WE POPPED HER TOP OFF! AIRSTREAM RENO – WEEK 1

1 down, 8 more to go!
It took about an hour to get the glass out of the sash. Time to get rid of that crusty solar film!

Week 1 in the books! We picked Caroline up last Saturday and took her on her maiden voyage to New Mexico – approx. 700 miles. The very next day we finished tearing the rest of her guts out! We have yet to find any freeloaders on board. 🙂

We’ve accomplished quite a bit in our first 7 days. We unloaded of all the interior skins and templets we’ll need to use, took out her wiring harness (it was like a spider web in there), built the support for the shell, and took out most of her windows (I only restored one so far). We had a pallet of cinderblocks delivered to the storage facility where she currently resides. The plan for the weekend was to lift the shell off the frame.

I think I probably moved all 90 cinderblocks about 5x each…
Some steel and some corrosion 🙁

If all goes well with her ‘lift off’ we will be able to start removing the old, crumbling subfloor next week. The frame in the rear is very wobbly AND she’s saggin’ a bit. More than likely there will be some much needed welding – some of the outriggers look questionable also. A lot of the older Airstreams leak really bad in the back by the window and rear bumper cover. To make matters worse, Airstream thought it was a good idea to use a long piece of steel as a hold down plate and rivet it to the inside of the rear (and front!) skin at the floor. That caused a TON of corrosion. 🙁 If you know anything about dissimilar metals you know using aluminum and steel together is a very bad idea! 1973 was also the first year Airstream added a gray tank AND a black tank. Can you guess where they decided to put both those tanks (and the shower & toilet)?! In the rear of the rig behind the axels. All that weight plus driving with full tanks made for a hefty load in the back and the frame just couldn’t handle it over a long period of time. 🙁

The Weekend

This past weekend was a success! On Saturday we finished drilling out the rivets that connected the shell to the subfloor and frame. We (mostly Blake because we only had 1 drill) probably drilled out over 1000(ish) rivets. The whole rear end of Caroline had been drilled out… errr, maybe corroded out. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t thankful for the rivets that were already gone. 🙂 After drilling out the rest of the rivets, we made some tweaks to the shell support and called it a day.

And the frame is out!

Sunday was the day for ‘lift off!’ Sunday was also the day we had 20mph winds and 30mph wind gusts! So, as good rookies would we decided to go ahead with the plan anyway! What’s a little wind?! Everything went pretty smoothly, all things considered. We had some learning curves as one would doing this for the first time with little guidance. The 2×6 boards we got to support the shell weren’t strong enough by themselves, so we screwed 3 of them together to make one. Instead of having 5 individual cinderblock stacks to support her on either side, we placed her on the ground – she is sitting on the 2×6’s so the shell isn’t actually on the ground. We inched her up with a car jack that we placed on the subfloor/shell support, cinderblock by cinderblock to get her high enough to drive the frame out without deflating any tires. Then we lowered her backdown (cinderblock by cinderblock) until she was safely on the ground. The whole process took FOREVER but with the wind in New Mexico it was better safe than sorry. I didn’t want my tin can to go airborne!

Overall, we had a very successful first week with Caroline.

PLANS FOR WEEK 2

Week 2 we are hoping to get all the subfloor up and salvage what we can as templates for the new subfloor we will be installing. Keep your fingers crossed because most of the subfloor that we need is rotted or GONE! 🙁

After all the subfloor is out, we are going to rent a sandblaster and sandblast the frame to see how bad it actually is – more than likely she will need to pay a visit to the welder here in town. Then we will have to get the frame painted once it’s sturdy and safe.

This week I will be finishing up the awning windows and hopefully tinting them and getting them back together!

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