Replacing Chrome Rub Rail

When we picked up our "new to us" 2008 Safari, we noticed that some of the rub rail was missing. I pointed that out to the dealership and in about two seconds they brought out this shiny new roll of chrome rub rail and replaced the missing sections. The new sections looked absolutely amazing. We had not even hit the highway after picking her up before I was Googling where to find enough for the rest of the trailer.

While there was still plenty of rub rail left on Annie, it was discolored and even cracked in a few places. Dirt and moisture can lead the chrome insert to come loose; UV rays and weather can also cause damage. It turns out I could buy replacement rail for under $3.00 a linear foot. I needed 32 feet to do the remaining sections; so it was less than $100 - well worth it in my opinion. I found it at Out-of-Doors-Mart on line. What we needed was "Airstream Molding 1 inch Chrome Rub Rail Insert 201763-100." www.odmrv.com

We used a small sharp chisel to work out the old rub rail and to remove any tape left behind. The previous owner had glued some spots that had probably lost their adhesive, so it took the chisel, a thumb nail, and a little mineral spirits in some areas. Once the tape residue was removed, we used wet rags to thoroughly clean out all of the dirt. We then used denatured alcohol for one final pass in order to remove any remaining grease or film. 

The product arrives tightly rolled and taped. We removed the tape once it arrived to allow it to unwind and relieve some of the pressure. We wanted it to lie as flat as possible in the rub rail. I read that when replacing the trim it is best if the temperature is around 70 degrees.

Like most things, prepping took the longest. Applying the insert was easy. We used the old pieces to mark the length of the new and cut them with very heavy duty scissors/shears. We then lined it up where we wanted it, slowly removed the 3M tape from the back and worked it into place.  We then took a small seam roller and rolled the full section to make sure it adhered well.  The last step was to remove the blue tape that protects the top. And, Voila! - a beautiful shiny new rub rail.  

What's Under That Fabric?

Our Airstream came with Midnight Sun fabric. It's actually a lot better than what I've seen in many trailers and RV's, but when it comes right down to it, I don't like thinking about others people's bodies lying all over what are now our cushions. I'm pretty sure I can blame my mom for that one. I knew before even stepping inside that I'd want to change the cushion fabric. Thank goodness The Utility Man knew too; he brought it up before I had to. I'm not sure about other models and years but ours not only has the cushions covered in fabric, but the entire base of the couch and dinette as well. I had no idea what I would find once I removed that fabric, so one night I unscrewed one of the cabinet doors and started cutting off the fabric. (Insert eye roll from The Utility Man here.) I discovered that underneath was white melamine that was in excellent condition. There were a lot of staples on the backside that had to be removed with a combination of a small screwdriver and needle nosed pliers. When I say a lot, I mean a lot! I could not figure out a way to remove the handles on the front so I took a sharp utility knife as close as I could around the edges of the handle in order to cut the fabric away. It worked pretty well. There were a few stationary melamine pieces that were a little harder to work around, but with patience (more needle nosed pliers, screwdrivers and scissors), I was able to get all of the fabric off.

Because the edges of the melamine pieces are rough and unfinished, I bought veneer edging that I applied around the edges to create a finished look. To apply the veneer, I cut it the length I needed, ironed it on per the package instructions, and then used a utility knife to shave off any overhang. I had never done anything like that before and it was pretty simple. I was hoping not to have to recover them in fabric, but to paint them instead. And to my delight, that was definitely an option. So, if you've been wondering what it looks like under there, now you know. To see our painting process, you can find the blog post "Painting the "Faux" Wood in our Airstream."

Customizing a Cutting Board to Fit Over the Stove

I recently saw a Facebook post where someone had purchased an Ikea cutting board that fit over their stovetop.  I had just been thinking that the kitchen needed something to warm it up a bit. The cutting board was going to be perfect. It was a win/win - looks great and provides more working space.

The Lamplig cutting board is 18 inches by 20 3/4 inches, is made of bamboo and has a lip on one end.  It was about $17 when I bought it.  When I set it on the stovetop cover, I couldn't decide exactly how it fit best. The Utility Man suggested we drill two holes to fit over the posts on the existing stovetop cover. Then it would fit perfectly and would not need to be stowed for travel.

We put a tiny dab of paint on the tips of the posts coming off the existing stovetop cover; we then carefully set the cutting board on top to mark where we needed to drill the holes.  We were able to wipe the paint off the posts before it dried.  The Utility Man drilled the holes at the paint marks and we slid it right on top of the stove. It looks beautiful and makes our Airstream kitchen significantly more functional.  

Sealing our Roof with Eternabond Tape

We bought our Airstream in the summer; we live in a rather dry and mild climate, so because we hadn't had any rain, we weren't sure if there were any leaks or not. But, when we washed the trailer for the first time we found there was water on both the floor and table at the rear end.  It appeared to be coming from the Fantastic Fan, but we weren't exactly sure.  

After a little homework, we decided that we wanted to try Eternabond Tape.  To us the pros were that it was easy to use, appears to have an extremely long life, is virtually leakproof, and best of all, does not require the removal of the existing caulk.  This stuff is sticky! That's good and bad.  The only con we saw was if we ever have to remove it, it will admittedly be very difficult.  

We have a 2008 25 ft Safari. We ordered a 20 foot roll of 4 inch white and a 50 foot roll of 2 inch gray Eternabond Tape. (See direct Amazon links below.) Our plan was to use the white around the Fantastic Fans and Skylight and the gray the length of the gutters and around the smaller rounded vents.  It probably would have been enough if we had better "tape management skills," but there was a bit of overkill in some areas so we ended up being a little short and ordered an additional roll of gray. We are actually happy to have some with us in case of emergency.

