1965 Airstream Safari

1965 Airstream Safari
Coming Home

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Let's Get Serious, Building the New Dinette!

We finally reached a place where we are ready to build something.
Yea! As I am busy imagining fun little meals at our new dinette with
cute dishes and a great view out the window,  Robert is
working on the nuts and bolts of what we want to accomplish.
Good thing we both understand our "jobs". 

We had decided that the "gaucho" or couch as the rest of us
would call it needed to come out and be replaced by a small dinette.
Since 99% of the time it will just be the two of us and our cute
little dogs,otherwise known as "the girls" we don't need the large dinette
space up front. We can convert that to a permanent bed and skip
the annoyance of having to make up the bed every night. 

There were two control points that created exactly how large this dinette
could be.  We had the refrigerator location that was not moving,
and the back wall to the bathroom was also a fixed point.  With that in
mind and knowing we had to incorporate the wheel well space
into our design we moved forward.  This is where I love the internet.
I spent several hours searching for other peoples solution to this
change to get an idea on what we wanted and how to do it.

Though we are building and designing homes everyday 
we are newbies to the world of RV construction.
 It is a bit of a learning curve to have everything you 
build be controlled by the idea that smaller is better, 
it must be uber functional and as light weight as 
possible. On top of that we need to build things that 
can become something else.  Add the need to keep a cool
vintage vibe to this and there is a lot to think about.
However, we are extremely resourceful
and we will figure this out!

Robert's tip of the day: "find the center of the trailer,
lay down a chalk line and work out from there."
He felt that helped more than anything while building the dinette
due the curving of the airstream walls. 

With a vintage trailer some things are a little brittle, when the wheel
well was exposed you could see the flange had chipped. Robert used a
flexible flashing tape that completely sealed it. Clever!

 We moved two regular chairs in and out of the Airstream
multiple times trying to get an idea for how the dinette would
feel after it was built.  There are certain dimensions that make for a
comfortable sitting experience and we tried to hold true to those
while staying within the building space.  We also wanted it
to be able to become a twin bed if ever needed.
The final dimensions for the dinette are
bench 36" Wide
 seat height 15" tall
the finished seat depth is 19", overall build depth was 24"
seat back is 18 3/4 " high. 
This allows for a 4" cushion and hopefully a comfortable bed if need be.
This gives us a table that is approx 28" W x 36 " L

Dry fitting for the wheel well cover

Framing at the wall for the bench seats
 You can see we added a tall panel behind the bench
leading into the bathroom.  We are going to add
a real door here.  The original accordion door was
in bad shape and didn't appeal to me as a permanent
solution for the bathroom door. As a bonus it creates
more wall space in the bathroom. 

Trying to figure out how much slope we can
add to the bench back
Up close view of the height difference of the bench and wheel
well cover.  The table will drop down into this space when it
becomes a bed.  He added a cleat to the bench front upon completion

 The dinette is just about complete.  The under the bench storage
still needs doors.  Then we stain and move forward!  I have ordered the
wall bracket for the table, a removable table leg, the vintage
table edge moulding and the laminate.  I am an awesome
material supply manager!

Lest we loose sight of the big picture this is the fabric
for the new cushions. They are currently in production
with the upholsterer! 

Cushion fabric
New stain color

Love this new poppy red color for the table top
On to the new bed frame next!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Putting the Plan into Action

My best furry friend Pippa was helping me plan the changes we wanted to make.

Following the advice of our timely fortune cookie we began the process
of planning our redo and quickly after that we began the tear out. 

I read a blog recently where the writer explained that she and
her husband were great partners in their projects but they
had discovered that they were most successful when each was
doing a separate job rather than working together on the same job.
Kind of like the parallel play they do in kindergarten.
I just had to laugh and promptly read the blog to Robert and
told him she could have been writing about us.

We have owned a design/ build construction company for
over 20 years  Board by Board. With that has come countless projects
for clients and multiple homes, projects and remodels for
ourselves.  Though it is said that building or remodeling is one of
the most stressful things you can do to your marriage,
we have never really found that to be the case for us personally.
We are an awesome team, creative, eager to accomplish our goal.
We want it to look great and be a little outside of the box.

