Silver Streak Travel Trailer
Silver Streak Trailer Company – El Monte, California
From 1940 to 19489, the Curtis Wright Company (not to be confused with the Curtiss-Wright aircraft company) produced trailer coaches. When Curtis Wright closed in April 1949, a new company named Silver Streak acquired the rights to produce one Curtis Wright model called the Clipper and possibly some of the tooling necessary to build it. Silver Streak was begun by Kennth “Kenny” Neptune, Frank Polito, and James Victor “Pat” Patterson, all three of which were former Curtis Wright employees. Patterson was also Curtis Wright’s son-in-law, married to his daughter Marjorie. In the 1957, Neptune and Polito bought out their partner Patterson. Patterson and another former Curtis Wright employee, Harry Lovett, then founded the Streamline Trailer Mfg. Co.
Ethe Curtis Wright Clipper had been introduced in 1947. It was designed by Wally Byam who founded the Airstream Company in 1931 and introduced the Airstream Clipper in 1936. Airstream shut down in 1941 and Wally Byam worked for Lockheed during the war years. In mid to late 1945 Wally Byam joined Curtis Wright and in late 1946 he designed the Curtis Wright Clipper which was an evolution of his earlier Airstream Clippers. Curtis Wright continued to build the Clipper after Wally Byam left the company in early 1947 to restart Airstream. In April 1949, Silver Streak acquired the rights to the Clipper from Curtis Wright and it’s first Clippers looked exactly like Curtis Wright Clippers. They were built in El Monte, CA, just 5 miles from the old Curtis Wright factory, likely by many of the same employees. After reshaping the front and rear Plexiglas windows in 1950, front and rear glass windows that actually opened became an option in late 1953. Silver Streak trailer models continue to evolve in the years and decades that followed.
Here is the earliest Known ad for a Silver Streak Clipper as published in the May 13, 1949 L.A. Times:
Silver Streak Trailer Company in El Monte California was originally located at 1166 Chico St. and later moved to 2100 block of Chico St.
In 1986 another company wanted to buy the land the factory was sitting on. Polito and Neptune sold the land. At the time that Pollito and Neptune sold the land the factory General Manager was Rolf Zushlag. The partners had hired Zushlag from Airstream in 1978. Zushlag made a deal with the two partners for patterns and all machinery. He stayed at the South El Monte site for 12 to 14 months and then found a place in Chino, CA. There were no l987 models manufactured due to the move. Zushlag continued building custom built Silver Streaks until 1997. Both founders are still alive and live in the Los Angeles area. Mr. Zushlag, after closing the factory, is still active in the Los Angeles area in other business activities.
The company came out with the Sterling series trailers in 1985. This trailer had black trim and the gold trimmed trailer was discontinued. Silver Streak never built over 6 trailers per week. There was a national Silver Streak organization from 1968 to 1997. It was officially disbanded at the St. George, UT National rally when only 28 trailers showed up. There is still a Houston area club and they are planning a Regional rally at Burnett, TX between San Antonio and Kerrville this year on May 6, 2000.
According to Mr. Ashby, who has refurbished and sold over 110 Silver Streaks, it is his opinion the Silver Streak is a far better trailer than the Airstream, based on overall construction and a substantially stronger frame. In addition, unlike the Airstream construction, the Silver Streak skin was built right on the trailer frames. All internal structures and appliances were then placed within the shell through the entry.
The vents on the side of the trailers were placed there as “weep” holes. They resulted in condensation inside the trailer in very cold climates. Mr. Ashby recommends caulking them closed. Mr. Ashby has numerous Silver Streak parts including Hadco axles and grease seals and aluminum segments for the front and rear of some models.
No shop manuals or parts manuals were ever developed by the Silver Streak Co. The only manuals that were developed were the Silver Streak Owners Manuals provided with new trailers.
S/S moved to Chino, Ca in 1987, as it was “purchased” by Rolf Zuschlag around that time. I was first hired as a welder, but the only production person that followed the move to Chino quit and that left me as the sole employee to manufacturer, what was supposed to be the last S/S to be made. I managed to finish the trailer, a 26′ unit that was pulled by a VW Thing. The unit was featured in an issue of RV World. (I think that’s the magazine) The unit was dragged all over Mexico by the Thing. We were true experts on saving weight and maximizing storage space. Incidentally, that unit was ordered by the same person that eventually ordered and received the very last unit built in 1995.
