Friday, November 3, 2017

The door on the Ambassador needed attention.

The door was removed from the body so that several issues could be addressed:
First, the door handle was badly pitted and worn and needed to be replaced.  Second, the hinges needed to be reworked for better alignment.  Third, the door needed some metal work and cleaning that could be done easier while lying on a table setting.

When the door handle was removed, I discovered that there were broken parts inside.  
Replacement parts are not easily obtained. 

This view shows the multiple holes in the aluminum.

Outside view of the handle.

Inside view of the handle.

I decided to install a modern door latch with deadbolt that I had in my stock pile of usable vintage parts. It is in used condition, but it is in very serviceable.  It will function well, but it certainly is a sizable departure from true vintage.

Now to address these holes left behind by the old handle on the inside and outside of the door.

The one section of aluminum that held the latch handle on the inside of the door  was easily removed by drilling out several pop rivets. I cut a new piece of aluminum and re-skinned the inside section of the door.  The newly installed handle will look good against the new aluminum.  The new skin will later be painted the same color as all other interior panels.

I carefully measured, made the cut-out for the handle and drilled screw holes in the new aluminum. 

The new skin was fastened onto the door using pop rivets as before.
I also put new insulation into the cavity since it was easily accessible.  The old rubber seals on the door were removed while the door lay on the table. Three new rubber seals will be ordered from Vintage Trailer Supply. 

The two latches to the door-within-a-door were re-installed on the new skin inside the main door.

The outside of the door needed a patch to cover the holes and to install the new latch.
Buck rivets were easily installed here using a rivet squeezer.

I mounted the hinges onto the body.  I installed aluminum backer plates on the inside of the trailer behind the hinges.  These plates added another layer of strength to the wall and will stabilize the door operation.  My assistant with a bucking bar made it much easier to install buck rivets through the hinges. The hinges were then aligned for proper door placement within the body cavity.
Lots of fitting and adjusting were necessary here. The door now swings true and the latch works great.

 Outside view of the finished latch.

Inside view of the finished latch with incorporated deadbolt.

The door on the Ambassador has a feature known as a "door-within-a-door." 
The specialized hinges allow for the incorporation and the operation of this door-within-a-door, which allows a cool breeze to flow through while still retaining privacy.
They work very well.

After all that work both doors work perfectly!
The screen insert will be added later.

Two more conveniences were installed during this time.

One was a door "hand hold" that I acquired a couple of years ago.
It should work perfectly to assist one to "step up" into the trailer!

I also installed a 110/120 volt electrical outlet on the curbside front corner. 
I used the opportunity to re-purpose the odd opening from an previously obsolete electrical plug.

Exterior Priorities

Water Heater -

The opening for the old water heater was "Huge."
It was in need of a big "Patch" to plug the irregular sized opening.  A smaller opening will be created later for a modern water heater.  It will "look" modern and will not protrude three inches from the surface like the old one.

I cut out a patch from the same composition aluminum as the body to cover the hole.

I drilling and spaced rivet holes evenly which took patience.
Buck rivets were used here since the back side is exposed and accessible for a bucking bar.
A  horizontal brace about  five inches from the top was also re-installed on the back side to add strength.  (See the secondary rivet line.)
The old water heater was so large that this brace was "cut out" to make room for the install.

The finished patch looked great and blended right into the body.

When I install a new water heater here it will require a much smaller surface cut out. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Windows and more-

I have heard people say "I don't do windows!"
Now, I know why.

Windows take lots of time to clean and repair.  Such is the case with the windows on "SeeMore."

Earlier in the project I removed all of the windows and had new glass cut for them.  
Both the sashes and the back frames needed to be cleaned and new seals needed to be ordered and installed.
Once everything was cleaned and the new glass was installed I set the windows aside to work on other projects.  
Now, I was ready to put seals onto the back frames and reassemble the windows into the trailer.
The back frames required a special bulb type seal and was ordered from Vintage Trailer Supply
The seal has a specific profile to fit into the small channel on the back frame.

Here is a look at the profile of the seal.

Proper orientation to the window requires careful attention.

Tools necessary to install the seal are patience, scissors and a flat blade screw driver.

Once the new seals were installed the windows and hardware could be reassembled.

It was nice to have windows on the trailer again.

Refrigerator vent door-

The vent door needed to be repaired and a new seal installed.
All was polished before reassembly.

The seal was ordered from Vintage Trailer Supply.
It was required to be buck riveted onto the trailer body.

The seal had to be sandwiched between the body and the vent.

The seal and vent was all held into place with clecos and then buck riveted together.

With the bottom intake vent installed and the new roof vent in place the system should be ready for an operable refrigerator someday.

Roof vent with cover in place.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Eyebrow

The "eyebrow" is a curved awning piece over the door on Airstream trailers.  
It is a curved compound shape.

It has been said that when one looks at the shape of an Airstream” the eye is first drawn to the "eyebrow" over the door.”  Frank Yensan of  Frank’s Trailer Works Blog shared his experience,  knowledge and craftsmanship to rebuild his Airstream eyebrow.  Studying his work bolstered my confidence to replace the eyebrow on “SeeMore.”  The task was laborious and required patience.  It also took about eight hours to complete.

On close inspection "SeeMore's" eyebrow was bent, creased and split.

Here is another example of an eyebrow on a 1962 Airstream trailer.

And another example on a 1952 Airstream trailer.

Looking at these examples closely helped me to decide to build the replacement for "SeeMore."
It would also be built a little more stout and slightly wider.

Eyebrows look good and are functional in that they help keep water from rolling off the roof into an open doorway.

I removed the old eyebrow by drilling out the rivets.

The previous owner installed large "pop" rivets to hold the piece in place.
The center mandrels was missing leaving holes in center of each rivet alowing water to enter the coach.

Once the piece was removed the area needed to be cleaned. 

Once clean another problem was able to be addressed.
Several buck rivets holding the door frame together were missing.
They will need to be replaced.

Once free the eyebrow could be flattened out and used for a pattern.

To facilitate the shape needed I found a steel band from a buggy wheel.
It is strong for shaping the aluminum and is of about the right circumference.

I clamped, shimmed and tapped the metal into the desired shape.
Two bends were required on the compound curved shaped piece.
The shape also had to fit the curve of the trailer roof line. 

The first bend was straight forward and was made using the buggy wheel for a form.
This bend would be the one facing outward and is about 1./2 inch wide.

The second bend was much more difficult.  It faces the trailer and needed lots of manipulation.

I was not so successful at first.  
I toiled and made three before claiming "success!"

When completed a test fit was necessary.  
I used sheet metal screws to fit and attach the eyebrow to the trailer.

The fit was good. 
I re-drilled the holes to a bigger size and permanently attached the "eyebrow" using buck rivets.

Now the door frame and eyebrow were solidly in place.

At the end of the day I was very happy!