I am the big picture girl.  I get excited and do a lot of hand waving and
sketching to share my vision.  I typically don't concern
myself with the fine details when I work with Robert,
that's his area of expertise.  He is extremely talented and often even
improves the plan. However, on more than one occasion Robert has
suggested that if there was something else I had to do I
should feel free to move on!  In other words quit hovering and micromanaging!
That in a nutshell is how we make our project ridden relationship work!

 As I mentioned the trailer was in good shape but we decided for it to work for us we
wanted to take out the front dinette and make it a space for a permanent Queen bed.
Then take the gaucho out and turn that into a smaller dinette.

Sophie was around to help

Just to get the ball rolling, one evening not long after we brought the
Safari home I suggested we go out and just take down the deteriorating
accordion door that was the door to the bathroom. Well that took about 45
seconds so we looked around and said, "hmmm.... what else can we take apart" 
and the rest as they say quickly became history.

We have quite the collection of nuts and bolts that have
come out of the Safari.  We opted to keep everything we pulled
out just in case we needed something as we put things back together.

In my fantasy world we would be quickly moving on to install the new
cork floor that I had picked out, but Robert had better ideas and opted to
check out all the systems to insure we were in good shape before it
was all put  back together.  Good advice to anyone doing one of these projects.
Fortunately he did, as it turned out our water heater
had a leak and it gave us a chance to update the plumbing with Pex.

Old water heater out.  Maybe we can sell it for scrap.

The previous owners left us 2 souvenirs.  A vintage hair roller
and this postcard from a 1969 Airstream Rally in Nebraska.
I am guessing they must have attended.  Kind of cool!
Partial post card we found

Actual photo, crazy to imagine what this must have been like in person.
So now we have gutted the Safari to the extent we had planned. The floor is in
very good shape, no water damage or leaking areas showed up.
One of the plus's of buying a vintage trailer in a dry climate.

 We are going to keep the bathroom just about as it is for now.
The bathroom is in great shape considering it is 50 years old.
We will add a new faucet, toilet seat and a real door.

In the kitchen we are going to change the sink, faucet and counter tops.
Probably add a small microwave and definitely a backsplash.
New cork flooring will go down and we are going to re-stain the cabinetry in a
two tone palette.  That should take about 3 weekends I am guessing.  I now realize that was
rather naive thinking! Oh well, we all need a positive person on the project, right?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Let the fun begin!

The day we brought the Airstream home we stopped for dinner
at a Chinese restaurant. I am such a sucker for a fortune cookie that
I often open more than one. This night we opened 3 and we thought
they were perfect. In fact I may frame them and put them in
the trailer when we are done as a reminder of the journey.

If I am interpreting this correctly
  • We need to take a trip to the Pacific Ocean with our Airstream
  • We need to plan our remodel well
  • And since we have been in business for years it is comforting to know
    that it appears things will continue to go smoothly!

If you are a researcher like me you will very quickly find that the Internet offers
an extremely deep Airstream Hole that you can quite rapidly fall into and
  could have a very hard time of removing yourself from it. If, you even wanted to come out.
I am kind of liking it in there at the moment. There are 1000's of people
eager to share their Airstream story and what they have done to their Aluminum Trailer!
I love it!

I quickly discovered there are two distinct groups among the vintage airstream crowd.
  The "restorers" who want their trailer to be exactly like it was when it
rolled off the showroom floor and then there are the "renovators".
I knew all along we would be part of the renovator crowd.
I love the nostalgia of our vintage airstream but anything
50+ years old benefits from a little nip and tuck in my opinion!
Many of you know what I mean!

We want to keep the spirit of our Safari alive but add a little 21st style.

Here is what you would have read about had you been purchasing this in 1965

Here is where we are going with this.

Here are the new Interior Finishes.  I love the pop of color the Mandarin Red adds
to the cabinet and floor colors.The new curtain and cushion fabrics bring it all together.