I became production supervisor almost as soon as I started working there, and eventually took over the service dept. as well. In the late fall of ’87 Rolf proposed that with a new design we might start real production again. I agreed to redesign and make all new jigs, patterns, production proceeders, My Goodness, I remade everything. Granted though, I made more $ in the redesigning and manufacturer of the first prototype than at any other time with the company. The new Sterling was as slick as could get, and had many features that Argosy and Airstream copied from me. I mean me in that most all these features were created by me and only me.
I don’t have any of the brochures left of the new Sterling Series, but I may be able to direct you a source, and quite possibly some of our old business cards, as well as pictures of some special units,(government, police,5th wheels, ambulances,a prototype pick-up topper, lot’s of oddities) We actually made a 44′ unit once.
I left the company in ’95 due to impossible to resolve issues between myself and the owner. I could also see that the company was soon to fail because outside influences were abound. We were out of enough money to keep the place alive, and no decent financial proposals were being offered. I didn’t enjoy leaving something that I had literally put together, but the time had come.
As it stands now, I am the last person alive that can build or repair any S/S ever made, along with the Streamlines,(we’d get them in for service alot, mostly because we had the only .032 double anodized alum. skin anywhere) Here’s an odd one… S/S had a small part in the first Jurassic Park movie. Starr Waggons (Lyle Waggoner) sent a unit to Hawaiii to be used in the very first part of the film. On the way out there, a hurricane sank the ship that was carrying the entrance door that went with the chopped-up unit. I got a call from Lyle telling me that he needed a next day replacement for the door. Since I was the only one that knew how to make it I charged him around $800 for the door. It’s in the movie, in the scene where the people go into the trailer and open a bottle of wine.
I’m sure that if your site was more pronounced, like in a travel trailer magazine, you would get many more followers. That would mean more fotos, stories and copies of the original brochures ,specs,pricing, and if your lucky an original copy of the ‘lifetime guarantee’ We did, for the most part, even though not written down, continue the guarantee for structurally related issues.
I would love to start building S’Ss again, but the economy prohibits such dreaming.
Feel free to ask me anything about Silver Streak as I most likely have the answers.
P.S.: If the old man in Texas didn’t die yet or if someone took over his repair business, there may be some old parts still out there. I’ll try to remember how to find him.
by Kyle Morrison firstname.lastname@example.org this e-m no longer valid use email@example.com
Clipper 18, 20 and 22ft.
Jet 19 ft.
Sabre 17 ft.
Prince 18 ft. (1969)
Sabre 19 ft.
SS210 21 ft. (1980-?)
Continental Atlas 22 ft. (1968)
Sabre 23 ft.
Atlas 26 ft.
Atlas Twin Continental 27 ft (1970)
Rocket 27 ft. (1956)
Rocket 28 ft.
Continental Supreme 28 ft.
Luxury Liner 31 ft. (1957-58?)
Continental Supreme 34 ft.
Very little wood was used on the interiors
Dinette at front of the coach
Dixie stove and Marvel refrigerator
Dometic fridge, Magic Chef stove, Duo Therm AC (1968)
Princess stove (turquoise) in my 68 Silver Streak Sabre. Matching turq. fridge.
Pipe frame so very light weight trailer, about 2800 lbs.
Electric refrigerator option
Standard venetian blinds and drapes
1953 SS Clipper, non-restored, interior gutted, sold on eBay in October 2006 for $2500.
1974 Silver Streak Continental Rocket 28 foot (model 2800) with “moisture problems” and unknow interior condition, sold on eBay in Oct 2006 for $1250.
Birchwood Beauties Vintage Trailer Coach Co. offered a nice 1954 SS Clipper in Fall 2006 for $5000 http://www.birchwoodbeauties.com/pages/54clipper-corning.html
1971 Silver Streak Sabre in great running condition and maintained by its former owners, with the exception of the floor furnace and small dent on back side, sold on craigslist in November 2010 for $3,200. Told it will be on the road for about a year then settled for a refurbished project.
