Tim and Caroyl's 1964 Overlander - Gracie

This is the story of Tim, Caroyl and their beautiful 1964 Airstream Overlander named “Gracie”. Tim and Caroyl raised their children in Arizona where they spent 23 years of their lives. During that time they owned three pop-up campers; as the kids got older and life got busy, however, they found they camped less. But Tim always had dreams of spending their retirement years traveling in an RV.  A layoff for Tim made those last few years of work life a little complicated as they found themselves moving to Georgia, Saudi Arabia and Simi Valley, CA before returning to Georgia. 

But, as the vision of retirement was in sight, they set out on a journey to find their perfect recreational vehicle.  They started their search at the LA RV show where they spent all day in search of something they’d love. They had never paid much attention to Airstreams, but Caroyl remembers how she fell in love with how light and bright they were. She liked how they didn’t look the same as everything else. A new Airstream seemed beyond their budget so they started researching vintage Airstreams; they had a good tow vehicle which could off-set the cost of the trailer.  A friend referred them to an Airstream restorer he knew of and they coordinated the purchase of Gracie through him.  There is both good and bad to that connection.  The “good”?  They love what Gracie the Airstream has become. The “bad”? That first part of Airstream ownership was full of disappointments.

Take a look at these "Before" Pictures.

With a promise of several months of work, they found that 15 months later there was very little accomplished and the work being done was not up to par. They decided a rescue mission was needed and they set off to reclaim their baby. At that point, they’d put too much money and energy into her to walk away. They drove from Georgia, picked up their Airstream. The restorer had accomplished a few things in that time - she was stripped and polished; her axles, flooring and subfloor were completed, she had new safety glass, fans and A/C. Not enough, however, for 15 months worth of work!

They drove Gracie straight to RetroRV in Phoenix, Arizona; there they left the trailer, parked their tow vehicle at a friends house and flew back to Georgia.  They had a fabulous experience with RetroRV - just three weeks later they flew back to pick up Gracie - she had all new plumbing and electrical. They were particularly excited about the installation of the Green Pipe plumbing which is freeze proof and can be connected to standard household parts and fixtures. They drove back to Georgia with a trailer that was completely empty except for the original bathtub, new tanks, water heater and toilet. They were ready to get to work.


Fellow Airstream Addict, Tim McNutt, has also been tremendously helpful and a true professional during their renovation. He polished their gorgeous propane tanks and several patches that had been previously installed, but never polished. He installed all of their appliances and an entirely new propane system including new copper lines, valves, etc. He built custom rock guards; and, he even drove down to their home to help with several issues that they felt unable to address themselves.

Take a look at those shiny tanks!

Take a look at those shiny tanks!

But, with all of that said, these two put a huge amount of their own sweat equity into this project! I followed their work on the Airstream Addicts Facebook page and what never ceased to amaze me were the projects Caroyl would take on - woodworking, sewing….and not just standard projects - she has tackled some of the things all of us wish Airstream would think of in the design of their trailers. 

My most pressing question for Caroyl, “How in the heck did you learn how to do all of that?”  The answer was not what I anticipated.   After 15 years of living in their house in Arizona, she decided that she wanted to tackle a few home improvement projects, It wasn’t about “keeping up with the Jones’” as much as loving the space they were in. They didn’t want to owe money on the projects they took on, so being a Naval Reserve Officer, Caroyl took on a few extra weeks of "Annual Training" work. Tim, who had been paying extra on the mortgage each month, reduced that payment until they built up the savings.   With some money in the bank, patience and hard work, they would have a new kitchen. She bought the book, “Building Traditional Kitchen Cabinets” by Jim Tolpin and Caroyl taught herself how to build quality cabinetry. For under $5000 they had a new kitchen. What happened when they bought their house in Georgia? Well, much of the same…..if she could do it once, she could do it again. Once Gracie arrived home, there was no project they didn’t feel they could tackle.  Building the bulkheads (interior wood walls) was the biggest challenge. The original restorer threw everything from the interior away without asking them. This made making templates from scratch rather tricky. Except for one bulkhead, all of the wood used was 1/2 inch maple plywood. They knew they wanted enough structure to build bunk beds for their grandkids.

