Rebuilding an airstream from scratch, looking for ideas! - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 26 Old 04-12-2011, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Ogden, UT
Posts: 8
View timzog's Photo Album My Photos
Rebuilding an airstream from scratch, looking for ideas!

Hi,
I am an amateur woodworker with a decent garage shop and some modest experience (have built 7 or 8 original pieces and a complete kitchen and bathroom) compared to many on this site. I just bought an old airstream (a 1980 20' Caravelle) and am going to gut it and totally redesign the interior. The exterior is in great shape, but the interior has been destroyed. I've gotten some advice from folks in the airstream world, but I wondered if my fellow woodworkers might have some ideas for building an interior of an airstream. My goals are to build a lightweight, durable, versatile (storage, sitting, and sleeping), and beautiful interior. It will be set off by an aluminum backdrop since the interior walls will be polished or matte aluminum so I think it is a real opportunity to do something great. I was thinking of simple frame and panel construction for most of the interior, but want to think out of the box. We still have snow on the ground in UT so I have time to dream and sketch before it is time to start building anything. Anyway, this is a great forum so I'd appreciate any thoughts. I've posted a few sketchup images that show one idea for the basic layout, but doesn't really indicate any particular style for the woodworking. The interior dimensions are approximately 17' x7'. Typical components that will need to be built will be a kitchen cabinet with a sink and stovetop, a dinette kind of thing that converts into a bed, maybe some kids bunkbeds, and some partition walls. I'd like to build something original instead of just making it look like any other RV on the inside. I have a large supply of maple and white oak from when I lived in West Virginia so that would be my solid material of choice, but I've thought about contrasting plywood panels, maybe some aluminum panels or interesting veneers. I'd like it to feel sleek and clean to match the outside of the airstream.
Thanks so much!!
Tim
Ogden, UT
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Nina7top.jpg
Views:	1640
Size:	55.6 KB
ID:	23404  

Click image for larger version

Name:	Nina7back.jpg
Views:	1204
Size:	57.3 KB
ID:	23405  

Click image for larger version

Name:	Nina7side.jpg
Views:	1274
Size:	77.2 KB
ID:	23406  

timzog is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 26 Old 04-19-2011, 01:33 PM
Senior Member
 
JohnK007's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Downers Grove, Illinois
Posts: 1,524
View JohnK007's Photo Album My Photos
Welcome Tim. Sounds like a pretty ambitious project you're undertaking. Pretty challenging too since you have to be weight conscious. Can't really offer too much in the way of advice. Depending on the finish you're after, Alder is a lighter wood that looks nice with a Cherry stain. Also, don't skimp on the quality of your plywood. The better grades with more plys will hold up better to the vibrations and bouncing that a trailer is subjected to. Good luck with it and post up your progress!
JohnK007 is offline  
post #3 of 26 Old 04-19-2011, 02:04 PM
where's my table saw?
 
woodnthings's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: SE, Michigan
Posts: 27,623
View woodnthings's Photo Album My Photos
Great project

I'd get a Bosch barrel jig saw and a fairly decent bandsaw to start with since almost every line on the interior has some sort of curve in it. Curved profiles will become the SOP. A router table or bearing guided router will be a great help. Get some 3/4 particle or MDF and make some practice pieces.
Get some 1/4" Luan or other stable ply for templates. Make mock ups before making the real deal. I actually made an interior of a motor home while working for Frigidare when it was still part of General Motors....1970's... bill

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 04-21-2011 at 09:30 PM.
woodnthings is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #4 of 26 Old 04-19-2011, 06:09 PM
dat
Senior Member
 
dat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,007
View dat's Photo Album My Photos
the cabinet in that 70's motor home kinda looks like a cigarette vending machine, how long since you've seen one of those?
dat is offline  
post #5 of 26 Old 04-19-2011, 06:22 PM
Scotty D
 
mdntrdr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: IL.
Posts: 4,479
View mdntrdr's Photo Album My Photos
Lookin sharp and ready for love!

Bill is that you?
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	woodn.jpg
Views:	1307
Size:	86.4 KB
ID:	23652  


Scott
OH, wait a minute ............Yep!.............That's what he said!

