I went to order a new axle for the Airstream. After emailing and sending a photo or two to the Airstream Jedi Master, Colin Hyde, it seems unlikely that I have a 1963. Axles were not welded on in 1963, but mine is. It is most likely a 1962 or earlier, since that was the last year axles were welded. I've sent the Jedi Master a pic of my Airstream's serial number and we'll see. He is going to drop-ship an axle to Ratco Trailers here in Billings (sometime after the new year when I'm ready) and they will do the welding and install the axle.
In the meantime, my restoration work has taken a new twist. I've had to measure and plan for the plumbing system that needs to go in before the floor goes back down. Since these decisions are north of $500, and are not returnable, I've been doing a lot of math and graphing. Irish whiskey does help make the process easier to bear
As a final note, I'm getting tired of referring to it as "the Airstream" or "my Airstream". Airstreams need to have a name. We've struggled to find a name. What do you think?
The rear frame had so very little rust that a wire brush attachment to my drill was all that I needed to remove the rust from the frame. There were a few places, mostly on the underside of the beams and outriggers, that had rusted a bit more deeply. Still, the worst of my frame (so far) has been nothing like the stories on the airforums. The top-left photo above was the worst outrigger of the rear end. No holes and still very solid metal, but it was uniformly rusty and slightly pitted.
I know all the literature (or nearly all of it) says to use POR-15 to encapsulate the rust. POR-15 is the automotive standard for restoration buffs. I've got nothing against that product, but I wasn't willing to pay the premium - in dollars or in skin. POR-15 is expensive in both, or so everyone says.
I used a product that is virtually unmentioned in the airstream world - Corroseal. It is an acid-based rust converter (similar to Ospho) that seals itself into a latex metal primer. It chemically changes the rust into not-rust. I don't think that's the technical term, but you get the idea.
The first picture above is bare metal, the second is moments after application, and the third is after curing for a few hours. Sure this product isn't hard-as-nails like POR-15. In theory the paint/primer could come off and rust could come back someday. But it took 52 years to get to this point; I'm pretty sure this buys me another 50, maybe more. Ben can restore it again when I'm 86.
My next step is ordering black and grey holding tanks. The grey, if not the black too, will need to be mounted under the floor. Then I'll replace the floor and move to the front. I hope the rust isn't too bad up there!
Here are a few more photos from today:
After the slow success of yesterday, I decided to try to remove half the belly pan today. Like yesterday, it was slow, dirty work. It felt successful because of the dramatic change, though. Opening the belly of the trailer to the ground felt huge. It went from totally closed (ok mostly closed):
To open to the ground:
Here is the obligatory, standing-on-the-ground-inside-your-airstream photo. I guess this photo is required to prove you've done the "fully monty" in the airstream restoration world. <You can insert your own joke here.>
Last, I used a grinder and ground off the elevator bolts that gave me so much trouble when removing the plywood sheets. I'll need to put new ones back in, but Airstream bent all of the bolts to prevent the nuts from backing out. So these had to be cut out. I feel like such a badass when using an angle grinder.
I'm not an Airstream Jedi, yet. Airstream Jedi would have sounded presumptuous, like I know what I'm doing. That couldn't be further from the truth. Padawan is a title I can hope to live up to.
Knots Per Hour
My friend Mike is building an airplane. Check it out.