1970 Silver Streak Brochure with Price List1970 Silver Streak Brochure and Price List
1953 Silver Streak Clipper 22′
Sold on eBay October 2006 for $2500
1964 SS Sabre 17 Ft
1980 SS210 21 Ft
Brian & Melissa Morrow 1964 Silverstreak Sabre 19′ and a 1957 Silverstreak Jet 19′ email firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew and alicia keller drewkeller email@example.com 1974 continental 24′
David and Heather May 1968 Silver Streak Atlas Continental 26′ Dave@impulseaudiovideo.com
Personal page about a Silver Streak Continental, including photos from a 1970’s brochure: http://www.lyalls.net/devoid/sstreak.html
Tom Patterson’s Silver Streak web site: http://tompatterson.com/Silverstreak/Silverstreak.php
Birchwood Beauties Vintage Trailer Coach Co.: http://www.birchwoodbeauties.com/pages/54clipper-corning.html
Silver Streak Trailer Club, 226 Grand Ave. #207, Long Beach, CA 90803, 310-433-0539
The best way that has worked for me, and some of the S/S’s were actually lift tested by cranes, (gov jobs),was as follows… We used two 10′ beams that would support the total weight of the trailer, in this case something along the lines of a box or round with 3“-4” diam. and at least 1/4“ walls. Since the lion’s share of the weight is usually over the axle assy. figure this for the center of the placement of the two beams that will be under the unit. Roughly on that 19’r it would be best to start with the beam at the rear of the unit to be placed about three feet from the rear of the wheel and the other about 10′ to the forward. Then you will be able to cinch these to the cable/chains with enough clearance on the sides of the unit, so not to damage the skin and balance the load. Be very sure to use some 4×4’s or the like, set on the roof to make certain that on lift the cables/chains don’t draw in and hit your unit.
I would have liked to send you a drawing, but to open it you would have to have a CAD prog to see it. So, I hope that this helps you visualize what I’m trying to say.
Please let me know how things work out. danny
To pull the dents out depending on where they are, you can try a wet suction cup. (like a window hanger uses, good ones can be had through PPG Enterprises, they are online.) Or just borrow one. If the dent is on a crease or one of the head section segments you will most likely have to do it from the inside. It may seem like a lot of work, but it goes by pretty quick.
We used to clear coat the ones built in the 90’s, and we clear coated many older units as well. Nylacote is the best, and you can get it from a decent sized airplane repair shop. It is the coating that is used on jet planes. Be careful though, a chief ingredient is cyanide. You don’t want to breath too much of it. We’d usually paint an entire trailer in about 20 minutes, then run like hell. The stuff drys within seconds. If you are trying to paint a small area just get a small spray kit from an auto body paint store. I don’t right off remember the name of the painter kit, but it starts with a P. For prepping the surface for the clear coat we used many gallons of lacquer thinner, and masked off whatever wasn’t to get shot. CARB would have had a fit to see us painting those units and openly letting thinner into the air. Too late now… Best of luck, keep in touch…..
As far as using invertors I’ve had great fortune in using several different brands. The programmable ones are the most efficient, but they require that you know what basic loads that you intend to put on it. So, for general purposes I tend to lead folks to use any generic brand to reduce confusion. Always use very high gauge wire to the invertor, from the batt set. The smallest wire that I would run for up to a 12′ run would be 1/0. Another thing to consider is the heat output from the invertor. Ventilation is extremely important! A cooling fan is not recommended as it would be a power draw, unless it’s wired into a solar collection source and builds batt back-up.
