It’s been 365 days since we impulsively decided to buy an airstream and drove down to Licking, MO to bring our girl home. Sometimes it is still unbelievable to us that we OWN an Airstream; it was something we only dreamed of and it became a reality in a matter of hours. I’m still asking people to pinch me! WE’VE OWNED AN AIRSTREAM FOR A YEAR!
Not a lot happened for Stella in the first year we owned her; 2015 was a busy one. My family moved across the country to practically become our neighbors, we had the most fun family wedding to attend, our very close friends remodeled a new shop that we helped with, and everyday life in between kind of put Stella on the back burner after we had her frame removed from the body. It was super exciting getting her gutted and the body lifted off, but once we got to that point we didn’t really have any place to build the new frame – and we thought we’d wait until summer to work on it. Well, summer turned to fall, fall turned to winter – and when winter came around we were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to build our new frame in the back of the shop we had helped remodel earlier in the year! Which brings us to now. :) History proves that we do all of our best work in the winter anyways.
We are so thrilled to be able to work on building our frame inside – with heat! And a roof! It has been a dream. Building the frame has been going MUCH faster than anticipated. Once the frame was inside the shop, we wasted NO time getting right to work on rebuilding. We have been using the old frame as a template for our new frame. Originally we had planned to build the new frame on TOP of the old frame, but the back of the shop is plenty large enough for us to build the new frame next to it. Bonus!
Casey invested in a new cordless bandsaw (insert shameless Milwaukee plug here.. #pleasesponserus) that has been great. Cuts through that steel tube like butta! Plus its’ cute to boot. (Is that weird to say?)
The steel sat outside on the old frame behind our shop for a
few months which has resulted in quite a bit of surface rust on the outside of the steel tube. My biggest contribution to helping with Stella has been grinding all of the build up off. It makes for some black boogers! TMI, I know.
Also, I have discovered I hate respirators. Necessary evil. But I love my overalls & yellow sweatshirt. I’m like an Airstream workin’ minion.
Once that surface rust has been ground off it looks good as new.
Look at the difference between the left steel tube that’s been grinded (ground? IDK.) to the right steel tube! Who knew steel could be so beautiful. :) Once the surface rust has been removed, it’s ready for welding!
..and just like that, the main part of our frame is done! I even got to weld a few of the cross members into place. The outriggers have been more time consuming just because you have to cut the curve into the ends and the bandsaw doesn’t like curved cuts quite as much as straight ones. We’ve been through a
few blades. But Casey made a fancy template to use for keeping the curves on each outrigger consistent so it isn’t so bad. Somehow I don’t have a picture of it in action but I will get one soon.
Casey’s outrigger template!
We have been using a stationary band saw to cut our outriggers to size that has been super convenient too. We just set it and forget it!
Removing the tongue was crazy; the original frame was so shady that once the weight of the tongue was removed, the frame became extra bouncy! But great news, the tongue fits in the new frame extremely well.
We ground it clean and welded it to the frame. Now it’s really looking like a trailer!
The outriggers are tack welded on but man they go quick once they’re cut to size and spec. With every outrigger the frame looks more and more like an Airstream.
The 4 outriggers at the front & back are shaped differently so we cut them with our tiny band saw table. Works like a charm and they are identical to the ones on the old frame.
At this present moment this is about what we are working with. The original tongue is welded to the frame. We have 6 of 24 outriggers tacked on. Half the trailer has been ground of all surface rust. And it has been a day short of a month since we re-started working on our Airstream. I’d say that’s not too bad! Plus we already have some POR-15, tons of rivets, and brand new axles (#thankscollinhyde) ordered and en route over the next few weeks. Things are happening!
2016 is a big year for Stella. We have a deadline to meet.. 202 days from now we plan to be reassembled and have the interior roughly done so we can take Stella on her first camping trip in August. It’s ambitious but we are excited. Plus the deadline helps to motivate us. I expect we will be spending most ALL weekends and spare evenings down at the shop working on our ‘stream. And frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.