We decided to begin gutting the Twinkie in April of 2015, but of course before we began, Mike called our trusted advisor Colin Hyde, to see if he had any insights to share on gutting an Airstream. Once again, this turned out to be a worthwhile conversation. He advised that although we were tearing everything out, many of the interior components had value in being re-used or sold to others who are doing their own vintage restoration projects.
Armed with this new-found knowledge, we began to prepare for the demolition phase. First order of the day was to procure hazmat suits, gloves, goggles and dust masks to protect ourselves from the fallout of years gone by which had been left by various creature inhabitants while it sat abandoned. Donned with our protective gear, Mike dove right in and began drilling out the rivet heads with a 5/16th drill bit as M.J. began tearing out the wood paneling (which was the interior “skin”) and throwing the debris out the door. After many years of exposure to the elements, the paneling had delaminated and so having to strip it layer by layer took more time than we thought.
Another interesting thing we discovered is that Colin had never seen an Airstream constructed quite like ours. In some areas the paneling had been reveted directly to the aluminum ribs; in other areas it was riveted to aluminum sheeting. Upon further research we found out that at least some, if not all of the ’64s were the “bastard stepchildren” of that era. Word has it that the ’64s, at least many of them, were assembled from components of previous years’ leftover materials. We are open to hear from ’64 owners to compare notes!
As an aside, there is nothing more romantic than to work side by side with your much beloved spouse wearing ever so stylish matching hazmat suits, in a rodent excrement environment! Um, yeah… We work well together, thank goodness.
We began searching on Facebook for other Airstream owners who were refurbishing their “home away from home”, and stumbled upon the “Airstream Addicts” page. What a find! If you aren’t a member yet be sure to join their page. It’s a great community of Airstream owners who love their travel adventures; vacation travelers, full-timers, newbies, and Airdreamers sharing their love of everything Airstream.
We were contacted through the Airstream Addicts FB page by a couple from Wapello, Iowa, Chris and Rondalyn who also owned a ’64 Overlander. They were searching for two sets of cone lights and one cabinet knob to complete their vintage restoration project. We decided that $100 was a fair price, then Chris asked about our plans for the bathroom which was in good original condition. We told him that if he wanted to travel to Kentucky and take it out, it was his, gratis. Chris insisted on paying something, so Mike, as a Kentucky gentleman, mentioned an affinity for Knob Creek bourbon and so the deal was made! Chris, Rondalyn and their son Auguste made the trek and eight hours after they got into our trailer they had their lights, knob, the entire bathroom and even the fridge. We in turn received $100, two bottles of Knob Creek, and a beautifully engraved stone with the image of our Airstream that Chris made from a picture we had posted on FB. Then, they even paid for our dinner that night! Later that evening, we parted as new found friends and we have no doubt that our paths will cross again in our future AS travels.
Now at this point with the interior completely removed, the Twinkie looks like an open airplane fuselage. The beauty of having everything opened up is that we were able to take measuring tape and some chalk to lay out our floorpan. If you’re embarking on your own restoration project it’s important to really think about how you plan to use your AS on the road to discover your ideal layout. We were able to configure a floor plan within the 23′ x 7′ footprint that takes into account ample spaces for cooking, showering, sleeping & storage and of course relaxing. It was really exciting to be able to conceptualize everything by chalking the dimensions out on the floor. Our next step is to pressure wash it inside and out in preparation for the tow up to New York for the next phase of “Project Chrome Twinkie.”
Check out our photo gallery to see the demolition pics.
Until next time…
Mike & M.J.