I used to be so good at this monthly blogging thing! And I always say that I have a good excuse for NOT updating you when it’s been a long time since I made a post – but I swear it’s a truth! It’s been a whirlwind since I last posted.
We ended our 2016 at our lowest of lows – losing our dearest and best friend, Burton. Which was the worst of the worst of the worst. We miss him terribly every day. Still. UGH. He was seriously the best dog. I wish I could kiss his sweet face every time I see this picture.
And less than a week later, we started our 2017 with our highest of highs – we got engaged! It was a pretty intense couple weeks with our emotions all over the place, but we are thrilled nonetheless. We know Burton would be SO over the moon happy his favorite people are finally getting married and that makes us so happy. It was the sweetest most wonderful proposal – Casey proposed to me IN OUR AIRSTREAM! I couldn’t have dreamt of a better way of getting engaged. If you’re interested, you can watch the video! The inside of Stella looked A-MAZ-ING! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqZOpDkTFaE
Which then leads me into my excuse for why I have been so silent this year: WE ARE GETTING MARRIED IN OCTOBER. Like, 7 months from now! Our wedding is adventure themed of course – after our Stella. And she will most certainly be there – it was our one stipulation when looking for a venue! Must be able to accommodate large aluminum camper. ;) And being that I am a new bride to be, I have been busy prepping to get hitched while my fiancé has been busy working on polishing the Airstream when I don’t need him at home! See! Told you I had a good excuse. Not great – I feel guilty not being down there and helping him nightly like I was so often last year – but we just have to divide and conquer things at the moment. I will definitely be down to help him soon!
And once I start going down to help I will have more photos to show of working on Stella. Casey’s phone broke and well, the pictures he takes with his old borrowed phone are not the greatest so there aren’t many paparazzi shots as of late. But soon! To tide you over, here’s a photo I took just last week of him working away. :)
Boy I will tell you what.. we went back and forth on if we were going to polish Stella or not. I voted not, because I’m more of a practical “this isn’t something we’re going to want to maintain for years to come” kind of person. Casey voted yes, because “it’s an Airstream, it’s supposed to be shiny!” – to which I caved because I love shiny things. Needless to say, I am pretty confident Casey is totally on my side for all Airstreams to come. :) But man she polishes up nice!! That polish job will be so worth it in the end. Just another hundred some hours ahead of you honey. :)
Anyway, just wanted to give you a quick heads-up on our lives! Still working along. Not as frequently or as diligently as last year, but still working strong. We intend on at MINIMUM having her all polished for our wedding – and then just getting as much done on the interior as possible before the big day. After the wedding we will keep working on her – finishing up everything there is to finish so we can take her on a two week road trip (we think west!) for our honeymoon in the spring/summer of 2018! Yes! Hope to update you again sooner than 3 months from now! Probably we will still be polishing – but I will at least have some pictures to show of our progress!!!
For the record, I think I am hilarious. AND I love that damn song!
It’s NOVEMBER!!! Practically December.. I have been absent from my blog for a while; I apologize for that. We have just been REALLY enjoying our break from the airstream. Since we worked on it for 7 months straight we needed a serious breather. But now that we are home from our trip, unpacked, rested, and our house is less neglected than it was before, I miss Stella!! It’s been a few months since we got back from our trip and we haven’t been down to work on the Airstream once!! We ordered some buffing pads from Vintage Trailer Supply so we can start working on the polishing but just haven’t found ourselves down there to begin. Soon I imagine. I have been so loving coming home from work and vegin’ on the couch, but I can hear Stella missing us more and more every day. I think once the holidays are over we will be motivated to get back at it!
Our vacation was a raging success with a few hiccups. Our aluminum shell of a camper was wonderful. We are so glad that we took Stella out as a shell and camped before we started working on the inside. It enabled us to figure out issues we didn’t know existed – which is great because now we will be able to fix them without having to tear things out. Well; almost not have to tear anything out… but let’s get to the hiccups we experienced:
1) Our air conditioner was bouncin’ around on top of our roof. We installed the air conditioner but I guess we didn’t realize that we needed to tighten it down more than we did, because half way through the first day my dad walkie-d us and said, “we better pull over and check your AC…” and when we did, the boys had to tighten it down. Which – it was fine and dandy through our trip, but when we got home and did a closer inspection of the air conditioner we realized the internal aluminum frame has cracked and will most likely need replacing. Womp.
