airstream project

Airstream Curtains

Airstream Curtains

Airstream Curtains

This is a separate post dedicated to the AIRSTREAM CURTAINS.

Disclaimer: I’ve never made pinch-pleat curtains or anything resembling other than cafe curtains in my life. Sure, I’ve sewn lots of things but curtains and upholstery and home decorating are not where my talents lie. I read on Airstream forums that people were paying $2000-$3000 to have these curtains made so I thought, heck, I’ll save some money and try. Despite the pleas on the forums, “How do you get the Airstream curtains off of the rail (track)?” – I looked and it’s not that hard. (By the way, you just follow the rail to the end and unscrew the screw or the housing with the screw. SAVE EVERYTHING THAT YOU REMOVE.) Hmm, how hard could curtains be? I bought some beautiful fabric from Tonic Living in Toronto and lining from a local fabric store. A friend said you need to buy BUCKRAM. What is that, you ask. It is a stiff, interfacing-like border-like roll that gives you a non-floppy top and bottom to your fabric. Seemed simple enough. In hindsight, after putting the curtains up, I would have skipped this buckram business. I made two panels without it and the curtains turned out fine. There, I just saved you a migraine.

I took off all the panels from the living/eating area of the Airstream. I NUMBERED THEM as I took them off and wrote on a piece of paper (#1 or whatever) and safety pinned the note to the curtain and then made a diagram of where that one came off of in the trailer. This is very important. The windows are all different heights and widths and if you are going to duplicate the curtain panel, you need to know where it goes when you are done. I numbered them and numbered the copy when I made it. I measured how big the curtain was without the pleating (stretch out the curtain in the middle to see how big it goes) and then how high/wide it was with the pleating done. It is a good idea to have a sheet of paper with all of your measurements and notes on it. When you cut, I made a panel for the Tonic Living fabric and the lining the same size. Then just sewed them together. Leave a space in the sewing and turn them right-side out. Iron well. Then make the pleats so they measure it is the size of the finished curtain. I made inverted pleats because my husband didn’t want “old lady” curtains. Some advice: Pleating tape is vastly easier that what I did. I would use the pleating tape if I had to do it over again. Much easier. It’s here on Amazon:

Triple Pinch Pleat

Then you have to sew on the weird hardware that Airstream curtains have on them. It’s called a G-glide and you can buy replacements here: Curtain Tracks

Do not try to salvage the hardware from the old curtains. I had saved a few of the plastic *gliders* and one of them broke as I slid it onto the track. You can order this hardware from AirstreamUse a dense zigzag stitch to put them on. Look at the original curtains to see where the hardware goes. Do exactly the same way.

Airstream puts a small square of Velcro on the inside (lining) corner of each curtain and the corresponding piece on the wall to hold the curtain in place. I noticed my Airstream curtains had the hook side of the Velcro on the curtains which is kinda dumb because if you wash them, everything will stick to the hooks. So cut a small piece of the fuzzy part and sew it onto the corner of the curtain and then do the hook part in a small square glued to the wall.

Measure the before size (before doing pleats) of your curtain and make sure the *after* size of the curtain with the pleats done equals the one you are replacing. Does that make sense? What I am saying is make sure the pleats-pulled size is equal to the old curtain size (your sample you are working from). There is a ratio of non-pleated to pleated. I think the pleats eat up like three inches each. So allow for that.

If you have any questions, message me.

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Airstream: Getting There

Airstream: Getting There

Airstream Reno Update 3 October 2018

I put the curvy twin mattresses on the porch for a couple of sunny, hot days. They were in really good shape and I thought I’d keep them. I set up the twin beds in the trailer and took a photo. It’s all staged. Underneath that cuteness, no sheets or mattress covers. In case you wanted to know, that duvet cover/pillowcase combo is from Ikea - $9.99! The comforter was $16. The pillows are Tempurpedic – super comfortable. The teddy bears? I bought them from eBay.

I’m still sewing those curtain panels. I’ve had about 30 other projects to sew in between those panels. Eventually. Eventually.

I’m going to make sheers on two cafe curtain rods for the bathroom. $8 for two rods at Walmart. I have the sheer fabric already so it’s a cheap fix.

Over to the living room. When I first looked at the Airstream, I was going to toss that couch and make an L-shaped built-in. But then I took a look at this sofa. The back, lean-against part flips over and makes the whole bed into this double bed:  Amazingness. The whole couch was sturdy as heck and I thought, well, I’ll just do a slipcover. I had someone do this. In hindsight, I might have attempted this myself. I picked a linen-look fabric and had the side bits reupholstered in it and the panel in front. She gave me the leftover fabric and I did some of the upholstered accent sections around the trailer that are triangular shaped. I took fabric over the old and stapled gunned it. Looks amazing. I found the patterned pillow fabric at Fabricland here in Canada. Bohemian-like and it was really inexpensive.

