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mwells4654 09-04-2009 12:26 PM

Good luck - After this weekend trip (labor day camping) I am starting my on renovation.

Minno 09-06-2009 08:05 PM

Outside Hatches
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Took the 3 outside hatch doors off - the two side ones and the rear one. Left the battery hatch on for now (that'll come off when we redo the floor). Cleaned them up, and removed the old hinges on all 3 doors. Fastenal has aluminum piano hinges in various sizes (really called continuous hinges if you go looking for them in their catalog or web site). They come in 6 or 8 foot lengths depending on the width and thickness. I cut 3 hinges the appropriate lengths, and installed them on the 3 doors. Then put on new “D” gasket, and mounted the doors back onto Little Girl.

The rear hatch was easy – I just remounted the hinge using the existing holes for the rivets. I used aluminum pop rivets on the hatch side of the hinges, because they just barely protrude through the hatch cover, and are located directly behind the gasket, so the back sides of the rivets are covered with the gasket adhesive. A bit of vulkum in each pop rivet hole on the outside as extra insurance against leaks.

The two side hatches I flipped upside down so they are both hinged at the bottom now. The starboard side hatch next to the battery compartment fit upside down like a dream. The port side refrigerator access hatch didn’t quite close when put in upside down. It was hitting the underside of the upper frame. A little bit of grinder work on the frame, followed up with progressively finer grits of sandpaper took care of that.

Before mounting the hinges on the frame, I ground down the rivet heads that would be located under the hinge a bit – just enough to get them flat and even with the rest of the hatch frame. One of the pics below shows the ground down rivets. Then I used Olympic rivets to mount the hinges to the frame, avoiding the original rivets. All three hatchs now close and seal, and no longer fall out when I open them – a definite plus! :wally:


Maryw164 09-06-2009 08:26 PM

Chris & Kay,

Your progress is looking good. We changed our hatches to hinge at bottom too. I've got to get the motivation to get back to work at the floor redo, painting and finish my curtains, upholstery,etc. We're afraid to see whats lurking under the front carpet, hopefully nothing too bad.

Have a great weekend!


WILDRTEXAS 09-07-2009 09:27 AM

LOVE the doors hinged on the bottom...another project...another day. Thanks for posting all the photos. VERY MOTIVATING! Your progress is amazing!

mello mike 09-07-2009 01:05 PM

Looking good, Chris. I really like the piano hinged exterior doors. My rear door already has a piano hinge, though. Is that not OEM?

Minno 09-07-2009 03:55 PM

Yes, that one just needed the hinge replaced, but it stayed in the same position on the door and on the trailer. The other doors had those top hinges that slip into place, (weirdo J hinges) but ours were cracked and not very useable anymore. The doors fell off when you opened them very far. Inland Andy suggested the piano hinge idea in a thread we read, and it works very well. Fastenal has the aluminum hinges, and they are quite cheap as Airstream parts go. :)

Minno 09-07-2009 07:42 PM

Demo Done!!!
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:clap::clap: Finally! :clap::clap:

Spent most of the four days working on Little Girl. Finally got to tackle that job we all love sooooo much – removing the under belly. Actually, that was Friday, Sunday and today. Saturday was spent removing the inside skins.

Friday I started on removing the banana wraps. The front ones are quite mangled, but after seeing what a few others have done with even worse looking ones, I’m hopeful that I can get all the dents out and make them presentable. That’ll be a whole project by itself that I’ll post with pictures. Maybe something I can work on this winter after I finish my other furniture projects.

