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Old 08-29-2010, 05:48 PM   #15
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Pete the fresh water tank is sitting on a large 1 inch thick piece of plywood and has a sheet of aluminum below to protect the plywood from the elements. The plywood is resting on Z shaped bars. On either side of the front bar you will see a bolt. Remove or cut off these bolts to remove the front bar. I just ground them off with a grinder and did not bother to try and undo them. Once the front bar is out, the plywood will slide forward and come out of the two side Z bars. The plywood was sealed to the bars with Vulkem and if it is still good you will have to free it up first. I removed the sheet of aluminum first. Once you have the plywood about halfway forward support the water tank so it will not fall. After it is all the way out you can drop the water tank but make sure all water and electrical connections are removed first.
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Old 08-29-2010, 07:47 PM   #16
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Thanks Chris. I'll take a close look at this next time I get back to working on the project.

I spent several more hours today removing banana wrap and belly wrap. When I pulled the wrap from the area around the stairs it looked reasonably ok.





Wish it all looked as good. I dug into the roadside rear banana wrap.



This is where I ran into trouble... as I was warned to expect, I found some serious rust in the outriggers back here. (By the way, whats with that big piece of shell that was cut out over the water connection?)



You can't see it in this pic but I can see that the next outrigger, forward of this one, is in almost as bad shape. I'll be removing the rest of the belly wrap along both sides to do a complete inventory of the damage.

I found a similiar part cut out of the shell material on the road side rear, show here:



Now, the question is, can replacements be purchased? I'm a long way from needing them but it would be nice to know I can still get them.

It also occurred to me today that I really don't know the status of the black and gray water tanks. I haven't owned a camper before so I don't know a safe way to determine if they contain material that needs to be dumped before I go further or not. The PO had this hooked up to a septic system so I'm hoping the tanks are empty.

Thanks,
Pete
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Old 08-29-2010, 08:18 PM   #17
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Pete I am not sure why the outer skins were cut out like that. I found similar strangeness back there as well. On both sides of my shell at the lower curved sections I have double skins, the outer ones were cut too short and a longer one was placed behind it to reach the bottom the c channel. Maybe it has to do with how airstream moves the shell around in the factory before dropping it on the floor. They might need access to inside for mounting jigs and once removed and the shell is on the floor they patch the openings. So far it looks like your frame, outrigger and crossmember damage is contained to the rear only. You lucky dog. Outriggers and crossmembers are available from Out Of Doors Mart or Inland RV ( Andy). Andy is closer to you. The main frame rails are not available but you can get a metal shop to bend you some sections to patch in. My replacements are 11 guage which matches the original thickness.
If you still have power in the trailer check the monitor panel and see what the levels show. You can hook up the sewer drain hose and put it in a 5 gallon pail pulll the valves one at a time and see if anything comes out. Fill the pail and close the valves and dump down toilet of house. How long has the trailer been sitting unused. Most of it may evaporate with enough time.
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Old 08-29-2010, 08:58 PM   #18
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Chris, I am hoping your expectation about the damage being limited to rear is correct. But we will know once I get the rest of the belly wrap off. The tank level meters say they are empty... but given everything else, I don't trust them. They also say a freashly charged batter is only "fair" in condition.

Oddly, I'm far from being discouraged with this project. I like the idea of ripping it down to the bare frame and building it back up again. That is the only way to know for sure the condition of everything and I plan to keep this coach for a long time.

I noticed that the tank releast handles are held in place by a bracked riveted to the belly wrap. Can I drill out those rivets and remove that belly wrap without accidently opening the valves? I have no clue how much resistance exists or should exist in those valve controls. Thinking about filling the tanks here at the house and driving over to the local dumps station to dump everything at once so I'll know for certain. Of course, if I'm going to do that, I need to do so soon, before I take something apart that would make it impossible to safely make that drive. It is about 7 miles from here.

Thanks,
Pete
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Old 08-29-2010, 09:32 PM   #19
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Pete your dump valves are mounted dfiierent than mine I have a center bath and mine are mounted directly to the frame rails. There is virtually no play in these valves. as soon as you move them the valve starts to open. Probably a good idea to fill them and go to the dump station. Then you know for sure the tanks are empty. Happy flushing.
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Old 09-03-2010, 11:51 PM   #20
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I've spent most of the past few evenings removing the interior. I now have all of the road side cleared out and tomorrow I'll tackle the curb side. That means the kitchen and bath. I've been reviewing the service manual that finally came from AC. It isn't really too helpful in the written instruction area but the diagrams might be helpful. I was looking at how to remove the toilet which naturally leads me to think about the tanks. I haven't removed the belly wrap yet because haven't been brave enough to drive to the dump station. When I used a flashlight to look down the open toilet it looked bone dry and it certainly didn't look clean. I hesitate to introduce water to that mess because if it is dry, and I add water, I'll likely make just a wet tank full of sludge that won't dump. But if it is dry, it might be easier to handle. I'll have to deal with cleaning it out later anyway... thinking I could just put it in the bed of my pickup truck, fill it with water and drive just the tank to the dump station. Sounds good hear on the couch. We will see how I feel about that idea once I can put my eyes on it!