One of the ‘tricks’ that we used for new construction and repairs was what was called MIG-warping. Say a new chassis came in looking like a wad of spaghetti, all twisted and stuff. (yes, for some time we do farm-out chassis building, built our own flawless ones once again from ’92 on), well at first the guy that I put in charge of that sort of thing would wack at it with a forklift and torch. Well, this got too old, too loud, and too expensive. I showed him something that I’d learned from working at Miller Trailer (Bradenton, FLA). It’s pretty easy, and even better, simple. If you have a piece of metal that is bent/radius-ed in the wrong direction, just lay a MIG bead. (pretty hot) on the side of the radius that you want to decrease. The basic result is to shrink the area by forcefully applying extra metal to the area. I know, sounds reversed, but this is how it’s done all the way down from sheet metal on a car to 24
I-beams on a low-boy trailer. The resulting ecxess metal can be ground down slow and cold if needed. For something common, like a channel of let's say 5x1/2
to erase a radius over a 2' section at about 36 round with two light passes of .035 steel wire with an overlay of around 1/8
twice very close to the rib, along the surface of the 1 1/2 section. You will see almost right away that the channel will pull towards the weld and the temperament of the metal will stay intact. For other ways to use this method, you will need to experiment. Or maybe just remove the part, lay it on a concrete floor with an attached concrete wall and bang on it for a few hours with a soon to be doomed forklift.
Ok. I know that soon I will be getting asked about how to fix the cracks around the windows and the main door. The old tried and not so true method was allowed by the factory as a means of living up to the ‘lifetime guarantee’. The method was to ‘stop-drill’ the crack, fill the end with an Olympic rivet, then seal the crack and hope that we never heard from you again. (‘least ’til you needed something that put cash in our trousers) The two correct ways are as follows… This is somewhat based on the yr of unit you have. I’ll start by saying that if you have a unit that was built from about mid ’88-mid’89 you might be in for a real hum-dinger. I’ll address that later, so that you have a much better understanding regarding the repair technics by seeing how the other fixes are achieved. Please keep in mind that almost all S/S’s built before ’86 used off-fall for the production of the horizontal pieces that make up the skeleton of the unit. Off-fall is the little pieces of ‘junk’ that results from cutting out window/door/access doors, everything. It got bent-up into c-channels of about 1 7/8”x 3/4“ and would many times be clad with plastic and/or wax. This made it impossible to weld. So, since this was the case, all units made before ’97 were only riveted together. If you look through this file you will see that later that was changed. Anyways I will get on to correct repair procedure. First, remove the skin, drill it out per the instructions using the instructions just below this set. Be so very careful because with the Grace of God, you may be able to use the same piece again, and not loose the color of the trailer, or make a great deal of extra work for yourself. Now you’re down to ribs. There are two ways to deal with this at the moment. I will tell you the cheapest and easiest way, and it will be up to the individual to decide if they want to go the extra step and make this last forever. Since, in most cases, this repair will be involving riveted skeleton parts, the best option is to find a piece of aluminum that extends at least 12” more than the affected area and rivet it like crazy,and reapply the original skin. or, you Since you know of roughly what skin to look for, you’ve got that covered. Now, if you want to go the extra steps, do as follows, and they will be noted in order of importance. Since now you have reattached the skin, you will notice the gap between the skin, jack the trailer up as close as possible to the center of the crack, along the chassis’ front to rear main beam to where the crack ‘disappears’. Now you have the choice of being crude, and installing a 1“x2”x3/16“ ‘fish-box tube”, using bolts, this won’t last for long, both methods involve stripping away the underbelly to expose the chassis proper and welding a piece of 1“x2”x3/16“ piece in place, both cases spanning at least 18” from the center on each end of the center of the skin’s crack. Please keep in mind that when you weld the new piece in place, one must pay attention to the resulting contraction. (for a strip of around 48“ long on a typical 5”x1 1/2“ c-channel you would place welds of around 1/8”width X 3“ long passes over the distance, resulting in around a 1/8” lift, or about 1/2“ rise over that span. Notice that the welds are intended to be applyed ‘kitty-corner’ from each other and followed through quickly.The welds, kitty-corner provides a more stress relieved chassis and also keeps the imposing tensions to a minimal, by local disspersment. You can chose whether or not to cover this with the stanard .025 alum..
