Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nose Job

We have an ugly front panel.
 Very ugly.
Notice the line of corrosion in the middle of the panel.  Apparently battery leaks do bad things to aluminum.

As bad as this panel looks, it used to look worse.  In order to get it lookin' this perty we polished and polished and polished.  We patched holes...
 We considered making an extra large battery box to cover most of the panel.  
We banged out dents.

We still weren't satisfied.

On Monday, we decided that this panel "just won't do."  Fortunately, there's a company just south of Atlanta that stocks 2024 aluminum.  The kids and I drove an hour to Peachtree City, Ga to pick up some aluminum for the panel.
Time to take out the panel

This panel wasn't doing such a great job of protecting the aluminum under it.

 Brian used the removed panel as a pattern for the new one.

 It was dark by the time we finished bucking the rivets.

Much better!
We had talked about changing this panel lots of times... if only we had known how simple and inexpensive this project was, we would have done it earlier.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stripping/Showing a Little Skin

We're stripping paint, putting the skins in, cutting holes for new outlets...

This is our ceiling.  On the floor.  
We've been working around/walking around this huge ceiling roll forever.

 We decided to take it out and strip it (again) before installing it.

Stripping isn't fun.
 It's much easier to do with horizontal panels though.
I'll spare you the picture of the inside of that 5 gallon bucket.  It's where I put all of the paint and stripper goo after I scraped it off... we call it the "puke bucket."

Warning!  Gratuitous side note:
Buying the stripper was fun. 
The cashier at the home store told us:
"You have to be 18 to buy a [can of] stripper."  Haha!
(She wasn't kidding though, it's the law in GA.)

Brian installing the lower curbside skin.  
Our headlamps are very useful in late-night Airstream restoration as well as camping.

We're so excited about working on the skins.
We're adding a total of 7 new outlets to our trailer.  For each new outlet, we have to make a cut in the skin.  So, the skin installation is taking a little bit of time but we're getting close.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ends Capped

Here's what we've been working on since our last post:

Installed two inside fiberglass endcaps
cleaned the endcaps
more wiring
sealed some leaks (every Airstream owner's favorite task)
sealed some more leaks
made the frame for the new battery box
worked on a new drip cap for the front door
washed the trailer (first bath in a year, YIKES!)

Did I mention we installed the fiberglass endcaps?! We used 3 "third hands" and a farm jack to complete the job.  Stubborn things!  We were so glad to finally be successful at this task. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lost in Translation

(from Brian)

My (overly-ambitious) wiring plans drag on, but the end is in sight.  All of the 110v wiring is done.  Check.  Now to finish the trailer lights.

When we purchased the trailer, the trailer lights (taillights, brake lights, turn signals) had been completely bypassed.  Temporary wires dangled under the belly pan and up the outside of the tail.  Not the least, the trailer brake wires were completely cut off.  This arrangement (sans trailer brakes) worked for almost the whole ride home before it blew a fuse in our tow vehicle.

flashback: our wiring looks so classy taped to the rear of the trailer and wrapped around part of the bumper

We had a bit of a snafu the first time I rewired the trailer lights.  The night before we moved out of our warehouse, we hooked up the tow vehicle and...nothing.  Since it was time to move out, I grabbed a 4-wire connector and ran some quick temp wires to the lights.  Once we were back home, I tested and found out that 4 of the wires on the molded Hopkins 7-blade cable I purchased didn't have continuity.  I assumed that I must have damaged it in some way during installation.

Months later, I finally got around to replacing the wiring pigtail.  I went back to the same store and bought another pre-wired Hopkins 7-blade connector.  I spliced it in, hooked up the tow vehicle, and... uh-oh.

The brake lights didn't work at all.  No left blinker.  The right blinker made the running lights on the left side of the trailer blink.  Crap.

I began to doubt my sanity and worth as a human.  Frustration rose.  Then, I began tracing down the wiring.

Turns out the color-coded wiring I bought is very different from what I expected.  On a 7-blade connector, the usual scheme that Hopkins uses for color-coding the wires is in this order, clockwise from top: brown, yellow, white, blue, green, black, with purple/red in the middle.  What I got from my pre-wired (Hopkins) connector was oh-so-different: green, red, white, blue, brown, black, with yellow in the middle.  Wow!  I really wish I had found the chart on this page to start with; I would have known that they used a completely different color-coding scheme.  It'd be nice if Hopkins would note that on their website.

It was an easy enough fix to swap the wires around and apply some colored electrical tape to avoid future confusion.  Woo-hoo!  The wiring checklist grows shorter...