Tag Archives: 1978

The Airstream Diaries: Basking in Fall

Airstream front in the fall Fall is my favorite season. To me, nothing is better than frolicking through a field of pumpkins, drinking PSLs to my heart’s content and wrapping up in a cozy sweater. But after my beloved fall is my dreaded winter. Winter in the Airstream isn’t very fun. Winter in the Airstream means cold feet, staying next to the space heater at all times and freezing pipes.

airstream in the fall airstream in the fall light Before dreaded winter is upon us, I’m trying to soak up as much fall as I can get. I’ve been happy to brush the pine needles off my steps, crank up the Crockpot and on warm fall days, open up the windows. In the next few weeks we’ll need to winterize our home and pull out the heaters.

Airstream and leaves Until then, I’m raising my PSL to you, fall. I love ya.

– melanie

Airstream Livin’: A Six Month Update

Airstream in the woods It’s been almost six full months since we moved into the Airstream to live in it full-time. We’ve endured tornados and a vicious cold snap. We’ve endured bugs (oh lord the bugs!), oppressive heat and learned way more about sewage than any person should. But I still wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

George and I have always had the plan to move into the Airstream in order to save enough money to buy (or build!) our own “real” house. But in the last six months, I’ve really come to think of this ‘ol thing as our real house home. It’s not conventional, but it’s ours.

Airstream Sovereign Sure, I still have days where I get so.incredibly.frustrated. that I can’t have the hot water heater on and make coffee at the same time. Lord, I need that coffee. But I wouldn’t trade it. This experience is teaching me patience. It’s teaching me that I need let go of things in all aspects of my life. And as always, it’s teaching me to live small and dream bigger.

love and thankfulness,

How to Buff an Airstream

Before Buffing

Before Buffing

Buffing is better when done with a partner. Buffing an Airstream, silly! There is a ton of advice and debate in Airstream Forums about the best products and technique to buff your Bombshell Betty (dirty!). Although,  I’m no expert, I always think it is helpful to share how we did it.

1. Give the old girl a good washin’ and dryin’. Here’s my tips for doing that. 

2. Gather your supplies. We used ICE Paste from Turtle Wax and borrowed an electric buffer from George‘s dad.

3. Prepare yourself mentally and physically. Grab a partner if you can. I’ve heard horror stories of folks going at it alone and spending at least 8 hours just buffing the thing. (It took us 4 hours for the record!)

4. Follow your sensi wax manufacturer’s directions– wax on, wax off.

After Buffing

After Buffing

Tips and Advice:

  • Some Airstreams, like our own, will never get that super-shine without drastic measures, such as an acid bath. Prior to owning the old girl, we think someone used a product that took off some of the original clear finish because it is unnaturally patchy in spots. If that bothers you, here are some tips for getting a super shine. We’ve decided to forego a more natural look for the time being.
  • Work from the top and buff your way down.
  • Work in a shady spot on a day with no rain in the forecast. There is nothing worse than having your wax job ruined by mother nature.
  • Really though, work with a partner. Pay someone to help if you must. This is a huge job!

Happy buffing!




Our Airstream Buying Story

airstreambefore1Lately I’ve had a few questions from friends, family and my beautiful readers about the nuts and bolts of buying an Airstream. I don’t feel like I can make sweeping generalizations about the process of purchasing an Airstream, but I can tell you our story. Learn from it, what you will, my children.

After I got a new job in a new city, George and I began dreaming of purchasing our own home. We started looking at Realtor.com and quickly realized that our home-owning dream was still a couple of years away. We then started looking at rental properties. We saw a few rental properties in-person, but nothing really wowed us. We were also really sick of paying money towards something we don’t own. It just seemed wasteful.

One night while lying in bed looking at adorable little properties we couldn’t afford, George started searching for Airstreams on Craigslist. I had seen stories of people living full-time in mobile homes before and I mentioned to George how appealing it was to live small. I especially loved this Featured Seller story on pollenArts— a creative couple who work and live in their Winnebago! I talked about paring down in the past, but George is really the one who put the pieces together. For the record, it is all his fault if anything goes horribly wrong 🙂

We then timidly starting asking ourselves, can we do this? Can we go without most of our worldly possessions? Will George have enough room to do his art? Will I have enough room to craft and cook? The small reservations we had about living small were dwarfed in comparison to the large reservations we had (and still have) about our financial future and our dreams.

Next we decided on a small budget for the Airstream and for renovations– just $6,000. If we couldn’t do it for that price, it wouldn’t be worth it. If it was much more than our price point, we could just rent for a year and save ourselves a huge hassle. With our budget in mind, it became easier to narrow down our search. We trolled Craigslist religiously. We not only looked at Airstreams in our home state, but in other nearby states.

The first Airstream we looked from a Craigslist post  was in the mountains of our home state. We knew going up there that it might be a struggle to get the Airstream down into the Piedmont where we live. And the second red flag, the owner was a used car salesman. But we went anyway and even thought, despite it’s bullet holes (yes, bullet holes), we could fix it. We agreed on a price, but we couldn’t pull the Airstream out of the driveway. The tires were old and it was parked at the bottom of a steep hill. We had to leave her behind. I’m so grateful that didn’t work out.

The next Airstream we looked at was fairly close. It was actually located in the city where I went to grad school! We tried not to get our hopes up too much because from the pictures on Craiglist, this one looked rough. It still had it’s original shag carpet. Yikes. But we went anyway “just to look.”

