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Old 04-09-2004, 11:42 AM   #1
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Lightbulb HELP! Don't Make Me Pull The Shell Off!

Hi!
OK, I was going to send this to 59Toaster, but instead, I decided to just stick it out here for everyone to read / comment / gag on.

I've read with interest dozens of posts you've made on the forum.
Sounds like you did a great job!
If you don't mind, I have a few questions for you.

For starters, I should tell you what my deal is.
I have a 1956 Safari (Front bath, front kitchen, mid dinette, rear twins). The floor in back is virtually nonexistent. I have removed almost the entire interior. Anywho, there is no floor all the way across, for the last 3 feet, at least. And it's fairly soft, all the way till the second rib forward.
There are other bad spots- no floor inside the door, about as wide as the door, and as deep as, well, past the first few inches of frame. This area extends, also, to about a foot rear of the door entry, but only about 6 inches toward the middle of the trailer in that spot.
The front under most windows, but especially under the bathroom sink / shower pan area, is verrrrry soft, too.

So, here's the deal.
The trailer actually made a nice trip here, to Illinois (from New York) a couple of weeks ago for me.
None of the frame areas that are currenly visible have horrendous rust on them (the area by the step, for instance, is gray, practically shiny)!
I do NOT want to do a frame-off repair, but I do realize I need to replace most (if not all) of the floor.

Here's an easy question (I hope): How do you get the darned toilet out?? I don't know if mine's the same as yours...I removed the bowl from the little pedestal by taking off the four nuts.
That leaves the pedestal, maybe 6 or 8 inches high, with the flushing foot lever on the side.
I've successfully cut all four bolt heads off that held the pedestal down....or so I thought. It still won't budge! Aside from a four-foot wrecking bar to pry the thing up, how do I remove the pedestal?! The trailer does not have a black tank - I suppose it's set up as a park model. The waste line for the toilet emerges straight down under the toilet (through the belly), the turns 90 degress toward the rear of the trailer. All steel pipes here, and the upper part of the 90 degree elbow is above the level of the belly pan (and I'm really trying to avoid taking the belly pan off)! I guess I could use a Sawzall and hack up the elbow, or use a grinder or cutoff tool and do the same. Any other ideas?

Now, I'm sure the question in your mind is, "Why don't you just take the shell off the frame??"......and the answer is...space. I don't have it.
I'm doing all this on the lawn at my sister-in-law's house. I have kicked her car out of the garage (that's where I put all in guts from the trailer), and the trailer itself sits on the grass (no driveway). There just isn't enough real estate to accommodate another trailer footprint on the lawn. And she's already going to have ONE giant suppository-shaped patch of dead grass as it is, when I'm done.

I have seen (on the forum) details and photos of at least one other complete floor redo where the shell (and, for that matter, the belly pan) was left on.
Of course, the issues that I identify (the big ones, anyway) are:

1. How to get the wood under the inner skin (in the channel) and bolt it down without removing the bellypan?

2. How to do this (install the wood floor) as one piece? - Or, do I use two pieces, separated in the center, perhaps fitted on an angle? And how to maintain some integrity (flexing/rigidity, etc) with a seam down the middle?

OK, here's what I'm thinking. I know I have seen others use the idea of splitting the seam down the center. And still others have mentioned using three pieces, with the seams on the frame rails.
Here's my idea, why can't I do this:
Use TWO layers of flooring, instead of one.
First, do the split-down the middle thing with a sheet of 3/8" plywood.

WAIT! Hear me out here!

Tuck it under the inner skin / channel. Bolt it in by peeling back the inner skin along the bottom.
Then, Use a layer (sheet) or 1/4" ply on top of that. Yes, also the same full width. I'm thinking that I can use a full-width piece here (NOT split down the middle). because it is thin and flexible enough that I can keep it bowed up in the center, line it all up, then flatten it, as I slip the edge under the channel / inner skins. Now, I'd be sandwiching a layer of epoxy / resin inbetween the panels, so they ought to be firmly together. The final thickness would be about the same as a sheet of 5/8" plywood. Of course, I'd use the corrugated nails (or similar) to hold the half pieces together, yada yada yada.
Whew!
That whole process could be changed- that is, use the single piece (the 1/4" first, then the split piece on top of it. Or MAYBE the 3/8" is flexible enough that I could also keep IT whole, and slide the ends under the channel also.

I understand that this isn't going to be the way to go for the front and rear endpieces (I'd have to do the clamshelll deal, perhaps.

