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Old 04-18-2016, 12:17 PM   #1
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1961 25' Trade Wind Shell-Off

Hey all!

So, I figure now is a good time to get going on a thread as I am a few full days in and if I dont start on now, I may never get around to it.

I purchased a 1961 25' Trade Wind that was (mostly) gutted in Texas and brought it back to its new home in Los Angeles, CA a few weeks back. The plan is to renovate it into a mobile boutique for my girlfriends Bikyni company (not a typo).

The exterior is in decent shape - minor blemishes that I may or may not tackle, but no major dents or tears. The belly pan needs to be replaced, as does the subfloor. I haven't had a good look at the frame, but I am at least planning on giving it the angle-grinder/POR-15 treatment.

Saturday, I towed the Airstream to a local Home Depot and used it as my lumber carrier so that I could transport the gantry materials - yes, Im going with the gantry method! Thanks for pitching me on the ease of a gantry versus other shell removal methods.

I managed to get the materials and erect both gantrys in one full day of work (most of which was driving).

Yesterday, I had my first rivet removal experience. I removed the upper interior skins. I started with a 20v Cordless Dewalt, which quickly ran out of juice and I went and picked up a electric dewalt and things went A LOT faster once I did. I am also using the rivet removal kit from vintage trailer supplies. Its helpful, but I do look forward to getting good, comfortable enough to not need it.

Anyway, I do have a few questions that I would love answered before I move forward on popping the shell -


1) Am I required to brace the interior before I separate the shell from the frame? My plan is to lift the shell, pull the frame, and drop the shell to the ground - I dont have to worry about wind as I live in Los Angeles. My only concern is maintaining the integrity of the shell and not damaging the body.

2) I picked up 3 1-ton chain hoists from HF yesterday in the valley. What is conventional wisdom for mounting them to the Gantrys for shell removal? Whats the best way to secure the hoists to the 4x4 running lengthwise inside the frame?

3) Once I have the shell separated and the frame removed, what is conventional wisdom regarding flipping the frame? I still dont quite understand the process - IE - where to mount the 3rd chain hoist; is it two hoists on one gantry, the rear of the frame and one for the tongue - lift all three at the same time and then lift one rear while dropping the other??

4) As I am not going to have any plumbing in the AS and I live is SoCal, I am not too concerned about MG plywood. Though, I do want the flooring to be firm and even - any suggestions there?

5) I am obviously going to have to may a new belly pan. Ill have templates - anything I should know about this process?

I suppose that is it for now. Here are some pictures - including one little treasure from whomever built my Airstream back in 60-61!
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Old 04-18-2016, 03:10 PM   #2
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The shell is pretty tough no bracing needed. Use a tough solid rope with chain hoists. Make sure someone is on the door side when you pop the shell. It will tilt and swing that way because the door is heavy. And you don't want to have a freak out session!! Not sure on flipping the frame I never did get it flip. I left the axles on which added to much weight. 5/8 should work on the floor with a little tweeking! Have fun!😄
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Old 04-18-2016, 08:09 PM   #3
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enosburg , Vermont
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Your entire shell has to be reset on your new deck exactly as original or you will have problems refitting the interior, right down to the rivet holes on the interior skins. You should consider making an exact template of the floor out to the c-channel parimiter before you detach the body. I cut & tape heavy paper, roll it up & set it aside, useful later. The exterior skins hang down below the C-channel. You'll have to come up with something to take the weight off the bottom edge of the skins when you set the body down or they will be damaged. Flipping the frame, tractor with a bucket or 6 strong SOBER guys!
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:18 AM   #4
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Answers to your questions by number are below:

1) No bracing is required for a gantry lift from above.

2) I used two different methods to attach the hoists to the gantry and to the trailer. One method was, I bought webbing straps (that are used in the rock climbing world), which have a working strength greater than 2000 lbs. I cut these to the appropriate lenths and joined them using a "water knot." I also used short lengths of chain (available at your local hardware store), and a "screw link" to join the ends of the chain together in a continuous loop. Working strengths of the chain and screw link should be paid attention to--you can find some fairly burly looking chain that is basically just ornamental. Another easy source is to buy trailer safety chains from HF.

