Monday, February 23, 2009

I'm "Shocked"

After ripping out the floor and cleaning I have been looking pretty hard at my shocks. They look to be original, and I am wondering if I should loose them all together or replace them. When we had the 56 Caravanner we had a new Dexter axle installed because the electric brakes were toast, and parts could not be found to repair the axle. The RV shop told me that I didn't need new shocks because they don't really make a difference nowadays. He said that folks used to ride in these trailers and the ride needed to be softer to make sure nothing jostled around too much. Not knowing anything on axles, I turn to my readers and the forums. I believe that the shocks provide a better ride for the equipment and items inside the trailer while towing, and not just comfortable ride for a person.
Nut where shock bolts to the frame

Shock from above

Shock up close

Another top shot.

If I am to replace the shocks, I am in a dilemma. It looks like the bolt that holds the shock onto the bottom of the leaf springs on the curbside is bent upwards. You cannot tell very well on the pics, but it is bent towards the sky slightly. Another dilema is my POR 15 treatment of the frame. The nut on the inside of the frame where the shock bolts through would be rendered unuseable (I think) once I POR-15 over it.

Seeking expert advice.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bargman #5..not all it's cracked up to be.

Over the last day I have been rebuilding the guys of all my running and tail lights. I took apart the license plate light and started to clean the pieces. The round glass light cover was cracked, and broke during cleaning. The glass may not be a requirement to have the light, but it protects the lamp, and keeps stuff out of the fixture.

I have inquired about them from a few people, and I will wait to see what happens from here on out.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Moving Day, Loving the Lectro, and an Illuminating experience.

Today was a big day in preparation of getting to start on the trailer. I started the day by moving the BBQ trailer from the drive and into the front yard. I then hooked up the Ambassador and moved it into the right hand side of the main driveway.
What a pair

This would clear the side drive for the Flying Cloud. After moving the Ambassador, I moved the BBQ trailer into the back yard, and finally moved the Flying cloud onto the pad.
Her new home (For now)

I hired a local unemployed union carpenter/welder to do the frame work and floor replacement on the trailer. Today he showed up on time, but decided to decline the job. After reading the Airforums threads, and knowing how important my trailer is to Amy and I, he didn't want to chance messing anything up with it. I thanked him, and proceeded without him.

In 1953 all the appliances and fixtures in Airstream trailers ran off of 110v shore power only. There was no 12v wiring, and in this model there was not a fresh water tank. A concern of mine through all of this was the Lectro brand hot water heater. It never worked after I brought it home and tested it. Digging deeper, I tested the thermostat, and it tested fine (Electrically speaking). I uncovered a cast iron tank about the size of a basket ball with a metal band around it. The metal band was the heating element. It had two screws that apparently got so hot that they broke. I added a new cord, plugged it in, and to my suprize the band heated right up. I am so happy not only to have the original working, but now I don't have to cut a hole in the side and run propane. Since we are not having a shower, the hot water will only be used for dishes.

After taking the lights out yesterday I decided to try a little experiment. I grabbed my trickle charger, and clipped the fixtures from the trailer. My first objective was to get the propper bulb numbers. Each tail light has a double filament bulb that was a #1176. The other bulb in the tail light and the license plate bracket was a #1141.

Trickle charger setup

I clamped the negative lead of the trickle charger to the fixture housing, and touched the bulb wire for each wire in the #1176. A little snap and pop from the corrosion that was on the wire, but each filament lit up. I tried the same on the #1141, and got the same result.

Bulb #1176

Bulb #1141

The license plate light was a different story. I had to remove the red glass lens to get the ball rolling. The phillips screw came out with little effort, but the screw with an asterisk (*) shaped head was far more troublesome. It was not a torque head like some suggested, but after enough force and select four letter words, I was able to get the cover off. Inside was a glass ring and the bulb. The glass ring is cracked, and chipped in many places. I don't think VTS carries these, so I will need to call a glass manufacturer. After I removed the bulb, the rest of the pigtail fell out the bottom. The spring and wiring was completely corroded, and I will need to replace it. With enough finageling I was able to test it. Success!!!!!

