Being new to Airstream, my wife Kay and I have purchased 1973 Argosy 26' out of Ohio thru E-bay advertised as stored inside for 15 years. While the outer skin is in very good shape the underbelly pan bearly stayed attached during the 438 mile trip home. Not wasting any time I have drilled out the last of attaching rivets and removed all of the pan parts. We have found mice graveyard, long vacated wasp nests, plenty of water in fiberglass insulation along with a rotted frame and floor.
The add called it "pristine condition" What does the average look like? Being over forty years in a boat business I woved to be undefeated by it. Belonging to the "over the hill gang" I have experienced it all. Despite it all we will be camping in it next year in our 26' argosy. It was our dream and I will not let my lovely wife down because she deserves the best. Here is my plan. While I have never done it but attempt will be made shortly to remove the shell. Frame will be sandblasted first and thorough inspection will be done on the frame prior to any paint being applied. Decision will be made weather to repair it or to build a new one, since the outriggers are available. [Thank all for the existing forums thru which I'm learning whole bunch]. The one thing which bothers me is the flooring material issue. Why hasn't anyone tried using a Sign Board. It is a five ply plywood with no voids in it. Other than the number of ply's it is much like a marine grade plywood with added superb feature. It has a 0.015" aluminum skin bonded to both sides. It is much stiffer than exterior 3/4" plywood and cannot absorb water. We use it to replace floors and decks in aluminum boats with a everlasting success. Some of the replacements are over ten years old and were subjected to worst elements with no adverse effects on it. As far as the rigidity goes tou can suspen a 4x8 sheet on saw horses at each end and safely walk on it without much give. The aluminum skin is the key behind it's rigid quality. At 9/16" it is much stronger than 3/4" exterior ply. The only issue which I can forsee is the contact area of aluminum coating to steel frame which can be remedied by cutting 1/8" PVC sheeting to strips and placing them between ply.and frame, thus eliminating wear of the skin and electrolisys between dissimilar metal. Along with the use of stainless fasteners it should last forever. Necessary moisture drain holes along the outer and inner skin of the shell, can be made by cutting a aluminum tubing to match the thickness of the ply and pressing them into well matched drilled holes in ply. thus sealing the moisture out of the ply. Outer edges of ply can be sealed with "B" type sealing tape. Same can be used to seal the floor to the outer skin, which would prevent any moisture from entering exposed edge of ply.
I am not new to engineering and always strive to come up with new ideas based on my past experience, however I would like to hear comments from all experienced and seasoned rivet masters. Thanks in advance for the input. "boatdoc"