3) To flip the frame, put a continuous loop of webbing inside the A-frame near the hitch and attach one hoist to this. At the rear, attach the two hoists near the center of the gantry frame and attach one to each corner. Now lift the frame up to a height of about 5 feet using all three hoists. Now, continue to pick up on one of the rear hoists while slacking off on the other. The hoist in front will allow the webbing loop to slip through its hook, providing a pivot. Once the frame is vertical (ie., hanging from one of the back corners), You will continue to slack off on the hoist that is attached to the lower corner, remove it, and attach it to the high corner. Transfer the load from the current hoist to the one that was attached to the lower corner. Once this is done, attach the hoist that was on the high corner to the lower corner and begin picking up on this hoist while slacking off on the other hoist. This may sound cumbersome, but the idea is to avoid having your hoists tangled up and crossing over one another once the flip gets past the half-way point. Make sure you attach the loops of chain or webbing that you are lifting against inside the rear most cross member so that the loops can't accidentally slip off of the frame either in the front or the rear.

4) Marine grade plywood is overkill. Just use something that is reasonably smooth on the top side, as you have to get all the imperfectons out of it before installing your flooring. You can also extend the life of it by painting it with a few coats of polyurethane around the edges, especially on the edges at the end-grain.

5) Bellypan manufacture is not difficult. The key is to install it while your frame is upside down so that you aren't lying on your back trying to figure out where the cross members are, and drilling fresh holes with shavings falling in your face.

Good luck!
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:35 AM   #5
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The attached pic shows my set-up.
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Old 04-19-2016, 12:56 PM   #6
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Bmilos: On my 1958 Caravanner I used 45 Mil EPDM roll rubber roofing. Was 10 feet wide by 25 long, and was delighted at ease of install. Used fender washers and self taping screws. Frame easy to feel, so no marking necessary. Saved extra for patching with contact cement. All materials =$ 200. Start at crossing centerlines and stretch forward, then other half to rear. Then center to street-center to curb. Tuck under circumferential band. 60 Mil or 90 mil is probably overkill. at $214 or $397 respectively.
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Old 04-19-2016, 01:04 PM   #7
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Bmilos: Forgot to mention, I used spray poly closed cell foam, at about R6 per inch...Suspect my floor is about R30. Not overkill since there is nothing in between frame members and she's designed for 40 below zero F.
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Old 04-19-2016, 04:40 PM   #8
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thanks for all your help! I am making a home depot run to make some last minute purchases and I'm thinking about trying to lift the shell tomorrow - if there is one thing I have plenty of, its sober guys in my life...

A few more quick questions -

1) when pulling the shell off - is the chain pulled from the inside or the outside? Basically, should we be standing in the airstream or outside the airstream on its side? Im just concerned about the chain link and the exterior skin....

2) will 24" sections on 2x4 drilled into the ribs make acceptable 'feet' for the shell to be lowered on to the concrete? I figure 8 or 12 of these attached evenly to ribs once the shell is separated would do the trick - easy to install and remove...

3a) once the shell is removed and I have access to the frame - do I pull the subfloor first or the bellypan?

3b) Should I do both while its hanging? I understand that doing the bellypan makes sense not to do on my back, but the subfloor seems like it should be tacked right side up before its gantried... Just looking to be walked through that part so that I dont wing it and make even more work for myself.

You guys are awesome!
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:45 AM   #9
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Bmilos: I'll share how I did it -probably of not much help to you. Raised and set on 3 pillars of concrete blocks. Pan off. Frame work off creeper. 45 Mil placed. Lowered. 6 phases for floor: front half moon via wedge under method after foam shaved level. back half moon same, midline 8 feet forward curbside , then forward 8 foot street side, remainder 8 foot curb side rear then 8 foot street side rear. Foam from tank kits. "L" angle hold down 100%. Simple but expensive. Probably no other rig like it and only possible with unobstructed bottom and no wires, piping, and tanks between 45 mil and plywood. With some possible additions the rig will float (still considering)
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:01 AM   #10
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Your next round of questions:

1) Pull the chain from inside the trailer. You definitely don't want to drag the chain across the shell, and there is no reason to.

2) Your shell is lighter than it looks, just make sure whatever it rests on is stable, as if it falls off, it will cause you a lot of additional repairs. Also consider how you will anchor it to the ground. A good strong wind can send it moving.