Let’s take a look at some of the amazing projects they’ve accomplished. Caroyl doesn’t sketch out a lot of detailed plans - she says she feels like the statue “The Thinker.” She’ll just sit in the space and create a vision - pondering all of the details until she comes up with a solution. Everything in Gracie is custom - each cabinet, wall, drawer, table, bed and closet was built by Caroyl and Tim.  And, it doesn’t stop there…..the cushions and bunk were upholstered by Caroyl and the curtains and throw pillows sewn.

Airstream, Inc. should see this living area. The beauty and attention to detail is amazing. The banquette serves many roles - seating at the dinette table, storage and youth bed. A small walnut shelf was shaped to fit under the window to create a more functional use of space. But, the table is the piece I could not take my eyes off when I first saw it. Caroyl glued maple, cherry and walnut into a large “blank”, then took it to their local cabinet shop where they used their drum sander to smooth and flatten, and cut the blank to the finished size, but in two pieces. She then fit hinges to connect the two pieces and varnished the wood. When fully extended, the table is 26” (W) x 47” (L). She designed maple legs that fold up and a drawer underneath to support the half that flips out and create extra storage. And, do you ever feel like you have to slither your way onto the cushion to sit at your dinette table? Their’s moves side to side along the bottom edge of the window sill making access to the banquette easier for adults. Sweet!


Quite possibly the most functional table in an Airstream.........

The floor is 1/2" engineered hardwood flooring with a hand scraped hickory surface layer. And, the cabinet face frames and door frames are solid walnut with 1/4" maple plywood panels. This style door is called frame and panel. Youngdale hinges were used throughout.

Custom Spice Rack and Cutting Boards Work Perfectly!

Custom Spice Rack and Cutting Boards Work Perfectly!


Because they love traveling with their children and grandchildren, the sleeping arrangements were also well thought out. They can use the beds as twins, convert the twins to a king, if desired, and they built a bunk over Caroyl’s bed. (Caroyl thinks she has Tim convinced to build a second bunk too.)

Tim’s bed is 76" x 31" and has hidden storage for fishing rods, or other long narrow camping gear. The front edge is supported by a walnut face frame, and the water pump is accessible via a door that drops down to utilize the space in front of it for storage. Accessing the two 6V AGM batteries under Caroyl’s bed was also something that needed to be taken into consideration. 


They wanted to be able to transition the twins to a King bed if desired. They ordered 500 pound drawer slides from www.wwhardware.com (Woodworker's Hardware) and you can see from the photos how Caroyl’s bed can be extended across the aisle to butt up against Tim’s twin.  Using a purchased piece of foam which they upholstered, they can transform it into a bed that is 76” wide X 88” long. The foam can easily be stored on the bunk or left at home if not in use.


The bunk, which is 24” x 72” is supported by galvanized steel pipes and maple u-shaped cleats. With the extra fabric they had from the other cushions, they created a bunk any grandchild would love to sleep on. Buttons underneath the bunk and button holes along the back edge of the sleep sack allow the bedding to stay in place. There is also a pouch in the sleep sack to to hold a pillow. A waterproof pad is positioned under the sleep sack and a pool noodle acts as a small safety edge. Everything can be removed and washed. The youngest granddaughter, nicknamed “Kitty” traveled with them recently - Caroyl found the perfect fabric for her sleep sack at Joann’s.


Take a look at the features in the bath area - two wardrobes, refurbished tub, an adorable port-hole mirror, towel rack, a custom shower curtain and rod. Caroyl also figured out a way to provide a changing area and the necessary privacy for their bathroom. The larger wardrobe's door can open up and, with the locking mechanism she built, remain closed.  Brilliant! 

Gracie was named for Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, US Navy - Caroyl and Tim are both retired Navy Reserve Captains, each having served over thirty years.

Tim and Caroyl - you have created an amazing space. When I look at Gracie’s “before” pictures, I am shocked at the difference. I hope you can relax with family and friends and enjoy all that you’ve accomplished. She’s a beauty!  Thank you for sharing her with us.


