Awning and Battery storage reinforcement

Nikki and I had two things on our list we wanted to complete this weekend: Reinforce the battery storage compartment and add support to the lower rear awning arm. Big thanks to Jason (again) for the help. He is an amazing welder and is always full of good ideas.

Most vintage airstream will most likely have this issue. The battery storage compartment has a problem with supporting the full weight of the battery. As time passes it becomes weak and starts to bow causing the battery door to open when you go over small bumps. The solution is to beef it up and to attach the lower part of the door to the new support. If you are having this same problem Jason is more then happy to pre-weld a custom fitted battery box just like the one in pictures and ship it to you.

Unsupported battery box.

Unsupported battery box.

The support is designed in a way to distribute all of the batteries weight to the ¾” floor of the airstream.

The bottom part of the door is now pulled up and secured to the bottom of the battery box. The door will not come open anymore and the battery will have plenty of support. The battery hold down is welded to the rear and uses a hook in the front for easy removal. 

We purchased a used awning that was 19 feet long. Our 31 foot airstream normally would have a 21 foot awning installed. This means that we were unable to attach the rear of the awning to the rib of the airstream. Instead it’s attached to the thin aluminum body with no support.

This is were the lower rear part of the awning attached and will need reinforcement.

Jason came up with a cool design that used curved square tubing. Now it won’t take up a lot of room on the inside of the airstream. The area where this is mounted will become a shower.

It may be a little over kill but in the end I have total confidence that this arm isn't going anywhere and wont be causing any damage to the body.  

Complete. Four large bolts secured to the ¾ inch floor.


Airstream awning Installation with hood vent modification

Over the weekend we purchased a Zip Dee awning on craigslist. I’ve been searching for about 3 years for a used one to pop up in our area. I wanted to buy used because a new Zip Dee awning cost a little over $1800 bucks new. We bought this one for $500. I replaced one damaged bracket that I purchased from out-of-doors mart for 10 bucks. I also replaced all the nuts and bolts and polished all the parts. We will eventually replace the fabric with the  original airstream blue and logo.

If you are going to buy new or used here are some tips that will help!
1.      If you have a 73 airstream or older, the stove hood will need to be modified or replaced. The awning will not be able to close due to clearance issues. I modified mine because the replacement only comes in fiberglass. Take a look at my photos to see how I did it.
2.      Make sure when you slide the fabric on that the stitching lip is facing away from the channel. My wife and I fought it about half way before we decided to slide it off and start from the other end.
3.      If you buy used, make sure to check everything! Slide all the arms all the way out to check for damage. I didnt realize until I got home that one arm was broke. Make sure that the awning isn’t cut short. It should reach out at least 8 ft.

Buffing the aluminum cover.

 Amazing "before" and "After Shots:

Painted the inside logo red. I used a small wire to drop paint into the small areas

Unfortunately This awning came up a little short and I was unable to mount the rear bracket in a location where the rib runs. The fix will be to remove a 2x2 foot section on the inside of the closet and build a steel frame that will support 100% of the arm. The steel frame will be mounted to the floor. I will post this fix soon.   

It was 110 degrees outside so I put temporary shade in the areas I would be working.
Its always worth the hassle.            

 Vent hood modification

OK, here is the vent hood off the airstream. The first thing I did was remove a section of
the hood that would allow the awning to close freely. I did this by using a band saw with a metal cutting blade. It barley fit sideways but I was able to get it done. I did remove about 1/8 of an inch on both sides to give myself room.      

Now that its removed I cut some aluminum to the shape I wanted.       

Here it is complete. I used 90 degree aluminum supports on the sides. You can see the rivet and the two rivets in the middle holding the slope. I drilled the three original holes in the rear.        

Not too bad and much better then a fiberglass replacement

Plenty of room! And the modification had very little effect on the airflow.