Airstream built 55 Flying Cloud camp trailers in 1951. No one knows how many are left 65 years later. But when this camper rolled into our shop, we knew we were looking at a rare piece of Airstream history.
Restoration started at ground level with the complete refurbishment of the rare, pole-style chassis. This included reinforcement where necessary, and also added holding tanks to the chassis. Originally these old Airstreams only had a fresh water tank. We then added new brakes and a new axle, and adjusted the ride height to match up with modern tow vehicles, which also provides a little better clearance for traversing drainage ditches and driveways. After we installed the new sub-floor, we added rich Kingswood Oak flooring.
The exterior presented pretty well, but we still needed to perform quite a bit of cosmetic work. The team completely rebuilt all the windows. We replaced frames, glass, screens, and gaskets and refurbished the super-cool oval rear window. At sometime someone added ’70s fridge vents to the curbside by the door… those needed to go. Finally, we turned shinymetalschad loose on the weathered aluminum for a Stage 1 Polish. The team also added a new license plate mount, trailer connection, and patched up any unnecessary holes. We painted the trailer tongue and bumper “Hearthrob High Gloss Red” (of course). Finally, we replaced all the chassis electrical with modern components and running lights.
As with just about any restoration, we started by completely gutting the interior. An empty shell presents a clean canvas to turn — in the words of Vanilla Ice — from Zero to Hero. The team started by replacing all the electrical wiring with modern 12 and 110v. After that, closed-cell spray foam insulation ensures this Flying Cloud has the nest r value and water resistance the modern world knows. We painted any salvageable original interior panels in Dove White, and replaced ones that were too far gone. The team then got to work on the cabinetry. We used non-knotty alder and finished it with Koko stain. To preserve the vintage feel, we built all new radius-edge doors and restored the aluminum overhead cabinets. We then restored the vintage, but not original to this trailer, stove and added aluminum countertops.
We always consider it a good thing to be able to use original equipment, but sometimes that’s not always possible. In this case, we restored the Wedgewood stove that was in the unit, but probably not original. The end result fits the interior vibe nicely. The team also installed a modern Isotherrm 130 Cruise fridge with a stainless steel front. Air-conditioning duties are handled be a Dometic top-mounted AC unit. To set the mood, we added LED sconces and a custom chandelier over the dinette that are on a dimmer switch.
While we try to add fashion where we can, we keep bathroom design relatively function-focused. The team installed white aluminum walls and a custom shower pan, while the teak floor adds a hint of style. A Dometic Master-Flush toilet takes care of the most crucial bathroom business. We finished the bathroom with a space-saving custom sliding door with high-end hardware.
We love vintage trailers. We do not love vintage electronics. The team at Reparadise takes a lot of pride bringing these old campers into the future. We scrapped everything that came with the trailer and started over. We opted for 2 maintenance-free, absorbed glass-mat batteries to power the house electrical. These are wired with a low voltage disconnect to protect the batteries for a long life. Finally, we replaced the long lost original switches with custom units crafted in the same manner as the originals.
From the completely rebuilt chassis, to the impeccable cabinetry, to the full-grain European leather on the lounge, this vintage Airstream Flying Cloud has received a new lease on life at Reparadise and is ready to make lasting memories for the next century.