Mario and Kim's 1962 Overlander - Marilyn

Owning vintage trailers is nothing new to Mario and Kim - in fact, the Airstream is their third. Kim had wanted a vintage Airstream forever, even before she knew that vintage trailers were "a thing."  They decided to buy their first vintage trailer after realizing that when they needed to quickly evacuate their home, they had no easy place to go with their kids and sweet Labrador who was blind from diabetes. So, they bought a 1966 Cardinal for $400.  It was super cute and they realized that Mario had been hiding some pretty awesome carpentry skills.  What happened next? Kim didn't stay away from The Classifieds; and just a few weeks later they bought their second trailer, a 1965 Shasta. They joke that overnight they became "those neighbors." You know - the ones with all of the projects in their driveway?!?

Kim had been patiently waiting for the day they'd be Airstream owners; and, when Mario purchased a new truck (AKA tow vehicle big enough to tow something really great) she laughed and said, "You know what this means...." Kim was on a mission to get something bigger and silver; her dream was finally coming true.

Surprisingly, they found a 1962 Overlander in The Classifieds in a nearby town only a few minutes from their home. A young family had purchased it with visions of restoring it, but they just couldn't take on a project like that at that point in their lives. There were several low ball offers made by people who wanted to purchase the Overlander in order to "flip" it; but, the couple was so much happier selling it to Mario and Kim who were going to use it to make memories with family and friends. Structurally sound, no dents, cute twin beds, bathroom in tact, and all the original paperwork, they brought her home and named her Marilyn.  Why Marilyn, you ask? Well, she's got "curves for days" and she was built in California the same month and year that Marilyn Monroe passed away.

Take a look at her the day she arrived at her new home.


Being true to Marilyn's vintage roots, they have done their best to preserve what they could of the original and restore or rebuild things in a manner that is authentic to the time period in which she was built. 

Mario repaired flooring, cabinetry and beds to ensure they were safe and travel worthy; he built a new couch that triples as a lounge, a bed, and storage. He also had to build, from scratch, part of the kitchen cabinetry and walls to match the existing.  They added a refrigerator and a microwave; they chose not to have a stove. They prefer to cook and eat outside when possible. The water tanks and lines were all professionally replaced and they replaced all the sinks and faucets. They sanded, painted and/or stained the entire interior, changed out light fixtures and laid laminate flooring. Check out these before and after's. 

The shades for the windows were purchased at Ikea.

The shades for the windows were purchased at Ikea.



Marilyn's countertops are Formica laminate in Dogbone White - a retro pattern and style. Kim tagged their renovated cabinets and counters in a post - Formica liked them so much, they featured a picture of them. How cool is that?


One of Kim's favorite things.... her broken old cooler - a $10 find because it is cracked inside.  But that didn't matter to her.  In the trailer it's a fantastic coffee table and storage for the extra blankets they need to make up the gaucho bed.  It can be used as a side table by camping chairs outside. The opportunities are endless for this repurposed find.

In the bathroom, they tiled the floor with white hexagon tiles. They were hoping to preserve the fabulous aqua colored shower, but they weren't able to remove the stains from the shower floor. So, they painted the shower floor, purchased a new shower head and cleaned up the original walls - a perfect compromise to freshen it up but preserve the integrity of the space.  When is it truly evident that you are restoring a vintage trailer? When you ask for a new toilet for your birthday. Yep! That's exactly what Kim did.

Mario and Kim live in Utah and have many beautiful camping spots within a relatively close range of home. Kim also likes to occasionally turn Marilyn into a Flamingo Cocktail Lounge;  it's not uncommon to find that Mario has delivered the trailer to a local campsite for "girls weekend." So fun!!

Kim jokingly says she wants to be buried in her beautiful Airstream someday. Marilyn is amazing - we can see why you love her so much!  Thank you for letting us "peek inside." 









Phillip and Jamie's 1973 Sovereign - Betty the Airstream

In December 2017, Jamie won the heart of Airstream addicts everywhere when she posted the completed renovation of Betty the Airstream. There was an overwhelming interest in knowing how they transformed their 1973 31 foot Sovereign into the beauty it is, so I invited them to tell their story. And, luckily for the rest of us, they accepted. 

In 2014, Phillip and Jamie purchased their trailer from a local man in their tiny hometown. He clearly didn't understand the value of what he had and was offering it at a price they couldn't refuse. They weren't really looking at that moment, but knew that renovating an Airstream was something they wanted to do in the future. So, they decided to take advantage of the opportunity and became the proud owners of Betty the Airstream.

