Saturday, March 27, 2010

More Pre-Ownership Pictures

One of the points of contention in the purchase and bargaining for the Ambassador a couple of years ago, was the stove. When we made our original bid on the Airstream, the owner said "what just for the stove? It's a brand new stove!" Well, as we were to eventually find out, the stove was brand new in the 1980's!

Little did we know at the time, but the someone had purchased a new stove for the Ambassador, but had never even installed it. Luckily, it didn't completely fall out going down the road, but it could have really gone flying if it had!
Overall, the kitchen doesn't look too bad, but as we tore it apart, we found that the window above the sink had the worst leaks and had really done quite a bit of damage to the countertops and wall next to it.Here you can see just some of the really bad damage that was done to the woodwork from the bad air vents that were piped through the Airstream, under the California trailer code. Unfortunately, the seal around the vents were not tight, so water poured all the way around the pipe and into the camper. Also, the pipes at the top had no covers on them, so rain poured into the pipes too.
This is the wall between the kitchen sink and the driver's side bed. I was quite excited that the tv tray was still in the Airstream and worked. It swings out into the aisle so the tv can be watched in both the living area and the bedroom. We have yet to reinstall it, as with the technology of today, there is not much of a need of that big of a shelf for a tv, if we ever put one in. Flat screens go in so well on a wall without the shelving.
Here's a shot of the passenger's side bed. It's even got it's original bed cover and mattresses. Unfortunately, there had been a lot of flooding and animals on these beds. We threw them out first thing. If you had seen the dogs that were freely in the Airstream, you would have done the same.
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Bench Progress

This weekend was spent making progress on the new benches in the Amabassador. After much discussion and disagreement as to the mechanics of this project, we finally just had to dig in.  We have found the front goucho to not be big enough for the two of us. 

Even though it was adventureous to try to use it last summer, we are over the 1,2,3 turn together routine all night.  Unfortunately, I don't turn at all and Mr. Right turns every 1/2 - 1 hour, so someone was uncomfortable either way.  We are determined, though to sleep in the same bed!  The other issue we had with this Airstream was the size of the table.  I know that was the big thing was to have elegant dining for two, but for a family of six, it just didn't cut it.  We really enjoyed sitting around the table in our Clipper, so we've been determined to figure a bigger table out.
Here is the framing of the bench on the driver side.  We made it deeper than the other side, to make it even with the kitchen cupboard.  For me, it means more storage!The passenger side of the bench is framed in and has the front in place.  These benches will loose us two drawers, but will gain us some storage.  We plan to use the space under the goucho for rarely needed items. This side of the bench will be for all the shoes that we have.  If every person has a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of sandles, we have a dozen shoes in our camper!  We're hoping this will solve some of the clutter, while still making them handy next to the door.  Plus, the dirt won't be dragged into the camper.

On to the staining - my department!  Fortunately, it was a beautiful day for it!The bases are installed. I think they look beautiful.  The top is cut, but not done yet.  I'll give you more on that as it gets done!There is a little ledge on each front edge of the bench for the table to drop into.  We have the pedistals and the table top purchased and ready to go to the next step.  Unfortunately, we have a busy week and rain in the forcast for the weekend!  Stay tuned for more soon!

