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Old 07-04-2014, 11:36 PM   #15
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 49
All good points. With regard to access panels in the belly pan, one idea I've considered is to use plastic marine deck plates. They are water tight and easy to open and close. I installed one in my fresh water tank for a cleanout. I used a six inch one for the tank. I have seen them as large as 8 inches in diameter and there may be larger ones.

With regard to the frame, I have an unusual frame problem. From what I can see, the frame under the trailer seems to be in pretty good shape, but your right until I remove the belly pan I can't be sure. More problematic however I have discovered that the exposed portion of the tongue and the section of the tongue immediately under the front end of the trailer have significant corrosion. The trailer has been unused for several years and parked at my house which is near a marine shoreline. Apparently, the marine air contains enough salt that the rainwater leaking into the unpainted interior of the tongue essentially rotted the steel from the inside allowing it to go unnoticed. The tongue was formed from 3" steel channel with a 3" steel plate welded to the open side of the channel to form a box. The steel plate was spot welded which left a gap for water to drain to the unpainted inside. I discovered the problem when I tried to remove some scale from the exterior of the tongue and the screw driver I was using went completely through to the center. Peeled back the belly pan at the front of the trailer and discovered that the tongue corrosion extended about two feet under the trailer. The corrosion is serious enough that I would not want to tow the trailer any significant distance.

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Old 07-05-2014, 02:41 AM   #16
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1966 17' Caravel
Newport , North Carolina
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,286
Some of the more modern boat parts may work for an aluminum trailer but I do not believe that the access ports that you mentioned are some of them. Plastic even more modern composite plastics do not hold up as well when you consider the belly pan area and that kick up rocks and the occasional unseen high rock will not bend most plastics but will break or crack them! Some pictures would help illustrate the frame issues that you have found all of which can be repaired.

You sound like you have a plan and that makes working on the airstream trailers go much easier I have been enjoying working on ours but with grandchildren, work, weather and money it is slow going. We do like reading threads of others and seeing the pictures of what they have found and how they have tackled their issues (airstream related) please keep us posted and we will do likewise.

Yes I said that! Or did I?

Gotta get busy! Have a great day! Now where did I put those revits?
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Old 07-05-2014, 07:54 AM   #17
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1966 17' Caravel
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Las Cruces , New Mexico
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 526
The main frame problem sounds like a fabrication/welding problem which is best approached with the shell off if under the trailer is a problem. If it is pretty much in the tongue area, you might be able to leave the shell on. Once you can get it to the point where you can look, poke, and prod searching for damage, you can tell what you need to do. Recall that work expands to fill the time and money available when restoring anything. Then the work exceeds the time and money available.

Cliff is right about the plastic panels. Stay with aluminum and aluminum rivets to cut down corrosion.
1966 Airstream Caravel
2006 Toyota Tacoma
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Old 12-24-2014, 05:06 AM   #18
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1966 22' Safari
Madison , Wisconsin
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 83
That old Caravel looks great! Glad you're loving my old girl!

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Old 12-24-2014, 07:55 AM   #19

1968 20' Globetrotter
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 451
Great work.

I'm only an amateur plannisher, but I think that if you want a really durable and easy to banana, belly, softer and thicker .040 5052 might work easier than .0?? 2024. Some of these aircraft and professional restorers will have more knowledgeable input tho. Maybe you'll restore your bananas.

Using Dzus fits in areas that may need service and access is definitely a great idea. Our 24hr Daytona Mazda was snapped together with Dzus fits and held up all day at 200mph...

Marine components are the way to go. I have a marine heater in my GT and love it. looks cool too.

I attended Vintage Trailer Academy, and continue to marvel at its professionalism. A wonderful experience.

Thanks for doing such a careful, well thought, and responsible rescue on your beauty.

Best Wishes...
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Old 12-26-2014, 09:16 AM   #20
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1967 17' Caravel
Oakland , California
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 160
Images: 1
Here is what we have done as of 12/26
All of the wiring has been "stubbed out" to our plans, including solar panels.
We used all marine wiring and connectors. First layer of Prodex has been installed.
Now the plumbing begins then the biggest challenge is the belly pan. I bought a 10ft sheet of 025 5054 at the local aluminum store and we still have the old belly pan for some sort of a template, but with belly tanks and an under the frame spare tire rack not much is the same.
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