On Edit as of 4:00 PM Central time. I went to the local O'reilly's auto parts store and took my fixtures with me. I was able to get all new pigtails that work inside the old sockets. Overall cost was about $10.00 to get new wiring, terminals, springs, etc. Thanks to Scott with the 63 Safari from around the World on that one. No I need to figure out out of the three filaments....which is running, which is brake, and which is signal.

I want to thank Marcus for getting me out to work on the trailer. He challenged me, and it was something I needed to get going again. I want to start putting POR-15 on the frame, but it is still too cold, and hardly any humidity. My frame is rusty, and I want to paint directly over the rust. Not familiar if I need to use metal clean or metal ready on it since it is pretty rusty already. I am also curious about my hitch. It was welded on and still has the black factory paint on it. I want to paint it with POR, but don't know if I need to take this pain off it first, and POR should not be used over other paints.

Any comments would be appreciated

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What to do with my Bargman 2's

For the past few days, I have been wondering what I will do with my trailer's lights. While towing home, only the side clearance lights worked. No brake lights, signal lights, electric get the idea. The wiring sure is old in here, and the sheathing is some kind of fibrous material that is peeling away. I decided to pull the bezels off the tail lights to check them out.

The tail lenses and bezels are in good shape aside from a hair line crack in one lens, and rust stains from the old screws it had holding it in place. The gaskets I peeled off the lenses however were not as lucky. They were cork and about 50% gone from each light. This with the rear hatch were probably my biggest problems for leaks. I will need to make a new gasket with rubber from the hardware store, or perhaps enough butyl putty and vulkem will make it nice and tight (Just kidding).

After removal and inspection of the lenses, I turned my attention to the bulb fixtures. You can see that on bulb has two wires going to it while the other bulb only has one. It also is interesting that the bulb with two wires going to it has two filaments in it. None of these have worked since I brought it home, so I don't know which bulb works for what. From the picture I have here, you can see how badly the wire is coming out of the fixture. I want to replace all the wiring, but this will likely mean new bulb fixtures. Anyone know where I can get them that are still this size?

The last thing I need to deal with back there is the center light which doubles as a license plate bracket holder. One of the screws holding the lens on is a star pattern that I am unfamiliar with. This light has never worked, and the wiring is pulling out like the rest of the fixtures. The housing is badly pitted, and I believe that the bulb housing will be in just as bad of shape as the others. Your thoughts are welcome and appreciated.

Lens with star headed screw

Wires in bad shape and a pitted housing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Moving on to the floor

For the last week I have had an ad on the internet looking for help with the flying cloud. I am not lucky enough to have alot of technically savvy friends, or family with the skills and time to help me with this project, but have found someone that is capable to assist in the work. This project has been at a stand still, and will continue to be at a stand still until I fix the frame and replace the current floor with a marine grade plywood 3/4 inch floor.

After my newly hired hand left, I began tearing out the sub floor starting from the rear. I removed the flooring all the way up to the cross member in front of the wheel well. To much joy, I found the frame to be in much better shape than anticipated. It is solid everywhere other than the outrigger to the rear of the curbside wheel well and the final cross member on the chassis.

Bad Outrigger

Rear crossmember corroded away

Something else I found odd about the frame was that one of the previous owners screwed a piece of angle iron into the frame who's sole purpose is to be used to attach the belly pan to. The belly pan is held to it with some HUGE screws.

As it stands right now, I will only be dropping the center section of the belly pan in order to replace the last cross member and the belly skin that has corroded away at the rear. After getting the floor up and a good vacuuming...okay, semi good vacuuming I was done for the day.

Oddly are the spacings between cross members. My rear curved piece has about three feet to the first cross member. From that cross member, I can fit a 48" piece of plywood that will cross over the 3rd cross member and fit perfectly on the 4th cross member that lies just rear of the wheel wells. I am only replacing the rear right now, and once it is finished I will replace the front. This is the way Marcus and Frank did it, and it is the way I will do it.

As for the belly pan, I will need to do a partial replacement and wonder what the best aluminum to use is. I will also need to have some C channel fabricated to reattach some of the shell to the floor since alot of mine is corroded. Anyone know what the best aluminum for this is?

