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Old 08-12-2009, 12:14 PM   #1
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flooring material

the more i read about replacing the floor, the more i think i should stay away from that. I do, however have a question for all of those who have found rotted floor BOARDS and replaced them: Did you consider any other material besides a wood product for the flooring? Seems to me that aluminum plate would not rot. Sure, you have the issue of using a combo drill/tap so you can use machine screws/bolts to attach any structural members, but rot, mildew, mold, etc should be ended with a non-wood product. I mentioned aluminum plate, but fibreglas, lexan, carbon fibre would all be suitable as well. Thoughts? Comments? This would seem to me to be most easily done on a body off rebuild, not a one piece at a time. But aluminum welding is easily within reach of AS'rs, today.
ol' bill
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Old 08-12-2009, 12:29 PM   #2
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I am not an expert on restorations but I have worked in the aircraft testing for over 40 years. The problem you may have with metal is that it will not flex. The trailer needs to have a degree of flexing to keep all the rivit and welded joints safe. Metal may be too firm and cause rivits and welds to crack and break. A wood subfloor will give and flex with normal movement of the trailer.
I do believe this is the reason for wood over metal.
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Old 08-12-2009, 01:20 PM   #3
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The wood flooring seems like an obvious place to improve things. I researched this some myself and came to the conclusion that wood is quite suitable for the application. The real issue that brings us to the question of flooring material is water infiltration. If this is kept under control, and if you can find and improve upon the areas of the shell that are prone to leaking you will have a floor that will last much longer than the original without going to the expense of a more durable material.
After looking into all of my options I decided to go with 5/8" exterior siding with 1/2" lap joints. It was 1/3 the cost of marine ply, which was my only other runner-up. to increase its durability I primed and painted the underside and the edges and perimeter, about 6" in from the edges. I used exterior latex house paint which has great durability and cost nothing from our local landfills recycling area.
The most common floor-destroying leaks are at the rear end and at the doorway, with windows coming next. If you can improve these weak spots you can get way more life out of the more inexpensive flooring materials.
If money is no object, there are some interesting products that would hold up well. I would be very careful about the characteristics of any alternatives. Consider weight, flexibility, off-gassing, screw holding ability, and how it holds up to extreme heat and cold over a long period. It's hard to beat plywood when all things are considered.
Then again, if money is no object, we should really get together sometime and discuss adult adoption strategies.

Rich
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Old 08-12-2009, 01:22 PM   #4
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Thread

This is a question Andy would normally jump on. My impression is that Rebee is exactly right. The plywood floor is part of the monoque structure. It combines with the steel frame and ribs and the aluminum riveted skin to form a structure that is strong with some modest degree of flexibility.

The plywood floor in our '67 Overlander was mostly good. The only places that were rotten were the places were there were leaks... the rear bath, near the door and near the fridge vent. If you can keep plywood dry, it will serve well for the lifetime of the trailer.
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Old 09-03-2009, 07:32 AM   #5
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Question Floor Replacement

Quote:
Originally Posted by VIKING View Post
The wood flooring seems like an obvious place to improve things. I researched this some myself and came to the conclusion that wood is quite suitable for the application. The real issue that brings us to the question of flooring material is water infiltration. If this is kept under control, and if you can find and improve upon the areas of the shell that are prone to leaking you will have a floor that will last much longer than the original without going to the expense of a more durable material.
After looking into all of my options I decided to go with 5/8" exterior siding with 1/2" lap joints. It was 1/3 the cost of marine ply, which was my only other runner-up. to increase its durability I primed and painted the underside and the edges and perimeter, about 6" in from the edges. I used exterior latex house paint which has great durability and cost nothing from our local landfills recycling area.
The most common floor-destroying leaks are at the rear end and at the doorway, with windows coming next. If you can improve these weak spots you can get way more life out of the more inexpensive flooring materials.
If money is no object, there are some interesting products that would hold up well. I would be very careful about the characteristics of any alternatives. Consider weight, flexibility, off-gassing, screw holding ability, and how it holds up to extreme heat and cold over a long period. It's hard to beat plywood when all things are considered.
Then again, if money is no object, we should really get together sometime and discuss adult adoption strategies.

Rich
We are new owners of a 50's airstream. We are about to replace the floor and plywood sounds like a good option. We were considering coating the plywood with epoxy, but after reading Rich's mention of 'off-gassing' we wondered whether that would be a problem. Does anyone have more info
on this?
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Old 09-03-2009, 09:24 AM   #6
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Epoxy on top can trap moisture below....moisture trapped
in plywood is not good. If allowed to dry it can become moist
many times and live a long life.
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Old 09-03-2009, 11:42 AM   #7
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Thanks for the info. Do you think that marine plywood is best?
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Old 09-03-2009, 12:22 PM   #8
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Treated plywood is very good material.
It is also heavy.
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Old 09-14-2009, 08:47 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info. Do you think that marine plywood is best?
Marine plywood is a waste of money, best bet would to go with 3/4" AC plywood, and seal with a non toxic sealer. On my 55 restoration plan to use no fiberglass insulation and will and make sure that below the floor is vented.
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Old 09-14-2009, 09:02 PM   #10
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Sealing is always a two edge issue. What it keeps out it also keeps in. I used marine ply on the 59 because I didn't want to have to do it again, ever. I used 3/4 because it was more available than 5/8. I painted the bottomside with a reflective sealing paint and used foil bubble wrap not glass between the floor and frame. The latter having been treatment to Por15. Be aware that changing the floor by that 1/8 inch does create alignment issues putting the shell back on as the ribs sit on the floor. Some years more of an issue than others.
Plan on the trailer leaking and design accordingly. Then you just go camping without alot of fuss....
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Old 09-16-2009, 11:17 AM   #11
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If the post above refers to pressure treated plywood that is a big no-no. The copper based treatment reacts badly with the aluminum. At minimum, exterior grade would be suggested. I used marine grade because I couldn't find any ACX locally. There is a supplier for the marine grade in Fort Myers, and in Tampa, but only in 3/4. I paid $78.00 per sheet early this year.

The sealing versus not sealing controversy is ongoing. I opted to let it breath by not sealing. I imagine that few of us will still be around to find ouot which approach lasted longer.
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Old 09-16-2009, 11:55 AM   #12
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Hi toastie,
you got my attention, why no fiberglass insulation in the floor. we are down south and i would love to not have to deal with that, fixing to remove pan and take out all the gunk
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Old 09-16-2009, 04:05 PM   #13
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Fiberglass is a water trap and rodent home. Try to forget that it exists. Some people are using solid polyurethane sheet insulation in layers to fill the bellypan. This sounds like the best alternative I've heard of.
Rich
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Old 09-16-2009, 05:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethowens View Post
Epoxy on top can trap moisture below....moisture trapped
in plywood is not good. If allowed to dry it can become moist
many times and live a long life.
This is something I disagree with. The plywood is not designed to withstand multiple wettings and dryings, and it will deteriorate much faster. It is more durable than interior plywood, but you don't see houses with unfinished exterior plywood exposed to the elements because it will come apart. Airstream uses this same theory in their old literature. I think it was taken as fact back in the day but I subscribe to the theory that water that doesn't get into the plywood, doesn't need to get out. The veneers will not be subjected to multiple expansion and contraction cycles, which is what makes plywood fail.
Epoxy is a great sealer if used correctly. It doesn't off-gas like some other things, and it's very durable. You would do as well with a polyurethane water-based floor finish, in the highest gloss you can get. I't also very easy to apply, unlike epoxy.
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