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Old 07-13-2019, 11:39 PM   #1
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Bending the front and rear Floor Channel for a 1992 Excella

I'm rebuilding a 1992 Excella. The floor channel that encases the structural sub flooring and marries the chassis frame and shell was to fractured, tattered and dented for my taste so I decided to buy new from odmrv.com. I bought both the straight floor channel and the two floor channel bows for the front and rear.

The rub came when I discovered that the radius of the new "bows" did not match my existing bows. The radius is slightly greater on the new bows than it is on the preexisting bows. I just tried a dry fit by bolting only the new floor channels to my frame and the shell does not have the give front and rear to fit over the new radius along the curves. Believe me, my wife, my adult granddaughter, her fried and I tried to shoehorn it in. It was a No Go.

One person told me they cut relief slots in the new bows in this situation to bend them to fit the shape of the preexisting bows. Does anyone have experience with this or similar, or enough metal working knowledge that can expand on this advice and elaborate so I can feel more comfortable doing this. I'm open to all shares on this.
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Old 07-14-2019, 05:26 AM   #2
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Sorry, I dont have the answer you may be looking for. However, i strongly suggest that you do NOT cut relieve slots in the U-channel, since it will immediately compromise the structural integrity. As you probably witnessed on your old U channel, the points next to frame were either cracked or severely deformed by the constant pounding, accelerated by lack of support of a rotten floor.

Since i have been that "deep" on several trailers short of your "full monty", I was trying to figure out what I would do. My approach would be to make a perfect template of the shell curve and then start by mounting the uchannel on the 2 frames. The curve in question is basically floating until it meets the first outrigger. I would use a Heat gun to try to manipulate the curve to meet my template.
If all else fails, you may have to unzip the first rivet line after the curve.
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Old 07-14-2019, 05:47 AM   #3
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i would suggest looking at Metal Shrinker/Stretcher Set. Harbor Frieght and Eastwood both sell them. Several YouTube videos on tips and uses. Never used one but looks like the right approach.
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Old 07-14-2019, 06:34 AM   #4
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The bending issue is made so difficult because of the complex shape of this extrusion. I am aware of the shaper - stretcher machines and I've watched several videos of people using them to do some pretty cool bends. Unfortunately, I have not seen anyone bend anything but flat or one sided angled metal and for good reason, it would not fit into the jaws of the machine.

I'm wondering if relief cuts and followed with aluminum welding might be possible?
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Old 07-14-2019, 10:31 AM   #5
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Relief Cuts

I am not familiar with the exact construction you are dealing with as I've never taken one of these apart, or even seen a cross section diagram. But maybe I can help anyway. If you are trying to bend an aluminum metal section that isn't flat, i.e; a channel section, a relief cut if what I would do, followed up by a reinforcement plate glued and riveted to the inside of the channel. These plates need to be shaped to fit the curve tightly so as to provide maximum reinforcement. Gluing is also important as the shear load carried by glue is far superior to that provided by spot riveting. However since sometimes glued joints creep over time, the rivets are important as well.

Aluminum typically used in parts such as these isn't overly ductile and doesn't bend well once it's cold hardened following the initial fabrication. (This is why dents normally can't be removed from the skin as they can be from steel used in cars.) I don't know if there is room for the reinforcement, but if not, maybe do a little surface routing work on the floor that goes inside the channel, if in fact it fits inside. As long as the reinforcement bridges the cut by a decent distance (8-12 inches), and is riveted and epoxied in place, the cuts should not be detrimental. If you need to make several, then use a larger plate that spans all of them. I hope this helps. If not, just ignore. Good luck.
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Old 07-14-2019, 10:59 AM   #6
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BobnGay,
I can picture this. I'm not sure what type of glue you are talking about. I'm familiar with epoxy, but not very experienced. I also watched a video a while back where a guy glued aluminum sheet metal together with a really strong glue, a 3M product I believe, and strength tested it against pop rivets. It did remarkably well. Combining glue and pop rivets would probably work well.
Are you able to elaborate on what type of glue you are thinking of? Also what thickness of aluminum after you thinking of?
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Old 07-14-2019, 11:28 AM   #7
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Pete,