Saturday, Kay and I moved to the inside, and we removed all of the inside skins. I want to rewire her, and we knew a good portion of the insulation was missing. Well not missing per se, just relocated. Like into the back of the fridge, into the water heater compartment, inside the cabinets, etc., etc. Amazing what those little critters will use for nesting materials. So, between the wiring, insulation, and needing to take the lower skins out to remove the floor anyway, we decided to remove all the inside skins. The only part left up for now is the rear end cap, and that I’m not sure I can get out the door if I do take it down, so it’ll just stay in place for now. It’ll need to come dowe eventually…

Sunday, I tackled the center belly skin. I’ve read all the horror stories about all the junk and gunk you find hiding up there. And believe me, they are all true! OMG true!!!! :censored: Head scarf, respirator, and face mask were all extremely useful the last 2 days! I did get all the center belly skin off and out on Sunday, and cleaned out the center area of the frame. Today, I completed the under belly by dropping the side belly skin pieces. I removed the rivets that held is all up under the trailer, and let them flap down from the side. Going to try and avoid removing them completely, as I really don’t want to do a shell off floor replacement. Time will tell over the few weeks if that will be completely successful or not. I then got back under the trailer and cleaned out all the outrigger frame spaces.

So, here we are now, finally ready to start removing the floor so I can inspect the entire frame, repair what’s needed, sand blast, paint, and put the new floor back in. I know I need to rebuild part of the rear frame, and I found w cracked outrigger today, and two other outriggers that are missing a good portion of the top metal. Some replacements will be on order shortly. More updates later as we progress on the next step of the project.

Minno 09-07-2009 07:55 PM

Chris forgot to mention what I did on Sunday. I laid all the inner skin pieces on the grass, and scrubbed them off with a long handled scrub brush, and Zep orange cleaner/degreaser. The Zep worked great! The inner skins are much cleaner, and well rinsed by our 2 grandchildren who "helped" me. (Actually they did help!) I set all upright against various bushes, ladders, supports for roof of shelter, etc. to dry. It definitely wasn't the really gross messy job Chris got to do, but I'm taking credit where I can!


72BamaStream 09-08-2009 02:03 PM

Holy cow! So amazing to keep up with y'all's progress!
Nice job!!


Minno 09-19-2009 08:25 PM

Starting the floor and frame
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Spent all week kinda torn between what to work on - the floor and frame, or replace the two forward roof vents. Or go camping. As you can see by the new pics below, the floor and frame won out. :)

Spent part of Wednesday and Thursday evenings grinding the heads off the elevator bolts on the rear two sections of plywood. Friday evening I removed the rear piece of plywood, which was really easy since it was really rotted in many places. I’m surprised it came out in as big a piece as it did! I think I have enough of it to use as a template for the new plywood, but its iffy.

This morning, after having a new freezer delivered (old one died last weekend while Kay and I were out of town, so our daughter and her finance got to clean that mess up for us :mad:), and a run to Fleet Farm, we tackled the second piece of plywood. I cut it up the middle, and cut around the splice that seamed it to the third piece of plywood, and then we carefully pried it out of the c-channels on each side. As we removed the plywood, we added pieces of 1x4s to support the c-channel and shell over the outriggers.

The rear of the frame is kind of a mess. Lots of rust, and the box for the black water tank and its supporting frame are pretty well shot. One bit of good news though, the black tank is fine! Kay took it outside and filled it with water and let it sit for awhile. No leaks! And the fittings are all in good shape, so we can re-use it. One less thing to buy! :D

While Kay was doing that, I removed the c-channel from the rear of the trailer, and pulled out the very rusted piece of galvanized metal that was located under the rear hatch. It looks like she had a rear-end separation repair done at some point in her life, but time and water damage have mostly caused that repair to rust away. So, I’ll rebuild the parts that I need to in the rear frame area, including the box for the black tank, its supports, and do some repairs on the two rear outriggers to replace the missing metal. The frame has a few rust holes through it on one side, right after the black tank supports, so I’m going to weld on a patch to help ensure the frame doesn’t fail at some point down the road. It all looks and feels solid enough, so just extra prevention.

The final picture below is me sandblasting the frame. First time I have ever sandblasted anything. Once I figured out what was wrong with my new sandblaster (I won the 10% rule), I was able to quickly figure out how best to tackle blasting the frame. The rear is all sandblasted, and mostly ready for primer. Kay is planning on putting primer on tomorrow while I rebuild the blank tank box. Welding on frame repairs will fall in there somewhere too.

