Monday, June 27, 2011

The Plan

It doesn't make sense to start a project this big without a plan, right?
And so here is our loooong term plan for this great trailer... as of today, anyway.
If you have ideas, suggestions or words of encouragement please leave a comment!

Overall, we like the original floor plan of the Safari, so we don't plan on changing much.
- Two twin beds at the rear.
- Good amount of storage.
- Dinette that seats 4 and becomes a bed (comfortable sleeping for one grown up... or two small kids).
- Front kitchen layout is great… minimal bumping into whoever’s cooking.
- Front corner bathroom with toilet and sink (a shower would be nice).

- We'll be using it for weekend trips to the mountains or beach, summer vacation to who knows where, as an occasional guest room... y'know, normal stuff.
- It will need room for four grown-ups. Our two kids are 16 and 12... they are SO grown up!
- We are not a family of people who enjoy "roughing it," so lavish creature comforts are a must!
- We are also not tidy people... if there is a flat surface, you can bet it won't be long before it's covered with action figures, magazines, food wrappers, pop cans, sweaters, rock collection... you name it. Easy-to-use, out-of-sight storage is a must. In our old trailer, we would assign a cabinet or two to each person, that way we are all responsible for our own areas and it makes it easy to put things away.
- Sleeping areas: The two twin beds in the back are great... and maybe would be more usable with bolsters for couch-like seating. The dinette seems a tad narrow for two adults, so maybe we'll look into widening it 6 inches or so. That way mom and I could sleep on the dinette, and the kids can have the twin beds.
- Kitchen: Must have a decent size fridge/icemaker (propane & electric), sink (city water and tank access), propane cook top and microwave and as much counter space/storage as possible. An oven isn't a must-have. We're not big bakers and if we simply must have cookies or meatloaf, a counter top convection oven will be fine.
- Bathroom: It's pretty darn tight, but I think the space is manageable considering we aren't planning on spending a lot of time in there. I think we'll try to convert it into a "wet bath" meaning we'll add a drain to the floor and the whole room will become a shower if needed.
- “Suicide” Door-within-a-door. Center section unhooks and swings open making a built in screen door. Awesome!

- We love the classic look of these old 13-panel Airstreams.
- We also have a deep appreciation for history and the creative ways Wally Byam was able to design comfort, durability and function into his trailers. We want to maintain the look of 1956, but add the comfort features we will need to better enjoy using it.
-There are no extra holes cut in the exterior… only one access door at the rear, two small electrical inputs, one roof vent for the Panel Ray Heater, and that’s about it. No furnace, fridge, tank or water heater vents cut into the side. No air conditioner perched on top. We like it that way.
- Heat: Originally there was a tall Panel Ray Heater behind a cool-looking metal vent attachment to the left as you walk in the door. Air for combustion came in through the bellypan, and out through a small roof mounted vent. It used convection to circulate the warm air so no fans or electricity was needed. No need for ugly vents in the side either. I hear they work very well.
But does it still work? I don’t know. And I need to be positive about anything that requires combustion and involves carbon monoxide. Safety first!
So, in the interest of time and safety, I’ll probably replace it with a ceramic heater… or maybe a heat pump. I want to reuse the original Panel Ray vent so whatever heater I wind up using will live in the same location as the original did.
- Air conditioning: None originally, but we sure would like to add it. We don’t like how modern roof-top units mess with the uncluttered lines of the sleek trailer design. We’re thinking about adding one either close to the new heater behind the Panel Ray vent or maybe under a dinette bench. I would like to keep any needed venting hidden as much as possible.
- Hot water: Yes please. There was an original electric unit in the trailer when I bought it, but it was much too far gone to save. Typical heaters require obvious outside venting, and I’m trying to stay away from that. Perhaps a propane on-demand style water heater would work? I like the idea of having constant hot water. Still researching this one…
- Microwave: For our lifestyle, a microwave makes more sense than an oven. But I want to maintain the 1956 look of the interior. I think I’ll wind up hiding one behind a cabinet door so we can hide it when it’s not in use. We’ll use a counter top convection oven if we feel the need to make cookies, and crock pot if we gotta have a roast.
- Fridge: Gotta have it. The original was an electric only Kelvinator Brand. I still have it and I think it still works… but we would prefer frost-free and it needs to work with propane and electric.
My plan is to doctor up the door of a modern gas/electric fridge using the hardware and name plate of the original. Only big minus I can see is having to deal with a vent. I wonder if there’s a stealthy way to handle that. hmmm
- Floor: All new. Subfloor and tiles. No way around it. I'm about halfway done replacing the plywood subfloor. It's going OK, but I'm not 100% pleased with the rigidity of the new sections. there seems to be a little bounce between frame supports. Maybe the plywood I'm using is too thin? Crap, I hope not. I'm hopeful that cabinets and appliances will firm things up. (More later in the "Current State of the Safari" post.
For the finished flooring, we’ll use 12-inch VCT tiles cut down to 9-inches. The smaller squares make the space seem bigger visually, I think. We haven’t decided on color (s?) yet.
- Entertainment (TV, Music, Internet, Games…): We plan on adding a flat screen TV on a movable mount thingie for viewing from the beds at one angle, and from the dinette and kitchen at another angle. Music will be handled from either a car unit or small home stereo. I don’t know how to handle Internet connection, other than go find a wi-fi hot spot. The dinette will be great for games.

And of course there’s a lot more, but this post is nearing encyclopedia length!
I’ll add a “Current state of the Safari” post soon…