Windows

If you want to talk about a time-consuming job, lets talk about windows. Lets talk about rusted, tight, welded screws, which hold the plexiglass in its place. Lets talk about the gunky, dried up gaskets that took forever to peel, pry, push, and scrape off. Enough of the venting about the chore of the windows. Lets talk about the process.

 

I (Zach), was naturally chosen to tackle the chore of removing and replacing seals on the windows. Which didn’t seem all that bad.. Until I started on the first one. Colleen had seen where one couple used Goo Gone and razor blades to get their seals off. I started using the same method along with a metal putty knife. And I’m glad I got the metal knife. Because in my opinion, that helped give me more leverage to push and scrape than a razor blade would have. The Goo Gone worked decent. I also used Goof Off at the same time. I learned that letting the Goo Gone sit for about 10-15 minutes did wonders. Who knew reading the instructions from the bottle would lead to great wisdom.. But still, I was searching for something else that would do the trick easier. After posting a pic on Instagram, Colleen was told to try a number of crazy things. Brake cleaner. MEK(methyl ethyl ketone). And the most surprising one- gasoline. This seemed very odd, but yet had my attention. Continuing on with the ever fun project I finally decided to try gasoline. I found an old empty spray bottle (Tilex) and poured some into it. Sure I was feeling a tad loopy from all the chemicals I had floating around me, but I was desperate to try anything. And at this point gasoline and a lighter didn’t sound half bad. I now knew why someone mentioned gasoline. Because while doing this task you would have gotten so fed up with the windows you wouldn’t mind setting fire to them all… Well maybe not exactly because they are a pretty penny to replace. But it felt like the window seal restoration project was never going to end. So I just kept on chugging along. Spraying Goo Gone and then Gasoline. Spraying Goo Gone and then Gasoline. Letting sit for about 10 minutes each time. Some windows were easier than the other. And some had an excess amount of glue. After saying this, I can say Goo Gone and gasoline did help in taking off the glue and old seals. But the best thing you can have is patience. And maybe good elbow grease and a metal scraping putty knife.

 

Our plexiglass in our windows were tinted… And after many years the tint had faded to purple and needed to be thrown in the trash. I figured we would just replace with new plexiglass and tint. But Colleen had other plans. Just ditch the plexiglass all together. I am still unsure about this as we have 2 little heathen boys. I pray nothing gets thrown or a fight doesn’t ensue near a window. That would be a terrible day. Some time was spent taking the plexiglass out- mainly because the screws holding the frame around the plexiglass were rusted tight or had been stripped. Just another wonderful job that I was given.. A little WD-40 and surely that would have them. But I was wrong on a few. It took about 3 rounds of WD-40 to get some more out. Others still wouldn’t budge. My next thought was to go buy a screw extractor bit. I have seen these things used in person and they work extremely well. After removing the first 2 screws I had only like 7 to go. But that’s when my luck ended. The bits would no longer drill into the screws nor would they grab to extract the screw. So if you’re wondering what my next idea is, it might possibly involve gasoline and a lighter. Or maybe a chisel and a hammer. Because I was out of options at this point.

The chisel and hammer were chosen as the last result to remove the last 2 remaining screws. We knew going into it that this method had consequences. HUGE consequences. COSTLY consequences. And the worst could have happened. While almost getting one screw head off I heard cracking.. Not a good sound when working on windows. That sound meant we would need to find a new window. We knew these windows were expensive. So immediately I began searching on my usual go-to Airstream websites- odmrv.com (Out-of-Doors Mart), vintagetrailersupply.com and airstreamsupply.com. I even emailed an RV salvage yard and called a few RV glass websites. No luck.. Then as a last resort I turned to eBay for a look. Luckily there was a few on eBay. The websites I mentioned above did not have windows in stock and they were more than we paid for our eBay window. Of course this window was used, but it looks just as good if not better as our originals. And it also came with the frame that rivets to the shell. So it was definitely a win. 

