My goal has been to get the outside sealed up for winter. To me, the first logical, place to start sealing is the windows. I had purchased all new seals and gaskets for every opening. Steve at Vintage Trailer Supply took the time to go over each and every one needed. I began a few days ago on the two worst windows. The two windows that had been replaced with safety glass by the previous owner. His heart was in the right place, but his use of silicon was almost criminal.
I removed the windows by first removing the rusty screw that secures the end of the drip cap above the window. I was careful to make sure I lost the rusty screws that came out, they will be replaced with new stainless ones. From there the window just slides out the end. The very next thing that needs to happen is for plastic to be secured over the openings. No matter how confident you are, this whole project will take much longer than you can even imagine. It will rain as soon as you leave your Airstream unprotected. Just tape it up so it won't rain.
I used a hammer to remove the safety glass from the frames. I then had to cut the glass shards and silicon from the inner grooves. Silicon really loves to bond onto aluminum. I spent about 5 hours per window attempting to get all the little stuff stuck up inside the frame where gaskets were supposed to go. Paint thinner seems to have help in loosing the bond a little bit. A whole lot of elbow grease later and the frames were ready for a new lease on life. The next thing was to install the buthayl tape in the inner groove of the frame. The tape Steve at Vintage Trailer Supply sold me fit perfect... it was even offset on the paper backer to aid in lining it up perfectly. I think this is a very important part of creating a good seal between glass and frame. Once the glass has been placed on the buthayl, press it in real well so it is seated all the way around. You will be able to see it seal tight against the glass.
The next thing is the gasket that holds the glass in. Describing this step as a bitch is an under statement. The gasket takes a lot of learning. "The Airstream Learning Curve", it is much like the "Bell Curve", except the curve is shaped like a valley. I am not an expert. I am not an expert. I am not an expert, but here is the technique I developed by the fourth window. In the photos you will see one with my fingers pushing the gasket against the frame so the bottom edge is pointing towards the inner groove it is supposed to go into. The other one shows a putty knife tucking the top under the edge it is intended to go into. This is a two handed procedure, but I needed one hand to hold the camera. Once the gasket is going into the groove, I used the ball end of a glass cutter to force the gasket to seat into place. I was careful to stretch the gasket toward the starting point so that if it shrunk later the gasket would be somewhat compressed into place. The corners were mitered with a razor knife following the miter of the frame. A dab of Vulkem in the joint and it is done.
The trailer frames were very dirty and corroded. I used a battery of wire brushes, steel wool, and emory cloth to clean them all up and make them as new as possible.
New seals were installed into all the frames. This seal is shaped like an "O". It was really easy to get into it's channel. A small hook shaped dental tool made it so easy. The hook just dragged the flange right in as I pulled it down the seal.
Four windows in 24 hours of tedious work... now I'm about half way done. Looks good if you ask me.