DIY Renovation of our 1972 Airstream Overlander

DIY Renovation of our 1972 Airstream Overlander

If you’ve spent any time exploring our website, you probably noticed that we live and work out of an Airstream – a 27-foot 1972 Airstream Overlander, to be precise. But when we bought, it looked nothing like it looks today. It was basically just an empty shell, ready to be customized and brought back to life, which is exactly what we were looking for. When we towed it home after first picking it up, it was the beginning of a long, arduous, and dirty project that was way, way over our heads. This post is a journey of words and images through our DIY Airstream renovation.

In the summer of 2015 we gut renovated our 1972 Airstream Overlander to be our 100% self sustainable, off-grid, mobile live-work space. This project took us 6 months to complete, 4 of which we were working on it full time. We had absolutely NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE of anything related to renovation at all. At the time there weren’t a lot of other Airstream renovators to draw inspiration from or online resources so everything we did we learned how to do on the fly. We receive questions about our renovation project daily so we decided to put together this blog post in hopes to help and inspire other people taking on an Airstream renovation project.


Helpful renovation resources

  1. Airforums for threads on all types of renovation projects.
  2. Vintage Trailer Supply for airstream replacement parts.
  3. Out-of-Doors-Mart RV for additional airstream parts.
  4. The Foxes Airstream Instagram with more tips and info on our reno process.
  5. The Foxes Airstream Renovation in Less Than 10 Minutes Youtube Video
  6. The Modern Caravan are some of the best Airstream renovators out there!

AIRSTREAM RENOVATION PART 1: TEARDOWN

AIRSTREAM RENOVATION PART 2: STARTING TO PUT IT ALL BACK TOGETHER

So, like I said, we were in waayyy over our heads. Nevertheless, we got right to work like the naive, foolhardy DIYers we are. First order of business was to tear it apart even more, tackling all the structural issues first. We replaced some rotted floor in the rear, replaced the water tank, treated the frame, removed all the old, nasty insulation, updated the wiring…we basically took the trailer from 1972 to 2015, structurally speaking. We had no idea how to do any of this stuff, but thankfully the internet did. Still, it was A LOT of trial and error.

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AIRSTREAM RENOVATION PART 3: THE BUILD

This was a major milestone in the entire renovation process, and one of our favorite moments. We had been working day and night in my parent’s driveway for three months, and finally had the skins back in, the floors laid down, and the walls painted. We officially had our “blank canvas.”

We were so excited and the idea of actually living in this thing finally seemed attainable. We ate take-out Chinese food in the empty trailer, with my parents and our dogs cozying in on the floor. We reflected on everything we had done up to this point, and fantasized about the next stage of renovation, building out the interior. Brandon and I were so giddy that we slept out there on our crash pads! This is my favorite memory from the entire renovation <3

AIRSTREAM RENOVATION PART 4: HIT THE ROAD!

Our excitement at finally reaching this point was incomprehensible. We were constantly in awe of all that we had done. We had been renovating full time for six months, and we finally had something that resembled an actual camper that could be lived in. Sure, we still had a handful of projects left, but we had enough done for the time being to hit the road! We had been living on the road already for a year and a half, but we started a whole new chapter when we took off with the Airstream in early November, 2015.

AIRSTREAM RENOVATION PART 5: KEEP RENOVATING...

Since setting out in the Airstream, we’ve continued to chip away at projects here and there, making small improvements to things we left unfinished. But for the most part, we haven’t changed a thing, nor would we. The layout has been perfect for our daily life and it tows like a champ! Here is a collection of photos that show what the Airstream looks like at present. We took these in early 2017 at one of our favorite climbing destinations and winter hangs, Hueco Tanks, just outside El Paso, TX.

LIVING IN AND LOVING OUR DIY RENOVATED 1972 AIRSTREAM

We’re so proud of the work we accomplished and love that we can now share our space with the greater community of wanderers and adventurers. We’ve taken TONS of inspiration from projects we’ve seen online, on instagram, and elsewhere, so we hope that sharing our home-on-the-road might do the same for others.

