Friday, 23 October 2009

I do like to be beside the C...

Finally, I've got my arse in gear and blown the summer dust off the Flying Cloud. Time to fabricate & fit the all-important C channel.

I'm sure some of you have folding presses & guillotines but we went low-tech and got out the tin-snips.

Slightly thicker aluminium than the original - a 5" strip will give us a 2 1/2 x 1" channel with the all important inch and a half base.

Snip, snip, snip...

Now to bend...

Some plywood off-cuts from the floor with clamps at either end and a central bolt grip the strip along its length.

Then start bending. By hand to begin with...

... then with a little more force to tighten the corners.

Start with the inch...

... and finish with the two and a half.

Wally would be proud ! One down, ten to go.

Don't think my precision was completely spot on but then as we all know, nor was Airstream's !

More snipping on the corner sections. I was going to cut out triangles but overlapping the snipped sections worked perfectly well and saved more snipping & cut hands.

After a bit of trial and error - I ended up snipping about every 3/4 inch and putting in a bend on each.

This makes too tight a bend initially but it'll open out evenly to fit the corner line.

We used stainless steel coach bolts which pull in tight to the underside of the floor and make it easier to bend or lock the nuts on the topside.

And a dab of the dreaded silicone to seal the hole.

Starting to look the part again.

The shell slipped over fine, with enough breathing space for the belly-wrap between the channel and the outer sheets.

As we'll be flipping the chassis and fitting the bellywrap first we marked the position of each of the frames to bolt through the short sections of 1/4" right-angle alloy which Airstream used on key frames to anchor them to the floor or chassis members.

The beauty of having the shell on a chain hoist means its a doddle to lift it up and down to check the fit - thanks to Pete Ritchie @ VATCO - Vintage American Trailer Co, for that luxury. Can't recommend his company highly enough and I'm pleased to see that he may well be working on a newly imported 54 Flying Cloud too... Clouds rule !
Check the link to his site -

I also got the chance to blow the dust off my second-hand Ingersol Rand rivet gun and bucked my first rivet. Hurrah !

... worked beautifully, even if I'd overcooked the first couple.


  1. YEAH!!!! Chris is back.... Nice work you are doing there. I really enjoy reading your blog. The photos are fantastic....

  2. Looks great, Chris! That channel turned out fantastic.

    She'll be coming together quite soon I think, and hopefully NEXT summer will not be aluminum-free for you. :)


  3. Chris, great post. The c-channel looks great. I have the same type of snipped c-channel in the corners that you have and don't look forward to fabricating those. On Ryan's last two trailers, he had extruded aluminum corners that were shaped to fit the shell. Seems easier to work with those.
    That chain hoist is a serious advantage. I wish I had access to one. We should be pulling the shell off the Captain this week and will soon see how much frame repair is on the list

  4. Looks like fun Chris, nice work on the channel, if there is a will there is almost always a way to get it done. Nice to have the hoist for the shell, that sure makes it look easy!!!


  5. Hey thanks guys.

    Having just logged on after a well lubricated evening & checking Austin Aluminitus' blog I see my post has FINALLY updated - who knows why, I'd like to think it was the wine'n'beer ! Dunno why the old Bloggosphere went awol but I'm glad its back in working order.

    Norm, I'd love to have extruded C channel corners but don't have the kit to make them. Had to make do with the Airstream snipped style. And yes, the hoist is great; we've got a frame to support it but if you had a roof joist strong enough it would work just as well.

    Nice to be back and thanks for your encouraging words.


  6. Chris, I've never seen a prettier C-channel. Those photos are even beautiful. It's a work of art in a workshop!

  7. Great progress Chris...You'll be rolling down the road in no time!