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Old 02-07-2009, 07:02 PM   #1
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Ambassador Redux

This is the first thread I've started (in order to document my progress). Not to bore you with all the hoopla of deconstruction involved, I'm instead showing where we stand at this point in time. For 1964 Ambassadors, the subfloor material was 5/8" plywood which, over the years, became somewhere around 7/16" in places. The material was 49 1/2" wide to span the cross-members with a 1" rabbet joint at the edges. It's tough to find that type of material at this edge of the galaxy.Soooo, I re-designed the layout. Using 7 slabs of 3/4" marine grade A-C plywood, I made a jigsaw puzzle out of the whole shebang. The slabs were cut and rabbeted at the edges for a 1 1/2" overlap All the joints coincide with the underlying cross-members for the carriage bolts. The diagram indicates which panel goes in what sequence to lock into the other panels. When all panels are glued together and bolted to the frame, I should have a more rigid subfloor than the old one. I sealed all the wood with penetrating sealer/waterproofing and dry fit the pieces together. After drilling all the holes (I went for 5/16" instead of 1/4" bolts) I used a two part epoxy to seal the bottom and sides. The top will be sealed after final installation. Next up is beefing up the frame in the rear and the grey and black tank install.
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Old 02-07-2009, 07:20 PM   #2
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Looks good! I hope to have lots to read in the coming months.

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Old 02-18-2009, 10:05 AM   #3
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After giving it much thought, I decided to alter the rear support of the frame. The photos show the extruded channel sitting in place around the curve…where’s the beef? Is this a reason most people have problems with the rear baths succumbing to gravity? The last outrigger was approximately 1 ½” shorter than the other outriggers, so I had to weld on an extension. I then cut and fit an angle from the outrigger to the main frame to support as much of the sub floor weight as I could. Granted, I’m not the most accomplished welder, but the end result is a solid foundation for the new sub floor. One other little modification included the support angle at the rear of the new black tank pan. The original was just a piece of thin bar stock. I replaced it with a thicker angle iron. The new tank pan is set up to where I can hold it in place with two end brackets, drop the floor on it and then screw it to the wood rather than trying to lift the whole thing up with a jack and working underneath. The brackets will allow me to remove the pan in the future by shifting it to one side, clear the other side lip from its bracket and drop one end at a time. The brackets were welded below the top face of the frame to allow for this shifting. Although I’ll probably never see this occur (hopefully), I’ll include the removal instructions in the personalized owner’s manual for my grandkids.

Now where's the rest of that POR-15?
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Old 02-18-2009, 11:36 AM   #4
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Now I know what the frame of our Ambassador looks like. At this point we are not doing a frame off, so far only 1 rot area to repair and I want to get camping in it asap. The interior is in perfect shape and don't want to touch it. Have fun and I will be watching your progress.
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Old 05-08-2009, 07:57 PM   #5
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This being Friday, and with no pressing business at hand, I have one small obstacle out of the way and report that phase 10 of 3000 is complete. The grey tank support structure has been welded (okay, it’s not that pretty, but I can stand on it). At 8 pounds per gallon, times 20 gallons, I’ve exceeded the design load with a safety factor of 25%. Not counting deformation due to vibration of the E7011 welding rods or the ASTM specifications of the carbon content within the steel stock used, I figure this’ll hold up just peachy. If you see this rig rolling down the highway with a belly pan lower than a she-cat after birthing 4 litters, give me a honk and I’ll know the darn thing didn’t work like I’d planned.

Here’s some photos of the frame (I know you’re getting tired of seeing these, but think how I feel). One word of caution…do not go out and be grinding on that metal in a pair of deck shoes without socks and a pair of jeans with gaping holes in the knees. A couple of those sparks in the wrong place got the neighbors wondering if I was trying out for ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’.
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Old 05-09-2009, 01:33 AM   #6
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amazing!
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:03 PM   #7
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Well, it’s been a while since my last report, but at least things are progressing now. My original thoughts on a custom grey water tank were dashed against the shores of monetary limitation. I ordered a standard sized tank and had to modify the support frame to accommodate the deep lip of the tank. My plumbing set-up is similar to one posted on a thread by gerbermania aka Christopher. My problem was that the grey tank outlet is lower than the inlet for the black tank. Not to be discouraged by the simple premise of making water run uphill, I relied on the weight of the water to force the initial amount of grey water into the black tank. After that, the macerator pump would siphon the remainder (at least that’s what I hoped would happen). I admit that some of the parts were manufactured in my garage like the end cap 3” to 1 ½” reducer. The check valve was acquired at an irrigation supply store (helpful hint for those being turned away at Home Depot). I paid dearly for the Valtera cable operated dump valve, but it works great and the location is handy for the dispersal of waste with minimal steps. I lined the black tank pan with insulation from Pep Boys for use on transmission tunnels in cars and fit the tank snugly in its place. I filled the grey tank with water (three times, since I kept getting leaks from my garage fabricated end cap reducer) and tried the system. It works! Black tank filled with water up to 1” from the top. I drained the black tank through the new Thetford dump valve and will now save up for the final piece of the system, the macerator pump.

