1977 Airstream Overlander: A Summary
We brought our current Airstream project home on February 5th, 2016 and immediately began demolition. The initial demo took a day - pulling out furniture and cabinetry and dry rotting plastic. What followed was far more intricate and painstaking: down came the walls, one drilled out rivet at a time. We removed insulation, a mouse carcass, quite a few wasp hives, and a thriving ant colony. Down and out came the mess of wires. We got outside and removed broken awning arms, Plasticoat, weird stickers. We carefully removed the subfloor, leaking vista windows, old fans and AC, hydraulic brake system, broken step, belly pan, tanks (the black tank was filled with something yummy), and the water-filled bumper.
Once we'd completely gutted the entire trailer, we began to assess and repair. We replaced beams of the chassis, ground the rust off the chassis and tongue, painted with several coats of rust-stop and rust-prohibitive paint, installed new hubs and electric brakes (the tires were new when we bought it and our axles were luckily in good shape), a new subfloor, leak-proofed the vista windows and reinstalled, and began the tedious task of installing all new everything while simultaneously waterproofing. New LED running lights, backup/taillights, rooftop AC, three new fans, scare light, porch light. We crafted inconspicious hidden patches for fans and vents we no longer needed. We ran lines of caulk inside and outside on every seam (and on every rivet inside). We scraped old gaskets from around windows and doors and replaced as needed. Then we leak tested, again and again and again with a high pressure hose and during downpours until we were certain we'd done a thorough job and our trailer was water-tight.
February 5th - August 1st
We spent a day or two a week on all of these tasks. We were in no rush, and took our time. Once August hit, we went full-speed ahead, hoping to move into the Airstream on December 15th, when our lease was up. We spent every single weekend, from 7am-9pm, both days, working...and would come home from work on weeknights and tackle whatever we could before our daughter's bedtime. It would be the beginning of October before we were able to call the Airstream watertight, and by October 5th, we'd run the majority of our wiring.
October 11 - October 30th
One of our busiest, most unbelievable couple of weeks. We went from having just a subfloor to insulating, riveting walls and frames back in, installing all electrical boxes and switches, lights, wiring the fans and AC in, and laying the new flooring.
We began the build in the dinette area, which houses our converter box and eventual battery bank and inverter, and then moved on to the kitchen. We knew it was a long shot that we'd be getting the Airstream livable with the intricacy of the design and build by December, but we plugged away anyway, hoping our efforts would be enough.
A backordered wood stove and sub-zero temperatures made us realize that no matter what the state of the build, for we were cool with living in a construction zone, we needed to wait to move in. We've got a wonderful location for building, with a beautiful, flat parking pad for the Airstream, a garage space for our tools and supplies, and our basement wood shop, not to mention a warm and cozy home to return to after a day of work. Currently, we're about 65% finished with the interior build, and still need to run plumbing, install the new tanks, insulate underneath the subfloor, and install a brand new aluminum belly pan. In the spring, we plan to polish the Airstream and install solar, money and time permitting.
This should bring you all up to speed. There are a ton of captioned images on our Instagram gallery, right here, for more details!