1968 Airstream Ambassador
Uwe Salwender of Area 52 Productions reconstructed this trailer to be completely functional for work on the road while retaining the vintage appeal of the 1968 shell.
The owners wanted an eco-friendly entertaining space, a premium sound system, separate beds, enough space to store their bicycles inside, a “wonderful galley so we can cook healthy meals,” and dog-friendly material finishes. Most of all, they wanted everything to function safely and comfortably while looking great.
The Ambassador was completely gutted and disassembled, the shell was removed, and all rusted elements were either cleaned, replaced, or rebuilt.
The large capacity tanks needed for extended boondocking include 65 gallon fresh water capacity, 65 gallon grey water, and 35 gallon black water. One goal of Salwender’s was to retain the safe towing aspects of this Airstream by installing the tanks so that the center of gravity would be as close as possible to the wheels. Likewise, the Dometic air conditioner-heat pump was installed under one of the beds to maintain a clean roof line which improves aerodynamics, and translates to a lower cost of fuel while towing. Without an air conditioning unit on the roof, there was space to install a pair of 100 watt solar panels.
The trailer was completely rewired, and completely re-plumbed to accommodate the new septic and fresh water systems. Interior structural parts are made from light weight clear pine and the face frames and edge treatments are made from US maple hardwood. Interior walls and panels are made from maple plywood, providing a light color value and warm surface used also on the cabinetry.
The cork finish floor is a click-type glue-, carcinogen- and gas-free product. It incorporates a barrier layer of cork on the bottom, a stabilizing fiber layer in the center layer and a top layer of cork that does not outgas once it is cured.
The stainless counter top is a star attraction. Although stainless weighs more than plywood laminate or butcher block, it requires very little sub-structure, and can be a stressed load bearing component of the galley cabinetry.
The sleeping area beyond the galley is similar to a Pullman layout, composed of twin beds covered in a grey quilted fabric on each wall in the hall. The well equipped lavatory has a Sealand Traveler Lite porcelain toilet, a small round sink and IKEA faucet in the stainless counter top. A large window provides great light in this area. Custom cabinetry throughout repeats the warm color scheme.
The warm color scheme in the living area is highlighted through Xenon recessed lighting throughout, controlled by pulse-modulated dimmers. A solar powered computer/desk area is tucked into the social space.
1978 Airstream Trade Wind
This 1978 Airstream is the home, office and front door to the great outdoors for architect Matthew Hoffman. A key element of the project was reclamation of existing materials.
The Magritte print (from a 1964 painting titled “Son of Man”) at the entry is a welcoming piece into this architect’s home and office. The 27” iMac can be used to watch movies or draw design plans. The office printer is tucked into a custom-built pullout drawer under the bench seat. Bamboo is used for all flooring, countertops and table. The dinette cushions were hand sewn using Sunbrella indoor-outdoor fabric.
The galley has a Moen stainless steel sink with a Euro-modern chrome 23-inch pull out spray faucet. The other new appliances include an Atwood Wedgewood stainless steel three-burner propane gas cook top, a Norcold refrigerator, and a countertop stainless steel toaster oven. One of Hofmann’s favorite items is the Häfele Kesseböhmer pullout pantry system. Häfele also makes a very slick Moovit drawer box system with cutlery inserts in addition to the overhead cabinets.
The bathroom was Hofmann’s greatest indulgence. Traditional small glass tile is installed over a porous flexible foam with adhesive tar applied to the back. The tile is HotGlass “Classic CartGlass Blended.” An adhesive primer was applied over the wood base of the shower structure. Then the foam backer was adhered and secured with screws every six inches of vertical surface. The mortar for installing the tile was applied directly over the foam. The porosity of the foam allows it to secure to the mortar, and a flexible grout additive decreases the risk of cracking.
The 14” glass vessel sink fits under the single-lever faucet on the Cali Bamboo countertop surface. Water temperatures in the shower are controlled by a Grohe “Euphoria” chrome fixture. Water flow control devices are installed on every water fixture, and a small hot water tank encourages short showers. Lighting is custom LED with two light levels, from ultra-low to high-voltage bright.
