Airdreaming


Leave a comment

Mouse Fur Replacement Re-imagined

Our initial plan after removing the dated and worn mouse-fur was to strip the adhesive film and shine up the underlying aluminum.  Although the underlying aluminum wasn’t the shiny smooth finish you’ll find in the newer Airstreams, we didn’t mind that the seams weren’t perfect and there were a few holes.  We liked the look.

However, in that time we also found an alternative solution embraced by fellow Airdreamers.  We figured we would give it a try.  After many lessons learned – described in more detail below – we ended up with a really great finish on the bedroom walls.

IMG_20170513_194738

Some details:

We also went with marine vinyl from great lakes skipper.  It was about 20 dollars a yard, 1/4 inch foam backing.  I ordered 17 yards, which gave me a few yards extra, which I would highly recommend, as screw ups are really easy and you might want to redo some panels if they don’t go up how you want.  I was lucky and my few screw ups ended up fitting perfectly in other places.  I’ll probably use the extra fabric for other smaller projects.

For spray adhesive, I used 3M90 and 3M80.  The 3M80 was supposed to be for headliner specifically so I thought I’d try it.  The 90 worked much better.  It gave a much flatter look.

For transition strips I used traffic master seam strips from home depot.  I used small sheet metal screws to attach them.  I used sheet metal snips to trim the strips, which isn’t ideal, I’m pretty sure the first pair were A LOT sharper before I started the project.  By the end my grip was barely enough to cut through them.

The flat walls with windows were the easiest by far.  I took down the window frame and blinds, cut one big section with about 4 inches of extra on both directions.  Sprayed glue on the foam and the wall, waited a minute for it to get tacky, and stuck it up there.  It’s much easier with two people to help line it up correctly. The glue gives you a few minutes before it really sets.  Next, I trimmed out the windows with an exacto knife then I trimmed the excess on the floor with a metal ruler as a guide.  It doesn’t make a perfect cut, so i might add some trim on the floor later.

The end caps were more challenging.  The outlets I covered with duct tape to protect from glue, then I glued up half the panel.  With half the section secured with glue, it makes it easier to cut out the vinyl in front of the outlet, unscrew the outlet, and pull it through the vinyl sideways.

The hardest section was the top corners because they are so rounded.  I cut both sections about a foot longer than I measured.  Which sounds excessive, but I would do it the same way the next time.  Because of the curve it’s very difficult to estimate how much you really need. Next, I applied glue and immediately started working the section on the wall to get the extra all bunched into the center, I then used a small section of trim as a guide, and an extra set of eyes to stand back and tell me where the center was.  I drew a line and cut up as far as I had to in order to get the section to sit flat.  The rest was careful trimming.

I also replaced the plastic conduit that held the AC wire with 1/2 inch aluminum flex.

It’s a slow process and it took me about 3 days, with a lot of time spent staring at the wall considering my options.

If I had to do it again…I might considering even thicker foam to hide more imperfections, but that could also backfire and be more difficult to work with.  I would also recommend fully emptying the room and planning on sleeping somewhere else for the few days it takes.

IMG_20170513_131528IMG_20170513_131535

As a reminder, here were the before pictures:

57080ecaedc155f1126a076eIMG_20160905_130231


Leave a comment >

img_20170111_090917

It’s been quite a while since we updated Airdreaming!  In the last couple of months, we packed up and relocated back to Portland, Oregon.

No – we didn’t end up buying a tow vehicle.  We used U-Ship to get the Airstream back to Oregon and drove our Subaru.  This was probably a good call for a couple of reasons, notably – being new RV’ers we knew that having our first time towing the Airstream be across the entire country in the middle of Winter would be no fun.

While we mostly drove straight through, we decided to take some time to see the Grand Canyon – picture below with Zoe marveling at the great expanse.

5493972166229662758-account_id=1.jpg

The typical cross-country route for Tampa, FL to Portland, OR takes you diagonally across the country, usually I-70 or I-80 up to I-84.  That is the way we traveled to Florida.  But that was in the middle of the summer.  With the wacky weather across the country at the turn of the new year, we took a more southern route, I-10, to I-20, to I-40, and then up I-5 in California.  Even going this longer route, we only stayed about 12 hours ahead of some pretty gnarly weather.  We managed to arrive in Portland just a few days before Snowmaggedon 2017.

Our Airstream left Florida a week after we did and was not so lucky.  It hit some heavy snow, ice, and really cold temperatures – which resulted in the demise of our water heater and the pretty dirty exterior pictured above.

