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Old 06-03-2009, 12:03 PM   #1
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1975 25' Tradewind
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Easy floor replacement?

May need to replace a section of ply in my 75 Overlander. Kind of dissappointed in the Airstream assembly sandwich that makes this a real pain,"C" channel bolted down through the ply to the frame....Instead of removing the interior wall sections near the floor to access these bolts, has anyone tried using self tapping bolts screwed up through the frame from below? You could drill the frame then run the self tapping bolt through the ply, through both sides of the C channel. Compared to the rusty bolts holding down the shell on some of the projects I have seen, should be plenty strong. Thoughts?
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Old 06-03-2009, 04:14 PM   #2
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You'd have to remove the belly pans first. It's really no big deal to take off the lower skin on the inside, It was my job and I'm a woman and found it a no brainer. Hubby has a saying " do it once. do it right." Works for us.

Another thought, If you don't remove the lower skin how are you going to slide the plywood into the channel And what about the rusty bolts that held down the orginal floor?

Annette
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Old 06-03-2009, 06:20 PM   #3
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Hi Barron64, and welcome to the forum.
The C channel sits the other way from what you described (which must mean that it's a U channel), and the screws going into the thin aluminum of the channel would not support the forces put on them by the rig going down the road. That's the reason for the bolts, to distribute the load over a larger area and provide more holding strength.
I don't like it either, but you really can't do as good a job as it requires without removing the panels or cutting holes through them (please, don't cut them).
I am convinced that Airstream could have done better in this area with a little re-engineering. They have actually made the problem worse in the new models by using a composite panel rather than plywood. At least the plywood would stay together as it rotted under the walls. The new stuff will not hold up as well. Plywood lasted 45 years in my Safari. Actually, it only lasted 44 years, or maybe a little less. I noticed as I removed my flooring that the plywood under the walls was really bad in some likely places like by the door, and under the front window. But what surprised me was that the floor was uniformly water damaged under all the rest of the walls. I suspect that it's from condensation forming on the inside of the walls, running down to the C channel and sitting on it and the floor below. An enclosed trailer with moisture in it would continually re-cycle the condensation and act like a pump, bringing the water back to the C channel with each temperature swing (every day). I'm looking to stop this process and allow the condensation and any other moisture to drain out the bottom rather than sit there.
Just another Idea.

Rich
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:13 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments. I worked on removing the belly pan again last night and do not like what I am seeing. Lots of severe frame corrosion I was not expecting. Just removed the front half so far and I need to replace 6 outriggers and a crossmember. I just hope the main spars are still stout enough to work with. Really surprising considering the condition of the floor and the rest of the camper. I fear the corrosion on the rear frame may be worse than the front...I will remove the remaining belly pan this weekend.
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:33 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by barron64 View Post
Thanks for the comments. I worked on removing the belly pan again last night and do not like what I am seeing. Lots of severe frame corrosion I was not expecting. Just removed the front half so far and I need to replace 6 outriggers and a crossmember. I just hope the main spars are still stout enough to work with. Really surprising considering the condition of the floor and the rest of the camper. I fear the corrosion on the rear frame may be worse than the front...I will remove the remaining belly pan this weekend.

Yep, what you found is actually almost the norm. Take a few minutes and go to the tradewind section and click onto" Annette's Folley" and you can see that we have delt with the same issues that you are encountering. Not pretty but all is fixable. Just time and money, money and more money. Don't give up. Post some pictures of what you have found, we all loves pictures here.

Annette
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:48 AM   #6
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Yep, what you found is actually almost the norm. Take a few minutes and go to the tradewind section and click onto" Annette's Folley" and you can see that we have delt with the same issues that you are encountering. Not pretty but all is fixable. Just time and money, money and more money. Don't give up. Post some pictures of what you have found, we all loves pictures here.

Annette
Just checked out your thread on restoring your Tradewind. All I can say is impressive. You guys make it look easy. I am discouraged though. Time and money are not plentiful at the moment. Full time job, a 1 & 5 yr old and wife stays at home. Plan was to buy a solid foundation and make a few repairs and upgrades and go camping. Found this one with a solid floor and a great body. It looked like the biggest expence we would encounter would be axles. I had not planned on tearing out the interior and a good floor to repair or replace the frame. During the week I might get 1hr a night to work on this thing. Last night it was 9:30 to 10:30PM. I don't really want to spend my entire weekends on it either since I have small kids. This is a one man project at the moment since wife has her hands full also. Just looking at the design of how the body shell, floor and frame are assembled makes me want to slap the engineers who came up with this design. Just tucking the bananna wraps and belly skin under the sides would have greatly reduced the chance of rotting out the frame. If not that just caulk the top side of the trim channel covering the seam. I have the tools and knowhow to repair but my plate is pretty full at the moment. Feeling discouraged.
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Old 06-04-2009, 12:50 PM   #7
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Sorry for your disappointment. It's a pretty big undertaking to do what yours needs done, no doubt. I have a similar situation with mine: little money, no time and little or no help usually. I know just how you feel.
I set a deadline of the end of August to go to Burningman with it, so I'm doing what I can with what I've got. The time investment is the hardest part. Some folks here have been at this for more then two years. I just can't wait that long.
I may have to wait to get a new furnace and water heater and stove/ oven, but so what. My last tent didn't have any of those either.
Good luck with your project,
Rich
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Old 06-04-2009, 03:23 PM   #8
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Many have trod the path you are taking, and while it is not the easiest, it is passable.

I too have small children and did not expect to spend as much time as I did in the restoration busines, but it is the price of being in the Airstream club.

You haven't specified which floor section is to be replaced but I'll assume it is the rear. I've done it on two different units, both rear and center baths.

Send me a PM and I'll give you my phone number if you feel it would be helpful.

72 Overlander
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Old 06-04-2009, 03:59 PM   #9
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Many have trod the path you are taking, and while it is not the easiest, it is passable.

I too have small children and did not expect to spend as much time as I did in the restoration busines, but it is the price of being in the Airstream club.

You haven't specified which floor section is to be replaced but I'll assume it is the rear. I've done it on two different units, both rear and center baths.

Send me a PM and I'll give you my phone number if you feel it would be helpful.

72 Overlander
73 Sovereign
Thanks. The floor section I need to replace is forward of the front door under the right window. Actually it doesnt even look that bad from the inside and is still fairly strong. Once I got the banana wrap off you could see the damage from underneath. However once I got a good look at the frame damage, the floor damage did not look that bad. I will remove the remaining belly pan and see how bad it is. I do have a mig, chop saw and angle grinder that needs some use...Just hope the frame is solid enough to save.
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Old 06-04-2009, 08:57 PM   #10
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Make sure the A-frame is solid. A friend (and forum member) had a near disaster with a vintage he restored when the A-frame nearly broke off at the front of the trailer when he hit a bump. I had quite a bit of rust in that area when I removed the banana wrap, but treated the frame and sealed it up real good.

The front is easy to disassemble.

If you need to, you can fabricate new outriggers using the red iron common in todays steel buildings. I've found it relatively easy to work with and is easy to weld with a mig. The angle grinder, with all the available wheels, will prove its worth.
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Old 09-01-2009, 01:10 PM   #11
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1975 25' Tradewind
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Follow up on this thread...Just dropped off the camper at a metal fab/welding shop yesterday. Plan is to have the frame sandblasted, replace a bunch of outriggers and repair the frame where rotted. I will primer and spray myself. Next will be re-bolting the shell to the outriggers that were replaced, replacing some rotted floor near the front door and at the rear behind the bathroom sink, insulating the floor, checking out the gray and black water dump valves and finally putting the belly pan back on.
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