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Old 09-23-2006, 07:46 AM   #1
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Frame access and repair

I have a 1978 30 ft. Sovereign. I want to access frame from below. Am planning to jck trailer, remove trim strip, bananna skins and bottom aluminum. Can anyone provide detailed instruction on how to proceed and what to watch out for?

Thanks.
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Old 09-23-2006, 08:36 AM   #2
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It sounds like you have a pretty good idea about getting to the area. Note that the copper propane pipes run below the belly skin and you'd be into a fairly major job. What are your objectives in this project?
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Old 09-23-2006, 01:48 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply! This is my first thread and I had some problems getting onto forums.

The objectives of the project are to repair the frame as practical and as necessary to rejuvenate the trailer and ensure its longevity. I bought the trailer about 10 months ago with little knowledge of potential problems. It appears in reasonable shape overall, but on getting it home I noticed a bit of floor rot behind the gaucho couch. I tore out the first plywood subfloor panel - quite a job - and then observed the the frame outriggers toward the front were rotted with the exception of the heavier peice of angle iron that seem was the most substantive part of the outrigger. They look like they can be reinforced. I want to see the whole trailer frame to see if it is practical to save so that the trailer can be towed into the future or is it best just to set it up on blocks somewhere. I am willing to put the time and effort into saving it if it is within reason.

So overall my objectives at this time are to get the frame exposed and access to it from the bottom to weld if practical. It looks like the first step is to remove the lower trim strip then the bannana skins, can you advise if this is difficult? My mechanic suggested using an air shear to shear the lower bottom skins into accessible panels for removal, then when putting them back on just splice them at the sheared seams - seems (a pun?) reasonable way to reconstruct the bottom skins.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 09-23-2006, 08:51 PM   #4
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take a look at the thread posted by Pizzachop, he did a major floor repair on his...might have to da a little bit of searching to find this
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Old 09-24-2006, 04:38 AM   #5
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Toga,

The long belly pan can be be a pain but I wouldn't cut it because if you did put it back that way, you would want some overlap in your joints. (If I was replacing it, I'd probably do it that way with new metal)

To remove the belly pan is not difficult but isn't exactly fun either. It is held in place with either rivets or screws (or both) through the main frame rails and the cross members ever 24" I think. (My front belly pan is off at the moment as I have some major rust/corrosion at the freshwater tank area.)

You will have to remove front jacks if you are so fortunate to have them.

To remove the banana wrap, you must remove the belt line first. Carefully drill out all of the 1/8" rivets to remove the belt line and then drill out all the rivets holding the banana wrap to the floor channel.

It really helps to put the unit up on 6" blocks or something to create more work space.

Here's a link to my pics
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Old 09-24-2006, 05:37 AM   #6
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What I did to avoid removing the beltline, is just remove the rivets at the bottom edge of the belly pan and flex them down that gave me great access.

I removed the bad insulation, wire brushed the chasis and POR'd buttoned it back up.
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Old 09-25-2006, 06:54 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info PizzaChop and Lipets. I actually had seen PizzaChops photos on the forums before I got your comments - greatly appreciated.

I am a bit aprehensive about what I am potentially getting into. I took a look at Thomas Glassers rebuilt and his original frame looked a mess. I have been able to see that at least one middle cross member between the frame rails is good (still has original paint on) and am hoping most of the rest is reasonable, although I can also see at the front the the front outriggers are in definite need of replacement or major reinforcement.

Anyway, I plan to proceed. Regarding removing the lower trim line and banana wrap versus not removing and just flexing them down, I am thinking of removing at this time just to increase exposure and access to the frame. Is it a big problem to remove and reinstall or maybe I should just flex them down for now to assess the frame.

Anyway, first step will be to raise the trailer up on 6 inch blocks as suggested by PizzaChop. I understand that I should jack on the axle mount plates based on review of info on other posts (particularly from Andy at Inland RV). How is it best to proceed - the trailer is roughly 5000 lbs so would a 2 ton hydrualic jack do with a wood block between the jack point and the axle mounting plate do, then jack each side a couple of inches at a time to avoid flexing the trailer?

