OMG! What have I gotten myself into? This is what I keep asking myself. But first, a little history...
For 10 years I have dreamed of buying a small camper and meandering across the United States, visiting
the national parks, and I have slowly been putting money aside. As
my retirement date neared and the camper "kitty" grew, I figured it was time to start looking.
I initially looked at later model "box campers" but was dismayed at how fast they depreciated and how poorly
constructed they were. So many times I went and looked at a unit less than 10 years old, only
to find serious delamination issues, a problem caused by water getting into the walls and rotting the thin plywood
sheets that modern campers are constructed with. Also most of smaller campers I saw seemed cramped and they
had very unattractive interiors.
Then I saw it! A 1969 fully renovated and restored Airstream Bambi and she was on Craigslist for only $8,000! She was
adorable and decorated with real furniture! Unfortunately the ad was a scam--a Bambi like that would easily sell
for over $20,000. But she made me realize that this was the kind of camper I wanted--one that I could decorate
to suit my tastes and comfort requirements. And I had heard from friends that 70 percent of the Airstreams
manufactured are still in use today. That, in itself, tells me that these campers are made to last.
And so I began my search once again, but this time I concentrated on smaller vintage Airstreams.
June 9, 2016
I found a 25 foot, 1973 Trade Wind in Spring Hill, near Tampa. She was on Craigslist and I really liked her floor plan.
I contacted the owner and made arrangements to go see her. On the way there we found a small chihuahua mix who had been
hit by a car. Since we were heading to Spring Hill, we dropped her off at Animal Services and
were assured that she would be taken care of. As a result of the detour, we were a bit late getting to Spring Hill, but
we still spent 2 hours going over her. I felt the price was too high for the repairs needed, so we headed home without her.
I called Animal Services multiple times over the next several days to check on the little dog. The following Monday I was told
that no rescue group had stepped up to take her, and she was scheduled to be euthanized that evening unless I was willing to
adopt her. So, of course, I did. While I was at Animal Services, the Airstream owner's son called me.
We were able to negotiate a fair price for the airstream!
June 20, 2016
Because I don't have the skills or knowledge required to restore a vintage trailer, I hired Chris to assist me.
He has good handyman skills and some knowledge of vintage airstreams. He owns a 1969 Sovereign, I believe, that he
has been working on.
Chris did a
quick inspection and checked out the rusted areas I was concerned about and felt the damage I had seen
previously was acceptable. We put new tires on her and he towed her home while I followed behind. She has no
running lights or brake lights! I was able to see Chris' truck brake lights through the trailer windows until the bathroom
door slid shut. Darn, we forgot to lock it open before we left! Because we also had no weight
distribution/sway bar system we took back roads to avoid the interstates. By the time we got to Geneva it was
nearly 8:00 p.m., but she was finally here!
Below you can see some of her interior "before" photos. As you can see she is
really dated and in need of a serious makeover. But check out all that nice cabinetry! I rarely see a
smaller camper with lots of cabinets and she also has a wardrobe closet.
Rather than continuing to refer to her as "the Airstream", I have decided to give her a name which reflects
her age and wandering status (she is a travel trailer, after all!). I am a classic 70's Rock 'n Roll fan
and one of my favorite songs came out in 1973, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird". It seemed appropriate for the
Airstream, so I have officially christened her "Free Bird".
During the next couple of weeks I will be removing her furniture and appliances. I
hope to reuse most of it, so I am being very careful. Its difficult because everything is riveted and
screwed together. Luckily I have my friend, Kevin, who has graciously offered his help.
One of the first things we did was to take that sofa to the dump.
June 29, 2016
I have removed most everything. The walls are nasty and dirty, but since we will be removing them, there isn't
really any reason to clean them. Chris will also be removing the bathroom and remaining appliances before we
start the restoration process. He is scheduled to start work on July 5, 2016.
I tested the old refrigerator and could not get it to work on electric. For now I will probably just replace
it with a dorm size electric only fridge, but will make sure to have propane lines run so that I can swap it
out with a dometic propane/electric model in the future.
