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Old 07-05-2010, 12:26 PM   #1
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Do I have to take interior panels off to replace the floor?

I noticed that almost all the pic's of floor repairs also have at least the bottom interior panels off as well. Is this a requirement? or is it just that most are also redoing wiring etc that may be down in that area? Also, I was looking at A-Merry-Can's photo's, and.....I just realized the pun on that username, well done!....anyway, the interior skin overlap looks like polished aluminum....is that the way all the interior skins are? mine are painted at the moment and are kinda pebbly, we were thinking about replacing them for polishable aluiminum but if they are already aluminum then this could be a moneysaver realization.

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Old 07-05-2010, 12:31 PM   #2
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You'll need to access the fastners holding the floor channel to the floor, some screws and carriage bolts to the outriggers. You dont need to remove the entire lower skin, if sections are not going to be seen just a 12" high or so cut to expose the floor channel. Though removing the interior skin allows for rewiring and insulation upgrades.
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Old 07-05-2010, 01:25 PM   #3
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In most cases, you need to take the top ones off, or at least drill out the lower rivets, since the top skins overlap the lower skins. And you do have to take out the lower skins to do floor replacement, so you can access the C-channel, which is vital to the fastening down of your floor.
I guess you can strip and polish the interior skins. If you do a search, you'll see how some people have done that. Personally, it looks like too much work to me! But, it might be worth it to you!

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Old 07-05-2010, 01:50 PM   #4
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Structural support??

If I take the lower panels off do I need to stabilize the frame? Prior to my hiatus from the Airforum for 2 years I had some discussion with Andy from Inland RV Center and he mentioned there may be serious implications to taking your skins off without proper stabilzation....
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Old 07-05-2010, 01:59 PM   #5
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Oh, and would anyone know if the 1988 Excella has Alcad interior skins?
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Old 07-05-2010, 02:57 PM   #6
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I think Andy was talking about the outer skins.
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Old 07-05-2010, 05:19 PM   #7
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I think if you took off the interior skins and did a shell off floor replacement, you would have to do some stabilization on the upper shell - I've seen that on some of the other restoration blogs, with 2 x 4's to keep it stiff. We currently have all our inner skins off, doing a shell-on rebuild, and no problems. They've currently been off for a year.

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Old 07-05-2010, 05:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob&Julie View Post
I noticed that almost all the pic's of floor repairs also have at least the bottom interior panels off as well. Is this a requirement?
If you're replacing entire floor panels, then yes it's a requirement in order to access the j-channel (or c-channel) that bolts through the floor and provides the attachment point for both the inner and outer skins.

Quote:
or is it just that most are also redoing wiring etc that may be down in that area? Also, I was looking at A-Merry-Can's photo's, and.....I just realized the pun on that username, well done!....anyway, the interior skin overlap looks like polished aluminum....is that the way all the interior skins are? mine are painted at the moment and are kinda pebbly,
Depends on the era of the trailer, the older ones (50s and early 60s) are painted with "zolatone" which is a durable and sort of rough multi-coat paint. "Newer" trailers (I think from the late 60s and 70s) used a vinyl covering. A-Merry-Can's panels have been stripped of paint, which is not easy but certainly can be rewarding. I've done it on some of my lower panels as well, in the rear bathroom of my Overlander.

Quote:
we were thinking about replacing them for polishable aluiminum but if they are already aluminum then this could be a moneysaver realization.
You can probably save SOME money by stripping the aluminum, though the cost of the stripper adds up. You will spend a lot of time stripping them, but you would also spend some time either making replacement panels in raw aluminum, or overlaying raw aluminum panels. Those are ALL viable options, just depends on your budget, skill level, amount of time, and confidence.

Good luck!
-Marcus


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Old 07-05-2010, 06:37 PM   #9
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So it would appear that the interior panels will be coming off....yay (sarcasm isn't portrayed well in writing ;-) )

I have an '88 Excella .... just a few decades away from the 50's. Airstream probably discovered polymers by that time. My beast is in the shop at the moment so I can't go check. It will be the first thing I do when she comes back though.

In terms of stripping time and effort, my "outlaws" have a furniture restoration business and can strip with the best of them.... I had to put that one in there.... hopefully I can enlist their assistance.
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:23 PM   #10
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If it's any cosolation, taking the interior skins down was probably the easiest part of stripping the trailer down for my floor replacement. Assuming the 80's interior skins are just pop riveted in like the older models, they come down pretty quick.
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:32 PM   #11
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Sarcasascript is not a dead language!

On stripping - placing a thin sheet of plastic painters drop cloth over the vinyl when it is soaking amplifies the process and saves on chemical stripper. Also take care to use plastic or nylon scrapers and even then avoid much abrasion on raw aluminum - let the solvents do the work blah blah.

Note the interior panels are a wholly different alloy and will not give the mercuric bright interior finish the pure aluminum coated alclad sheets will.
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Old 07-06-2010, 07:44 AM   #12
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If it's an 88, then I don't think ANY of it is Alclad, right? Still, the newer alloy will polish up pretty nicely, I've seen it in pictures around here a time or two. Just not quite the mirror finish that can be achieved with the earlier 2024 T3 Alclad alloy.

And I agree with Norm, if the interior panels on an 88 are pop-riveted in as they are on the vintage models like Norm's and mine, then removing (and reinstalling) the interior panels is one of the easiest jobs you'll do on a floor replacement.

And you WILL want to support the frame from below when you remove the interior panels and perform floor replacement, so block it up to hold it in the same place. Because the skin-to-channel-to-floor-to-frame transitions probably WILL sag during floor replacement if the frame isn't supported from below.

Good luck!
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Old 07-06-2010, 08:23 AM   #13
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I replaced a small section of floor at the skin. It was in a section behind cabinets. To avoid removing the cabinates I hole sawed the aluminum inner skin at the floor line after determining where the bolts were and placed a small patch over the holes afterward. Since behind cabinets the patches aren't seen anyway.
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