Photography and travel are easily our two favorite things in life, and it’s amazing that we are fortunate enough to combine the two on a daily basis. There’s never a shortage of inspiration when you can pick up go somewhere new at a moment’s notice. Living in a small space and often far off the beaten path definitely has its struggles, but the forced spontaneity keeps us on our toes and influences our work in a wonderful way.

Related: Check out Apartment Therapy’s House Tour of our “Dreamy” Remodel

See more of The Foxes Travel Photography

 

AIRSTREAM RENOVATION FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: How well does your catalytic heater work?

A: This is the best purchase we ever made. It heats up the entire Airstream within an hour and keeps it nice and toasty in freezing temperatures. We leave a nearby window cracked when the heater is on for proper airflow and have a carbon monoxide detector that we check to make sure is working regularly.

Find it on Amazon

Q: What is your solar system setup?

A: This is our most asked question. We have four 100 watt solar panels that we taped to the roof with VHB tape and solar mounting brackets from amazon. They fit well even with the curve of the roof and have held up in 70+ mph winds while propped up! We highly suggest putting your panels on a tilt mount because tilting your panels will significantly increase the amount of power you’re able to draw in. We have two 6 volt 225 amp hour batteries wired in series for 12 volts total. The brand is vmax and we DO NOT recommend this brand. Unfortunately we’ve had problems with them holding a charge and even had them replaced. We’re saving up for lithium batteries. This setup is sufficient for us to run our computers all day in full sun. We’re working on a separate blog post on our solar system.

Find VHB tape and solar mounting brackets on amazon.

Q: Where did you find the LED recessed lights.

A: Amazon! They’re out of stock on the exact ones we bought, but these are almost identical. We recommend going with warm white lights, instead of bright white.

Find it on Amazon

Q: What should we budget for a renovation like this?

A: $20,000+ total. We put about $13,000 into our renovation on top of the cost of the Airstream itself, $6,500. We bought the Airstream with cash and put everything else on the Chase Freedom 15 month 0% interest credit card. Since we don’t pay rent and just campground fees, paying off the credit card at $900 per month was easy.

The Chase Freedom card gives you $150 bonus when spending $500 in the first 3 months and 5% back on the bonus category of the month which is always either groceries, gas, department stores, or restaurants.

*This is not a sponsored add. We personally love the rewards from this credit card and only recommend this route if you’re the kind of person who will actually make your payment every month to avoid interest charges after 15 months!

Q: What does your bathroom look like?

A: It’s unfinished. We built a compost toilet which is amazing and was a total game changer from going out in the woods! We’ll be finishing the bathroom winter 2018 and while the compost toilet we build has been great, we are going to be installing the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. The clean and simple design is worth the investment.

Find it on Amazon

Q: Where did you get your new water tank?

A: We had it made from Vintage Trailer Supply. It was pricey (around $300) but it was worth it to us considering the old one hadn’t been used for decades and had some nasty things growing in it. If your Airstream has had people using the water tank recently enough you can just clean it out with a bleach or vinegar mixture.

Q: Where do you park the trailer?

A: BLM (bureau of land management) land or forest service roads usually provide a beautiful (and free) campsite that we can stay on for 2-8 weeks. To find these sites we research the area on google to find BLM land and learn what the rules for camping on it are. Then we’ll scout out the location when we get there to make sure we can make it with the airstream. Yes, we’ve gotten into hairy situations in which we had to back out or turn around and find a plan b, but for the most part we’ve been pretty lucky with our spots. When we have to be near a city we search craigslist for tiny house parking. That’s a little harder to come by since those spots are highly desired, but if we keep an eye on Craigslist for long enough, something good always comes up. You can only stay at campgrounds for 2 weeks so that’s only an option for short stays. Our last resort is an RV park because they’re usually pretty pricey and pretty crammed.

Q: Where did you get your oven?

A: It’s a used Force 10 oven we found on craigslist that originally lived on a boat in Massachusetts. It was caked with sea salt when we bought it and cleaned it up as best we good. The stove top works just fine but the oven hardly works. I don’t know if that’s because we bought it used or if the Force 10 ovens don’t work well in general. I wish we had done more research on them before we bought them but the standard RV suburban ovens don’t have great reviews either. Your best bet is finding an original one that came with the Airstream. Our friends have one and their oven works perfectly!