I need a TV in there but I haven’t figured out how to put it in the mirror area and have it swing out or down.

I’ve done a lot of vacuuming and I will probably do some more. Everything is still settling and I keep finding dirt. I put those dollar-store-no-skid-look-like-a-placemat thingies in the cupboards. They were actually already there when we bought the trailer so I put all of them in the washing machine on the Hand Wash cycle and re-used them. This Excella has a LOT of storage space compared to other trailers I’ve been in. I’ve noticed there aren’t very many electrical outlets.

The dodgiest part now is the shower stall. It is yellow and cruddy looking and looks like a shower scene from Psycho. The outside is still unpolished. We did re-seal the air conditioning unit and put in a new bathroom vent (the old one self-mutilated).  The fellow at Monster Polish told us to polish and then re-caulk. I’m not sure when that is going to happen.

Below you can see a before and after of the bedroom and a before of the living room with a couple of 'after' photos:

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Airstream – Painting is Done!

Airstream – Painting is Done!

Airstream Painting is Done!!

The painting is done.

Well, mostly. It’s a huge job. Taking out all of those cupboard doors and bits. I would advise you label EVERYTHING so you know where to put it when you have finished painting. We bought new hinges and handles for the cupboards at Lowe’s and they look really good. You need to buy the little bumper pads for the cupboards and affix them.

If you are concerned about the trailer being “original”, save everything in a box that you remove and if/when you sell it, offer the original fixings with the trailer.

We left a few items unpainted. One, because my husband wanted a few things original looking and because I didn’t think the table tops would take and endure paint well. I’m still agonizing about the cover plates for the electrical being that sickly yellow but I may either spray paint them or live with them as they are for a while. I have had a lot of people say how they wished they’d painted everything white and how much better it looks.

We took off every window screen, cleaned it and painted the outside frame. We took off all of the fuzzy things/keep-the-bugs-out slot things that the window latch opens through and replaced them.

If you are looking for ANYTHING for an Airstream, contact Airstream first, they are super helpful. I have been corresponding with Casey at Airstream -- but you can just go to the contact page and ask questions. They like you to send photos so they know what you are talking about. Often, they will refer you to an after-market company like Inland RV, who – by the way – have lots of items that work on your Airstream.

Still to do: Clean everything, get the couch in there with all the pieces beside it, blinds up, curtains finished (there’s about 25 hours to go, I think), mattresses in, fix the mirror in the bathroom (it needs a latch or a magnet so it doesn’t swing around). I’m sure I’ve forgotten about 50 things to do.

And then there’s the whole OUTSIDE of the trailer!

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Cupboards, Taping and Painting

Cupboards, Taping and Painting

You will read on a lot of Airstream forums that diehards tell you to "Keep everything original in your Airstream". Me, I'm not that big into original oak cupboards. I didn't like them in the eighties and I don't like them now. We are painting everything white. Don't judge me.

So first all of those cupboards had to come off of the hinges and were laid on makeshift tables in the basement. TSPed[trisodium phosphate], sanded and primed and painted.

 (click on first photo below for slide show)

Then the trailer itself - all of the curtains and blinds had to come down. A piece of advice: make a drawing of the trailer and mark where everything goes. Way easier to put back.  I did that with the mini-blinds. With the curtains, I marked where they came from as I am making new panels but need to know what size goes where. The mini-blinds are going to get cleaned.
I had to tape EVERYTHING - the windows, the curtain tracks, the lights, the floor, the ceiling fixtures, the cover plates, the speakers - well, everything. I read that you should first use Benjamin Moore Stix, a super, high quality, premium latex primer with unparalleled adhesion qualities. This stuff is amazing. Then the latex paint goes over that. We did first clean and TSP[trisodium phosphate] everything and lightly sanded some of the surfaces. Fortunately, the air conditioning works and we're not breathing in the fumes.
Lookin' good. Still a long way to go...……

 (click on first photo for slide show...)

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Some Notes on the Airstream Project

Some Notes on the Airstream Project

A trailer is like a miniature of a house – all the same systems but concentrated in a 29 foot by 8 foot “small” house. Kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom, closets, doors, windows, roof, floor, appliances, sinks, toilet and shower. Harder than it first seems.
First, reality check. Remember I said the trailer had no leaks? Well, wishful thinking. So far, we’ve found four leaks – one from the water tank, one from the air conditioner, one from a tap and another from the pump. All fixed. I strongly suggest anyone read up on those Airstream forums on how to inspect a trailer for leaks.

