How to Restore Airstream Travel Trailers

How to Restore Airstream Travel Trailers
How to Restore Airstream Travel Trailers
Wally Bryan, the founder of Airstream, said his trailers "cruised down the highway like a stream of air." The lightweight trailer was inspired by aircraft design. Travel trailers quickly became the alternative of choice for family vacations. Having an Airstream professionally restored can be an expensive proposition. The principles are the same as for any trailer restoration as long as you stay true to the Airstream fundamentals. If you're handy, you can complete most of the work yourself.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Things You'll Need:
  • Replacement parts Cleaners Stainless steel polish Window coverings Upholstery
  • Replacement parts
  • Cleaners
  • Stainless steel polish
  • Window coverings
  • Upholstery
Step 1

Educate yourself on what a classic Airstream travel trailer should look like, what components are original to your model and what interior decor is appropriate.

Step 2

Inspect the trailer for structural damage and repair or replace framing, rotted wood and floors as needed. Test electrical and plumbing systems. Have repairs done by a professional if you're not comfortable with doing them yourself.

Step 3

Remove aftermarket parts that aren't true to Airstream. Replacement parts can be found in vintage trailer magazines and in salvage yards. Advertise for parts you can't find.

Step 4

Check hidden systems like the gray and black water tanks. Fill the tanks and watch for leaks. Flush the system with a bleach solution followed by clean water to remove mold and bacteria. Test the furnace and refrigerator.

Step 5

Clean the wood veneers and replaced damaged spots with matching wood grains. Polish interior stainless steel and repair scratches and pitting.

Step 6

Replace window coverings and upholstery that are not original to Airstream. These trailers frequently had Venetian blinds with wide slats on the windows. Reupholster damaged cushion coverings with colors and fabrics that are true to your trailer's era. Replace the carpeting.

Step 7

Polish and repair the stainless steel exterior of the trailer. Fix rust spots and replace damaged or missing trim. Repair doors, locks, entry steps and window seals. Check the exterior propane hoses for damage. Test the stabilizing jacks.

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.

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