that a truly custom Airstream, while a joy to own, will be a tough sell -- as those sellers of $18k trailers on eBay are discovering. A lot of people who are willing to spend that kind of money on a retro trailer would just as soon have it done to their personal specs rather than buy somebody else's.

The $18k 1969 Safari on eBay is a great example. I love it except for the interior wall paint. If I had $18k to throw into a total rebuild, I'd copy a lot of what this guy did and add a few of my own customizations. I'd get exactly what I wanted for about the same money ...

So go wild with your retro Airstream. Just keep in mind that "one of a kind" may mean nobody loves it as much as you do! If you plan to own it forever, then who cares? Go for it!

-- RL
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Old 06-23-2003, 01:16 AM   #6
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One notable exception is the CCD overhead cabinets. I would expect that these could be ordered through an Airstream dealer.
I agree, they could probably be ordered. However, they probably would not fit properly in a vintage trailer. The overall shape (section) is different with the vintage units being more rounded than the newer CCD models.

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Old 06-23-2003, 10:43 PM   #7
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I had my trailer redone on the inside. the bath and top cabinets are original, everything else is new and made from scratch.
It was great to have an interior made the way I wanted it.
Here's a link to the progress photos: http://iowaboys.com/restore/langley/globetrotter.htm

Here's a shot of it after:
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Old 06-24-2003, 06:32 AM   #8
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I say take it to David's house. His work is awesome. When it comes time to rehash our '03 Bambi, I'm goin' to Dave's!! I love what he did with his '02 Bambi!

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Old 06-24-2003, 08:46 AM   #9
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Wow !

This is a great forum! Thank you all for some great ideas and leads.

As I read and reread my original question and your responses I realized that I meant to ask a few more things...

Is it practical, during restorations, to move things around? For instance move the bathroom or kitchen a few feet? Is it practical to move the door or add windows? Are there any structural concerns when undertaking these kinds of activities? And finally, why do so many floorplans put the windows in the front? Aren't they more vulnerable there?

just starting to search!
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Old 06-24-2003, 11:53 AM   #10
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Is it practical, during restorations, to move things around? For instance move the bathroom or kitchen a few feet?
Sure it's possible...there are a lot of examples here on the forum of folks who have totally gutted the insides and re-designed them to better suit their needs. The biggest concern would be for distributing the weight evenly....and of course, cost.

Is it practical to move the door or add windows? Are there any structural concerns when undertaking these kinds of activities?
No...it would not be practical to move the exterior door or windows. The Airstream body has monocoque construction which would be structurally compromised if altered. Is it possible...sure, again the only thing stopping you is the almighty $$$.

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Old 06-25-2003, 12:08 AM   #11
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Interior restoration$$$

You know who is to blame for this huge upswing on the "value" of vintage A/S...especially Bambi's? Ralph Lauren!!! He has several on his website that were really "decorated" to the nines! The Adironack model was my favorite, as they must have added about 3,000 lbs in logs and branches of trees and wood trim, not to mention the authentic Navajo rugs, and real copper cookware!
While they are stunning, they are offered with a starting bid of $150,000!
Well, does the tank dump for that $? If you've been fishing, do want to use that real Pendelton blanket ?
The whole idea of owning one these beauties is to love your Silver Bullet, and make it yours. Most of the better laminate shops have the stock colors for the walls, etc. and I know that some people had a problem with the orange in the new models, just don't get caught up in it too much...then you won;t enjoy it later, as you will worry about the "putting your feet up on the furniture"to the point that it will become a chore for someone to keep house and not do anything else!
I also "brightened" up my avocado "pickled" woodwork by sanding down and restaining with a fresher, but still AVOCADO green wood stain (Minwax) and then sealed with a satin sealer. I was lucky to have all original lights in mine, although I'm looking for two rims (brass) for my copper cone lights.
I say, stay neutral and add your own touches as curtains(with blackout fabric really helps with the temperatures as well) and great throw rugs and pillows. I did redo the two curtains (in a heavy ripstop nylon found at a overuns upholstery shop at the closet and bath, with the old rods and sliders with the old magnet closures. I did have a seamstress redo the cushions, the old ones were intact(for patterns), but highly suspect as to health hazards. It is starting to look really great and if I could get myself back under the holding tank to work on the flange valve, I might get on the road soon!
Keep your chrome heart shining/ long may you run
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