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Old 05-19-2009, 10:24 PM   #1
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Exclamation Airstream 101

I have been looking around and around within these threads and have not found the basic information I seek. Can someone help me out??? Please!!!

To start, I appear to have problems with vocabulary. Is sub floor the plywood that sits on top of the frame? removing under belly, is that the panels on the outside of the camper? Because all the threads mention it, but no pictures show these removed.

So I had a leak, my plywood is soft in multiple spots. I just returned from the Airstream factory and they believe that they have corrected all leaks. Today I removed everything from the first half of the camper. Tomorrow I tackle the stove, toilet, and shower (hopefully).

More questions...

Assuming I clear everything out...

Do I need to take the bottom panels from the inside walls of the trailer? If so, any pointers on that? Is it difficult to get them back on?

Next, I have plywood on the floor. How do I remove that? How is it attached? Then, I hear about using marine grade plywood. Where do I find this?

Sort of related question... I realized that my trailer has developed a warp in the subfloor, right by the door. This seem pretty insignificant until I realized it has pulled loose my stove/oven. Any thoughts on what could have cause this issue?

I apologize for adding this new thread... I am certain that information is located within this tool, I just can't find it to reference.

As always, thanks for your outstanding site and assistance.

Robert
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Old 05-20-2009, 07:30 AM   #2
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Robert,

Yes after you gut the trailer and have just the plywood floor left, you need to remove the lower interior skin to access what is called the c-channel. The plywood floor is bolted through this c-channel around the perimeter of the trailer. If your floor is like alot of floors that have seen water damage, you might find that the floor will pull out from under the c-channel without removing the bolts, then of course you will have to located and remove the rusted bolt.

The floor slide UNDER this c-channel and sits on TOP of the frame. When you install new flooring it must slide under the c-channel and be rebolted to the frame.

There has been some controversy as to use marine grade or not, some are concerned about the interaction of the chemicals used in the marine plywood and aluminum, others like us, used exterior grade plywood and cut the pieces to fit and then sealed all the edges and top and bottom with a good sealer. Either way I imagine is fine.

Warp by the door was probably caused by a water/leak issue.

Hope this helps some.

Annette
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Old 05-20-2009, 07:43 AM   #3
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Robert,
Take a look at the Links To Major Rennovations Thread and you will have LOTS of reading material to help you along your way. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:48 AM   #4
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Robert,

First off: Welcome! Please don't apologize for posting questions! Thats why we are all here. The answer provide may help you and will live a long life waiting for someone else that may have the same question.


"Is sub floor the plywood that sits on top of the frame?" - That is my understanding. What I can't figure out is a "subfloor" kinda implies something more than a finsh material will be covering it. Most trailers I've heard of have the vinyl or carpet directly on this material. Wouldn't that just make it a "floor"?

The material nearest to the pavement is the aluminum belly pan. The curved segments between the belly pan and the exterior panels are called the "bannana wrap".

If you remove the bellypan, you can access the steel frame. You can also access the plywood subfloor.


Do I need to take the bottom panels from the inside walls of the trailer? If so, any pointers on that? Is it difficult to get them back on? - get your drill and several bits. Label the panels and orientation. start drilling out rivets. Beware the hidden (blind) rivets!

Next, I have plywood on the floor. How do I remove that? How is it attached? Then, I hear about using marine grade plywood. Where do I find this? - See other threads for this. My personal opinion on plywood is to buy something better than what you can find at lowes, but the cost vs. benefit of marine wood can't be justified. My trailer lasted 38 years with cheap plywood. If it wears out in 38 more years, I'll replace it again.

Sort of related question... I realized that my trailer has developed a warp in the subfloor, right by the door. This seem pretty insignificant until I realized it has pulled loose my stove/oven. Any thoughts on what could have cause this issue? - I think I would panic at this point, sorry. sounds like you have an outrigger/frame issue. Be prepared to do some metal work after you pull the floor.

I noticed your 1 1/2 hours from me! We need to get together and have a work session!

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Warning! Disclaimer! The information I have provided may be completely wrong! Hey, it's a hobby! Correct me if required. You won't hurt my feelings!
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Old 05-20-2009, 10:40 AM   #5
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Thank you

Ok, I thank you for clearing up my questions. Those clarifications were greatly appreciated. I will continue taking out the remaining pieces from the camper and see what is in store for me.

DanB, come on over... I think I may be over my head on this stuff. I hope my frame is ok... but I was thinking that does not look good.
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Old 05-20-2009, 12:12 PM   #6
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Robert,
There are also some pretty good blogs out there that you can follow. Here are some that come to mind.

Anna Lumanum
Frank's Trailer Works Blog
Austin Aluminitus
1956 Vintage Airstream - A Classic Travel Trailer from Wally Byam and Co.
Streaming Soldiers- 1975 Airstream Ambassador and 1953 Flying Cloud
Sweet Sovereign of the Road

Plus along the side of each of these blogs are links to yet more Airstream restoration blogs.

I hope you don't get information overload.
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Old 05-20-2009, 12:29 PM   #7
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Information is your key weapon, in this instance knowledge really is power.

