1966 Airstream

Restoring aluminum on an iron chassis

Archive for the 'Marital Harmony' Category

Things Need Names

If you are looking for a blog that will tell you how to restore an airstream, I am sorry. That really was my intent. To write about the journey of restoring a 1966 airstream and hopefully share some useful and hard-earned tips to save our fellow airstreamers some time. But I had to get real, I sometimes have a hard time using an unfamiliar can opener. I can spend hours in Home Depot trying to find an item that my husband has asked for because I am too ashamed to ask an employee for help because a) I may have only a vague notion of what the item looks like or what it does b)I do not know a noun to describe this item and c) I can’t even properly categorize the item to even know where to start looking ie “used for “plumbing” vs “made of wood” vs “sticky substance that will dissolve my hands.” Sadly, categorization and description are both skills linked to intellect, and in this area I definitely have to fight my way up the bell curve.

Now, I have my strengths, but if you want someone who can help you survive the apocalypse by constructing you a cabin out of found materials and then building some sort of water system to pipe in fresh water from a stream, you should make friends with my husband. The Pioneer Woman has her Marlboro Man, the woman who writes a blog read by my Mother has “Left Brain”, and I have the honor of being married to someone so talented it is hard to come up with one word that describes the person who would assure that me and my children survive any disaster/apocalypse/home improvement project/ construction job/ or repair that the world may throw our way…I think I shall just call him the Canadian, and leave it at that. He will already think that I have revealed too much information about him as it is.

posted by admin in Campfire Cooking,Campground Review,Marital Harmony,Uncategorized and have No Comments

Robin’s Egg Blue

The agreed-upon Robin's egg blue upholstery fabrics in action!

The agreed-upon Robin's egg blue upholstery fabrics in action!

Like so many bloggers, I have ignored Restorable Iron for over a year. And in that year a lot has happened. I am sad to report that the “Silver Sandman” was not ready for a summer 2011 trip. We went to Crater Lake and the Redwoods in Neo, the Trusty Toyota Matrix, and had a fine time. And I should win wife of the year for sleeping in a tent for a week while four months pregnant. And not complaining about it. I won’t even mention the frequent midnight bathroom runs in the darkness in what must have been Sasquatch country. A few more weekends of work after that trip, and Wa-la! We were at what my husband refers to as the “Aluminum tent” stage. Where none of the major systems are working, but you can sleep in the airstream. I am sure that he did not coin the term himself, but instead must have gotten it from his new friends, the VAP boys (Vintage Airstream Podcast). These guys have become an integral part of his life. In fact, he often listens to them in the morning when getting ready for work. This is very tricky, because he occasionally participates in a morning conference call for work as well, so I am trained to not interrupt/talk to him/make eye contact during this time, because, technically, even though he is in his jammies eating a bowl of cereal, he is WORKING So one morning I thought of something semi-important to tell him, and then thought, well I guess it will have to wait. And then it dawned on me for the past year, he hasn’t been on work conference calls, just listening to the VAP. And I thought, these people aren’t even real! I am more important! I can interrupt! I can discuss semi-important matters with my husband in the precious time that we have before we all leave for work and day care.

Making it to the aluminum tent stage means: we agreed on fabrics for interior curtains and cushions. Funny, any time we have to have a meeting of the minds on color we wind up with things in the “robins egg blue” family. Our bedroom walls are painted a similar color. And my maid of honor wore that color in our wedding. I will post a picture as soon as we are brave enough to remove the sheets covering every cushioned surface…Perhaps when we retire we will sit on the cushions in earnest.

posted by admin in AIrstream Interior Restoration,Marital Harmony,Upholstery and have No Comments

What Would Work for Woodwork

The February sun was shining this weekend, reminding us that if we want to take a maiden voyage in the Airstream this summer, there is work to be done. Like, lots of it. This weekend,  D did something with the windows. It involved spraying some paint removal spray while my car was parked about 24 inches away. Rest assured, he covered the car with an old plastic shower curtain he wouldn’t let me throw out. My Mom asked what/why he was doing this, and I really can’t answer, but the window seals have hardened and are disintegrating, and he has ordered replacement seals. The glass portions of the windows are now in the garage and the window “holes” left in the airstream are rather classically covered with black garbage bag and duct tape. The areas around the windows have been polished with a dremmel tool, but please don’t ask me to spell dremmel.