With all that done, I set the sub floor into permanent position…gluing the rabbet joints and setting the carriage bolts, sanding, and filling. It’s starting to feel “solid” walking around on the floor. Next step is installing the new c-channel to the deck. Here’s the tricky part. I have to align the holes on the curved pieces and the holes on the wheel wells exactly. I didn’t install the bolts for the wheel well flanges, so I can move these as needed when the shell comes down. After alignment, I’ll use self tapping bolts through the frame below. I Clecoed (is that a word?) the curved pieces to the shell to determine the proper gap between the pieces and will try to set them on the sub floor with the same gap. I know I’m wingin’ here, but if it works, you’ll be the first to know.

Almost forgot, Reflectix insulation and belly pan next. One pic shows the need to remember all those little aluminum pieces that go under the sub floor (doorway). Another pic indicates the rather unusual tanning style used by my helper, Kris, to obtain a right leg Capri line.
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:31 PM   #8
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Great work!! I like your gray tank solution and the options for draining.
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:42 PM   #9
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Looks like you are doing a top-flight job there, Ambie.

Do I understand that your grey tank always flows into your black tank, or did you hook it up so that grey water can be used to wash the black tank, OR it can be dumped leaving the black tank alone?
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:35 AM   #10
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Aage, I've installed an in-line T fitting with a screw out plug that I can attach a hose bibb and drain the grey water separately (just in case that siphon idea doesn't work). Another downside to this is the fact that I'll be needing to radically modify the belly pan around this plumbing and install some kind of rock guard behind the wheels...haven't quite figured it out yet.

Final sanding today and application of epoxy to sub floor.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:07 PM   #11
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Looks really good Ambie! Remember, there are those of us that never tire of seeing pictures of what others are doing with their AS’s. Call us sick’os, but we’re out here! Plus I get lots of good idea from seeing what other people are doing.

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Old 11-01-2009, 10:31 AM   #12
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Gah! Did I ever catch it for saying “helper, Kris”! Of course, we’ve been married for 24 years, so I take back the helper and replace with Boss Lady. Ok, now back to the narrative…

The C channel has been installed using stainless steel bolts, washers and self-locking nuts and hex head screws in between. I figure someone in the year 2060 will appreciate the fact that these can be removed without stripping through the shallow flat part of a wood screw, but I digress. You’ll note in the photos that I had the fabricator make new channel with an outside edge higher than original. One thing I forgot was the channel needs to be at the original height where it runs across the exterior openings at the access doors. Cut down, fold over, adjust and fix when shell comes back down.

I changed my mind on Reflectix and purchased Prodex (R value about 15.67) which assaulted my bank account, but is a much better product for this application. The process of creating the required air space involved the use of 1 1/2” thick rigid Styrofoam (1.5 pcf sheathed insect resistant bought in 2 x 4 sheets at HD). I cut these into 1 ½ inch square 4’ lengths on the table saw and used PL 300 styrofoam glue to attach to the under sections. I highly recommend the glue, it fires quickly and the result is a bulletproof bond. I’ll finish the rest of the strips on the trailer today and start in with the Prodex manana. One final note: I measured the locations of LP piping to the appliances and drilled the floor. I also cut the floor vent for the fridge. Boss Lady put down one more coat of epoxy to seal the floor for eternity (or until the year 2060 whichever comes first).
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Old 11-01-2009, 10:56 AM   #13
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Looking really good, Ambie. High quality work.

I'm doing a similar Prodex install on the inside right now with the same foam and same PL300 adhesive. Pretty sure one roll of Prodex is enough and I think I bought enough of the foam for the strips, but my guesstimate has really missed it on the PL300. Mine is around halfway done inside the shell now and I've used 7 tubes of that stuff. Does seem to do the job well and the cost isn't bad, but I definitely need to buy quite a few more tubes of it.

Keep up the good work.

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Old 11-13-2009, 07:29 AM   #14
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Thanks to all who are giving me the moral support required to do this!

The Prodex has been installed. We used rolls of aluminum tape to seal all the edges and between the sheets of insulation. Kris used her gift wrapping ability to cover the grey water tank with the automotive insulation that we used on the black tank pan. At the holes through the floor for LP, I added blocks of Styrofoam and attached the insulation to them and drilled through the whole thing again. This will allow for a solid channel to bring the piping through.

We are now ready for the belly pan re-attachment. In the removal, I had to cut the thing in two to get it past the axles. A new piece of aluminum will need to be formed for the grey tank and the rear part of the belly pan will need to be cut to accommodate the length of the splice/patch. The remaining rivets needed will arrive today. I bought the closed end rivets for the perimeter and the big honking head rivets for under the pan. Ideally, it would have been nice to install a new pan, but the old one is still in good shape.

Update: I am not a metalworker! Spent 5 hours just trying to fit a quarter of the pan. Clecos work great if the holes line up… I’m trying not to add more holes to the curved c-channel pieces (looks like Swiss cheese already). After 3 days, half the pan is on. Brad (flyfshr) came over to inspect the work. He noticed a small problem that I’d run insulation over the vent in the floor for the fridge. Trooper that he is, he fixed it. We discussed the next part of the belly pan fabrication around the new grey tank and I’m off to pick up the sheet material.
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