It would help to know how much offset you have to deal with? Is it 1/8" or are you talking 1/2 or more?
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Old 07-14-2019, 11:33 AM   #8
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Is it possible to get the correct part? Seems they sent you an earlier version?
The part description says for narrow body but not all years are the same.
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Old 07-14-2019, 01:09 PM   #9
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Bending the front and rear Floor Channel for a 1992 Excella

Quote:
Originally Posted by Re-Pete View Post
The bending issue is made so difficult because of the complex shape of this extrusion. I am aware of the shaper - stretcher machines and I've watched several videos of people using them to do some pretty cool bends. Unfortunately, I have not seen anyone bend anything but flat or one sided angled metal and for good reason, it would not fit into the jaws of the machine.

I'm wondering if relief cuts and followed with aluminum welding might be possible?


I made a replacement u-channel for my 72 using a shrinker/stretcher set.

I made two sheet metal 90 degree angles on my metal brake, and then used a shrinker/stretcher to form them to the right shape and contour, and then welded the two pieces together to form a u-channel.

It worked out pretty well.
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Old 07-14-2019, 04:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterH-Airstreamer View Post
Pete,

It would help to know how much offset you have to deal with? Is it 1/8" or are you talking 1/2 or more?
Peter,
I'm going to say greater than 1/2" and possibly 1" at the widest point.
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Old 07-14-2019, 04:26 PM   #11
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AlinCal,
It's a good question, but I'm certain it was the correct one. It's listed as being for the narrow body. I picked them up at ODM myself and the parts guy and I had been working together for a few weeks while I was calling in additional items for my order. I love in Virginia Beach, VA so ODM is only about 5 hours away and driving saved me a huge shipping bill.
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Old 07-14-2019, 04:45 PM   #12
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J. Morgan,
You sound very talented and it seems you have some excellent skills to compliment that.
The channel for my unit is a bit more than a U shape. I've attached a couple of pictures pictures from a scrap piece. I'm going to check around tomorrow for a local company that does metal fabrication and see if they can help. But BobnGay has also offered a good idea. Per your welding suggestion, I can do a bit of welding, but I'd probably get someone with real trading to do my welding. I have a Millermatic 140 MIG welder, but I don't have a spool gun and I've never welded aluminum. If you can think of anything more I'm all ears. Click image for larger version

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Old 07-14-2019, 04:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
I made a replacement u-channel for my 72 using a shrinker/stretcher set.

I made two sheet metal 90 degree angles on my metal brake, and then used a shrinker/stretcher to form them to the right shape and contour, and then welded the two pieces together to form a u-channel.

It worked out pretty well.
I did the same for curved roof supports for my Avion Truck Camper, but I pop riveted them together rather than welding. These were installed fore and aft of a new vent.

I agree that the stretcher/shrinker would probably not work on a shape as complex as C-channel.
Ideally you would find a piece with the right curve, but I don't see a problem with making relief cuts in your channel. Consider that you have the outer skin and the inner skin attached to the channel plus the bolts through the floor which all add strength. If you think it needs it you could cut pieces of aluminum curved to fit flat on top of the channel before bolting it through the floor.
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Old 07-14-2019, 05:21 PM   #14
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I did the same for curved roof supports for my Avion Truck Camper, but I pop riveted them together rather than welding. These were installed fore and aft of a new vent.



I agree that the stretcher/shrinker would probably not work on a shape as complex as C-channel.

Ideally you would find a piece with the right curve, but I don't see a problem with making relief cuts in your channel. Consider that you have the outer skin and the inner skin attached to the channel plus the bolts through the floor which all add strength. If you think it needs it you could cut pieces of aluminum curved to fit flat on top of the channel before bolting it through the floor.


After looking at the piece, and reading that the difference is only about a half an inch, I'd probably do relief cuts too.
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