As we get ready to host regular classes in the Route 104 Science Airstream, we wanted to install some more features to the vintage Airstream. We added baseboards, a portable magnetic dry-erase board, and bought some hardware for mounting a drop down TV to the ceiling. We also measured and cut foam cushions for the bench-style seating and invested in more storage and organization options for holding science supplies.
We want the cushions to have two optional patterns just to change the appearance every once in a while so we'll put the striped pattern on one side and the gingham pattern on the other. Any additional material will likely become throw pillows or curtains to block some natural light out.
We had some theoretical ideas about how many people we could host in the Airstream and about how ready it was for the open road but we wanted to do a trial run and really work through any unexpected challenges. With Hope's birthday around the corner, we decided to try out one of our special programs ... the Colors of Creation.
Like many children her age, she loves painting, coloring, decorating, and experimenting, so we created the Colors of Creation program. All of our party guests got to make their own colorful pinwheels, gummi worms and gummi bears, shake it up ice cream, and a custom shrinky dink key chain based on the days of Creation. A dear friend helped set up a rainbow balloon arch for a special photo booth in the back of the Airstream. We even created custom name tags with a special QR code on the back where we were able to share all the event pictures with participating families.
With our first test-run special event coming on 6/6, we pulled out all the stops. We were simultaneously troubleshooting the AC electrical system while finishing the rounded corners of the front benches, while staining the interior wood furniture, while prepping to install the vinyl flooring.
One of the challenges we faced was a desire to stain the interior wheel well covers and benches while the subfloor was still exposed and to let it dry enough to install the vinyl without staining it. Fortunately, the triple-digit weather helped accelerate many processes ... even getting the vinyl flooring adhesive to get tacky really quickly.
I've never installed vinyl flooring prior to this adventure but with a sharp knife and some patience, it is a rather straight-forward task. I'm excited to have the flooring in.
It's been a long day so we are going to wait to put down the adhesive tomorrow.
By the way, a great friend and long-time supporter came by to help me take a look at the electrical system. He was able to find some simple fixes and help me experiment with a few different ideas to see if we could get the system to work. We thought there was more work ahead of us to try to solve the electrical problem but it turns out it was a stray wire tucked behind the breakers that seemed to be the culprit. After he left, I was cleaning up and putting all the breakers and panels back together and I thought I would try the air conditioning unit one more time before I put the generator away for the night and miracle of miracles it turned on! We tested all the outlets and still have one path that needs some work (two outlets not functioning properly) but we had air conditioning and about 11 other outlets that were working perfectly!
We finished installing all the electrical system components (batteries, control panel, lights, outlets, and A/C) and it was time to test the system. So I fired up the generator and started checking each part of the system. I rigged up Hope's rain umbrella to cover the face controls of the generator during some on-again-off-again showers we were having.
As you can imagine from the title of the post, I found some new opportunities for troubleshooting--the AC system was not working correctly. Only the DC system was working (pulling from the battery array inside).
As we turn the corner into the hot Texas summer, we were very excited to get one more step closer to turning on the air conditioning unit of the Airstream. We installed the compressor last fall but we didn't have enough pieces in place to test it. You can see we still have more to build with all my wood pieces on the floor--I can't wait to get back to wood working :)
Prepping the Ceiling Panels
Hope asks how she can help with the Airstream every time I head out to work on it and the day finally came when she could help paint! She loves painting and she loved being able to paint with the big roller. Eventually I let her take over with the brush work and she had a great time. Jonathan, William, Emma, and Faith all took turns applying one or more of the three coats it took to cover the strong brown color of the hardboard and pegboards.
Later that afternoon, I came back out with a paintbrush and added white to the wrap around stripe across the back of the Airstream. It's just a little extra color but it really makes the Thunderbird blue pop!
Painting before the storm
We started the day with Jonathan's last soccer game for the season and his soccer team celebration and then it was back to the Airstream to finish some wall patches and get the Route 104 Science airstream ready to come home for painting. With rain on the forecast for the next three to four days, we wanted to make the most of our last hot sunny day to paint the exterior.
After pressure washing and scrubbing the outside, we let the 105 degree air temperature dry the Airstream off for us. Then Faith and I worked out a deal where I would tape and she would roll the paint on. Although its not exactly Thunderbird Blue, Behr's Azure Lake looks close enough to my mom's Thunderbird blue to work as a memorial.