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, October 08, 2005

Storing and sanitizing

Last night was our last night ever in Vintage Thunder.

We took most of Friday off, heading down to Dayton to pick up Adam & Susan (who had flown in the night before), and we all went to the USAF Museum for a few hours -- which was great. After getting back to Jackson Center, we started moving into the Safari and by 10 pm we had probably half our stuff moved over & stowed.

As I mentioned, the tough part is finding where things should go. We'll be making another trip off to buy bins and storage solutions today. When packing a travel trailer, plastic bins are your friends! They are incredibly useful, in all sorts of sizes. We use everything from little "pencil boxes" (designed for a kid's art supplies but ideal for storing office items) to a large tub. Soft padded cases are great, too, for things like the laptops, binoculars, and cameras. The trick is to try to pack things and see if you can use an organizer or storage bin, and then get busy with the measuring tape and a notepad to record the perfect size and shape.

In addition to packing, I'll be sanitizing the fresh water system. This is really easy. I'm amazed how often I find people who would rather drink bottled water than use their own built-in fresh water system. Just fill the fresh tank and add 0.13 ounces of bleach per gallon of capacity. Run all the taps (including showerhead) until you can smell the bleach at each tap, then let it sit for 4 hours. Then dump all the water in the tank and flush the lines (it helps to be connected to a full-hookup site when you do this), re-fill with fresh water, and you're done. Optionally, a little white vinegar or a few Vitamin C tablets dropped in the tank helps remove any residual bleach taste. We do this procedure twice a year.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Prepping the Safari

There's so much to do to get ready for the new trailer! None of the little storage solutions we have worked out for Vintage Thunder apply to the new trailer. Yes, it has more space, but it's all different. Bins don't fit, there's less hanging storage and more tub storage, the bumper compartment is not as tall, the kitchen has more pantry and less room for bulky items.

So it takes a lot of time to figure out where everything goes, and of course numerous trips to Wal-Mart, Staples, Bed & Bath stores, etc., to find all the right gizmos and holders to fit it all. Our problem is complicated by the fact that we have to get this all done, plus keep our five-year-old entertained, get some office work done, and clean up Vintage Thunder thoroughly -- all by Monday.

Right now the service guys have hauled off the Safari with a John Deere tractor. ServiceMaster is in there steam cleaning the upholstery, while Kevin installs the Internet In Motion box and antenna. Then we need a hitch installed on the Safari, and a few other misc parts installed, such as the propane tank cover and toothbrush holders. After that, they'll tow it back to the Terraport for us to start OUR work, which means installing a few other customizations (white board, extra hooks) and then the packing.

At least the weather has cooperated. It's another 80-degree day here, with fair skies and a nice breeze. But this is the end. According to the weathermen, fall weather hits tomorrow, with a high only in the 50s and a strong chance of rain. Despite our time pressure, we plan take the day off to visit the Air & Space Museum in Dayton (1 hour away). You've got to work a little fun into the schedule! The break will be good for everyone and we'll make up for it by hustling over the weekend.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A night at the Terraport

We thought we'd be busy moving into the new trailer but there were a few issues that we needed to address first. The new Safari was used as a demonstrator and the visiting trade show crowd was apparently a bit rough on the upholstery. The crew here at Airstream are going to take it into the shop tomorrow and do some cleaning and minor repairs. So we've moved only a few non-essential items today.

It's not quiet at night at the Terraport. It's not bad, but one does hear the occasional siren in Jackson Center, and in the early morning the Service techs arrive with tractors to pull units into the service bays. We have to remember that Airstream is located in the center of town, and this is a working facility five days a week. The compensation is watching all the interesting units going by.

From here, I can see an interesting 28 CCD with a rear wrap window, a two-door Squarestream, the Airstream Class C, and numerous other models. The Base Camp prototype is sitting just a hundred feet away, parked on the grass. For someone with an eye for Airstreams, this is the place for "spotting."

The other activity here (besides working, which I have been doing most of the day), is riding bicycles. Lots of asphalt here! Emma is zipping around on her bike, followed by one or the other of us. Everyone always has a smile when they see her go by on her purple bike with basket, tassles, and training wheels.

