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Old 12-10-2013, 10:51 PM   #29
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John,

Bottom line is this regardless if you decide to go back out on the road. In an interview you did with "Mashable" it was said:

"The couple is traveling in a borrowed (it belongs to Ellis' mom) 34-foot, 1986 Airstream Excella trailer, which they affectionately call "Loretta."

You need to get the trailer fixed and return it to your mother in the same condition it was given to you in 15,000 miles ago.

It's the right thing to do even if she say's "Don't worry about it son, it's OK".

What's the old saying, When you borrow something, always return it in better shape than it was given to you in.

Now get to work, you can do it, we all have faith in you and Laura.

We'll even say a prayer for ya,

Enjoy,
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Old 12-11-2013, 09:18 AM   #30
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Hey guys,

I appreciate all the pep talks about rolling up my sleeves and getting to work, but it's not as if the 20-year-old battery-acid-induced cancerous rust in the A-frame decided to limit itself to just the A-frame. The frame is rusty from the A-frame all the way to the back bumper.

In fact, the street-side beam that forms the side of the rear bumper is so disintegrated that it was reinforced with a 2x4 before we got it. The support for the front step is rusted away to the point that the steps are only held on on one side.

I'm telling you guys, the rust is bad, and it's wide-spread. I spoke to 4 welders on the phone, and emailed photos to a few of them, all of whom told me that you can't weld on to rust. I'm not afraid of the work or the money, but at this point we're looking at a shell-off replacement of the entire frame, which means while we're at it, we would need to go ahead and replace the axles and running gear as well. Here are the photos I emailed to them:










And Paul, I know what the right thing to do is, and don't need a lecture. Our 15,000 miles didn't put the rust in the frame. If she wants it back - long after that Mashable interview came out, she gave it to me flat-out for reasons I won't get into - I would be giving it back to her with a repainted stripe (she hated the faded blue stripe that was peeling away), new solar panels, a new battery, and all-new LED lighting, repaired brakes, new tires, etc. She's the first person that came to mind when I realized it would need to go to someone who planned to keep it stationary, since that was her original plan.

NOW, getting back to less drastic and depressing options!

Since welding doesn't seem to be an option, and the rest of the trailer (and the adventure it permits) is too good to give up, I think the most feasible (and coincidentally cheapest) option is to bolt on some steel reinforcements that would connect the steel on either side of the crack and hopefully take the stress off that weak point. Not ideal, no, but it may be the only repair option, at least until the thing finally crumbles into the ground. Has anybody here done anything like that? I could use any and all advice on what kind of steel, drill bits, bolts, etc. I should use.

I'll keep everyone posted.
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Old 12-11-2013, 09:36 AM   #31
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Hey guys,

Since welding doesn't seem to be an option, and the rest of the trailer (and the adventure it permits) is too good to give up, I think the most feasible (and coincidentally cheapest) option is to bolt on some steel reinforcements that would connect the steel on either side of the crack and hopefully take the stress off that weak point. Not ideal, no, but it may be the only repair option, at least until the thing finally crumbles into the ground. Has anybody here done anything like that? I could use any and all advice on what kind of steel, drill bits, bolts, etc. I should use.

I'll keep everyone posted.
This was my suggestion above however instead of bolting (which can work loose as the trailer is towed) have these pieces welded after they are bolted in place. It's not that big a deal.

This is common mild steel, nothing really special.

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Old 12-11-2013, 09:37 AM   #32
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I am very serious about safety. Again I say you put everyone on the road in peril by towing this on public roads
It is a responsible owner who discovers these issues prior to moving it an inch.....
With that being said any penny spent on band aid patching this is foolish. A new frame is the only fix if it is rotted a frame to bumper like you disclose!
2 options.....
New frame or scrap.
This is not legal for road use!

Respectfully again
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Old 12-11-2013, 09:55 AM   #33
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Here is what we did to address our rotted frame, starting at roughly post 820 or so.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f314...s-32395-9.html

If you don't have the cash to pay a welder, learn how to weld. Take a vo-tech course while you are saving your pennies for the replacement parts. Then buy the materials, rent a welder, and weld a new frame under your trailer.
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Old 12-11-2013, 10:49 AM   #34
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Under the circumstances I have 2 suggestions.

If the trailer's final destination is not too far I would reinforce the frame with bolted on angle iron or flat steel reinforcements, tow it slowly, and set it up on blocks. You do not have to weld anything. Bolts are just as strong if not stronger. You have to bridge the rusted areas and overlap 2 feet onto good steel then use at least 3 bolts at each end, spaced at least 4" apart. I have seen old limousine conversions where the frame was stretched 3 feet by this method. They were still strong and not bent or weakened after more than 50 years.