I consider the "Major Renovation" threads linked above by Deitz to be required reading for anyone facing the tasks that you are. Those blogs he linked are also great sources of information (I humbly thank him for including mine in the list ).

Read as much as you can, read them several times over, and read them throughout your own restoration-- you'll notice new bits each time you re-read them, especially as you tackle similar projects on your trailer.

Other than that, the folks above have steered you quite well. As far as the "subfloor" terminology, I think it is because many people refer to the carpet or pergo or vinyl or linoleum as the "flooring" so, in order to make a distinction between those aesthetic floor-coverings, and the structural plywood below it, many people refer to the structural plywood as the "sub-floor." That is how I refer to it, but that is just speculation on my part as to why the distinctions are made that way. I can certainly see how it can be confusing.

There are certainly advantages to using MGP for the subfloor, but as has been pointed out, most of these trailers did pretty well for 30, 40, or even 50 years with very cheap plywood. When I replaced my floor, I chose 3/4" ACX. My big box stores did not supply this, but I was able to find it at a local fine wood/harwood supplier, and it wasn't that expensive, maybe $40/sheet I think? The MGP they carry runs $135/sheet. They use the same exterior grade glue, one distinct difference is that MGP has fewer voids than does the ACX. There are different schools of thought as to how important that distinction is for the application of a trailer subfloor, and I'll avoid the argument and leave it to you to decide. For me, budget came into play, as did the law of diminishing returns.

However, I would highly recommend edge-sealing the plywood using epoxy. Whether it's MGP or ACX or anything else, this is the weakest point, and lingering water WILL cause ply separation, and quickly. I've seen this on boats and trailers.

Good luck, and keep asking questions!

-Marcus
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Old 05-20-2009, 01:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utee94 View Post
Information is your key weapon, in this instance knowledge really is power.

Read as much as you can, read them several times over, and read them throughout your own restoration-- you'll notice new bits each time you re-read them, especially as you tackle similar projects on your trailer.
This is so true and to me it's probably even more important than asking questions. You pick up so much good information reading those threads and ideas you pick up will stick with you and you'll use them later in your project. So important to read as that is the only way you get to really pick up all the little ideas and suggestions that help so much.

And, Marcus knows his beer pretty well too.

cheers,
steve
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Old 05-22-2009, 12:49 PM   #9
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Thanks so much!!!

I have most of the camper gutted... Still need to remove the shower/tub and toilet. At this point I am really nervious about warped flooring directly in front of the door side's wheel well. I hope this is just water damage and not issues with the frames. I will do my best to read all the information you guys suggested. I must admit, I am somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of information. I will keep chugging away at this and hopefully I will be camping this summer.

Thanks again!!!

Robert
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Old 05-22-2009, 01:05 PM   #10
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Robert:

Regarding the tub toilet.....

I'll give you some helpful advice, as I just went through this. Take your time! My toilet bolts were so messed up, I had to grind them off (carefully). I wouldn't even consider re-using them.

You will need a shower drain remover (called a key I think) to get the drain disconnected. good $12 investment.

You working on it Monday? Maybe I could cruise over after the parades.....
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Old 05-23-2009, 02:47 AM   #11
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absolutely

if you are interested in stopping over assisting and/or providing advice, i certainly won't turn down the offer... you let me know if it can work for you... yes, we have some parades to attend too.

i hope to get some more done over the weekend, let me know what you think.

Regards, Robert
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Old 05-25-2009, 07:04 PM   #12
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Went to home depot and purchased the drain key... it worked without any issue. At this point the trailer is for the most part gutted. The tub and the toilet have been removed. Now I need to read up on the pipes, and what to do about them. Also, I guess I am to the point were I begin to take off the lower, inner skin.
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Old 05-25-2009, 07:36 PM   #13
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Right about floor and subfloor. The thing we walk on—carpet, wood, vinyl, etc., is the floor and the subfloor is what prevents it all (and us) from falling through the joists in a house. If we called the subfloor, the floor, the top part would be called what? Overfloor? Upperfloor? Same idea in a trailer.

3/4" ACX or CDX would certainly hold things up. I don't know what stands in for joists in a trailer never having taken one apart, but floor joists are usually 16" centers. ACX is the pretty plywood I believe and CDX is for hidden uses (haven't bought any in a while, but you can see which is which and by price). If there are voids on the top side (one side is better than the other, so check both sides), there are fillers for it, or just look through the stock until you find a good one.

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Old 05-28-2009, 03:49 PM   #14
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Inner Skin Intimidation

I have attached some pictures of the current state of my flooring effort. I must admit, taking of the skin feels like a major challenge... Not so much getting it off, but getting back into place.

Notes on the attachments:

5255 - foward looking view
5258 - rear looking view
5259 - warped flooring, shows the floor bending back the inner skin
windows - powerpoint slide which diagrams the camper, for use when pulling off my window framing. This way I will label them, so I can return them to the correct location.

Tomorrow I will get to the task of drilling out all the necessary rivets. Need to figure out what to do with the exhaust pipes and those that drain into the rear tank.

Wish me luck.
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