Oh, we have made progress on choosing a fabric. It seems the price of marital harmony is $79 per yard. But the fabric does transport you back to the Seattle World’s Fair of 1962, which is totally the look we want for our 1966 Airstream. Recovering cushions at this price would cost more than all of the furniture in my living room plus bedrooms (We shop at IKEA and bought some classic furniture used). Anyway, another fabric came in a close (and better priced) second, and we may just settle on it…I realized we still have some time on the cushions as the other messy interior work is in progress.

I had two jobs this weekend, my Saturday job entailed cleaning out the area under the bench seat including the wheel well. I made this task much easier by spilling a full bucket of water when the handle broke. Presto! Job done. My Sunday job was painting stripper on the cabinet doors that Derek removed, waiting 20 minutes, and then using a special tool to remove the stripper and the old varnish. I learned than when working with hazardous chemicals, you really can not be expected to do anything else, such as removing your 3 year old from the top step of a ladder in the garage or trying to take a photo with the iphone. I tried pressing iphone buttons and using the touch screen with my hazmat coated gloves on: 1. The iphone touch screen does not work with gloves on, so I had to use my nose 2.  I fully expect the iphone to dissolve in any minute.  As for my 3 year old, he triumphantly smiled from the top step of the ladder when he realized I wasn’t about to reach up, grab him, and pull him down with, thus covering him with hazmat and maybe literally scarring him for life.

Before the work got seriously underway, I did snap a photo. The aforementioned, hazardous, i-phone dissolving product masquerades as a friendly orange substance smelling mildly of, you guessed it, oranges!  Paint this on the wood, sit for 30 minutes to 24 hours, and scrape. Removes varnish and water spotting!airstream

posted by admin in Actual How-tos,Airstream Exterior Restoration,Marital Harmony,Woodwork and have Comment (1)

What’s the holdup? Agreeing on a fabric.

My husband has an opinion, so choosing a fabric for the cushions is taking a while.  Not to mention another fabric that coordinates with the yet-to-be chosen cushion fabric for the curtains.  We both think we want a fun, print fabric reflective of the Airstream’s 1966 date of birth. We both want durable, stain, sun, and child resistant fabric, though softness of fabric decreases as these qualities increase. We both like variety of shades of blue.  Then things diverge a bit. Husband eliminates any fabric with any suggestion of brown. And the browns keep speaking to me. So we just keep going to fabric stores.

posted by admin in Marital Harmony and have Comments (3)


When you acquire your pre-owned 1966 Airstream from highly conscientious preowners, one of the benefits is that you also acquire the original 1966 owner’s manual. This manual, in its entirety, contains fewer pages than the manual that came with my bread machine, thus supporting my belief that life really was simpler in 1966. Anyway, on a rainy, cloudy Labor Day in 2010, I opened the manual because I had noticed earlier it contained cleaning directions. Cleaning the Airstream was our first restoration task. I say “our” because it is my first time offering assistance. My father and one of the preowners assisted my husband in the monumental task of replacing the axel, hooking the Airstream to the truck, and driving it to its new home in my carport.

So, I figured I could scrub (Chapter 15: Interior Maintainance).  The walls are made of vinyl, except the part that is made of Zolatone plastic (which I will be Googling as soon as I finish writing this). According to the manual, you could use DETERGENT and a bit of bleach on the vinyl, but SOAP on the Zolatone. I really do not know the difference between detergent and soap. As I scrubbed with some Costco Tide (detergent???) and a bit of bleach, I wondered if a piece of cultural knowledge had somehow been lost between now and 1966? Did men and women  of the 60s know the difference between soap and detergent?? I was hoping that cleaning products had improved and that modern detergent would not hurt the Zolatone, and the vinyl could withstand soap. Well, I shall find out. I cross-contaminated surfaces with detergent and soap.

I think I scrubbed for 4 hours. Despite wearing gloves, taking a shower, and rubbing in some lotion my hand smells like bleach and 1966.

Zolatone: Two step durable auto-body type of paint. Company still exists.

posted by admin in Marital Harmony and have Comment (1)