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Old 11-20-2013, 02:55 PM   #1
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HELP - Cracked A-Frame

Hey All,

I need some advice from people with experience. I just noticed that our A-Frame has what appears to be a structure-compromising crack in it. I'm attaching photos below, but I'm curious: is this a quick-fix for a capable welder, or are we looking at a major operation? Any have an A-Frame fall off?

I probably wouldn't have noticed except that one day, the door on the utility box in the middle of the A-Frame wouldn't open because the front of the Airstream was in the way...

Here's what it looks like:







Thanks in advance for the always helpful advice!
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Old 11-20-2013, 03:14 PM   #2
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It looks like the frame has rusted away, this will require more than a simple weld job.
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Old 11-20-2013, 03:18 PM   #3
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Our first Airstream was a 1985 Excella 30' model. The previous owner had a new "A" frame installed sometime prior to our purchase. He had a 6" one put on to add a little more beef to the job. It was done nicely and if he didn't tell me I wouldn't know. Any competent trailer shop / welder should be able to do it. In the case of our rig it was due to leaking batteries that ate through and corroded the "A" Frame. Beware though it may not be safe to tow it to them. You may be able to find a traveling welder.
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Old 11-20-2013, 03:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by polarlyse View Post
The previous owner had a new "A" frame installed sometime prior to our purchase.
Did the PO mention how much that cost? Can you just remove the belly panels and do the whole thing from underneath?
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Old 11-20-2013, 03:30 PM   #5
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Sorry, no we did not discuss the cost factor so I can't offer you any help there. Something tells me it wasn't too bad though. It was an older trailer and I think the price we paid was reasonable. From the looks of things it was welded below the front section to a cross frame member. I don't know if there was a joint there or they had to do some surgery but it looked to be a pretty straightforward job.
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Old 11-20-2013, 03:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by polarlyse View Post
Sorry, no we did not discuss the cost factor so I can't offer you any help there. Something tells me it wasn't too bad though. It was an older trailer and I think the price we paid was reasonable. From the looks of things it was welded below the front section to a cross frame member. I don't know if there was a joint there or they had to do some surgery but it looked to be a pretty straightforward job.
Well that's reassuring. Thanks for the info. I guess the only way to know for sure is to have a pro come look at it.
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Old 11-20-2013, 03:43 PM   #7
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I have seen several that were on the way to a failure due to battery acid leaks from battery boxes that were in the front of the trailer above each A frame rail.
NOT one of Airstream's better ideas
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Old 11-20-2013, 04:20 PM   #8
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Yiikes.... its a small miracle it hasn't broken just sitting on the tongue Jack! Not to tell you what to do but
I wouldn't tow that to the end of your driveway! I suspect any weight distribution hitch will stress that crack to the point of letting go!
I think a new A-frame is prescribed.
Not cheap but certainly within reach for a certified welder. This is a good time to make some changes to the a frame like storage box size. LPG bottle placement and hitch style. If it was mine I'd Yank the belly pan off way back and check for more rust.
Best Luck with this!
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Old 11-20-2013, 05:41 PM   #9
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I'm surprised to see this in an 88. That's not just rust that's cancer! The "banana wrap" will have to be removed to get at the frame. This will be the time to look inside and see if what you can see of the frame also shows damage. It would be a good idea to spot check the rest of the frame. If you don't feel like pulling the belly pan you could cut some small windows strategically located so you can see the frame. The outriggers are the first to go. I would be especially suspicious if this trailer lived near the ocean in it's past life.
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Old 11-20-2013, 05:57 PM   #10
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Plz do not tow this! A piece needs to be welded underneath the A frame to keep it from breaking until you can get it somewhere for a refurb of all that cancer! That will require care to not set the trailer on fire. Keep an extinguisher close. Also, replacement of some propane tubing as well if I am seeing that under the frame. Offhand guess is about $1200 but there may be more on e you get started. Hope you recover soon! Peace Channing
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Old 11-20-2013, 06:28 PM   #11
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I bought a 87 Excella 4 years ago. It had been sitting in place since 1988. It looked good. When I got it home I found some rust in the area yours is bad in. I started to scrape it off with a screwdriver and the screwdriver went right though the A frame. I worried and studied it for a while. I ended up taking it to Airstream and having a new A frame put in. $2500 and they did a fine job. Mine was not as bad as yours. I bolted a channel iron under the A frame to reinforce it enough to tow it to Airstream. Mine was not as bad looking as your though. I think the damage on mine was caused by a leaking Vista window. Though it could have been augmented by battery acid. Yes, Airstream just removed the belly pan and did the whole thing from underneath. They did not re install the belly pan. They treated the area like they do for the trailers with a spare tire compartment under there. Incidentally, when the sofa comes out in uncovers all of the subfloor over the A frame so it wouldn't be a big deal to get to the top side also.
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Old 11-20-2013, 06:32 PM   #12
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Well damn everyone! Now I'm really paranoid! We've been towing all over the place for the past 10 months! We're talking over 15,000 miles. I noticed it a few weeks ago and we've towed it a few hundred miles since then. I'm hoping it will hold out until next week (only two more drives from where we are now) where we'll be at the closest thing we have to a "home base."

We've been considering selling this and looking for something more road-ready, and I think that conversation just got more serious. Thanks again, y'all.
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Old 11-20-2013, 06:39 PM   #13
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Looks like battery acid did that. I would also be concerned the hold down plate and bolts that hold the body to the frame are corroded. I would pull the inside skins and the lower wraps to see what is going on in there. You might also need to pull those battery boxes and replace the plastic box if it has cracks in it.

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Old 11-20-2013, 06:48 PM   #14
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Florida humidity and salt air did that.
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