2017-01-19.jpg

Fortunately, we have awesome family that is putting us up until our new water heater arrives and we can get it installed.

So far we have not found an RV park to call home.  The closest to work for us has some pretty good reviews and does allow monthly reservations, but it doesn’t allow campers to hook up internet through the on-site cable.  What about the WiFi you ask?  Well, they admittedly let us know the WiFi only works if you have a spot near the office, and even then you can’t stream anything.  So not really an option for us.

The other park is even nicer, allows monthly reservations through application, and does allow individual internet hook-up through the on-site cable.  Great, right?  No.  They have an owner preference policy that bans RVs that are over 10 years old – so our 2005 Safari missed that cut-off.  The do, however, make exceptions on a case-by-case basis for the off-season, but not in the summer.  So that my be an option for next Winter.

In the meantime, our Airstream is snugly parked as shown above in our family’s side yard and we are so happy to be home!


Leave a comment

Week 10 – Adjusting to the Airdream Life

It’s almost hard to believe we’ve been living the Airdream for 10 weeks.

I have no regrets and absolutely love living in our Airstream.

We haven’t made much progress with the few remaining updates – notably, the bathroom or walls.  But we have definitely settled into a nice routine.

The Airstream is extremely functional and suits all of our needs.

However, there have been some adjustments.

Not having a closet.

I find it challenging not having a closet.  The under-bed storage is more than sufficient to store all my clothing, but having everything in drawers means a lot more ironing.  So if I don’t motivate myself on Sundays to iron and hang my work clothes for the week, I find myself scrambling in the mornings to get ready because I have to pull out the ironing board.

Ryan agrees.

Not having a dishwasher.

Ryan: “I have a dishwasher named Megan.”  Isn’t he sweet?

Not having a washer / dryer.

This has been the least challenging adjustment.  We did plumb for a combo washer/dryer unit in case it became a necessity, but we parked right next to the laundry facility at our RV Park.

I’ve settled into a nice weekend routine.  I get all of the week’s laundry, including linens, washed and dried in under two hours.  I usually coordinate my laundry time with my friend Sara, so the time really flies and it’s a great chance to catch up.

Not having a yard.

Zoe gets walks in the morning, afternoon, and lots in the evening.  There is a dog park right across from our current spot.  So she gets to socialize more with new puppy pals!   I don’t think she misses the yard too much.

She still keeps an eye out for squirrels from her perch behind the couch….

image-20160926_184552

Less space.

The Airstream has plenty of space.  We just eliminated superfluous areas (dining room, guest bedroom) and condensed the spaces we do use.

With that being said –the bathroom and bedroom spaces do feel tight at times.

The shower would be vastly improved if we had the original shower door and not a curtain.  The curtain tends to blow inward and reduces the space further.  I think once we replace the shower door it will feel less cramped.

In the bedroom we used a regular queen-size bed frame.  Because of this, we can’t actually walk around the bed.  There is only about 3-4 inches between the end of the bed frame and the wall.  The bedroom dimensions assume a 75 inch bed.  Crawling over the bed can get tedious.  But not having something custom built saved quite a bit of money and the extra storage we gained removing the old bed frame and wardrobes made it totally worth it.

Things we learned in the last few weeks:

LED Lighting.  Not all is created equal.

We upgraded the lights throughout the Airstream with LED bulbs.  We had good success with the first few bulbs but had a terrible experience with the second batch we ordered.  They burned so hot they melted off whatever coating was on them and burnt out – all the while emitting a nasty plastic melting smell.  The final set of lights we picked were amazing – they’re bright and so far haven’t started smoking.

Change of Scenery….

Sadly, we have to relocate from our current RV Park.  We are getting kicked out for the winter season due to limitations on space.  We made reservations at another local RV park, but it is across the Bay and pretty far from the office.

As an alternative, our amazing co-worker offered us space in his back yard.  To accommodate the Airstream, we installed a 50 amp service on the exterior of the house.  We still have to figure out the maneuvering and placement of the trailer but fortunately, his place is super close to the office and is an awesome option if we can make it work.

That is pretty much it.  We are having a great experience!


Leave a comment

Tiny Home vs. Airstream

versus-1

Our journey to the Airdreaming lifestyle did not happen overnight and we bounced ideas around for quite a while before settling on an Airstream.

We became intrigued with the idea of tiny living when we stumbled across the Wheelhaus. We looked at it as a long term goal – when we retire someday we will buy some perfect piece of property and put our Wheelhaus on it.

But the idea stuck in our mind and we started consuming as much information about tiny homes as we could find.  It started sounding like a better and better idea.

