Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Been way too long....

Hello fellow bloggers and others,

It has been sooo long since my last posting I feel like a virgin again.

Life has been keeping me busy and lots has happened with the Safari. After my last post I got myself into high gear and cleaned everything inside and out and got ready for a first voyage. I planned a trip to Big Sur over the New Years holiday. My dear wife, Britt helped pack and get everything ready while I made certain that the Safari was going to be comfortable for us. I didn't want to use the furnace due to several cautions from experienced friends (thanks!) so I packed a small 110v oil filled room heater into the streetside closet, along with a couple of folding wooden chairs and a small table about 24" by 36" with folding legs, that I made from an old ping pong table. I got all of the curtains back up. When I bought the Safari the curtains were in tatters and it was not clear to anyone where they all went, so I sorted that out finally and made note of the sizes and locations of all of them for future replacement. I have hemp and silk fabric to make new ones from, eventually (thanks, Britt). So for now I just hung the tatters up again for some privacy and warmth. I bought a greywater tote and a shower curtain, a carpet runner to keep the toes warm, a couple of stainless martini "glasses" from Anymountain, and numerous other things to pamper us for a few days.

I made reservations at Fernwood Resort, which is a small campground in the Los Padres National Forest. Their claim to fame is an albino redwood tree (not impressed). I chose them because they were close to Carmel and have a central location to access mountain trails and beaches and they are close to a few local restaurants. I don't remember how much they took us for, but I sometimes block unpleasant memories like that. I faintly remember opening my wallet and turning to look the other way...

I guess nobody goes to Big Sur to save money, though.

I had been trying to track down a leak that was showing up as a puddle on the floor just at the front of the jalousie windows, by the door. The subfloor was rotten there from a persistent leak, so I got on the ladder and taped all of the seams above the window with masking tape and then I filled all of them with a good amount of vulkem. I hit a few rivets that looked questionable too, just to be sure I got the leak sealed. I also found a very small stress fracture in the skin right at the top front corner of the same windows. It was an obvious leak, so I tried using Vulkem on it but it just wouldn't seal well and I suspect the flexing of travel would open it up again anyway. I ended up putting a temporary patch of aluminum tape over the crack. This will have to be dealt with again later. I put some water on the repair and it didn't leak, so I figured it was good to go. WRONG!

It rained the next evening so I went out to double check the repair, and there it was again, the damn puddle. It had rained pretty hard, which is saying a lot if you know Boulder Creek. I found water coming out at the top corner of the upper jalousie window inside. It was a steady drip even after the rain had stopped for a while, not a good sign. I went up top again and resealed everything I did before and then some. I went all the way to the top seam on the roof and I sealed the rail for the awning. I also sealed all of the way around the windows. If I couldn't find this leak I was going to seal it by chance! This was the day before we left and I knew I wouldn't have another chance to get to it until we returned. The weather forecast was favorable.

When we picked up the Airstream from the previous owner(Hi Todd!) we didn't take the time to stop and check out the rigging with the WD hitch on a known flat surface, so this time we made note to do so before going far.

We set off at about nine in the morning. The first challenge was getting out of our driveway. There's a picture of it in my first post. check it out, and you'll see why. It took a very long time to get it into the driveway when we first brought it home and I was anticipating the same or similar this time. At least I have gravity working for me this time. I pulled it down the driveway forwards and then backed it it down the 11 foot wide curving lane in the left of that photo, which is about three hundred feet long and has a hillside on the side you can't see at all, and a row of redwood logs on the side you can see. It was intimidating, to say the least. I backed down about 75' and got discombobulated and had to pull forward to realign everything. The second try was like a dream; it was as though the Airstream knew where it was going and pulled me along with it. I rolled right down the center of that narrow lane and it felt like I had room to spare. Whew!

Going down the rest of our street isn't much better, but at least I was going forward now. We got to the bottom of our road without any further issues and made our way to highway 9, which is a two lane road. We proceeded to the next town, Ben Lomond, and pulled over and adjusted the bars on the hitch which needed to be pulled up one additional link on each side to level it out. It seemed fine before that, but after the adjustment it was great. It felt solid and tracked right behind our Tacoma. It was like it wasn't even there. I found that I can leave the front and rear curtains open and i'm able to see right through to whoever is following behind. Very cool!

So we cruised down highway 9 to highway 1 South and went straight through to the campground. Not a long drive by any means, but enough to get some valuable towing experience. The entrance to the campground was a sharp left turn across highway 1 and it went down so immediatly that I couldn't see if there was a road there or not, but there was a sign so I went for it. It was a narrow one lane road, just like home. It goes down steeply for about a tenth of a mile to the tiny old schoolhouse that they use for a park headquarters. We were fortunate to get a spot close to the entrance, because if we had to go back into the park further it was a really sketchy road and I didn't want to drag my ass over one of their potholes. I hate leaving parts behind me on the road. I've had old Volkswagens before, and I don't want to go there again.

The park was okay after getting to know it a little. There is a general store, a restaurant and a tavern that has live music on occasion. We spent New Years Eve watching some local talent and drinking Cazadores Margaritas until we could just barely stumble back to the Safari. It was a kind of good time, down-home New Years. We met a lot of local color there also. Very nice folks.

The day we were leaving it started to rain a little early in the morning and I noticed the dreaded drip had returned and soaked the back corner of the mattress. We made it through without getting wet though, so I considered it a sign of things to come. This Airstream is going to be taken apart and fixed!

The trip home was uneventful, as was the second try at backing the Safari up into our driveway. It took me just one try this time, and I didn't even have to unhitch and turn around like I did the first time. My neighbors were out watching, and I think I really blew their minds. It took me an hour and a half the first time, and five minutes this time!

Shortly after we got home I started photographing everything in or on the Safari as documentation to rebuild from. Then I started taking it apart one thing at a time, taking pictures as I went. It took me one full day and a couple of evenings to remove the bulk of the interior woodwork and refer, oven, water tank and gauchos. The bathroom took me two days or so. That plumbing was a pain in the ass. I finally took a hacksaw to some of it because I couldn't get to a fitting under the sink. It's all going to be replaced with Pex anyway. It took another full day to remove the interior aluminum panels. The front fiberglass endcap took an evening to drill out and remove, and the rear one took about the same. This is all with only myself for company. Carrying out the bath tub and the endcaps was interesting! My garage is only three feet from the door of the Airstream and I had to walk out with each piece held over my head, and turn and twist them as I went through the doorway. I cornered my 23 year old son one day and he helped me get the refer out and into our carport.

I have gotten farther than this but can't update all at once. I'll try to keep it more regular, if possible. The next post will cover the removal of the rest of the interior and my trip to New Mexico to the Four Corners Unit of the WBCCI's Vintage Restoration Rally!(Hi Tim!)

I hope you enjoy!