3a) Once the frame is out from under the shell, I would remove the wood first, then use the gantries to flip the frame over and remove the belly pan. You can then evaluate whether you are going to do your frame repair yourself, or just pull it down to some welding shop. If you do the repairs yourself, you can use the gantries to get the frame in the ideal orientation for your welding. Further more, use the gantries similarly to position the frame for wire-wheeling/rust removal, then priming and painting.

3b) Once the frame is ready for reassembly, turn it right side up and install the wood subfloor, then flip it over and do the under-floor insulation and bellypan. As long as it is in this orientation, install the axles, again, using a gantry frame to hoist the axle up, hand it off between two hoists and drop it into position. When you are working on installing the floor or bellypan, lower the frame onto some jack stands so that it isn't always suspended. Once you get a little confidence, you will find yourself flipping the frame several times.

The key thing to remember is safety. If that frame falls while you are standing next to it operating a hoist, it could be fatal. Make sure all of your lifting slings/chains are at least as strong as your hoists. Do not just use some piece of chain or (god forbid) rope, that you do not know the history of and the working strength. Keep an eye on the condition of your gantry frames (especially the cross beam), and the swivels and hooks on your hoists. Pull at an angle as little as possible, as that angle will multiply the force that your lifting apparatus is seeing. It certainly won't hurt to wear an honest-to-goodness construction grade hard hat (just imagine one of those chain hoists falling on you as you stand right underneath it). Minimize the exposure of falling/dropping items to your helpers (wives, children, half-drunk buddies).

good luck!
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:02 AM   #11
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Position your gantries over the vents- one in the front and one in the back. Remove the vent lids. The chain will go though the vents. No damage to shell.
I cut the floor about 3 inches from the interior wall or ribs all the around then screwed 2x4s to the 3 inches of floor left. Then set that on the concrete and bolted my shell to my driveway for 2 years- no problems.
If your replacing the belly pan just remove it and save it for template.
Hope this helps
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Old 04-25-2016, 06:19 PM   #12
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Hey guys,

Just wanted to drop in and give an update and ask a few more questions. I had a pretty busy weekend and, thanks to your guidance, everything has been going smoothly. I can't say enough about the gantrys... They really do make things easier, not that I have tried any other way, but I have been cruising through this solo.

I made a paper template of the floor with the c-channel in place before I removed the c-channel. I numbered each piece moving counter clockwise from the door opening and made marks on the template of any gaps and which were screws and which were bolts. I think this should make my life a little easier during reassembly.

After that, I took the c-channel out which was a pain because I had to handle it form below so as not to damage the channel with the angle grinder.

Once that was handled, I though I would cruise... no such luck.I did managed to get the old subfloor out, though I felt like I was playing where's waldo with elevator bolts. There is not really any logic or pattern to where they put them and the glue that held the linoleum in place hid them pretty well. I ended up taking a skill saw and cutting little squares around them as I found them as I was trying to maintain full sections for a template. It was seemingly a success.

Once I handled that, I hooked the frame up to the gantrys - I bought a webbing strap from home depot that is used from towing cars. I cut it in half and used one for the front A frame with a water knot (thanks for the suggestion!) and did the same from one of the rear hoists. the other hoist I just used chain link and a screw link.

Spinning the frame was easier than I thought.

I flipped it and removed the belly pan, all the gross debris just fell to the concrete during the flip - surely much easier than the alternative.

Once that was off, I went around with a crow bar and a hammer, removing all the remaining wood left at the bolts. Once that was handled, I used an angle grinder with a cutting blade and took all the tops off. gave them a good whack or two with a hammer and most fell out pretty easily. The others I improvised with the crow bar and hammer.

I spent the rest of sunday giving it a once over with a rust removal disc attached to my drill - waste of time, actually. Once the disc was spent, I moved over to the angle grinder and a grinding blade. That seemed to work much easier.

All in all the frame is in pretty good shape. There is one cross section that rusted and fell off - its the front piece that the belly pan folds over in the middle - a pretty important piece, I assume. I have a buddy coming over tomorrow night to reattach it.

Then Wednesday I will begin treating the frame with degreaser and metal prep. The rinsing step of this means I have to tow the frame to a hose, which is a bummer. Then POR-15 and I can begin installing the new subfloor and belly pan.

