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Old 04-27-2013, 01:39 AM   #1
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1975 31' Sovereign
cary , North Carolina
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Posts: 145
Frame repair and shell off questions

Ok, So i found the frame is just way to gone for a part of frame repair by part of frame repair, I have acquired a frame from a user here called overkill.

(SELLS AWSOME AIRSTREAM PEACES!! IF HE DOESN'T"T HAVE IT, HELL GET IT . He has been a life saver to me all the way from stock 75' panels to complete Frame replacements.. a frame with the black factory paint on it nice and thick for 150 USD, Can't beat that.)

SO the rear end of it was rusty, easy solution, since all the pieces were their, Tom (Ornametals welder) can fabricate the pieces easily. The frame sill had the water tank hinges on, with very little rust, this in itself was awesome. Outriggers are nice and cheap at out of doors mart, thick metal that's already painted black. Replacing them all for the hell of it.

Now here is the part I'm going to hate, I decided to do a shell off, as the frame have is destroyed in several areas.. I have 3 acres of land to work with, main problem is its all grass, unless this is easily circumvented.

Can anyone please offer some words of advice? Gantry crane systems, jacks? How much does the shell weigh? I already know to sand bag the shell down to prevent it from blowing away, but how in the world do you lift a 31' shell safely? I know what I need to do to get it off rivet floor wise, but no idea how to lift the thing. do I need to take out the over head cabinets to, i.e. is this advisable or doable?

While I'm doing this, I'm also putting on new axles', if someone (*cough* Andy, *cough*) wants to sell me some or give me advice on which ones to get so I don't have to mod them heavily with full backing plates, I would be appreciative. Dumb move here and don't repeat it, NEVER JACK the axles, jack the mounting plate where the axles bolt in.

Oh yes, while prepping the frame and removing the insulation, I got hit by a scorpion, please be CAREFUL when futzing with the insulation as critters like to bury themselves in it, and on a side note, the donor frames insulation is still bright pink and usable, no wetness at all.


This is why i decided to replace the frame, after showing this video and hearing the horror stories, I MUCH rather be safe then sorry.
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Old 04-27-2013, 08:50 AM   #2
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2008 16' Safari
Destrehan , Louisiana
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I'm guessing you don't have access to a shop with an overhead crane. Thats the easy solution. Check with friends and family to see if you can find someone willing to help. My local RV dealer has an overhead crane but the WILL NOT work on any AS.
You can also rent a crane for a day to pull the shell off. This will be the safest and cheapest way to get the shell off. You will need to rent it again to put the shell back on the new frame.
With 3 acres of land to work with you should have no problems getting a crane in and out.
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Old 04-27-2013, 10:28 AM   #3
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1974 Argosy 28
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Wauwatosa , Wisconsin
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Shell off: with the interior striped and braced (look at pic's in my profile) 4 guys lifted, a 5th pulled out the frame and placed the saw horses for us to lower.

Axles: Check with Colin Hyde. I ask him and Andy both for a quote.
I sent a PM to Andy and tried to send a message through Inlandrv.com. Andy never got back to me.
Colin on the other hand got back to me the very next day. And much less $$$ than inlands web site.
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:04 AM   #4
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1976 27' Overlander
Tampa , Florida
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Wow- you're frame looks pretty bad... almost scary to get underneath that thing! My concern is that much of the damage is on the frame rails- which are the primary structural members. Outriggers and cross members are pretty simple if you have good frame rails... I'm sorry- I can't help you with the method to fix frame.

BUT, I can give you some insight to what I did to fix my frame... I had a bunch of bad outriggers and rear cross member was totally gone on bottom half.

I ended up pulling the shell and I AM SO GLAD I DID! I started off pulling up floor inside the coach with the plan of fixing the frame with the shell on. I got to the point that all the floor was out, and I realized that it was only about 150 rivets holding the stinkin shell on, so off it came.