Unfortunately for me, I will have to wait until the weather gets much better before using the POR-15. The temperature fluctuates too much here, and I don't want to have the finish ruined because of it.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Afghanistan Deployment Revisited

A synopsis of what happened this past summer with my National Guard unit.

In the Summer of 2008, the unit in the IL National Guard I was attached to was set to deploy in December to Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan. I went through all my train up, briefings, physicals, etc. At the mobilization site I was told that because of my time spent deployed from 2005-2007, that I could elect to take my dwell time (Two years free from deployment) and not deploy with the unit. Besides the obvious reasons for wanting to stay here, I had only signed up for a one year tour with the Guard to try it out and see if I liked it. That contract expired in November 2008, but I have been kept in the Guard due to a stop loss. A stop loss essentially prohibits me from leaving the military unless a waiver is granted for my release. The stop loss was supposed to be lifted in December once the unit arrived in Afghanistan, but it was not, and is scheduled to be kept in place the entire deployment.

Now to our current situation.

Today when I turned on my cell phone, I noticed about 12 missed calls from a friend of mine in the National guard. He told me that he received a list of people this morning for a deployment roster involving laboratory technologists. My friend was number one on the list, and I was number three. Of course, he has no other information on this, and all I can do now is wonder what the heck is going on. I argue the point that there shouldn't be a "Dwell Time" offered by the military if they don't plan on allowing soldiers who have been deployed take it. My biggest issue on this is of the flying cloud. It has been gutted of all interior furnishings and skin. It needs to have the frame fixed, and a fresh 3/4 marine grade plywood floor installed. Amy has stated that if I go, she plans on taking a 2 year tour in Kentucky at Fort Knox. This means I have to get the cloud out of my back yard and to a place that can do the work....or sell it.

Whatever the case, it has bee a wild ride. I will pay much better attention to contract wording in the future :).


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Texas Vintage Trailer Rally 2009

After receiving a comment from Marcus (utee94) of austin aluminitis fame I am posting again. It is hard to get motivated about trailer restoration when you can't get out and work on things due to the weather.

From February 5th through the 8th I attended the Texas Vintage Rally in San Antonion, TX. I flew in on Thursday evening, and stayed at the hotel across from the RV Park. The rally was a huge event hosting over 102 Airstreams from across North America. Due to my work schedule, I was unable to attend any of the restoration seminars, but I enjoyed myself, and got to meet many new friends.

On Saturday and Sunday I performed leak testing on trailers at the rally. Tested trailers ranged from the 50's, 60's, 70's, an 80's trailer, and a 2007 Classic. Yes they all leaked, but some leak points were not typical. The 2007's fantastic fan had a crack in the frame allowing water to seep into the trailer whenever it rained.

One of my favorite parts of this rally was that Dale "Pee-Wee" Schwamborn was there talking about the Capetown to Cairo and World Caravans, the founding of the WBCCI, and all things Wally Byam. Here is a picture of Marcus, Tom, Doug, and myself behind Pee Wee and his wife Susan.

While much warmer than I am used to in February, the wind was the largest surprize. I was standing on top of trailers doing leak testing with 30 knot winds blowing across the plains. Wind + soapy water on roof = danger. Here I am testing a trailer in the winds, and sealing a leak at the hot water heater.

As for news on the 1953 Flying Cloud, I do have some. Pat McDowell who presented a few of the seminars had the exact back channel I needed for my Flying Cloud. The only issue is that Jim Whitworth needed it as well. Pat and Jim have allowed me to take the part home for an attempt at fabricating it. I sent it to the shop today, and we'll see where it gets us. Another thing on the front is a new set of stainless steel wheelwells. My dad's coworker has a ton of scrap from his side jobs and is making them FREE OF CHARGE (Now that is Airstream Spirit).

In all, Gayland Stephens and the entire Highland Lakes unit put on a great rally experience for everyone. We are making plans to make it next year as a family with out trailer for the entire event. Some other pictures I have are below.

65 Caravel

56 Safari

52 Flying Cloud

54 Flying Cloud

Thanks for reading.