We spent April getting the underside of our frame ready for the belly pan. Because I was adamant we would not be flipping the frame, the boys spent most of the month on creepers underneath Stella. #sorryboys Note to self: If we do this again, we need to invest in a rotisserie for airstreams. They make it look so easy! But really, I don’t think it was terrible – only a handful of nights of dead arms and a few days of clothes covered in metal shavings from drilling out holes but could be worse, right!? I say that but remember, I’m the historian, not the hole driller. ;)
IN APRIL WE:
— insulated the underside! We put a layer of reflectix in each section, then a 1.5 inch air gap created by cutting our foam into 3 strips divided in the sections, and then put the 1.5 inch foam cut to size in each section. I also learned that the sound of foam insulation SCRAPING against the painted metal in each section is pure torture and I am SO GLAD THAT PART IS OVER. WORST SOUND EVER. We also installed 3M double sided tape to help hold the belly pan up when we were to that part later down the line and we officially said goodbye to the welder! Small milestone!
— impulsively got our 10 year old dog neutered, which meant we had to spend a few nights at home with him instead of airstreaming to make sure all was well with him. Good news – it is :) Sorry Bub!
— drilled holes in the belly pan pieces to attach them together. We used a piece of wood with pre-drilled holes to help us space out our rivets. Also our order from Airparts Inc came in – we have clecos! They’re fun.
— clecoed our belly pan together. Originally we had planned to put the belly pan up in individual pieces but when we started looking at things we realized our holes wouldn’t line up with the cross members perfectly; they’d all progressively be about an inch short – so our only option was to rivet the whole belly pan together and put it up as one large unit. It would make things more challenging, but not impossible. We also started working on the plumbing we needed to finish up before putting the belly pan on.
— plumbed some more! We got the handle for the dump valve installed and it works like a dream. Plus we committed to where our shower will be and started taping off where things will be laid out in the Airstream! Exciting!
— riveted the belly pan together!! I can’t believe we finally started putting Stella’s first rivets in. We all had a great time as you can tell. Plus all the helping hands made it worlds easier! Special shout out to Glo for taking pictures of me working ;) and for being the Bucky to my Rosie – much like CJ was the Bucky to Casey’s Rosie!
— got the curved banana wraps cleco-ed back into place! This step felt especially great because the rivet holes from when the banana wraps were originally put on still line up perfectly when we put it on now. Such a validating feeling! Also we created a template so we knew what shape of aluminum to cut for the belly pan piece that would be underneath there.
— installed strapping for our plumbing, put the tank monitors on, tested the plumbing for leaks (good news – none!), and got the belly pan pieces cut for the banana wraps. Spoiler alert: by far my least favorite part thus far was those damn tank monitors! They were INFURIATING! No matter how much water we put in the tanks the stupid monitors kept telling us the tanks were either 31% or 19% full. NO MATTER HOW MUCH WATER. Grr! I was losing my patience fast. But we finally got it to work right and all was right in the world again.
— were excited our Husky jack came in! We installed it and it looks & works great. Plus it was a big help because we needed to put Stella at an angle to get all that water we put in the tanks out! Perfect timing. And it has a remote :)
— officially finished with our gray tanks and worked on riveting up the strapping we fabricated! Originally we were just going to rivet the sides but we ended up riveting the bottom parts along the cross members and it really helped tighten everything up. Plus those corner pieces that help keep the plywood tight against the frame were one of my few brainy contributions to the project so I’m pretty proud of those. For the record – they work great. And now we’re ready to BELLY PAN!
— prepped the belly pan for install! Basically this involved cutting out the space where the belly pan would be in the way of the wheel well plates.
— PUT THE BELLY PAN ON!!!!!!!! Honestly this went up SO FAST in relation to what I was expecting. Plus I thought the fact that they were working from underneath would make it take longer but wham bam thank you ma’am 2 hours later it was up! And it looks SO AWESOME. The boys did great. We had seen on Instagram folks that had used jack stands and 2x4s to help hold up the belly pan but we had exhausted all our jack stands so the boys were just going to wing it… which was when I came up with my second brainy idea — why not clamp a piece of wood to the frame!? It worked great. Totally taking credit for that too. Plus when we got further down the frame we were able to use a stool with some foam on it to help hold the belly pan up closer when we couldn’t get clamps in. The boys also used our stick with predrilled holes that we used to rivet the belly pan pieces together to help space out the rivets when we were riveting everything together underneath. The boys had to drill out a LOT OF HOLES for the rivets and had dead arms and metal shaving beards by the end up the belly pan install but they did such an awesome job. It’s as tight as it can be and it looks amazing!
And that was April! We haven’t totally finished the belly pan — we have the trunk area to put on but we need to cut another piece of aluminum so we can do that part. Plus we have to rivet on the banana wrap pieces we made now that the belly pan is on. And the rear curved/angled pieces are next on the agenda after those things. But its a huge forward step and we are *that* much closer to putting the body back on the frame!!!