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Old 03-16-2011, 04:54 PM   #1
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Bent frame question

ill try to make this short but i have a feeling it will be long anyway im doing a shell off on my 66 safari. trailer is gutted, interior lower walls have been removed and ready to start cutting the elevator bolts off.

so last night i was just staring at trailer on the outside ( dont tell me you dont do it either ) and i noticed that the door was not perfectly centerd in the frame when the door is closed. ( i never noticed this b4 and usually i catch these things ) hinge seems nice and tight so its not that. and i knew b4 hand that the only rust on the frame is on the frame near the forward step outrigger. so i took a strait edge and low and behold the frame is sagging just a hair in that area. im to asume that is why the door isnt fitting perfectly centerd. if you are looking at the door closed there is a wider gap at the top rear and bottom front. the bottom rear is tight and the top front is so tight it is actually touching the skin of the trailer.

so im to assume the slightly bent frame is the culprate here correct?

next question is this. by trade i do heavy collision work on cars in a body shop. and rule of thumb is that if you are going to pull a frame ( granted the frames i pull are usually off by 3 - 12 inches ) we keep the parts of the car bolted down so that it gets pulled as well.

would it be wise to pull the frame with the shell still on? or would it be ok to do so with the shell off? only reason i ask mainly is i can not get the trailer on the frame machine with the shell on.

what im thinking of doing is taking the shell off, putting the frame on the machine, tie it down, lift the area that needs to be lifted ( it only needs to go up maybe 2-4 mm ) and then weld the new brace in place. take frame off machine and put body back on and pray the door gaps get better.

has anyone out there had a problem like this? and also like i stated earlier i never noticed the door gaps b4 i gutted the trailer, since i gutted it could that of changed the gaps being that it is lighter and no strain in the center like b4.
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Old 03-16-2011, 05:44 PM   #2
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Just curious.
This may be a case of "If you are a hammer, every problem looks like a nail".

If you take a bottle jack and jack up the area that is sagging, do the gaps close that are around the door?

Can you see the rest of the chassis and what condition it is in? Any more sags or what-not?

Are the gaps bad enough that you'd go through all of that trouble just to close them?
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:24 PM   #3
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Do you have any jacks or over tightened stabilizers supporting the trailer as it sits now? The frame can be flexed by jacking and it will effect the door alignment.
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:57 PM   #4
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i took a strait edge everywhere else under the frame and it is all good exept the one area that sags by the door, and the trailer is sitting on concrete right now on its 2 wheels and the front jack. i see gaps like this all the time in cars that git hit on either side in the front. the hood is tight in the back of one side and the front of the other, then the oposite sides the gaps are wide, you give it a little tug and the gaps come out perfect. and yes im a perfectionist. if i dotn get near perfect gaps it will bother me till i get alztimers im pulling the frame out of the trailer anyway so why not bring it to the shop and jack the frame up b4 i weld in the new brace where the rot is. plus the frame is going to end up at the shop anyway cause im going to put it in the booth to spray on the por-15. i guess i was just questioning if anyone has had a problem like this on there trailers. i will get some pictures tomorow
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:39 PM   #5
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When you lift the shell the entire frame will drop in the rear and the front. The axles will be the peak of the curve. When the plywood comes off, that curve will triple. These frames are really only flat when you jack them into place.
That said...
Does the door leak?
Does the door have issues closing?
if you said no leave it alone. You probably noticed this when having beer and day dreaming. No one will notice it but you.
If the answer is yes than you need to fix it.

The stretcher will be a waste of time in my opinion. Two millimeters is nothing to worry about in my opinion.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:47 PM   #6
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i noticed that the door was not perfectly centerd in the frame when the door is closed. ( i never noticed this b4 and usually i catch these things ) hinge seems nice and tight so its not that. and i knew b4 hand that the only rust on the frame is on the frame near the forward step outrigger. so i took a strait edge and low and behold the frame is sagging just a hair in that area. im to asume that is why the door isnt fitting perfectly centerd. if you are looking at the door closed there is a wider gap at the top rear and bottom front. the bottom rear is tight and the top front is so tight it is actually touching the skin of the trailer.

so im to assume the slightly bent frame is the culprate here correct?


386Kustoms,
Your door hinge pin may be tight but the attachment to the body has sagged. There are nuts inside the door frame that hold the hinge on & i suspect these have loosened up & allowed the door to sag. These nuts are burried in "goop" so they're hard to find sometimes. Carve the goop out then loosen the nuts enough to reposition the door, then retighten.