1948 Airstream Wee Wind
Designer David Winick made the decision to keep the basic floor plan and design a new interior. The Wee Wind is so small that interior materials and appointments needed to be modest. Since it originally had an icebox, a concession to modern convenience was made, and a small 2-way Dometic propane refrigerator was added. Instead of an electric water pump, a marine hand-pump at at the sink next to the stainless sink, plus cook top combo, complete the galley. Two new aluminum overhead storage lockers were also added.
Other original elements of the interior remain, including sconces at the front and rear, drapery hardware, aluminum overhead locker with propane lamp, and box spring bed and sofa.
A bright red new counter top banded in stainless steel repeats the design element in both the galley and pull-up table tops where Winick’s monogram “WA” is embossed. Flooring is a grey/white fleck design by Marmoleum, and the dark color value anchors the floor while providing an elegant contrast to the red and gold color scheme. The interior aluminum walls shown in all of the photographs act as mirrors reflecting all the material colors in exotic patterns, especially when the sconces are turned on.
Fabrics used on the double-size rear bed, sitting area sofa and pillows are from Winick’s upholstery collection, and due to their light color value, they create a much more spacious interior feeling.
A new awning was fabricated using several of the interior colors. Classy red-rimmed wheels provide a final touch to the exterior.
1977 Airstream Sovereign International
Craig Dorsey, a professional restoration craftsman and owner of Vintage Vacations, built the interior to have an open loft feeling similar to a 1930’s Adirondack cabin, and he perfected the art of creating the look of a bygone era.
This trailer began when a client saw pictures of a Ralph Lauren re-created Airstream with an Adirondack interior that used barn wood for the walls, and asked Craig for a similar design. He politely said no to the barn wood, and instead used Hickory, Mahogany, Douglas fir, Adler and Birch bark for walls, cabinetry and details.
Especially unique are the Bakelite 1940’s headboard lights that were converted to 12 volt sconces on either side of the sofa. The shelf above the sofa has a hand made Adirondack-style birch bark and willow edge. The hidden lighting illuminates snow shoes and decorative artifacts from the region. Hand whipped leather and willow branches were combined for window valances, and the roll down canvas shades with leather “dog collar” tie backs are similar to a tent window in the wilds. Caning provides a light color value on both the ceiling and cabinet door facing. African Mahogany rails lashed with wet rawhide strips enhance the rustic design, and when looking down the length of the ceiling, one has a feeling of being in an inverted “Old Town Canoe.” The floor is a new earth tone Marmoleum.
Blankets on the bed are vintage Ralph Lauren, and that flat screen TV on the galley side that looks like an old model is actually a new TV that Craig redesigned to look like a television from the 1940’s.
Although the galley is full of new equipment, it also contains some nostalgic touches. The vent hood lever was made from an old Ford horn button, radio knobs, copper and brass. When you push the lever, a cable opens the trap door on the outside, and a trip switch turns on the fan. Craig’s inspiration for this was a throttle on a 1920’s speed boat. The stove is a new Magic Chef, and the refrigerator is also new, however the doors have been finished to appear vintage with the addition of hinges and door handle from another era. Vintage fishing rods are stored in the ceiling over the sound system and table.
The folding table was built from a vintage design, and Leg-o-Matic chairs fold up for storage in the cane front cabinet. A fold down drawer front on the cabinet conceals the deck for the sound system, and the green radio houses the center speaker for surround sound. The antique hamper is for the practical application of covering a trash container.
The last seven feet of the rear space in the trailer is dedicated to a large bathroom. Bronze studs hold the banana-wrapped Hickory wood in place, and Mahogany is used for trim with vintage Bakelite handles. The hand hammered copper sink and faucet material is repeated in exposed copper pipes throughout this space. The absolute jewel of the bathroom is the solid stainless steel shower that is well illuminated by a large ceiling fixture.
Outside, in keeping with the Adirondack theme, a 1948 Pontiac hood ornament and mahogany base lights up on the forehead of the trailer.