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.

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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!

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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.

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Custom Spice Rack and Cutting Boards Work Perfectly!

Custom Spice Rack and Cutting Boards Work Perfectly!

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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    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.

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    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!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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. 

    Ron and Christine's 1976 Sovereign - American Silverstream's Airstream #1

    I am so excited to feature this next Airstream. One very early morning last month my alarm rang and when I went to shut it off I noticed I had an e-mail from Chris; I could not believe my eyes. The photos attached of their Airstream were stunning - what a great way to start my day! I know you'll feel the same after seeing what they've accomplished. Enjoy this beautiful transformation.

    Ron and Chris caught the Airstream bug about 3 years ago when Ron got the idea that he wanted to try his hand at renovating an Airstream. He loves to take old run down things and make them beautiful again and Chris has a passion for decorating - they are a perfect twosome.  Their home was once a 100 year old boarded up farmhouse - so they definitely had renovation experience.  

    A friend knew they were looking to purchase an old Airstream; when he saw one by the side of the road, he took down the phone number for them. The previous owner was living in it for a year and a half during the recession. It was in fine condition, but the smelly, dated 70's decor was not part of their vision. They purchased their 31 ft trailer, which they lovingly refer to as "Airstream 1", took it home and got to work.

    The renovations took a total of about 15 months. They gutted it to the outside skins. Ron did all the electrical and plumbing himself. In fact, when they took a 2 week vacation the book he brought with him was "RV Electrical Systems: A Basic Guide to Troubleshooting, Repairing and Improvement" (Picture eye roll from Chris here). While he had done wiring before, the components in a camper are different than traditional home construction.  Ron is a cabinet maker which makes sense when you see the incredible cabinet work and the well thought out storage design. And, what you won't see in these photos are the Magnum 2000 watt inverter, 2- 160 Amp AGM batteries, 2- 160 amp solar panels, 1500 btu Coleman air conditioner, Suburban tank-less water heater and the 3-Fantastic Fans they installed too.

    Let's take a look at this beautiful transformation.

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    The original design of the trailer included a gaucho couch, but they needed more space for their large family. So, they converted the space to include a booth with a dinette table which converts to a king bed.  The table is red laminate with a metal trim and they bought the legs on-line.

    When Chris began the interior design, she wanted to infuse elements that you would find in a home rather than a camper - colorful fabrics, farm sink, baskets for storage, and custom upholstery.

    In order to re-make the curtains, they went to an Airstream showroom and took photos of the components and how they were assembled. They then ordered those parts from the Airstream dealership but found that the little plastic clips/elastic that fit into the rails are pretty expensive so next time they'll try and re-use the existing components. They hired professionals to sew their curtains and upholster their cushions but that was the only work they did not complete themselves. 

    All of their fabric was purchased at International Market Square in Minneapolis. Here is what they used: 

    • The blue and white booth fabric is Duralee (indoor/outdoor) style - Mums in Cobalt
    • The solid blue fabric on the couch is Duralee (indoor/outdoor) style #15713 in Navy
    • The gold chair is covered in Robert Allen "Open Plain" in the color "Sunray"
    • The curtain fabric is Duralee #32754 in "Cherry"
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    The flooring they chose was Casa by Novalis in hand scraped walnut-mesquite.  Ron got creative with their storage and installed two 16 x 36 inch secret storage compartments under the floor boards; they currently use the space to store collapsible water jugs for boondocking.

    There was a massive amount of work done in the kitchen.  They created 33 drawers using ten 4 x 8 sheets of baltic birch. The cabinets were designed using marine grade catches to ensure their belongings remain safe during travel.  They installed a farm sink, convection oven, dishwasher and two 4 cubic ft. under-counter Dometic refrigerators.  What a difference in these before and after pictures!

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    An important phase in their design process involved building cardboard cabinet mock ups. This allowed them to identify any design or layout flaws and correct them before building and installing their actual cabinets. 

    Their countertop surface is Avonite which they chose because it is both beautiful and lightweight.  They used Oceanair shades on the windows above the kitchen and bathroom sinks as well as on the window above the desk.

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    Creative cabinet design allowed for a garbage pull-out and small drawers in otherwise wasted space.

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    They love the LED lighting installed underneath the upper cabinets.

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    The couch creates an additional place for people to relax or watch TV; it converts to a queen bed and, of course.......more storage!

    In the bathroom they used a 2016 Airstream stock shower and a residential  shower door purchased at Home Depot.  The black tank which sits under the toilet has a custom Corian cover and the shower is trimmed in the same Corian as well.  Because the countertop was so low, they chose to use a vessel sink to add height.  

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    You can say that Ron and Chris are "all in" when it comes to Airstream renovations. They now have 5 vintage Airstreams. The 1st one, shown above, is completely finished. The second one, a 28' 1961 Ambassador is currently being worked on and the others are patiently waiting their turn.  The have built what they call the "Airstream Hangar" to house these beauties and create space enough to work their magic .

    Being entrepreneurs at heart, their plan is to renovate Airstreams and rent them out for corporate events, weddings, trade shows, etc. For that reason, they have chosen to design their spaces with open floor plans, plenty of seating and no permanent bedroom. While they are developing their business and marketing plans, they have enjoyed using her for family trips to Texas, Utah and Urban-Air in Michigan.

    They used the Airstream this summer for their daughter's wedding. I can't imagine a more perfect backdrop for this gorgeous picture- can you?

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    Thank you Ron and Chris for sharing your beautiful renovation. To learn more about their business and renovations, follow American Silverstream on Facebook.