Working with a Professional Airstream Restorer (Pt. 3)

The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer… the most recent contractors I’ve been working with are not technically pro Airstream restorers. However, they are professional welders with skill & experience in a variety of disciplines – including stock car repair, plumbing, electrical work, and solar panel installations. Still, since taking on this project (and in addition to updating the chassis and electrical system as previously shared), my contractors in Vermont managed the following in their spare time over the course of about 5 months:

  • Primed & painted the rear bumper, stair & A-frame:

Rear bumper, A-frame & Entry stair after priming and finish painting. This was necessary in order to arrest any rust, protect the steel, and give the trailer a clean, uniform look.
  • Fabricated & installed a new stainless steel cover for the water tank:
Above is the original black water tank cover / surround, which had deteriorated. You can see we’d already removed the plastic tank itself. Below, the original plastic tank, encased in new insulation & stainless steel cover, ready for re-installation at the rear of the trailer.
  • Deadbolt Lock install:
This deadbolt lock is an important upgrade; it required removal of one of the interior panels to install.
  • Spare tire holder replacement:
The original was quite rusted and relatively simple / inexpensive to replace with a stainless steel version.
  • Vent system repair
The hose in the foreground was installed as a replacement for a missing part. It connects the vent system underneath the trailer which sends warm air up into the trailer from underneath the floor.
  • Propane lines fabricated & installed:
Left is a two-tank Automatic Changeover Regulator (purchased from Vintage Trailer Supply), which will help ensuring continuous gas flow to appliances. Right, new propane lines leading from the tanks, then threaded through the chassis (black lines), and finally connecting to appliances (yellow lines). After the installation was completed, a third party specializing in propane verified that the work was done properly.


New-to-me 30 lb. Worthington propane tanks (purchased on Craigslist and originally belonging to a 1972 Airstream), mounted and installed. Note the new, heavy-duty, stainless steel towing chains that the contractors also welded to the A-frame. Each chain is capable of towing the full weight of the trailer independently.

Around Thanksgiving, I got an update that it was time to review the work and pick up the trailer. One major thing that hadn’t been done was to assess the refrigerator for repair. It was getting power, but still wasn’t working. Because a high concentration of ammonia in the appliance made it potentially dangerous for my contractor to work on, I’d need to schedule an appointment with a local RV shop to take a look. All in all, I was very pleased with the work that my contractors, the McMahons, had done on the Airstream. Without them, I’d have been unable to get many of the tasks on my list completed so soon, or have kept anywhere near my construction schedule.

Final walk-through to review the completed work with contractor Paul McMahon (Vergennes, VT).

After reviewing all of the work that had been done, I headed down the road to Pete’s RV to check out the refrigerator. I showed up as a walk-in so it took longer than expected, but the result was that the refrigerator was better off replaced. They performed a drop test to check the propane pressure throughout the trailer, and reported that it had failed! This was a surprise because the lines underneath the trailer were brand new & certified and all of the appliances had been tested. After being told that it could take up to 5 days to assess the problem (in a worst case scenario), I opted to review the problem once I’d gotten the trailer home. With most of the major work done, I was eager to get back and start polishing, wrap up the punch list, (maybe) figure out solutions to my non-working refrigerator & air conditioner, and hit the road!

Up next: Removing Plasticoat from a Vintage Airstream Trailer

Visit the Little Green Airstream’s Facebook page for many more photos of the trailer once the work was completed in Vermont!

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  1. Your intelligent approach and diligence in finding pros to work with you, is resulting in a rather wonderful completed project. Looking forward to seeing this beauty (and you) in the near future.

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