Friday, 23 April 2010


Yes the weather has finally swung and thoughts are turning to getting the Cloud back on the road.

 Yes the more observant will have spotted that the 'Land Yacht' plaque isn't on the old 1953 gal.
Its from a 1960 Safari.
But in the evening spring sunshine it does shout wanderlust.

You'll also notice that I haven't posted for a wee while. Work has reared its head (two films for Nat Geo in Crete & one in Pompeii for Discovery/BBC - so I can't complain) which means not much happens on the Flying Cloud but on the plus side it has helped the restoration finances. 

Time to strip that Zolatone off the endcaps...
Unfortunately the Zolatone was covered by at least two layers of white emulsion
I would love to say it was an easy job
... but it wasn't.
Though eventually with lots of elbow-grease & resisting the temptation to use something more abrasive than a plastic scraper, it all came off.
Oddly both endcaps have one panel with Alclad script on the outide (well, inside when they're back in) 
As far as I can see there's no difference in how the panels look on the inside now the paint is off.

But only polishing will tell.
Before they go back in, and remembering the line; 'they all leak', I liberally applied some mastic to the seams
Without Vulkem to hand I used Tiger Seal - an automotive window sealing mastic.
Hopefully that'll help keep the rain out
Next, a little hi-tech insulation.
Multi-layered, tacked down with aluminium tape... we're going to be snug; even in Blighty
Ready for lift off !
Originally the endcap had been secured to the window by self-tapping steel screws - presumably to draw the endcap, which naturally springs away from the window, in tight to the window frame.
I found that with a few Clecos it was easy to pull it in tight enough to pop rivet.
Its a tad unwieldy but the lazy pop riveter works well
And no steel to react with the aluminium
Starting to look the part again.

Other jobs were to refit the bead trim to the wheel wells.
Nice to be able to reach both sides of a panel

and buck your own rivets
The other endcap proved no easier but after 2 or 3 applications of stripper it started to shine...
... in the spring sunshine
Endcaps are surprisingly robust and hold their curve but a simple T-shaped brace helps to keep them in shape, especially in a strong wind.

I think someone had retro-fitted a bunk at one end as the stern endcap was riddled with pop rivets. Having it out was a good opportunity to drill them out & buck in some solid ones - nothing structural, just that as I (hopefully) lie back in bed and gaze at the dazzling, parabolic 13 panels, it'll bug me to see a line of pop rivets. 
Not any more; another one man buck rivet job.

Time for another Space Shuttle helmet.
- In the background you can see the 54 Flying Cloud is a'flying on VATCO's (Vintage American Trailer Co) body-lifting gantry. She's also having the chassis repaired and a new floor before being reattached -

and Kelvin to help wrangle it in.


...and after.

No polishing but starting to look great.

Pop riveted around the window and the 12v wires for central and side lights.

The panels and their rivet lines show beautifully now stripped of their paint layers

A few more panels to refit but she's starting to look her old self again.

Pete & Kelvin taking a well-earned, tea-break - The VATCO workshop is pretty busy with two other 50s Airstreams to restore and a 70s in for conversion into a mobile bar. Check their site for a full list and I'm more than happy to vouch for the superb quality of all their work.

...British and American.

Me... I'm dreaming of that first sun-drenched trip.


  1. Nice work on the endcaps, Chris. I do not have fond memories of that task. Glad I only had one aluminum one.


  2. Okay, First, welcome back. Hope to find some links to your latest film projects.
    Second, I am still willing to carry your camera bag for room and board.
    Third,the Land Yacht plaque you show was 1958- 1960. If it is on a 63 it was put there erroneously.
    Fourth, you are doing one hell of a fine job.
    Fifth, stop showing me photos of those Vickers. I am smitten.

  3. Chris,

    We're at different points for sure, but I am really looking forward to getting my end caps beck into the trailer. I have stripped them 4-6 times with several products, and even soda blasted part of one of them. I am painting my interior, so I don't need it perfect like yours, but still a chore.

    Keep up the great work.


  4. chris,
    she really is looking great, you've put in so much time and thought into her and are getting so close to reaping the rewards.
    if you get vulkem withdrawal symptoms i've sourced some great stuff with slightly better elongation at break stats than the 636, if you need any let me know.

  5. Thanks for the kind words, Dacia, Frank and the two Steves.

    Glad you like the 'eye candy' photos and yes, stripping those endcaps wasn't the nicest of jobs, though your Tennessee sunshine certainly helped, Dacia.

    Thanks for the bag carrying offer, Frank, but I'm sorry but you're a way down the queue which numbers a lot of rather lovely more shapely assistantettes... and sadly I can't even take them (much to my wife's relief!).

    Just back from shooting a nice film with Don Wildman for Discovery Channel on the Roman city of Pompeii. So when that comes out in the autumn, I'll post a link.

    And thanks for your eagle-eyes, Frank; I'll check the date of that Safari & her plaque... makes for a nice photo though.

    Cheers... Chris

  6. I am RIVETED. (oh, you've heard that one before?) Seriously, fascinating journey!
    Don Wildman