We Got a STEEL of a Deal!

Also appropriate title: We STEEL Got It! The Airstream, I mean.

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We had to take yet another hiatus when we discovered our frame would need to be totally redone; we expected it, but when it became our reality we had to, ya know, come up with funds and stuff. ;) Unfortunately we aren’t made of money! So poor Stella [no pun intended] sat a bit unattended for awhile.. but we would visit to get measurements, gander, dream, imagine what we would be doing to re-frame her, etc. Plus spring hit us and we were happy to enjoy the weather, take a few trips to the lake, and do some things to our house [hello flowers!]. Casey has also been using sketchup to design ideas for the interior and that’s been a lot of fun as well!

But we have finally ordered our steel and it’s here, we’ve picked it up, and we’re ready to start making the new frame! And did I mention that we got a STEEL of a deal?!? ;) We have to decide what place we will be using while we make the new frame. We have a few options, we just have to figure out which will be best. We can’t wait to get started! I have no knowledge of such a task, but of course Casey does and I’m excited to learn a few things and watch the masters work.

We towed the existing Airstream frame to the shop that we picked the steel up from – and without the body on it – the frame was BOUNCY. Like, I kind of feared for our lives while we drove down the road. It was the longest 7 minute car ride OF MY LIFE. My eyes were glued to the mirrors to make sure the frame didn’t crumble at every bump we hit. Before picking up the steel, we made sure to air up the trailer tires to ensure the safest trip possible, as we used the existing frame as a “trailer” to tow our steel home. We also plan to use the existing frame as a template for the new frame.

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A photo of our trip to GET the steel… one day there will be a Stella in that rear-view mirror! But for now, there are crooked tires and bouncy rusty beams. Yikes!

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Hey everybody, tell me how awesome my gifs are! Here’s Casey’s friend Jordan loading our steel on the frame.. ;)

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Aaaand my hot boyfriend strappin the steel down.

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Casey ordered six 24 ft pieces of steel; two that are 3/16″ [outlined in yellow in the picture below] and four that are ⅛”. The thicker ones will be the main rails of the frame, and the thinner ones will be used for the cross members and the outriggers. Originally we had not planned to get all 20ft pieces, however if we would’ve ordered shorter ones we couldn’t have gotten them as quickly as we did, so Casey went ahead and got the 20ft pieces and we will just cut them to size. In total, the steel weighs about 940 pounds. Cheese and rice!

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Next, we have to order new axles! Casey says we have to have them ready once we weld the frame. Hopefully we get to start welding soon.

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Steel has never looked so beautiful :)

Frameworthy Plans

The spring rain has made working on our Airstream a bit troublesome this weekend. I love the rain because my flowers are looking great, but jeesh it makes working on Stella unpleasant! Which makes it hard to keep up with the blog, because I don’t have fun pictures to post! We did have a clear Friday night, but we spent it at the Royals game and we weren’t too mad about missing an evening of work on Stella in exchange for a KC victory! #wemissyoubillybutler

Since we couldn’t go down and work the rest of the weekend, we have been tossing around ideas for the frame remake. And as I always say, I am REALLY glad that Casey knows what he’s doing; he’s a jack of all trades that one. He explains to me what he’s got brewing in his mind in regards to everything Airstream, and I am always having to google everything so I know what he is talking about ;) I can really learn a thing or two [or a hundred] from him!

We plan to use the existing frame as a template for the new frame. Building the new one right on top of the other.

We plan to use 2 x 5 x 3/16 tube. Being that I know nothing about steel.. or frame making.. or anything of the sort, I had no idea that you could use tubing to make the frame of an Airstream.. that just doesn’t even sound safe or sturdy! Turns out, this particular tubing is not plastic. Steel tube looks like this:

We Casey debated whether we should use steel tube, or if we should use steel channel [below].

The existing frame is made out of channel so we considered going that route, however the tube will be stronger and will add very little extra weight compared to the weight added if we were to use the channel. The benefits of the tube outweigh the cons and we’d rather be extra safe and not have to [ever] do this again.

Not EVERYTHING will be brand new; we will reuse the tongue of the frame as well as the back bumper with the storage area original to the Airstream.

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The tongue …

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The bumper …

We haven’t set in stone that we are going to go this route, but we’re about 97% sure. Provided we don’t get any convincing advice otherwise from here on out, we will be going with the tube. Any of you guys have different ideas about how the frame should be made? We’re open to input! And we’re hopeful for sunny days ahead to see what we can do about working some more!

Who Framed Stella ‘Stream?

We may not have done it originally but unfortunately, we’re gonna have to this time around.

Friday after work we took advantage of the nice, RAIN FREE weather and went down to the shop to start ripping up plywood on the frame. Because of the elevator bolts underneath the plywood, Casey had to use a hole saw to drill out around each of the bolts. This allowed us to separate the plywood from the bolts so we could pry up the plywood.

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There’s that pesky elevator bolt! Those things are a real mystery to me..

