Wednesday, October 28, 2015


My 1959 Airstream Ambassador has 10 windows installed.  They are Hehr Standard windows that are of simple design and have worked very well.  However, they are 56 years old and need some maintenance.  Restoration of these windows will require that they be removed from the trailer.  They will undergo a laborious process of removal, cleaning, glass replacement, and resealing.   

Clean design.
Front Living area (Street Side)

Each window on my Airstream has a drip rail attached over top of the window to direct water away. However, this is not true of every vintage Airstream.

Why the need for repairs?
This photo shows a window with weathered and shrinking outer glazing seals.
The inner seal holding the glass in the window frame has also let go in some places.
The only way to repair these leaky windows is to take them apart and install new seals and glass.

The laborious process begins...

Removing the drip rails.

The first step is to remove the drip rails to allow for the removal of the windows.

Rivets on the drip rail have to be drilled out.

More rivets!

Be careful to drill only the center of the rivet.

Here, all the rivets have been drilled out across of one drip rail.

Now remove the drip rail from the trailer being careful not to scratch the trailer panel surface.
Remainder of the rivet heads will fall off during this process.

Drip rail fully removed, and the 56 year old caulking still looks good.

Removing the windows.

The windows are easy to remove.  First, the operating mechanisms must be removed or disconnected from the sash. Next, the windows are opened fully by lifting the bottom up to their maximum travel.  
The window sashes can then be simply slid sideways out of the top channel hinges.

Opening mechanism installed inside trailer before removal.

Opening mechanism removed and ready for cleaning.

I found two of these mechanisms that need to be replaced due to stripped gears. They are still available from Vintage Trailer Supply.

Bottom locking mechanism installed inside trailer and needs to be removed, as well.

Window raised to maximum travel with operating mechanisms removed.

Sliding the window sideways and out of the top channel hinge.

Now repeat the process for all 10 windows. To keep everything organized, I used coffee cans and numbered them to collect the screws and hardware from each window.

Cleaning Up.

Each drip rail location and window opening needs to be cleaned up and shined.
Here the drip rail rivets are cleaned up and the remaining caulking is removed.

Everything needs to be clean before anything can be reinstalled.

A wire wheel brush seems to be the only expedient way to remove the dirt.

Be very careful not to scratch the aluminum above the rivet line!

A putty knife helps to remove excess caulking.

More Parts for Removal  

Each window jam has rubber seals that must also be removed.
New seals will be ordered from Vintage Trailer Supply.

Bottom and side seals are removed from window jam channel.

Side seal being removed.

The top seal is of a different shape.  It is no longer available, but Vintage Trailer Supply has an alternate seal available.

More Cleaning! 

This picture shows the window jam where the opener mechanism fits.
Brown color is grease.  

All must be cleaned and polished.  It takes a lot of time and effort.

The polish  is "Nuvite-NuShine II" from Vintage Trailer Supply.

A buffer wheel on my drill works well.

A sense of accomplishment takes over once the jams and surrounding areas are polished.

Cleaning the Window Sashes

The window sashes are going to take even more time and effort.
There are glazing seals that hold the glass onto the inside and outside of the frame.
Both need to be removed and the frame cleaned.

Glazing seal being peeled away from outside of frame.

The glass window is removed by breaking it out of the frame. 
The tar-based glazing seal is then peeled off the inside of window frame.

Removing and cleaning these 10 windows was a big job.
I used every tool available in my shop to scrape, clean, and shine these frames.

Once cleaned and shined they look pretty good.

Glass replacement

The process to remove, clean, and shine the window jams and sashes is complete.
I can now look forward to re-installing the windows.

The new window glass has been ordered.

Stay tuned for the installation process!

1 comment:

  1. too late, but... you only need to remove one corner of the drip cap. This is why they used screws in the corners. You just bend it up and slide the sash out.