Unforunately for those that purchased the ‘new” units, from mid ’88-’95, you get a whole new ball of problems. On the upside, the unit is far superior than Mr Neptune ever dreampt, the downside is that it will cost much more to repair. Now, before anyone gets in a huff about the ‘extra’ cost, let me explain. Rolf and I made the decision to modify the units with an unwritten law that made us pay for all repairs that were inclusive to our design changes. We always held our part of this, even at the cost of the company. We were not ever required to, but it was our policy to make ammends in any and every way that we could, even to the point of honoring long past obligations for life-time warrantys that could no longer apply, as this was a new business, under new command. For this, consider the ‘super-taping’ of the main outer skin. Though a much more solid structure, this was done to ensure an almost rivetless skin along the main section of the outer skin. We used the tape to bond the skin to what we had an almost perfected rib structure. (horizontantals were then welded to allow flex and much solidity). This made a much more solid unit while allowing that replacement skins would still be availible. When the company closed, back in ’96 noone would support the metal used for the skin. (read on for info about how to get the skin)
For this,subject I should tell you’all about how to take off the super-taped skin. I had my first experience with a new unit that had just been rolled over on the freeway. It just happened to be the most cost-losing unit that we ever produced. (the first and only handi-cap one) At first I tried to rip the main exterior panels off with a forklift, tearing them downward, that was a giant mistake, the panels stuck to the ribs as if they were welded together. I had to let loose of the tension from the forks and slowly cut the tape loose. The disaster was that my initial pulling had rippled the main ribs, to the point of having to replace them. From this, I also had to pay back the insurance company a great deal of money because I could not “repair to new” for the fact that I had to use Olympic rivets in some areas.In the end, I had to shave and replace all material in regards to the roll-over, and took a mighty loss.
Skin replacement can go either real easy or go south in a heart-beat. I’ll confront the issue from a couple different points. Lets assume first that you already have the pie shaped segments from the factory. This would mean that they are .032 brushed and triple anodized aluminum with the beaded edges. First you would drill out the rivets (using a # 30 jobber sized drill bit), going in this order… Start with the rivet line on the bottom segment’s lower edge going from the center area of the head, then back towards the body of the trailer. Next, start from the center area of the head and pick the next one up and repeat. Do this until you can pull out the desired amount of segments to be replaced. Keep in mind that when you are drilling out the rivets you need to be careful not to elongate the holes too much, as you may need their exact centers later. A good trick is to pre-mark center lines of the rivets prior to drill-out on the old segment with pencil lines. Now, the hard part…
The sealant tape can also be had through just about any service center that deals with Thor Indust. Trailers or more directly from an Air Stream repair facility. You will also need the final edge sealant, Air Stream or Argosy folks for that. We would only let a few certain people apply the final sealant, it’s tricky. OK, first apply a strand of the tape to the side of the segment that will be covered. It helps to brush a light coat of oil on the sealant to allow it to move more freely. This is assuming that the holes were pre-drilled from S/S. If the segments were sent to you without holes, I would have sent them myself, for reasons you will see later. If they need holes, simply transfer them from the matching segment and pre-drill about every other one or every third one. This will give you a way to ‘play’ with how you finally drill the other holes to get a tight fit between the segment’s over-laps. Now keep in mind the we had cleeko rivets and their special pliers back then. Cleekos can be bought or rented usually from an aircraft repair facility or maybe an Aistream or Argosy repair shop. Cleekos are a temporary rivet installed by putting the cleeko into it plier, squeezing the handles and inserting the head into the #30 hole and releasing, where it will expand and make a quick temporary hold of the pieces. Keep in mind the all pieces must be re-installed using #30 size cleekos or rivets to make sure that all goes well before finally drilling out all the holes to accept the #20 size Olympic rivets. This will usually give enough room in the end to make a few adjustments. Most of our workers would waste many pieces and lots more man-hours before getting this down-packed. So, you must take your time. So, for the most part you reverse the order of removal. When it’s all ‘tacked-in’ with either #30 (1/8”) rivets and/or cleekos you can then go onto the fun stuff. The Olympic rivets are expensive so take care in using them. It doesn’t really matter what order you put them in, unless you find that since you left some spaces between your primary bonding (with the #30’s or cleekos), and now you see with careful placement of the final rivets, such as spacing them a little different or angling them this way or that you can manipulate the segments/skin to fit better. So, when you are ready to use the Olympics use a #30 to drill out the little rivets or pliers to remove the cleekos and one or two at a time enlarge the holes to #20 and pop in your final rivets, clean the excess sealant with a plastic putty knife wipe off with laquer thinner and carefully seal/caulk with the silver sealer. Now for a couple notes that I already see need some answers.