To go tiny sooner rather than later, we had to give up the idea of the park model sized Wheelhaus.  We weren’t in a position to purchase a piece of property AND a house – and we didn’t want to buy land in the area we were working.

So we aimed our sights even smaller and started looking at Tiny Houses on Wheels (THOWs).  We liked the idea that we could park at RV parks instead of having to deal with the stress and cost of buying property.

Around the same time – we met some great people who bought a Vintage Airstream to remodel and live in with their two kids.

So simultaneously we started researching Airstreams and THOWs.

We first looked at a 2005 Airstream Safari Bunkhouse.  We drafted out a floor-plan and got estimates on remodeling.  But the cost kept edging up and we figured if we were going to spend a big chunk of money, it might make more sense to invest in a custom built tiny home that would feel more like a house and less like a camper.

We researched THOW builders both local and nationwide.  The brilliance of a THOW is the fact that it’s easy to ship, so you don’t need to limit your search to a local builder.   We finally settled on Ideabox.  We loved their houses and were super excited to discover they also built THOWs.  We worked with the company to draft up design plans and created the perfect THOW.

ideabox-fpSo what went wrong?  The builder was great and we were only steps away from starting the build process.

Ultimately, we canceled our THOW plans and bought an Airstream.  The following comparison drove our decision.

Value

THOW

Just like the Airstream remodel, the THOW was getting up there in cost.  Yes, you can find all sorts of blogs of DIY THOWs that cost some motivated go-getters $15,000 and 2 years to build.  As you have probably gleaned from the rest of our posts – that is just not us.

Having a THOW professionally built to the scale we were looking for (30 ft), and with all our specifications, was not cheap.  Our total costs were reaching close to $80,000.  Yep, that’s right – $80,000.  Up front, out-of-pocket.  I started to get nervous.

When you buy a traditional house, you are buying something that has a fairly measurable value. That is not the case with a THOW.

Even though it is trending, tiny living is still a niche market.  We know this because we searched for tiny homes listed for re-sale.  Some of the listings were posted for an extremely long time and were clearly not selling for what the individual paid for it (confirmed on a number of occasions by cross-referencing the THOW with the HGTV or DIY episode it had been featured on).

So what if we didn’t like living in a tiny house?  We would have spent $80,000 on something we couldn’t easily re-sell, didn’t want to live in, and with no place to put it.  It started to feel like too much of a risk.

Airstream

Airstreams depreciate in value like any other RV.  But Airstreams also retain value over time better than other RVs.

Even so, our Airstream has a measurable value that a THOW does not.  I can look at other similar models and gauge the worth of our trailer.  I can also see what other remodeled Airstreams are selling for and know that even though we spent money to upgrade our Airstream, at least some of that cost could be recouped if we ever had to sell.

More importantly, the purchase price and total cost of servicing and remodeling our Airstream was less than what we would have spent on our THOW.  True, we don’t have a storage loft, tongue and groove walls, or a luxury bathroom – but we have peace of mind that dollar for dollar our Airstream was the better value.

Parking

THOW

Just because your THOW fits the dimensions and is registered as a travel trailer does not mean you can roll up to any RV park and settle in.

Only one RV park in our area was willing to confirm in writing that they accepted THOWs. One park flatly refused and another said yes but made it clear that “they could change their policies at anytime” – very reassuring.  The one park that was welcoming was over an hour from work.

There are many RV parks across the country that are happy to host tiny homes – even in Florida.  But we aren’t road tripping.  We needed a stable place to park, somewhat long term, and near work.  We were not in a position to gamble and just tell an RV park we were coming in with a 30 ft trailer and just hope they didn’t turn us away – or that they would approve our reservation verbally and then change their policies at any given time.

For folks traveling with their tiny home and that also have the flexibility to pick and choose where they go – articles like these are helpful and reassuring:  Tiny House Giant Journey.

But for us, the idea of not having a place to park our house – and then also not having a back up place to live – did not work.

Airstream

Our Airstream is an RV.  We don’t have to worry about being rejected by most RV parks.

Driving

THOW

THOW = NOT aerodynamic & Heavy.

As first time tow’ers, I was not looking forward to hitching up a house on a trailer and cruising down the highway.  MOST tiny homes are pretty heavy when it is all said and done.  Which means you need a tow vehicle equipped for the weight.  Super Duty Truck = Super Expensive.

Airstream

Airstream = Aerodynamic & Light.

