Airstream maintenance fun

We’ve temporarily moved into the in-law’s house while Jim takes apart our trailer for improvements and repairs. We last painted hitch and frame three years ago, never painted the battery box, and haven’t replaced the brakes or magnets. Some of this work is a little hard to do while full-timing. This sojourn seems the perfect opportunity to get things in shape for another bunch of dreamstreaming.

This week Jim removed the L-sofa cushion support to repair a relay-controlled circuit beneath. The circuit provides power for all components of the amateur radio station at our dinette and failed a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t exactly fail, at least not by itself. Jim helped it — he “borrowed” the relay control for an experiment with our solar charge controller. He connected power from the solar panels through the relay and accidentally also powered the relay coil with 24- 40 volts dc. The relay got pretty hot about this mistreatment and wouldn’t work anymore.

Jim replaced the relay and restored the circuit to exclusively 12vdc purposes and connections. It works perfectly again. The solar charge controller is waiting its turn, and we’ll come back to that story later. The L-sofa cushion support wants a different arrangement instead of requiring removal of two dozen screws just to access the nifty wiring beneath. Jim bought materials to frame a removable panel in the plywood lid so access will be much easier.

some of the fun stuff under our L-sofa

Last fall we towed through a soft deep mud twenty miles in Arapaho National Recreation Area while trying to find a campground at picturesque Granby Lake. The campground, as it turned out, wasn’t open anyway. Worse yet, our a-frame was just hammered by rocks carried in the mud. Mysteriously the rocks flew up from our tires, swung around our way-wide Enkay Rock Tamer mudflaps, and beat holes through the paint on the a-frame.

Gorgeous Granby Lake

We might have fixed the mud flap problem, we bought Duraflaps and mounted them at the rear of the truck’s wheel wells. The rusty spots on the a-frame needed more elbow grease. Jim removed the tongue jack, gas bottles and their shelf, and guts from the quick-bite hitch. He stripped the several coats of paint from the a-frame then sanded the frame smooth.

Duraflaps might protect the trailer much better

A heavy coat of Rust-Oleum red primer went on the a-frame, coupling, and all exterior surfaces of the battery box. Light sanding smoothed the primer nicely. Jim dusted it all with a dry cloth then applied a thin coat of Rust-Oleum black enamel. Jim says he’ll sand and re-coat with the enamel finish several times. The Equal-i-zer hitch parts and jack stand are at a local shop for powder coating and we’ll get them next week.

Next up is removing the trailer’s big 6V batteries to prime and paint the battery box interior surfaces then remove the brake drums for machining and replacing the trailer’s brake sets. We need to troubleshoot the solar charge controller still to determine why it won’t automatically reset each morning. The truck’s oil needs changing. The trailer’s roof needs washing and waxing. And there are probably other things we can find to do while we’re parked. But some of these tasks will have to wait their turn.

We have more pressing things to do than just maintenance. We have ham radio antennas to hang and tennis and fitness workouts too. After all, we’re here for awhile and don’t have to get everything done in one week, do we?

We attended a fun cardio-tennis workout this morning at the local tennis club and are looking forward to, hopefully, a lot of tennis while we’re here. And Jim moved the jpole antenna from the trailer’s bumper because it wouldn’t hit the Boone 2 meter repeater, 80 miles away. Elevated thirty feet by hanging it from a nearby tree, Jim can talk to friends in Belmont, Glendale Springs, and Winston-Salem some mornings. Also Jim installed our dipole antenna between a couple of tall trees in the backyard.

The work took only an hour with help from Pop and Debbie and put the dipole thirty feet above ground. Just one small problem — it’s over fifty feet from the radios in the trailer and we’re fresh out of coaxial cable. We need 75 feet of coax to reach over and up to the antenna’s connector. We’ll find out later if the antenna location and height are sufficient for good radio work. Jim’ll just have to wait until his order for RG-213 coax arrives in a few days to find out how this installation works.

All the truck and trailer maintenance is entertaining Jim very well but he’ll get his fill soon. The work does seem to be going more quickly than usual and with surprising organization. Apparently Jim thinks he can play tennis all the time once he finishes these maintenance tasks?

Jim and Debbie

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4 responses to “Airstream maintenance fun

  1. Edward Johnson


    Please post an update on the solar power and how Jim troubleshoots that issue. Getting ready to install solar on our Airstream with a new 3 way converter and separate inverter. Always looking to learn something new about our trailer.


  2. Hi Ed,
    We’re believing we either have an intermittent open in the pre-wired (by Airstream factory) section of PV circuit, or a component failure on the controller’s circuit board. We’ve already spent $48 (14 fee and 10 postage each of two times) for warranty service shipping and handling with the charge controller mfr. and he reported he could not duplicate the problem. Hopefully we’ll obtain reliable daily switching by running a temporary bypass from the pv downleads in the fridge panel straight to the charge controller. If not, we’re buying a new (and different brand) charge controller.

    We’ll let you know in the next week or two, we’re wiring the bypass circuit today or Monday. By the way, other than this little non-automatic feature on our charge controller, our solar charging system rocks! Three and a half years in service and other than times parking in complete shade we’ve always had great battery charging.

  3. Jim and Debbie:

    Hope you, your family and the AS all came through this weekend’s storms unscathed.


    • The storm rushed through here at 65mph, and tornadoes touched down in the next and successive counties. Lots of damage east of here all the way to the coast, but the storm spared our county.

      Thanks for asking.

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