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Old 05-02-2012, 10:44 PM   #127
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Thanks to all for the comments. This is a long road (longer than I first anticipated) and any encouragement is appreciated.

Becky, is there a specific front end separation thread or two that you can point me toward about preventing front or rear end separation.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:21 AM   #128
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There are lots of bits and pieces in thread about front end separation. Not one specific thread that I could find. The Vintage Airstream Podcast (VAP) addresses the issue numerous times. The older AS's had a plate welded to the front A frame that was also buck riveted through the outer skin to the plate. It basically held the front end of the trailer down to the frame (in addition to the channel rivets). In the 70's AS eliminated the plate for whatever reasons--most likely financial. The issue of front end separation mostly happens with longer trailers like yours & mine! I haven't had my '86 torn apart to the extent of yours, so I haven't had the opportunity to put a plate in it. My tiny Bambi II from 1964 does have a plate in it. [ATTACH]Click image for larger version

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ID:	157361[/ATTACH] The '34 footer is prone to it more than any trailer because of its length from the axle in both directions. If you haven't listened to the VAP, it's a great resource for information. The guys on there know everything there is to know about AS's!
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:53 AM   #129
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Becky,
Thanks for this information and your quick response!

Steve
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:51 PM   #130
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I’m doing a blend of sheet metal work and floor replacement preparation work. I decided that I’d fill in some of the details in this thread to fill in the gaps for others who follow this all too familiar path. In chronological order, this post would logically fall in around Post 110 in this thread.

After pulling up the OSB subfloor in the rear (except for the bathroom) I decided to check for further damage along the full left side of the trailer since I had discovered that some previous owner had replaced the entire lower skin using pop rivets under the belt line molding and had drilled laterally into the OSB beneath the rub rail molding (they didn’t trim the lower edge of the sheet metal enough and they drilled the holes for the lower rivets about ¾” too low in many places. In my estimation, about seventy percent of the moisture damage can be attributed to the holes in the pop rivets and the direct penetrations into the OSB. The other thirty percent (which is still way too much) is related to the general maladies suffered by these trailers (some design problems and many related to construction quality). I’ll take off my retired engineer’s cap and get back to the narration of what came next (sorry for the detour).
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:10 PM   #131
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OK, I pulled up the carpet under the dinette table and inside the floor-mounted cabinet and found significant floor rot. Then I removed the dinette, the cabinets and desk along the street side, the couch, the folding table along the forward curb side, the carpet in the front and the parquet flooring near the kitchen/dinette.

First I’m going to show some detailed pictures that are typical of the ones that I’ve done throughout this project so I can more easily figure out how to put things together again.

Dinette Seats with Plywood removed


Aft Dinette Seat


Fwd Dinette Seat showing battery box. My wife just told me that this picture looks like a casket. I have to agree that there's some truth to this statement!


Screws holding aft dinette seat (note leakage damage from “shade tree pop rivet repair technique” under belt line molding)


Detail showing screws attaching forward edge of aft dinette seat




Forward Seat, street side cabinet/sidewall table and carpet removed exposing battery box and associated wiring


Empty Front with Carpet
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:05 PM   #132
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Detail of wiring related to battery (note master switch tied on with bailing twine and OSB discoloration)


Damage to OSB along street side forward of wheel well


Alternate detail view of battery and wiring (all this to answer the inevitable question: “Now how was this put together in the first place?”)


Battery box and shelf removed (Now it sort of looks like someone who left their dentures in a glass in the bathroom!)
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:07 PM   #133
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Street Side Lower Sidewall Coming Out


Forward third of inner wheel well removed to facilitate OSB removal & plywood replacement


Wiring suspended from floor to get out of the way of progress


Saw Kerf to removed damaged area. Note: this kerf placement was planned and measured to run along the centerline of the left hand frame rail for support of patch piece and remaining center section of OSB sub floor. I set the saw depth of the circular to a depth of cut that is about 1/8” less than the thickness of the OSB so that I’m not cutting any steel with my circular saw blade. Then I follow up gingerly with my oscillating tool using a cutting blade to complete the cut.