Wondering where I can purchase replacement tanks... just in case.

Wifie is working all weekend (happens when you own the shop) so I'll be free to work on my AS all weekend. I'll post an update and plenty of pics before the weekend is over... and sooner if I run into a problem and need some advice.

Pete
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:09 PM   #21
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I've just about completed clearing out the interior. I just have to remove the hot water heater and the wheel well covers. I thought the subfloor was 5/8" or 3/4" thick? Now that I have everything out, there are several places where I can measure the thickness of the old floor. It is 1/2" or maybe 7/16"

If you have replaced your flooring, what thickness was your old floor and what thickness did you use?

I'll be spending more time on this project tomorrow. Might even get some of the old floor up and more of the belly wrap off.

Pete
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Old 09-05-2010, 10:58 PM   #22
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Pete the inner or yellow wheel well covers can be removed from inside but the ones below that that are a thicker black plastic are mounted with a lip under the floor. There are screws in several different spots through the wheel wells into the edge of the floor.
My floor is 3/4" thick but mine is 1973. Maybe gary splitrock will chime in and let you his floor thickness. He has a 1976 like yours.
What's your plan shell on or off?
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:27 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by phoyt View Post
.... I thought the subfloor was 5/8" or 3/4" thick? Now that I have everything out, there are several places where I can measure the thickness of the old floor. It is 1/2" or maybe 7/16". If you have replaced your flooring, what thickness was your old floor and what thickness did you use?

Pete:

The floor of my '78 Sovereign was exactly 1/2".

I found a good replacement at the Big Box stores in that they carry a 7 ply finish plywood that is an exact match - a better grade and stronger to boot than the "standard" 1/2" plywood.

Below is a picture of the "old" floor from the '78 (top), and the "true" 1/2" 7 ply finish plywood (bottom) I used for the replacement sections.




On the question of shell off/shell on replacement - it really depends on just how much damage you have and where it is.

On the '78 My real "rot" was only at the rear of the rear bedroom, and I had the belly pan off so I could tie it in the good section with a doubler with a bottom scab patch (actually, I reinforced the entire rear bedroom area by doubling the plywood and bracing with angle iron - see this thread on the '78 rebuild '78 31' Sovereign .

If there is much damage at all along the edge give some thought to a frame off. I am sure you have read some information about "rot doctor" and the like - without a good fiber base to "bind" the epoxy you are not left with much strength. The entire frame/shell needs to flex as it is being used - a large area/thickness of epoxy only will likely crack and no longer add to the strength required at the frame/shell interface.
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:45 AM   #24
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Hi guys... thanks for the quick replies.

I am surprised by the 1/2" thickness. I was expecting, and honestly, I'd prefer a 3/4" thick floor just for a better, more solid feeling floor. I'm wondering if I can use 3/4 in place of the 1/2 but I'm sure that will be determined by the size of the 'C' channel installed by the factory.

Now that everything is out and the entire floor area is exposed, I see additional rot (to what I found along the rear) around the door area and beneath the galley area. Now that I know the floor is only 1/2", it also explains some of that "give" I could feel as I stepped on center portions of the flooring.

I am presently planning for a shell off approach to replacing the floor and repairing the frame. So far this is fun but I don't think it would be so 'fun' if I have to do it again on the same coach. I am a fan of the "do it right, once" approach.

I was going to post a bunch of pictures showing progress as I stripped the interior. But when I sat down at the computer this morning, the memory card was still here... which means it wasn't in my camera all weekend... boy, do I feel dumb! The camera is on the charger and the memory card WILL be installed today so I'll post more pics tonight.

I'd like to get the last banana wrap off today and take a stab at some of the flooring from the inside to uncover the tanks.

Side note: I haven't investigated this subject yet, but I'm betting that when I put things back together, I won't be using copper pipes for the water lines. I know they have much better options on the shelf now for water lines. But I wonder what is available for an upgrade to the gas lines?

