Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TAC Rally at FDR

For Memorial Day weekend we took Someday to our first rally.  The TAC rally was held at FDR State Park in beautiful Pine Mountain, GA. 

We almost never pass up an opportunity to go to a museum or some historic place where we can learn something new.  This weekend was no exception.  We've been to the Little White House in Warm Springs, GA before but Sabrina wasn't old enough to remember it. 

Photo by Sabrina, who is only 5:
Hmmm?  I wonder how much this 1938 convertible can tow?
Who knew FDR was so handy?  
This vehicle was outfitted with hand controls designed and made by FDR so that he could drive without the use of his legs. 

 These kids are showing considerable restraint here.  
I was about ready to jump in that fountain myself.  It was a hot day!
After the Little White House we went for ice cream and air conditioning in Warm Springs, GA.

Sunday we went to the Pine Mountain Wild Animal Safari.  This place could probably use it's own blog post but I'll try to summarize with a few paragraphs and glossy photos:

The Pine  Mountain Wild Animal Park is a drive-through animal park where you can feed the animals.  You can drive your own vehicle.  If you're unwilling to subject your vehicle's exterior and interior upholstery to scratches, mud, and the slobber of  giraffe, zebra, donkey, longhorn, and buffalo then you can ride through in the comfort (and I use that term very loosely) of a rented zebra-mobile.

standing in front of our roach-coach
The zebra-mobile is a species all of it's own.  Bars are added in place of the back windows.  Our comfy coach also had a nice feature:  the "check engine" light was on.  This is where mini-vans go to die.  We looked for our old minivan but we didn't see it anywhere.  Perhaps with the new stripes we just couldn't recognize it.

Ever wonder how buffalo breath smells?  
He could have used a breath mint.

All three kids are "cat people" so they were super excited to pet a Serval in the walking portion of the park:


 What is a camping trip without wildlife?  
We had plenty back at camp too!  Sabrina found an interesting 13 year cicada with red eyes. We found toads! bats!  hawks!  Someone said they heard a fox. (I was unable to substantiate this rumor;  We even tried to lure the fox with leftover feed from the wild animal park.  I don't think it will be the last of this "fox.")  Do ticks count as wildlife?  There were plenty of those. It was suggested that we rename the rally "Tick Fest."

Know one thing that's great about other Airstreamers?  They know lots of things about Airstreams and they like to travel!  Ok.  That was two but who's counting? 


We learned many things from our fellow travelers:  places we should visit, all about making vintage awnings,  tips about TV antenna, hitches, interior storage, securing your AC shroud, and the best ways to get internet access.

How could a three day weekend possibly go so fast? 
We really had a fantastic time camping with everyone.
We can't wait to go camping with you again!

... until next time

Floor De-poxy

Since we accidentally e-poxied the floor we needed to de-poxy it.

While scrubbing the floor we were counting the number of tiles we were going to have to replace.  We debated about the tiles that were going to be under the kitchen cabinet.  Replace them?  Or just deal with it?  Should we just live with the damaged tiles until after we installed the furniture?    So many questions.

Before prying out the damaged tiles we tired cleaning them with elbow grease and a heavy duty cleaner.  The cleaner successfully removed the epoxy/resin paper mess and the floor finish.  Hmmm.  Why not just use floor stripper?  I tried it.  It worked!

I had another problem I wasn't sure how to solve though.  Part of the floor had finish on it and part of it didn't.  Unfinished next to finished.  The floor looked really bad in the parts that were transition areas. Was I going to have to strip and refinish the whole trailer?  It was the million dollar question.  Fortunately, I know someone with extensive experience with VCT flooring.  I decided to take the "phone a friend" option.  (Ok.  Well, actually I sent an email, but you get the idea.) 

Much to my relief, I learned that it wouldn't be necessary to strip the entire trailer.  The iffy transition areas would look just fine if I put finish over them.

1 coat of stripper
LOTS & LOTS of elbow grease/scrubbing
2 coats of sealer
4 coats of finish

Good as new!  What a relief!
(I guess you'll just have to trust me on this one since I'm not providing a picture.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

We Didn't Prepare For This

With the paint prep finished Brian started setting up his paint equipment.  He closed the lid of our brand new pressure pot and tightened down the pressure regulator.  It broke off in his hand. We purchased the 2.5 gallon pressure pot from that cheap tool place. (You know the one.)  There's a store a couple of miles from our house.  No big deal.  He  packed up the pressure pot and took it back for a new one.

mixing the epoxy primer in our second pressure pot, he's still smiling

spraying the primer
Everything was going fine until...

Suddenly Brian emerged from the trailer in a fog of fumes and a fountain of paint.
In the midst of the chaos Samuel yelled "Quick!  Grab the camera!"  
That's a kid after my own heart.

The cause of that great fountain of paint?  It was a hole in the hose of our paint gun.  
Want to guess where we got this tool?

Brian dutifully took off the Ompa-Loompa suit (err, I mean paint suit) and headed back to the store.

With all of the proper tools assembled again, we quickly ran out of paint before we ran out of trailer.  
I guess we should have expected this based on how much paint we lost to the fountain.  

What a predicament.   Our paint supply store was closed for the weekend so getting more paint wasn't an option. Letting the epoxy dry and starting again later didn't sound like a very appealing option either.  (If the primer wasn't covered within 24 hours then we would have to sand it again before spraying the Zolatone.  No thanks.)

