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Old 12-22-2011, 02:47 PM   #43
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1968 30' Sovereign
Birch Run , Michigan
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Wabiteer, I got everything but one part. I pulled the interior, Cut off the channel bolts. and removed the rivets on the wrap under sides. My question is the front and rear side underskins look like they are attached to the C channel. Do those channels need to stay with the frame? I started jacking the rear about 3" but the undrcarage metal is keeping me from going up anymore... I had a medical procedure so 'm on the couch for a couple of days before I get back out to it... Help..
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Old 12-22-2011, 04:35 PM   #44
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I am not fluent on 1960's Airstreams; I do know early AS's had (in places) the lower wraps as an extension, same piece of metal, continuing off the shell side panels but I've never seen a 1968 apart so only suspect that is your lift hitch... sure sounds like it. I believe its just a flower-petal thing, gently relax the bend when the lower wrap is free and wrestle past it as needed though again - I've not been there before... Good luck and feel better, don't hurry either your or the Doctors agenda!
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:27 PM   #45
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Time to restart the project.

First thing is fill the largest holes in the shell...
Water heater access, furnace vents, refrigerator vent.
The battery box has already been removed and patched.

Lessons learned from first bucked-rivet patch, Water Heater:
  • !/4" plywood makes a very nice cutting guide - every wave and wiggle of the saw used to cut the plywood will be faithfully reproduced in the aluminum sheet. Take time to dress the guide edge before affixing it to the shell.
  • When cleaning up the shell opening, a punch-style sheet metal nibbler will pick up aluminum oxide, metal bits and dirt, packing it onto the tool face (foot?) and gouging the good sheet metal side where you are cutting. After each foot or so clean the foot. And put mashing tape over the cut and layout the cut lines on top of that. Then clean the foot too. D'oh!
  • When you encounter ribs and channel the nibbler stops working. The trusty Roto-Zip and a steady hand will chew through the shell metal quite neatly using a diamond-dust blade.
  • Masking tape the new sheet and layout the cut lines on that - the $25 Harbor Freight air shears scratch and gouge. D'oh!
  • Do not allow the factory protective film on 2024-T3 taste sunshine for very long - my sheet was stored in the parts trailer, got sunshine and weathering and left some strange markings on the metal that so far have not cleaned off easy. Oh yeah, put that ugly side inside since it won't clean off easy. D'oh!
  • Use the pneumatic riveter straight-on always, lean it and the edge of the rivet set will reach the skin metal and ring the rivet deeply. The Vulkem rivet sealing goo will hide it until you've done six or more that way. D'oh!
  • A straight safety razor is great for shaving smooth drilled hole edges and beveling the cut edges. After the first 40 or so you will be good at it even with the blade slippery from blood. Take the safety razor blade and put a slight bend in the backing to curve the blade to reach into the drilled holes easier. (I was not wounded, no D'oh! on this one)
  • Bucking as an electrical storm blows in is a riveting experience.
  • Bucking in the dark is a good bonding experience with the Wife.
Anyhow - my project continues, it survived the winter very nicely.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:59 AM   #46
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Naptha melted away the Vulkem residue nicely w/o wasting solvent.

MEK stripped the new 2024 sheet film residue - toluene bounced off it.

MEK also got the rest of the old clear coat from around the new rivet lines, brush a clean boundary line on, wetting down a small area and scrub off with a terry cloth rag, repeat 3-4 times.

McGuires Gold paste wax on bare aluminum darkens the metal into a wet-look but its impossible to keep it from looking blotchy. 2x2 area blackened a hand towel with metal that the polishing grit in the paste wax buffed off.