Because the stove/oven and furnace are 43 years old and very rusty, I decided to replace them. It appears
the hot water heater will also need to be replaced, or at least parts of it. The old converter,
known as a Univolt, appears to work. The water pump also runs, but I did not test it
to see if it would pull water from the tank. The propane system needs to be professionally inspected and
rotted hoses replaced.
July 5, 2016
Chris began work tearing out the bathroom. He discovered an ugly hole that a previous owner attempted to fill
with blue foam insulation and caulk. All plumbing will be replaced during the restoration, as well as
the subfloor. The old subfloor was actually in pretty good shape except for the rear behind the
bathroom fixtures, and near the front door. Because of possible hidden damage, I decided we should
completely remove the subfloor so that we can inspect the frame and replace all insulation. We will also remove
all interior walls, basically fully "gutting" her.
July 16, 2016
Work has been progressing rather quickly. The inner walls have been removed as well as the subfloor. All insulation
is out. We discovered that her fresh water tank was completely full and leaking from
a connection. We were able to use the water
pump (it works!) to empty the tank. Next Chris pulled it and I flushed it
multiple times with a strong bleach solution. In addition to wasps and spiders Chris
discovered a nest of carpenter ants in the insulation in front of the trailer. We stopped
work long enough to spray with bug killer.
Free Bird has some frame rust damage that needs to be repaired and also has a
couple cross members that will need to be replaced as well as several outriggers
(these are parts of the frame). Chris will be cutting out and welding in the replacements.
I got this not-so-bright idea to strip the vinyl off the walls so that they would be
bare aluminum like the newer fancy airstreams. Stripping the panels has been pretty easy,
but getting the glue off has proven difficult. I am getting loopy from breathing industrial
strength goof-off glue remover!
These are "before" and "after" pictures of a piece of the inner wall. I still need to wipe down
the finished piece again and lightly polish with aluminum polish before Chris reinstalls them.
It does look nice though!
August 14, 2016
Work continues on the frame. With the frequent afternoon storms, work has been progressing slowly.
We have to replace 7 outriggers and 2 cross members plus weld in plates to beef up parts of the
C Channel which are rusted. I was able to order replacement parts from Out of Doors Mart in North
Carolina. They are an airstream dealer and have a huge parts inventory for vintage airstreams.
It's amazing how some of the frame looks like it's brand new despite being 43 years old, while other
sections have severe rust. Her rear has the worst damage caused by a faulty bumper design which allowed
water to seep in under the floor. The rusted outrigger damage was also due mainly to a faulty design
which allowed water to seep in behind the bottom trim (rub rail) and right into the belly area under the
subfloor. This damage was surprising, as the subfloor above it was completely solid. We will be
addressing these design issues as we repair everything. I am definitely going to get an RV carport
to keep her dry in this wet Florida weather and keep everything all properly sealed in the future!
This first picture shows the bumper in pieces and the removed rear "banana wrap". The second
picture is some of the outriggers I ordered. I didn't take pictures of the cross members.
Chris has already welded in several of the new outriggers and one of the new cross members.
I applied 2 coats of POR15 to part of the frame after Chris cleaned and prepped it. Tomorrow
Chris hopes to complete the welding. At that point the rest of the belly pan will need to be
dropped so that the entire frame can be cleaned, prepped and coated with 2 coats of POR15.
I have been working steadily on stripping the inner skin panels. It is a monumental task and
one I wish I had never started. I decided to not strip the bathroom panels and instead to paint them white.
I think an entire white bathroom will be refreshing with a splash of color on the shower curtain and
accessories such as bath mat and towels.
I removed all the old window gaskets and replaced
them. I still have to replace the broken window, plus I need to separate the dual pane window
in the front, clean it and reseal it.
I also began stripping the flaking clear coat from the exterior shell, which is why she looks like
she has a very bad case of psoriasis. In addition, I polished a corner to see what she
could eventually look like. That panel looks amazing compared to the rest of
her body. I don't plan to try for a mirror finish so I think I will be happy using this
inexpensive dual action polisher I purchased from Harbor Freight.
September 29, 2016
The frame repairs are finally done. Thank you Jerry for lending us your welder and that
big handyman jack!
