Down to Bare Bones // Airstream Renovation

Well, things have changed.

Uh-huh. Yeap. Bit different than the last time you saw her, right? She’s down to bare bones.

Apologizes for the radio silence. The project kinda spiraled, as you will see.

After removing the furnishings, I began extracting the systems (heating, plumbing, etc.) and the interior panels. The panels were rather easy. I got really good at drilling rivets. The systems put up more of a fight, but I actually got this stage done pretty fast. About a week or two if I remember correctly.

This is how the Airstream looked before I finished removing the panels:

And this is how she looked afterward:

Essentially, this stage boils down to: I made a really big mess. Oh, and by the way, all those trash bags are filled with insulation. And dead mice. But only a handful. If I remember correctly, the total after removing the panels was only fourteen, including a baby mouse.

And, well, since this step didn’t take too long, I didn’t think it was worthy of a post.

So, I figured I’d wait until I got another part of the project done before posting.

But then there was the floor…

As you might remember, we had a spot in the floor which was rotten through.

Ah. There it is.

Well, once I was able to walk around the entirety of the Airstream, I began to notice some…other things.

So, we decided to replace the entire floor, which was a fight and a half. More on that process later.

Ultimately though, I’m glad we removed the floor because I found more mice. The walls weren’t too bad. Fourteen total at that point. But, by the time we finished with the floor, I’d nearly lost count. I’ll estimate sixty dead mice. They ranged in decomposition, although the floors tended to have more skeletons, and some were larger, more like rats.

I also discovered more wasps living in the floor. I’d seen these mud nests underneath the trailer, but I wasn’t expecting them on the frame as well. Luckily, none of them seemed to be alive.

Removing the floor allowed me to clear out all these creatures and make our home safer, but it also led to more work.

As I removed the insulation, Spencer and I realized the underbelly had several significant holes in it, which were allowing the rodents to enter the trailer. These weren’t too much of a concern. They were patchable. But, later, I noticed tiny, pin-size holes in the aluminum, which we knew over time would expand to a problematic size. So, we decided to remove the underbelly as well.

See, what did I say about spiraling?

To make the task easier, we moved Nellie for the first time since her arrival, pulling her onto six-inch blocks. Boy, was that nerve-wracking.

Once she was up on jacks and spinning her wheels, the slow process of undoing the underbelly began. Drilling rivets over my head wasn’t fun inside the Airstream and it wasn’t fun underneath. But things sped up when I borrowed a pneumatic impact wrench (like they use to change tires in NASCAR, etc.) to unbolt the steel panels beneath the three tanks.

The bolts around the grey and black water tanks were pretty straightforward, but the fresh water tank wasn’t so simple. After unscrewing all the bolts around the sides, I realized there was still one in the center. So, that meant I had to be partly underneath the tank to unscrew it. Well, it turns out the fresh water tank (unbeknownst to me) was full and I got briefly trapped underneath. I had bruises on my arm and leg for a few weeks afterward, but that’s not unusual. Don’t let anyone say I’m not dedicated to this project.

And, ultimately, this is the result:

Unfortunately, we also discovered some significant problems with the frame.

The next step is fixing the frame and sealing the rust. Then (finally) we can start rebuilding her. Stay tuned.

Ta-ta for now!

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