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Old 12-04-2018, 12:46 PM   #1
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1978 31' Sovereign
Williams , Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 2
Frame Rust 1978 Sovereign 31"

Hello,
New to this website but looking for some general advice on the condition of our frame. I am not good with terms, but the two main frame bars from the fresh water (in middle) have rust damage on the bottom half. Pictured is the worst of it, about 2 feet of significant damage. Otherwise, there is about 1/2 in of rust running the length from the middle to the front of the trailer, but very hard and no holes. Other wise, the frame in the back has almost no rust, except for the grey and black water tank. The top of the frame looks fine, but the bottom (that supports the middle of the tanks) and the bottom half of the back (where the tanks connect to the piping leading out) have plenty of rust. Upon sending pictures to a welder, they told us that the frame may not be repairable at all. I have a second welder coming out to physically assess damage next week. Just wondering if our frame can be repaired with some significant welding, along with brushing, por 15, and being repainted for the rest. Thank you!

Tyler
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Old 12-04-2018, 02:08 PM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Welcome to the Forums!

My half-calibrated eyeball says that your frame is probably repairable. That being said, it would be easiest for someone to repair it if the shell was completely removed, and the frame was taken to the welder's shop.

My frame looked easily as bad, but the majority of the damage was in the rear. I took the bare frame to a welder's shop and they eventually chopped the last 4' off the frame and rebuilt that section with fresh metal.

Good luck!
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Old 12-04-2018, 02:49 PM   #3
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1978 31' Sovereign
Williams , Arizona
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Thank you for the insight!

We are trying not to remove the shell, although I know this would be the best solution. If you don't mind, how hard is it to remove the shell and how much did you spend at the shop repairing the frame? Again, very much appreciated!
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Old 12-04-2018, 03:30 PM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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My trailer is only 21' long, so lifting the shell was a little less labor intensive than lifting on a longer trailer, but the only difference is in number of rivets that need to be drilled out to disconnect the shell from the "C" channels that wrap around the plywood subfloor.

Lifting the shell can be intimidating, but having replaced my floor and fixed my frame by lifting the shell, when I see people trying to do it with the shell still in place, it always feels to me like they are doing it the hard way.

I used the wooden gantry method to lift my shell. Someone drew up plans for the wooden gantries and posted them on a shell lifting thread if you want to search for them and build some of your own. They are cheap and easy to build, and can be used for lots of things even after the shell has been lifted.

My frame repairs cost around $400. This included replacing the last 4 ft of the main frome rails, welding in a new cross member, and creating a new cross member from scratch. I believe that the front foot or two of the main frame rails were also replaced in this process. After getting the frame back, I still had several hours of welding work to do, as the bottom "flange" on many of my outriggers had rusted away, so I welded on little sections of angle using a 125 amp flux core wire welder. I let the professional do the heavy-duty welding that was mission critical, and then I did the little detail work that wouldn't result in a disaster if it was imperfect.

I am sure there is some point at which there is so much welding work to do that it is hard to justify a repair over a complete rebuild. But...it is easy to shift that balance if you can do some of the welding yourself, as I did.

good luck!

good luck!
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Old 12-04-2018, 08:17 PM   #5
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
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I had rust on my frame, especially the street side, and especially at the rear of the trailer. My trailer had a mild case of "rear end separation" where the body becomes disconnected from the frame rails at the rear of the trailer.

I was able to make the necessary repairs without separating the body from the frame. A mobile welder came to my place and did the work. I purchased the metal pieces I needed to make the repairs and had them ready to go. The welder charged $400, and the metals cost about $150. I only "reinforced" the rust weakened areas. My frame has been repaired and no more rear end separation.

Trailer frames are not terribly difficult. Both the cross members and outriggers are available from selected suppliers. The 5" frame channels 3/16" thick are commercially available.

Removing the body is a big job as mentioned above. I've never done it, but maybe someday I will. It is the best way to completely rebuild an old Airstream when necessary.

David
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