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Old 07-05-2014, 10:36 AM   #1
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Towing without belly pan?

Well here we are, one month away from needing to pull the trailer to "camp" in her for the first time, and I am up against a wall!! In the next month I need to completely remove the floor, repair the frame and install a new floor. A tall order, even being a carpenter. my question is...can i remove the belly pan and still pull the trailer 300+ miles? This will not be a glamorous first experiene, just basically bringing a big aluminum tent.
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:44 AM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
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Short answer is yes. There are a few threads out there describing owners' inspirations/justifications for not ever planning to replace the bellypan.

That being said. If you want to get everything done in the next month, I would recommend you go shell-off from the start. Build some gantry frames, remove only the banana wraps and edges of the bellypan, lift the shell, remove the floor, then use the gantry frames to flip your chassis, remove the bellypan, repair and paint the frame, reinstall the floor, insulate the floor and reinstall the bellypan with the frame upside down. Now would also be a good time to drop new axles in place if you are going that route eventually anyway.

good luck!
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:51 AM   #3
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Checkout posts 9+ in the following:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...on-115765.html
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:55 AM   #4
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There is no reason at all why you can't. I ran mine for a few months without it. I would remove any loose sheet metal and insulation and make sure you don't have a holding tank ready to drop. If you painted the frame and sealed the floor you don't really need a pan. Most SOB trailers have an open frame. I covered mine back up but there are screws for easy removal of the pans.

Perry
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:43 AM   #5
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Thanks, that helps!
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Old 07-23-2014, 12:41 AM   #6
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So I now have accomplished a shell on floor redo. I would have liked to do the shell off, as it sounded like the preferred bullet proof method, but time has not allowed. I currently am reworking trailer lights and installing a prodex like material on the inside of the skin (after re-sealing all of the joints). Okay, so the question is: is it safe and acceptable to tow this guy without the interior skin. I just want to make sure that the outer provides enough rigidity to make the trip and not leave an aluminum carcass on the side of I-5...

Here are some picks of progress too:Click image for larger version

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Old 07-23-2014, 08:20 AM   #7
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I went camping in my trailer for several months using it as an "aluminum tent." It had nothing but the outer shell, and it all held together just fine (and that is with an AC bouncing along on the roof). There are other aluminum-tenting members on the forums as well. I have never heard of anyone experiencing an issue going without the inner skins. I did notice that my door didn't latch as securely as I would have liked. Not sure whether that had anything to do with the lack of interior skins, or whether it was due to the fact that I had done a shell-off, reskinned the door, replaced the door latch, and rebuilt the door-jamb--probably the latter. I made one of those contoured wooden jobs that you sometimes see the vintage crowd using to ensure their doors stay shut (it lodges under the grab handle and extends over the edge of the door).

That being said, there are contrary opinions out there--folks that believe the inner skins are "structural." It may be true that they provide some structural support, but when I consider that the exterior skins are bucked together with a solid rivet every inch or so, and the inner skins are tacked together with a pop rivet every 6-8", I would conclude that their contribution is rather minimal.

Since you have everything torn apart, I assume that your trailer brakes are not functional. I would recommend having working brakes and a break-away switch before towing, just for safety's sake.
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:12 AM   #8
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The main issue with Airstream's structurally is the crappy connection between the shell and the frame. This is the weakest link structurally and not the shell.

Perry
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Old 07-23-2014, 12:22 PM   #9
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Great progress, Tradewinder. Well done!
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Old 07-23-2014, 01:20 PM   #10
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Thanks for the help and advice.

It started raining today, first time since I started redoing the floor. Leak city !! I re sealed all if the seams front to back but did not do the horizontal ribs. Is it best to caulk the ribs from the inside? Or do I need to drill out the rivets on the exterior and try and caulk in between the seam? Of course I don't want to alter the exterior if I don't have to, but will if that is best.

Thanks!
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Old 07-23-2014, 01:30 PM   #11
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I would do as much sealing as you can from inside, re-gooping leaky seams. Eventually, after you have done any shine-up work on the outside, you should seal every seam from the outside as well. I definitely would not recommend removing rivets and sealing the overlap--you would end up rebuilding the whole trailer if you did.
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Old 07-23-2014, 03:21 PM   #12
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So to reseal the outside you would just caulk and wipe off basically everything?
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Old 07-23-2014, 03:29 PM   #13
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The recommended technique is to do all the polishing, clear coat removal, etc., that you intend to do. Next, you get some little wooden or plastic pics and try to clean as much of the funk out of the external seams as possible. Finally, you put your sealant (Parbond, Vulkem, etc) in a somewhat big plastic syringe, and squeeze out a fine little bead along the seam. Some people even put masking tape on either side of the seam so they can lay down a bead, wipe it, and then remove the tape, thus preventing getting sealant all over the trailer.
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Old 07-26-2014, 01:51 AM   #14
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Thanks! I have now caulked all of the ribs on the interior. I also picked up a few cans of spray sealer to try on top of that. Also polished where the new side markers go and began an led mod for the taillights. Use the existing housing , but install an led set inside the bargman lens.
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