Restoration of Scott and Kathy's 1955 Flying Cloud Whale Tail - Our California Vintage Airstream.
Airstream Restoration by Colin Hyde Trailer Restoration

Friday, January 31, 2014

Adding Grey Tanks - First in 58 Years! Part 2

At Colin Hyde Trailer Restorations, Reid has been working on our plumbing - thanks Reid!

The bathroom lavatory sink and shower join to drain down to the first (forward) tandem grey tan.
 First checking the fit of all parts before they are attached/glued together permanently


Adding gray tanks to our vintage Airstream for the first time in 58 years! 
During travel, trailers move and flex.  While it is not legal or safe to ride in a moving trailer, someday I'd like to get a video set up to see the movement that happens.  The movement can break areas that are too stiff.  To be sure that our tandem tanks maintain a secure and dry connection, a flexible link is added between grey the two tanks.  Thick rigid foam insulation is added to further protect the link and will keep the tanks from shifting forward and backward within the frame.  A similar link will be added to the tandem fresh water tanks.


From the back of the rear grey tank, the used water will exit the trailer through the combination black and gray water valve.  Unlike modern trailers, the dump valve will not hang below the belly pan.  I just realized I have very few photos showing our dump valve - just not photogenic!   Because in 1955 we had no dump valve, our Flying Cloud valve handle will not show on the exterior of the trailer. The valve handle will be accessible through a hatch in the belly pan.  This decision will also keep our restoration with the beautiful clean design of 1955.


Both the fresh & grey water tanks with plumbing connections.
The portions of the frame that are cut out for the plumbing connections - all will be strong!  Each cross member will be strengthened at the bottom with a heavy steel bolt-on bridge.  The bolts will allow access to the plumbing if needed at a later date.


The shower pan's drain trap will fit inside the frame, hidden by the belly pan.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Double Draining - Planning the Bathroom Drains

We don't use a lot of water in our 2008 Airstream, we can go without a fresh water fill up for at least 5 days.  And I expect that our water use will remain the same for our 1955 vintage Airstream.
We do need a larger water tank than the missing original fresh tank that fit under the cabinet under the front window.

We are taking advantage of Vintage Trailer Supply's standardized water tanks, positioning the two tanks below the floor in between the frame rails.  Plumbing the fresh tanks in tandem will work really well for us.  The tandem gray tanks will hold the same amount of water, reducing the possibility of overflow which I really want to avoid!

Putting the tanks into their spots in the frame rails.

Close-up of the tank straps covered with a peel-and-stick waterproof membrane.

The street-side plumbing is for the bathroom lavatory sink and the shower drains.  They join together to drain into the new grey tanks.  Back in 1955 Airstream and other trailers did not have holding tanks for water coming from the sinks and shower, and water was just dumped on the ground.  Not very sanitary, and so I'm glad to upgrade our Flying Cloud.

 Cutting the cross members for the tandem tank fittings.


The cross members ready for the tank connector. Note: the step was painted with the gray topcoat over the POR15 rustproof paint.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Position the Plumbing and Narrow the Wheel Well

I need a shower and we also want to keep the living space as open as possible so we need to crowd the bathroom.  Before when we checked the fit, there is very little room between the toilet and the wheel wheel

 As new plywood is cut for a floor, the size and shape of the trailer can tweak a little bit.  Now our 1955 Flying Cloud final size of the Airstream is defined by the floor attached to the chassis.  With the wheel wells attached between the plywood and the frame, the bathroom plumbing needed to be double checked. 

Axle and tires on, the chassis is flipped over.

Great news!  The shell still fits on the floor/frame!

Next the plumbing parts are laid out in their approximate positions.

The mock-up wall is brought back into our trailer to check the fit.

With the new axle and tire in place, we could check that all would still fit, and as expected the wheel well needed to be slightly adjusted.

Marmoleum Mineral 5714 - Help?

It is what it is....

We may need to start the entire interior color scheme over again.
Since we made the color selections in March of 2011 – some items have been discontinued.

The materials we choose were all based on the floor covering - Marmoleum Mineral #5714.

Marmoleum Mineral #5714 is no longer made by Forbo Flooring 800-842-7839.

We will need to start again with everything…unless Colin's flooring guys have stock there?

Looking for a small miracle.
Anyone have stock?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Floor to Frame - Details

Aluminum was used to protect the plywood floor at the spare tire.

Aluminum protecting the floor above the step.

The inside of the wheel well.

Floor Attached to Frame!

No longer pulling things apart!
All the preparation work is complete, things are going back together again, and I could not be any happier!!

The old leaf spring axle is gone, white the new smoother riding torsion axle is positioned and the bracket is attached to the frame.

Glue is used to attach the plywood floor is to the frame.

