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-   -   Tale of a '55 FC Whale Reno (https://www.airforums.com/forums/f73/tale-of-a-55-fc-whale-reno-154849.html)

Bubba L 08-05-2016 04:17 PM

Tale of a '55 FC Whale Reno
 
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Greetings All,

My wife and I recently made a trip to upper Michigan to retrieve a 1955 Flying Cloud Whale Tail (VIN 7922-WBCCI 3960). We had extensive discussions with the owner and received a lot of pictures prior to making the decision to purchase. We decided it was a go and headed to Michigan from central Texas. We packed one of everything I could think of in the event the FC needed assistance for the trip home. I had taken a couple of new wheels/tires to switch out the old split rims. The PO had stated that the bearings had been repacked a couple of thousand miles ago and parked in this location for three years. I took the old rims off and the hub assembly seemed to be in good condition. We installed the new wheels and headed back to Texas. When we first saw the FC up close and personal, our first impression was that it was truly a diamond in the rough. I'm thinking more rough than diamond.

Bubba L 08-05-2016 04:23 PM

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The FC project will be our second restoration in so many years. Two years ago we purchased a 1966 Safari Twin California made. We traveled to Sacramento to pick it up. The PO had started the restoration. He removed the shell, repaired the chassis and installed new plywood subfloor. The old existing cabinetry was piled in the middle of the floor with buckets of parts/pieces. We had no idea what or where these pieces belonged. We had posted a couple of questions on the Forum and received a response from Mimi Andrews. Lo and behold, she was several hours north of us and had a Safari with VIN number two digits off ours. For almost a year, she sent dimensions, pictures, and answered questions on where all these bits and pieces went. If it weren't for Mimi, we would still be in the sweeping out stage of the Safari. We completed the restoration of the Safari and took our maiden trip to Inks Lake State Park for a few days where we camped with Mimi and he dog Blackie. This just shows that the Forum is a vast database of knowledge with great people sharing the same interest.

Bubba L 08-05-2016 04:33 PM

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Now, back to the FC. We've been back from Michigan for a couple of weeks. So far, we have removed all interior cabinetry and the lower interior skin panels. During the heat of the day, I will set up in the barn and strip the panels I removed and set those aside for future installation.

Stephanie, my wife, is starting research taking the stove/oven apart and the interior design and color scheme. We had the original Seafoam Zolatone green. We're considering going back with the Zolatone Flex in a green tint. Not a perfect match, but may be adequate. Though the 66 Safari originally had half stripped vinyl on the interior walls, we opted to go with the Zolatone Flex due to the toughness. This is a roll-on application that is tougher than you can imagine.

Meanwhile, I will be removing banana wrap rivets in prep for the removal of the shell. The FC has good bones, but we're finding that some of the bones need replacing. The floor is rotted around the entire perimeter and some of the bottom C-channel needs to be replaced after the new subfloor is installed.

The top of the FC was painted at some point in time. The paint is flaking off. I wasn't sure if the PO had etched the top to receive paint or not. I used some Citristrip on a couple of square feet on the front exterior 13-panel. This took the peeling paint off. Then, I used some Nuvite and brought the skin up to a near mirror finish. This was a relief. I've heard that owners who opted to paint the tops in the past actually did the skin a favor by protecting against corrosion. Just a little more work stripping the old paint.

I don't know what we'll run into when we remove the shell. I'm hoping that the chassis is in reparable condition and not just a framework of thin, rusted C-channel. I'm sure we will have questions along the way and can certainly appreciate the knowledge base the Forum offers.

Bubba L 08-10-2016 09:54 AM

It has been very hot here in central Texas, but I've made a little progress in stripping the interior bottom panels that will be reused. They were originally covered with green Zolatone, then 2 coats of PO paint. One coat of Citristrip will remove the 2 coats of paint and some of the Zolatone; a second coat of Citristrip gets MOST of the Zolatone off. I use a palm sander with 400 grit sandpaper to smooth it out to receive Kilz Adhesion.

We used Kilz Adhesion and Zolatone Flex, a roll-on application, for our '66 Safari renovation and were very pleased.

56 Flyg Cld 08-10-2016 01:08 PM

Thanks for your post. We recently became owners of a 56 Flying Cloud. This will be our first experience and look forward to your posts.

toastie 08-10-2016 04:25 PM

post lots of pictures

toastie

toastie 08-10-2016 04:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bubba L (Post 1833342)
It has been very hot here in central Texas, but I've made a little progress in stripping the interior bottom panels that will be reused. They were originally covered with green Zolatone, then 2 coats of PO paint. One coat of Citristrip will remove the 2 coats of paint and some of the Zolatone; a second coat of Citristrip gets MOST of the Zolatone off. I use a palm sander with 400 grit sandpaper to smooth it out to receive Kilz Adhesion.