Even with the remodel, we aren’t worried about the weight of our trailer.  We removed a lot of the heavy cabinetry and the dinette and didn’t add much.  The heaviest addition is likely the kitchenette and counter-tops.  This gives us greater flexibility in selecting our tow vehicle.

Ultimately, the Airstream is made for the road and I wouldn’t hesitate to hitch it up and go.

P.S.

If you’re looking for the community that goes along with owning a THOW, there are plenty of fellow Airdreamers out there chatting it up on forums and living The Airstream Dream.


2 Comments

Week 2 – Tropical Storms and Bugs.

In our second week of living the Airdream we came face to face with some of the less pleasant aspects of living in Florida – bad weather and lots of bugs.

Bad Weather…

Towards the end of our second week we were visited by Hurricane Hermine – or really, Hermine’s slightly less intense feeder bands.

Hurricane

We were not evacuated and were lucky to have this opportunity to experience the stellar aerodynamics of our new place.

We don’t typically have a water-view, but had some nice ponds around our Airstream for a few days.

We had some gnarly rain and wind and the whole RV park was pretty mushy, but we didn’t sustain any damage.

However, we did notice one of our windows had a slow leak.  Right behind our couch on the kitchen side – which is bad for a number of reasons.  One, the couch is right there so the leak could have damaged our new cushions.  But more importantly, the window is situated right above all our major electrical components and appliances.

Our super amazing friend, neighbor, and fellow Airdreamer – Sheldon – came to our rescue and helped us administer a temporary solution to get us through the next few days of rain.  But eventually, we will have to re-seal the window.

Bugs….

Surprise, surprise – Florida is full of bugs.  We learned very quickly to frequently apply bug repellent and to start treating the area around our Airstream.  Because we have the little one – Zoe – we only use the natural treatment options for outside.  To start, we’ve used a combination of EcoSmart and Cutter Natural repellent.

For ourselves, we’ve tried both the natural and the Deet heavy products.  We’ve both been the victim of either ant or mosquito attacks and are looking forward to what they call Winter in Florida.

Other less fun stuff…

RV Toilets and Black Water Tanks

Another fun learning experience as first time Airdreamers – living with a black water tank to manage all your family waste needs.

Our Airstream was pre-owned and the black water tank was not very well cared for.  In addition, the trailer had been sitting unused during the service and remodel.  As a result, we were immediately dealing with some sewer flies and a smell problem.

We decided not to use the bathroom for any solid waste until we were able to properly treat and clean the tank.  No reason to add to the problem.

We first tried the Porta-Paks which seemed to get great reviews.  The only problem is I don’t want my Airstream smelling like a porta-potty any more than I want it smelling like sewage.  The chemical deodorizer gave me an instant headache and I don’t think the fact that it also comes in lavender is going to solve that problem.

You will find no shortage of blogs, articles, and opinions online about how to treat your black water tank.  Because we were dealing with smell and some flies – we settled on a combo treatment of bleach, borax, and water softener.

The treatment quickly eradicated the fly issue and hopefully the smell does not return.

We also have a small leak issue with our newly installed toilet.  Since we are living in our Airstream – we can’t exactly tow it back to the place we had it installed and leave it to get fixed.  We ordered a new flange and are going to try and fix it ourselves – we will let you know how it goes.

Leveling

Bottom Line – don’t trust the built-in leveler on your trailer.

The More Fun Stuff….

Earlier in the week we had some fun picking out blinds.  We found some great custom vendors like Oceanair shades for Airstreams.  They looked great, but by the time we sized everything and filled up our cart – the price had added up to almost $500.

Instead, I found some amazing blinds at IKEA (yes IKEA saves the day once again).  The Tupplur block-out blinds come in a number of different sizes in gray, black, or white.  We were able to find just the right sizes for all of our windows and the gray works perfectly with our décor.  Total cost – a little less than $250.

*** I forgot to mention the first time I published this entry that the blinds also allow for under-mount installation – which is amazing in an Airstream.  No need to screw into the aluminum – you can mount the blind under the cabinet!

IMG_20160905_131644

Overall we are LOVING LIVING the AIRDREAM.

I bought a Dyson Hand-held vacuum which is AMAZING and covers the whole Airstream.  It’s small and fits right behind our couch and is perfect.  As does our tiny ironing board, a few of my purses, and the iron.  But more on storage later.

We have mastered multi-rooming, thanks in large part to Ryan’s ingenuity and the purchase of excellent headphones.  I can watch TV and he can multi-player game – side-by-side – and it works perfectly – as pictured here:

 

 


Leave a comment

Renovation Journey – Move-in Ready.