Q: Do you have the files for the CNC cut furniture?

A: No we don’t. Unfortunately we didn’t keep those files 🙁 If we did and had a penny for every time someone asked for them, we’d probably have one hole dollar 😉

Q: Did someone help you with electric and plumbing?

A: No, not at all. We (and by we, I mean Brandon) did a SHIT TON of research on all this stuff. He drew out many electrical and plumbing maps (which we recommend saving in case you need to get to a certain wire in the future), read many online articles, and watched lots and lots of youtube videos. Once we were ready to start wiring there was a lot of trial and error and had taking apart/re-doing it quite a few times. It’s a big headache and can seem like a daunting task but I PROMISE YOU, just keep at it and it will start to make sense and come together. Also, plumbing was super easy, don’t get stressed about that part.

This is a constantly growing list of Q and A’s. If you have a question that wasn’t answered here just email us directly at hello (at) thefoxesphotography.com and we’ll do our best to get back to you! Please don’t fill out the contact form on our contact page, that’s for couples inquiring for our business and Airstream inquiries tend to get lost in the shuffle.

 

The Foxes are Brandon and Gabi Fox, an adventurous husband and wife elopement photography team living and traveling in their DIY renovated 1972 Airstream. They are loosely based in the Pacific Northwest, but travel for work and play throughout the western states and beyond. Their elopement photography is award winning and is described as candid photography that captures couples as they are, where they are, blending images of love and natural beauty in the great outdoors. 

MORE FROM THE BLOG

CUSTOM PHOTO ALBUM AGREEMENT

THE FOXES PHOTOGRAPHY, LLC

These Terms and Conditions are a legally binding agreement is between you (“Client”) The Foxes Photography, LLC (“Photographer”) (collectively the “Parties”, or in the singular “Party”), for the purpose of Client purchasing a custom photography album from Photographer. This Agreement shall become effective upon the date you complete the checkout process.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  1. Fees & Retainer

Client shall commit to a custom album package by signing and returning this Agreement along with the initial payment for album service. Photographer will not begin its custom album services until the Agreement is signed and the album design fee is received. No final album will be printed until the full payment is made. In the event Client fails to remit payment as specified, Photographer shall have the right to immediately terminate this Agreement with no further obligation and retain any monies already paid as liquidated damages. Full payment must be completed by Client within 60 days of this Agreement’s date.

The fees in this Agreement are based on Photographer’s current album pricing at the time of booking. The price list is adjusted periodically, and any changes to custom albums will be charged at the prices in effect at the time.

  1. Album Design Procedure

The following outline indicates the general procedure of a custom album design. Client understands and agrees to this procedure.

  1. Photographer will use photos and album specifications to create their first custom album design.
  2. Photographer will send Client first draft of album design.
  3. Client will approve or send in revisions to album design.
  4. Photographer will make edits to album design. Only two rounds of edits are allowed.
  5. Client will approve final album design.
  6. Photographer will send in album for printing.
  7. Album is printed and shipped.
  8. Client receives final printed album.
  1. Album Spreads

Albums will include 35 spreads and no less. The definition of a “page” is one side of a spread in an album (for example, a 70-page album contains 35 spreads). If Client requests more than 35 spreads, additional spreads are $50.00 each. 

  1. Revision Rounds

The first draft will include photos selected by the photographer and will be sent to Client for approval. Client may request modifications to be made. Photographer shall complete modifications and send the second draft of album design to Client. Client may then accept the design or request one more round of modifications. Photographer will complete this second modification request and send the final draft of album to Client. After these two rounds of revisions to the album design, no further revisions are allowed. Any additional revisions are invoiced at a rate of $75.00 per round. All additional revision rounds must be paid before the revision is made by the Photographer. Photographer requires up to 10 days to complete a revision request. Client has 50 days to send Photographer any and all revision requests. Any revisions requested by Client more than 50 days after this Agreement’s date will not be accepted by Photographer.

  1. Final Approval

Photographer will not place an album order with the album Manufacturer until Client approves the design draft, and the balance is paid on any upgrades or additional spreads. Client agrees to check the final album design very carefully before giving final approval. Once final approval is given, Photographer is not responsible for typos, image defects, duplicate images, or other errors that may have been missed. 