We are already starting to miss Vintage Thunder. So much effort went into it, so many hours, so many memories. In just a few months, it has become part of our family. I look at it here in the Terraport and remember places we've been: Springfield MO, Ft Meyers FL, Trois-Rivieres Quebec, Bailey Island ME, Lapeer MI, The Thousand Islands (NY), Hunting Island SC ... all great trips.

Over the next few days, we need to make the new trailer "ours". Once we've got our stuff in it, our refrigerator magnets, etc., it should feel a lot more like home.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Arrived Jackson Center

Vintage Thunder is home again. Back in Jackson Center, where it all began...

OK, technically Vintage Thunder was born in Versailles, OH, in a separate factory operated just for Argosies. But that factory doesn't exist anymore, so this is as close to a homecoming as any Argosy can get.

We're parked between the only Airstream Class C motorhome in existence, owned by our good friends the Maffeis (who are not here at the moment), and the 30-foot Safari that will soon be our home for the next six or seven months. We took a peek inside the 30-footer and checked the systems. All the crucial systems have been checked by Airstream already, but we sniffed around and made a list of things we want to do as we move in later this week. First thing is to do some cleaning -- this was a demonstrator unit and it shows a little wear. Then we'll migrate over, with completion hopefully by the end of the week.

Vintage Thunder's new owner is expected on Monday morning. We'll be ready for him. This morning before we left Lou & Larry's house, Larry helped me remove the vinyl graphics with a heat gun. That was pretty easy. The only graphics left now are the AIRSTREAM LIFE logo on the front and rear domes. Otherwise, it's just an "ordinary" blue-green Argosy ...

Gotta run. Our neighbors have gone out for pizza and they are back with two pies to share. If I don't hurry Emma will eat all the pepperoni.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Back in LaGrange, OH

We're at Larry & Lou's house again! They still had the "Welcome Vintage Thunder" signs from our last visit, so once again we found them on the street and in their lawn, pointing the way to our courtesy parking spot next to the house. And once again, Larry volunteered his gear so we could wash the bugs and dirt off the trailer, which we did after a delicious chicken dinner courtesy of Lou.

And of course, despite my feeble complaints about being full, and being tired from the virus, they have managed to get me to eat TWO desserts and I doubt I'll be able to get to bed before it's quite late. I think we'll make a slow start tomorrow.

One thing we need to do is remove the decals from the sides of the trailer. I promised the buyer we'd get them off before delivery and I haven't gotten around to it. Tomorrow I'll borrow a heat gun from our hosts and see if I can do it without stripping the paint at the same time.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Fredonia, NY

We decided to bail out early today, about 5:30, since I woke up this morning with a slight cold – something Emma brought home from playgroup a few days ago. It finally got me, just enough to make me want to have a short day towing.

I’m a big believer that you’ve got to respect how you are feeling, when you’re doing something like towing. In fact, we’re running an article about how accidents happen in the upcoming (Fall 2005) Airstream Life, and one of the points of the article is that you can’t pretend you’re superman. It’s an interesting piece, called “Chain of Errors.” So we quit about 5:30 before I started feeling fatigued, and did some walking, while Emma rode circles around us on her bike.

With the late start from Camping World and a couple of stops, we managed to cover about 350 miles anyway. We’ll easily make Lou & Larry’s house in Ohio tomorrow, probably mid-afternoon. We haven’t seen them since the last time Vintage Thunder headed to Jackson Center, last May.

Near Buffalo NY

Does I-90 ever end? We got on this morning (after a quick shopping spree at Camping World) and we've been on ever since. The GPS was programmed for Jackson Center OH. It said, "turn left in 410 miles". Yikes. We're still on it now, just resting at one of the handy tollway rest areas, spaced 30 miles apart all the way down.

Got a note from my estwhile correspondent, Dr. C. It says, "Someday,in a galaxy far away, CW will have 24 hour stores, wi-fi, and 3 way hook-up parking lots. People will retire there, with benefits. Remember General Electric, 'Progress is our most important product'." He's a kook and I hope to look him up in Indiana when we go through. You might know Dr C from his occasional contributions to Airstream Life (see Summer 04 issue), or from his blog:

Dunno where we'll be tonight, but I doubt it will be a campground. I'm not in the mood for paying $30 just to park overnight and hit the road again. Probably a Wal-Mart or a truckstop. I'm used to sleeping with vehicles roaring by all night by now.