Remove any interfering shell bracing before you drill all the holes, The aft shell-off wood brace blocked access to two rivets and I worked around it until last to clean up the drill shavings; when the 2x4 was removed the shell moved just enough that inserting 2/3rds of the rivets became nearly impossible w/o re-drilling the holes. <d'oh!>

I'm happy to have a great patch, the pneumatic riveter is effortless. The WORK is in complete prior proper preparation!
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Old 04-30-2012, 04:12 PM   #47
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Wow. This project looks very awesome and stressful at the same time. I just got done with my project with the help of my brother. We did a lot of painting, and making new beams, and other things, but with the shell on. It was a pain in some spots putting down the new floor because the frame and shell is so bent, so we drilled some small pieces of wood into the floor through the frame and the other side into the shell. Then we shaved the extra lenghts of the bolts off from the outside. We for sure could have used a welding machine to make the new beams, but I think the 2 wooden beams we made are going to work for a while. Never seen wooden frame for a camper until we did it. haha. Keep up the great work!
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Old 06-03-2012, 12:36 AM   #48
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I really wanted to use 0.040" 2024 on all my shell patches but I am so glad I didn't try it on this one, blocking the propane refrigerator roof vent, since the 0.032" was stiff enough to fight back against trying to tease the shell curve into it.

Even at that I overlooked a slight crease made putting the curl into the patch piece so that creases 'corner' on the patch edge is not laying fully down, leaving tiny gap, just something to watch for - you can just barely see it on the 3rd photo at the left edge...

The old outside vent draft guard rivets drilled out easy enough. But the inner flue & screen had the 1/8" gasket so the rivets expanded there and inside the shell, no drilling there. I sharpened up a narrow wood chisel and sheared off the inside shell mushroomed rivet ends, and a heat gun on low with a thin sharp putty knife coaxed the old vulkem caulk welding the vent frame to the shell okay. A little percussion persuasion and the center flue collar popped free.

The shells' sheet metal had stretched and flared out in a pucker from the factory cut-out, a crescent wrench adjusted up to sheet metal thinness worked the pucker from convex to concave.

This patch had to run parallel with the roof sheet seam and I didn't like the close tolerance there as a water holding crevice so I kept the gap in the center at 1/8" and relieved the patch piece down to each side to 5/16" in a mild chevron. Drilling the first two holes using the old shroud to locate the patch using the original mounting holes while the pieces were laying on a bench was a gamble but everything came up aligned. I ended up using only a couple Clecos, and just kept adding rivets as placeholders in each drilled hole to make for a more exact fit. Twenty-eight rivets.

A thin smear of new vulkem on each side of the patch - then rubbed with a little naptha to soften it so it'd flow as the rivets crushed down, then daubing Vulkem on the rivets too and we were bucking...

Seems my 3X rivet gun does not like to start hammering when pointing downwards, it just sits and hums or worse just pfffts air through. Very annoying - I'll post another topic on how to get 100% start on the gun. Teasing the trigger with near zero air flow sometimes started it, mostly it was hold it pointed upwards, get it softly hammering and flip it down to a river and open it up to hammer away.

Anyhow - again, finished up after dark and I'm happy with the patch. Tomorrow will be eliminating the forward 12"x12" roof vent.
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Old 06-03-2012, 10:37 AM   #49
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The patches look great. You should market those as precut and formed...lol
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Old 06-05-2012, 08:23 PM   #50
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Forward vent now removed - it had been replaced once with pop rivets, tears around some of the original bucked rivets shows it wasn't a voluntary reset. One more persistent leak about to be gone.

I'm thinking a oversize patch to cover the antenna and TV cable holes too - cut away the riddled with holes & wavy drilled sections, drill out the first rib roof sheet rivets and tie it down to the next rib section.

24' extension ladder in halves leaning against trailer with aluminum painters pick scaffold between them will keep my weight from deforming panels; yes, you can walk on an airstream roof but its very risque with interior liners removed even with boards to spread out your weight.
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:11 AM   #51
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The internet skinny on a stalling rivet gun is too much oil - as in folks with filtered & oiled shop air ~never~ oil them. I'll try running a couple of drops of naptha through it to see if the lethargic piston unsticks when pointed straight down and then oil sparingly in the future.. I guess I'd been overly generous with thin tool oil, as I do with all my other air tools (except nailers) and poisoned the works...
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Old 06-09-2012, 10:50 AM   #52
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Feeling old - a little back spasm and it took 10 minutes to climb down from trailer roof.

So a narrow scaffold over the roof is nearly useless for this person - I get up there and need to lie prone to work so it's time for a larger platform. I sent $160 to China for a HF six-foot scaffold to stand at front window height and try reaching over the endcap to the first-rib rivets, that 26" reach from the scaffold was painful... we will see.

