Friday, July 27, 2012

'Silver Sistas' restore classic '69 Airstream

Kaitlin Draper (l) and Erin Kilday are restoring a '69 Airstream. (Kevin Conklin )
Enduring Virginia's sweltering summer heat, sisters Kaitlin Draper, 25, and Erin Kilday, 32, are restoring their vintage 1969 27-foot Airstream Overlander travel trailer.

The Manassas, Va., siblings purchased the slightly beat up 42-year-old Airstream in April with the idea of fixing it up in time to pull it to their Labor Day weekend family reunion in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. (That's roughly 2059.9 miles round trip and 86.96 gallons of gas.)

Calling themselves the 'Silver Sistas' these outdoor-loving young women have turned bloggers to document the renovation and share their adventures.

Along the way they hope to inspire women and fellow Airstream enthusiasts. “We knew nothing going into this project,” says Erin. “You can’t go through life being scared; we decided to jump in head-first.”

Kaitlin (l) and Erin dress to remove old insulation.
The sisters went from spending time together getting their nails done to breaking nails in the 100-degree weather.  "We are slugging around drills and circular saws like we've done it all our lives," says Kaitlin.

"It was really bad when we were removing the old crumbly rodent infested insulation of the Airstream," she says. "Despite our efforts to wear respirators, we both had hacking coughs for days. At the end of the day we were covered in dirt, sweat, grease and fiberglass. A shower can wash away the dirt, but I will never forget the funk of a 42-year-old Airstream. I'm determined to get rid of that funk"

With the economy low and airline prices at an all-time high, the sisters are excited about saving money on their journey traveling in an RV. “It’s too expensive to fly and rent a car," says Erin. "We don’t mind driving, but hate staying in the many dilapidated hotels along their route."

They will be pulling their trailer with Erin's 2012 Ford F150 Platinum Edition (gas engine) and plan on taking Erin's 13-year-old dog, Carmen, a Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix; and Kaitlin's year-old Australian Cattle Dog, Lucy.

"Before the Airstream we would have to smuggle our dogs into hotels or stay in the designated dog room' which I don't recommend," says Erin. "We look forward to traveling comfortably with our animals--as they are our family."

After returning home to Virginia, the sisters plan to camp and fish along the Shenandoah River. “There’s something about picking up and hitting the road with your dogs, going off-grid, and not being at the mercy of vacancy signs and chain restaurants,” says Kaitlin.

Follow the Silver Sistas

The YouTube video below shows the sisters (along with two of their helpers Scott, and Josh) gutting the Airstream. "All in all it took us six trips to the county dump to remove all of the trailer's innards," says Kaitlin. "We suggest recruiting family and friends whenever possible."

Photo: (Top) Sisters Kaitlin Draper (l) and Erin Kilday taken by Kevin Conklin
Other photos: Courtesy of
To read other RV posts by Julianne G. Crane, go to

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