After purchasing Betty and doing some preliminary work, they put the Airstream project on hold. At the time, renovations were not something they had firsthand experience with. But that all changed when they purchased a home which was a major fixer-upper. With the help and guidance of Jamie's brother, who is a contractor, they became an integral part in the overhaul of their new home. Once they finished with that and got back to working on Betty they felt a lot more confident. Their trailer was not in horrible condition but it was dated and the 70's models weren't known for the best craftsmanship. The sofa and beds had been pulled out and replaced with cheap futons and a cobbled together booth.  So, they gutted it and got to work. They did contract out some of the work. They used P&S Trailer Service in Ohio for polishing as well as utility, tank and awning replacement.  But, that still left them with plenty to do!

Their beautiful cabinets were built by a local Amish cabinet maker; the attention to detail and storage capabilities are a site to be seen. But, even with his amazing skills, he admitted that working with the curves and details of the Airstream made it one of the most complicated projects he'd worked on. 


They installed a luxury vinyl plank flooring, resembling cork, which they purchased at Home Depot. And, new appliances in the kitchen were a must. They purchased both a cooktop and microwave/convection oven combo. The links to those products can be found here.


You have got to love their use of wallpaper! Jamie fell in love with it and I can see why. She and her dad wallpapered the exterior walls of the bathroom to give the space a pop of color and style. And, chalkboard paint on the fridge provides a fun place to express their personalities.

The boomerang pattern in their Formica dinette table and kitchen counters create a great retro vibe; both were crafted by a local laminate fabricator.


    For the interior paint, they prepped the vinyl coated walls with Crud Cutter and a whole lot of elbow grease; then they primed with Extreme Bond Primer from Sherwin-Williams and painted with a standard interior latex called Sherwin-Williams SuperPaint.

    The upholstery fabric they chose is Sunbrella and Betty's fabulous pillows and accessories were purchased around town at stores like Ikea, Target and World Market.

    Betty's Dinette Before

    Betty's Dinette Before

    The furniture Bases were all built with hinged storage underneath. And, the dinette converts to a bed.

    The furniture Bases were all built with hinged storage underneath. And, the dinette converts to a bed.

    If you look closely at the photo above, you'll see how Jamie transformed this now decorative instrument panel from it's original state.

    Betty's Instrument Panel.jpg

    Jamie got creative using a variety of window coverings. She purchased the aqua Spoonflower fabric and sewed curtains for several of the windows.  The grey shades are the TUPPLER blinds from Ikea which she riveted onto the skins.  And, she made the white shades from plain white blackout fabric sewn in the shape of the windows; she sewed tabs on them to hold them when they are rolled up. She riveted snaps onto the window frames to attach them.  Perfect idea to help her little guys sleep after a busy day exploring!


    In the bedroom, new bases were built and mattresses were cut using an electric knife to fit the curves of the walls. They created fabric covered headboards and hung adorable vintage looking light fixtures from Ikea.

    Futons in the bedroom were removed to create new twin beds and a cozy space for their boys.

    Futons in the bedroom were removed to create new twin beds and a cozy space for their boys.


    In the bathroom they replaced the toilet, sink faucet and shower faucet with new fixtures. The sink and shower pan were painted with a Rustoleum Tub & Tile paint kit. The tile walls were created using Smart Tile adhesive tile (https://www.thesmarttiles.com/en_us/).  They were a bit concerned because the Smart Tiles aren't made for truly steamy environments, but they read reviews that said the product worked in a shower that wasn't used much, so they went for it and so far so good!  The medicine cabinet is from Ikea and the adorable flamingo shower curtain was sewn by Jamie with Spoonflower fabric.


    There are so many fabulous little touches that make this trailer extra special. Jamie's dad built a teak shower mat as well as a custom cutting board to fit over their stove. And, Jamie painted Betty a personalized welcome mat.

    Jamie and Phillip, what you've created is really special. Thank you for sharing your space and accomplishments with the rest of us. Happy travels! You can follow Betty on Instagram @bettytheairstream. 

