Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Cup of Motivation

I did it.  I made the reservation for our maiden voyage in June.  I think our North Face tent would look pretty funny on a full-hookup site for a 26' trailer.   How "done" will our trailer be by June?  I don't know.  We may be camping in little more than an aluminum tent.

So, I guess it's time to get busy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bits and Pieces...

We've been working diligently on the trailer this week.   What have we finished?  Well, nothing.  We haven't actually "finished" anything.  We have worked on several things and we're making progress... just haven't "finished" anything this week. Progress is progress... and we're glad to be making some.  
Here's what we've been working on:

Brian got the old axle off

On Tuesday, the kids and I drove to Monticello, GA (about 2 hours away) to pick up or axle and mounting hardware.  Brian ordered it Thursday afternoon and it was ready to go pick up by Monday.  Wow.  It was so nice to be able to go pick it up instead of having to wait a few weeks.

old axle and new axle

Look Ma!  No wheels!

time to clean up the leaf springs...

Good as new...and shiny too!

Saturday, we tried to hunt down some shocks.   We went a couple of places and had people shake their heads at us.  Then, we went to Advanced Auto where someone was willing to hunt down the shocks we needed.  These shocks are for a 1963 Chevy S10.  They're a perfect match.

Double duty with the power tools cleaning up some of the old mounting hardware.
(Thanks for grabbing the camera, Samuel.)

After working all week to prep the trailer for mounting the new axle we weren't able to mount it.  Saturday (with all of our ducks in a row) we pulled out the mounting hardware and it was only 1 3/4".  We needed 2".  Crap.  Brian already talked to Dexter today.  They're mailing the correct hardware.
(I guess we'll have to wait on the mail after all.)

Oh well.  There's PLENTY of other stuff to do.

When we drilled out the windows and drip caps *someone* stopped drilling as soon as the rivet head came off.  (I won't mention any names... but if you look back you can see who was "on the inside" and who was "on the outside" when we drilled out the windows.)

The "rivet remnants" had to be drilled out.  (Yes, around all eight windows and the door.)  The hardest part about drilling out rivets was keeping the drill from slipping.  When the drill slips, it makes scratches on the skin.  (It will be hard work to polish out the scratches.)

We installed about 3/4 of the elevator bolts.  (Still have a little work to do on the C-channel at the front of the trailer before we can install the elevator bolts up there.)

I started polishing around the windows and couldn't resist working on a little section of the front panel .  It's shiny enough to see a reflection... but not shiny enough (YET!) that you can see how black my face is from the polish.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sparky's Dead! Long Live Sparky!

Our new axle is ready.  Brian enlisted the help of our trusty friend, Sparky (the angle grinder), to get the old axle off.  We've heard that getting the old axle off is the hardest part about changing the axle.

Sparkey has done so much hard work recently.  It seems he just wasn't up for the  job of cutting off the axle bolts.  I'm sorry to report that Sparkey died a terrible death by overheating.

We're all going to miss Sparky.

...before Sparky was even cold... we went to get his replacement, Sparky Jr.  (Isn't he cute?)

Sparky was cool enough to touch by the time we got back from the home store.  Brian says Sparky Jr. makes Sparky seem like a toy.  I'm happy to report that Brian (and Sparky Jr.) are about half finished getting the axle off.

Monday, April 19, 2010

We're Floored!

Our (white) black water tank is installed!  It's time to put the floor in.

Brian screwed a board to the frame so the shell could be lifted for putting in the floor boards.  I think our restoration can only loosely be described as "skin-on."

Here's the floor!  Six sheets of marine-grade plywood painted with 2 coats of 8 yr outdoor fence paint.   We used epoxy resin around the edges after each piece was cut and installed.

Brian's Dad came Friday and Saturday to help with the floor.  It's double duty with the jig saws.  (Having a "Lefty" around is handy.)

The floor is (roughly) in!

We brought our toaster to the warehouse for toasting bagels.  I couldn't resist this photo.  The resemblance is remarkable.

