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Old 02-28-2011, 04:42 PM   #1
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1970 31' Sovereign
clermont , Florida
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complete newbie, already needing a shell off?

brought my 31' sovereign home 2 days ago. already halfway through gutting it. at the back bumper, there's a hinge door, layed down horizontally. i believe it's where you keep your rolled up power cord. in any event, on the driver side (or port side, not sure of the nomenclature), the piece of frame that comes all the way back to support is GONE. completely eaten through by rust, and being held only by the other side of the frame. i was under the assumption (i know, my first mistake) that the back bumper piece was bolted on to the frame. i crawled a good two or three feet further under and found the frame still "intact" but in terrible condition. should i attack this from the inside, through the floor? or from underneath? or is completely picking this shell from the frame and building a new one the best course of action?
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Old 02-28-2011, 04:59 PM   #2
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My advice is to do it right by pulling the shell ; there likely is significant other corrosion that you have not seen yet. This is a year and model that likely experienced rear end sag; this high stress accelerated corrosion damage. There are lots of articles and advice on the forum to address this issue properly when rebuilding. It is probable you have significant floor rot as well; again best to pull the shell to fix. A 1970 did not have black water tank originally which must be added; much easier to add when the shell is off the frame.
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Old 02-28-2011, 05:07 PM   #3
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Joesheehan from your description it sounds like your "new" trailer is a candidate for a shell off or "full monte" as it's known here. The only real way to know for sure is to drop the belly pan and throughly inspect the frame for damage.The belly pan is the aluminium sheeting under the trailer that closes in the frame. If the damage is localized and not to extensive it is possible to repair only the damaged areas.
As an example my main frame rails were severley rusted and I would have ended up replacing more than half of it. I ended up pulling the shell and building a whole new frame. I also replaced all the flooring at the same time.
Like I said it is possible to repair small sections of frame or floor but if most of it needs repair it is just easier to do a shell off and then it can be done right.
drop the belly, inspect and post pics here and we can advise further.
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:20 PM   #4
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1970 31' Sovereign
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thank you guys for the speedy replies. we had a little rain today, and i'm stuck in the house doing tile work. i'll be out in the yard tomorrow though, starting on the belly skin. i was wondering about the rear end separation. where the rear end separates, is it always in the same place? did airstream have two c channels butt welded together in order to achieve the extra length? or are there two frames (front/rear) joined together? what i the largest vintage airstream that doe not have this issue?
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Old 03-01-2011, 06:06 PM   #5
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1974 31' Excella 500
Charleston , South Carolina
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Too many questions for a nube.
The two questions that you are asking are not the reason for rear end separation, as far as I've heard. I believe it is just too much weight on the rear end and the C channels are kind of flimsy to begin with.
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Old 03-01-2011, 07:29 PM   #6
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Joe rear end separation refers to the shell separating from the frame and not the frame splitting in half as you suggest. It is a combination of the rear bumper area leaking and rusting the crossmember you talked about in your first post and the extra weight of the rear bathroom/ holding tanks stressing the connection point at the rear. The C channel you hear everyone speaking of here is what the outer skins and the interior panels are riveted to. This C channel is then bolted and screwed through the floor into the frame crossmembers and outriggers.
The main frame rails are one piece front to back.
I'm not sure how short a unit would not be affected by this condition but all a/s suffer from the rear end leak causing floor rot and frame rust.
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:41 PM   #7
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Joe,
Might just as well get that shell off and get that frame fixed. I know it seems like a lot of work, but in the long run you'll be better off. Don't be like me, do it right the first time.
Tim
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Old 03-01-2011, 09:48 PM   #8
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Def. check out the frame..
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Old 03-02-2011, 04:00 AM   #9
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2012 23' International
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Hey We were about in the same boat as you. Brought our 68 Trade Wind Home and never even got take it on a journey. Theres a lot of info in the forum but also a lot on the thread I started Shell on Shell off. I got tons of feed back from the peeps here on the forum. I'm getting ready to pull the shell off this week end so I'm posting pics of how I'm doing it. But one things for sure. Theres no shortage of advice here and the ways and methods are varied and many. I would tell you though, find what works for you. I haven't had any trouble thus far aside from the cost. I have found that things I thought I was going to re-install or re-use are beyond their life spans, i.e. looked good in trailer and fell apart when being removed or the fasteners(screws/bolts/rivets) were so corroded that they fell apart or stripped and had to be cut or lestered out. So in short just go with what works, you're the one doing the work.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:39 AM   #10
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We did a shell-on frame repair and floor replacement on our '72 Sovereign (see Little Girl Refurb thread). You definitely gotta pull the belly pan and it's not fun. Worth it to get a strong sturdy frame, though.
I can address the nomenclature: It has been an intense debate in our household! You see, hubby is Navy so uses Port and Starboard. I was raised by RVers so use streetside and curbside. (I still have to explain which is which to him.) You will see both used here, and people generally know what you're talking about. So use what you're comfortable with.
The rear storage hatch that is hinged stored the power cord for our trailer, and holding tank drain supplies. We lost the approx. 2 ft strip of underbelly that made up the underside of that hatch when we were towing her home from Mississippi. Noticed it when we saw the power cord dragging behind us. We'll be repairing that at some point when the underbelly goes back on (we're a ways from that!)
Then there's the Henschen vs Dexter axles debate. You'll probably need new axles, so you'll be getting in to this debate too. Most are toast at this point in our older trailers.
There's a lot of really good info that is guiding us through our refurb. We contribute what we can as we learn also. It's what makes this forums so great! Post pictures!
And Welcome!

Kay
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