    Jamie and John's 1977 Sovereign - Ember Hairstream

    If I lived in Colorado, I may make my husband renew our wedding vows just so I could spend a day in this beautiful Airstream. Ember Hairstream, or "The Silver Beauty Queen", is a 1977 Sovereign that Jamie and John, with the help of family and friends, transformed into Jamie's dream mobile salon.

    Ember Exterior with Setup.jpg

    Jamie has a wonderful reputation as both a stylist and colorist and regularly found herself traveling to do hair and makeup for weddings and special events. In hopes of opening her own salon, she quickly realized that Denver's commercial lease rates were high and that a large number of salons in the area operate at a loss. That wasn't an option for Jamie. So, she got creative, started her search for an Airstream, checked with the state of Colorado to see if she could legally operate a mobile salon, and took a road trip to purchase a trailer in Casper, Wyoming.

    Ember Hairstream Before....

    Ember Hairstream Before....

    Three months pregnant, no experience with trucks, trailers, or renovations, you'd think the odds were stacked against them. But, with vision, determination and a deadline (a baby was coming!), they made the dream a reality.

    They purchased this silver beauty in February 2016, started renovating in June and finished in August, just 2 weeks before she delivered her baby.  They did a lot of the renovations themselves with the help of a friend who is a mechanic and carpenter. Jamie's father did much of the upholstery; he refurbished a vintage barber chair which is a perfect centerpiece to the space.

    They use the trailer for wedding hair, make up and barbering all over Colorado. Customers also love to use the Airstream for photos and as a dressing room. In Colorado, there are a lot of rustic, mountain, farm-style weddings that lack adequate facilities to get ready. They’ve really tapped into the “high-end, rustic, Colorado wedding” and they are having a blast!


    There are numerous highlights to their space; they are very proud of the upholstered shell. It is all the original interior aluminum that they wrapped in recycled leather.  Jamie's dad works in the upholstery/furniture business and he ordered the recycled leather material; they used over 50 yards to wrap the original aluminum walls. 

    They love the Colorado style barn wood wall.

    Ember Rustic Wall.png

    And, the beetle kill wood end cap, specially designed by one of their best friends, is a show stopper! He had no experience with Airstreams and they were completely stumped with what to do with the front end cap which was missing all the interior aluminum when they purchased it. He went right to work with drawings and calculations and completed the end cap in just 2 days!  The beetle kill end caps are a veneer wood that they soaked in water for 30-45 minutes after cutting to give them a slight bend. To secure them to the aluminum, they glued blocks of wood to the aluminum and after those dried, they used a nail gun to secure the bent veneer to the blocks of wood. They used a similar approach on the lower portions of the wall.

    Ember Lower Wall.jpg

    Their cabinets were purchased at Ikea and the laminate floor and adorable bathroom light fixture are from Lowes.

    Ember Long View.jpg
    Ember Chandelier.jpg

    They enjoyed being creative and brainstorming together how to layout the Airstream for both beauty and function. They have 3 work stations - the Vintage Barber Chair is used as a barbering station and is the perfect backdrop for photos of the bride getting ready. There is a space by the door that they use for styling hair and a space right behind that they use as a make-up station. The back of the Airstream, which was likely once the bedroom, is used to wash hair; it has lay-down shampoo chair and sink but they can also take out the chair and use that space as a dressing room for brides. 

    Ember Vintage Beverage Station.jpg
    Ember Make Up.jpg
    Ember Curtain.jpg
    Ember Wash Station.jpg

    Jamie gives a huge shout out to local interior designer Megan Daughtry of Second Nature Interior who she credits for being the "brains" behind the whole design. Megan spent countless hours scouring Airstream forums to learn how others had re-done their vintage Airstreams. 

    Ember Hairstream was part of over 30 weddings in 2017; it is exciting to think what the future holds. Thank you so much for sharing your gorgeous Airstream - it is truly a silver beauty queen!

    To learn more about Ember Hairstream visit www.emberhairstream.com or https://www.rockymountainbride.com/blog/urban-wedding-inspiration/

    Jim and Marlene's 1975 Land Yacht Sovereign - The Silver Moose

    Jim and his wife Marlene purchased their 1975 31’ Airstream Land Yacht Sovereign in 2015 when they happened upon what has become somewhat famously known in the Airstream community as The Silver Moose.  I wanted to know how it was they came to restore this vintage beauty; so Jim was kind enough to let me interview him and share their story.  

