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Old 10-01-2015, 01:17 AM   #1
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1957 26' Overlander
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Are gaps in the C channel normal in a '57 Overlander?

I am finally taking the inside panels in my '57 Overlander off and I found two different profiles that were used to form the C channel. Along the street and curbsides it appears that the channel was made out of rest pieces of 2024-T3, whereas the front and aft curvatures used thicker pre-formed aluminum channel. What I did not expect are gaps in the transition areas between the street and curbsides and the curved pieces. Instead in all 4 corners there are small pieces of (corroded) angle steel partially filling the space of where the C - channel would be. I first thought that a previous PO may have done this but since it is done identically in all in 4 transitions from straight to curved C channel, it must be factory installed, I guess. In addiiton, there are approx. 4 inch wide gaps in the C channel in the centers of the front and back of the trailer.
Is there a particular reason for Airstream constructing the trailer this way? I would intuitively assume, it weakens the structural integrity of the trailer. But I am also a total amateur, so what do I know
Any information would be great.
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Old 10-01-2015, 07:12 AM   #2
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I found the same thing in my '59. I think they were location points used during assembly to insure that the body was mounted square on the frame, and to hold the belly pan in place.
The small gap doesn't affect structural integrity.
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:42 AM   #3
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Thanks so much for the information.
That would make a lot of sense. I was just surprised to see the rising frame members literally free-standing on the wood floor, well, what's left of it. Most of the riser are tugged/squeezed in some way into the C channel and then riveted to it, which to me looked like a strengthening construction feature. At least that's what I intend to do with these 4 risers.
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Old 10-01-2015, 10:00 PM   #4
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1979 31' Sovereign
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Our 1950 has similar gaps here and there, almost haphazard. For the ends, they used 2" c channels pieces every 6" or so all the way around the curve. Guess they didn't want to curve the channel. A couple of those 2" pieces were steel and rusted out. I also have a couple of ribs that don't quite make it to the c channel, just float above. I will be making some extensions so those reach and attach to the channel as well as some 45 degree pieces to help stabilize. And of course, a full c channel around the entire perimeter.
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Old 10-02-2015, 04:50 PM   #5
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Your Liner is beautiful!
Subscribed to your blog a minute ago. I have those not fully extended ribs too. I completely agree with you and will make small extensions, so I can rivet them to the c channel. I find it interesting what Airstream did because there would have been quite a bit of structural integrity gained with so little work. Maybe the trailers were in their opinion built strong enough the way they did it. Ditto on the complete around c channel. I may actually use the curved pieces but want to replace the straight ones. Mine are 1 1/2" wide and 1/2" high but I consider 3/4" high just because I found 6063-T52 channel at Metals Depot for a decent price.
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Old 10-02-2015, 08:40 PM   #6
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Thank Naddy. Do you have a blog going? The few photos above you posted look identical to what I am seeing on mine and at the same stage. I like your idea of having the c channel at 3/4 inch tall. Gives a larger surface to hit when blind drilling/riveting. It does surprise me how strong the shell is with such little structure.
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Old 10-02-2015, 09:43 PM   #7
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I think you've figured out the gaps are normal. The reason they're there is that they build the ends completely separate on big jigs, so they're free standing. They then put them on the trailer and fill in the in between.
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Old 10-03-2015, 11:30 AM   #8
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Thumbs up

Bowmans, I am fascinated by your progress shown on your blog. I would love to do what you are doing, but unfortunately without the support and skill of my DH it will probably never happen. I have immense respect for all of the folks who take so much time and effort (not to mention blood, sweat, tears and $$) to give life back to an American treasure! Best wishes on your journey!
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Old 10-04-2015, 11:44 AM   #9
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Thanks HiJoeSilver,
That perfectly explains it. Now that I think about it I saw the same gaps in another 1957 Overlander thread that Mitch54 wrote on airforums about a year ago:
1957 Airstream - Airstream Forums
The gaps are visible in the pics in posts #75 and #80 I think. I just love the forum. I yet have to run into a question for which I did not find one if not many really good answers. It is quite amazing.
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Old 10-04-2015, 11:50 AM   #10
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Hi Bowmans,
I wholeheartedly second everything what NC Camper wrote. My biggest concern with my trailer is that I only have a garage and a driveway (minor problem) and that I am a complete amateur with regard to all electrical, woodwork and metal work. Did I take on too much to chew? Absolutely. I blog on my main thread and I also have a little blogspot.com blog. The links are in my signature. I did not even know that airframes had a blowing tool (shame on me)
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Old 10-04-2015, 12:59 PM   #11
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'Blogging tool' that is
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Old 10-04-2015, 02:36 PM   #12
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At least you have a driveway! I've got a spot in the lawn down by a garden, which is 200ft from the garage. Let me tell ya it doesn't take long to get sick of walking back and forth and back and forth.
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Old 10-05-2015, 01:39 PM   #13
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Outch!
It's a good reminder that I better quit whining. I have a lovingly enduring wife and very nice neighbors that offered repeatedly help rather than asking me to take that ugly thing off the driveway.
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Old 10-05-2015, 08:16 PM   #14
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Very cool trailer and a lot of progress there Naddy. Very nice dent removal on the end cap. No worries about the skills. From your blog it seems you are dedicated so it will get done. When we took on our 1979, my skills included about a year of reading these forums and some love of working with wood (wood carving apprenticeship and a semester class back in college). No metal skills. I am researching, practicing and learning as I go. I am sure some of my solutions are rather different with no formal training in metal working but as long as I am happy with the results, that is all that matters.

As far as space, I have a driveway and a 16' x 30' shop (wood floor) to work with. Our 1979 and vehicles fill the driveway so the 1950 is, literally taken from Hijoesilver, down in the back yard next to the garden. The walk is only 75 feet from the shop but it does get old. My wife said this one was not allowed in the driveway so that is why it is behind the shop in the back yard. I plan to weld the frame in the driveway so I will surprise her one day next summer with a half welded frame leveled and sitting on blocks in the front drive. Should get the same shocked reaction as the day I gutted the 1979 in the front yard and she did not realize we were rebuilding it. I guess she has learned to live with me for 17 years...
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