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Old 04-10-2014, 04:10 PM   #1
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Improper Subfloor Replacement

Hi so I have a 26ft 1959 Airstream Overlander. When I bought it the seller said the subfloors had been redone. Bought it empty (just floors and walls) as this project is to make a mobile recording studio so wanted to build interior from scratch with sound insulation in walls and floors.

I wasn't around when our hired hand (a builder but has no experience w Airstreams) took out the walls, insulation and bellypan so I may not be describing this completely accurately. But he found that the new subfloor plywood did not connect to the frame, I think there was an inch or 2 of the original subfloor where the frame attached. I'm not really sure what went on here (the seller did not do any of the work on the floors himself), but it looks like someone did not do a proper frame off...

So where do I go from here? Do we need to completely replace the subfloors again? The plywood is solid but does not attach to the frame! Does the body have to come off? Oh and there's one big dent/hole on the corner but other than that skin is in great condition. Video attached.

It's looking like too big a job for our builder and I'd like to find someone who has experience with Airstreams. I live on Long Island NY and found a local guy with an RV repair shop who has several vintage Airstreams, but he's never done a body off job before.

Any advice appreciated.
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Old 04-10-2014, 04:48 PM   #2
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Sympathy and Anger

True sympathy for you - angry at the (extremely gross series of expletives deleted) hack who did the floor replacement.

The floor may be attached to the steel of the frame, but it certainly isn't attached to the SHELL (C-channel, ribs, inner and outer skins) that makes up half the strength of a monoque or semi-monoque trailer.

Basically there may be some screws or angle irons that are holding the shell on to the inside skins, but for most practical purposes GRAVITY is all that is keeping the shell on the floor and frame.

I'm sure some professional restorers will contribute more meaningfully than I can - but if I owned this unit I'd probably be afraid to TOW IT to a restorer. The shell can now bounce up and down independently from the underbody... so it looks like the bottom edges of the skins could get bent all to hell dragging her down the road. It might be feaseable to take to a restorer at 35 MPH or on a flat bed, but I'm just guessing. Let one of our Vendor/restorers speak to that.

There ARE ways to replace a floor in sections with the frame on. More than one has been posted on this forum. Even Frame ON, the lower inside skins do have to come off so you can fit the floor to the point where it screws into the outside skins. (use SEARCH - I'd choose the Google search and look for "AIRSTREAM FRAME ON" as my first guess.)

One side benefit to doing the floor over the right way, is that a lot of the damage visible on the outside skin can be pushed or rolled out once the inside skin is off. It won't be perfect but 95% improvement is possible. Also you could put lined weep holes through the c channel and floor so that leaks between the skins will simply drain out rather than causing new rot.

'nother wild a$$ idea from someone who is only observing from the safety of the sidelines? You could think of replacing the floor with something other than wood. A few months ago, a looker was considering Airstream vs. another light weight trailer with an Aluminum Floor. He posted lots of good pictures. It struck me that the aluminum floor looks like it MIGHT be made up of sections that are board like (six inches or so wide). The sections interlock somehow... and that might make them a heck of a lot easier to "negotiate" into place with a frame ON.

Last thought. If the seller was honest, he didn't know, but even so, unless he GAVE you that can of worms trailer you paid too much. Lawsuits like this - only the lawyers win. A firm letter asking for your money back in return for the trailer? Might motivate him to offer you some compensation - if he's honest. Could it really hurt to try one? If this is your project it's going to cost some serious bucks just to get it back to where it should have been when you bought it. If it's more than you can take on and you don't want or can't afford to pay for the repair, bite the bullet, take a loss and sell it for what it is - a unit in need of a whole new floor.

Truly sorry to see something like this happen to any buyer. Sincerely, Paula
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:05 PM   #3
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For a moment I thought I had the magic answer - Colin Hyde - Plattsburg NY.

How lucky. You're close to Colin's place -maybe. Same state anyway. Checked. Mapquest says it's 415 miles due North - once you get offa Lon-Giland.