Elevator bolts are used by the Airstream factory to attach the C-Channel to the outriggers only - so they are spaced widely apart, approximately every 2 feet.  Then the factory used (uses) self taping screws are used to attach the C-Channel to the plywood between the outriggers.  
Our 1955 Flying Cloud has Colin's added strength by using elevator bolts inside the C-channel - all along the C-Channel to more securely attach the frame to the floor and therefore lessen stress to the trailer.  The elevator bolts are attached to the outriggers and to the plywood floor.  Colin used self-taping screws to further secure the plywood floor to the outriggers and the cross members.
Improved again!  Even the curves are attached with elevator bolts - every 8" to 10".

Using the rotisserie, our Airstream is moved to comfortable positions for securely bolting the floor and chassis together. Shown with the hold-down plate welded to the front of the frame.  The extra elevator bolts are best seen in the photo from the under-side of the plywood floor.

Working with Barry

Wanted to share this from 8.28.11
Barry invited Scott over to do a little work on his vintage Airstream.  I think it was out of sympathy for Scott who is missing our 1955 Flying Cloud...  It was a good day!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Belly Pan Improvements - Vintage and Better!

As I'm not an expert, I really never thought much about the underside of our trailer.  I did know that Airstream trailers have aluminum belly pans which cover the frame, and the bottom of the plywood floors.  This keeps all the ugly, wet, muddy, floor-rotting frame-rusting, road debris from ruining the trailers from the foundation up. It is one of many reasons why Airstreams survive and are enjoyed for decades!

One of our improvements are in the area of the spare tire.  The tire will fit inside the trailer frame, recessed like the newer model Airstreams.  Our vintage Airstream will have this area lined in aluminum, keeping the plywood floor dry.  To protect the floor under the frame surrounding the spare tire, the frame is wrapped in more aluminum.

Originally the floor area under our steps appears to have be painted.  For our restoration, another belly pan improvement is a new aluminum lining to protect the area above the Swing-Away Step.  Colin Hyde fabricated this for us - thank you!  This will protect the floor from wood rot found when we first saw our 1955 Flying Cloud.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Location, Position, Check, and Double Check

I'm so excited!  We are getting closer to putting the aluminum shell back onto the frame!

Wheel well is located close to the shower pan.  Both locations are finalized and the shower pan is checked to fit and be supported by the cross members. 

To keep water from damaging our new floor, the plywood is sealed or waterproofed.  Colin uses Smiths CPES Penetrating Epoxy 2 part epoxy.  The underside is soaked and the upper side is sealed at the outer edges of each board.


The C-Channel will hold the wall and provides the stability and contact between the wall and the wood floor and chassis below. 

The curved C-Channel for the front and rear corners was made in 1955 by Airstream in small segments. Colin fabricated new C-Channels from 032 aka 50/50 aluminum "belly pan" aluminum.
Then the C-Channel is positioned on the floor, checking the fit again.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Strapping Tanks

Below the floor, will be two gray water tanks, and also 2 fresh water tanks.  These are standard 16 gallon tanks, now available at Vintage Trailer Supply - saves lots of money!  The metal straps, fabricated by Colin Hyde,  will keep the tanks secured in between the main rails.

UPDATE 2/6/2014 -  Colin Hyde's reply to Gary's question.

I have a 55 Flying Cloud also. I'm in the process of installing the water tanks now. Why do the straps have a loop in them? They don't have a "loop" in them. They are formed like a "C" with short legs on either end. This allows us to install the bolts longitudinally instead of vertically, causing protrusions in the bellypan. It also allows us to put tension on the straps.  How are they secured on the topside (is it just pressure against the bottom of the floor)? The tanks are up against the underside of the floor & foam blocks minimize lateral movement. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Missed a Post - Sharing Now - More Frame Strength

When I wrote about our now-sturdy steps being installed on our Byam's 55 Flying Cloud - I missed some very important work also done at the same time.  Today I found my omission, and wanted to share.

We pull our 2008 Airstream with a Jeep Grand Cherokee including in the mountains of Colorado.  We are asked about our experiences and they have all been good with the Jeep's tow package and its V8 Hemi 5.7 liter.  Driving without our Airstream, the 4 cylinder "Eco" mode saves us gas too!

Anyway, the Jeep has some room in the back for Byam's kennel, and a lot of other stuff, but not enough room for a spare Airstream tire.  Also packing and moving around a gritty spare tire is not my idea of fun.  So we decided that we need a spot for the spare tire to always be with the trailer.   

Our frame was improved, adding another pair of bracing to provide support for the spare tire under the Airstream.  The bracing also adds more strength to the A-Frame.

The additional bracing is painted.  Below the frame is upside down and the trailer's front hold-down plate is facing the floor.

Shown with the sheet of aluminum that will be the attached to the frame as part of the belly pan and the aluminum bent to wrap around the frame also.