Other questions - others have remove dthe whole floor without removing the shell. In photos, I've seen little plywood wedges at the rib areas, to keep the shape throughout. How do you get the wedges out and shoot a new piece of ply in there? Or is there not much danger of sag if I do this just one section at a time? I do not detect any sag yet, even where there is little more that a few crumbly pieces of wood pulp where there once was a floor (like in the rear).

I know you've got input.
Let's hear it!
(Don't foget the toilet issue, though!)

Thanks so much!
Chuck
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Old 04-09-2004, 12:46 PM   #2
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Chuck,
Regarding the toilet . . . is there not an access panel that you can remove to get a better view of the floor under the toilet? I'm not familiar with the 'park model', but from the sounds of it, the PO either used a lot of adhesive, or mounted another closet flange upside down under the floor to provide a screwed fitting for a short nipple. The short nipple (3"?) would extend down through the belly for the 90 elbow to attach to. I hope that's not what you have. More likely the person that installed the toilet used construction adhesive instead of a wax ring. If that's the case, start looking for a new toilet.

Since you're putting in a new floor, why don't you Sawzall around the toilet base and lift it out that way?
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Old 04-09-2004, 03:07 PM   #3
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Exclamation

Don,
I was hoping you'd be one to address the rest of the post!
As far as the toilet goes, I did just remove the access panel under the toilet - shower area. Boy, there isn't much floor under there. I went in with a shopvac, and pretty much sucked all the floor out (it was little more than sawdust in many spots). I can now see that there is a funky T coming down from the toilet. The T is turned sideways - The longer part of the T (the stem, which is horizontal), collects drainage from the bathroom sink. The shorter part of the T (which is vertical), collects from the toilet, then drops through the belly pan. It is below (beyond) that that the elbow connects to, to travel rearward for the sake of sewer connection.
That explained, I guess I can do what you suggest - except for one thing. The bathroom is a wetbath - so the shower pan is under it all.
First question about that - how do I remove the shower drain? Special tool? Does it just turn counterclockwise? The shower drain is in the bathroom floor, and the toilet obviously is, too. Perhaps my only choice is to hack up the floor (and the shower pan, too). But that'll mean I will have to fabricate another one when I'm ready to reinstall. Boy, would I like to avoid that. The pan I have is obviously molded perfectly, and other than having a darned toilet and shower drain stuck to it, it's in fine shape.
Don't give up on me.
Thanks for your help...
-Chuck
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Old 04-09-2004, 03:10 PM   #4
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I'll jack the front up a little higher so I can get a better look at what kind of flange is underneath both the toilet and the shower pan.
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Old 04-09-2004, 03:31 PM   #5
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Chuck

I'm very interested in this subject, because I have some floor work to do on my 58 Overlander.

Soo I can't speak from experience, but it seems like it would be simpler to just use the 5/8 ply and join the seems with a 1 by 4. I think gluing the sheets together would be a lot of work - not to mention the relatively high cost of epoxy.

I would also remove the belly pan - not a big deal - can just lay on your back on the grass and drill away - could fit the belly pan anywhere - like in your sister - in - laws living room

That way you can get at the bolts and use bolts to put it back together - I know others have used self tapping screws to bolt down the floor, but with as much as you have I think it would be stronger to use the bolts.

As far as the toilet - samari sawsall (that would be me) - got my 59 toilet out by cutting several years ago - the tank and base of the toilet was one piece.

Ken
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Old 04-09-2004, 03:52 PM   #6
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Chuck,
First, the shower pan drain. Put two crossed screwdrivers in the bottom crosspiece and turn counterclockwise. Should come right out. The tee is a problem. My unit has a separate blackwater tank so I was able to lift it out with the bottom valve still attached. It took my son-in-law and I all the muscle we had (and a 30" chain wrench) to get it loose.
Regarding the floor replacement: Unless you plan to use self tapping screws, you will need to remove the bellypan, like Ken says. If you decide to remove the bellypan, then you can just lift the whole body about eight inches, supported on concrete blocks laid across the frame, and slide the replacement plywood in one sheet at a time. Kind of like a body "lift" instead of a body "off". I would go this route. You need access to the bottom to put the new bolts in, and there are about a hundred of 'em.
I like your approach, using two sheets of plywood. Very creative. If you decide to go that way, I would lay the sheets lengthwise. Plywood is about 50% stiffer in the long dimension. Using a steel joining plate with elevator bolts every eight inches at the center joint will give you a very strong joint and no worry about separation. Don't use the corrugated nail strips, they don't contribute anything to the strength of the joint.
Good luck with your project, and welcome to the forums. Shout back if you have any questions. someone is always willing to help.
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Old 04-09-2004, 04:12 PM   #7
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Thanks, Ken and Don.

