Repairing a Vintage Airstream A/C (Part 2): Shroud Replacement

The original Armstrong air conditioner that was installed on my ’69 Airstream came with a plastic shroud (cover) to protect the unit from the elements. Over time, the plastic degrades, and the shroud needs replacement. In a case like this, where the company is no longer in business, finding parts can present a challenge. On top of that, when parts are not universal and need to conform to the specific shape / size of the antique unit, they’re even more difficult to source.

Original shroud as it was installed on the roof of the Airstream.

In this case, because of the strength of the Airstream brand and the demand for vintage parts, one distributor that I found was able to provide a fiberglass replacement shroud. I’m of the opinion that some of these harder-to-find parts can be overpriced, and one wonders if – in this age of 3D printers – perhaps some of these items can be reproduced inexpensively. However, I didn’t have time for that level of research. It’s about supply & demand and I’m glad that I was able to source the piece at all. The shipping ended up costing as much as the shroud itself in my case, and all in all it was just an expenditure I decided to suck up, as it still cost less overall than installing a new AC.

New shroud, needing grilles & flanges.

I was also lucky that my vintage trailer had an old shroud with the original grilles (for ventilation) & flanges (to attach the cover to the body of the trailer), which I’ve never otherwise come across in my search for Airstream parts. So all I needed to do to prepare the new shroud was to remove the grilles & flanges from the original and then install them anew:

Old vs. New. Note the aluminum tape around the old shroud that I’d needed short term to keep it from flying off of the trailer while driving, and the scrap metal that a previous owner had used to hold it all together once it started cracking.

So, my approach was to line up the two shrouds next to one another, then measure and mark the locations of the grilles & flanges, then remove, clean, and reinstall these parts onto the new shroud. The process was pretty straightforward:

First, I lined up the two shrouds and marked the location of the flanges. Then I cleaned the metal hardware using Gord’s Polish, light scouring pads and very fine steel wool…

 

Next, I lined up the grilles over the rough openings and “eyeballed” the right location. Then, using the old rivet holes on the grilles as guides, I drilled holes into the new shroud.

 

Using my rivet gun for the first time, I pop riveted the grilles & flanges to the new shroud…

 

…and the shroud is ready for installation once the A/C is repaired!

Tools:

  • Drill with 1/8″ bit (for removing and creating holes for rivets)
  • Tape measure & Pencil (for measuring + marking)
  • Rags / towels
  • Aluminum rivets & Rivet Gun

Products:

 

Up next: Repairing a Vintage Airstream Air Conditioner (Part 3)

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