  1. Parent/Duplicate Albums

Parent/duplicate albums cannot be altered from the original designs. All parent/duplicate albums shall be ordered at the time of final approval of the original album design and will be invoiced and must be paid prior to Photographer sending in album for printing. No parent/duplicate albums are available after the original album ordering phase is complete.

  1. Album Delivery

Client understands and agrees that Photographer’s album manufacturer (“Manufacturer”) generally takes 6-8 weeks to print and manufacture the album. While every possible precaution is taken and Manufacturer has been selected by Photographer for its superb quality, Photographer assumes no liability for the loss or damage of album while in possession of Manufacturer. 

  1. Ordering Date

Client shall agree to final album design within 60 days of this Agreement’s date. Any delay by Client in approving final album design will result in termination of this Agreement and no further obligation by Photographer.

  1. Retouching and Edits

Photographer will use the final edited images delivered to Client to make the album design. Photographer will not re-edit or retouch any images.

  1. Returns

Client understands and agrees that once final approval of album design has been given to Photographer, no returns or refunds are allowed whatsoever. In the event Client receives the printed album and sees any manufacturer defects or dislikes the album quality, Photographer will work with Manufacturer to the best of their ability to remedy the situation. Client is responsible for any additional fees associated with returning or reprinting the album.

  1. Album Archiving

Photographer shall keep a copy of final approved album design for 90 days but does not permanently archive the final album design. Client understands that after 90 days the album design will not be available to order additional copies and a new agreement must be signed to start the process over.

  1. Photographer Copyright

The final album design by The Foxes Photography, LLC is their property, will remain their property, and are protected by United States Copyright Laws (USC Title 17). Client hereby waives any claims for ownership, income, editorial control, and use of the images and album design. Violations of this federal law will be subject to its civil and criminal penalties.

  1. Reproduction

Client and Client’s agents agree to acquire the album design and product directly from Photographer through their professional album company. Client and Client’s agents agree not to scan, copy or reproduce the album design in any manner without written permission, including using the custom album design to create other albums. Photographer may seek damages for any illegal reproduction. Client and Client’s agents further agree not to supply the album to any third-parties.

  1. Communication

Photographer’s office hours are 9:00am – 5:00pm PST Monday through Friday. Photographer’s primary source of communication is through their email [email protected] Photographer will respond to Client’s emails within those office hours.

  1. Indemnification

Client shall indemnify, release, discharge and hold harmless Photographer, its heirs, legal representatives, assigns, employees, contractors, or any persons or corporations acting under permission or authority of the Photographer from and against any and all losses, damages, liabilities, and expenses and costs, including reasonable legal expenses and attorneys’ fees, to which Photographer may become subject as a result of any claim, demand, action or other legal proceeding by any third-party to the extent such losses arise directly or indirectly out of activities performed by Photographer pursuant to this Agreement, except to the extent such losses result from the gross negligence, willful misconduct, or intentional acts of Photographer.

  1. Maximum Damages

The sole remedy for any actions or claims by Client shall be limited to a refund, the maximum amount not to exceed the total monies paid by Client under this Agreement.

  1. Limitation of Liability

If, during the production and/or before the album(s) are delivered to Client, the media has been lost, stolen, or is unusable because of defect, damage, equipment/platform malfunction, processing, or other technical error caused by Photographer or by forces outside the control of Photographer, Client agrees to relieve and hold Photographer harmless and will not impose any additional liability.

In no event shall Photographer be liable under this Agreement to Client or any other third-party for consequential, indirect, incidental, special, exemplary, punitive, or enhanced damages, arising out of, relating to, or in connection with any breach of this Agreement, regardless of (a) whether such damages were foreseeable, (b) whether or not Client was advised of such damages, and (c) the legal or equitable theory (contract, tort, or otherwise) upon which the claim is based.