We have dug in to the project with wild abandon and are moving forward at a
fairly good pace.  I will share photos in the next post of what is happening.

Monday, September 1, 2014

An Epic Day-We became the proud parents of an Airstream

August 12th, 2014 marked an EPIC day and I do mean EPIC in my life.  I suppose it also marked "more of what is this going to take to make it work day" for my husband but fortunately he is a good man and will figure out all those little details that I don't have time for!

For years, and I do mean years I have been making lots of noise about having an Airstream. I have had a major fantasy going on about us pulling into the uber nice RV park in our little vintage airstream, putting up the awning, setting out the flamingos, rolling out the astroturf and with the addition of our two darling little dogs we would be the envy of everyone! I mean who needs a Prevost, when you can have a 50 year old trailer!  Seemed simple enough. We have the skills it takes to accomplish this.  My husband is a super talented builder guy and I can design and decorate anything!  We are totally project people, we were made for this!  So says the optimist in our relationship.

I have been planting the idea of how much fun this would be for years. Call me determined if nothing else. I was always trying to work in a segue back to the Airstream idea. " What a great adventure it would be."  "Think of the places we could go especially in the cooler winter weekends when we are only a couple of hours from 70' weather."   Sadly, I never really received a lot of affirmation on this topic.  He definitely was not emotionally invested in this idea and could not in anyway imagine how this could be a good idea for us.  Mostly it was a " hmmm..... and by the way what would you think about a motorcycle?"

Well, I finally wore him down.  Actually, it was a series of other events that created this opportunity but hey, let's not split hairs.  It turns out this year we will have a project that is going to take us a few hours from home and will require someone staying at the job site at various times which just happens to be fairly remote.  Buying a job site trailer made a lot of sense.  My brain immediately went into overdrive. Who says you have to buy an ugly trailer?  Now seemed the time to buy the vintage Airstream and fix it up.  Craigslist, here I come!

This is our story about our newest project.

1965 Airstream Safari

Searching for the right Airstream

Over the years I have been quietly gathering Airstream information.  I mean, just in case Robert came home one day and said "Baby, I have had a fabulous idea, we should buy an Airstream and remodel it" (he would also sound like Keith Urban while he was telling me this)  I wanted to be ready! My Pinterest Airstream board had been around for awhile now, I had been "glamping" for ages in my daydreams.   As soon as I had the green light I went into high intensity search mode.   I love research and the hope of finding that perfect diamond in the rough energized me. We had a very specific criteria. We knew it had to meet the following to work for us.

  • In reasonably good shape
  • Less than 28' long (too many people had told us over 28' the towing gets harder)
  • Something we could just do an interior facelift on
  • A fairly quick turn around on the remodel time frame
  • Well priced
  • Not already remodeled by someone else
  • Hopefully in driving distance to pick up
  • Pre 1971 so you had the real wood cabinets
  • Post Mid 60's so it wasn't literally falling apart
  • A queen bed or space for a queen bed
I began to search Craigslist nightly.  Living in Arizona the good news is we have a dry climate and most of the trailers we were seeing are not water damaged or moldy.  A plus on the renovation side.  As I searched the classifieds daily nothing seemed to be just right.  A few had possibilities but either they didn't have the right bed layout, too much damage, too big, too small, too expensive, or already renovated.  Fortunately we still had time and I kept looking.

Then one night the ad appeared: a 22' 1965 Safari Airstream International that was extremely clean, everything was working and it had been lightly used.  We were on it!  And it was only about 2 hours from our home.  We were stunned at what good shape it was in.  It was exactly what we had been looking for and the price was fair.  No water damage, the floor was solid, the axle appears to be strong, there were new tires on it, the AC and refrigerator worked. Anything we wanted to do was up to us. (note I have not mentioned the condition of the water heater, that was a little surprise "gift with purchase!")

 It could not have been any cleaner

  All the original bins were still in the pull outs.

 The bathroom was in perfect condition

 The walls are in super shape.

We gave the man our money and we had ourselves a little Airstream!