2) The way we temporarily installed the drain hose for the air conditioner was slightly faulty; it didn’t have enough of a slope to drain properly and it caused our air conditioner to freeze over once. Once we discovered the issue we were diligent about checking the drain hose often to make sure the water was going out which worked out fine for us, but we will need to fix that for future use.
3) Stella’s suicide door flung open (on the highway!) about 20 minutes from our stop in New York. Which dented the side of our Airstream. *insert all the grumpiest emojis* We think it was caused by a combination of factors; the dead bolt lock we installed was faulty in that the locking rod didn’t engage fully, so when you turned the key to remove it from the dead bolt it would turn the locking rod the wrong way, risking the possibility of an accident. Which, in our case, became a reality. Luckily Casey was able to get much of the dent out, and with a little more work and a lot of polishing might be able to get most of it out – or at least hide it. But like I say with everything we can’t fix on Stella, “it’s CHARACTER!” And one day it might even be a funny story! “Hey Honey, remember when our door flew open on our first road trip?!” To prevent the same situation from happening again on our trip, Casey & my dad crafted a wooden piece to wedge in front of the door that I think we will end up using anytime we travel – JUST to be safe. I found the idea for the wedge on the ol’ google and it’s a life saver!! A peace of mind keeper! I’ve linked the source of the brilliance here: http://www.airstreamcentral.com/articles/78/1/Make-Your-Own-Suicide-Door-Security-Latch/Page1.html
4) We replaced all the windows in the airstream prior to our trip – EXCEPT the top two vista windows. And go figure: they leak. Also, there is a hole we discovered in the cast aluminum frame around our door that leaks. Luckily my smart boyfriend thought that we should bring a bucket on our trip “just in case anything leaks” – and I had packed our things in Rubbermaid tubs – so when we woke up to a rain storm and realized it was raining INSIDE of our airstream too, we had enough supplies to catch the water. At first when we woke to the rain we were wooed by the wonderful sound of the rain hitting our aluminum – but then we quickly realized it was leaking inside so we were frantically looking for catchin’ bins! Again, funny story in the future. And we are really glad that this was something we discovered BEFORE we began work on the interior. It would stink to get all of our beautiful interior finished only to discover we have leaky windows.
5) We didn’t have bathroom facilities in our airstream for our trip – obviously – which I didn’t think would be an issue because we aren’t ‘middle of the night bathroom frequenters’. However, when your ability to potty in the middle of the night is taken away, magically you have to go to the bathroom ALL. THE. TIME. Especially when it rains and you’re sleeping in an airstream!!! But then, because it’s pouring rain outside, you don’t want to leave the airstream to visit the restroom, so needless to say, me and that bucket got pretty close on our trip. More than once. ;)
And frankly, those were our only hiccups! Pretty minimal for our first trip! We had a great time on our vacation. Stella is even international now because we went into Canada! The Airstream pulled AMAZINGLY – we forgot it was even back there most of the time. I would reach around to grab snacks out of our cooler and the Airstream would scare me because I would never remember she was back there.
She pulled great. I’m sure the pull will change a bit once she’s loaded down with the interior, but that’s okay. Also – we had our friend Aaron install a back-up camera in the eleventh hour before our trip and it was awesome – I literally never helped Casey back the truck up to the camper. He always did it on his own perfect every time with that camera. DEFINITLEY worth it.
We insulated the walls with Reflectix, taping it all up on the walls to keep it in place – and essentially we were rollin’ around in a lunch box. The Reflectix definitely did its job; it kept it SO COLD in the camper that at one point we even had to bust out my parents’ space heater to warm up!! Brr! Made for a sweet looking bedroom though. :) Also, in the picture below we have pool noodles around our air mattress so we didn’t wake up with a hole.
And just for the record, while it’s enjoyable to listen to rain on the roof of the airstream, it is NOT enjoyable to listen to acorns PELT THE ROOF OF YOUR AIRSTREAM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!! It literally sounds like gunfire and it is scarrryyy!!! It would be terrible because a few would hit the roof, then you’d go back to sleep – only to be frantically woken up by more acorns. Ha! Assholes.