What I am saying is, it is possible to reinforce the weak places that exist now but this will not prevent further corrosion damage. This is why I regard such repairs as temporary. The repairs would be plenty strong but the frame itself is hopelessly compromised.

If this is not practical, sell the trailer as is where is, disclosing the frame damage and send the money to mother.

Those seem to be the most practical solutions.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:31 AM   #35
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I guess salt air (FL) and battery acid can eat steel pretty effectively, but I wonder if you're making too many assumptions. It seems like you haven't dropped the belly pan to actually inspect the bulk of the frame, you're just looking at the corrosion in 2 very common spots (the outrigger by the step and the exposed frame at the back bumper) and at the A-frame where it looks like the batteries have been causing some destruction.

It *is* possible that there's extensive corrosion throughout the frame and the trailer isn't worth the effort required to make it roadworthy, but there's no substitute for a detailed inspection. There's about 30' of frame that apparently hasn't been exposed for inspection yet...
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Old 12-11-2013, 01:08 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
I wonder if you're making too many assumptions
It's very possible I'm making assumptions. I've been a bit panicked about the whole situation. The cross member that is exposed (right behind the spare tire) has a fairly even coat of rust that looks like it could just be surface rust. I'm going to send some pictures to the most helpful of the welders I spoke to on the phone and see if it's potentially workable.

If that's the case, then I think we're looking at bolting on a 1/4 steel plate that spans as much in either direction from the crack as we can fit, and taking her to Dallas for holidays with Laura's family. We can keep it parked there until after new year's, when we should have enough money and time to tackle the A-frame replacement job.

I'm assuming we'll save a little cash if we do a lot of the prep work ourselves, such as taking the couch and floor out, removing the battery boxes, banana peel, etc. I've obviously never hired a welder before, but I take it they work hourly?
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Old 12-11-2013, 01:27 PM   #37
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Don't give up hope!

I just replaced the rear cross member on my trailer, it was about 1/3 rusted away. I was really worried the rest of the frame was as bad. I removed the belly pan from the rear up to the axels. Ahead of the rear cross member the frame looked like brand new! the paint was still shiny!

Start by removing ALL of the belly pan, banana wraps etc and inspect!
you won't know until you see it all.
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Old 12-11-2013, 01:29 PM   #38
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The above listed post is correct. You can not tell how far back the rust goes until you drop the belly pan. We had to replace the front frame all the way back to the front door. The the last 2-3 feet on the rear end. Note these were two separate jobs, I wish I had photos to share.

You might be able to do the job just from the bottom up. Not having to strip the inside, and keeping the floor intact. Ask family and friends if they know any good welders. Most work by the hour if you provide the supplies.

Don't be scared of the belly pan. The rivets drill out easily and go back with put too much work. Take your time.
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Old 12-11-2013, 05:50 PM   #39
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Hey, build a trailer frame then mount the AS to it.. Just remove axles and make arrangement for all the bits...cheaper than a "new" frame, removal, repair, replace.

Then when your sojourn is complete, hard mount the AS on blocks in the ground and sell the trailer to a farmer or trucker.
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Old 12-11-2013, 06:23 PM   #40
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Okay my 2bits. Bolts and braces till you get it home and make the final call! Many people have made comments about safety and responsibility but I just don't take you as a let them worry about that kinda guy! If it will work make it a work of art just make it safe to your standard! As for the final solution I would recommend a new or used frame replacement! Do your thing and no regrets cause you are the only one that's has do deal with it. Just my 2bits.
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Old 12-11-2013, 08:10 PM   #41
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I would pull the belly skins and see what you have to work with. I expect that the worst of the rust is concentrated in the front A-Frame and the rear bumper area. Rear end rot is common are a result of some design issues. You probably have rear end floor rot under bed (s) in the rear. I think the A-frame can be fixed relatively easily. The worst of the rot is in the corner. If you cut all the bad stuff out and get some new steel and cut it to fit the missing areas and a welder can put it back together. It won't hurt to add some gussets to make it a little stronger. Now you can pull it to a place where you can finish the R&R. Without the skins in the way you can see what you have to work with. The fiberglass insulation gets water logged and really increases the frame rot.

Perry
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Old 12-12-2013, 06:13 AM   #42
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I agree with dropping the belly pan and doing the patch repair! You can do this!
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