It was only a year ago that renovation of our 76′ AS Argosy went into full force. Everything on the interior needing replacing, but luckily the frame, body, and shell were intact. Partly you are overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be accomplished, much of it we had to learn along the way, but mostly excited and eager to see the finished product…a tiny dream home on wheels! Below is a picture of the day we brought the ol’ girl home.
Chad has an electronics degree but has worked in nearly all fields of work and can do just about anything with the right tools, he’s my Renaissance Man! Between my art and design skills and his saavy handywork, this project took us about a solid 4 months to accomplish and about $8k including the airstream itself, restoration, appliances including generator and AC, and contracted work. By doing most of the work yourself, and pricing out parts, and getting a few used items, even folks with a tight budget like us have the possibility of making this dream come true!
Before it becomes a money sucker, the first thing you want to do is take it to the shop and make sure it’s road worthy and if there are any major expenses or problems with the frame. You don’t want any surprises down the road! Ours checked out and was in relatively great condition considering it’s age and the way it looked. These early pictures might look gnarly, but don’t be fooled nay-sayers! Our first project at hand was gutting what was left of the inside, taking down interior walls, cabinetry, sinks, and removing the floor. Though not a difficult task, removing the floor and the old insulation was by far the nastiest task of this whole project. Once that was done, the frame was cleaned off and reprimed, and new insulation was put down with a vapor barrier.
Once the floor was in, Chad mapped out where everything would be placed, from plumbing, electrical, gaslines, carpentry, appliances, and wheel wells. Many of these things can be found in the original 76′ manual we downloaded, but several of these details weren’t mentioned and we had to figure it out ourselves. While he worked on getting these things in place, I cleaned off the interior skins and started sourcing materials including flooring, sinks, and appliances.
Once the framing was in, paint on the walls, and flooring laid down, the camper really started looking like a home. Unlike the original floor plan, we tweaked our design a little bit, like moving the bed to the front and creating a convertible dinette bed. Because a 22′ Airstream leaves you with little room, creating as many double purpose areas and storage spaces is key. We created hidden compartments, bookshelves, and cabinets to utilize the space.
While things were finishing up on the inside, I started the mural on the exterior. The great thing about the Argosy model is that it was the one model of AS that already came out of the factory painted off-white. For an artist, it’s a huge blank canvas. The other upside is that it’s a good way to hide imperfections and dents. I chose the theme of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” and mapped out the mural after I washed and sanded the surface. I used Valspar’s exterior anti-rust armor oil enamel paint from Lowes.
Renovating an old Airstream is a lot of work, but it’s really rewarding looking back and seeing all that you’ve accomplished. It’s definitely a learning experience and the cool thing about doing it this way (other than saving thousands of dollars) is it’s really fun customizing it the way you want. We’re a pretty quirky couple, so creating this fulltime home for us the way we wanted it to be was key.. and it is One-of-a-Kind!
And boy, has it been an adventure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!