Marco Polo

Below please enjoy the ramblings, miscellaneous thoughts, and documentation of the life of the 1962 Airstream Ambassador we call "Marco Polo".

We were assigned as caretakers of this historic Airstream early in 2016.  It is our goal to share the amazing adventure of the Ross family as they traveled around the world in 1963-64.

A 30 foot Elephant

posted Feb 22, 2016, 10:41 AM by Dan Bihary   [ updated Mar 4, 2016, 7:24 AM ]

This past week’s schedule was the first of what I suspect will be many to come.  In addition to our normal activities, we threw “renovate a fifty four year old trailer” into the works.  Why do I keep getting the “I’m not normal” feeling?

Dawn spent a night sorting misc. stuff and working on the oven and plumbing fixtures.  The water filter is shining nicely now.  It looks like we should be able to salvage the stove.  The top will need refinished but the inside cleaned up nicely.

We are still very much in the evaluation and discovery phase.  In truth, I need to spend more time searching exactly how systems worked on this older trailer.

Two independent fresh water systems are present in the trailer.  I suspect this was custom built as a safety feature for contamination protection.  During the caravan, fresh water was bleached with 10 teaspoons of Clorox in every full tank.  This fresh water was surely as important as the gasoline in the trucks.  You really didn’t want to get sick in the middle of a mideastern dessert in 1963!  

This past week, our investigations revealed that at least the front eight feet of the floor needs replaced.  I’m sure more does, but that’s to be revealed later.  We have considered various methods of interior restoration and have chosen what we believe will be the best.

We are opting to remove all the furniture.  This basically means anything left “inside” is going to be painted whatever our base color will be.  I spent a couple of hours pulling the front gaucho. This was moderately painful.  This piece was attached to the floor with very good quality pan head straight head wood screws.  I think over time these guys welded themselves to the wood fiber! 

At this time, I’m working on studying the plumbing in an effort to extract the front freshwater tank.  Once this is complete, the floor gets patterned and the fresh wood goes in for the first time in half a century.

Yep.  One bite at a time.


A Labor of Love

posted Feb 19, 2016, 1:21 PM by Dan Bihary   [ updated Feb 22, 2016, 7:28 AM ]

Prior to our acquisition of Marco Polo, the previous owner accomplished an amazing amount of progress.  Concentrating on the exterior, countless hours were spent stripping the paint and tar, and cutting away to reveal the original aluminum skin.

Much credit is due to Bob for his hard work.

001 - Previous Owners Work

Chapter 21 - The End.

posted Feb 19, 2016, 8:34 AM by Dan Bihary   [ updated Feb 22, 2016, 7:30 AM ]

Perhaps it might be better to start at the end instead of the beginning. I offer you a selection from the final chapter from McGregor Smiths book "Thank You, Marco Polo" authored in 1966.


To get back to the United States from Finland, we crossed through ten more European countries. We could have shipped direct from Helsinki, but caravan fever is akin to the peanut-eater's compulsion. There is always one more country to be seen.

Lisbon, Portugal was our ultimate goal because it is the farthest point west on the continent of Europe. Singapore was the farthest point east on the continent of Asia where we could begin our journey. To complete this longest possible span, from Singapore to Lisbon, we meandered through Sweden, Norway, Finland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Andorra, Spain and Portugal.

Our last official caravan encampment was a circle of trailers on the tall cliffs of Cabo da Roca. The Portu­guese Tourist Department had built a wooden stage for us overlooking the Atlantic. Music and the stomping feet of dancers drowned out the whisper of the surf, which sent white fingers up the cliffs from far below. The Wally Byam Around-the-World Caravan flag, the United States flag and the Portuguese flag snapped in the salty breeze. Twenty dancers in fishermen's costumes did a folk dance with long boat oars. After the dance they lined up with their oars in a guard of honor, as military officers do with crossed swords for weddings. Andy Charles called each caravanner forward. He shook hands with the men, kissed all the ladies and pinned a gold Around-the-World Caravan pin on each one. Then everybody took off their shoes. Our leader opened a sack of sand he had carried from the Pacific Ocean, mixed it with sand from the Atlantic, and put a pinch of the mixed sand in each shoe. He became misty-eyed, from the salt air no doubt, as he did this, but he was not the only one who was not dry-eyed.

Perhaps it sounds silly, now that it's all over, but pag­eantry isn't just so much falderal. Its function is vital in the language of emotion. Villagers around the world tell their stories in the solemn extravaganza of their pageants. We were no different. We needed a symbol to express our joy and our sadness at the end of a season. The ceremony was an important one, as well as the final one for our rolling village. Our American "hometown on wheels" was disbanding; going back to the commu­nities we had left more than thirteen months before.

Caravanners trickled back to the United States on a dozen different ships, completing their own circles around the globe as they reached home. The dream Wally Byam had had four years before had been lived. The adventure was done. Now the questions would begin.

Map of the Adventure

posted Feb 19, 2016, 8:31 AM by Dan Bihary

This is a map showing the locations each family came from in the USA, and the route traveled overseas.

As-Found Interior Images

posted Feb 19, 2016, 8:25 AM by Dan Bihary   [ updated Feb 22, 2016, 7:29 AM ]

Some folks have asked to see the inside.  Below please find some images of some special features.  The overall condition looks rough right now, but please know that we've had sub-30 temperatures!


Random Purchases

posted Feb 19, 2016, 8:12 AM by Dan Bihary   [ updated Feb 22, 2016, 7:30 AM ]

So whats an Airstreamer to do when it is too bitterly cold to play in the trailer? Go shopping of course!

Dawn and I put on our 1960's thinking caps, and headed off to the local antique mall to find what might have been taken along as provisions for a 1963 caravan. We attempted to keep our eyes open for "retro" tableware.

We came home with two items!

First was a vintage General Electric World Monitor long and shortwave radio. The original owner, Mr. Ross, was a space scientist. I'm betting something like this probably made the trip.

Secondly, Mrs Ross needed some recreation also. Dawn thought a new "special" purse would be nice to have along!

The Recovery

posted Feb 19, 2016, 7:53 AM by Dan Bihary   [ updated Feb 22, 2016, 7:31 AM ]

On February 5, 2016, good friend Larry and I departed LaGrange Ohio for one of those fabled "Airstream Recovery" missions I've read about.  We generally knew what we were in for, so hopefully surprises would be minimal.

Larry already had the truck packed.  It reminded me of what a mobile NASCAR crash cart might look like.  We had a bunch of big tools, 4 spare tires, pumps, drills, and the true essentials: duct tape, zip ties, bungee cords, and wire.

A new LED light bar was attached across the spare tire mounts.  Tires were aired up.  Various temporary repairs and seals were made to minimize risk and exposure.  The belly pan was hanging, so it was partially removed. Basically, we spent a part of the day Friday and Saturday till lunch prepping Marco Polo for the journey to Ohio.  I wondered if the trailer had ever seen Ohio before.

The Secret Announcement

posted Feb 19, 2016, 7:01 AM by Dan Bihary   [ updated Feb 22, 2016, 7:31 AM ]

So just for fun, I posted the following cartoon on Facebook.  These stick figures were "all the rage at the time".  Very few realized the trailer on the left was our new Bunk Bed Ambassador!

The Airforums Thread - Part 2

posted Feb 19, 2016, 6:44 AM by Dan Bihary

The Airforums Thread - Part 1

posted Feb 19, 2016, 6:37 AM by Dan Bihary   [ updated Feb 19, 2016, 6:40 AM ]

1-10 of 10