1) if you don’t want the expense of buying the Olympic rivet shaver, the resulting shank can be cut down as close as possible, the filed to look more like an original buck rivet 2) the plastic putty knives that we used were made from 1” strips of old Formica at around 1/8” thick (in the factory they were called Tiger knives) 3) if not satisfied with part of you edge sealing job, immediately wipe the bad area with lacquer thinner and try again
So that this set of instructions can be used for more than one repair area on the trailers, The rest will be a bit more inclusive of other types of aluminum bodied units.(including aircraft)
Ok, say somebody needs to replace an aluminum piece and can’t seem to match the type of material. Well, in the case of a S/S’s main body, above the lowest beltline it can be done. It will be extremely difficult but it can be done for a S/S and other alum skinned animals. For the anodized areas on S/S’s and such units that used that certain metal, you first need to procure a piece of ‘normal’ alum, that is at least the size of the one to be replaced,( around .032 in thickness). Then for creating the brushed look, use a piece of 00 steel wool firmly held to a 2×4 and with another 2×4 as a guide make many passes back and forth to effectively brush the desired look onto the piece. The guide is there to make sure that the resulting scratches are parallel to one another. The final part is the most difficult. You the need to find an anodizing shop willing to anodize the piece. Experience tells me that one “pass’ will suffice, but it may require more. OK, there you go, a piece ready to copy and replace. Anodizing can be done in a backyard or garage, but I’m sortta doubting that anyone really wants to try that. I have, it works, but it’s slightly messy. As far as the strengthening beads that were used on the older units and all the head segments for every year of the S/S’s; there’s two ways to go. For the head segments it is an edge set-back of 3/16” at a 45 degree angle. Because of the curve in the piece this might seem impossible unless you use a hammer and dolly. It ain’t so hard though. As you can see, both sides are broken. At most air conditioner and furnace installer shops they will have a Pittsburg press. With a simple modification to the edge guide they can set the depth of the brake,(they will need to remove the other form rollers), and for the fact that they have to make it be able to make the radial arc, the edge guide needs to be around 3” past the center of the rollers on either side. A total of 6” edge guide. The trick is when the piece is being pulled through, that constant attention is being paid to how much of the pieces edge contacts the 6” edge guide, and the while feeding it into the rollers the main part of the piece stay flat on the table. Any competent shop will do this, providing you pay for the edge guide. Show them this letter and say, to the effect, “…think ya can?”. Also, we’ve found that as the piece is being fed, keep the broken edge up away from the table, this allows for the curvature on inside curves to be fed. On the straight body sections a decent fabrication shop can manage the bead at the total length of the brake they have at hand. This brings me to the corner sections that have a seemingly 3-d bead effect on their radius. Because the stock the was roll-formed at the factory was initially made from 48” wide roll-off then sent through a 4-5 at a time beader we would simply place a pattern over the entire 48” piece, then cut to match. To get the centers of the beads measure from one edge and tell the brakeman about those centers. When measuring those centers measure from the body side, not the head as the curve may throw you off in the translation. ( try teaching this for a decade to all Mexican workers, and me at only conversational in Spanish) The majority of the horizontal pieces from start of production, ‘til ‘87 were just off-fall broken into 1 ½” channels with ¾” sides. Since these older units were not structurally welded this was of no concern. The rivets held this ‘floating’ assembly in place. In 87’, when I came in all structure was 2”x
¾ fully welded and ‘pressed in place’ construction. The bows ,door frames and frames were made from two separate hydraulic formers. Let’s just say for now, they existed and they worked. Explaining these machines would take up too much time. The ‘pressed in place’ concept and design was the brain-child of Rolf Zuschlag, the last owner of the company. The final decision to weld the skeleton as a complete unit was my decision. Regarding on how to make the radius pcs that make up the heads and the bows, oh yeah can’t forget the doors and doorways, on request I can provide that info.
