Step 3 : Windows


Scraping, scraping, and more scraping... This fifty year old trailer had been through a few different window replacements throughout its lifetime so the first step was taking out windows and removing all the old layers of caulk and grime. This beauty needed some glass to match her sass on the road. A few windows were salvageable with a lot of elbow grease; however, I did purchase some windows from the fine folks over at Vintage Trailer Supply. My dad has a commercial window business so for the front and back rectangular windows I ordered through him but the curved sections I needed the real deal replicas. 

For this job I wanted to ensure the life of the trailer and everything in it so I had all but one window sealed shut. As much as I would love to have all windows with functional prop-open capabilities, I opted for the safety, security, and durability of sealing most the windows. I have two fantastic fans, one functioning window for the kitchen counter/cookspace, and a screen door. I am thinking the ventilation will be superb already. Having seen the toll slow water leakage can do over 50 years I wanted to make this thing a time capsule that could be passed down to great grand children who I'm sure will have a deep love for airstream restorations and culture.... 

**sidenote - day 2 on the drive home after picking up the Airstream in Utah there was a large storm that claimed 2 of the previous windows - I watched in terror as one by one they were lifted to what seemed like 100 feet off the ground - I never saw them fall and I wasn't sticking around to find out. You bet your bottom dollar it was a LONGGGG drive home replacing multiple cardboard windows duck taped to the trailer. 

Anyway, For this job I recommend the following supplies:

  • Scraper -  get a high quality one with a small point on one end for those tougher to reach areas (in between window trim, between aluminum sheet junctions, under grimy finger nails... ;) 
  • Steel Wire Brush - using the scraper/ brush combo makes the job much easier.
  • M.E.K - otherwise known by its full name Methyl Ethyl Ketone - this is used to dissolve and weaken the old caulk and grime - it is also useful for any old tape that left residue on your trailer - this stuff rocks BUT WEAR GLOVES and DO NOT BREATHE THIS STUFF IN - official neuroscience nurse recommendation - this stuff can wreak havoc on the Central Nervous System so watch those little nomads and furry friends. The one linked on amazon is a large container and pretty pricey, you can go with cheaper knock-off stuff at any local hardware store.  
  • Pecora Glaze/Sealant  - this will hold your windows in place for fixed windows and has incredible durability- this is used for commercial grade window installations so it can be trusted. 
  • Aluminum Trim - for hiding caulk and adding a professional finish to the window.
  • Blue Painter Tape - the key to a clean window installation is taking your time on the preparation and taping off your workspace - the less wiping after the project the better!
  • Window Gasket - I used 3M for the functioning window. 

Now... "Get to work!"

Step 1: Remove all old caulk using MEK, steel brush, and scraper tool - do not skimp on this job - a clean surface ensures a proper adhesive bond and waterproof seal

Step 2: Clean all the tape off the window so the caulk will cover the junction but also some glass and some aluminum - this ensures the whole gap will be sealed with caulk

Step 3: Caulk aluminum trim - the more the merrier to ensure no air bubbles or spaces are in the seal 

Step 4: Place window in trim and "squish", "slide", and set window in place - the squish and slide just is my way of saying get the the bubbles out and ensure caulk is filling all spaces 

Step 5: Remove tape and "VOILA!" you should have a clean professional finish after the caulk dries - do not do window installations in under 60 degree weather- you have to read the specific  temps online but for my caulk... haha .... it recommended 60 degree or more temperature for proper adhesion. 

I did mention I have one functioning window - for this it was basically the same exact process, I only seal the top portion of the window and made a window gasket for the trim - we have had a few storms since and it seems to work really well but the real test for these trailers is driving through a storm on the highway. Fingers crossed! 


Mary HerlockerComment