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Old 08-08-2011, 06:28 PM   #1
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1973 27' Overlander
Canyon Lake , Texas
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Unhappy Frame Failure

I just picked up a 1973 27' International for $100. The shell is in excellent condition. There are issues with hatch & door latches but nothing serious. The front windows have been broken out for years and the interior filled with junk/trash. After emptying it out, I attempted to jack the front end to level it out. As I jacked, the frame began to bend just to the rear of where the frame disappears under the front of the shell. Heavy flakes of rust appeared on the ground below the area that bent. Is this worth saving? I don't want to give up on it. My plan is to gut the interior, replace the floor and restore to a different, lighter design. Any experience with this type of frame failure and if there is a typical fix? I'm new to the airstream world so thanks in advance for any suggestions.
COMMENT: I'm seeing numerous websites, forums, you-tube, etc... on Airstream frame corrosion. Was there an issue with the metal they used or a lack of proper treatment? I'm restoring a 24' 1970 Yellowstone, had the entire floor removed and the frame was in great shape. (It was used in Northern Ohio)
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Old 08-08-2011, 07:20 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums!

There are several threads on rebuilding a mostly rotten frame or even building a new one from scratch. I guess the only question is how much work or money it is worth to the individual owner.

In my opinion, the corrosion of AS frames is mostly caused by the enclosed under frame. The bellies of our trailers were insulated with fiberglass, which will hold water. The belly skins are tight enough not to let the moisture to evaporate, so the frame stays wet a lot. One must keep in mind, not even boats are completely water tight, so water will get in the skins.

Still, even with a few faults, there are many more OLD Airstreams on the road than the majority of SOBs.
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Old 08-08-2011, 07:37 PM   #3
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I wouldn't let a few frame issues stop me, but I would decide a dollar figure I was willing to invest to get it right, and drop the project as soon as possible if I couldn't be sure of hitting that target.

Luckily, you have a few capable airstreamers around you who can weld, buck rivets and so forth. San Antonio and the Austin area (I'm in RR) are a positive den of fixers.
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:47 PM   #4
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Harvest the Information on This Forum

If you hunt long and hard enough you will find several threads that deal with the frame issue you must now confront if you want to save this Airstream. I am recalling similiar projects from 2006 or 2007, I think. Anyway, done correctly you will detach the monocot shell from the floor and frame assembly and lift it off, and pull the rotten frame and worn out running gear right out from under the shell. The shell is probably all that is worth saving anyway.
Then, you remanufacture the frame and install new axle(s), brakes, holding tanks, etc.
Nothing to it.
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:53 PM   #5
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In for a Penny...in for a Pound

Time for some tough love. We all love the older iconic Airstreams....and if you want to pull it around with confidence and pride you will have to follow the 4 R's....

- Remove the shell
- Replace the frame
- Replace the floor
- Re-attach the shell

Sorry....but that's the truth... and it is much easier than you imagine.....and when completed...the Airstream will out-survive us all.

This forum has all the reference info and member assistance you will need to accomplish the 4 R's....

Good luck and have fun...we did.
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Old 08-09-2011, 04:24 AM   #6
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1962 26' Overlander
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I feel much of your issues involve the year. It is very common on 1973 trailers to see degraded frames. Having a new frame made is not too big a deal. You are lucky and live in a hot bed of fixers.....
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:32 PM   #7
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Thanks for all of your advice. I understand the issues and will press on. This weekend is dedicated to interior removal. It's on a remote property about 25 miles drive so I'm packing every tool imaginable. Nothing is worth saving except the shell, overhead side bins and maybe the tub/shower.
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:50 PM   #8
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Don't be to wonton with the destruction. What might be trash to you might be of great value to someone else...
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:42 AM   #9
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Danger Will Robinson!
Don't trash it until you really know what you have. You'll only be kicking yourself later. (Please don't ask me how I know this)
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:03 AM   #10
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Welcome Aboard....

What Frank sez...save the original stuff, those interior fixtures are hard to come by.

Just post what you have available here to find out how hard.

Good luck with your project.
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