The front portion of the trailer now has the floor insulation in and four panels of the
subfloor have been laid. I opted to use R13 fiberglass insulation in the center of the belly
and use foam board in the outrigger area. One of the reasons the old outriggers became so
rusty was water getting into the walls and soaking the fiberglass insulation, which
then stayed wet. The foamboard will resolve that issue should water somehow make its
way into that area again. I am also painting the edges of the wood front/back with spar urethane to protect against
rot in the future.
I repaired the leaky screw on the fresh water tank and it has been reinstalled along
with new pressure treated plywood to support it. Also part of the belly pan has been put
back in with some reinforcement of the seams.
I don't think I have had a full night's sleep in ages. Every night I am using the internet to research
how to perform the next step of the restoration. This airstream has truly become an obsession. Even when
I lay in bed at night trying to count sheep, I am imagining myself doing so while laying in the airstream
looking at the stars overhead.
It's now getting dark by 7:30pm, and early evening rains continue to hamper our efforts.
Costs have greatly exceeded my expectations. One of the biggest things I have
learned is that a good sale price isn't necessarily a good deal, especially if it will
require a lot of work to restore and renovate. And I have learned that anything purchased
for an airstream is about 10 times more expensive than a regular trailer, and anything purchased
for a trailer is about 10 times more expensive than the equivalent item for your house!
October 8, 2016
We survived Hurricane Matthew! Luckily Matt jogged a bit to the right a few hours before
the storm was due to hit us, so we only got winds from the weaker western side. Before the
jog Geneva was going to experience the eye of the hurricane! Chris had bolted the shell
to the frame and moved her up next to my house for protection from the wind and flying debris.
I purchased ground anchors and tied her down.
Chris will be back again on October 11 to continue working on her. Our template to cut the rear
piece of subfloor wasn't accurate so we will be removing that piece and installing a new one. Folks,
don't forget to check that template before assuming its correct! It was perfect for the front, but we
discovered, unfortunately, that the curve in the back was slightly different.
October 28, 2016
The subfloor is finished. I coated the entire upper
floor with spar urethane. I also coated the edges, and 6 inches along the edges of the bottom. We have
been testing the wiring and Chris replaced the front marker lights as well as the light above
the door. We have also been working to finish the water sealing.
I never received the fresh water fill key from the previous owner. I finally found a
replacement (key G248) but the lock was so corroded it wouldn't fit. There was no screw on the
backside to remove the lock so Chris drilled it out for me. I took the assembly to
Home Depot and found an office cabinet lock assembly for $5 that was the same size.
I was able to make it work by using the original cam and a rubber washer. Yay!
November 3, 2016
We still have a lot of work to do.
Jerry helped me replace the broken window with lexan. I will remove the protective plastic once
I have finished polishing the exterior. He also helped me install the new electric tongue
jack. Thanks Jerry!
The trailer is now waterproof, except for the back area, and we have started insulating the
walls. We also laid a couple of the newly stripped inner wall panels up against the shell
to get a feel for how she will look when finished.
Before Chris comes back on Monday I have a lot of work to do: insulate most of the
inner walls, polish inner wall panels that will be ready to hang, and make yet
another trip to Home Depot to pick up more supplies.
November 17, 2016
Some of the inner wall panels have been installed. They will all need to be cleaned and walbernized
before the furniture is installed.
The bumper has been rebuilt and sealed. The belt line and rub rail trim has been reinstalled and properly sealed.
We have started the replumbing process and testing electrical and replacing as needed.
You can also see the new hot water heater in this picture. I was able to find
one that fit perfectly in the wall.
January 8, 2017
With it getting dark by 6:00pm, along with our holiday schedules, we didn't get as much
done these last few weeks as we had hoped. The good news is that Chris is close to finishing
his portion of the work, and after that I take over solo.
It's really exciting to see Free Bird finally coming back together.
The electrical and plumbing are 90% done. We have already individually tested most of the
wiring. The plumbing drain pipes are in, except for pipes going to the bathroom and kitchen
sinks, and we just need to test them. The pex plumbing is in as well, and after we make sure
everything is clamped down tight we will test them.
Her aluminum walls are back up. They just need to be completely riveted together and then I will polish.
