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 ...

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Arrived Florida State Rally!

All that work in the past two weeks has been justified. Vintage Thunder performed flawlessly, and towed like a dream for the two-hour drive to Sarasota. I have to give some credit to our sponsor, Reese, for their exceptional dual-cam Strait-Line hitch.

We pulled in about 6:45 pm, which is later than normal parking hours, so we spent the night in the "bullpen" -- very comfortably. (The bullpen is just a parking area without hookups.)

Our Photo Editor, Carol Baidinger showed up right behind us. Project Leader Brett G was already here, and we also ran into some forums buddies, including Argosy20. Already Vintage Thunder has attracted a good number of gawkers, who are surprised to see the beautifully renovated interior on a trailer which looks so scuzzy on the outside.

We're set up now and I'll have photos tomorrow. It's beautiful here in Florida! If you're in the area, check us out in Row B-1.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Ready for the Road

Still a few things to do on this foggy warm morning. Disinfect water system, put on the license plate, wash off some of the green algae from the exterior (it still looks awful on the outside, that's for the next phase of the project), rivet one more trim strip in the shower, caulk the shower, install the bathroom blinds, add chemicals to black tank, etc.

I got up at 7 a.m. to get started on the last few hours of work and prep. Still burning the candle at both ends I guess. We didn't wrap up the blog entries until about 1 a.m. last night. Hopefully I can catch up at the rally.

And there's one big item left on the checklist: call the insurance company. They've been giving me flack about the value. I have to email some photos of the finished interior to prove that this trailer is worth $10k -- which is just the cost of the parts installed so far! I'd like to have better coverage than "blue book" value as I tow this thing over the Sunshine Skyway today.

Day -1

OK, so we missed the deadline. We wanted to be done by Sunday afternoon. But hey, we are headed to Sarasota tomorrow with a really AWESOME trailer in tow, and most of our friends and family are sitting in the snow. Not bad.

This has been a surreal experience, right up to midnight where we were crouched in the church parking lot drilling holes for the Reese hitch by flashlight. (We needed a level lot to set the hitch properly, and they were closest.) I can't even count the number of things we did today, but I think Brett only remembered a few in his post. We're both incredibly tired from a week of 16-hour days. Without daily punch lists, it would have been impossible to keep it all straight. Brett just figured that in the last seven days he's worked 92 hours on Vintage Thunder.

I know that today we got the refrigerator and water heater running on gas. We finally nailed down all the plumbing leaks, and Brett installed the toilet. We put the bathroom back together, and finalized the dinette, and made a new pantry out of the old one, and put together the rear bumper, installed the hitch, re-screened the rest of the windows and the entry door, and a lot more.

And while we were outside drilling, caulking, riveting, tweaking, cleaning, and fabricating, Eleanor was inside whipping up temporary upholstery. We'll spend Tuesday morning (oh, it's Tuesday already ...) packing and finishing a few miscellaneous details, and then we'll be heading down the highway ... with about 100 pounds of tools for the tasks we plan to do at the rally.

It's done, sort of...

Vintage Thunder is ready to go to Florida State. It is not 100% done, but it is fully functional and as of tonight there are no more plumbing leaks. If you can, you need to come by the rally to see it in person!

Today we completed the gas plumbing, finished reinstalling the bathroom, installed the new china toilet was part of Dometic's donation to the project. By the way, the Sealand Traveller 111 does fit under the little shelf in the bath room of trailer, but some cutting will be required to make it fit. The bed is final installed, all of the new lighting is in. The hitch that Reese donated to the project has been installed, all the gas lines and belly skin has been tied up, the rear bumper was reinstalled, All of the screens have been renewed with new screen and spline and reinstalled.

We had one wheel we needed to check on the grease cap, it looked like it had fallen off, but it was just loose.

Test towing tonight Rich said "I almost can't feel it back there". Of course he has been burning the candle at both ends and in the middle, so I don't think he is feeling much of anything!

Come see what we have done, I will be at FL state tomorrow mid-day, Rich should be there by late afternoon.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hitting The Wall

We got whipped today. The plumbing beat us badly. Four (or five?) times we pressure tested the plumbing, and each time there were leaks. Brett kept cutting more and more old pipe out, revising and refitting, but each test brought a new frustration.

This cost us so much time today, that although we got a lot done, we won't be ready tomorrow morning as hoped. But we were close. We got the fridge running on AC, and plumbed to gas. The hot water heater is plumbed to gas as well. We started on the hitch and rear bumper assembly, and I riveted up the missing front belly pan. A ton of small things happened too: overhead cabinets installed, bed installed, curtain tracks, under cabinet lights, final seating of the sink & drain plumbing, fuzzy seal and screens on three windows, gas pressure regulator and hoses, and Brett got started on the pantry.

But we've got another full day ahead. It will take us at least another 20 man hours to get everything set for the road. So tomorrow the game starts again. And I started hitting a wall in the early evening, which told me I need to catch up on some sleep. Good night, and we'll update you tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

17 hours straight, we gotta be nuts....

Rich filled you in to about 1:30. Once I got back and he had lunch we mounted the new mixer for the shower, as well as the bath room sink faucet and new drain. I sweat-ed some fittings for the shower and for the toilet shut off. We then went to work on the Kitchen counter. Cutting the holes and the slot for the edge banding took a while, but it all fits, and looks fantastic. The Nutoine in dropped in, the faucet is installed, and the sink is in place.

Rich made the hole for the dinette table leg holder, and dropped it in, I cut some laminate to use as a false bottom in the roof locker over the sink. The wiring for the water heater was completed, as well as the hull liner installed around the bed. Rich painted the inside of the bumper compartment components, we can install them tomorrow, and renewed the seals on the black water tank valve. Rich reinstalled the medicine cabinet and mirror in the bathroom. The shower faucet and new hose is installed in the coach, I need to get the plumbing system drain-able so I can replace the pressure regulator, and we can finish reassembling the bathroom. The leak at the water heater is fixed, but I have a new one where I added some piping to the old toilet feed. Both of the sweat fitted leaks are where old pipe meets new pipe, I must not be getting them clean enough with the emery cloth.