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Once we’d drilled out around all the elevator bolts, Casey had to start cutting through all the rusted out bolts that were holding the c-channel down to the frame.

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We make sure to label all the pieces that we plan on re-using or that we are going to use as a template. SS for street side, CS for curb side. These are the rounded parts of the c-channel that we are going to re-use. We’re going to remake all the straight pieces, but since the hard part has been done for us with the curved pieces, we’re going to keep them. Work smarter, not harder. ;) Time to pry off the plywood!

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Yikes.. it’s looking about as bad as we hoped it wouldn’t. Maybe even a bit worse. :(

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After getting half the plywood off, we called it a night. All of our batteries for the drill had died and we couldn’t charge them fast enough to keep up a good working pace. We returned early the next morning to finish the job. Pulled up all the ply wood and removed the wheel wells.

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Surprisingly, the parts of the frame underneath the wheel wells were in the best condition. My theory is that the windows in the front and rear of the Airstream were all broken out, so those areas were more susceptible to nature getting inside than the middle of the body. But what do I know. What we DO know is that it looks good in that area, but not good enough to salvage the frame.

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It looks like this most everywhere else! :( Once we’d gotten all of the plywood off and all of the insulation removed, Casey took a putty knife and a hammer and knocked out all of the rivets on the bottom of the belly pan. Originally we planned on using the gantrys to flip the frame and doing this differently, but since there is no saving the frame we just went to town on the rivets. We’re going to replace almost all of the belly pan aluminum; the only part we are going to keep is the banana wraps – the front rounded corner pieces. Again, we are trying to work smarter, not harder.

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To make removing the belly pan easier, Casey cut it in half so we could pull each end out separately.

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This is the front of the belly pan with the banana wraps we are going to re-use. And a bunch of old, stinky, still scratchy insulation. My face was on fire after I picked it all off the frame!

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Here’s the frame in all her glory. If that’s what you want to call it. It’s a stinkle it has to be re-done, but silver lining: Casey gets to work on his welding skills. That’s a good thing, right?

Goodbye Winter, Hello Stella!

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It’s been a long hiatus – sorry for that! We got a few weeks of cold weather which makes working on the Airstream rather undesirable. Plus, our friends at Solar Pro Tint-N-Tunes had plans to move shops, so Casey spent a month helping them fix up the new one! We were busy! If you’re ever in our neck of the woods and need any window tinting, stereo systems, etc done to your vehicle – call the boys up at Solar Pro! They’re the best in the business. :)

Anyway, over our hiatus we didn’t completely abandon our Airstream. We finally got all of the exterior rivets drilled out. Stella is ready for lift-off! The next step was building the gantrys, so Casey & I tackled that today. It’s a good thing Casey knows what he’s doing! He’s so good about researching all about the stuff we’ve got to do. You’d think he’s done this before! The 2 gantrys we build are going to be used on each end of our Airstream; they’ll help us lift the body off of the frame. We’ll use chain hoists to jack up the body so we can pull the frame right out from underneath of the body, then set the stabilized body back down while we work on the frame.

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Oh hey there, Stella! We’ve missed you. Also, I got a nice camera for Valentine’s day so I got a wee bit picture happy but man do the pictures look better! Look at that sawdust fly! Impressive. ;)

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We built the base of our gantry frame with 2x6s and 4×4 blocks – four total bases.

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Then we stuck a 12ft 4×4 in the middle of that bad boy, screwed it in, and put some braces on either side made of 2x4s with nicely mitered edges – also screwed in place.

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Casey with our first semi-completed gantry! Just before we added the brace. I wondered if they would be tall enough to clear the Airstream, but I guess the height of posts is quite the optical illusion when they’re laying down… they were way taller than I thought they’d be once we stood it up!

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We added braces on either side of the gantry post for extra stability.

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And lastly, we added some braces at the top so we can easily drop the 10ft 4×4 across the top once we get them erected and fully assembled. The 4×4 at the right of the picture was just what we used to determine how high we needed to add the braces so the 10 footer would fit in there snuggly.

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I tried 100 times to get a good picture of the gantry posts around the Airstream, but it just wasn’t happening for me…. but if you look close enough you can see the two rear gantry posts sitting next to the Airstream inside the shop.

We’ve gotten the 4 posts of the two gantrys built and ready; we didn’t have a ladder at the shop so we couldn’t put the gantrys together, but we will soon. All that’s left to do is run a 10ft 4×4 across the top of each gantry and lag bolt them together. Then a trip to Harbor Freight will be in our future to buy some chain hoists and we will be in business! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about lifting the body off the frame.. but I trust that Casey knows what he’s doing. We’re anxious to see what kind of condition the frame is in once we pull it out from under the body. We’re hopeful it’s repairable, but we aren’t holding our breath.