Both end caps are also back in. I've put a light primer on the front cap while I decide what the
final color will be. The bathroom end cap and walls have been painted with four coats of paint
(two coats of a bonding primer and two coats of rustoleum marine gloss white top coat).
I am currently following the same four coat process with the bathroom fixtures and walls.
I have purchased a new toilet since the old one was leaking.
Chris has also built a new heat shield for the old univolt and mounted it. I don't know how
long that 44 year old piece of equipment will last, but I am going with that old saying for
now, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
January 21, 2017
I spray painted the yellowed refrigerator vent with an aluminum colored spray
paint and Chris installed it. It now matches the shiny aluminum walls. This vent
is needed when running the refrigerator on propane.
Chris has finished the pex plumbing except for the toilet line and it's been
partially tested. The drain pipes are done and tested except for pipes going to the
kitchen and bathroom sinks which have not yet been installed. The shower drain is leaking.
When Chris installed the drain pipes, he lowered most of them
to accommodate the new Valterra sanitary tee. As a result the pipes are now
lower than the belly pan. Chris had me purchase 1x1 square
aluminum tubes so
that he could attach them to the bottom of the frame,
and then attach the new section of the belly pan to
the bottom of the aluminum tubes, effectively lowering
the pan to accommodate the drain pipes. He had installed
most of them before I decided to take a peak and quickly
determined this aluminum interferes with the reinstallation of the
stabilizing jacks so it needs to be removed and another solution found.
Rather than use fiberglass insulation under the bathroom portion of the trailer,
I am installing a double layer of foam insulation board. This will protect the frame
better from any potential plumbing leaks in the future.
There are some issues with the wiring in the new trailer plug on the tow vehicle side.
Apparently a couple wires are crossed so when Chris put his truck in reverse, it locked
up the trailer brakes. As a quick workaround so that we could get the trailer moved he
simply unplugged the trailer. My research indicates that vintage airstreams used a
different wiring schematic than what is used today, so I will rewire the plug.
The bumper is reinstalled along with the new television cable jack. I still need to polish
the aged aluminum, but that will be done at the time I polish the trailer.
January 27, 2017
Chris reinstalled part of the bathroom but I am not happy with the way it turned out. The fixtures look
good, but the walls didn't go back in properly and the closet door will not hang straight in the frame. I think
they will need to be reinstalled.
We had a leaky air vent traced back to a missing gasket. He installed the new gasket and sealed it. One of the
stabilizing jacks has been reinstalled.
The basic foundation/restoration portion of the job has taken much longer than anticipated. Even though Chris
is far from finished with the items he originally contracted with me to do, today will be his
last day here. I will be finishing up the rest of the items on his punch list, and will hire an RV tech
to perform any tasks that I don't feel qualified to do.
January 29, 2017
It rained all night. I went outside to check on Free Bird and found water dripping down an interior
wall. The insulation is wet inside the wall which means the wall needs to come down and the insulation
replaced. This was AFTER Chris installed that gasket and sealed that leaky vent. It's not a happy morning for
me and it's still raining.
So do I finish this trailer, sell it, or tow it to the dump and walk away?
My stress levels are soaring along with the costs. Perhaps it's the cold rainy weather, perhaps it's
knowing that water is continuing to leak into that wall. But all I want to do right now is cry.
February 5, 2017
On Sunday, January 29th, after I discovered the vent pipe leaking, I went to Walmart, bought a $160
dehumidifier, removed wall panels, yanked out a bunch of insulation and ran the dehumidifier for two
days to dry everything out.
Lots of wiring issues: During the week I installed a new plug and socket for the trailer, and then
rewired the tow vehicle plug. Chris left several wires loose inside the airstream as well as the wires
controlling the brakes, jack and breakaway switch at the trailer tongue. I need to review schematics
from a 1973 airstream service manual to determine how to reattach these wires. In addition,
when I plug in the trailer the truck does not recognize that a trailer is present. My truck says "no
trailer found". Also the amber clearance lights and the reverse/backup lights are no longer working.
The right blinker doesn't work unless I bump the plastic lens. These were all tested before we insulated
the walls and rehung the wall panels. Not sure why they don't work now.