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Friday, March 19, 2010


I was doing some remembering where we have come from on our renovation project of the 1963 Ambassador and getting together a digital album of our progress, and thought that I would share with you what things looked like before we started.  The pictures that I will be sharing were taken over Labor Day weekend 2007, before we were able to purchase the Airstream.  We went out on a whim to where a friend had said she had seen it.  The owner of the vehicle was nowhere to be found, but the Ambassador was open, so we went in (it was on the side of the road in a junkyard) and checked it out.  We also took several pictures, so we could dream and wheel and deal on it.
This is a look from the front to the back bathroom.  Please note that some brilliant soul put in blue shag carpet.  The shag was so high that you couldn't open any of the bottom drawers under the bed!  Seems like a waste to me!Ok - I have to say that after going several years of camping without any toilet or tub, I was quite excited with the toilet area and took several pictures.  Yeah for us, the toilet worked!  Mr. Right keeps saying that he is going to replace it and put in a normal (if you can call it that) size camper toilet, so it is higher for him, and therefore more resembles the throne that he enjoys at home!  For my part, I'm afraid this adjustment, just may make me need a step stool to get on, or have my feet dangling!So I was so thrilled with the throne, I had to take a picture of the toilet paper, too!  God only knows how old that toilet paper is or where it's been!This is the louvered window by the door, where someone thought they could break in.  I would say they weren't all that successful, as they only got through one of the pieces of glass and the original rivets were still there!
And of course, the front goucho is still here!  Many of the older ones, don't have the goucho still in them, so we knew we had a decent find.  Please note the matching blue curtains that someone specially ordered for the Airstream from Sears.  A couple of the originals were in unopened packages on one of the shelves.

Hope you enjoy the before pictures.  I have many more to share, so please stay tuned.  You might want to "follow" to the right, so you don't miss anything!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shiny Propane Tanks

Today, was a beautiful day, so I was on a mission to get some spray painting done.  I have a bunch of things to spray paint, but thought I would do my part to get the Airstream on the road soon! 

We have the original Propane tanks from the 1963 Ambassador, but they have the old valves that can't be refilled.  After looking at new ones this size and finding them to be $150 each.  After looking a little further, my dh found the new valves for the tanks for $23 each.  Now all we had to do is make them look a little more presentable.

Have I said before that spray paint is a wonderful thing?  Well, the kids sanded the bad spots down, I primed it and then used Rustoleum Aluminum Spray Paint.
Here are the results.  They almost look better than the Airstream at this point, at least from this angle.  Just a view from far away.  It will be nice to not switch our small tanks back and forth from our grill at home to the Airstream everytime that we leave.
The other thing that my dh got done today was to shuffle the Airstreams around.  I guess this is the downfall of having a fleet is that it's never easy to figure out where they go.  We had stored the '53 Clipper besidePenny Pinching Party - The Thrifty Home the garage in the front of the house for the winter and put the '63 Ambassador in the back yard.  We are working on the '63, so we wanted it out to get it ready to go for our trip.  The '53 is going to retire for awhile in the back yard.  I have plans of making a large yard ornament and planting flower beds around it.  It will be a fun little place for the kids to have sleepovers, until we decide we need it again.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Planning a Trip on the Cheap

Most people are quite astonished when they hear that we go on extended vacations (for working folks , two weeks is a long time to leave work.) with all of our children and the dog. In fact, most of our friends locally think we are crazy and often comment that it must be nice to have so much money. What they don’t understand is that we go on the cheap. They also miss the opportunity to go on vacations with family that they never dreamed possible. I want to share today with you some of the things that we do in advance of our vacation to plan our trip on the cheap.

The first thing that we do as a family is dream. I know, this sounds crazy, but for us it works. We may come up with several options that we really want to do or show the kids in the near future. Now, this is where we tend to be a little different than most young families. Our top destinations are not Disneyland and water parks. We love to focus our trips on historical places and National Parks. We want to share our love of our country, so that is our focus. Early on, we realized that if this was our focus, the cost was greatly lowered in the end. I’m not saying that you can’t do any of the waterparks, or Disney type activities on a trip-on-the-cheap, but if the focus isn’t around that, it can be a a great addition.

After we’ve made our decision on where to go, then we go on the internet and research the area. For example, this year, we are headed to visit relatives in Washington State, so we contacted the Chamber of Commerces in that area and requested all and any free materials we can have from there. We will try to come up with some stops along the way to relieve us all from the dreary trips, so we also request materials from those areas also. For this trip, we plan a stay over on the return trip at Custer State Park on our way back over the Memorial Day Weekend, so we don’t have to driving in traffic.