On a side note, I have added sandblasting to my list. Other items on this list are blowing wood cellulose insulation, wood floor installation and finishing, installing carpet, installing a paver driveway, hanging and taping sheetrock, and painting. This list is jobs you could never pay me enough to do for a living. Of course I do them for Kay, but then… :rolleyes::rolleyes:

In short, we’re making progress, forward progress! This report on forward progress is brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

Minno 09-20-2009 08:23 PM

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Lot’s more progress today. Started by fabricating patches for the two outriggers that were missing metal on the top of them. The basic structure of the outriggers was still solid, so I made a patch for each one out of 22 gauge sheet metal and welded them on. Pictures 2292, 2293, & 2294 show the results of those two patch jobs.

I also fabricated a patch for the frame where there were holes rusted through it, and used a bit of angle iron as a new bracket for the new black water tank supports. Picture 2296 shows both of those welding projects. Not the prettiest welding job in the world, but my welds are structurally sound according to my son. He’s a Nuclear Machinist Mate in the Navy, and he helped me refine my welding techniques this past Summer. Our focus was strength of the weld, not making them pretty. He said I’ll figure out pretty with practice. :wally:

After I finished the welding, Kay came in and primed the frame that we have exposed (pic 2301). While she was doing that, I worked on fabricating a new black water tank box out of sheet metal. The old one was trash (pic 2307). Kay sort of got an action shot of me wielding my drill with the new box in pic 2306. :)

Finally, pic 2308 shows the trial fit of the new box in the new tank supports (it fit – yea!!!:bb:), and 2309 shows the bottom of the box primed. I primed the inside of it as well, and then flipped it over to prime the bottom.

Now to let the primer dry for at least 24 hours before coating with the top coat of paint. I’ll work on that in the evenings this week, so that hopefully, next weekend I can re-install the two rear sections of plywood subfloor, including the black water tank.


Minno 09-23-2009 06:14 PM

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Starting to put the second section of plywood subfloor back in. Yesterday, I cut the plywood to size, and primed the underside. Today, I lowered the rear stabilizer jacks, and used a bottle jack to raise the port side shell a bit. Then with Kay standing on the frame in the back, I was able to slip the plywood sheet under the rear skin, and between the two of us, we got it started into the c-channels without too much trouble. I tied the two sides together with the 1x4 you can see in the picture to keep them from spreading, and then used a baby sledge hammer and a block of wood to “gently tap” :bb: the plywood forward as far as you can see in the pic.

Stopping there for now, as I need to remove the next piece of subfloor, and repair the outrigger on the port side directly aft of the wheel well, which supports the front edge of this piece as well. It has a crack in it right next to where it attaches to the frame. Something I can weld a patch over. But, I need room to work on it, so I’ll repair the outrigger, and then move the plywood floor all the way into place. Then I can cut and fit the rear piece. Hopefully this weekend.

HiHoAgRV 09-23-2009 09:13 PM

Great progress. I'll be watching as ya'll move forward, the photos are making for a top notch thread.

Airslide 09-23-2009 11:19 PM

Wow.. I lost track of this thread. Minno your a mad man! Great progress.. you should be done by Wednesday!



Minno 09-24-2009 12:15 PM

Wow - that means a lot, thanks Vernon and Vin. :) Sometimes it seems like we're just barely making progress, plodding along. But then I need to sit back and remember I told Kay this was a 5 year project.

Our goal is to get the new plywood floor in this Fall, before the Minnesota winter sets in. Which could happen mid-October, or late January. :D I think we can do that over the next 3 weekends, and still get a camping weekend in later in October. We are already buying things to work on next year - one Maxxfan roof vent, one regular roof vent, new radio antenna are the 3 main things we have on hand right now. We'll pick up another Maxxfan vent over the Winter (next time they go on sale at Camping World).


72BamaStream 09-24-2009 05:00 PM

My God man! And Kay, of course :) 5 year project??? 5 year project??? I'm gonna start placing bets that you'll be be able to use Little Girl by... by... let's see, you bought her 2009... I bet you guys will be able to use her by... let's see, you've got a wedding in 2010... hmmmm... how bout tail end of 2012! Or... if the winter is bad that year (Minnesota right? :lol:)... let's say 2013! And even that sounds long to me considering the major progress you've made... wow... that's all I can say.