The Airstream is definitely move-in ready – although we have quite a few things left on our list of upgrades – notably the bathroom and stripping and polishing the walls.

In the meantime, here is a little before and after:

The bedroom.

Optimizing Storage and fitting a regular sized queen bed.

In order to optimize the storage space, we removed the wardrobes (but did lose the upper cabinets in the process), and removed an exterior storage compartment that took up a lot of space under the bed.

We purchased a queen size bed frame (60 X 80) that has 17 inches of clearance from the floor.

With a little measuring, mixing and matching we found a great combination of Sterilite drawers to store our clothes.  I actually have MORE drawer space than I did at the house.

We then added some hooks on the walls and purchased hangers from the container store that can hold up to five items in a tiered orientation that works great to hold all of our work clothes for the week that need to stay wrinkle free.

IMG_20160905_130721

The Bathroom.

Still a work in progress.

We replaced the sink, faucet, and counter-top, as well as the toilet.  We also removed the lower cabinets on the right and left it open for storage.

The Living Room.

Cozy, comfy, TV time.

Certainly MY favorite room in the Airstream.

We custom built a shelf at the end of the couch so we could fit the largest TV possible without mounting it.

We also replaced the couch cushions with newly upholstered super-dense foam and minimized the number of cushions for additional comfort.

The Kitchen.

Fully functional.

We removed the old kitchenette and installed an IKEA kitchen.  The professionals hacked it a bit for us so that it not only fits perfectly, but is nice and sturdy.

The kitchen design was extremely easy.  We had 66 inches of space to work with and selected a 36 inch base cabinet for the sink and a 30 inch base cabinet for the cook top and oven – with a lower drawer that fits all the pots and pans and then some.

The Desk.

Gamer’s den + Additional Prep Space.

The previous owner had already removed the space-consuming dinette and converted that area to a desk space.

We kept with the same idea but installed a custom desk area so Ryan could game comfortably and we could utilize the existing mount space from the old TV.

We designed the counter-top to fit both Ryan and leave additional kitchen prep space for cooking.

Under the prep space is an open area we are currently using for laundry and other storage but we also had it plumbed and framed for a washer/dryer combo.  Right now we are parked right across from the laundry and we aren’t sold on a combo model that seems worth it yet – but we wanted the option.

That is our whole new house!!  In a nutshell.  Here is a slideshow below of all the new photos for optimal viewing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Leave a comment

Servicing Our Airstream

While our Airstream was fairly new by Airstream standards, we expected that it would need some basic servicing given that it is 11 years old and had a couple of previous owners.

The great thing about living in Florida is the large community of seasonal and full-time RV’ers.  There are quite a few RV-focused businesses located close by.  We took the Airstream to a local RV dealership / servicing center that we had visited in the past while shopping around for our Airstream:  Lazy Days.

Overall, we had a good experience.  Our service representative was very helpful and responsive.  The only negative was the time.  It took almost 4 weeks to get the Airstream inspected and serviced.  We also considered using Lazy Days for our remodeling but ultimately went a different route (will explain in more detail in the remodeling section).

Because we would be living in our Airstream – we really wanted to be proactive and avoid any surprise maintenance issues.  Because really, if we need to bring the Airstream in for repairs or maintenance, we would be homeless while it is in the shop.

We had Lazy Days perform an extremely thorough inspection.  Below are some highlights of what we ended up addressing.

Note:  To my brother-in-law who owns his own shop – YES, we spent a lot of money on stuff that would have taken you 5 minutes – but hey – we all have our skills and RV maintenance is not one of ours…Yet.

  1. Pre-delivery Inspection – thorough inspection of Airstream – essentially the same inspection they would give any of their pre-owned RVs prior to delivery.
  2. Replaced rear-storage seals (some leaking / water damage found during inspection).
  3. New spare tire.
  4. Replaced broken break-away switch / cable.
  5. Replaced worn safety chains and clip.
  6. Replaced exterior patio light lens.
  7. Replaced broken bedroom vent assembly / crank.
  8. Replaced screen door foam gasket and entry door seal.
  9. Repair Grey water tank valve-leak.
  10. Replaced shower drain assembly.
  11. Replace broken entry way steps.
  12. Replaced brake magnets.
  13. Replace rear tail lights.
  14. Two Axle Service.
  15. New awning hooks.

The total cost of service ended up being around $3,700.00.  Which I realize is some Airdreamer’s entire Airstream budget – but it was worth it for us to have peace of mind and not have had to find the time, space, equipment, and knowledge to do it ourselves.