When we arrived, we were greeted by the loveliest free spirit, Deb. She was selling the Airstream so she could move on– both figuratively and literally. She had acquired the Airstream in a divorce and the time was right for her to sell it. We would be bringing love back into the old girl. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, though.

The Airstream was quite frankly a mess. The fridge didn’t work. We were afraid to turn on the stove because it was gas and we might loose our eyebrows or a leg! And the carpet. Oh, the carpet. I can only compare it to a homeless Cookie Monster.

The Airstream had been neglected for quite some time and transferring the title was kind of a nightmare. Deb’s divorce made the transfer of the title difficult. It took two weeks before we could call it ours! Buying an Airstream is just like buying a used car, by the way.

The actual purchasing process was one of the biggest struggles we’ve encountered so far. There were points during the transfer process where we thought we should just throw in the towel, but we stuck it out. The Airstream lifestyle looks dreamy, but it can be extremely challenging, as well. But as our Airstream nears completion, I know we made the right choice.

Hard work and positivity make all the difference.


How to Install Window Screens in an Airstream

before and after screensYachts! Diamonds! Jet-setting across the globe! You will find none of these things in the glamorous world of window screen installation. Seriously, ya’ll, window screen installation is labor intensive, requires a great deal of patience and much more muscle than I anticipated. It was, as you may have guessed, not glamorous at all. I was sweating like a pig waiting for slaughter.

But I want my glamorous readers to learn from my toil. So here’s my tips and tricks for installing window screens in an Airstream. (Note: Not all Airstreams will have the same type of windows as mine, but it will work for many models, including my ’79 Sovereign.)


  • Screening
  • Spline (rubber cord that holds the screening into a screen frame)
  • Spline Roller
  • Scissors
  • Razor Blade or utility knife
  • Optional, but recommended, Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Optional: Heavy duty tape or your significant other.

Step 1: (If necessary) Take out old screen. You can neatly pop out and unpeel the old spline, or you can do as I did and punch right through that old screen!

Step 2: Measure the window and cut screen mesh approximately 2 inches larger than the window on all sides.

measuring windows for screenStep 3: Enlist your significant other or heavy duty tape to hold the screen taut and in place against the window.

Step 4: Using a flat head screwdriver or the spline roller, insert the end of the new spline into the groove of the window frame.

putting in screens using splining toolStep 5: Using the spline roller, roll the spline into the groove around the window frame. Take care around those curved edges. They will be the most difficult part of the process.

Step 6: When you get back to the beginning of the spline, cut it and wham, bam, thank you, ma’am, new window screen!

New screens make such a difference, huh?



A Faster Progression: Airstream Update


How long does it take to get paint out of one’s hair? I still have paint in my hair from two weeks ago and I’m doubtful that it will ever come out. It took way more coats of paint to cover the walls than we expected. We had to use a primer, two base coats and a top coat to cover the icky, dated walls. But at least now the airstream now has a floor and painting is complete. We also installed a “real” toilet. No creepy camper potties for us! (TMI?) Anyway, what I’m trying to say is “we made some serious headway, people.”

If anyone is curious, we ended up using Kilz Premium as the primer, Valspar Contractor Finishes 2000 in Ultra White as the base coat and Valspar Paint and Primer in Ultra White as the top coat. We also put a coat of Kilz on the floor before we laid it to ensure the floor was sealed. If you can’t tell, I want the Airstream’s interior to be as bright white as possible.

Bed Build Progress Our budget is getting a little tight as we are progressing through this project. Flooring is expensive! We chose laminate flooring to keep the cost down and keep the airstream light in case we ever wanted to tow it. And again, we had to buy much more paint than I ever imagined. It can be cheap, fast or good, but it can’t be all three– is that how the saying goes? Le sigh.

bathroom in airstream We’ll definitely be reusing old lumber from previous projects and trolling Craigslist for free stuff. My friend already found us a 3/4 size fridge for $75 bucks on Craigslist and I’m hoping to score a few more steals! (Gabby, you are awesome!)

Does anyone have any tips for acquiring free fabric or lumber? I need both! Let’s hear them in the comments!


Airstream Renovations: A Slow Progression

The past few weekends have been a whirlwind of work. I’m not complaining but, man, I could use a nap… or two… or five. Here’s the progress we’ve made on the airstream.

lights before and afterThis picture accurately describes the first weekend we worked on the airstream. The lights at the bottom of the picture are indicative of how dirty everything was. The lights at the top were thoroughly cleaned by moi! We had no clue that the inside of the airstream was covered in mildew and mold. I guess it was hard to look past the ugly blue carpet!

I scrubbed every square inch of the trailer with a bleach mixture while George demoed. I even used a toothbrush to get in the cracks! A perfectionist’s dream! We had no idea the extent of the mildew, so we ended up demoing a lot more of the inside than we had imagined to just get everything clean. More demo means more building we will have to do, but at least I’ll sleep safely knowing we won’t be living in a petri dish.


after priming George cleaning out an old bee nest!

The weekend after the deep clean/demo, we primed! I think it already looks better with just a coat of primer on everything. What do you think?

Next weekend, we’re planning on painting the entire place a bright white. With such a small space, I think too much color on the walls would be overwhelming. And after seeing all that mold, I definitely want the place to look and be clean and bright.

There’s been a few obstacles, ahem, Mildew McMilderson, and our to-do list is a mile long, but we’re making progress. We won’t be moved in before I start my new job next week, but we’re figuring it out.

Living positive and living small,