A list of choices we made, why we made them, and how it went
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Things That I Haven't Categorized Yet
- Leveling Blocks/Chocks Working pretty well so far, but we're not on the road yet. If I increased my tire size to 235 like a lot of people do when they put LT tires on their trailers, I'm not sure I'd be able to fit these between the tires. With the 225 tires, they just barely fit. The other downside of these is that they only can lift you so far. I think long-term we're going to want to carry a couple sets of standard leveling blocks.
- X-Chocks These chocks are awesome if you have a dual or triple axle trailer. They wedge between two wheels and lock them together. With regular wedge-type chocks, the wheels can still wiggle a bit while you're walking around the trailer. The x-chocks lock the wheels in place solidly, and apart from keeping the trailer from rolling away, also add some stability to the floor.
- Wall Molding This was a shipping fiasco, but VTS took care of me. They accidentally shipped the tube via USPS and it arrived postage due about $75. VTS refunded me the amount of postage due so I could pick up my stuff.
- Bathroom Mirror The first one I got was defective, so they sent me a new one with no problem. Good customer service. Looks like any other mirror, but weighs next to nothing and won't break easily.
- 12V Receptacles Look much nicer than the factory plastic ones.
- The scare light was a nice addition, and it uses the same style lens as the tail lights, so it looks original. We also have the original porch light that goes above the door (VTS sells a reproduction here), which just illuminates the area immediately outside the door, which shouldn't disturb our neighbors as much as the scare light would. We did buy a replacement plastic lens for the porch light, which is juts a piece of plastic in a frosted finish. Doesn't quite fit perfectly, but it's easy to cut.
- Tow Vehicle Connector This one is very high quality molded plastic. It feels hefty, and was relatively easy to install. It's color coded to the original colors of the Airstream wiring, except that the blue wire is not marked -- that one goes in the middle.
- Circuit Breakers (25A and 15A) and Covers. These protect the coach wiring from power surges from the tow vehicle and vice-versa. They automatically reset themselves, and they're buried in the wall behind the couch with the rest of the TV wiring. The factory wiring had one of these buried in the tow wiring behind the couch, but I added a few more.
- Brake Controller This is a pretty popular model, though some more experienced travelers don't like this brake controller. My experience is that it works, and was easy to install in my Tacoma. You're also going to want the wiring harness that plugs into whatever model vehicle you have. My only gripe is that I have to adjust the gain when I'm driving at highway speeds vs. surface streets. I can't find one setting that works for both, so I'm making frequent adjustments on the fly.
- Buck Riveting Kit Recommended. Had all the rivets I needed to do a shell-off remodel. I still have some rivets left over. Also included two sizes of Clecos and Cleco pliers, which are indispensable for this project.
- All-Clad Aluminum Aircraft Spruce seems to have the best pricing for large rolls of sheet metal that I can find outside of a local metal supplier. They also carry bellypan aluminum and stainless sheeting. An alternative vendor is Airparts.
- Deadbolt Nice addition to help keep the door from flying open while we are underway. Apparently this happens sometimes with Airstreams, and if it does, the door can be irreparably damaged.
- Level Pretty standard, used to see how level the camper is from the driver's seat of the truck. Very nice to have along with our levelers.
- Antenna Not recommended. The build quality on the antenna looks OK (aside from the fact that the base is plastic), but the connection on the back of this antenna is proprietary to the manufacturer, so you can't get replacement parts. I wanted to buy a 90 degree connection to avoid a sharp turn inside the wall, but it's not available. You have to use the cable that came with the antenna, and if that breaks, you're out of luck. Better to find a similar model that uses standardized fittings.
- Trem-Pro One of the best all around sealants for Airstreams. Sticks to pretty much anything (including aluminum) and stays rubbery forever. The only downside of this stuff is that it never fully cures, so it can stay a little tacky forever. Exposed areas like the roof and around windows might be better off with Sikaflex. Don't use alcohol (including Windex) to prep your surface with either of these sealants, since it can interfere with the cure. Clean with carburetor cleaner and a rag.
- Gutter Seal Relatively easy to make a neat 1/8" bead, and it supposedly sucks itself into relatively thin cracks. In my experience, it dries kinda hard, and skins over faster than you can blink, so it's impossible to tool. If you don't lay it down perfectly in the first go, you're out of luck. Some people love this stuff, but I removed every bit that I used and replaced it with Trem-Pro and Sikaflex.
- Window Weatherstripping and Adhesive Inland Andy recommends a different product, but I went with the original design. Seems to work fine.
- Vent Pipe Gaskets Dear people who worked on my Airstream in the past: the screen goes ABOVE the pipe gasket, not between the gasket and the pipe. How is the gasket supposed to seal out the water if the screen is holding the gasket away from the pipe? These gaskets showed surface cracks after only six months of installation, but I'm not sure there's a better part available. I'd suggest adding a little TremPro around the seal for added insurance, and planning to replace the vent gaskets every five years or so.
- Polyshim Butyl Tape Used for wing window repair here. I wouldn't use this alone to seal something, but it's sticky and holds the glass panes apart nicely.
- Butyl Tape. Used for sealing all sorts of lap seams. I am having the best success when I use this inside a lap seam and then caulk the edge with Trem-pro. Butyl tape alone doesn't seem to seal very well by itself, so you definitely need some additional sealant around the edge. You can buy this stuff from Amazon, but it costs more, and mine arrived pretty well smushed -- I don't think Amazon knows how to ship butyl tape. An alternative would be to fill the gap between your lap seams with Trem-Pro, but that would make it much more difficult to get the pieces apart in the future if needed, so do this at your own risk.
- Gobs and gobs of Silicone Caulk Remover Takes a few applications, but it works.
- Caulking Syringe A nice tool to have for making a small bead of sealant.
- I sealed the plywood subfloor (exterior grade BC plywood) with West System Epoxy. It took two and a half of the gallon kits with the 205 hardener to do both sides and the edges of the subfloor with two good coats. I'm sure I'll find a use for the remainder. It wasn't cheap, but after all the leaks I've already had, I'm glad I did it.
- Rivet Remover Very helpful when you're removing lots of rivets, like when you're taking out the interior skin. I don't bother with this when I'm just taking out a couple of rivets. If you're removing exterior buck rivets, a center punch and a regular 1/4" drill bit seems to be more reliable.
- Caulk Removal Disk Helpful in cleaning stubborn Vulkem and other sealants without scratching the aluminum. This item, plus some paint thinner and a rag were my primary tools for removing Vulkem from the old air conditioner seams. You can stack a few of them at the same time if you're working on a flat surface, or just use one to get into thin gaps.
- Compressor Nice compressor, massive overkill for running a riveter. I bought a more capable one than I needed because I thought it would be easier to sell when I was done with it. If I were buying one to keep and run just the riveter and maybe fill tires, would have bought a much smaller one.