"Like" us on facebook
www.ScottyDsWoodworks.com
Watch Our YouTube Video
mdntrdr is offline  
post #6 of 26 Old 04-19-2011, 08:08 PM
where's my table saw?
 
woodnthings's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: SE, Michigan
Posts: 27,623
View woodnthings's Photo Album My Photos
Nope

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdntrdr View Post
Bill is that you?
That guy's name was Ace sumpthin' or other. Nice kid. We were on a student training program. BTW that "appliance" was a cardboard mock up, with some internal lighting, chrome tape and dials off another unit. It had a sink, frige and microwave and swung out on a hinge for cooking out doors, my invention. All the seats were mockups too. GM had a model shop the size of a warehouse. Wood metal, plastic, plaster to make molds, fiberglass off the plaster molds and a trim shop to make the real leather seats. All the shops were union, so I had to be careful how much I did, so as not to violate any contracts and get "written up" with a grievance. I broke a few of those "rules"...
Good 'ole days. bill

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
woodnthings is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to woodnthings For This Useful Post:
mdntrdr (04-19-2011)
post #7 of 26 Old 04-19-2011, 09:20 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Ogden, UT
Posts: 8
View timzog's Photo Album My Photos
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings
I'd get a Bosch barrel jig saw and a fairly decent bandsaw to start with since almost every line on the interior has some sort of curve in it. Curved profiles will become the SOP. A router table or bearing guided router will be a great help. Get some 3/4 particle or MDF and make some practice pieces.
Get some 1/4" Luan or other stable ply for templates. Make mock ups before making the real deal. I actually made an interior of a motor home while working for Frigidare when it was still part of General Motors....1970's... bill
Thanks for the advice. I've got a decent bandsaw but not the barrel jig saw. I love router templates and think that is a great idea. To make strong light cabinetry I am thinking about frame and panel construction held together with pocket screws. The tricky part is any panel that meets the curved walls.
Thanks
Tim
timzog is offline  
post #8 of 26 Old 04-19-2011, 09:31 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 287
View Zircon's Photo Album My Photos
If I were doing it, I would get a stack of yachting magazines and study them for ideas. Think land yacht. Use marine plywood which has great face veneer choices and is of better quality. I would also look at books on Art Deco for ideas because I believe the original Airstreams are from that 1930's era.
Zircon is offline  
post #9 of 26 Old 04-20-2011, 03:01 AM
johnep
 
johnep's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: East Anglia UK
Posts: 1,960
View johnep's Photo Album My Photos
Ah, Union rules. I was desperate to get an order out and the packing room was behind. I volunteered to get out from my desk and help out.
Shock! Horror!. management not allowed to do any work in union territory.

I had thought we all worked for the common good, only to discover the gulf between 'us' and 'them'.
johnep
johnep is offline  
post #10 of 26 Old 04-20-2011, 04:04 AM
Old School
 
cabinetman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: So. Florida
Posts: 24,027
View cabinetman's Photo Album My Photos

You've got quite an interesting project. You'll need to make templates to fit your casework. As for those rounded corners on the cabinets, you can use prefab corners in different radii to form the corners. They are easy to fabricate with. Once integrated into the fabrication, you can veneer over them or apply a mica laminate. Check out the top of this page . You'll see both plywood and MDF corners.

I've got both types of jig saws from Bosch...barrel and handle. I will say the barrel is more difficult to use over a long period of time. I prefer one with a handle. For me it puts my hand and forearm in a more comfortable position for making long or involved cuts. I would suggest you go to wherever there is a display of both, and give them a "feel".








.
cabinetman is offline  
post #11 of 26 Old 04-20-2011, 10:12 AM
Ole Woodworker
 
BigJim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Posts: 4,699
View BigJim's Photo Album My Photos
I like your layout it looks like it will be very functional. I think you are on the right track with the frame and panel construction as that is the way most campers are today. It is amazing how flimsy the construction looks but is actually pretty stout.

One thing I wouldn't do personally, on the inside, is use aluminum as you are planning to do because it scratches so easily and any finger print will show, removing scratches from aluminum is not an easy task.

By the way, you may want to check out RV.net as there are many folks there who do rebuilds also. There aren't as many wood workers there as here though.

http://www.diychatroom.com/

BigJim

Anything is possible IF you don't know what you are talking about.
BigJim is online now  
post #12 of 26 Old 04-20-2011, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Ogden, UT
Posts: 8
View timzog's Photo Album My Photos
Thanks for the great tips. I didn't know that you could buy radius plywood like that. I was getting prepared to convince my wife that I should buy a vacuum bag system. That looks like a great solution.
Regarding the aluminum interior, if not aluminum, what would be better. It needs to have comparable strength and can't be much heavier. The interior aluminum skin plays a significant role in the structure much like a torsion box so it can't be just any material. Aluminum is hard to beat from a strength to weight perspective. You can get aluminum in a matte finish with a clear coat. That may be better for scratches and fingerprints. I still need to figure out which thickness and composition of aluminum since there are many varieties and I don't know much about that.
Thanks
Tim
timzog is offline  
post #13 of 26 Old 04-20-2011, 09:45 PM
Ole Woodworker
 
