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Old 11-13-2017, 03:16 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1976 31' Sovereign
Helotes , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 35
Can of Worms??

Today I got serious about removing the belly pan and floor in the rear of my '76 Sovereign (midBath). Was I in for a surprise... I cannot tell if my AS was in a wreck or if one of the POs added a few 'Custom" items. I was always skeptical of the hitch receiver on the back bumper. Unless someone used it for a bicycle rack, I could not see it as a good thing. Did this modification cause the rear end separation?

BTW, I removed the bumper earlier.

Could someone tell me if the mounting of this hitch receiver is common? It appears an additional rail was welded to the bottom of the stock frame. Then aluminum angles were riveted to it for the mounting of the bellypan. It took me most of the day to scrap off the Vulkem and other caulks applied as liberally as Charles Schumer.

I guess whoever did this thought the green paint would prevent everything from rusting. It didn't. They added a little corner table of steel to support the floor in the curved corner. I am not sure if this was a good thing or not. It did provide support, but it also may have trapped water below the flooring.

Notice; two of the transplant outriggers are actually ones for the step area (both right sides).

Finally... The outrigger at the rear end of the curbside wheel well looks misaligned. The photo is taken right on the edge of the outrigger, so it may be difficult to see. The wheel well moulding is offset by just over 1 1/2". The moulding has been bent outward at the bottom. Even though there was 1/2 a tube of Vulkem around the edge, there was several pounds of road mud (spun off the tires) in the belly pan next to it.

I am leaning toward taking all of this "custom rail" off and boxing the stock frame rail.

Any thoughts??

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Old 11-13-2017, 05:41 PM   #2
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rugjenkins's Avatar
1975 Argosy 28
Springville , Alabama
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 798
Actually the green paint did its job. Most if not all that rust is surface. I think my 75 argosy had extra metal on the bottom in the rear too. No the hitch was added and so are the green metal curved "wings". The aluminum tabs are stock mine had those too. Your frame looks great! Nothing major

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Old 11-14-2017, 08:54 AM   #3
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Belegedhel's Avatar
1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,322
Yep, that is a bunch of sloppy, kludged together "custom" work.

Rear end separation is aggravated by hanging stuff off the rear bumper, but it is caused by the plywood rotting away in the rear.

good luck!
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Old 11-17-2017, 06:18 PM   #4
2 Rivet Member
1976 31' Sovereign
Helotes , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 35
I was really hoping for some advice here...

I am 95% sure I am going to remove that lower rail used to mount the hitch receiver. I can tell the outriggers were a “custom” job, but was the lower rail something an AS dealer would have added?

I am going to have to wait, to remove it, until my axles are back on. My jack stands are on that lower rail.
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Old 11-17-2017, 06:41 PM   #5
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1973 27' Overlander
'Possum Holler , Georgia
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5,440
Images: 39
My '73 (and others in those years) had that lower frame rail piece coming out the doors of the factory. I've always assumed it was added to strengthen that last few feet of main frame rail, but that's just a guess on my part. I agree with Rug, that green paint seems to have helped out. And that rust looks like surface rust only from what I can tell. Overall, it looks pretty good back there. I wouldn't remove anything. POR-15 it and move on to the next thing.


Air No. 6427
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Old 11-17-2017, 06:42 PM   #6
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,263
Images: 1
Airstreams were not designed to tow a trailer "double bottom". My son has a hitch receiver on his trailer. I highly advise he not use it.

Extra weight on the back of an Airstream is not advised, even a bike rack. You are lucky to have a mid bath layout. I much prefer this configuration. Less weight on the rear end of the trailer.

I am not entirely sure I see the "extra rail". All Airstreams have the 3" "skid rail" channel welded to the bottom of the main 5" frame rail. I clearly see the skid rail in your photos, painted dark gray. My 75 Airstream Overlander had a angle iron welded to the rear of the trailer between the "skid rails" that was used to hold up the hinged waste water tanks. Mine is a rear bath layout.

Here is a photo of the 3" skid rail on my Overlander. It is painted silver.

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