What’s the Big Deal?
You cut a hole in a vintage trailer, then you put a lid on it, right? More than just about any other feature, service windows cause headaches because they create a number of problems that you don’t deal with during a normal restoration. A few days ago, we completed our largest service window yet — a project that transformed a humble ’50s Silver Streak Clipper into a state-of-of-the-art lounge, bar, and mobile party centerpiece.
The first thing to consider is the size of the window and the effect it will have on the overall strength of the frame and body of the trailer. In the case of the Clipper, both the frame and body required strengthening to maintain the necessary rigidity to handle travel.
Learning the Curve
With the frame and body prepared, it was time to tackle the most difficult task — matching the complex, multi-radius curve of the body to create a door that fit perfectly and became virtually invisible when closed. We put our in-house engineer, Connor, on the job. Connor used SolidWorks to determine the exact shape of the curve. By creating templates with software, matching the bend through trial and error, and building the window on the trailer — rather than separately — he was able to create a perfect door with a seamless fit.
The Frame & Skin
The door frame was created with square tubing, bent to exact specifications with our custom jigs. Olympic rivets were used to attach 2024 ALCLAD aluminum sheet — an alloy that flexes so it can handle the stresses of travel. Other, cheaper types of aluminum blow out around the rivets.
Dimensions vary widely between service windows, so actuators and gas shocks must be chosen for each job. In the case of the clipper, we went with electric actuators to open and close the window. The required brackets and mounting hardware were custom fabricated in house, like the window itself, from aluminum stock.
For the hinges on our service windows, we use geared ones. While they cost more, geared hinges provide a weather-tight seal and increased lateral rigidity compared to piano hinges. To ensure no water intrusion, the team designed additional weather protection using standard awning fabric and awning rails. These UV- and water-resistant materials can handle high temperatures and can easily be replaced in the unlikely event of a failure.
To date, we’ve completed 11 service windows for Aistream, and similar style trailers, this does not include the canned-ham units we’ve built for the service industry like our Tin Bar. keep an eye out for the Backcountry.com Airstream, the Luxlounge, and Silver Belle (which is available for rent), to name a few of our favorite camper service window installs. With the increasing popularity of food trucks and mobile bars, lounges, and party centerpieces, we’re getting an increasing number of orders for service windows. These projects present a whole new batch of difficulties that aren’t commonly seen with camp trailer restorations, if you want a precisely fitted service windows that will last for decades, contact Reparadise today.