We’ve considered a few changes to the layout of our Airstream… mostly right now we are considering a composting toilet over a black tank, and whether we could move the bathroom from the rear of the camper to the side and squeeze a bed next to the bathroom at the rear of the Airstream. I measured the width of a full size bed and mapped it out in the Airstream…………… don’t think it’s gonna work. Maybe we can swing it, I’m not sure. I think it could make the layout of the Airstream more efficient if we could! Mostly we are just excited it’s officially spring so we can spend more of our time with Stella!

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I have ONE stipulation for our Airstream Kitchen…

I GOTTA be able to make Japanese Curry. On the regular. That’s it. That’s my one and only stipulation for the kitchen in the Airstream.

Due to Valentine’s Day yesterday, we didn’t work on Stella this weekend. I’m not severely mad about it; it was freezing this weekend anyway! We spent our Valentine’s Day at Ikea looking for things we could use in our Airstream once we get to that phase of our reno, plus of course buying a few things for our house. And today, well, let’s just say we are (really) late to the Breaking Bad party and we’ve been watching episodes like it’s our job. Thanks Amazon TV. So I thought in lieu of progress pictures this weekend, I’d share our most favorite recipe probably ever.

I was given the great opportunity of living in Japan for a few years in high school and if there is one thing I miss most about Japan, it’s the food. Really, most everyone I know from my Japan days misses the same thing. Most specifically, CoCo’s curry. In my opinion, there is no curry greater than Japanese curry, and no better place to get it than CoCo’s.. unless of course, you live in America with no CoCo’s at your disposal. Lucky for you, I’ve got a way to curb that insatiable hunger for Japanese curry that won’t cost you thousands of dollars and a 15 hour flight. And it’s so easy, you can make it every week if you want!

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CARISSA’S COCO’S CHICKEN CURRY

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet S&B Golden Curry (any spice you would like; we buy medium-hot) [see picture above]
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast (we usually buy stir-fry cut)
  • 1-2 eggs
  • Flour
  • Panko
  • Spices to flavor the panko (we use garlic salt, cayenne pepper, onion powder)
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Rice
  • Naan bread (smothered in butter preferably)

Directions:

  1. Make your rice. We have a rice cooker, so this is always step one for us, however if you don’t have a rice cooker, time the making of your rice to sort of line up with the finishing of your chicken & curry; fresh warm rice is best!
  2. If you buy chicken that isn’t already prepared for you, cut it up into thin strips. 1 inch to ½ inch is what I prefer. If they’re too long, I cut them in half (even if I buy the pre-cut chicken, I usually cut in half). I like ’em small because I don’t care for the taste of chicken.
  3. Make your breading station. I usually set out 3 bowls and put flour in one, eggs in another, and panko with seasonings in the third. I don’t measure the seasonings, just sprinkle till I think it looks good and will be flavorful enough for all the chicken I have to bread – then mix it in with the panko!
  4. In a large skillet, warm up your vegetable oil over medium heat. I like to let my oil warm up while I prep the chicken so it’s nice and hot – ready for me to fry once I’m done breading. I’ve found on my stove that medium/high is best, but closer to medium than high.
  5. Bread the chicken pieces. Flour first, eggs second, panko third. It’s a messy job but someone’s gotta do it! Put all your prepared chicken on a plate so you can take it all to the stove at once.
  6. Fry the chicken! Fry it up in batches – don’t want to over crowd the pan. Usually it takes 3-4 batches, and you want the chicken to be a nice golden brown. But check step 7 before you start!
  7. Half way through frying the chicken, bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, break up the block of curry and add the whole broken up block to the water. Whisk it up really good and let it simmer for a few minutes while whisking, then tun off the heat. It should thicken up some with time & heat. (But if you’re impatient and don’t want to wait for it to thicken, it’s just as good thin!)
  8. Once the chicken has all been fried, your curry has set up, and your rice has finished preparing, it’s time to eat! We have a specific assembly protocol in my house; a heaping serving of rice first, followed by a layer of fried chicken spread across the top of the rice, a healthy sprinkling (or handful) of sharp cheddar cheese over the chicken & rice, and ALL topped off with the curry sauce. The more, the merrier! You can never have too much as far as I’m concerned.

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ALSO:

  • I buy my curry packets at Walmart… and surely if they have the curry at our local small town MO Walmart, they’ll have it at yours!
  • At CoCo’s in Japan, they give you the option of adding vegetables to their curry which is also delicious – everything from potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, onions, green beans, bamboo shoots, Japanese vegetables, and more. I really like the potatoes and onions so occasionally I’ll throw them in, but 99% of the time we just stick to meat & cheese. Feel free to add veggies if you’d like!
  • In Japan, you can also get the curry at a spice level anywhere from 1-10 and it gets PRETTTTY spicy… if you’d like it spicier and can only find the mild curry packet, just add some cayenne to the mix. Even the medium-hot isn’t spicy.
  • Be warned that once you have this curry once, you WILL be addicted. And you WILL want it. Weekly. It’s THAT good. And if you don’t like it.. well………. I’m judging. TOTALLY judging.