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Old 02-17-2012, 09:19 PM   #15
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You work fast! I was expecting to see the plywood rotted away from the c-channel. I would remove the floor as far forward as you have the rot. It looks like you have quite a leak coming from the curbside tail light cluster based on what looks like water stain on the aluminum. Are the ribs attached to the c-channel or have they separated from it? If the ribs are attached to the channel then you have got frame issues. I'm thinking you will need to pull the tanks if you have frame rust and deterioration. I'm curious to know where the 12V wires were that were rubbed bare since I have the same year and model?
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Old 02-17-2012, 09:27 PM   #16
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How far forward do the walls need to be stripped to accomplish the needed repairs? I removed all of the bathroom components this morning. It looks like the closets or at least part of them need to come out too. The floor is sound in the center, but you can almost poke a finger through it around the edges. I took out the plumbing and moved the wiring out of the way. I'm going back out to start on the inner skin. Hope to get the skins off and the floor up today. Do the valves for the tank drains have to come out or can this floor piece be fitted with them in place? and how do you manage to cut the plywood to the proper contour? fun stuff...

So far so good. It comes apart really easily. I am glad to do this, there are many things that need fixing...
hey Dawg the inner skins will need to be removed as far forward as the section of floor you are replacing. The good news is that the last section of floor actually has the shell and C channel sitting on top of the floor. That also applkies for the front sectioin of floor. The rest of the floor sections have the C channel that wraps around the edge of the floor and is a little harder to replace. Once you remove all the floor screws and elevator bolts and the two main holddown bolts the frame will actually drop away from the shell allowing you to easily slide in that last piece of replacement floor. I'm not sure about the tank drains as my trailer is a side bath and the drain outlets are different.
To cut a template use a piece of 1/8" plywood or Luan and trace out the outline from the shell and then transfer that shape to your plywood. Be advised that the rounded contours are not symmetrical, that is to say the left side and the right side do not match. You can't use the shape of the right side to make a template for the left and vice versa.
Have you got some elevator bolts and floor screws for the reinstall.
Make sure you seal up the new plywood with something that will make the wood waterproof.
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Old 02-18-2012, 09:59 AM   #17
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I think I can get away with only removing the last piece. We'll see as I get further along. The arcing wires were the black lead on the 12 volt light in the back hatch and the purple wire that fed that light. They both had rubbed down to copper. The only spot that sparked was the black lead. Kind of disturbing...

I have not purchased any material yet.. still reading about plywoods and sealers... and now bathtub paint and countertops and on and on and on!
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:38 PM   #18
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Well, lots of wet insulation, standing water and rusty metal under that floor.

I guess I'm going to have to take out the tanks and do some frame repair.

pics later...
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Old 02-19-2012, 04:14 PM   #19
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By now I guess you realize that you need to drop the belly pan and remove the tanks to repair it all the right way. It needs to come down anyway to replace the floor because you need access to underneath the floor to tighten the elevator bolts.
Working on an Airstream has been described as peeling an onion the more you remove the more you find that needs fixing.
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Old 02-19-2012, 05:57 PM   #20
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:33 PM   #21
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So I dropped the belly pan and removed the tanks. Just eyeballing the frame, the sag appears to start at the last cross member. The frame is actually in great shape. far less rust than I thought. A few pieces will be replaced.

I'm not sure on how to go about bracing it or reinforcing the frame, if I need too. Will it pull back into position when the shell and floor connections are redone. speaking of that... There were only 6 bolt that had any connection left to the shell. 4 of those are under the back hatch.

What a great feeling to powerwash all the junk out back there. What a mess! Only one casualty so far. While gently using a sawz-all to persuade a rusty bolt, one of the heavy glass light covers fell. Fortunately the back of my head broke its fall... not enough to keep it from breaking...

The adventure continues...
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:57 PM   #22
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Those glass light fixtures in the bathroom are heavy! I'd like to see a few pictures of the bare frame now that it is exposed.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:12 PM   #23
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The shell actually holds the frame in position. You will need to jack and brace the frame back up to the shell for the reinstall. Make sure the frame is level and straight both front to back and side to side before reattaching the shell, if not you will lock in the sag or twist.
Add extra bolts to that rear holddown plate and add extra solid(buck) rivets to the shell/ holddown plate connection to strengthen it up.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:31 PM   #24
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'77 Excella 500's Rock!

Man I LOVE Excella 500's! Yeah, sounds weird, but I had one of these exactly like your's. Mine had sag and separation too. Sadly, I didn't have time to fix it so sold it. But they are a beautiful rig; just about the perfect size in my ever humble opinion.

If I were you. I'd do whatever I could to make it water proof for now. The real fix is a NEW frame. I already designed one (I'm an Eng-Uh-Neer) that is better than what the factory shipped them with. Wouldn't cost that much to make, just a lot of work and you need a crane... But anyway, I'd make me a new frame and set the shell on it.

Best of luck whichever way you go!
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:34 PM   #25
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No crane needed. I lifted mine with two bottle jacks.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:43 PM   #26
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Man there you go! If you can pull the shell and lift it with some jacks, then get ten of your buddies to help you move it over to the new frame, you're gold!

Seriously, the frame I designed used 8" deep channel sections. It weighs about 150lbs more than the OEM frame, but it's seven times stronger. You'd never have to worry about sag or separation again. Yes, you'd need to make a new banana wrap, but that isn't that big a deal except for the four corners, where you'd need to do a little english wheel work to stretch some aluminum to make the shape. But it's really not that bad.

How are your Vista Vue windows? Mine looked like somebody poured plastic cornflakes into them....that was the window tint disentigrating and laying inside the dual pane windows in a pile. Dual pane was a great idea...just the tint that broke down under sunlight wasn't. Anyway, it's all covered on these forums. They are a really graceful looking rig.

The 28's look a tad short, the 34's look a tad long.....the 31's look JUST RIGHT
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:47 PM   #27
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Hey Jim I jacked the shell up onto sawhorses and then towed the frame out. That would work for your frame design.
I rebuilt my VV's incl. new tint and kept the dual pane setup. Much less condensation with a dual pane window IMO.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:41 PM   #28
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Both the outer panes of the VV windows on the street side were broken so I just cleaned then up and moved the inner pane to the outside. Cut some spacers and added some trempro... Good as new. I may put plexi inside, but another day... The curbside looks like you describe. Again, another day...

I'll take some pics tomorrow.

@ dougsale They fixture has a set screw to hold the glass in place. Its accessed from the tambour door next to the light or in side the switch plate cover on the shower side. I feel terrible that it broke, but great that I didn't!

@ wasaga, I put a jack under the back and easily lifted it into alignment. I need some dent working tools now... The outer skin above the channel in back is pretty wonky...

I have to say, I'm surprised at the detail in this old trailer. I'm surprised how easily it comes apart... when you get all the rivets...
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