Since I’ve been posted on the TCT I’ve received many questions, and am happy to answer them, you may want to see if the owner of the sight wants this letter posted as well. Don’t want to forget this!! When drilling out rivets go only as deep as needed. Otherwise you can drill into vital electrical lines. Mark the skin to remember where electrical is. Also, #30= 1/8”, #20=3/16”. If an Olympic rivet pops to quick, (leaves a hole in it’s center, drill it out with a #20 and pull it again to feel good pressure, let go, cut the shank then, and finish dressing it. Underbelly alum is just shiny .025, rip out old part, cut to size, rivet new back in. This will require you to loosen the lower belt molding. Notice how the slits were cut for the radius. One more note to all. After 1988 all units were put together with 3-M super tape. If you try to remove the skin without knowing how it was constructed, the repair cost will far exceed most estimates. The skin removal is grueling, and more than 10x the removal cost of riveted skin. The bows and horizontals will be ruined without proper procedure. I will tell anyone for free, how to do this. (better than the heart-ache that could otherwise happen). One day maybe I’ll tell folks about the hidden $100 bills….. a lot of the newer (87-95 units had them). Danny
OK, the pipe sounds as if it was an old gas line. To be sure, look at it’s diameter, a gas line would be around 3/4“ on the outside. Make sure it’s plugged off if not being used. If the dents warrant repair and aren’t too bad, usually a ‘paintless body shop’ can do that, otherwise the panel would need replacement. I have a document on repair/replacement of panels if you need that info. (bye and bye, at some point I will have written an entire repair manual) For chairs, try Ikea? Closet door, hmmm, try Lowes-Home-Depot…. For stoves/ovens,AC’s,furnaces,awnings,stabilizer jacks, try dometic.com. They handle all the original equiptment that will be closest to your needs.
Unfortunately, I’m the last of the Mohicans, (pardon the pun), for info regarding these units. Airstream can do many repairs but lack the mind-set that was used in the S/S’s. If you have any questions on anything concerning these units I’ll be happy to help.
danny/kyle The best place that I’ve seen for locating parts and new stuff is at dometic.com. Whenever we ordered new items,we went through Dometic. They always had replacement parts as well.
Happy shopping! kyle
Well, you’re fortunate to have all of the individual letters intact. That will allow you to copy them pretty easy. If it were me, since from what I know all the letters and stickers were thrown out in ’96,) I’d make permanent casting molds out of aluminum and market them the letters, for profit, of course. There seems to quite a market out there for some of these parts. You’ll be able to duplicate the material fairly well using resin that is used for making those clear paper weights and adding the color. Depending on how creative you want to be, you can actually add glow in the dark stuff as well. With all the newer machining tools we have now, it will be pretty easy to remove the wanted letters to get molds made from them. Originally they were self adhesive, but in repair we always used a very good quality contact cement that was impervious to UV light. I have been told that Mr. Patterson has some letters. As for as the vacuum system, I’m going to assume that your are referring to the water supply system. If that’s the case, it was originally a pressurized tank, under the roadside bed, that had a little air pump to pump-up the tank. This type of system had some flaws. chiefly, it caused the tanks to develop leaks, also it was unsanitary, and the pumps were prone to failure. To fix the leaks that I’m pretty sure that you will have, simply scrub the area well with a stainless steel brush ’til the metal is well buffed, then apply JB Weld, the original kind. to the area,extending outward by a good inch around the hole. This works equally well for both s/s and alum. tanks. To fix the initial problem of no water flow, disconnect the air pump and block it’s fitting at the tank, then install a decent water pump from the tank’s out let to the system to the system’s cold water supply. When you get a look at this you’ll see how simple it really is. And to think, we charged $75 an
hour for this! But in my defense we we worth every penny of the labor charges when it came to the skins, modifications,chassis rebuilding, retro-fitting etc… By the way, I’m in MI now, closer than you thought, hugh? The last S/S factory was in Chino, CA., and your unit was built in S. El Monte, CA.. I have serviced many of the S/S’s of every year, and I would think it’d be funny if you found a service order in your unit that it showed up in Chino.