At this point, we save money for our vacation. We figure out what we will need to go, not including the food we bring with us. With the prospect of gas going up to over $3 a gallon this spring and summer, the majority of our budget does go to gas. We also account for parking fees, eating out, and any extra entertainment that we want to do. This trip is nice, because our family is planning many activities for us based on local activities, such as clamming, fishing, hiking at Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens and many other fun, but cheap activities.

The next thing we do is pick some main activities (OK, it’s a little more dreaming) that look like fun or what we might enjoy doing. We also pick a big splurge that we all really want to do. On our trip to Glacier National Park a few years ago, we all wanted to go horse back riding in Glacier. We set aside the money just for that purchase (what we didn’t realize was that their horses were too small for my dh, our two youngest were too young, so only two of us could go!) We’ve learned not to set this one in stone, but maybe have a back-up plan. We went out to dinner in Glacier and had fresh trout from the lake as an exchange for our horseback riding. We all enjoyed being able to eat out somewhere, we might never have eaten otherwise (McD’s tends to be a better option with kids) and our back sides were spared the pain!

At this point, we have gotten to the nitty gritty of trip planning on the cheap. These were the more dreamy things we do to go on vacation with a family, but now comes the not so fun, but well worth the effort planning. We begin to do tune-ups to the truck and the Airstream alike. I also do extensive menu planning and clothing planning. In our case, there always seems to be something that we need to do to improve to the Airstream. (If you don’t believe me, see my honey-do-list on our blog!) All of this might seem like a lot to go through, just to go on vacation, but we have found that not only does our trip cost us less than most, we enjoy it more, because we don’t have to worry about things breaking down, and we all have fun because we took part in the preparations. Also, I think one of the most rewarding parts of the trip is the anticipation of going.

Stay tuned for more on our trip preparations, and of course our final adventures out West!

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Met Monday - Between Naps on the Porch
Make it for Monday - Cottage Instincts

Monday, March 8, 2010


Last year in the rush of getting our newest Airstream on the road, I didn't take pictures of the end and finished products of what we had done.  Then came winter, and who wants to go outside and take pictures?  Now that the weather is taking a turn for the better and the snow is melting, we are getting out to our beloved project and getting it back into order for camping as soon as possible.  So today, I am sharing the plumbing.  To the gentleman that asked more specific questions last year, I apologize for the delay!

This is the underside of the kitchen sink plumbing.  I think the question that was asked, was how did we used the PEX plumbing on the sink drains.  For the drain and the vent, but for the clean cold and hot water, we used the PEX.  Here's the PEX behind the drains.  On of the PEX travels along the floor along the wall to the tank under the goucho.  The hot water PEX travels the same way to under the bed in the middle where the hot water heater is.Here is a picture of the drain pipe.  The white elbow is the pipe that goes to the vent.  Originally, we had it piped out the roof, but on one of our ah-ha moments, we realized that we could used a house construction in wall vent cover, so we capped it off next to the bunk bed.  Eventually, we will probably vent it under the sink, but right now the damage is done with the hole in the wall.Finally, the PEX was also used  for the toilet.  We did learn a hard lesson and added the main in water source tube to have a valve that could be turned off when we are out of the Airstream.  Unfortunately, on our second day at WBCCI International in Madison last year, the tube that my husband has used on the toilet burst and we flooded the Airstream.  (The tube was not PEX, or the wrapped hose that you now see coming in - an effort to save money that didn't pay off!)  The PEX is the blue tubing and the wrapped plumbing tubing is the clear looking stuff.

One of my favorite features of the toilet is the kitchen sprayer for flushing out the toilet.  I'm not sure why we don't have this great feature in our house bathrooms, but it is so nice to be able to get the toilet clean without touch it!  I think that Airstream was extremely genious in this invention.  It does seem to be overkill, since the toilet can be flushed with water, but I made sure that it was put back in on the redo!
I didn't include the pictures of the bathroom sink plumbing, but that is similar to the kitchen, in that we used regular plumbing for the drainage and PEX for the water in.