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, February 12, 2005

We're in the Pink???

Much progress made tonight. All but one small interior panel has been removed. Tomorrow we can start the install of the new aluminum walls, Yeah! All of the additional wiring for lights has been roughed in, and marked.

The Toilet finally came out after much torture. It was already cracked and broken, but I needed a hammer and a saw to cut it up enough to get to the old bolts for removal. The plan is to get the ABS out of the bathroom and paint it. We have a plethora of Aluminum so we are considering using some of it in here too. We have a new Domestic China toilet that was supplied by one of our sponsors that we will be installing once the refinish job is complete.

Check back tomorrow for another update, we might take a break and post midday for those of you in the frozen north.

More Cleaning ...

I took a break from the business of publishing a magazine today to spend time cleaning the interior of the trailer in preparation for our next round of work. We want to get the forward part of the coach ready for the new interior walls, so this was my best chance to go over everything with a strong solution of disinfecting cleaner. Actually, the best cleaning seems to come from using the Purple Power automotive degreaser in a spray bottle with multiple paper towels, then doing a final pass with sponge and diluted Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner. Doing the forward part of the trailer (kitchen and dinette area) took half the day, mostly spent on the kitchen cabinetry. I also loosened the bed and started removing parts of the bathroom so those areas could be cleaned and refurbished. There's still a lot of cleaning to be done, but we're getting there.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Buying Spree Slows ... For Now

After the flurry of buying parts the last few days, we are slowing down momentarily. Tonight Brett installed one of the parts from our last Camping World spree, a two-bulb bathroom light. That took all of 30 minutes including the time to remove the old one.

Otherwise, my wife and I picked out four patterns from the Formica website that we think will go with the cabinets, fabric, aluminum, and bar sink that are already selected. We'll go by the dealer on Friday to pick up chips, and the final selection will happen this weekend during the next big work session.

The sink arrived today.

I like it! It's got a terrific texture and richness that the photo doesn't adequately convey. It looks to be a very nice accompaniment to the kitchen we have in mind.

Tomorrow: more cleaning, stripping, and organizing to prep for the weekend.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Space, the final frontier

Tonight I did more cleanup and installed new fiberglass batt insulation in the front curved wall sections under the front windows, and reinstalled the inner wall liner segments. I seem to spend more time cleaning and prepping a workspace before I do a task. I would move more stuff to the garage but it is already full of other parts of the trailer. Space is definitely something you need for a project of this scope! The inner panels that were re-installed will be covered with the hull liner material, so we are reusing the original material. The hull liner is from a source we found in South Florida. They will send free samples.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

New parts

We're getting to a good phase of the project now -- ordering new parts to replace the old junk we threw out. We'll be adding these to the expense sheet soon. The reason this is good is because it represents a turning point for the project, from demolition to re-building. It's also a real pleasure to touch and work with new materials instead of moldy old junk.

The appliances actually started with the Dometic fridge, which was received a few weeks ago. Ours is a Dometic "New Dimensions" model NDR 1062 (see this link for a picture). It's a very large refrigerator that gives 10 cu ft usable in the space of a 9 cu ft. We got it with the stainless door, courtesy of our sponsor, Dometic USA.

Today we ordered the range, an Amana with stainless front to match the Dometic refrigerator, from We also ordered the futon for the mid-bedroom, from Cottonwood (, which will replace the foam of the bed. We plan to modify the bed to be in place most of the time (to be documented later).

Yesterday we bought the flooring, a plank laminate that we picked up at Home Depot. Laminate normally expands and contracts a tiny bit and so in houses it needs to be left floating. However, in Vintage Thunder we plan to pin the laminate in a few places, since the expansion and contraction will be too little to matter over a 3-4 foot width. This will make installation much quicker. Install is slated for this weekend, 5 boxes (100 sf) worth.

Last week we ordered the new sink, a black single-basin Silagranit model from We also picked out fabric for the upholstery (a process that took many weeks -- see picture for a sample), and soon we will be ordering the formica for the kitchen counter and dinette, plus counter edge trim, upholstery foam, curtain fabric. We won't have finished cushions for the Florida State Rally but we will have something to sit on, and maybe curtains. We'll post all the costs in the budget sheet at our Vintage Thunder homepage and identify the vendors as we buy things.

Sweat and Solder

Tonight I was able to get the new VSD water pump installed. We are relocating it to under the sink cabinet. The pump was originally under the dinette. If you are sleeping, who wants to hear the water pump under your bed?

The plumbing had been routed around the furnace, so we cut all of that out and installed some new copper lines. At the same time we added a winterizing fitting right at the water tank, so when the snow flies it is easy to winterize.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Reese Joins As New Sponsor!

We're very pleased to announce that Reese (a brand of Cequent Group) has joined us as a sponsor. They are donating the Reese Strait-Line hitch, and it should be arriving in time for next weekend's work session.

We've Got the Power!

Tonight I installed the Intellipower battery charger and the Charge Wizard controller. Our 12 volt system is working flawlessly again! the charger was easy to install, especially when all the panels that were covering the space are removed. We had to take the bottom of the bathroom closet out to remove the Univolt. The Intellipower has a footprint that is 1/2 of the univolt and best of all NO buzzing.

Monday, February 07, 2005

We're Deep Into The Guts Now

Big work sessions this weekend! All of the following work was accomplished in two days, with two people. Figure about 40 man-hours, including lunch break and a couple of runs to the hardware store.

Rear bumper assembly was removed and all rusted metal cut off. Dropped the rear three feet of belly pan. (This released a heap of sand and debris, including some women's underwear and a headband.)

We began fabricating new sides for the rear bumper compartment, and welding them on, as well as de-scaling the loose rust and repainting all the exposed frame members with POR-15. (The photo below shows the bumper area before we started work. All that rusted metal is gone now.)

After we got the rear section cleaned and painted, we replaced all the insulation in the rear section of the trailer with either rigid foam board or pink fiberglass.

We also corrected some problems in this area which had previously allowed water to leak directly onto the bathroom floor. For some reason, the Argosy was built without the floor being attached to the perimeter C-channel in the rear corner sections. The floor was quite literally floating, in those areas. We attached the floor to the C-channel with screws and sealed the gaps.

Up front, we removed all the old hitch parts, cleaned and de-scaled the tongue, and painted everything with POR-15.

Inside, we completed the final floor repairs, including a new floor section under the refrigerator area. This included new screening, rigid foam insulation, and a thorough cleaning of the vent. We cut the vent to accomodate the taller new Dometic refrigerator, and eased the refrigerator into place temporarily.

We also dropped the center ceiling panels, in preparation for next weekend's project of replacing the aluminum in the forward section of the coach. Almost all of the interior aluminum will be replaced forward of the first dividing wall (between kitchen and bedroom).

The Univolt had failed, so we removed it (along with quite a bit of rat droppings) and began cleaning out the closet space in preparation for the new Intellipower charger. The water fill was removed and replaced with a salvaged one, thus ending another leak. We also did a bit of caulking along the lower beltline (outside).