Keep in touch, and I’m glad to answer your questions. danny or kyle (I used both names for many years)
P.S.: Your unit looks great! Oh, and for plastics, I was always using S&W Plastics in Chino, CA. Also, to remove the letters without damage, use a piece of guitar wire, or similar, and slip it behind the letter and using a downward sawing motion saw it off while keeping things wet with lacquer thinner or nail polish remover.
Yeah, we did do hi-pot tests on all new units. In all those yrs only one failed (at the 600 V test) It was delayed for delivery for a couple days. The problem was found to be that a drill caused a knick in the sheath of a 110 lead. It was really not a problem, but we were that very careful.I personally did all the Hi-Pot tests and with the one incident have never seen any unit fail. Of course we (I) did the 900V test as well.
On the subject of electrical diagrams…. AS far as I before 1987 there were no drawing and with the exception of a customer requesting a schematic for the units built in the late 80’s-90’s we threw them out when the trailer left. A good rule of thumb for tracing wiring is to know that it all begins at the breaker/fuse panel, and will be run on the shortest possible route to the first point on the circuit and on the the next point, and so on. All S/S’s and Airstreams were wired so that the wire use was as efficient as possible. That means the wires, as they came off of the panel box, would be run as if you were laying on the floor of the unit, looking up and imagined the shortest possible path, even if it were to run up over into the ceiling and back down to another point. This was done, not out of stinginess or to save weight, but more to lessen the over-all load on each circuit. No wires were run under the floor line. To find out the actual scheme of a circuit, the fastest way is to turn off all breakers or unscrew all fuses for the load circuits, keeping the main breaker/fuse on. Next, turn on one circuit, and go thru the unit with something that can be plugged in and mark each plug that has power in it.Turn off all power going into the trailer. Now go ahead and pull all the covers off of the outlets that belong to that circuit, remove the receptical, and unscrew all the black wires that feed into the recepticals. To make this go much faster it would, at this point be a good idea to use a continuity buzzer/light unit.Or, use an electrical meter set on ohms with long wires taped to the leads to see when you find continuity between two outlets the buzzer/light will alert you, or the meter will read (0).This will tell you in what order the circuit is run inside the trailer. To find out which is the first receptical on that particular circuit, with all power off going into the breaker/fuse panel box, and the black wires inside still being exposed, touch on end of your lead wire from the tester to the black wire that comes from the breaker/fuse for the circuit that you are currently checking on, then go inside of the trailer and the black wire for the circuit you checking out will set off your tester/meter. This will be #1 on that circuit, and the rest is now obvious. This method can be employed for the 12 volt circuits as well, with a few exceptions. In some cases you will have to use your imagination.
On repairing/changing flooring…. The S/S’s and Steamlines were furnished from the inside. This means that if you want to replace the flooring or get access from the top, to say replace a tank or change/repair the flooring plywood, it can be done from the inside. All the walls and furniture are screwed in from inside the unit. If you want to replace the entire flooring, it gets a little harder if it needs to be replaced under the aluminum structure under the skeleton. To do it very proper, one would need to remove the divider walls and anything that’s fastened to the walls and floor, tear out the carpet/linoleum then the wall material that is fastened to the skeleton. Then remove the screws that hold the bottom of the skeleton to the chassis that has the flooring between. Then you be able to use a skill saw, set at the depth of the floor, so the blade doesn’t hit the steel chassis, to make cuts that allow for removal of the bad flooring. You will need to find a way to jack the skeleton up to get the new flooring in, usually the outside materials will do this for you. Remember, you can’t replace the entire width of the floor in one piece, so you need to figure a place to make the dividing cut that won’t cause a weak area for walking on later. And, of course, screw it back down with good quality self tapping screws at least as wide and long as the originals, bigger is better.
From time to time, I am asked what a unit is worth. Generally the going price is between $600-$1000 per foot. This is dependent, of course on the condition and amenities of the unit. (the pricing naturally discludes the ’88-’95 yrs, which are far more) Some purists may suggest the adding such things as modern A/C’s, sat receivers, microwaves and such reduce the value, but I say, HOW?. Happy dealin’……