What has happened so far?

Wheel axles checked and bearings greased
                We still have to see how old the tires are but they are holding up the trailer right now and it’s not a panic.
Sewer hookups checked and working
New roof vents and re-sealed
                We called Airstream in Ohio and then they shipped the vents to an RV place in the US just over the border from us. We picked up the roof vents and had to figure out how they affixed to the roof of the trailer. They sell you the vents but nothing to attach it with.
A/C unit sealed and checked
Exterior seams re-sealed
New LED lights inside and out
                I love LED lights. Environmentally friendly and cheap to run. Lasts for ages.
Carpet pulled up, new subfloor out of ¾” plywood not particle board which Airstream had used, floor insulated under trailer between floor and underpan, underpans sealed to keep from water penetration
                My husband was actually really surprised that Airstream, the Rolls Royce of trailers, used particle board instead of plywood. Gasp. Really a cheap move. But I guess you can’t see it, so what the hell.

New eco flooring installed

                I found this through someone else who had restored an Airstream. It’s light, sharp looking and lays down beautifully. A little glue along the edge of the room and just butts up next to each other. The hardest part was the curve at each end of the trailer.(See the photos below!)
Checked all seals: toilet gasket replaced, shower seals checked, pump seals replaced
Hot water tank checked, taken out and re-sealed so watertight
                A little tip here. As the Airstream whizzes down the road, it vibrates and the tap on the tank can loosen. Our maintenance fellow attached something to the tank so it doesn’t vibrate and the tap won’t work loose. Genius.
Replaced pans under trailer with new galvanized metal and then undercoated the metal supports
Next step is painting all of the cupboards. There is a mountain (forest?) of oak in this baby. Don’t judge. I want the oak painted.
Below you can see some of the progress.  From the plywood underneath to the new Eco Flooring:
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Airstream Trailer: The Floor

Airstream Trailer: The Floor

The Floor

The first thing we had to do was handle the leaks. We had the roof seams sealed with caulking and had new roof vents put on. The air conditioning unit which was on the roof of the trailer had to be checked and sealed.

Then the wheel axles were checked and the bearings were greased.  Sewer hookups were checked and fortunately they were working.

New LED lights purchased through eBay replaced all of the old lights. We still have a bunch to replace in the closet and a few others.

The carpet was pulled up. Who puts carpet in a trailer?! We have another trailer with linoleum and I sweep it about 8 times a day when we camp in it. So out came the carpet which was weirdly wedged up the wall like a baseboard. In the bathroom too. Don’t get me started.

As a result of the leaks, there were a lot of leaks and resultant wrecked floor under the carpet. To replace the chipboard floor – my husband was SHOCKED that Airstream would use chipboard on a trailer and not plywood! – we used ¾” plywood as the subfloor.

The floor was insulated under the trailer between the floor and the underpan. The underpan was sealed with a special coating to keep it from water penetration.

The hot water tank was taken out and re-sealed so that it was watertight. Interestingly, as the trailer travels and vibrates over a long period of time, the valves loosen. A bracket was added so keep the water line steady so it didn’t vibrate.

A new floor is now going in. It’s called EZ Lay Eco Flooring. Apparently easy to install and light for the trailer.

It all takes a LOT LONGER than you could imagine.

I have taken one of the curtain panels out of the trailer to examine it. It requires this weird slider hardware which is only available through Airstream. I ordered a lot of these slider doo-hickeys. There are 18 panels I am replacing. I am going to do this one by one. I bought lining and I’m waiting for the hardware to arrive. I need about 25 yards of fabric to do the living area and the bedroom. I saw on the Airstream Forums that people pay big bucks to have these done. I can now see why.  I will take the panel out, copy it and put it back in the trailer. I’m not going to do the set over the kitchen stove as you can imagine these can get dirty. There is a mini-blind there now and I’ll leave that for the time being.  Same thing with the window beside the door.

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Airstream Reno Blog

Airstream Reno Blog

We picked up this gem in Ithaca, NY and brought it home to our campground in Niagara Falls, Canada. Once it is warmer, we plan to fix it up and use it for camping and as an AirBNB at the campground here. It is a 1989 29-foot Airstream Excella.

Here are some of the BEFORE photos of the inside. It has the original twin beds! It was owned by an older couple who took the trailer to Myrtle Beach every year. We plan to lighten it up after we check that all the systems are working, there is no rot and there are no leaks. I have been reading up on how to sew new curtains, how to polish and combing through Airstream forums for ideas.

[Addendum(July 2018): OOPS, spoke too soon!  Upon further investigation, there are numerous leaks. What do I know?!]

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