Airstream Cruisette

Touted as the smallest vintage Airstream manufactured, this sub-fifteen foot Cruisette packed all the features of its larger kin in a tidy, and yes… adorable package. Regrettably, Airstream’s California factory only produced an estimated seventy-six units, ending production in 1952.

Given the serial number on this vintage Airstream, we believe it was second-to-last of the run. The interior walls support our late-production notion, as early models lacked fancy end caps. In planning this restoration, the experienced Airstream client wanted a unit with modern updates — without disrupting the Cruisette’s vintage charisma.

This included A/C, heating, LED lighting, Hi-fi Audio, Marmoleum flooring, and closed-cell insulation to name a few. The resulting space is perfect for weekend getaways or just enjoying its significant Airstream history and creature comforts nestled into a home-based parking spot. As with any camper restoration from the fifties, the Cruisette required a full ground-up process.

To keep the original and distinctive silhouette, a Dometic A/C unit originally intended for commercial truck cabs was mounted under the custom settee located up front. The quiet and efficient unit easily cools and heats the well-insulated Airstream – without the ruining the clean exterior profile with an overhead unit. Likewise, we made sure to respect the original Kaiser and WWII-sourced aluminum.

In prepping for interior paint, we stripped the stubborn Zolatone, including many layers of additional paint from over the years. But, to keep the Cruisette’s long history intact, we did clear-coat over a lightly sanded portion of layered paint inside the lockers. Next, we polished the front end cap and galley lockers to a mirror finish, and applied a two-stage enamel to the walls.

A large crease on the non-curbside panel required replacement. Instead of tossing the original vintage Airstream aluminum, we used it patch holes left over from the original stove, a previous heater (you can see we didn’t paint over this patch inside the locker), and other assorted holes from outlets and defunct fixtures.

Likewise, a severely Swiss-cheesed panel from hacked latches and locks on the door also received a good portion of the original aluminum. What was left, we fabricated into backing plates for light and power switches.

The harvested aluminum also serves as the galley’s back splash. The tidy galley now features a period-correct Modernair stove and Ice chest, both restored in-house. An original hand-pump faucet draws from a custom water tank mounted under the floor inside the belly pan, and the sink drains to a grey water tank mounted the same way.

All cabinetry we milled in our wood shop using solid walnut for the fascia throughout, while salvaging and restoring the original overhead doors. Within the overhead cabinets, recessed LED lighting draws little power from the dual 6-volt Fullriver GMA batteries, and the two custom walnut Speakers which are hidden.

Backed by a 250 Watt amp and feed wirelessly via Blue Tooth (you can listen to and control volume from any compatible BT device), they fill the small space with clear and clean sound. Once uninhabitable after a half-century of travels and modifications, this vintage Airstream Cruisette is now ready for another round of adventure, comradery, and memory making.

1952 Airstream Cruisette Features:

New Axle, Underfloor water tanks, Dometic Trucker Heater/Air Conditioning unit, 6volt Fullriver GMA Batteries, Remote controlled Fantastic fans, LED lighting, original and updated fixtures, cassette toilet, premium five-step polish, 19 inch TV, Marmoleum floor, Closed-Cell spray foam insulation, salvaged aluminum, restored Ice chest and stove, gas lifts for bed, slide-out pantry, fully restored windows and door.

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