Before & After: Vintage Airstream Trailer "Runaround Sue" Gets an Eco-Rehab

Before & After: Vintage Airstream Trailer "Runaround Sue" Gets an Eco-Rehab

Julia Brenner
May 23, 2012

This is the story of Runaround Sue, the name given to a 1961 Airstream Safari that was lovingly renovated by Prairie Construction. The vintage trailer's original beauty was carefully restored while making it leaner (more efficient) and greener. This time of year already makes me long to head out for the open roads, and now I'm filled with daydreams of spending the summer traversing the country in Runaround Sue.

Sue's renovation began with removal of the trailer body from the chassis and replacing all plumbing, wiring, and appliances. The renovation included use of "as many environmentally-friendly features as possible" while still maintaining the cozy charm that makes airstream trailers so desirable.

Bathroom Entry Before & After:
The bathroom, pictured above, now includes a composting toilet, countertops and shower benches made from reclaimed wood, and a graywater tank.

Sofa Fold-out Bed Before & After:
A primary goal in the interior renovation was to use products without toxic VOCs, which are commonly found in paints, upholstery, and flooring. Rather than using harsh solvents, all casing and trim are finished with tung oil, VOC-free solvents, and VOC-free aniline dyes for staining. Cushions are made from 100% natural latex and upholstery is post-industrial and consumer recycled polyester, which is Cradle to Cradle Certified and ScS Indoor Advantage Certified.

Dining Area Before & After:
Fiberglass and plastic interiors were replaced with aluminum cladding. The tabletop is crafted from reclaimed wood.

Cabinet and Flooring Before & After:
I was unable to locate an exact "Before" image of the kitchen, but I think this gives a good sense of what the renovators were working with. Old flooring was replaced with Marmoleum flooring, which is linseed oil-based flooring with jute backing. Kitchen cabinets, as well as storage throughout the trailer, are constructed from "plyboo", which is plywood made from bamboo. Interior lighting, as well as the water heater, refrigerator, furnace, and fans, are powered via solar panels with deep cell batteries.

Interior Upgrades (left to right)::
• Closeup of refrigerator with reclaimed redwood countertops
• Window nook and storage area
• Closeup of modern electrical box, thermostat, and solar inverter display

For more pictures and information on Runaround Sue's renovation (scroll to the bottom of page for link to lots of "After" shots), head over to New Prairie Construction.

Before & After: Airstream Trailer Renovation by Hofmann Architecture
Living Large in an Airstream Trailer
Julie's Unbelievable Airstream Trailer
Vintage Airstream Rentals from Silver Trailer

(Images: New Prairie Construction)

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