Unstable Skies and Bare Bones

Birch & Pine | Vintage Airstream Renovation, August UpdateAn entire month has gone by since my last entry here, and that's not at all surprising. August has been an absolute whirlwind, with my daughter starting school, E returning to teach, and getting our Airstream funding in place - the work has been nonstop. We are eating, breathing, and dreaming all things Airstream right now it seems...when we're not actually working on it, we're ordering supplies, sketching up designs, mapping out systems like electrical, plumbing, and propane, managing our budget, discussing/problem solving, and researching. In between all that we are attempting to live life as normally as possible - having dinners with new friends from our daughter's school, making sure homework is done, eating healthy(ish) homecooked meals, working, appointments, exercise, housework, errands. Needless to say, blogging and keeping up with social media has fallen to the back burner, but I really love the community! I love how Airstream renovators and tiny house builders come together and offer one another advice, help, and encouragement and so I am trying my best to keep posting, knowing that we have a lot to offer others, seeing that this isn't our first rodeo. We've made great strides in the past few weeks with the Airstream, and so far are on track with our schedule. Our goal is to have interior skins back in by October 1st, and there are many, many things to do before then. We are setting goals by weekend starts - so in order to stay on track, we needed the subfloor in by last Friday. We got the last piece into place around 8:30pm Friday night as the sun went down and were able to get moving on waterproofing - a massive task - on Saturday...until it rained.

The weather has been such a wildcard, and when I say wild, I mean wild. It's been absolutely crazy, just totally unstable skies. We've been dodging tornadoes and flooding...so when the sun comes out or at least the rain tapers off to a sprinkle or drizzle, we rush out and work. I'm really ready for some dry skies...because waterproofing a trailer in the rain doesn't really...work. Someone pointed out on that it's a great way to check for leaks, but we sure know where those are at this point! Yesterday (Sunday) we spent the day doing Plasticoat removal, removed old sealant around the former AC unit and fan openings with a heat gun, and were able to install two of the three fans (we installed the first Saturday) and do one patch, which we buck riveted into place - any exterior installations such as those will be done with the buck riveting gun and bucking bar for a watertight hold. If the weather holds, we'll hopefully get the second rooftop patch into place this evening and with all luck, get our AC unit installed. We need to (quickly) build a support system for underneath the AC until we can get the interior skins back in place, so there are several 2x4's in the back of our truck, ready for that task. We highly recommend this, the structure of the Airstream without interior skins may not be strong enough to hold the weight of the AC unit, so in order to avoid having your roof cave in, support the unit from the interior.

'Waterproofing' is far more than just sealant, we'll be doing some significant patching, updating the marker/running lights, updating the porch light, removing the lettering and identifying plates, soaking in paint thinner, polishing, and reinstalling, installing a new license plate holder, straightening the door and adding new gaskets, replacing broken window latches, and so on...and so on. When that's all said and done, we'll be caulking every single seam, inside and out, and all interior rivets.

We have until the second weekend in September.

The following week we plan to run all electrical, and by the weekend next, the goal is to have the whole thing insulated. Then we start the oh-so-fun task (no, really, I love riveting those skins back into place) of installing the interior walls! We will also be building new end caps, as the originals are long gone - we sent them to be recycled. They were cracked, broken, and the rear cap was molded for a shower from the original rear bathroom...which didn't work for us, as we've decided to relocate the bathroom to the middle. We'll be fabricating our own, which I'm a little nervous about!

If we can stay on track, fall break begins the weekend we'll be riveting the interior skins back into place, and we'll have two glorious weeks to paint, install lighting, flooring, and begin our bathroom build/run plumbing. We've been doing extensive research on crafting a walk in shower/wet bath and are nervous and excited to start the work.

This project is turning both of us into a ball of nerves - until you really get into the meat of this kind of work, you can't know how much effort it truly takes, mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially. There's so much to consider: time management, budgeting (staying on track with our meager budget is really difficult, I'm already concerned we'll go over), stress relief (when to walk away when frustrated so you don't yell at someone you love), when to push physically and when to refrain, and when to take a moment and marvel at the task just accomplished, because it is a big deal and we're building a home, an investment, and the ability to be mobile.

I'm sometimes jealous of renovators who were able to start where we'll be sometime in October, with the interior skins back on and ready for paint. This is the second renovation we've done now that we've stripped the Airstream down to bare bones and are building it back up entirely new, from metal work on the chassis to new brakes to installing new everything else, but then I realize that for us (let me emphasize the for us part again), it's the right thing to do. It makes our bones weary, but it strengthens us too. It is teaching me to be thorough, something I needed to learn in my life. To not take shortcuts. To be self-sufficient. To work insanely hard for what I want or need. Yeah, it would absolutely be easier to have someone else do the hard work for us (and would sure cost a lot more for their labor), but when this is all said and done, we'll have built out not one, but two vintage Airstreams new, and learned so much about the process, the effort, and the reward. That, to me, is enough to curb the jealousy, keep my head down, and continue working.