Monday, September 29, 2008

Up on Blocks

Arrived in Alabama at 1 am last night, after a 19-hour drive. Saw three Airstreams on our way down, but they were all the newer models. Made us really excited to see this little gem again:

While Ben unloaded our car and got our stuff settled in, Lisa worked remotely this morning and early afternoon, until her computer strangely overheated and the screen started turning black and the plastic frame started melting. A call to IT support at work revealed that the computer is so old that Dell didn't even recognize the service tag number. We've got a small Mac from the bike shop that will have to serve as a temporary replacement starting tomorrow morning, but since it happened around 3:00 this afternoon, she took it as a sign that it was time to sign off and enjoy day one of our 'working sabbatical.'

So we made our first visit to Outback Trailers today in Steele, AL. The owner, Gary, said that since our Airstream has been at his shop, he's had a couple of people a week coming in and trying to buy it from him. He and a couple of his guys, Dewey and Columbus, had already taken off the front belly pan to get at the rusted-out center pipe that runs the length of the trailer (see below). It came out without much of a struggle. Seems back in the '40s they didn't even used to weld them was only secured with screws!

We're happy to report that the steel and aluminum frame has been preserved in way better shape than we expected. Rather than take the whole shell off and rebuild the entire frame, it looks like we will only have to replace the center pipe and add some steel reinforcements in place of the aluminum crossbars so it can be welded instead of bolted back together. We're still planning to put a new axle, shocks and tongue on it.

Next steps are to pull out all of the wood furniture and shelving inside and pry up the floor tiles to gauge the condition of the subfloor. Ben will get cracking on that tomorrow morning.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Getting Ready to Roll

Well, we're really doing it. We're moving out of our house in three weeks, putting everything in storage except what we'll need on the trip (and that fits in our car).

The Airstream is still in Alabama, our first stop. We'll be there for 2-3 weeks getting her road-worthy. We've teamed up with a welding shop to pop the rivets and do a shell-off frame rebuild. While that's going on, we'll be visiting a nearby stockpile of Airstream parts we learned of, replacing damaged windows, and scraping the peeling paint from the interior to shine it up before rebuilding any of the interior wooden parts. As soon as the frame is done, we'll rivet the shell back on and build the new sub-floor.

We'll do the majority of the restoration while we're on the road, but in the meantime, between bouts of work, sleep and packing, we've found a renewed passion for the kinds of creative projects we used to do together. We're limited as to what we can do from a distance, but this weekend we put a few personal touches on the Airstream, including a spice rack made of test tubes with wood burner-engraved cork stoppers.