Saturday 17 January 2015

Miss Bamboo's Airstream Globetrotter Restoration Project

You may not know but about 2 years ago Miss and Big Bamboo bought a 1961 Globetrotter Airstream imported from the USA. Airstream restoration is a rare skill particularly in the UK and we were in a queue for a year just to get the project started. Finally she is finished and well worth the wait!!

In the beginning.....Big Bamboo told Miss Bamboo he had found a bargain and on taking her to view had asked her to keep an open mind as it just needed 'a little TLC', she was met with this........

Poor neglected Airstream, but dont worry Miss Bamboo has great plans for you....

However, while Miss Bamboo daydreams of tropical barkcloth soft furnishings, mid century styling, all important details like chevron cupboard handles and vintage parchment shade cone lights,  there are more pressing matters at hand. Big Bamboo insisted on having the boring mechanical and structural work completed first....(it's good to know we're safe though and a girl can dream in the meantime!)

Our main man Howard Barnett gets to work on the chassis and belly pan. This guy is skilled!

Ok enough of the boring stuff and on to the interior...
Miss Bamboo has always grappled with the dilemma of mid century modern styling versus tiki. Her home, Casa Bamboo is what she would class as 1950s mid century with tropical and tiki influences and this is what we would try to replicate in the airstream.  At first, Miss Bamboo (by name and by nature) had the idea of  an actual bamboo cocktail bar in the corner. As small as this bar was, (the second smallest of her 4 bamboo bars), realistically this was going to mean no bed for Big Bamboo and she reluctantly conceded this was not a feasible option! A 'Cocktail corner' would have to suffice!

Miss Bamboo decides on a 50's mid century 'youngstown' feel for the kitchen with chrome boomerang cupboard pulls from the USA and high gloss ivory cream units. The curved end shelves will make a good decorative area for 'cocktail corner'. The cabinetry begins to take shape...

Sadly Formica had discontinued their coral boomerang formica so ruby red sparkle gloss was chosen instead. Chamfered cupboard and drawer doors, chrome boomerang cupboard pulls, trim and poles give an authentic 50s  feel. The original fridge was no longer an option but we tried to disguise the modern but spacious fridge in the sparkle gloss and added a vintage badge salvaged  from the old kitchen appliances. The sink and hob are modern but inoffensive as they sit neatly under glass covers to create a streamlined work surface. Cocktail accessories to follow in what is now fondly known as 'cocktail corner' and to add that extra bit of tiki!

On to the Dinette area. While some airstreams had Dinettes, Globetrotters only had end bench beds. Miss Bamboo far prefers a cute dinette area and this was created to convert nicely into her bed at night! An original chrome dinette pole was salvaged from another airstream. Miss Bamboo had already bought her coral coloured 'bird of paradise' tropical barkcloth from Honolulu a couple of years back.

Big Bamboo, being 'Big' needs his own spacious bed so the bench seat converts nicely into one for him, everyone is happy!!! This will of course sleep two if the mood takes ;-)

So on to the bathroom...

Miss Bamboo has a 'thing' about 50s pink bathrooms. Have you seen some of those bathrooms in the time capsule houses in the States, wow!! There is even a group in the USA called 'Save the Pink Bathroom'. While the airstream walls are a pale green, she decided to keep these within the bathroom for consistency but had the original bath remoulded in, yes you've guessed it 'pink' - hurrah! The pink sink is then placed into a cream vanity, again with boomerang handles. Pin up girl shower curtains give a sweet retro feel.
The toilet is another story - the search for the cream coloured 'thetford excellence', one of the only 'round' and better quality porta loos . Miss Bamboo discovered you could only get boring white in the UK. After much perserverance she eventually found a random cream one that had been wrongly delivered to a UK company, phew result!! The central section was a nasty brown but this was no worry, she had it sprayed pink!

Atomic starburst toilet roll holder, mid century fabulousness!! (Miss Bamboo's commitment is second to none, we had to get this shipped to a friend of a friend in the USA and on to the UK!)

Other details of the interior included sourcing  original vintage airstream interior lights from ebay, decorative pieces such as the Hawaii pictures. Double wardrobes for Big Bamboo's shirts and Miss Bamboo's dresses, a vintage 50s folding table for guests to enjoy a cocktail, recovered in red sparkle gloss laminate to name but  a few...

In terms of the exterior an extensive polish brought up our gorgeous Globetrotter almost as good as new. Custom made gas bottle cover disguised what would otherwise be an unsightly vision and we finally got to place our 'Rhythm Riot' tag topper in its intended place.

The restoration team brought in a professional photographer Paul of 'Visual Impact Photography', here are some of his lovely pictures at the end of this journey but the start of many adventures to come.....

And with accessories added.....

Miss Bamboo will be found at many 40s/50s events over the coming year including Atomic Vintage Festival, Twinwood 1940s Festival, Rockabilly Rave, Rhythm Riot and more! Why don't you pop along to check out her pop up boutique and enjoy a cocktail or two in the airstream! In the meantime have a peek at for more mid century and tropical styling, clothing wise of course!!

A massive thank you to everyone involved in the project.

Restoration Team and Companies

Howard Barnett  Leisure Vehicle Maintenance - Team Leader and Engineer

Colin Heyes CNA Servicing  - Engineer

Miss Bamboo - Interior Design and Chief Mitherer!

Big Bamboo - Head of technical and safety 'requirements'

Other Companies

Tag Topper - Rhythm Riot 

Photography - Visual Impact Photography

Boomerang handles and atomic starburst bathroom accessories - Rejuvenation