And that was it! We didn’t see many airstreams on our trip; we saw maybe 10 on the road and only a couple at our campgrounds, but we felt really cool when we’d see a fellow ‘streamer! We spent almost all of our driving time listening to our 4 VAP cds which was a good time. In fact, we were in Rob’s neck of the woods while we were in New York and it was hard to prevent being a creeper tracking him down. ;)
We are excited to begin the next phase of our renovation after the holiday. Casey will begin working on all stages of polishing the exterior while I work inside. I’ve been graced with the super stellar job of removing ALL THE FREAKIN REFLECTIX I TAPED UP BEFORE WE LEFT because we forgot to seal the seams inside before putting it up! Damnit! I thought my days of shredded finger tips thanks to metal tape were behind me, but alas, I spoke too soon. That’s okay, though. Whatever it takes! I’ve never liked my fingerprint anyhow. ;)
Thanks for sticking with me in my months of absence. I do apologize for the extra long hiatus.. I was ready to get right back into working on Stella as soon as we got home but once I got a small nibble of our old boring couch potato lives, well.. I got a bit lazy. Here’s to another goal of airstreaming in 2017!! Wishing you all the best Christmas holiday – we will see you in January!!!!!!!!!!! <3
You guys. We had a LOFTY goal of basically rebuilding our airstream from the frame up and then taking it on a cross-country trip in less than 8 months. At times it felt near impossible; we had our fair share of spats, grumpy moments, and stressful situations. But it has been so exciting watching our pile of steel turn into a beautiful Airstream reborn.
The month of July we really had to buckle down if we had any chance of taking Stella to New York. EVERY single day was spent working on the Airstream — 4-6 hours every night after working our full time jobs and 12 hour days at minimum Saturday and Sunday. But we are THRILLED to say we achieved our goal. It STILL doesn’t feel real, but we’ve packed our Airstream and she’s ready to hit the open road first thing in the morning.
When we get back from our 11-day road trip,we will take a short hiatus from Stella (understandably so) before beginning phase TWO of the rebuild: the INSIDE!!! So looking forward to that part!
A HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you and shout out to EVERYONE that has helped us accomplish our goal and make our dreams become a reality. CJ, Aaron, & Sam of Solar Pro Tint’n’Tunes for letting us graciously raid your back shop to rebuild our girl, for letting us use all your tools, for never being mad when Casey steals your Olfa, for the water and donuts, for the tint & vinyl and for all your sage advice and everything else. Literally. Brad & Ryan for sacrificing so much of your family time to help us with E-V-E-R-Ything. Rachel & Sarah for not disowning your husbands on account of them helping us always. Gloria for being the best power washer Warrensburg has ever seen. Mark and Jesse for sharing in our Airstream crazies and being so strong lifting our air conditioner onto Stella’s roof. Our parents for always stepping up when we need extra hands without question. (and for feeding us!) Brian for being the best house-wife and dog-sitter we’ve ever had. Mandy for brewing us the most awesome beer we have ever seen. Colin Hyde for always answering our phone calls. All the folks who constantly encourage us to go after our dream, who are interested in what we are doing, and who take the time to ask us how our project is going. And to every one of you who read along with us. Thank you. There are not enough words to describe how much it has all meant. It makes this huge accomplishment so much sweeter and we couldn’t be happier to share it with each one of you. From the very bottom of our hearts, thank you.
Fingers crossed all goes well on our road trip! I will post a more thorough “July progress” post when we get home! xo!
Guys. It’s July. We have ONE MONTH to get Stella road ready before our trip! We are definitely feeling the pressure these days and it feels like we are back at square one with the build. Everything is old again and we spent the month of June removing all the old out of the Airstream, cleaning up the grime and gunk so we can get things ready for paint and pretties, practically ordering the entire internet, and just planning out what does and doesn’t need to be done for us to go on our first trip on August 3rd. So let’s recap how far we got!