These frames are not built like car frames. They are very flexible. As an Airstream is "semi monocoque" construction, the frame requires a perfect connection to the body in order to maintain its shape. The frame will actually sag under its own weight when separated from the body. This is why you will need to level the frame & floor before reattaching the body, otherwise you will end up with a very rigid crooked Airstream.
Hopefully this helps you out.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:58 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by 62overlander View Post
When you lift the shell the entire frame will drop in the rear and the front. The axles will be the peak of the curve. When the plywood comes off, that curve will triple. These frames are really only flat when you jack them into place.
That said...
Does the door leak?
Does the door have issues closing?
if you said no leave it alone. You probably noticed this when having beer and day dreaming. No one will notice it but you.
If the answer is yes than you need to fix it.

The stretcher will be a waste of time in my opinion. Two millimeters is nothing to worry about in my opinion.
I agree with Frank. I am 3/4 done with the frame repair on my 65 30'. I had everything leveled when I welded it when I got done the rear was sagging a bit. The floor is a big part of the structural support on these trailers. When you redo the frame and the sub floor it should correct a lot of things.
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:53 AM   #8
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well im sure the door does leak because all the wood was rotted at the entrance of the door. and yes it is barely hitting the upper right side when the door is closed so this needs to be fixed. so what i understand is these frames have flex when they are bare, so i will have it leveled when cut out the rot and weld in a new peice, then when i get her home with the new plywood i need to relevel it b4 i lay the shell back on. once the shell is bolted down it should keep level then correct?

sorry for all the questions, i am new to airstreams and i just want to make sure it gets done right.

i also want to thank everybody on the forum for all the help i have recived not just on this thread but on others as well
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Old 03-17-2011, 07:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 386kustoms View Post
well im sure the door does leak because all the wood was rotted at the entrance of the door. and yes it is barely hitting the upper right side when the door is closed so this needs to be fixed. so what i understand is these frames have flex when they are bare, so i will have it leveled when cut out the rot and weld in a new peice, then when i get her home with the new plywood i need to relevel it b4 i lay the shell back on. once the shell is bolted down it should keep level then correct?

sorry for all the questions, i am new to airstreams and i just want to make sure it gets done right.

i also want to thank everybody on the forum for all the help i have recived not just on this thread but on others as well
Correct.......................& adjust the door hinge
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Colin H View Post
Correct.......................& adjust the door hinge
Colin
door hinges are riveted on, no adjustment
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:10 PM   #11
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I had a similar problem on my '74 Argosy. The door not setting properly in the opening. Here are pics of my door and how I made the adjustment without dealing with the bolts in the trailer door frame. If your door is similar to mine it is bolted to the hinges which are literally clamped over the outer skin of the door.
Upon inspection there were no signs of the hinges having moved from their original position and the hinge pins do not have significant wear. The door was actually rubbing on the frame at the upper right corner, before I made the adjustment. I simply removed the 2 nuts that attached the door to the hinge, slipped the door off of the hinge; filed the holes in the direction that allowed me to move the door away from the rubbing point. Installed the door on the hinge and tightened the nuts. Now the door sets a good 3/16" away from the frame at the upper right corner and it even seals better, though I do need a new gasket.
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Old 03-17-2011, 10:59 PM   #12
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door hinges are riveted on, no adjustment
Yes, you're right, my mistake. In 68 they used a virtually identical hinge that is adjustable, probably for that reason. They come up on ebay once in a while. David Winik had one for sale at Alumapalooza last year. Perhaps he still has it.
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:28 PM   #13
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door hinges are riveted on, no adjustment
Hinge pin replacements are available.

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Old 03-18-2011, 07:00 AM   #14
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Hinge pin replacements are available.

Andy
the pic is fine. there is absoulutly no play in the door hinge and when closed it lines up perfectly up and down ( the hinges) ive decided from reading on this forum that i will straiten the frame and replace all plywood of course. if the door is still not centerd i read some have drilled out the rivets and installed nuts and bolts. so that is what i will do. im not a millionair and ive already gone past my budget and its eating into my 56 chevy nomad restoration money. well the fun will begin in two weeks. im ordering some of the outrigers i need from out of doors mart ( i checked on yorue web site andy and you didnt seem to have any for my trailer only the widebody ones) and next weekend is a big car show here in town so the following weekend i will be tackling this
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