By the way, I found the obligatory dead mice. One in the funace and one under galley. I've also found that old frying pan someone lost and a blender lid.

Here is an odd question for you... how "deep" is your counter top in the galley? Based on what I was pulling apart yesterday, it looks like this coach had some earlier renovations to the galley making the counter top much deeper. Certainly the structure below the sinks wasn't factory. It looked like it was extended 6 inches or so.

Thanks,
Pete
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Old 09-06-2010, 09:26 PM   #25
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if you have replaced your flooring, what thickness was your old floor and what thickness did you use?
1/2"
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Old 09-07-2010, 04:51 PM   #26
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Just a quick update on my weekend progress. I've got the interior ready for removing the lower panels. Well, maybe... now that I review this, it is clear I've got to do something with the vent pipes. That water heater is already out of the way.


I also removed the curbside rear banana wrap. The water damage to the floor is obvious and the frame is fairly rusted in spots but not rust-thru holes like I found on the other side's outriggers.



I was surprised not to find any sight of the channel along the curved edge of the floor. Expected to see aluminum rather than the edge of the 1/2" plywood flooring. I'm guessing I'll see something a littel more substantial when I remove the inner panels.



The general rot and decay was apparent under the old galley area. Do you know if that heater vent hose coming from the fresh water tank area is intended as a means of warming the tank to keep it from freezing? I can't come up with any better ideas for why there is a heating duct running below the floor.


Looks like I'll be replacing some of the belly wrap. The connection points between the belly wrap sheet and the frame were badly corroded. Makes me wonder if there is a better way to attach to the frame so there isn't a direct contact between the two types of metal. Seems dumb to do that when you just know it is going to corrode away.



If I can get permission to hide in the barn after work this week, I'll be removing lower inside panels in prep for lifting the shell.

Anyone know the minimum application temperature of that POR-15 material? It might be getting too cold to apply soon... hope I don't have to wait for warmer weather to fix up the frame.

Pete
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Old 09-07-2010, 07:40 PM   #27
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Anyone know the minimum application temperature of that POR-15 material? It might be getting too cold to apply soon... hope I don't have to wait for warmer weather to fix up the frame.
I applied my two coats afternoon and evening in October, by the time I was finished it had dropped below 40F at 1 AM and it fired up nicely. After dark I used a CFL remote ballast drop light in the left hand and a paint brush in the right and that diffuse lighting in my dark backyard made seeing wet/dry & missed spots easy and allowed a pretty professional looking job.

Avoid making bubbles in the rust pits that pop, I found rebrushing coarse areas a second time immediately helped solve that - and apply the second coat while the first coat is gelled and hardening enough a brush with your fingertips has some 'grab' friction, it's the second coat that is truly the armor.

I also thinned the POR-15 using their thinner, 3 or 5% or whatever they recommended and found although it made it a little sloppier to work with it made it brush on easier and made the top coat level out extremely nicely, plus it did stretch the paint especially after the can has been open 2 or 3 hours and is starting to set up itself and turning into a heavy cream consistency by adding a little more solvent.

The fumes of the 1st coat as it catalyzes is to be avoided or minimalized - And their solvent has that extra 2% kicker of something that amplifies burning sensation - if you splatter POR-15 on your face, etc. don't use their solvent to clean it off!

I decanted the quarts into glass jars (planters sunflower seed jars, they were handy and have a ridge to make them less likely to slip out of ones hand) and found them very good storage too - I sprayed 'canned air' computer cleaner to flood & chill the jars down with the canned air, did the same to the POR can as I opened it, and drizzled the aerosol over the paint as it was poured in and capped the containers immediately. Just don't get it on the lip of the can or jar, the one you pour OUT of is the one that gets used up immediately...
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Old 09-07-2010, 08:37 PM   #28
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Floor

Pete,
I am just finishing changing the rear floor section on my 78 Excella 500.
The original plywood was 1/2" I replaced it with 5/8".
I looked at the 7 ply 1/2" at the big box stores but I was not able to verify that it was made with exterior glue so I passed on it.
My trailer was made without a true C channel. It used the top portion of the C channel but nothing encased the plywood around the rear section. I was able to locate a C channel that does encase the plywood and installed it with the new 5/8" ply. I didn't measure but I am sure 3/4" ply would fit the C channel as well.
The straight sections forward of the curved rear are still original with just the top portion of the C channel. They sit on the topside of the floor so the thickness would not be an issue if you are replacing it all. There will be a difference in weight though.
Good luck, it is a doable job and it sounds like you have the right idea and outlook for the job.
Darrell
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