IN JUNE WE:
— removed practically everything! We took off most things riveted to the outside of the airstream (emblems, lights, vents, etc.), carefully uninstalled the windows that were left in tact, took out all of the old aluminum wiring, and removed the rest of the interior walls. This led to a surprise, though. Unbeknownst to us, the two rear curbside panels had been replaced at some point in Stella’s life and so the seams on those panels were littered with olympic rivets. We’re grateful that her owners at the time of her damage thought to replace the panels and it looks like the job was done well and done right (we assume it was fixed in the factory), but we knew we had to replace those potentially leaky olympic rivets with buck rivets. It’s funny because once we’d discovered that those two panels had been replaced, we started looking around the exterior and there were so many things that indicated such could’ve happened that we never saw before; probably because we were novices in the airstream game but it’s just funny looking back thinking things like, “oh, well of course we should’ve been suspect that this piece had been replaced – the A & M on the airstream logo is riveted on from the front and the others aren’t!” or “well duh, look at the heads of THESE rivets compared to theeeese rivets.” Oh well. What’s the harm in replacing another 100 rivets at this point. Chump change compared to the rest of the Airstream ;)
— removed all the old insulation and began cleaning things up! We rolled up the walls for safe keeping until we are ready to clean them, but I test cleaned one spot and HOLY COW those wall panels were dirty!! Also, Stella looks so much bigger with everything removed from the interior and the lights reflecting off that nice shiny aluminum. It gets really exciting looking at her like that! We started scraping off old seals from around the windows and doors – it’s hard, by the way, without a little liquid help (read-MEK), and Casey test cleaned some of the bars for the windows and they clean up so well! Lots of cleaning in our future.
— washed the bottom wall panels and worked on removing the air conditioner “thing” from the roof. The walls cleaned up pretty well! We intend to paint over the existing texture that’s on the walls so we were mainly focused on just getting the real yuckies off and it seems to have worked. I power washed the bottoms for a bit but it was mostly hand scrubbing; the power washer wasn’t doing as well to get everything off as I had hoped it would’ve, but the job went quick regardless. Casey’s job, on the other hand, was a booger. Our previous owners were firm silicone believers and boy did they ever cover the roof in that crap! Casey had a hell of a time trying to get that air conditioning thing off. But he’s awesome so of course he got the job done.
— drilled out all of the olympic rivets and began replacing them with buck rivets instead. It was a job both Casey & I did together so there aren’t many pictures but I do have a video of Casey drilling out some olympic rivets — which, we discovered, it’s easier to center punch the olympic rivets than it is to drill them out. But watch out, whoever is on the inside while this happens, because those center mandrils FLY AT YOU when you aren’t expecting it! ;) Also we received and test fitted our Fan-Tastic Vents! LOVE!
— we cleaned some more… more sealants and old caulking to remove. ALWAYS more to remove it seems. BLAH. We did read and discover that MethylEthylKetone (MEK) is the way to go. Sure it’s carcinogenic and can cause severe damage if used improperly, but by God it works so much better to remove the old yucks than just a scraper did. I worked on all the windows while Casey worked on all the crap + silicone on the roof. There aren’t many glamorous pictures of this step either because I certainly didn’t want to touch my phone while covered in grossness. I found my best plan of attack for removing the black seals around the windows & doors was using a squirt bottle of MEK and a toothbrush & scraper, plus a beer can filled with MEK to rinse off my toothbrush and a rag/paper towel. I’d just squirt a bunch of MEK at the top of the window frame and let it run down all the sealant I needed to remove, let it sit for 30 seconds, then start scraping it all off. Once most of the big stuff was off, I’d bust out the toothbrush and start scrubbing the remnants off while continuously squirting the frame down with MEK. The MEK flashes fast but man it’s worth the investment. Casey even got it to work on the silicone up top!
— WE CITRI-STRIPPED!!!! Guys, this was so so so so satisfying! We knew we wanted to remove the old clear coat that was on the airstream but mano did that citri-strip do a good job doing it! We were shocked; it was like night and day. And so easy! Just paint the citri-strip on, wait for at least 30 minutes, and scrape off. Voila! Clean up with some soapy water and you’ve practically got yourself a brand new airstream. It’s weird how the stripper gets kind of soft looking as it begins to break down the top coat.. I tried to show that in the 3rd picture. And the second picture shows the three stages of stripping; the left side has stripper on, while the top right hasn’t been stripped and the small bottom right section has been. Also mind you, it didn’t make the aluminum perfect looking; there are some spots that are still blemished and will polish out when we get there but overall she looks so much better than before. While we waited the 30 minutes between coats we did productive things like drill out the rivets between the pieces of old belly pan we are replacing with new (the parts that curve under to attach the body to our new belly pan), clean up the frame for the solar dome, remove the rest of the lights and things we didn’t get to before (so we can strip underneath of them) and the boys put in some more buck rivets where olympic rivets were before.
