Project Vintage Thunder

The latest on Project Vintage Thunder, by Airstream Life magazine. Sponsored by George M Sutton RV, Reese hitch, Dometic USA, PPG Paint, Axis Products, GSM Vehicles, and Zip-Dee. Vintage Thunder is an "honest" RV refurbishment and travelogue. We tell you what really happens ...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Jackson Center, Day Three

Friday was a fine day here in Jackson Center. We were up so late last night that I never got a chance to blog before bed. It all started with a foggy quiet morning -- but the silence was soon broken by the roar of factory equipment at 7 a.m. Did I mention that we are parked right next to the assembly building? The people in there start early ... and they use diesel tractors to pull the new units out of the assembly building to temporary parking.

Henry Spilko and Jim Burns (Art Director) headed homeward, but on Friday Brett G (Marketing Director) and Tom King of Internet-in-Motion arrived. Tom spent a couple of hours here trying to figure out why only I could connect to the wireless hotspot that surrounds Vintage Thunder.

It turned out to be a combination of a cable in the wrong place, plus incorrect settings on the Netgear router. You might recall that in my first blog post about the Netgear router I mentioned I had to re-set it to factory defaults to get it to work. Well, that was "user error" as it turned out. Tom fixed it up. So now we have free wifi for everyone who swings by. Airstream also has offered free wifi this week, but the system has been unreliable this week. They're still working out the bugs. When it works, it works well.

Other than that, Vintage Thunder has performed flawlessly. We are still tweaking little things like interior trim and minor cosmetic issues, but for the most part it has been a trouble-free trip. I'll be hitting the factory store later today to shop for trim pieces and parts.

Brett and I met with various Airstream and WBCCI personnel about our future plans, and Emma headed off to the miniature pig races and her usual practice of bicycling around the campus, with her mother jogging alongside. With the sun coming out and temperatures back up to the low 80s, everyone was out and we gave many many tours of Vintage Thunder. Everyone who visits gets a button that says "I Saw Vintage Thunder -- 2005 Tour". Quite a few of our visitors were Airstream personnel, some of whom helped build our Argosy in 1977.

As a result of yesterday's tours, I have to add another question to the Vintage Thunder FAQ:

"Why did you pick that color?"

It would seem obvious why we picked the color: because we liked it. Why else would you paint your trailer blue/green? But everyone asks, so we have been trying to come up with different answers just for fun. "Because it is the Vermont state color." "Because it was already painted cream and we needed something to cover it." "Because the squashed bugs on the front don't show as much."

We did run into a few grumps who were quite offended that we had painted what appeared to be a new Airstream. They would come over and ask gruff questions along the lines of, "Why'd you paint it?" or even, "You can't be parked here in the front row -- it's only for (WBCCI) presidents." They wouldn't come in for a tour. When such folks found out it was a vintage Argosy, they seemed even more offended -- perhaps because they had been fooled?

In addition to the new models I mentioned on Thursday, we also spotted the following on the grounds or in the factory: (1) A new A37 motorhome, in deep green. (2) The Coors Light Skydeck, which is open to all and quite beautiful inside. Great woodwork. (3) Two Airstreams used on the TV show "The Apprentice." Since I never saw the show this made little impression on me. The trailers have not much interior -- no kitchen, bath, or bedroom. They would make great cargo carriers or mobile interview rooms, but that's about it.

In the evening, we all walked downtown and watch Otto the Sword Swallower and Charon Henning perform fire breathing and sword swallowing. (See Airstream Life, Fall 2004 for an article on them.) They always put on an amazing show and I recommend it to those who have strong stomachs. (Otto and Charon certainly have strong stomachs, or at least esophagi.)

They opened for the Trailer Park Troubadours, who put on their usual excellent show. It was a capacity crowd under the tent -- easily 400 people -- and great fun to watch. If you haven't seen or heard the Troubs, check out

Today is shaping up to be another busy day. We've got an early pancake breakfast downtown that I'll probably miss since I've spent the morning catching up on the blog, numerous events on the schedule, and undoubtedly more tours to give.


At 10:24 AM, Anonymous said...

Rich, I hope I am wrong, but the reason those people seemed so put out about Vintage Thunder may have been because:
1- It is not a real Airstream.
2- It is not silver.
I am sure you are aware that there are some (few, I hope) folks in the WBCCI that feel that if you do not own a "real Airstream" trailer, you don't belong with them, and are a second-class citizen.
Maybe another answer to the "why did you paint it?" question could be "The clear coat peeled off."


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