  1. Force Majeure 

No Party shall be liable or responsible to the other Party, nor be deemed to have defaulted under or breached this Agreement, for any failure or delay in fulfilling or performing any term of this Agreement (except for any obligations to make payments to the other Party hereunder), when and to the extent such failure or delay is caused by or results from acts beyond the impacted party’s (“Impacted Party”) control that are unforeseen and unpredictable at the time of contracting, including, but not limited to, the following force majeure 

events (“Force Majeure Events”): (a) acts of God; (b) a natural disaster (fires, explosions, earthquakes, hurricane, flooding, storms, explosions, infestations), epidemic, or pandemic; (c) war, invasion, hostilities (whether war is declared or not), terrorist threats or acts, riot or other civil unrest; (d) government order or law; (e) actions, embargoes or blockades in effect on or after the date of this Agreement; (f) action by any governmental authority; (g) national or regional emergency; (h) strikes, labor stoppages or slowdowns or other industrial disturbances; and (i) shortage of adequate power or transportation facilities. The Impacted Party shall give Notice (as defined in Section 27) within 10 days of the Force Majeure Event to the other Party, stating the period of time the occurrence is expected to continue. The Impacted Party shall use diligent efforts to end the failure or delay and ensure the effects of such Force Majeure Event are minimized. The Impacted Party shall resume the performance of its obligations as soon as reasonably practicable after the removal of the cause. In the event that the Impacted Party’s failure or delay remains uncured for a period of 15 days following Notice given by it, the other Party may thereafter terminate this Agreement upon Notice. The Retainer and all other payments made by Client up to the date of Notice of a Force Majeure Event are non-refundable.

  1. Cancellation of Album Services by Photographer

In the event Photographer determines, in its sole discretion, that it cannot or will not perform its obligations under this Agreement due to circumstances including, but not limited to, injury, illness, death of family member, pregnancy, military orders, religious obligations, other personal emergencies, or total breakdown of communication with Client, it will:

  1. Immediately give notice to Client;
  2. Issue a refund or credit based on a reasonably accurate percentage of custom album services rendered; and
  3. Excuse Client of any further performance and/or payment obligations under this Agreement.
  1. Sales Tax

Should any sale and/or use tax be imposed on any part of this Agreement, such tax shall be collected from Client and remitted by Photographer. All sales tax will be included on invoices.

  1. Entire Agreement

This is a binding Agreement that incorporates the entire understanding of the Parties, supersedes any other written or oral agreements between the Parties, and any modifications must be in writing, signed by all Parties, and physically attached to the original agreement.


22. Venue and Jurisdiction

This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of Washington including all matters of construction, validity, performance, and enforcement and without giving effect to the principles of conflict of laws. The Parties agree that any dispute or lawsuit arising out of, or concerning, this Agreement that is not first resolved by arbitration shall be resolved exclusively in a court of competent jurisdiction located in Whatcom County, Washington. The Parties assume responsibility for their own collection costs and legal fees incurred should enforcement of this Agreement become necessary.

  1. Arbitration

Any and all disputes or disagreements rising between the Parties out of this Agreement upon which an amicable understanding cannot be reached, shall be decided by arbitration in accordance with the procedural rules of the American Arbitration Association. The Parties agree to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator(s). The arbitration proceeding shall take place in Whatcom County, Washington, unless another location is mutually agreed to by the Parties. The cost and expenses of the arbitrators shall be shared equally by the Parties. Each Party shall be responsible for its own costs and expenses in presenting the dispute for arbitration.

  1. Severability & No Waiver

In the event that any part of this Agreement is found to be invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of this Agreement shall remain valid and enforceable. Any failure by one or both Parties to enforce a provision of this Agreement shall not constitute a waiver of any other portion or provision of this Agreement.

  1. Transfer

This Agreement cannot be transferred or assigned to any third-party by either the Photographer or Client without written consent of all Parties. 

  1. Headings

Headings and titles are provided in this Agreement for convenience only and will not be construed as part of this Agreement.

  1. Notice

Parties shall provide effective notice (“Notice”) to each other via email at the date and time which the Notice is sent: Photographer’s Email: [email protected]

  1. Counterparts; Facsimile Signatures 

The Parties agree that a facsimile copy (electronic copy) of this Agreement, which contains the Parties’ signatures, may be used as the original.

Signatures

By checking the box on this order form and upon completion of purchase, you confirm that you have read, understood, and agree to the terms and conditions of this Agreement.