We used Kilz Adhesion and Zolatone Flex, a roll-on application, for our '66 Safari renovation and were very pleased.

Bubba

on my 1955 safari I found out that it was cheaper to buy new aluminum when considering the cost of the stripper and your time.

toastie

Bubba L 08-10-2016 05:21 PM

To 56 Flyng Cld, congratulations on your acquisition! Will you renovate or does it need it?

To toastie: I do appreciate the suggestion and you are undoubtedly right! If I were not so cheap, I'd take it. I have several hundred $$ worth of panels I'll have to replace and I was trying to save some money. Besides, I am retired and have the time.

56 Flyg Cld 08-11-2016 09:15 AM

56 Flying Cloud
 
Hi Bubba, We are going to renovate it, It was stored in a barn in AZ FOR 30 Years. Since this is our first one and I have limited time right now we are going to remove the windows one at a time and get the outside watertight.

Stephanie L 08-11-2016 10:47 AM

Hardware
 
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Hi, this is Stephanie, Bubba L's wife.

First, toastie, where do you get your aluminum? We priced it at a brick & mortar store locally and it was very high. After your post, it prompted us search online to find much better prices!

Second, I have been cleaning hardware and would like to know if the following pictured items are found in other 50's trailers. I suspect one of the PO's redecorated at some point. The pulls look a little too feminine to be original?

The 60's hinges had a little bullet looking top and bottom; do your 50's hinges look like this?

The light cover was found on the exterior of the trailer pointing towards the stairs. On VTS, that light cover is similar to the Spartan Manor scare light. We would have discounted it as not original, but it was wired with the original wiring. Perhaps the first PO added it way back when? Anybody else have a Spartan Manor scare light aimed at their stairs?

toastie 08-11-2016 11:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Stephanie L (Post 1833853)
Hi, this is Stephanie, Bubba L's wife.

First, toastie, where do you get your aluminum? We priced it at a brick & mortar store locally and it was very high. After your post, it prompted us search online to find much better prices!

Stephanie

Bought at
https://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalo...eet_2024t3.php

For the interior I used 2024T3, 0.032 Alclad (heat treated), typ for a Airstream.

For the belly pan you would "not" use 2024T3.

Hope this helps
toastie

Bubba L 08-17-2016 07:42 PM

Lift Off!
 
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We finally got to the point of preparing to lift the shell. I spent a couple of days screwing spreaders for the interior lower section. With the lower interior skin out, this made it easy to screw through the lower ribs into 2x6s on edge. I'm sure a 2x6 was an overkill, but that's what I had laying around. I built the spreaders and moved the trailer into position just outside the barn door using a 2" ball on the front bucket of my tractor. I figured it would be better to push the trailer into the barn versus backing it up with my truck. At least I could see more of what I was doing with only 4" to spare on each side of the door jamb to squeeze the trailer through. After we had everything set up and double checked all concerns, I figured we should sleep on it first, then pull the shell the next day.

In the interim, we started digging into what we we'll need to get the chassis in shape. We called Colin Hyde to get information on a torsion axle. We got him on the first call and had a long discussion on axles and our plans to lift the shell. Good thing we spoke. Evidently, my idea of lift points were overkill. I had in mind of building a frame on the floor attached to the ribs with 45 degrees supports higher on the ribs. Colin said that all I needed was a board (I used a 2x6) spanning the inside of the shell at the roofline. Use carpet remnants to cover the board where it may mar the roofline. Place eye bolts through the board with a back plate to guard against pull out at the center of each vent opening. Tack weld the eye bolt at the loop end so it doesn't spread open under a load. Then, attach the spreader bar (above the shell attached to the hoist) to each of the eye bolts. This spreads the load evenly for a level lift. I yielded to the expert and reworked my supports and rigging. I left some of the floor spreaders in place, but his way sure made it a lot simpler. We removed all rivets along the lower area. Except for those that I missed, didn't see, or my wife bucked some in just to fool me. We positioned the trailer under the center of the chain fall hook and attached to our inside 2x6. We had an attachment point centered on each of the three openings on top. We tensioned the hoist and, sure enough, there were about a dozen unseen rivets I needed to pop. Got those out and we had "lift off". We pulled the chassis out of the barn and started removing plywood and whatever else was in the belly pan. I swear I saw a chipmunk take off running. We don't have those in Texas; must have made the trip from Michigan.