Not to hijack your thread but thanks for the fuse info for our situation last week. We have yet to figure it out, took our trip to Nashville anyways (who needs all the interior lights, right?). We came back this past weekend but I have yet to sort it out; don't worry, I still have your number and just may use it! For some aluminum advice and guidance of course :wally:

Keep up the great thread... Little Girl is looking great! She's growing up... (sniff... sniff... sob)... so.... quickly... (sniff... sob... sniff)! He he...

But seriously, great work!
Hi from the Deep South!

dmroot 09-24-2009 05:41 PM

Holy cow, this is quite a project! Look forward to seeing more of your progress. You take the cake in the major renovation category!

Minno 09-24-2009 07:41 PM

We're definitely not doing anything more than many others have done, or are doing also. Chris just likes the camera! Thank you for the kind comments. We finally feel we're making progress! I can't wait until we're actually INSTALLING things (besides the floor, but even that is exciting)! :bb:

So here I am last evening, just home from work. Chris is already out in the trailer, trying to slide the second to last panel in through the back under the skin, and it's not going well. So he has me balance on the back of the street side frame near the back to get it down a little so he can slide the panel in, and stand there while he "gently" whacks with all his might and a mini sledge hammer on the floor panel to get it in to place! I can't hang on to the wall to balance since it was jacked up and he was afraid I'd mess it up. It was an exercize in balancing!:blink:
Tonight, Chris repaired and sandblasted, and primed the outriggers just behind the wheel wells that had sagged a little bit. Once those are painted, then he can slide the floor panel all the way in place, and then the rearmost one. Then we can go on to the more foreward sections of the trailer. I'll be gone for the weekend, so he'll be without "supervision". :lol:

We miss ya, Shar!


HiHoAgRV 09-26-2009 07:38 PM


Originally Posted by Minno (Post 751611)
... I can't wait until we're actually INSTALLING things ...Kay

It's a real hi point when you realize the DE- is over and the CON- part of 'Struction' is underway.
Ya'll are making great progress, keep a steady pace on the Camping will begin sooner than you think.

Minno 09-26-2009 08:06 PM

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Well, the plan to simply “gently tap” the plywood in didn’t go as well as I had hoped it would. Oh, it slid up into place ok this morning, but then I realized that the entire shell had shifted to bit to port, and the c-channel was no longer on the outriggers. :blink: The plywood was all the way into the c-channel on the port side, but the channel itself was a good 3/8” to ½” off the outriggers. The starboard side c-channel was in the right place, but the plywood was only about ¼” in. What to do, what to do… Somehow I need to pull the two sides back together and get it centered on the frame again.

Off to Ace hardware to buy a few things… A bit turnbuckle and nuts to go on some ½” treaded rod I have. About 20 minutes worth of work, and $14 worth of parts, and I fabricated a big turnbuckle that will slip into the c-channels, and then I can clamp it onto a rib and the c-channel. Then using a crescent wrench, I can tighten the turnbuckle and pull the side back together. The vise grip and pipe wrench are simply to keep the threaded rod from turning while I tighten the turnbuckle.

I ended up using this contraption in 3 places – once at each rib and outrigger for that piece of plywood. I also had a small bottle jack under the trailer, and I first jacked up the c-channel at each outrigger to it would clear the top of the outrigger, and then I pulled the sides back into alignment. All in all, it took me about 45 minutes to get both sides back in alignment and centered on the frame again. The plywood is now fully embedded in the c-channel on both sides. :bb:

I then worked on the rear piece of plywood. Used ¼” luan plywood to make template of the curve, and then cut out the ¾” ply. Primed the edges and bottom, and then placed it in the trailer. So far, I have only the splice glued and screwed between the two pieces of plywood. It was starting to get dark, and I needed nourishment. So, off inside to shower and throw a frozen pizza in the oven.

Tomorrow, I’ll elevator bolt these two plywood pices to the frame, and re-install the c-channel around the rear, adding extra aluminum angle to reinforce the c-channel and that whole rear end shell to plywood to frame attachment. :wally:

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