The floor is installed but still needs a few adjustments.  The back section of the floor was by far the hardest part to install and just wasn't quite right. We had to determine the floor shape by using what was left of our C-channel, the wheel well location, and back straight section as reference points.

Flashback:  The old floor wasn't salvageable for a template. 

Back in February, we applied two coat of stripper to the inner skins/walls.  There's still quite a bit of paint left on them.  Sunday afternoon, we headed home to work on the skins.  This time, we used a chemical stripper and the pressure washer.  The results were uninspiring.  It seems like the paint that's left on the skins is stubborn and determined to stay.  We'll probably quit trying to remove anymore paint and just prep the walls by sanding.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

(No End)cap

A new tenant moves into the space next to us (and into the office where our trailer "guts" were) on the 15th. Our fiberglass endcaps were taking up some of their space and need to be moved out of the way. We had a few options about where to move the endcaps:
  • lean-to shed beside the warehouse 
  • our garage 
  • install them in the trailer
 The endcaps are somewhat fragile and quite awkward to move. (It is nerve wracking to move them!) We thought, "Hey! Let's just go ahead and install them in the trailer... then they'll be out of the way and we won't have to worry about them getting damaged."

We spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings trying to put in the endcaps. 
With no success.

A fellow Airstream-restorer suggested that we try putting in the floor and windows before attempting the endcaps.  It really does makes more sense to put the endcaps in after the floor.  The floor will help the outside skin hold it's shape.  (It's pretty bendy right now and we think that complicated our installation.)
So much for saving ourselves the trouble of moving the endcaps...

Friday night we drove up to Blue Ridge, GA and spent the night at the "other Sanders" Bed and Breakfast (my In-laws house.)  It was a great Bed and Breakfast (I highly recommend the fruit salad!)  Saturday morning we drove up to Hiawasee, GA to drop in on "Springstream."  (Some Airstream "folks" camp together in the Fall and Spring in Hiawasee.)  We showed up just in time for the "open house" and the polishing demo.  We enjoyed  getting to meet some fellow Airstream-junkies and their trailers.

"Springstream" was good motivation... we can't wait to see our trailer this shiny!

Sunday, we moved the endcaps to the lean-to shed.  They'll be fine out there until we can get to them again.  Brian fabricated a frame for the gray water tank and installed it.  (Just to be confusing, our gray water tank is black.)

The frame passed the "sturdy" test.

 Brian has almost finished fabricating the frame for the black water tank.  (Just to be confusing, it's white.)  I think SOMEONE might be having a little too much fun with his angle grinder and giant erector set.

Our fresh water tank will go above the floor.

Over the last couple of evenings I've been installing fiberglass insulation. Now our trailer looks like a "flying cloud." Hehe.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

No Excuses

We've got a green light to go on the trailer this week.  Hopefully, no more 18-hour days at the office like last week.
Supplies are here: holding and freshwater tanks, marine plywood for flooring, freshwater pump and accessories, upholstery, and a brake controller and wiring for the Sequoia.  If we can't find something to work on, we're not trying very hard...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Campers for a Year

This blog post has nothing to do with our Airstream and everything to do with camping. Last summer we did quite a bit of camping. In November we realized that we had been camping every month since May 2009. We thought "Hey! Why not go a whole year of camping at least once a month?" Our camping trip this weekend completed our "Every month for a year" goal. We did it! Here's a few pictures from our adventures:

May 2009 at Red Top Mountain State Park, GA (Memorial Day Weekend):
Memorial Day camping with friends... it rained a little but it didn't spoil any of the fun.  The 4 smallest kids in our group had a blast playing in the mud.

June 2009 Sweetwater Creek Campground, GA (Army Corps of Engineer):

This was our first time camping in our new "mammoth tent."  Our Greatland tent did a good job for 8 years but we were starting to feel a little cramped for space.  Not sure if camping in June in Georgia is such a good idea.  It was unbelievably hot and we didn't have a single tree on our campsite.  We went for a car ride in town where the bank clock said the temperature was 103 degrees!  Wow.  Thankfully, it was nice and cool at the movie theater.  We went to see "Up!"