BigJim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Posts: 4,699
View BigJim's Photo Album My Photos
Quote:
Originally Posted by timzog View Post
Thanks for the great tips. I didn't know that you could buy radius plywood like that. I was getting prepared to convince my wife that I should buy a vacuum bag system. That looks like a great solution.
Regarding the aluminum interior, if not aluminum, what would be better. It needs to have comparable strength and can't be much heavier. The interior aluminum skin plays a significant role in the structure much like a torsion box so it can't be just any material. Aluminum is hard to beat from a strength to weight perspective. You can get aluminum in a matte finish with a clear coat. That may be better for scratches and fingerprints. I still need to figure out which thickness and composition of aluminum since there are many varieties and I don't know much about that.
Thanks
Tim
Tim, I think you have a winner with the matte finish aluminum with a clear coat. How are you planning to attach the aluminum?

http://www.diychatroom.com/

BigJim

Anything is possible IF you don't know what you are talking about.
BigJim is online now  
post #14 of 26 Old 04-20-2011, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Ogden, UT
Posts: 8
View timzog's Photo Album My Photos
Quote:
Originally Posted by jiju1943 View Post
Tim, I think you have a winner with the matte finish aluminum with a clear coat. How are you planning to attach the aluminum?
I plan to rivet the interior skin to the aluminum "studs" that make the framework of the trailer. I haven't purchased a rivet gun but I believe most people use Olympic rivets to attach the interior skin.
Tim
timzog is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to timzog For This Useful Post:
BigJim (04-21-2011)
post #15 of 26 Old 04-20-2011, 10:55 PM
Senior Member
 
Taylormade's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 1,733
View Taylormade's Photo Album My Photos
Man, have you seen the interiors of the new Airstreams?? They're unbelievable. We went to the latest RV show here and looked inside every one of the Airstreams... the overall themes seemed to be "retro modern". I think I just coined a new term.

Ut Prosim
Taylormade is offline  
post #16 of 26 Old 04-21-2011, 04:46 AM
Old School
 
cabinetman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: So. Florida
Posts: 24,027
View cabinetman's Photo Album My Photos
There are metallic based laminates like this one from Chemetal, that are available in 4x8 sheets and work just like Formica sheets. It can be laminated on the curves. This stuff looks just like diamond plate. There are also brushed and polished aluminum finishes, that look like stainless steel, or chrome.








.
cabinetman is offline  
post #17 of 26 Old 04-21-2011, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Ogden, UT
Posts: 8
View timzog's Photo Album My Photos
Very cool. Is that diamondplate material textured or is it just an illusion?
timzog is offline  
post #18 of 26 Old 04-22-2011, 09:18 AM
Old School
 
cabinetman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: So. Florida
Posts: 24,027
View cabinetman's Photo Album My Photos
Quote:
Originally Posted by timzog View Post
Very cool. Is that diamondplate material textured or is it just an illusion?
It's dimensional, just like diamond plate. You could request a free sample.







.
cabinetman is offline  
post #19 of 26 Old 04-25-2011, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Ogden, UT
Posts: 8
View timzog's Photo Album My Photos
One of the ways I am thinking about saving weight is to have a permanent bed with a strong wood frame with webbing woven under tension to provide a sort of box spring. I was thinking that a 52" x 78" rectangle made out of 1x4 maple with mortise and tenon joints would be strong enough to support the tension of the web under the weight of a couple of people. It would be supported fully around the perimeter so the primary load would be tension. A gentle outward curve could also improve the strength. This should be much lighter than a full piece of plywood. It also will have more give than plywood so it should require a thinner mattress on top to be comfortable.
Tim
timzog is offline  
post #20 of 26 Old 04-25-2011, 07:34 PM
where's my table saw?
 
woodnthings's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: SE, Michigan
Posts: 27,623
View woodnthings's Photo Album My Photos
I wouldn't because...

Even a tightly stretched web will sag towards the middle forming a
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catenary curve. All things will roll toward the center, two people will be crunched together and unable to have "their own space" and on a hot night it will get sticky.
Even a blow up mattress will save weight. Some foams are light weight. A good night sleep is very important, so make a mock up and try it out before you settle on a specific design....I speak from experience. bill

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
woodnthings is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Joinery ? for rebuilding screens JaimeM Joinery 22 01-08-2012 01:34 AM
Advice about possibly rebuilding an old delta jointer jpeccerillo Power Tools & Machinery 9 03-29-2010 12:12 PM
Scratch 'N Sniff cabinetman Off Topic 6 12-19-2008 09:10 AM
1968 Airstream Overlander pianoman Classifieds 4 09-16-2008 11:15 AM
Planer scratch amstutz1 Power Tools & Machinery 8 08-02-2007 09:11 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome