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Old 02-24-2008, 09:56 PM   #15
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Don't say you didn't ask...

Took the front banana skins off today. All banana skins now off. It wasn't pretty. The rust continues in the front sections of the frame. The curbside is worse the roadside looks better. The rearward trend continues up front.

The first photo is the front end of the frame curbside. The second is the front end of the frame roadside. So who went scuba diving with this frame?

What's next? Gut the interior and unbolt the shell from the frame or remove the remaining belly pans and see if it can get any worse? Not sure which one I prefer.
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Old 02-24-2008, 11:03 PM   #16
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Wow - I keep searching for words but few printable ones appear.
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:18 PM   #17
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It can only get better from here?

The axles are mounted to a plate of steel that is welded to the frame and skid. Not sure what this plate is called? Take a look at the rear most point of this sheet at the point where it makes contact with the skid. Notice that it is bowed or bent out. Photos are from behind looking forward and from directly below. That's rust causing the bend if I'm not mistaken.

Also there is a side picture of this axle mounting plate showing the overlap onto the frame and skids. There are a number round holes in this metal plate I assume to give more points for welding. Notice where the frame has rusted completely through some of these holes. Photos also show this plate further forward in between the curbside axles.

Finally there is a photo of this metal plate taken from below at a point in between the axles. Notice that this plate is bent out once again. Apparently the PO using this plate as a jack point. Has rust weakened the weld between this plate and the frame causing this bend which I assumed happened during jacking? I wouldn't think that using this point for as a jack point would cause that bend unless there is rust on the frame BEHIND the plate. I could be mistaken about that.

Todd
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:28 PM   #18
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Not sure why the photos didn't go through. Exceeded file quota? Didn't realize there was a limited number of photos I could upload?
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Old 02-25-2008, 12:46 PM   #19
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You can only upload about 3 at a time, after they are uploaded simply select the manage attachments window again and upload the rest, and they will all upload to the same post. Then select the Submit reply window. It sure looks to me like you are heading for a new frame, one that wasn,t used as a boat anchor. Check out this thread, http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...ame-29294.html
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:01 PM   #20
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Okay here are the photos of the axle mounting plate referred to above.
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Old 02-25-2008, 02:28 PM   #21
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I think a donor frame may be the only way to go man-hour wise.

eBay Motors: 76 Airstream Trailer, Stripped to the Floor (item 120221825876 end time Feb-22-08 17:48:55 PST) <-- there are frames out there, but I couldn't recommend this particular one.

Not meaning to tease you at all, I just don't move very fast on my AS stuff BUT I am tempted to offer the frame from a 1972 29' that has shell damage I am slowly stripping for parts, though I have not opened the belly pans up on it yet. The trailer was in a low speed uncoupling at some point, it may be wracked beyond use other than cannibalizing.
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Old 02-25-2008, 04:32 PM   #22
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1. Is there still an opportunity to walk away? (This is why I would never buy an older Airstream without bringing along a drill, a rivet gun, and some rivets)

2. If not, it can be restored.

3. While a "new" frame may save you welding time, I would think it would more than be made up in stripping the inside entirely, removing all the inner walls, partitions, and aluminum skins so that the shell can be lifted off the frame. (But I've never done it before, so I can't speak to how easy or hard it may be.)

4. I tend to believe that in the hands of the right welder, the frame can be restored to where it will give the necessary support where it needs to. (These 70s units started out with light frames to begin with, as the shell provides so much of the support.)

5. You still have a really nice shell (right?) with a center bath floor plan (which is nice).

6. If it were me, I would immobilize it and put it up on 8-12 blocks (kinda like a ship in drydock) so the axles could be dropped and you could access every square inch of the frame. (Drop the fresh water tank as well, as you'll probably find some more issues there as well.) Then, I would take a wire wheel to the whole thing to determine what is salvageable and what isn't. (I would take a pointy hammer to suspected weak areas to determine strength.) I would paint it with a good rust paint (POR 15 or the like) and then start my frame restoration/repair.

Some spots will require more, some less, but a welder familiar with structural things can probably help you out a bit. (I'd be careful about adding too much additional weight, though.)