The drain pipes that Chris installed under the trailer need to be cut out and replaced. As they are now,
the pipes are lower than where the belly pan attaches, making installation of the pan in its original
location impossible. To resolve this problem Chris had decided to lower the pan about
an inch to accommodate the pipes. After reviewing what he has done I realize that his plan has too many
negative ramifications. It interferes with the placement of the stabilizer jacks, with the locations designated
on the frame to place a tire jack when jacking up the trailer, and also interferes with his previous
modification to keep water from coming through the bumper toolbox and leaking into the pan. With any changes made in
the original design, the modifier must make sure that the change does not
cause other complications. I believe a more simple option would be to install new pipes in the original
location and then just modify the final drain pipe to lower it a few inches on either side of the
new valterra tee by using a couple 45 degree fittings. Then only that small area of the pan needs to be
lowered, just like airstream did when they installed the shower p-trap.
I have not yet replaced the side wall panels or insulation I removed due to the leak. I have sealed the area.
I also have not attempted to move and reinstall the bathroom dividing walls. I want to get the plumbing and wiring
issues resolved before I start working again on the interior.
The lexan window is leaking slightly. I sealed some of the rivet holes in the window trough and
will run a small bead of trempro around the edge since the gasket that holds the lexan in doesn't seem to
be providing a tight enough seal.
I also went around the trailer and sealed above the rub rail and around the bumper. Some of my caulk
lines are a bit thick but it will most likely need to come off when I strip the clear coat and polish the
trailer anyway so I can make it pretty at that time. My goal for now is to stop the leaks.
February 12, 2017
I stripped multiple layers of paint from the trailer tongue and wire brushed/sanded it. I used
POR15 metal prep to neutralize the rust and then applied two coats of POR15 top coat. The POR15 was as
thick as pudding so unfortunately you can see brush marks in my paint job. I decided I hate this stuff
and will never use it again. It doesn't look like a brand new fancy tongue but it should be well protected now.
I rewired the bathroom fan (affectionately referred to as the "butt fan"). I got one of those freebie multimeters
from Harbor Freight and it has really come in handy. I need to buy some flexible dryer vent hose to hook it up.
I connected the loose 12-volt wires for the brakes, ground, and battery charge. The truck now
recognizes the trailer. The ground wires were not properly grounded to the airstream. I haven't tested the
trailer brakes because I have no hitch yet, but I did verify that power was coming into the socket when the
brakes were applied.
I would have never been able to figure out that wiring without my Facebook Friends on Airstream Addicts.
Thanks to all of you for helping me with my numerous questions.
The backup lights had 2 problems. The first problem was with the truck. Apparently I have a separate relay
and fuse for the trailer backup lights. The wiring behind the truck's trailer plug was loose and the fuse was
blown. The Toyota Dealership tightened the wiring, replaced the fuse and coated it with dialectic grease. The
second problem was a grounding issue. Chris had glued in the new tail cans with Trempro and one wasn't grounding properly
to the trailer. I replaced one of the socket screws with a longer one so that it provided the contact needed
to ground the light.
Unfortunately resolution of the amber lights won't be so easy. There is no power getting to them. I need to remove
more wall panels so I can access the green wire to see if I can tighten the
connection where it splices to the back or replace the wire. I am not sure I can access the wire because
it's primarily behind the end cap and there is NO WAY I will take that down again. The marker lights in the back
work just fine.
I am ordering new ABS pipe and fittings from Lowe's rather than driving all the way to Leesburg to pick
them up. Once here I will start replumbing.
My progress on the airstream will be slow for the next few months as I try to juggle much needed home
repairs, pet sitting, and the airstream.
April 5, 2017
I have finally finished installing the drain pipes and tested them. The next
step under the trailer will be insulating this section of the floor and reinstalling
the remaining section of the belly.
I had a major set back when I discovered that Chris had not properly bolted the airstream shell to the
outriggers in the frame. I had to stop all work and remove the lower inner walls and the bottom
section of the outer shell so that I could get to the area needed to install the bolts. That
also meant tearing out the insulation in the walls and floor. Shown below is a clear
picture of one outrigger sans bolt and tek screw, along with a picture showing what
needs to be installed on each outrigger. It's a bolt, washer and locking nut, all
stainless steel, along with a neoprene washer and a special trailer deck screw (tek) which
is designed to connect wood to metal.