Initial removal of OSB

The gift that keeps on giving


Belly wrap removed enough to access outriggers and elevator bolts
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:08 PM   #134
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Looking at the rear section briefly, let’s talk about elevator bolt removal. First remember the frame likely needs to be supported before you removed these bolts. If they’re really in bad condition, you can grab them from the top side with vice grips and they’ll break right off…slam-dunk! But if they’re still structurally in pretty good condition they’re a pain to remove. I’ve tried about four methods to sever elevator bolts and I have a preferred method that I’ll share.


I’ve tried cutting the bolts off as follows (the wood subfloor be removed to gain access to the side of the bolt first):
  • a cutoff disc in a die grinder and a hand held high speed grinder
  • a metal cutting blade in my Porter Cable Oscillating tool
  • using a bi-metallic blade in my reciprocating saw
The winner (method 4) – drilling off the head from the bottom (no wood removal required at this point). I found that if you center punch the elevator bolts and drill progressively a 1/8”, 3/16’ and ¼” hole about 3/16’ in depth, they’ll come off pretty easily from the bottom. You may need to persuade the head to separate with a cold chisel and a ball peen hammer, but this works well. Make sure the bits stay sharp (Drill Doctor is a wonderful investment) and wear a full face shield. Then tap tap with a center punch and voila!


Then, pulling out the remnant of the subfloor can be done pretty easily with a clamp, chain and lever (make sure all secret screws holding the C channel to the subfloor are removed).
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:09 PM   #135
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OK, I got ahead of myself a little by telling about the elevator bolts before I had removed the belly wrap and belly skin from the rear. First I had to remove the rear Power Twin stabilizer jacks from the rear along with the casters that I installed years ago. Now I know that the Airstream people say to never install casters (this is good reasoning for the most part). However I have an uphill driveway and although I can delicately back the trailer up the driveway and barely kiss the threshold/transition from the street with the street side skid, my driveway would look terrible over time (wouldn’t do good things for the paint on the skid either).


Documenting the color coding of the wiring (held by Ralph)


Me taking the jacks loose with an impact wrench
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:10 PM   #136
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Banana wraps & belly wraps removed

Once the rear banana wraps were removed I discovered that the chassis ground (installed for shock prevention) was severed from the frame (bolt head broke off). Now, because the bare ground was touching the frame at multiple points, the system probably functioned. I don’t like the routing and attachment of this wire and I plan to do it differently in the future as you’ll see in time.


Belly skin removed




This is why you want to remove the belly skin to treat the rust on the lower edge of the frame.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:11 PM   #137
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This is a little out of sequence but here’s the answer to the question: “Where did all of the furnishings go?”

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Old 05-07-2012, 10:12 PM   #138
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Before removing the elevator and frame to shell bolts, I supported the rear of the frame like this and raised the front with the front jacks. I could have used my floor jack, but I thought that this was a simpler solution. Note: when supporting the frame, it’s important to remember not to overdo it, I estimate that I just put a few hundred pounds of pressure on the rear of the frame.


After the bolts were severed and the pressure removed from the bottom of the frame, the frame only sagged about ¼” away from the monocoque shell. My 1991 trailer has 5”X2” frame rails. Other year models probably vary.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:13 PM   #139
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Here’s further documentation of plumbing before cutting lines. You want to think like a surgeon ask the question regarding cut placement: “How can I do the most good and least harm by cutting.”


After removing the floor in the bathroom (note the flange for the toilet unscrews) I have good access to most everything I’ll need in this area. As an aside, I’ve about convinced myself to replumb the trailer with ½” PEX while I have all this good access to do so.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:13 PM   #140
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Thoughts at this stage:
  • I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…it’s distant and still a bit faint, but I can still see it.
  • Although I’d install NyloSheet in an instant if budget were no object, I need to budget as prudently as possible. I still need new tires and I’m planning to go to 16” LT rubber and I want to buy seven Sendel T0366655T wheels. I also plan to replace my brake controller with a MaxBrake controller. All of this costs money and I’ll be using ¾” ACX plywood for this reason. I think that I’ll go with ¾” rather than 5/8” because of the thickness of some much of the adjacent OSB that’s permanently swollen and still sitting atop the pink insulation.
  • Ralph and I are making good progress on the sheet metal side and I’ll update that companion thread soon. We’re using the 5/32” VTS rivets wherever possible, installing them “wet” with TremPro injected in and around each hole first using a syringe.
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