We  noticed that the pressure pot siphon didn't reach the bottom of the pot.  This meant there was still a good bit of paint in the bottom.  Time to improvise.  I grabbed a roller and finished our thin layer of epoxy. 

Feeling like a Dad in the 50s,  I patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) paced outside the delivery room (err... I mean trailer) while Brian did all of the hard work with the Zolatone.  
For 6 hours.
Are these things supposed to take that long?
"I don't know nothin' about paintin' no trailers!"

Did I mention it was almost 90 degrees outside!  Poor Brian.
We cleaned out the paint guns and went to bed.

In the morning we were pleased with the results:

Predictably, fittingly, unfortunately (pick your own adverb) there's more to the epic paint saga.

After removing the protective covering from our new floor we made this gruesome discovery:
 The epoxy primer glued the rosin paper to our floor.

I guess sopping up the paint with towels wasn't enough!

Brian realized something from cleaning out the paint guns.  He was able to get a pipe cleaner in the tip of the 1.8mm gun he used for the primer.  The pipe cleaner didn't fit in the gun we ordered and used for the Zolatone.  The Zolatone gun was supposed to be 2.0mm, larger. 
We're not positive but we think our smaller-than-expected paint gun is to blame for the slow progress on the painting. 

In general, we're very happy with the results but we ultimately decided to order two more gallons of paint so that we can get better coverage in a few areas.  Brian is planning on using the 1.8mm gun for shooting the last two gallons.  We'll see if it goes any faster the second time.  We're both hoping for less drama.

My soap-box side note/lesson learned:  I neglected to name this post "To Hell with ______ (insert name of the discount tools place.)"  I'd like to say that we won't be buying tools from them any more but I can't quite go that far. Their tools are cheap.  Yes, I mean that in every sense of the word. Sometimes I feel like this store is our only option for local tools based on both cost and availability.  (Especially in cases where we won't be using the tool for some other project.)

I know we should be thinking "sustainability" instead of "availability." Sometimes it's so hard to avoid the temptation of going to the cheap place when we just want to work on the next thing without having to wait for tools to come in.  If I just think about how much sooner our tools from the cheap place will be in the landfill then it will be easier to make a good choice and buy higher quality tools from someplace else.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Paint Prep

A whole post about paint prep?  
Yes.  Really.  
Prepping for paint is enough work to warrant its own post.

It seems like we've been doing paint prep since the
day we bought our trailer.  We've used stripper on the walls 
so many times I've almost lost count.  
I can think of at least four times:

  • after we gutted the trailer, before we took the walls out
  • before we put the walls back in the trailer
  • and again
  • endcaps (2-3 times) after they were installed in the trailer

During frustrating times with the restoration 
we've tried to encourage each other by teasing. 
"It could be worse.  We could be stripping paint."
note:  This only works when the other person is not actually stripping paint.

After the inside skins were stripped and installed they 
had to be sanded.  I used 150 grit and a palm sander. 

Sometime not long after we installed the skins we started thinking about ordering our paint.  We first tried the paint supply place that was right next door to the warehouse we rented at the beginning of our restoration.  They had a set of Zolatone samples.  We also looked online for a place to buy paint.  We called a couple more chain stores in town.  Finally, we settled on the local paint supply store.  They had the best price.  Before Brian made the order he called Zolatone to get specific part numbers.  Zolatone is in the middle of changing their epoxy primer.  The old primer isn't available.  The new stuff isn't available yet either.  They suggested we use any expoxy primer. (Okay, if you say so.)  We ordered the paint and expected it to arrive in 10 days.

Next, we wiped down the walls.  Four times.  It might sound a little excessive but our rinse water was
extremely dirty; aditionally, I was afraid stripper residue might interfere with paint adhesion.  We use a TSP cleaner and then followed with a rinse, twice.

Our paint came in.  Sigh.  We still (after a month of searching Craigslist) didn't have a conventional paint gun with the appropriate size tip.  We ordered one.  It was supposed to be a rainy weekend anyway.  We decided to work on the floor instead.

Our paint gun arrived.  
Time to tape.  
This, like every other part of the paint prep, 
took longer than we expected.   

Finally!  Ready for paint!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Few More Things


For Brian's first attempt at fabricating a new eyebrow
he tried using the leftover .032" 2025-T3 
sheet of aluminum from the front panel.  
It was not the best aluminum to make the flexible brow.

He ordered some (softer) .032" 2024-0 aluminum from a local 
aircraft supply store.  When he went to pick up the order they
had a (thicker) .040" sheet of it instead.  
Even with the thicker metal it was so much easier to work with than the body panel aluminum.

2024-0 aluminum= nice eyebrow &  happy fabricator

Battery Box
When we bought our trailer there was no battery box; only a wooden shelf was attached to the front of the trailer.   Brian looked at pictures of old battery boxes for the inspiration to make ours.

support first

support frame & acid proof paint
We know what battery acid can do to aluminum.

   Our box is large enough to house two marine batteries.  
Smaller tractor batteries that would have been used originally.


We installed the VCT floor.  
We tried to come as close to the original floor as possible.  
The new tile is different from the old in two ways: 
It's 12x12 instead of 9x9 and is asbestos free!

Our inspiration piece:
a small section of our old floor


Square one.  The best place to start.

Ta-daa!  (Only 6 more coats of sealer and it will be finished!)