Better yet, buy yourself a mig welder for a couple hundred bucks and you'll be an expert when you're finished! (You'll have more than paid for the welder and you'll still have it in your possession when you're through.)

Now, keep in mind that I'm a pizza maker, first and foremost, so I'm sure my advice has its pros and cons, but this is essentially what I did with my Sovereign, which, like your Ambassador, looked like it had lived at the beach all its life. I ran into way more rust on it than my first one, all I could do was deal with it.
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Old 02-25-2008, 04:53 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PizzaChop
6. If it were me, I would immobilize it and put it up on 8-12 blocks (kinda like a ship in drydock) so the axles could be dropped and you could access every square inch of the frame. (Drop the fresh water tank as well, as you'll probably find some more issues there as well.) Then, I would take a wire wheel to the whole thing to determine what is salvageable and what isn't. (I would take a pointy hammer to suspected weak areas to determine strength.) I would paint it with a good rust paint (POR 15 or the like) and then start my frame restoration/repair.
Ron,

Great ideas!

Might try my hand at welding after all. I'm more concerned right now about the axles plates than the rest of the frame. Rebuilding that part of the frame would be difficult. I wouldn't want to replace the axle plate out but as you suggest a good welder could advise.

What do you mean put it up on 8-12 blocks. What kind of blocks and where would you support it. With the amount of scuba diving this frame has done it certainly needs dry docking for awhile!

Perhaps this is opportunity I need to gut the interior and customize. Yesterday after removing the front banana skins I notice floor rot in the front area too. So at least part of the front floor will need to come up too. If I take the front area down to the frame too...I'm just inches from lifting the floor on the the whole enchilada.

Lifting the shell off couldn't be any worse than what I'm dealing with now. Could it? Probably would need to build some kind of frame to hold it?

Todd
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Old 02-25-2008, 04:58 PM   #24
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Frame Hunting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wabbiteer
I think a donor frame may be the only way to go man-hour wise.

eBay Motors: 76 Airstream Trailer, Stripped to the Floor (item 120221825876 end time Feb-22-08 17:48:55 PST) <-- there are frames out there, but I couldn't recommend this particular one.

Not meaning to tease you at all, I just don't move very fast on my AS stuff BUT I am tempted to offer the frame from a 1972 29' that has shell damage I am slowly stripping for parts, though I have not opened the belly pans up on it yet. The trailer was in a low speed uncoupling at some point, it may be wracked beyond use other than cannibalizing.
Wabbiteer,

Yes, a donor frame is certainly an option. I didn't expect I would be able to locate one so easily. Thank you for suggesting this. Please keep me advised about what you find in the condition of the frame you are stripping.

Todd
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Old 02-25-2008, 05:20 PM   #25
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Quote:
Lifting the shell off couldn't be any worse than what I'm dealing with now. Could it? Probably would need to build some kind of frame to hold it?
You can't really answer that until you've done it both ways.
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Old 02-27-2008, 10:03 PM   #26
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Thanks for the frank input from everybody here.
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Old 02-27-2008, 10:08 PM   #27
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Thanks for the frank input, private and otherwise, from everybody here about the frame on my first AS. I have really appreciated the support, kindness and humor from you all.

I lined up appointments with two independent local welders to check out the frame. The first one was here a few hours ago and definitely agreed that this frame is toast. Not even worth attempting a repair. He even considered it probably dangerous. So we have a consensus Houston! Will have an estimate from this welder for a new frame in a few days. Still have to schedule the second welder.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:55 AM   #28
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Smile A little help

It does look like a big job but by the time you start whittling away it you'll be Rally bound before you know it.
Here are a few guides for parts I have put together and may be of some help.
When it comes to Outriggers there are four in the 5 inch group that are still available. They will work just fine for your trailer.
Airstream Special- Outrigger Guide

Also, when it comes to replacing the shocks, you may want to spray the shock mounts on both ends with a good penetrating oil and let soak. Then in a few days, do it again then hit it with a wire brush before you try to get the nuts off. This may allow you to get the nuts off without ringing off the treads with the nuts. Here is a video we put together to help on the shock replacement.
Airstream Shock replacement guide

I hope this helps.
Dan
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