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Old 04-16-2012, 09:00 AM   #1
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1977 31' Sovereign
Lakeview , Oregon
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Floor replacement - off with the shell or the underbelly?

We are ready to replace the sub floor and look at frame for any weakness and check axels. In our internet search we have see two methods.
1. remove shell
2. remove undebelly

What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of each and if you did one way would you do it the other way if you got a mulligan.

Thanks!

~Mark and Martina
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:08 AM   #2
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1962 24' Tradewind
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I am in the middle of a shell-off replacement of the subfloor of a '62, so I don't know for sure how it would be on a '77. My '62 required that the shell come off to replace the entire subfloor. The outer shell is riveted onto a j-channel, with the underbelly sandwiched between these two pieces. The j-channel is then screwed onto the subfloor, making it necessary to take the shell off, then the underbelly, then the j-channel and then finally the subfloor to do chassis repairs. On a later model, you may have banana wraps (curved pieces that connect the j-channel to the belly pan) in which case you could just remove the rivets and get a good look at your chassis. A frame-off is a LOT of work, but there is nothing like knowing that everything you put back together is now solid and will last many more years.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:14 AM   #3
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1977 31' Sovereign
Lakeview , Oregon
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Aluminitus - THANK YOU
Yeah, we know it is a ton of work. Just gutting the sucker was interesting! Now we have the interior skin off, the old insulation out etc. Would rather do it all and have it in good shape.

SO it looks like off with the top and bottom. Makes sense.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:49 AM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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I am just about to start the re-assembly of my '73 globetrotter. I replaced the entire subfloor, and concluded that the best way to do it was to remove the shell. I have seen other threads where the floor was replaced in halves (without removing the shell), rather than full sheets of plywood that go from sided to side, but I decided against this for the following reasons:
--There is a funky channel that attaches to the edge of the plywood with a "c" profile, but then has an flange going up vertically that the shell rivets onto. It is a tight fit, and I was concerned that insterting a piece of new plywood from the inside, and getting it to lie flat and mate tight in the middle of the trailer would take more talent and patience than I have.
--My frame rot was evident from the underside after removing the bellypan, but when I finally got the subfloor removed, I found that I would need to take the frame to a welder to get large sections replaced.

I built a set of gantry frames that I used to lift up the shell so that the frame could be pulled from underneath. This worked pretty slick. I worried that I would end up with a bunch of lumber from the frames and no immediate use for it, but so far, I have gotten tons of use from the frames as I have been using them to hoist the trailer frame into the air, flip it over so that I can work comfortably on the bottom side, suspend it "vertically" during painting, etc.. My setup in pictured in the attached.

If I were to do one thing over, I would lift the shell off of the frame without messing with the belly pan, then I would use my lifting frames to turn the trailer frame upside down, and then I would pull off the belly pan and work the underside. I spent way too much time with crusty debris falling in my face.

Good luck!
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:29 PM   #5
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Remove the shell.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
I am just about to start the re-assembly of my '73 globetrotter. I replaced the entire subfloor, and concluded that the best way to do it was to remove the shell. I have seen other threads where the floor was replaced in halves (without removing the shell), rather than full sheets of plywood that go from sided to side, but I decided against this for the following reasons:
--There is a funky channel that attaches to the edge of the plywood with a "c" profile, but then has an flange going up vertically that the shell rivets onto. It is a tight fit, and I was concerned that insterting a piece of new plywood from the inside, and getting it to lie flat and mate tight in the middle of the trailer would take more talent and patience than I have.
--My frame rot was evident from the underside after removing the bellypan, but when I finally got the subfloor removed, I found that I would need to take the frame to a welder to get large sections replaced.

I built a set of gantry frames that I used to lift up the shell so that the frame could be pulled from underneath. This worked pretty slick. I worried that I would end up with a bunch of lumber from the frames and no immediate use for it, but so far, I have gotten tons of use from the frames as I have been using them to hoist the trailer frame into the air, flip it over so that I can work comfortably on the bottom side, suspend it "vertically" during painting, etc.. My setup in pictured in the attached.