I'll go out right after I write this, and try to get the shower drain out as you describe, Don. Then I'll get a flashlight and really look at that toilet drain from underneath. I sure do hope no one flushes while I'm down there.

The toilet base does budge a little from above (if I pry with a couple of big screwdrivers on wooden blocks), so maybe if I hack off as high as I can from underneath, then I'll be able to lift the darned thing off from above. I'll assess again before I hack.



For the floor- boy. I don't know what I was thinking.

First off, I've been thinking - "Why do I need to take the bellypan off to use bolts? I can see the bottom of the track just fine." Hadn't occurred to be that I WON'T be able to, once I actually have a floor there, instead of nothing.

SO.....rethinking.

OK, So, if I pull the bellypan down....I know to do this, I can get at the hidden fasteners front and back by unscrewing the wrap. What about the other (bucked) rivets? The ones on the flat sides of the trailer? they have dimples (so centering shouldn't be too hard, to drill them out), but then what do you replace them with? And how big a drill bit do I need? I've been replacing many of the interior rivets (but not the ones along the lower panels) with 1/8" diameter rivets....but the heads on the ones outside are MUCH bigger.

If I do this - in the rear, for instance....OK, I'm imagining unscrewing the rubrail around the back. Then I drill out the rivets. Then PLOP! - the shell sags because there's no floor inside to hold the whole thing up where it's supposed to be.

Am I supposed to clean out the crumbled wood and stick 5/8" wedges in to avoid this, then drill the rivets as above, then see what happens (hopefully, nothing)?

Without removing the whole interior skin, from what do I lift the shell, if I'm going that route?

It may seem elementary, but spell out for me the steps I'd need to take.

I know I just blended the ideas of removing the belly pan, and removing the shell. But, Don, you make it seem like one thing leads to another ;-)

And, yes, Ken, my wife is measuring the living room door to see if the belly pans will fit.

I need to assess a liitle more...................
-Chuck
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Old 04-09-2004, 05:53 PM   #8
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Don

I may be thickheaded, but still not sure I really understand the need to lift the body. Seems to me that if you cut the plywood so as to fit it under the "U" channel, that you could do that and put a fairly large seem down the middle of the trailer. I'm not an engineer (though my father was a NASA engineer - don't know if any rubbed off on me because I became an accountant - I digress) it seems to me the stresses are where the wall meets the floor - the floor I realized needs to be solid to hold the whole thing together, but it seems to me that piecing the floor together with good joints (not on the frame) would be as strong as the sheets of ply.

Again I'm really glad to have this thread - I've read everything I could find on floor repair and since there have been many who have "patched" their floor together, I don't understand why you can't do the whole floor that way - just as large a pieces as possible.

I know its not as pretty, but seems like it would work well

Sooooo what am I missing? Please understand that I'm not trying to be difficult, just trying to learn everything I can.

Ken
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Old 04-09-2004, 06:23 PM   #9
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Chuck,
For the belly pans, pull them out, flatten the edges, and roll them up loosely. Or just let them sit on the ground under the frame, but they'll cut you up bad while you're working down under.

Drill the rivets out with a #30 drill bit. If you get one with a split point you can do the whole job with one bit. The dimples made it easy to center them without a punch.

Remove the lower section of inside sheeting all the way around. You can't peel the bottom out far enough to work behind it. It's will be a lot easier when you can see the top of the channel, and in a few places you will need to get in there with a chisel or a putty knife.

Next, get some four or five sturdy 2x6s, cut to the inside width of the trailer, plus about 3". Mount them to the main frame ribs and about 4" above the floor. Use three 1/4" or two 5/16" screws for each end. These 2x6s will provide the means to jack up the body from the inside.

Now drill out all the rivets. Run a putty knife all around the edge between the body and the bellypan until all the rivets are free. There will be a few that you can't see and need to break off anyway you can. Next, cut off all the bolts through the channel that haven't already rusted out. Now slide the putty knife under the floor channel all the way around the perimeter.

When you're sure the body is free of the floor, use a bottle jack, floor jack, or just a long prybar to lift the body by jacking under the 2x6s. Work your way from one end to the other, about 2-3" per lift, placing blocks between the 2x6 and the floor, or frame member where the floor is missing.

When you get the body lifted about 6-8 inches, place blocks under the 2x6s. Make sure that everyting is secure, well balanced, and safe. If it is windy, make sure everything is staked down.

Now you can remove the remaining floor and prep and paint the frame.

When you get ready to install the new floor, make VERY SURE that there is no way for the body to slip off the blocks and decapitate something while you are working under the trailer. Follow all the safety rules you've ever heard. Above all, if you're uncomfortable with any aspect of the project, starting with your own safety, then get a professional to do it.