Chris returned to fix the problem and we worked together to get the nuts/bolts and screws
installed. I reinsulated the outrigger area and he closed it back up. I will reinsulate
the interior and rehang the walls on my own.
While he was here he also fixed the wiring issues with the front running lights by replacing
the wiring to those lights and also replaced wire nuts in the ceiling with vehicle approved
wire connectors. Thanks Chris!
I feel lately that for every step forward I take in this restoration, I take 2 steps back! My
original goal was to have this camper finished by April. Obviously that's not going to happen.
May 1, 2017
Wow, I can't believe it's May 1st already. I bought this camper last June and it's now been
almost a year that I have been working on her.
I finally got all the insulation and walls back in, putting me back to where I was in January
before I discovered the leaks, the missing bolts and the nonfunctional wiring.
In addition I rehung the bathroom walls including the closet and finished the trim. The bathroom
is now done except for a little additional caulking, flooring, window treatment and shower curtain.
I inserted a temporary Reflectix heat shield behind the screen to block out sunlight and to provide
privacy. It can easily be removed from the outside after opening the window.
I installed some nice looking aluminum trim in the front living room section, reinstalled the front
window moldings and valance, and worked on window screens. I haven't yet decided on a paint color
for the front end cap nor the valance. And I still need to do something with that ugly control panel!
I found a sturdy metal futon on Craigslist for $75 and then purchased a 2 inch memory foam topper for it.
It's surprisingly comfortable. I slept out there for a couple nights to test it! I haven't yet purchased
a cover for it. For now I have put a fitted sheet on it, and took the flat sheet and temporarily pinned
it up around the window.
I was able to purchase a Blue Ox Swaypro hitch off Craiglist. Fellow airstreamer Keith came over and
helped me install it. It's a bit high but should work for now and when I eventually put new axles on
the trailer, that will raise the trailer which will probably make the current setup perfect. I also
discovered my electric hitch is not quite powerful enough to lift the truck and trailer to install the
sway/weight distribution bars so I will need to purchase a more powerful one at some point in the
future. For shorter trips the current setup should be fine. We took her out for a short jaunt
around Geneva and tested the brakes. All seems good. Thank you Keith for coming to help me.
Airstreamers are great people. Yay!
I also purchased an RV carport! It was expensive but it really is necessary to keep Freebird in
good condition. I will be having a 30 amp 110v outlet installed later.
August 20, 2017
The furniture is mostly installed and partially painted. Before putting in the vinyl flooring
I will apply a final topcoat of the white paint, and polish/clean the aluminum interior skin.
I purchased pre-made countertops from Lowe's and am in the processing of installing them. I
have also started rebuilding the kitchen cabinet base to add shelving for a microwave.
I decided to use futon mattresses with matching futon covers for both the side and front couches.
I rebuilt the front of the cabinetry under the side bed and added a door that opens outward to allow access
to the storage area under the bed.
I also finally finished rescreening all the windows. Once I clean and polish the interior walls I will rivet them
in. I also still need to polish and rescreen the screen door.
January 29, 2018
So much has happened since I last posted any updates. Hurricane Irma slammed into us back in September, 2017.
Free Bird and her new aluminum carport were unharmed, but my house, fences and property sustained significant
damage. I had to quit working on the trailer for several months while I focused on hurricane repairs. It's
good to finally be back working on the trailer.
Since my last update I rebuilt the kitchen cabinet base to add shelving for the new microwave. I also installed
the new single basin sink and new propane cooktop, and added an electrical outlet with GFCI protection for
the microwave. The cabinetry is all primed and awaiting the top coat.
I replaced the exhaust fan switch and repaired the cabinet over the stove. It has been hung and primed.
I decided to keep the existing ceiling light fixtures but replaced the covers and will be using LED lightbulbs.
March 1, 2018
This is Smart Core Ultra Vinyl Plank Flooring. It is waterproof and has a backing attached. It does not have
the expansion/contraction issues that cheaper vinyl plank flooring has, so its unlikely that the seams will open up in extreme temperature changes.
