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Upgrades and Necessary Maintenance

As part of our one-year Airstream ownership celebration week, I found myself conducting a bit of preventative, repair, and upgrade activities this week.

The fun started on Sunday with a refrigerator and freezer thaw.  In a very stealth-like manner, the ice build-up seemingly came from nowhere.  As you can see in the picture below, there is no doubt our fridge is cooling quite well – perhaps too well.

Ice build-up in the fridge

Ice build-up in the fridge

Once I had all the contents resting one ice and safely contained within a giant Rubbermaid tub, I turned my attention to the task at hand – conquering the ice pack.  Initially I thought I would simply wait for the ice to melt.  But fortunately, common sense prevailed as I remembered Kelly maintains a portable heat gun – commonly referred to as her hairdryer.   Call it what you want, on ‘high’ setting, that bad boy packs a punch.  The ice was quickly overwhelmed and surrendered without much of a hassle.

Accelerating the thaw

Accelerating the thaw

Five minutes later, the cooling fins were once again freed from their icy confines and ready to begin cooling my food.

Clean fins free of ice and back to normal

Clean fins free of ice and back to normal

Satisfied with my fridge maintenance, I set sights on addressing the occasionally annoying and potentially hazardous vibrations I’ve recently started noticing in my truck.  Suspecting one or both brake rotors were warped, I took my beloved F-150 to the local Ford dealer for a look.  Having confirmed my suspicions, the service manager graciously made time for me and even had one of “my guys” drove me to a local coffee shop while the repairs were completed.

Given my truck is only a year old and well within the 3yr/30k miles warranty, the work would not set me back anything more than a few hours of my time.  The exchange seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

About 2.5 hours later, I received a call confirming the repairs had been completed and “one of my guys” would be arriving to drive me back to the dealership.  It turns out that the warped rotor caused some uneven wear to the brake pads, so in addition to rotors, I’m sporting some new brake pads as well.

I’m happy to report that braking is once again butter-smooth.

Looking to complete my Airstream/tow vehicle hat-trick of activities, earlier today I installed two Fantastic Vents to accompany the existing factory installed Fantastic Fans.  Living on the coast, the weather can be a bit unpredictable which can make it challenging with the roof vents.  In theory, the fan rain sensors mitigate any moisture risk by auto-closing at the first signs of rain, but they are easily fooled by the thick marine fog we frequently experience around here.  Further, the little motor operating the open/close mechanism is loud and eventually becomes nothing short of a major pain in the ass.

Something has to give and my hope is the vent covers will prove to be a key additional to Mabel’s exterior.

Unpacking and getting myself organized

Unpacking and getting myself organized

I’ve heard a lot of conflicting feedback about walking on the roof.  Unlike most RV’s and trailers, the roof of an Airstream is fairly delicate which had me a bit nervous about walking around up there.  Combing the web for ideas, the variety of “best practices” for navigating the roof was amazing.  Suggestions ranged from avoiding the roof at all costs, to building weight-dispersing platforms wrapped in padded carpet, to purchasing and erecting scaffolding customized for the Airstream.

In the end, I wrapped a towel around a ladder to protect the trailer’s aluminum skin from scratches, climbed up to the roof, and did my best to limit any walking to the rivet lines – a visual marker of structurally reinforced areas best able to withstand my bodyweight.

Awaiting the installation

Awaiting the installation

Vent footings installed

Vent footings installed

Installation completed.

Installation completed – pins holding the cover to the footings

In the end, the installation of both vents was a piece a cake – something anyone with a ladder, a screwdriver, some weatherproof sealant, and a bit of ambition can easily accomplish.  All in, I needed about thirty minutes to complete the project.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the vent aesthetics – these or any of the competing brands.  But as I’m a big believer in form trumping fashion, the practical benefits of these vent covers outweigh the ugly factor.

What do you think?

Admiring my work

Admiring my work

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Anonymous #

    I think it looks like you screwed a laundry basket to the roof. You should sled down the hill in Larsons Park in one.

    July 4, 2013
  2. Anonymous #


    Did you seek any advice from “Green Light”?

    Looks great.


    July 5, 2013
  3. could paint it silver..

    April 11, 2014

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