Good luck, and looking forward to a progress report.
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Old 04-09-2004, 06:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ken J
Don
. . . Seems to me that if you cut the plywood so as to fit it under the "U" channel, that you could do that and put a fairly large seem down the middle of the trailer. . . . . . but it seems to me that piecing the floor together with good joints (not on the frame) would be as strong as the sheets of ply.

. . . . . Sooooo what am I missing? Please understand that I'm not trying to be difficult, just trying to learn everything I can.

Ken
Ken,

If you're young and very agile, I suppose you could remove the front and rear bellypan, leaving the straight sides intact. Then drill out the all of the belly pan rivets, and drop the pan from the center, leaving it draped over the axle.

Then you could drop one side of the belly while the other side is propped up, and slide yourself in, laying on the inside of the bellypan (yucky), so that you could acess the bolts to attach the perimeter channel. Makes the self tapping screws inserted from the top sound very attractive. Repeat on the other side.

I would still use steel strips for joining the patched in panels together. That or 3/4" plywood at least 6" wide with a double rows of staggered screws.

I'm not to concerned about longitudinal joints, I don't think the trailer flexs that much from side to side because there's a solid axle to absorb stress. I'd be more concerned about the lateral joints that would tend to get a lot of stress from fore-aft flexing.

On the other hand, I'm a firm believer in experimentation. I'll never disourage anyone from trying to discover a new and better way.

Just as long as they tell us about it.

Good fortune!
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Old 04-09-2004, 07:09 PM   #11
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take a look at williamhenshall's posts about this great resource with pictures..

-AM
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Old 04-09-2004, 08:05 PM   #12
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Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Thanks sooo much for the play by play.
That exactly what I need.
Of course I'm not comfortable with ANY part of the project.
After I complete it all, then I can say I'm comfortable with it. But 'til I do it....


Don, when you say to pull the edges of the belly pan out, I assume you mean I don't need to drop the whole pan (I dread putting it back anyway) - and that all I really need to do is drill out the rivets around the edge and maybe a foot in. Is that what you mean?

Boy, you sure do make it sound easy ;-)

I quit my job a few days ago; figured it was time to let my wife work for a while...so I do, fortunately, have time on my hands.
I'd do a crazy marathon repair, except that I have to drive to New York in a few days, and I'll be there for a while. So that'll interrupt my progress. That, and I usually have my 20-month old son to play with (well, when my wife's at work, anyway), so I don't get too much accomplished unless he's napping.

Anyway, I sure do appreciate the input, and I'd appreciate more.

Don's got me leaning strongly toward taking the whole thing apart (but he never DID say what to re-rivet with...).

Wait a minute, Don. How do I put the new plywood in, when the body is jacked up by jacks that are sitting either on the old floor or on the frame? Do I have to just rejack in a different place, is that it?

I'll have a million more questions, trust me.
Just have to get that toilet out.
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Old 04-09-2004, 08:26 PM   #13
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My thinking is to cut the belly along the frame. Then drop as much of the wraps as I can. Then when I put it all back together, I plan to put a new sheet of metal up the middle - between the frame and rivet the new skin and the belly wraps to the frame. This is how the belly is put on my 75, so I figured it would work here.

I need to wait till the weather warms up - as of now I'm doing lot of major thinking and planning.

Ken
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Old 04-09-2004, 08:53 PM   #14
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[QUOTE=funchucky1]Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Q: Don, when you say to pull the edges of the belly pan out, I assume you mean I don't need to drop the whole pan (I dread putting it back anyway) - and that all I really need to do is drill out the rivets around the edge and maybe a foot in. Is that what you mean?

Reply: You need to drop the whole pan if you want to get at the floor bolts in the center. You might be able to reach the bolts in the center if you have long arms, but there aren't that many rivets in the center other than the center seam, and they're pop rivets which are easy to replace. You can either leave the pan in place and dropped down, or slide it out from the rear, not too hard to do and it gets its out of the way for when you're crawling around there putting nuts on the floor bolts. The floor bolts are numerous, on the crossmembers where two sheets of plywood are joined there are about 15 bolts. This is how tension is transferred from one sheet to another, through the bolted joint at the crossmember, not the little corrugated nailers.

Q: Wait a minute, Don. How do I put the new plywood in, when the body is jacked up by jacks that are sitting either on the old floor or on the frame? Do I have to just rejack in a different place, is that it?

Reply: With 4 or 5 2x6s supporting the body, you can remove the blocks under the one in the area where you are working. The remaining crosspieces will hold up the body. Keep moving the blocks as you work on different sections.
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