I installed leaving a 1/4 inch gap along the edges as instructed and painted composite quarter round to match the flooring.
In addition to laying the flooring, I painted the interior of the door with chalkboard paint,
cleaned/rescreened the screen door, and installed an old TV that I had set up
in my spare bedroom. Hopefully it still has some life left in it. I also bolted in an electric only dorm fridge that
I purchased at a garage sale.
April 15, 2018
A friend gave me his old control panel. It had all the wiring cut off but I was able to transfer the wires from my control panel to this new one.
I purchased a new futon mattress, new covers, and new throw pillows. I made the curtains in the front and purchased roll-down blackout
blinds for the side and back windows.
May 1, 2018
Going camping! There is still plenty to do but we are enjoying her this week at Jetty Park in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
June 1, 2018
The fuse panel inside the old univolt was a bit rusty which caused the fuse in the kitchen to continually blow.
There had been a temporary fix done by a previous owner which rerouted the kitchen wiring to a secondary fuse panel
and then directly to the battery, but a permanent solution needed to be found. The univolt itself worked but really
needed to be replaced with a modern multi-stage converter. I purchased and installed a new Boondocker 60 amp
converter (BD1260-C) and fuse panel (FB9). The new converter is about 30 pounds lighter than the original Univolt, taking some
weight out of the bathroom closet.
David installed the propane lines under the trailer. We tested the new cooktop and hot water heater and
both work great. Thank you, David! The old propane pigtails and regulator were leaking so I ordered and
replaced them with new camco ones. The aluminum tanks still need to be inspected and certified before they
can be refilled.
November 10, 2018
I have been slowly polishing the exterior of the trailer. I finally decided to give Monster Polish a try. This
is working well when combined with a rouge bar. I used airway wheels with the rouge bar and cotton wheels with the
Monster Polish. The aluminum oxidizes faster than I had expected, as the curb side is already cloudy again. I also
polished one of the tanks and will be taking it soon to have the valve replaced and get it filled. The other tank is
half-full so I don't want to do anything with it until its empty. I wonder how old that gas is? According to my
research, it doesn't expire.
We took the trailer to Kelly Park in Apopka for 5 days and to Fort Wilderness at Disney for 5 days. The air conditioner
worked sufficiently to keep us cool and since Fort Wilderness was wired for cable TV, I was finally able to test the
coax I had installed. It rained several times and there was no evidence of leaks.
I had to replace the television with a new 24" LG after the old one died while we were camping at Kelly Park.
My friend, David, installed a new awning for me. It takes 2 people to do the installation so I acted as an assistant. This is a relatively
inexpensive vinyl awning made by Shadepro that I purchased on Amazon and is similar to what was already installed. I love the sunbrella fabric awnings
that come on many of the airstreams, but since I have Carefree hardware, those awnings were not available, and also not within
my budget. I was also able to find new awning knobs from Lowe's.
January 10, 2019
Free Bird is pretty much done except for some minor cosmetic work, polishing and new axles. I will have new
axles installed some time this year, and will replace the wheels when I purchase new tires
I ended up swapping out the side futon for a twin mattress. I have found it more convenient to have a permanent bed while solo
camping, rather than opening and closing the front futon daily.
March 20, 2019
The rebuild of Free Bird is officially finished. Blue and Gray Trailer in Sanford installed new shocks and torsion axles with self
adjusting brakes. I had them ordered with 22.5 degree down which raised the trailer about 1.5 inches. I wish now I had
ordered them with 32 degree down, as that would have raised the trailer another couple inches, but I am satisfied with
how they look. I need to crawl under the trailer and paint any section of the frame that was not accessible before the
axles were swapped out. I have also purchased five new wheels (the extra is for a spare). I will be swapping out the wheels
when its time to buy new tires and plan to install Michelin Defender LTX tires as suggested by CanAm Airstream.
I have repainted the airstream letters and placards and just need to finish polishing around them.
The rebuild process has been a long and expensive journey--both much more than I had anticipated.
If I could start over, would I do things differently? Most definitely. But overall, I am quite
pleased with her. And I absolutely love camping!
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