We had a couple more long discussions with Colin making sure I gave him the correct dimensions of the chassis so he could get the axle ordered. During our discussions, we realized that our 22' chassis was not the normal for that year. We have 2"x4" tube members for the main frame beams versus the C-channel that was customary. Colin said that the tubes were usually incorporated on the chassis of the longer trailers. I'm not griping. I'd rather have a little more rigidity. Also, in measuring our frame width, our FC seems to be a few inches wider outside frame to outside frame. Our inside finish wall dimension will still be 85.5", but the chassis is a little unusual. Due to the lack of room this creates in the wheel well, Colin recommended horizontal shocks instead of vertical. We have the axle ordered and it will be here in 3-4 weeks. Thanks for the help, Colin. That gives me time to work on the chassis and get it cleaned up, weld new outriggers where needed, and seal the chassis.

jjmtb 08-17-2016 09:01 PM

Tale of a '55 FC Whale Reno
 
Subscribed. Nice work and thanks for the pics. It helps all of us.

I found my project in the UP as well. I hope this wasn't some little secret we spilled.


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Bubba L 08-19-2016 04:13 AM

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Better shots of lift mechanism - from inside and top of trailer.

64airstream 08-19-2016 07:18 AM

Bubba and Stephanie,

Great project, thanks for sharing. I'm just chiming in to follow along.

BTW, we worked with Colin to order our '68 axles and the replacement job was perfect. Every bolt hole lined up.

Enjoy the project and keep posting!

Roy and Marie

Bubba L 08-23-2016 05:14 PM

Beginning Frame Work
 
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Hi all,

Stephanie's been stripping paint from the roof and I am continuing to work toward repairing the frame. For the most part, it's in pretty good shape for the age. Some of the 15" outriggers have been bent, rusted through, or compromised by a PO (see photo of 4" hole below). I decided to fabricate some using the 14ga 2"X4" tube versus the channel. I know the tube adds a little weight, but not much. Since our '55 has the same tubing for the main frames, I figured why not add a little stability to the outriggers. On ours, there were two elevator bolts securing the plywood to the outriggers. As you can see in the photo, I cut a hole where I wouldn't be able to get to the inner most bolt. Now I can get a 3/8" socket in there and tighten the bolt when we cross that bridge. Also, I decided to drill three weep holes on the lower side of each member. Don't know if I'm on the right track or not, but I figured if any water got in the tube, it would drain into the belly pan. When we get all assembled and coat with the Por 15, I may try and spray the inside of the outriggers just to be on the safe side.

I know that some forum members have installed a "stiffener" piece of aluminum sheeting at the banana wrap. If I get energetic, I may weld a 4"- 14ga strap on the curved end of the outriggers to have something to rivet the stiffener sheet to. If anyone in forum land can see future issues in the direction I'm headed, please let me know. I welcome any and all criticism, good or bad.

We've also been shopping for grey water tanks; not an easy feat to find them less than 4" deep. VTS and IncaPlastics are the only suppliers located so far and those tanks are 16gals or less which will necessitate installing 2 tanks in tandem. Having a single tank custom fabricated will cost twice as much as purchasing the ready made tanks.

And to free up space above the floor, we're considering duplicating the grey tank setup for the fresh water below the floor.

Overlander & Sea 08-23-2016 05:28 PM

Bubba L,

Great project!! I also have a '55 Flying Cloud whale tail that has gone through a shell off, frame up restoration/renovation. I'm looking forward to seeing another vintage Airstream being brought back to life!! BTW, I purchased my '55 (before restoration) from someone in Lubbock, TX.

Bubba L 08-24-2016 11:13 AM

Outrigger End Caps
 
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When we got the FC, the ends of some outriggers had punched through the banana wrap. It may be overkill, but this is the solution I came up with to give the belly pan more support at the end of the outriggers. I stitch welded a 16ga plate to the curved end of the outrigger.

jjmtb 08-24-2016 02:30 PM

That's awesome.


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Bubba L 08-25-2016 09:49 AM

Hehr Window Gaskets
 
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Appreciate any who are following this thread!
For those of you with Hehr Standard Windows, I have a question:

We need to re-gasket our Hehr Standard windows. VTS has a replacement for the original Hehr Standard Backframe Gasket (below) that looks like a D gasket with an L shaped flap under the D. To attach the gasket, the flap is compressed between the backframe and the skin leaving the D shape between the backframe and the window. This means that anytime the gasket needs replacing, the window, then the backframe (attached via rivets or screws) has to be removed. In the interest of ease of maintenance, would it not be just as effective to silicone & rivet the backframe to the skin, then use a D gasket on top of the backframe (between the window and the backframe)?

Any thoughts?.............


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