The rivet gun, got it running perfectly except for like we need on roof rivets... The one I have from aircraft-tools is flawed, the rivet-set-piece cylinder bore was not machined and the set binds in the bore, pointed straight down the cylinder can't lift the added weight so it stalls. I'd figured I'd never use any other set so it didn't matter, but here it matters. A one year warranty on the piece, lets hope they warranty it & the rivet set since its welded in practically. I'm planning to ask they cross-ship the next higher model and then credit me for the economy gun I've got... AOG ! AOG! (aircraft on ground)

So its out to tease my back into cooperating with patching the roof...
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:20 PM   #53
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Hey there!

Hey there! Looks like great progress! We are watching and waiting to go camping with y'all! Keep up the good work!
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Old 06-18-2012, 03:49 PM   #54
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Aircraft-Tools says no cross-shipping on the rivet gun; its been too long so they will repair it. The casting for the cylinder was not fully machined for the set to slide easily and it refuses to start when pointing down. Their promised 1/2 day turn around on the 1-years warranty repair has me shipping it off as soon as...

The 25x26 inch forward vent/antenna/wire patch is 3/4s riveted - have only had to duct tape it now three times dodging weather. We wrapped it up again last night for at 70mph gust storm that dropped 1.2 inches of rain. Getting good at hustling tools/scaffold/supplies/power & air back and forth between storage and the work site.

There are more patches, as well as the front bonding plate to do but without the rivet gun I'll be doing some wiring housekeeping chores.
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:04 AM   #55
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Riveted on the front Serial Number - ID data plate and captured the front tie down steel with bucked rivets. Was interesting that my Trish would press the steel forward with her toes while backing up the bucking bar to get a really seated and exactly flush fit.

Made a lexan shim to pop a long rivet into, place the rivet where it would be set, cut to length on the interior with a razor sharp wood chisel and slide shim out. leaving the rivet in place, to get precise length rivets across all various layer thicknesses of multiple layers at the front panel. With that plate anchored the shell is aligned to be set permanently in the next few days.
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Old 08-16-2012, 12:32 PM   #56
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Now for more from my Sunday hobby!

Yes, more from my Sunday hobby! As slow as this project is Im still reversing the poor trailers hassles faster than they happened or are happening still. It took 34 years to get this sour and it may end up taking 7 years to get it back.

The refurbished $85 rivet gun is scary fast. It would make foil-thin dime-sized bucked rivets in three or four seconds if you let it. Weve got it down, the faulty gun acting like a 0.25X power riveter gave us plenty of time to get the muscle memory locked in.

The city water inlet and furnace vents got its healing with a plate of .032" 2024. The inlet plastic funnel had a hairline crack that went through to the surround of the locking cover plate that naturally wicked in rainwater by the cup full and deposited it on the floor beside the U-channel. Judging from the 15-pound blob of mat of junk growing in the now trashed FW tank having the unsealed OEM filler erased from the system will be a healthy change.

The door side lower stack window was replaced in the past with the most awful repair you can imagine, leaking ounces of water to make a creek across the floor every rain, rivets drilled out to nearly 1/4" and lousy everything else. 15 shaved Olympics had to come out, crooked or soft installs. They actually tore & dented the shell skin inwards, then missed gripping them with Olymvets in several places, now that has to take effort, and Joe Somewhen failed to caulk more than a squiggle or drizzle of vulkem over the inside Olymvets. NOTE: After the repair I checked after a rain and there is still a drips' worth coming in, more work required there!

Im deleting the rear utility hatch. Seeing failed double-sided paper tape they used as a gasket channeling water into the shell was sad - 80% of the Vulkem caulk on the hatch frame was holding water. The lower corner panel overlapped the end sheet on the inside (where the dotted line is marked) and that is the bladder that clown-flower squirted me back in 2007 when I replaced the rear floor sheet and was massaging the shell to align it back together. When I opened the bottom seam there easily two jiggers of water flowed out - and that's four years after Id used a dremel brush and Alcoa gutter seal on every seam on the end.

Anyhow - the project continues...
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