If I were to do one thing over, I would lift the shell off of the frame without messing with the belly pan, then I would use my lifting frames to turn the trailer frame upside down, and then I would pull off the belly pan and work the underside. I spent way too much time with crusty debris falling in my face.

Good luck!
Wow! That is really slick!!
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:04 PM   #7
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1976 29' Ambassador
Nashville , Tennessee
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Sweet rig belegedhel! Just finished gutting my Ambassador and am researching the best way to do a shell off. Your way looks good. Nice job.
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Old 04-24-2012, 03:39 PM   #8
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Thanks--I have three 1 ton chain hoists that I use to manipulate the frame. One is attached to a sling at the hitch, which allows the frame to rotate in the axis without binding up. I then use the two other hoists to control the two rear corners of the frame (one is pulling up, the other is letting down to effect the flip).

I was worried that things could get dangerous withall this manipulation, but as long as neither hoist or slings fails, it is no more dangerous than just hoisting up the shell. Just have to be conscious about not operating a hoist from within the frame rails or something, which could lead to serious injuries if something let loose. I'll post a picture of my frame in the air being manipulated later this evening.

It definitely feels like a luxurious way to work. I have also used one of the lifting frames to install and remove the axle a couple of times. It would be pretty awkward to do this solo otherwise, and I work alone a lot.

For a bigger trailer frame, one might consider a beefier cross-member on the lifting frame (maybe a 4x6). I didn't do any stress/strain calcs for my 4x4 cross member, but I don't see any dramatic deflection when supporting the trailer, so seems to be OK. Haven't had any issues with stability (sway, rocking, etc).
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:36 PM   #9
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Here are a few pics demonstrating getting some extra use out of my shell lifting frames: lifting a new axle into place, and suspending the frame sideways for POR-15ing.
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:06 AM   #10
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Wow! that's awesome. How did you move the shell over to the side of this hoisting contraption?
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:11 AM   #11
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I actually scooted the frames over the shell, lifted it up, pulled the trailer out, and set the shell down on the ground. I then dragged the lifting frames over to where I parked the trailer frame and commenced with the trailer manipulations. The lifting frames can be moved by a single person without too much trouble.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:34 AM   #12
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Belegedhel, what type of reinforcing did you use to lift shell, did you use 2x's at roof or did you attach to ribs?
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:28 AM   #13
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I didn't use any cribbing at all. I read a lot of threads, and it seems that the opinions vary widely. Some people insist that bracing is necessary whether jacking the shell up from below, or lifting from above. Some insist that even if you are lifting from above, the shell will change shape without the bracing.

I have also heard the opposite, that the beauty of lifting the shell from above is that no bracing is required. Seems that I had heard the rumor that this is how the trailers were originally assembled (no bracing, lifting from above), and some professional restorers had also advocated the lift from above sans-bracing. I chose to test the latter hypothesis, so have not braced at all. The only drawback I have seen is that when it came time to lower the shell to the ground, I had to find little blocks to set at the bottoms of the ribs to support the shell, otherwise the weight of the shell would have been sitting on the lower edge of the skin itself (at least along the lengths of the sides, because the C-channel remains on the plywood).

I should be putting the shell back on in a week or two--then I'll know for sure whether the shell changed shape or not.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:20 PM   #14
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1975 31' Sovereign
Pierre , South Dakota
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I have been researching shell removal using this method. As a matter I have ordered chain hoist. I assume you pulled up through the vent holes in the roof? What did you use inside the on the roof to attach the chain hoist to?
i have gutted the interior and removed only the bottom interior skin,as my problem is not rotted floor but rusted out frame. I would like to keep the a/c and rest of the interior skins intact, do you think this will cause problems? Also with the upper skins left in the shell less distortion, but more weight.
What do you think
Thanks, Jack
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