Let’s quickly recall the grossness that was the Avion when we got our hands on it. Mustard yellow curtains from the 1960’s, a falling-in floor littered with trash, grime covering everything, especially the vinyl covered aluminum walls.
Vintage? Very. But without the cool, timeless quality usually connected with the word.
So, we began by ripping out everything. Every single decoration, appliance, piece of cabinetry- all of it. Even the back wall separating bedroom from bathroom: out.
I didn’t get any pictures of the walls as-were. We jumped right into getting the paint of the walls, which was a project we were quickly humbled by. We’d done some research on paint removal, and stocked up on some aluminum safe Citrastrip. But after slathering the chemical all over the walls a few days in a row, only few spots showed progress. We realized we’d need to try something else.
We used GooGone, Zolatone, various brands of Aircraft strippers, acetone and scotchbrite, oven cleaners, even a walnut blaster.
That only left what appeared as burned, dark spots on the delicate aluminum.
What had worked for others during their Airstream renovations just wasn’t cutting it for us. We learned that the paint was actually a a vinyl sort of wallpaper, stuck to the aluminum panels with a super strong adhesive. We learned, also, that the only way we would get it off is with an ultra-strong paint stripper called Multi-strip, and a crapload of physical effort.
It was at this point we began to hate ourselves for not simply painting over the old stuff.
It took us four weeks and an exhausting amount of elbow grease just getting the vinyl and adhesive layer off the walls to uncover the aluminum panels. One brutally humid Georgian August spent scraping and scrubbing away stubborn paint, with sore shoulders and hundreds of mosquito bites.
And then, after all that, we still weren’t done. When the Avion was built in ’67, the outer aluminum panels had been anodized to protect from the elements outside. The inside metal received no special treatment. Since the inside panels had been simply covered with paint, what was left on the bare walls/ceiling was a fairly dull appearance. The next step was to shine, shine, shine!
Another four rounds of buffing and rubbing every inch of the interior paneling later, and we had ourselves some walls!
Looking back, I almost cannot believe the amount of energy we spent on those damn walls. They were by far the biggest setback we experienced during our renovation. A whole month narrowed in on just one aspect of the entire project, and still there was so much uncertainty ahead. But, yet, the aluminum interior is unique, something you don’t often see and one of our favorite aspects of the camper.
Now we could finally focus on other aspects of the renovation, like our uber pretty bamboo floors. Weeeee.