But the seal and plexiglass removal was not all that needed to be removed. The original safety film on our glass was peeling and needed some tending to. So I had to scrape this off on each window with a razor blade. That was pretty tough on the hands and fingers and joints. Installing the new security film was not hard at all. I have done some window tinting before so this helped. This task is not for an expert at all. Beginners can easily install. The film we ordered came with detailed instructions, a razor cutter, and a squeegee. All I had to find was a squirt bottle and some soap. Not the same squirt bottle with the Tilex lol. The only advice I will give for installing is to cut the film at the exact length you need. The instructions say leave 1 inch around. This was difficult for the first window because of the curves in the corners and the frame around the window. And if you want to make sure you don't cut too short just leave an 1/8" gap all the way around. After installing the new film I feel very happy we chose to do this and to not worry about it. In no time I had all 6 side windows re-filmed. 

 

I hope you have better luck than I had at the windows. If you are reading this and want to stop your project all together because of some silly windows- DON’T. Because a little hard work is good for the soul. So think about those nights out glamping in a remote desert or a mountain range and how you wanted to give up but didn’t give in. Then you will be happy with yourself. I'm sure I will be happy also.

Interior Walls

SOOOOO…now to our wall situation… We saved our aluminum walls and had plans to use them, but plans changed. During the original demo we bought paint stripper to attempt to get the Zolatone off because I’m a germ-a-phobe. They were dirty + brown + who knows if anyone smoked in the trailer over the years. It took Zach a while to get one full section free and clear of the vinyl. He battled with it long and hard. And in the end, the vinyl won. After getting stripper on him dozens of times- even with gloves, glasses, and other PPE- Zach decided he had enough for the moment. The walls looked like a patchwork quilt with some of the walls bare + some with Zolatone. Also we made a new layout for the airstream so our new outlets are obviously not where the original outlets are. We contemplated back + forth with do we buy all new aluminum + start fresh or do we consume hours prying off the vinyl. The main problem was this would cost SOO much money for the new aluminum. And too much time stripping/cleaning the old. I wanted the walls white. So I would have had a VERY hard time buying new aluminum then slapping white paint on it. Especially after paying an arm and leg for the material. Of course when we started this project I commented on how I wanted tongue and groove wood like we did on the tiny house. But Zach said that would be too heavy and a pain in the rear. We really wanted to keep the trailer as light weight as we could, staying true to the Airstream-way. Zach then wondered if we could find plywood that could withstand the curves of the shell. So we started looking into 1/8 plywood and found a few different options to choose from online. Naturally, our eyes turned towards birch plywood. But, it was not cheap. Most places we found it in 1/8” were aircraft websites. So off to Home Depot we went in search for 2 different choices that were available at our store. 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

We were so happy to see how flexible it was. This was the perfect compromise for us. I got the wood I wanted and Zach got easy install. All in all we spent around $300 on the walls + I get to paint them white. WIN WIN. The guys cracked the very first piece of plywood by trying to stand it straight up and down to fit the curve from bottom to top.. And after much tinkering they finally figured out the best course of action. By using the wood sideways, it allowed it to conform to the curve of the roof. It has to do with “going with the grain” they said. The only areas they had a tad bit of trouble with were the corners. The original plastic yellowed corner cap was bulky and ugly! So making a new cap was a must. And boy oh boy- they sure did one heck of a job.  

They joked after riveting the pieces in place that they should have made multiple templates so that we could sell them online. And if you’re wondering how the wood got fastened to the ribs and to each other I will tell you. Zach chose to go with 5/32 large flange aluminum rivets from mcmaster.com. He made a good choice. The large flange helps to grab a good chunk of the plywood, not allowing it to crack or slide over the rivet. The rivets were long which allowed them to overlap the wood and still be able to grab the ribs. We were kinda skeptical as to how it would turn out once we overlapped the wood. But honestly, once each section was caulked and painted- you couldn’t tell at all. Cutting the holes for receptacles and lights and the windows were done with a Dremel tool. This little thing came in handy! It made life so much easier for them.

Using wood ended up being a huge success for us. It definitely saved time trying to clean/strip the original aluminum walls. If you have any questions about our walls or possibly need help on how to make your corner cap, we would be thrilled to help. After all, we are all in this together.