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happier 08-27-2004 07:56 PM

interior walls
Were the interior walls of earlier AS's the same as a 1971. Were the inside walls covered in wood instead of the vinyl clad aluminum of my model? If so, what thickness did they use and could I then remove my interior walls and replace them with wood panels. How structurally important are the end caps? Specifically, the living area in front. If I covered my walls with wood I would want to change the way the end cap looks as well. Maybe I could put a wooden faux finish on it to match the wood walls.

InsideOut 08-27-2004 08:24 PM

Before the vinyl-clad panels were introduced in the late 60's, Zolatone was the standard wall finish Airstream used. It's a speckled epoxy-type paint that is very durable.

Prior to that, in the earliest models they were painted. Airstream never used interior wood panels at the shell. The aluminum panels (however they are finished) provide part of the structural integrity of the trailer and wood would not be a suitable replacement.

Some have clad thin wood veneers to the aluminum panels for a warm woodsy cabin look. You may want to check out the RL Trailers to see some upscale examples.

If thicker panels are used instead of veneers, be careful about the extra weight you will be adding ~

Shari :)

malconium 08-27-2004 09:00 PM

Still want wood?

I see you are still wanting wood on the inside of your AS as you indicated in the thread titled "Help Identify Interior panels". Is there some reason that you are thinking that your existing interior aluminum skins can not be used as a base for wood? For example did you take them out and throw them away or something? If the interior skins really do need to be replaced with something new you can always use new aluminum and then overlay wood on top of it. You would get the necessary structural integrity and the wood you seem to want. I don't think it would be a good idea to not have the aluminum base in any case. Even if the earlier AS units had wood and only the newer ones had aluminum your unit is still designed to rely on the alumuminum for some structural integrity. Are your aluminum interior skins intact?

As far as the plastic end caps are concerned it is my opinion that they are not providing a great deal of structural stability to the frame. I base this opinion on the relatively small number of rivits holding them in and the fact that there is very little in the way of frame members behind them to be strengthened. Having said that it could be that the reason that it is not necessary to have much in the way of framework behind the plastic is because of the one peice end caps. I would think that you could use thin wood veneer to overlay the plastic end caps if you wanted. If you didn't keep the plastic you might have to add some additional framework to attach your wood to. Use triangular pieces something like the outside skin but more pieces so that the compound curve issue is not so much of a deal. The wood panels could touch the plastic end cap at the joints and not in between. That way the wood panels would have only a simple curve. The trick would be to get the panels cut to the right shape since they would not be a simple triangle but would have curved sides. Does your front plastic end cap have a built in shelf like on my 1973? If you wanted to change that you could probably cut out part of the end cap and replace it with wood.

Feel free to send me a private message if you want more details on what I said above or on the information that I put in the other thread.


happier 08-28-2004 02:17 PM

Interior walls

I still have my original skins. In fact, I haven't removed anything from the interior except the carpet,curtains, pull down shades, mattress and PO futon in the front. I have cleaned and cleaned but to no avail, I still have an odor problem. The PO let a leak in the antenna go for years and the musty/mildew spell will not go away. I fear it is between the panels (outer/inner) and will require a complete interior stripping and insulation replacement along with cleaning the interior inside walls. I also suspect that the old black water holding tank could be giving me trouble just because of its age. Do I have to remove the floor to put in another black holding tank? I've aleady painted the entire bare floor with primer to try and seal out the odor, and I have also cleaned every nook and cranny with cleaner. I also used damp rid, and an odor absorber. It is much better but I want it to smell normal before I finish the inside.
Did those of you with older AS have a problem with odor. I've seen the condition of some of the before pictures and the look like they must of smelled too. After you replaced the inside did the smell disappear? Will I need to remove my floor, do you think the smell is imbedded in the wood fibers after all it is a 1971.

thenewkid64 08-28-2004 04:22 PM

My advice is to drop the belly pan and R&R the insulation. That is likely the source of the odor. 33 years of dirt, water, and bugs/mice will make that insulation a smelly mess.

malconium 08-29-2004 01:56 AM

Now I understand better...

Now I understand better why you are so interested in wood. I don't blame you at all for wanting to get rid of the odor. On my unit there wasn't really much odor when I got it. Pretty much all of the interior had been taken out. Part of the kitchen sink cabinet was there along with the stove and sink. The refrigerator was there and the toilet was still in place but the walls around things and the shower were gone. I did have enough floor rot that I have replaced the entire floor. Most of the rot was from various leaks in the exterior skin that had evidently been leaking for some time. For example there were some screws missing from the awning mounts leaving holes that were completely open to the outside letting water come in and run down the walls to the floor. I was a bit surprised not to find things all moldy in the walls but that is what I found when I took out all the interior skins. I also did not really notice any odors to speak of when I took out the old insulation in the walls. You could have mold behind the walls but my experience suggest you may not. Also it was not really that hard to take out all of the interior skins but that was after everything else was out of the way.

Have you opened up the belly pan from the bottom to inspect the condition of things under the floor? Our daughter and son-in-law bought a 1966 AS that had significant rodent infestation and smells from that. While there was some evidence in the cabinets above the floor the majority of the problems were under the floor. Dead and decaying mice can make a really unpleasant smell too. There are enough openings of various kinds from the under floor area to the living area that odors would definitely come in. Let me know if you have not opened up the bottom yet and I can give you some information about that. Also you want to take some basic precautions if you think you might have dead rodents down there.

My black water tank was entirely above the floor (at the moment it is entirely outside of my AS). My unit is a 1973 31' mid-bath model. The tank on mine could have been replaced entirely from above the floor. Depending on what model you have it may be under the floor instead of above it. I would bet that you could replace it entirely from above the floor or entirely from below the floor without having to remove the floor itself. Do you have a copy of the service manual for you unit? I think they may have been available for 1971 and it is possible to order a copy. I found out a lot of valuable information from the copy of mine that I ordered. If you don't have one I can tell you where to check to see if you can order one. Also if you would let me know some more specifics about which size and floor plan you have I can look in mine to see if the 1973 is similar enough. I might be able to give you some clues as to where things are in your unit.

Please keep us posted on what you find. I am sure that there are plenty of people in the forums that can help you work through pretty much anything you encounter so don't hesitate to ask. I know I will be happy to do what I can.


A-Merry-Can 07-02-2005 12:44 AM

final outcome of the wooden walls debate?
i have been planning on building an interior in our '59 traveller along the lines of the globetrotter the guys at vintage vacations did. right now i'm in the process of taking the shell off, so it'll be a while before i'm ready, but i'm trying to get some of the details figured out in advance.

anyway, i had planned to cut all new panels from 1/4 maple plywood, but after reading this post, it sounds like a veneer is the smarter way? my biggest fear with a veneer is potential bubbling in the future. i'm building our airstream to last (and probably will only have it in me to do one of these!), and i'd hate to see these panels start to separate in a few years with the temperature/humidity changes that a trailer goes through. venners over a wooden base would seem to me to be considerably more stable, as wood would expand and contract at the same rates. wood on metal, however has me concerned.

does anyone know for certail how the RL guys or Vintage Vacations guys have done theirs? i would love to see some pics!



A-Merry-Can 07-02-2005 01:04 AM

sorry, i meant 1/8 maple ply below, not 1/4!

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