    Jim and Marlene have two sons; when their boys were young, they spent time camping and enjoying the outdoors in a pop-up camper.  But, when the opportunity arose to sell the pop-up and, for the same price, purchase a timeshare and travel with their boys, they took advantage of it.  Well, the boys are now grown and Jim and Marlene fell in love with camping all over again when Jim built a teardrop camper. But, the small size wasn’t ideal for the long term so they began their search for a larger trailer with more of the amenities of home. The two could not justify spending $45,000 for a trailer they would use a handful of times per year.  At that point, they weren’t necessarily on the lookout for an Airstream. But, an Airstream found them.  They saw a somewhat neglected Airstream for $4500 at a nearby dealership.  Someone had gutted the trailer and had taken it to the dealership to replace the electric jack, water heater and exterior lights. But, the owners abandoned it, never coming to pick it up. That worked in Jim’s favor - he offered the dealership $2000 and they accepted.  

    It was a big project - it smelled absolutely horrible, had mice damage, and the only thing left in the trailer was a rotted kitchen.  Jim is a home builder so he had both the knowledge and tools to take on this kind of project. They wanted a different layout than the original design, so they moved the bedroom to the rear, traded the twin beds for a queen and put the bathroom in the middle of the trailer.  After they finished gutting the trailer, they repaired the frame, installed a new subfloor as well as all new plumbing and electrical. With that finished, they had a blank slate. Their goal was to create the feel of a Northern Maine cabin. The interior birch skins are absolutely gorgeous and make this such a unique project. Jim used 1/4 inch birch throughout; bending the boards was initially a challenge. He broke a few and at $65 a sheet, that is definitely a bummer.  He learned that if he got them a little damp, it went much easier. 


    All of the maple cabinetry in the kitchen and living room is a combination of store bought and custom. Jim built the boxes and face frames for the cabinets since in an Airstream you are working around things like curved walls and wheel wells. And, he installed cabinet doors that they had purchased.  The warm wood tones make everything feel so inviting and I love the shallow cabinets he built in the living area that house small tables - such a great use of space.  The countertops are all Corian, which Jim built as well.


    For the cabinetry in the bedroom and bathroom, Jim repurposed doors he had leftover from other projects and built the cabinetry around them.  

    He purchased a new shower pan at Home Depot and built a custom shower using Formica kitchen countertops that looked like granite and fit their decor.  


    The floors throughout the main part of the trailer are snap together laminate with a foam rubber backing; and the floors in the entry and bathroom are a heavy linoleum (1/8 inch thick) that came in 18x36 inch tiles. They liked how the linoleum picked up the color of the laminate floor. They purchased all of the flooring at a discount flooring company for a total of $180. 

    The fireplace fits perfectly with their cabin feel. They thought about refurbishing the furnace, but even if they did, the furnace would still be forty years old. So, they opted for an electric fireplace.  They aren’t boondockers, so an electric heat source was perfectly fine for them.  They can also turn off the heat and just use the flame for ambiance. Nice!!!!

    Jim and Marlene’s son can be credited for the beautiful logo work. At college he had access to a laser cutter. Take a look at the Airstream and Silver Moose logos and speaker grills he created. He even made them custom coasters and salt/pepper carrier. The screen door protector was created locally at a friends shop.


    The couch is a futon they ordered on-line. The aluminum arched legs make it perfect to recreate the arch of the Airstream!  Jim credits his wife for the pillows, clock, shower curtain and all the great moose decor.  They even found moose shower curtain hooks; because they didn’t need all of them for such a small shower, he used them to customize a shelf in the living area.


    So, how did the Silver Moose get it’s name?  Playing around with names that just didn’t fit, one day Jim picked up a small silver moose keychain from a client. It hit him. He talked with his wife and they both knew that would be the name of their home away from home. 

    It is amazing that in his spare time he completed all of this in about 6 months. As a result of this project, the two realized that there was a need to save and repair vintage campers and thus, Silver Moose Restorations was born. Jim will repair, rebuild or remodel any vintage camper. You can find Silver Moose Restorations on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/silvermooserestorations/or visit www.silvermoose.me. Reach out to Jim directly at jroy187@aol.com.