1961 AIRSTREAM BAMBI 16 ft.
I found this cute little Bambi up in the forest, (of course, that's where one would expect to find Bambi....wouldn't they?), where it had been sitting behind a cabin for years after it's owner had passed away. The woman's childern had basically ignored the poor old girl, and, as you can see in the "before" pictures below, she wasn't in very happy shape when I found her. Her skin was severily oxidized, with lots of "filiform".....little white, worm like marks that are actually embeded in the aluminum and which are a result of moisture getting underneath the old clear coat that Airstream used to put over the skin. If this coating isn't redone periodically, as is usually the case with most of the sixtes and seventies Airstreams I find, it starts to dry up, turn yellow and eventually crack. It then starts to chip and peel, opening up areas where moisture can get in. Therefore, not only was it necessary to spend hours and, in fact, days stripping off this old clear coat by hand......using very toxic Airplane stipper.....but, it actually took a couple of months to sand and polish out the skin, as well.

This trailer also had four street side skin panels that were from, slightly, to severly dented and the client wanted three of them replaced....which we did, including a front compound-curve, roof segment, the entire flat piece below both side windows, and the lower, rear, 1/4 panel, where the tail light had also been broken when the trailer was backed into something. We decided that one piece could be repaired, however, without removing it from the trailer. The problem was a slight undention in the lower, curved panel, directly in front of the tiny access door with the louvers in it. Birchwood Beauties' master metal crafter, Mark Stuart, was able to "work" the area from behind, however, this required that theskin around that door for be removed from the inside to gain access to that area. Most of the exterior window drip caps were also dented, or bent, which meant that they also had to be removed so that Mark could get them onto his english wheel and straighten them. All except the large cap over the door. It was in such bad shape that he had to create a new one from scratch, and when I first saw it I thought it was so beautiful, and jewel like, I wanted to hang it on our wall as a piece of art. Boy, that guy is one hot metal worker!

In addition to all that skin oxidation and filiform, the old battery that used to sit in an aluminum battery box, which used to be attached to the skin, directly underneath the front windows, leaked battery acid for years and also severly damaged the skin there. We, or I should say, Adam Blair, my crack electrical specialist....among other things.....relocated the battery to the little storage area on the street side, underneath the left side of the front goucho bed. He then built a sealed box around it, which, by law, needs to be vented. So, I ask Mark to cut some louvers in both sides of the little access door, which not only works great, but looks pretty cool too. The original door handle on this trailer had also been broken beyond repair and all of my efforts to locate another one failed. So, we had to, not only, install a later model handle, but, also remove, fabricate, and then re-rivet new, customed formed strips of aluminum skin back onto both the exterior, and the interior, of the door so that a new hole could be cut to accomodate the new handle.

The tongue and back bumper also needed work, so, all the paint was stripped off down to bare metal and then both were treated to a 7-step cleansing, prepping, etching, priming, rust proofing, painting and sealing process, using POR15 products <www.POR15.com>, to reproduce the look and color of the original silver finish that Airstream used at the factory, and to keep any rust from reforming. This client also requested new, Worthington, aluminum propane tanks, which, we polished to a mirror finish....just like the skin....and, as part of the final process, we installed new, copper window screens and two-inch venetian blinds, which, along with the red, powder coated, hot rod "smoothie" wheels, chrome baby moons and Coker, early-sixties style, wide-white-wall tires, really adds to the period look. I chose wheels that were a little deeper, however, and increased their size from 13" to 14", which, along with larger tires, fills up the wheels wells better and also gives this little coach somewhat more "presence", so to speak. This look also works better with that cool back window. Sort of reminds me of a "chopped" '49 Mercury. Gee.....maybe we should have lowered her too!

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