In preparation for these two steps (floor and belly pan), I do have a few questions.

1) Am I to assume that I can lay the new subfloor directly on top of the frame? I've read some threads about sandwiching the insulation between the floor and the frame... I assume that would make the floor uneven, no? Again, I am not camping in the trailer and it will be living in SoCal - do i really even need to insulate underneath (at all)?

2)My plan is to have the frame right side up and clamp the frame in place to do a few pilot holes around the outside of each piece - maybe one in each corner, drilling from underneath (actually underneath). Once I have it locked into place with those bolts installed, Ill flip it and drill the remaining pilot holes from above (which is actually from below), hopefully matching all the holes into the c-channel making it an easy connection. Does this make sense and seem feasible??

3) Install insulation (if needed) by gluing it to the bottom of the subfloor? Should I get some of that aluminum tape?

4) The belly pan. Ugh - this part seems daunting. My plan is to get one 35' roll of .032 aluminum. 25' is for the sides. Basically, I am going to cut a 25' x 4' strip in half. From there I am going to cut the sections for the outside edges which seems like the only somewhat visible area of the belly pan. Then, with the remaining 10' I am going to cut that in half leaving me with two 5' x 4' sections - one for the front part and the other for the rear. I'll use the old piece of belly pan to run the remaining length in the middle which will hopefully circumvent the whole it-was-originally-60"-but-they-only-sell-it-in-48"-pieces.

once i have the belly pan in place, I am still not sure how to go about drilling pilot holes that match with the exterior skins and c-channel. Do I just make the folds, drop the shell back on, and hope that they match up? I was thinking I could clamp it in place before I make the fold -> drill pilot holes from inside -> make the fold over the c-channel -> drill through the first pilot holes and come out the fold.

Thanks again for all of you help and here are a few pictures...
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Old 04-25-2016, 06:22 PM   #13
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bummer the forum changes the orientation of the images... Sorry about that guys.
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Old 04-29-2016, 12:39 PM   #14
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Heree are answers to your most recent questions, by number:

1) I would recommend laying the wood directly on the frame. If you want to insulate after that (which I would as well), use a few layers of foam board insulation cut to fit in between the frame members, up against the wood floor. I have read of people installing layers of caulk/rubber/etc., between the frame and the floor, but in my mind, they are over-engineering, and creating something that can break down over time and allow the floor to move and squeak.

2) Here, I assume you are talking about drilling holes in the new flooring. So, yes, get your flooring in place, and then either slide underneath, and drill up through the wood to match the original screw holes in the frame members, or alternatively, just use the same self-drilling, self-tapping screws the AS used (not sure about your year, but they used them in the 70's era), and create new holes in the frame as you drill them in from the top side. This is one place where flipping the frame and floor over is probably more hassle than it is worth, and you run the risk of your wood coming loose, or even just moving slightly during the flip. Not sure what you are asking about the C-channels. If you are using the original C-channels, they will have a hole in them that lines up with the hole in the end of the outriggers. Use the hole in the outrigger to make your hole in the edge of the floor, and getting the C-channel back in the right place ought to be a no-brainer. Don't be surprised if the holes in the C-channel don't line up perfectly with the original holes in the shell. I jacked around with this for a while after reinstalling my shell, and finally just used the holes in the shell to drill new holes in the C-channel and called it good.

3) Yes, Install insulation (foam board) by gluing it to the bottom of the subfloor, and you can use carefully sized deck screws with a fender washer on them as well. I wouldn't bother with the aluminum tape. A final layer of some type of chiny bubble-wrap radiant barrier on the bottom side might make sense, though.

4) The belly pan: I too could only get 48" wide material, so what I did is ran it across (instead of length-wise) the bottom to cover from main rail to main rail, and just made multiple sections, as necessary (instead of one long continuous strip). Be sure to get the oversized headed pop rivets available from Vintage Trailer Supply to reinstall. These heads are like 5/8" and will provide a lot more support than the original sized rivets.

I would put the new material in place, then drop the shell on. Use the existing hole in the shell and drill through the new material and into the C-channel. As mentioned above, you may not have perfect alignment. If not, do the best you can and then make new holes as needed. Just don't make new holes in the shell.

good luck!
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