Per Colin Hyde, lifting is the way to go- no bracing and jacking crap. I couldn't agree more! I copied Belegedhel's Gantry, but made mine 12' tall x 10ft wide. About $100 in wood, and 2 $40 Harbor Freight hoists and 3 hours in an afternoon and had some Gantry's. Used a 4x4 to lift from the 2 ribs nearest the vent holes and voila! (I've even put the thing back on just for "test" fitting for lining up new stuff.) It very gently lifts and lowers- awesome. I set the shell on 2x4s careful not to bend the aluminum that wraps past the c channel. That thing is heavy and rigid. Mind is somewhat protected from wind, so I dont have it sand bagged down- I dont see it moving.

With the shell off, I was fully able to inspect the frame and work on it. MUCH better way to do it. I even found cracks that never would have been found. Had pieces fabricated and welded on, and then had the option to sandblast and powder coat for $500 from a local place that has a 30' oven, but I opted to POR15 because of the versatility of being able to touch up wherever/ whenever. I did not like the idea of having a powdercoated frame, then drilling holes and compromising the integrity.

The gantry's are now being used as a rotisserie to easily flip the trailer over to work on the bottom and top from above... Made spraying POR15 a breeze. Belly pans have all been test fit and changes/ fixes addressed from above. NO MORE LAYING ON MY BACK with crap falling all over me! If you have the room, I can give my vote for this method- boy does it make working on this thing much more enjoyable.

Here's some pics
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:06 AM   #5
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More pics
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:07 AM   #6
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even more...
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:51 AM   #7
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1981 31' Excella II
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I would say your original frame is pretty much toast. What I am worried about is the new frame not being and exact fit for your shell. There are not two of anything reguarding the shell and frame that are exactly the same on an Airstream. The main issues are making sure the front and rear hold down plates line up with the crossbeams. This is easy to fix if you know you are going to have to move a cross beam or add some to it before you try to put the shell on. Also different models may have outriggers in different places. On my trailer, the factory installed the rear cross beam too far forward that ties the shell to the frame. I had to get creative to make it work. I should have just put in a new cross beam.

Perry
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Old 04-28-2013, 02:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mixter View Post
even more...
Wow, looks like I'll go overhead crane, where exactly are those plans at for those gantries at? And dang, you did a good job on that frame. Yeah Im going to go shell off and measure everything and make sure the frames line up.. It should, their from the exact year and make, but best to be sure.

Thank y'all so much for the help, and please keep the advice coming.
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Old 04-28-2013, 05:53 PM   #9
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Ha. No plans for gantrys- just used 4x4s and 2x6s. 12 ft tall, 10ft wide. Bases are 6 ft long. Bottom braces around 4ft. Top braces around 3 ft.

Used a piece of chain looped to attach hoists.

Pretty simple to do- took me a few hours w a chop saw and air nailer.
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:14 PM   #10
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1972 25' Tradewind
fort lauderdale , Florida
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Hey Mixter,

Great job. I'm about a month away from pulling my shell off. I like what you've done and it seems to be a less expensive way to go. I checked out harbor freight for hoists and found 2 different 1ton hoists for 49.99. Are you happy with your hoists? Could you possibly tell me the item number of the hoists you purchased?

Thank
Eric
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:56 PM   #11
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Hey Eric- just checked HF and looks like they have the same one- with 2 different item numbers. #996 Chain Hoist - Low Sale Prices on this 1 Ton Chain Hoist and #69338 1 Ton Chain Hoist are the same things.

They work great. If you subscribe to their email/ mail list, you'll get coupons like crazy. I almost never buy without because you can get stuff so cheap. (just be careful to check the reviews before buying anything because some stuff is disposable). With my regular junk mail 20% of HF coupons, I bought those hoists for $40 bucks each.... I now own three of them, where I dont know that I'll ever do anything with them again!
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:25 PM   #12
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1972 25' Tradewind
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Thanks Mixter

I will subscribe. You can always put the hoists on craigslist. They would sell quickly.
I bought 3 sets of jack stands off craigslist. Great deals on there.
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:42 PM   #13
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1975 31' Sovereign
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Hey Mixter,

Great job. I'm about a month away from pulling my shell off. I like what you've done and it seems to be a less expensive way to go. I checked out harbor freight for hoists and found 2 different 1ton hoists for 49.99. Are you happy with your hoists? Could you possibly tell me the item number of the hoists you purchased?

Thank
Eric
I would like to know to
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:53 PM   #14
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Quote:
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I would like to know to
Wow quick responses
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