Top NOT stripped, Bottom stripped.
— we got our rock guard in the mail and we love it! Can’t wait to put it on. Also, we citri-stripped the other half of the airstream AND the polishing compounds came in the mail as well so of course Casey tried his hand at it. Boy does Stella polish up pretty! It’s amazing what just one stage of that polishing compound does; can’t imagine how amazing she will look after all three stages. Unfortunately, we are going to have to save the polishing for after our first trip; there are just too many things to do that are more important right now. But soon she will be a mirror!
— we convinced our friend Mark to join the aluminum side!!! A few weeks ago he had been out driving and stumbled upon an Airstream in a neighboring town and had inquired about it for us; the owner was willing to sell it! Mark told us all the details about it giving us first dibs, but was interested in the Airstream himself. Considering that we have a lot on our plates right now we told Mark if he was serious about it he should definitely buy it – AND THEN HE DID!!! We helped him tow the airstream to its temporary home and we geeked out a bit towing an airstream for the first time, even if it wasn’t ours. We were super happy and mildly jealous of Mark. Hopefully the next Airstream we stumble across like that will be ours! 31 feet of 70’s glory. We LOVE that front window with the rock guard!
— butyl taped and cleco-ed the lights on! Originally our plan was to do the first stage of polish underneath all of the things we would be reattaching to the airstream (vents, lights, etc) and then doing the rest of the polishing at a later time. But as I mentioned earlier, even the initial stage of polishing just became too time consuming with all the OTHER (more important) things we have to get done before August, so Casey & I talked it over and we chose to shelf the polishing all together (for now) which made it possible for us to start putting things back on the Airstream sooner rather than later. Yay! We don’t have the right size rivets yet; we had to order some from Fastenal, but they should be in after the holiday weekend and we can get those things attached permanently. And great news – the lights work :)
— power washed the lower panels of the walls thanks to some help from our friends! I had volunteered my friend Gloria to help me power wash the lowers. I thought cleaning the lowers was going to be like the tops, where the power washing didn’t do much so we would need to hand scrub both the pieces as well. I was wrong on ALL accounts. My first mistake was that there were only two panels… We took the lower panels off at the very beginning of our restoration adventure (read – Feb 2015 maybe!?) so I had forgotten how many there were! There were lower panels coming out of the shop left and right it felt like so I was glad to have recruited some help. As opposed to two panels, we had like 15! But luckily I was also wrong about the power washing not working. Most of the grime just came right off under the pressure of the water! And whatever was left Mark scrubbed off with a broom and wam bam thank you ma’am we were done cleaning all the lower panels in 45 minutes. WOO! Plus the weather was IDEAL so it made the whole thing even better. Win win all around.
Aaaand that was the last thing we got accomplished before the 4th of July weekend! We go to the Lake of the Ozarks every year for the 4th. We ended up spending 5 days away (Thursday 30 June – Monday 4 July) and while it was super duper fun, now is crunch time and we will be spending every moment we aren’t at our jobs or eating down at the shop working on Stella. LITERALLY.
Our list of things to do before August 3rd includes:
– install windows
– install vents
– install AC
– install lights
– install rock guard
– re-install walls
– have Jordan weld some holes in the aluminum
– cut patches
– install patches to exterior
– put in the last of the rivets to the body
– cut aluminum for belly pan pieces
– finish belly pan
– put all trim pieces on
– seal ALL seams on the Airstream
– check for leaks
– spare tire (buy tire, already have wheel)
– buy lock for door (looking for keypad with knob – why is it so hard to find?!)
– re-screen the screen door
– install seals for windows/doors
– paint the roof
– paint the interior?! could get shelved for after our trip.
– license & title Stella
And that doesn’t even include the stuff I forgot to put on my list, or all the stuff we have to do to prep that doesn’t involve working on the Airstream — like buying things for our trip! GAH! Pressure is on. The days are flying by. We aren’t 100% positive Stella will make the first trip in August, but we are working every day to hopefully get her there. If she doesn’t get finished in time, that’s okay too.. we can always sleep in my family’s camper since they are going with us. But why have a goal if you are quick to give up on it?! So we are trying. REALLY REALLY hard. Keep your fingers crossed for us that we make it! We’re going on vacation in 25 days! OMG!