Thanks.
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Old 09-25-2006, 07:28 PM   #8
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keep it simple drive up
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Old 09-25-2006, 07:30 PM   #9
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the skins don't really flex down, they hang straight down, I'll post a pic soon
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Old 09-25-2006, 08:25 PM   #10
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I was thinking of driving as well. You can build your own ramps by staggering 3 2x8s leading up to a 6 x 6.
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Old 09-26-2006, 06:04 PM   #11
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Yes - driving up seems the sensible way to go. Although I don't have a tow vehicle I think I can get some one to back it onto the blocks once I get them made up.

Will keep you posted on progress although it will probably be few weeks before I get it on the blocks - and then we are getting into cold weather.
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Old 11-26-2006, 08:17 PM   #12
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Oops! Anyone Know Price and Availability of 1978 Water Tank

Hi,

Finally made it back. I seem to be going backwards. Did not have a tow vehicle so tried to jack trailer. I can tell you how not to do it. (One comment; Andy at inland rv is right - JACK AT AXLE MOUNTING PLATES ONLY; I did and despite myself ended up with limited damage that was totally due for the most part to my ignorance, i.e. trailer sliding sideways on jack stands).

Used a six ton bottle jack under each axle mounting plate and bteween wheels (think I got this much right anyway). Had two 3-to jack stands - one at each end of axle mounting plate. I would jack one side a bit, then raise Axle stand a notch, then alternat to other side. First attempt, trailer slid sideways off axle stands. Tried again a bit more carefully - had the trailer up a ways then the same thing. Only this time looks like I damaged my water tank as whne it slid off one of the bottle jacks punched into the metal cover pan and water starting leaking out.

The jacks are more unstable then I would have thought. Guess it doesn't take much to deviate from the center of gravity along the jack axis. Anyway I am still at square one although probably even further behind because now I will need a new water tank, anyone know where one is (1978 Sovereign) and how much?

So, try this again? I'm wondering. If I do I will jack then block incrementally maybe with 2x6. Any comments? Alternatively, preferably will find some wide planks and find someone with a truck to try the ramp method; should have tried this first but again I don't have a tow vehicle. Thinking of minimum 2, or maybe 3 full dimension hemlock 2x8" stacked and bevelled on one end to run trailer up. what is needed for clearance? Is wheels on 4 inch ramp thickness enough or would 6 be minimum. Would jack with careful blocking be better as it would lend itself to variable height.

I think I am in for a long project at this rate.

Thanks for any comments.

John
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Old 11-26-2006, 08:46 PM   #13
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John,

You may be able to repair the tank. I'm not familiar with the '78 but on my '73, there is 1" thick plywood supporting the tank with aluminum skin on it.

Can you tell how far the hole went and are you sure you punctured the tank?

I think it is more likely that something came loose (fitting or hose or possibly copper plumbing which is in the same area) but you won't know until you disassemble.

Bottom line is you'll have to remove the tank anyway, to assess the damage and there are patch kits available for that type plastic. (At least I've seen them somewhere.)

I think I would beg, borrow, or steal a 1/2 pick-up and back it up onto blocks at this point. What you're doing sounds dangerous.

Good luck!

Here are pics of my water tank back in place, although I think it is located forward of where yours is. You can see how it sits between the frame rails on plywood supported by a box frame.
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Old 11-27-2006, 06:26 PM   #14
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Ron,

Thanks for the encouragement. I hope I can repair the tank if it is damaged.

Will be picking up some 2x8s for use as ramps. I notice in your water tank picture it looks like you had 3 planks; were they 1.5 inch or full dimension (2" thick). Did they give you enough space underneath to get all the work done. I think I will be removing the water tanks and waste tanks as well as into some frame welding.

Thanks.
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