My Airstream Project

camper


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

Craigslist Ad Pic Pepper

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!

taking her home

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.

bathroom closet stove bed

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

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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

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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!

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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!

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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.

Bumper empty

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Sub Floor waterfill



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.

new window new jack



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.

new walls



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.

walls walls walls new walls new walls

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.

walls

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.

bath1 bath2

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.

plug and socket

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.

before tongue tongue in progress painted tongue

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.

Outrigger sans bolts bolt and screw

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.

bath1 bath5 bath3 bath4 bath2

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.

shinytrim futon

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.

dumptruck carport1 carport2 carport3



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.

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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.

microwave shelf cabinet surface ceiling street side curb side





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.

floor floor door screen door



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.

control panel side couch living room kitchen



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.

camp site cruise boat decal screen room



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.

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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.

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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 next year.

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.

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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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