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Is it an aluminum loaf of bread?

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....or an Airstream trailer? This is a 26' Airstream circa 1956-1960 that I started a couple of years back. The shell is laid up in fiberglas, using the really fine, lightweight glass cloth from the RC section of the hobby shop, along with polyester resin. It was laid up over a buck carved from laminated Dow-Corning blue insulation styrofoam (scraps I grabbed at a nearby construction project). As early Airstreams (prior to the early 70's) used exposed rivets, there are rows of rivets all over the skin of this piece, based on reference pics in books, and online. They are .025" styrene rod stock, set into holes drilled in the fiberglas shell, secured with CA glue, then trimmed to just above the surface, and rounded down with 4000-grit polishing cloths to give the effect of round-headed aircraft rivets--something like almost 2000 of them installed to this point. Here it is, in a couple of pics, to give you an idea where it's at right now:

Airstream2006-vi.jpg

Airstream53-vi.jpg

For more detailed pics of how this one came about, check my Fotki album on the Airstream: http://public.fotki.com/modlrA/125_scale_26_airstr/

Biscuitbuilder

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Art this is a monster of a build.. your Fotki shows just how big of a project it is , the patience in the rivets alone should get you sainthood..

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gREAT JOB!

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Art this is a monster of a build.. your Fotki shows just how big of a project it is , the patience in the rivets alone should get you sainthood..

Or a long stay in Dante's Inferno, for all the unprintable expletives emitted during the riveting process?

Biscuitbuilder

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Art, that is just too cool! That would look so neat behind say..........a 1958 Oldsmobile Fiesta wagon! 8)

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Art - That is going to be awesome and since Bill mentioned a '58 Fiesta Wagon here's one I saw last week...

070906EastCountyCruisers240-vi.jpg

070906EastCountyCruisers251-vi.jpg

...that Airstream would look good behind one of these!

(click on the pics to see more)

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This is one of my all time favorite projects by anyone, Art. I was honored and privledged to see it up close and in person at the NNL Nationals in 04 (I think it was 04) I really hope to see you complete it!!

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Very interesting subject! As a scratchbuilder myself I know the amount of time you put into it, great skills man!

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Art - That is going to be awesome and since Bill mentioned a '58 Fiesta Wagon here's one I saw last week...

070906EastCountyCruisers240-vi.jpg

070906EastCountyCruisers251-vi.jpg

...that Airstream would look good behind one of these!

(click on the pics to see more)

Thanks so much for the pics Dave!! I went to your album and saved all the pics of that car! I just got in the mail yesterday, R&R's resin model of a '58 Olds Wagon, and those pics will come in handy!

That's a RARE bird if I might say so myself! I dont remember seeing too many of those as a kid.

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Art, that is just too cool! That would look so neat behind say..........a 1958 Oldsmobile Fiesta wagon! 8)

Bill, and others! Thanks for all your encouragement! Frankly, I got so discouraged with a problem on the underbelly of the Airstream, that I simply had to put it away, lest I make an Airstream-shaped dent in the workroom drywall. To explain a bit:

The Airstream is a completely streamlined trailer. Where virtually every other trailer produced, including a lot of Avions (built in Michigan, very similar in appearance) had simply an open bottom, with a conventional chassis of channel steel frame rails, with some sort of cross-bearer floor joists (either steel, or wood(!) ), fitted with all the usual plumbing, springs, axles exposed to the open air, the Airstream had a center "spine" of tubular steel, to which steel channels were welded, crosswise, those channels formed to a curve at their ends, all to create a smooth shape once covered with aluminum sheet. They were as sleekly belly-panned as any Indianapolis roadster or Bonneville streamliner. This belly pan was smoothly fitted to the sides, and riveted in place, the side panels overlapping it, much the same as on an aircraft fuselage (Wally Byam, producer of the postwar Airstream, spent the WW-II years working at Lockheed, building warplanes, and became very well-versed in the structure of airplanes of the day).

On the model, in order to give the fiberglass upper shell stability (the glass shell is only about .020" thick), I cut the floor from 1/8" thick styrene sheet, for the floor and glued that in place, inside the bottom edge of the shell. Then, strips of 1/8" styrene were used to build a "gridwork" on the bottom, and rough-filed to shape to make a permanent template for catalyzed putty which was used to create this bellypan. These "ribs" were laid in such a way as to give the riveting rows that were needed for correct appearance. What I DID not bear in mind in all this is that catalyzed putty does shrink oh-so-slightly when it sets up and cures (it shrinks approximately 1/10 of 1 percent, generally imperceptible. However, in doing so, it pulled away ever so slightly, from the edges of the exposed styrene grid, but a few days after it was applied, and AFTER some 600 rivets were installed! So now, I had little hairline cracks in a grid pattern on the bellypan, and every one of them on either side of a line of rivets. Now, I really like doing rivets with styrene rod set into drilled holes--it's just one of those things I see as giving a detailed surface that extra little bit--it's kinda my thing, I guess. But it sure is time consuming, and more than just a bit nerve-wracking. Needless to say, I was most frustrated to realize that I would have to sand smooth all those rivets on the underside, correct the cracks (I've experimented, and CA glue, applied to these cracks after I open them up slightly with a dental burr in my cordless Dremel--sort of like dentistry on a model!), sand all smooth again, and THEN do all those 600 rivets all over again. So, it just got parked, until my disgust cooled down.

Now, I think I've gotten past all those hard feelings, so maybe now, it will get finished.

As for a tow vehicle, I have a Modelhaus '56 Mercury HT planned for it, but in thinking, I might just upgrade that to one of their excellent 57's.

Stay tuned--as they say, it ain't over until the fat lady sings--and she hasn't showed up with the door keys to the Airstream!

Biscuitbuilder

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Bill - Glad I could help with the Reference, now if we can get Art to cast that Airstream...

http://public.fotki.com/wackydave/vintage_travel_trailers/

Dave,

Too bad! Unfortunately, due to the very smoothly curved body of an Airstream, there is no decent way to have made the body shell in any sort of halves, so it could be cast--at least not in any sort of manner that I could have accepted. A couple of casters and I did talk about the idea, but I just couldn't see it being a viable product because of this, so it's strictly a one piece, hollow shell.

Biscuitbuilder

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I know we've disgussed this in the past Art, but that's such a terrible shame. I would buy one of them in a heartbeat. I'd have it trailing after an old Chevy pickup though. Perhaps AMT's 50.

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That is an awesome piece of work. I hope you can finish it one day.

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