There are two campgrounds at Cloudland Canyon State Park.  We stayed at the West Rim campground.  The park was beautiful, we really enjoyed hiking in the canyon with our friends.  We were serenaded by very loud bugs at night.  (Cicadas?)  We had to talk loud to hear each other over the bugs.

jump start... with smoke?  Humm...

August 2009 Plum Nelly Campground Ellijay, GA:

We didn't camp here.  We were driving through Ellijay, GA and decided to check out this campground.   We got stuck in the mud.  Really stuck.  A guy named "Bulldog" had to put a chain around our van and pull us out with this truck.  Hahah.  Does it get any better than that?

August 2009 Desoto State Park, AL (primitive camping):

Desoto State Park had great rocks and  hiking.  We also enjoyed seeing the results of the CCC efforts (Thanks, FDR!)  The park is supposed to have some good waterfalls but they were all dry when we were there.  We'll have to go back some time when there's water.

September 2009 at Red Top Mountain State Park, GA (Labor Day Weekend):

This is the embarrassment we pay for the must-get-it-all-in-one-car syndrome! Wow!  What a jalopy!  (As if driving a white mini-van wasn't bad enough.)

...but it's worth it to see the kids and all their friends ride their bikes together.  Fun times!!!

September 2009 at Shady Grove Campground, GA (Forsyth County Campground):

It rained....and rained...and rained...

We still managed to have a great time in tent city with our friends...the guys kept a fire going right at the edge of our dining tents so we managed to stay toasty and dry.

October 2009 at Grayton Beach State Park, Florida:

Four days of camping at the beach...and three days of rain.  We survived by hitting the Toy Story double feature in 3-D and the always spectacular National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, FL.  Our tent, however, did not survive.  It did a terrible job of keeping us (and our stuff) dry.  Cupcakes from "Queen Bee" in Seaside, Fl helped keep the whole trip in perspective.  Cupcakes can fix anything...especially if the cupcakes are from a vintage Airstream.

November 2009 at Florence Marina State Park, GA (hiking at Providence Canyon):

We bought our "mammoth tent" in June.  In October, we took it back to the retailer because it had a "10 year warranty."  This was our first time camping in our new North Face tent.

December 2009 at Vogel State Park, GA:

Coldest camping so far....mid twenties.  We celebrated by eating a pint of ice cream in our tent.  (By the light of our Mr. Heater.)

We got a light dusting of snow overnight.  We had hoped for more snow but we'll take what we can get.  We decorated a small holly with colored lights for a Christmas tree.  

January 2010 in the Sanders's Backyard, GA:

It rained.  We watched a movie on the laptop.  (This is REALLY roughing it!)  The next day we drove to Jefferson, GA and bought our Airstream.

February 2010 at Red Top Mountain State Park, GA:

We pitched tent by headlights (of our new tow vehicle)... until we ran the battery down.  Whoops.  Thankfully the campground host was willing to give us a jump at 8:00 pm so we could put the windows up on our truck.

Everyone's favorite breakfast... warm banana bread.

March 2010 at Red Top Mountain State Park, GA:

Two "firsts" at Red Top Mountain.  Sabrina and Annabelle's first time fishing ... and our first time to camp at a primitive site (no water/no electric) at Red Top.

We were glad it was warm enough to leave the heavy coats at home and break out the hoodies.  Annabelle's a happy camper.

April 2010 at High Falls State Park, GA (Easter Weekend):

Three screen tents put together for a giant dining area... 

the eggs Annabelle colored

Duct tape to hang our classy signs... camping with silly friends is so fun!  We also enjoyed getting to meet and talk shop with some other Airstream people.  (See the 1968 Airstream Sovereign in the background?)

Camping every month for a year (in a tent....or rather, three tents) was an adventure, indeed!