But you're still 800 hundred miles closer than I am. Call and ask him to look over the situation and give you his best advice and rough estimate.

Paula
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:54 PM   #4
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Clearly the trailer body, or shell, at this point needs to come off the frame. The frame needs to be totally blasted of the extreme rust build up and treated. The subfloor is not even close to correct and needs to be redone and secured to the frame and c channel that runs the entire bottom of the trailer walls. The front and rear tie down plates need to be reattached correctly. At this point you don't have a road worthy trailer and will end up on the side of the road in a aluminum ball. This trailer needs serious attention! It can be done by you or by others the question is are you willing to take the time, the money, or both to do it correctly?!
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Old 04-10-2014, 06:15 PM   #5
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http://www.airforums.com/forums/f348...ng-116314.html

Look at the pictures of the camplight frame and floor - just for alternatives.

Paula
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Old 04-10-2014, 06:49 PM   #6
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The good news...that bent section of the front is a easy piece to replace if you want to have really nice looking Overlander.

The bad news...you really must start from scratch on the floor and you don't have the old original one to get shapes from. I did a shell off on my '63 overlander and there are LOTS of photos on the thread. I've done shell-on replacement of floor section on my '91.

Shell OFF is much faster and easier to do it right. Either way it is about 200 hours of work if you are lucky and don't want a bunch of modifications to the frame for tanks and spare tire holder type stuff...even more time if the frame has rusted sections that need to be replaced. It's not hard work, just a bunch of simple tasks.
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Old 04-10-2014, 10:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
For a moment I thought I had the magic answer - Colin Hyde - Plattsburg NY.

I left a message with Colin Hyde before I posted this! It says he does phone consultations so might see if I can have the local RV guy work on it with Colin's guidance so things move quickly and get done right.

I don't think returning it is an option at this point. It was bought over a year ago and only recently flatbedded from FL. When she got here we towed her for about 20 miles including a bit on the highway at 55 mph and she held up fine for that at least. Not sure if she'd make it up to Colin's.

The inside walls are already removed, we don't need them as the walls will be built with special soundproofing and sound treatment layers. At least that means we have lots of extra aluminum to work with! Going to have to redo the belly pan with it.

So you think 200 hours is a good estimate of time it takes to do a project like this? Trying to have an idea of what to budget...

Thanks!
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:44 PM   #8
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If you plan to tow your trailer. The interior skin is an important part of the structural integrity.
Removing it and not replacing it with an equal or better material will weaken the structure significantly.
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Old 04-10-2014, 11:46 PM   #9
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Good point. What would be a good material to replace it with that would support it structurally but wouldn't reflect sound waves as much as aluminum?
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Old 04-11-2014, 01:37 AM   #10
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I think I would go back with the aluminum and go over it with your soundproofing.

There may be alternatives, but I can't think of anything really great right at the moment......
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Old 04-11-2014, 01:43 AM   #11
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What about using wood or bamboo to rebuild the inner walls? Is it possible to work these to bends with the shell? The airstream is vintage and thus smallish on the inside so want to minimize the amount of layers if possible. Wood adds a nice warmth to recorded sounds, but weight is a factor too...
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Old 04-11-2014, 01:48 AM   #12
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Yes, it can be done, mine went over the aluminum.

Not only does the aluminum make the trailer stronger, it makes putting your covering on easier.

I could screw the woot down regardless. of where the wall trusses were.
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Old 04-11-2014, 01:56 AM   #13
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Improper Subfloor Replacement

Tongue and grove might work pretty well to add strength, (although it may allow the trailer to twist if the joints weren't locked together) but it could possibly end up pretty heavy though.

I am of the opinion that the best move would be to install the aluminum ant then trim over the top of it. It takes very little space.

For greater acoustics suppression I would recommend stuffing the walls fairly right with fiberglass insulation to reduce the aluminums tendency to vibrate, and then cover the aluminum with sound suppression materials.
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Old 04-11-2014, 01:59 AM   #14
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Gorgeous! Like a boat. What kind of wood is that?

But I'm getting ahead of myself, first those darn floors...
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