It was easy to use; we thoroughly cleaned the areas where we were applying it. We first cleaned the areas with a rag and a general household cleaner. We followed that by thoroughly cleaning with denatured alcohol.  We made sure the area was completely dry before applying the tape.  Eternabond does sell their own cleaner and primer as well. We went up on the roof with the tape, scissors and a seam roller.  Because it is so sticky, you get one chance to lay it down; so, once you peel the clear plastic backing that exposes the sticky part of the tape, you have to be prepared to apply it immediately to your roof. It's most effective to peel only a small amount of the plastic at a time or it can roll back on itself and you just can't separate the pieces at that point.  The tape is simply cut with scissors.  The final step is to apply pressure to all of the tape with a seam roller which activates the bonding process.  We did not remove any caulking or sealant before applying Eternabond.

Only time will tell how well it will hold up. But, we went camping this weekend and it poured for about 12 hours and there was absolutely no sign of a leak.  So, we're off to a great start!  If anything changes, we'll be sure to update this post.

For the Love of Airstreams -

Amazon Links - Gray and White Eternabond Tape

Replacing Our Accordion Screen with a Curtain

While practical, we decided we wanted to take out the accordion screens and replace them with curtains. It took us a couple of tries, but we finally got it right and thought we'd share how we did it - hopefully our trial and error will save you some time and money.

The first thing we needed to do was remove the existing screen. We found three screws which connected the accordion screen to the wall; using a Phillips head bit and drill, we removed those screws. There are multiple screws in the ceiling track. We removed all of those except for the final one; we could easily slide the screen off the track at that point. It can definitely be done with one person but we found it easier with two.

At first we bought some gliders from Ikea; they slid into the track just fine, but they were a little too tall and kept getting caught up on the ceiling screws. It would have been amazing if they had worked since they were $2.50 for a pack of 24!  But, we didn't see anyway to make them right. So, thank goodness for Amazon Prime because we were able to order JP Products 81085 Large Type-A Sliding Eye Curtain Carriers; they come 14 to a pack . We figured we needed 10 - 12 per track so we ordered two packs for a total of about $14.  We also needed at least an equal number of curtain clips with hooks.  I happened to have some that I'd purchased at Ikea, but there are plenty of on-line options. I plan on keeping a few extras around in case any ever break or bend. For direct links on Amazon see below.

While the track was unscrewed, we slid the the curtain carriers back on the track and reattached the ceiling screws.  Once secure, we attached the curtain clips and hung the curtains. The curtains we purchased are 42 inches wide and we found that spacing the clips approximately 4 inches apart created the look we wanted. We tried curtains that were wider, but they were a little too bulky to slide back into their original space. The curtains were too long and required hemming. Thanks to a suggestion from someone on Airstream Addicts , I sewed some heavy washers from the hardware store into the hem to give them a little extra weight. We love how they look; they still offer plenty of privacy and have not impacted the light or sound we experience.

For the Love of Airstreams - 

Amazon Links - Curtain Clips and Sliding Eye Carriers

Painting the "Faux" Wood in our Airstream

I've never met a cabinet I didn't want to paint; it's quite possibly an addiction (much to the dismay of The Utility Man).  I wanted to be able to live with the cabinets in Annie but I just knew I wouldn't be happy with the fake wood look so I went for it.  We owned a pop-up camper before the Airstream; I painted those cabinets and loved them.

Our Airstream cabinets were relatively clean and in good condition. I started by removing all the doors and drawers and brought them from our storage unit home so that I could paint them in the garage.  For a 25 foot trailer, it's amazing how many parts there are to remove. I did not have enough room in my garage for all of it, so I had to paint in three separate groups.

I removed the hardware and lightly sanded the laminate with 150 grit sandpaper. I then wiped the cabinets clean. For the priming and painting within the trailer, I used blue painters tape and brown craft paper to mask off any areas of the trailer I was concerned about getting paint on. I cleaned and sanded the laminate in the interior of the trailer in the same fashion. 

This is a project I only wanted to do one time, so trying to skip priming or taking shortcuts was not an option I was willing to risk.  I primed everything using Zinsser's Oil Based Primer, cutting in with a brush around the necessary edges and then rolling the remaining larger areas with a small smooth roller. Spray painting wasn't an option for us because we have very limited space. Since oil-based products are more challenging to clean, I opted for disposable brushes and rollers for the primed coat. They also have a strong odor, so make sure you take the appropriate precautions. Once the primer fully dried, I lightly sanded all the primed laminate before applying the next two coats of paint. For the top coat, I used Behr Marquee from Home Depot, Subtle Touch in a semi-gloss. It is white with a hint of silvery grey and looks pretty with our aluminum interior.  

We removed the fabric from underneath the couch and dinette. Below that fabric is white melamine. (See my post on removing that fabric.) Because we thought that area could take a little more abuse we chose a darker color below;  we painted them with Behr Marquee in Shadow Grey semi-gloss.

Ensuring the paint job held up over time was really important to us. So, we let the primed coat dry 24 hours before applying paint, and allowed 8-12 hours between painted coats. It was a plus that we didn't have any trips planned so we could let everything cure for several weeks before utilizing them. 

This project is not for the faint of heart. It certainly isn't complicated, but there will definitely be times you ask yourself what you were thinking. But, for us, as we started putting everything back together and saw how light and bright it all was, we couldn't be happier that we invested the time and energy to make it happen.