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Old 04-30-2014, 04:18 PM   #71
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The outriggers really need to be connected together along the perimeter so they can strengthen each other and the c-channel should be connected every few inches to the bridge between outriggers. This would allow the shell and frame to strengthen each other.

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Old 04-30-2014, 05:11 PM   #72
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In my time modifying vehicles I have learned that one change now can mean that five changes are forced later on.

Other than box tube for frame rails I would keep the frame stock, especially on a first DIY attempt.

As I stated above, I would use the old frame as a jig so that everything goes right back where it was.

Somehow I get the idea that in the old Airstream factories that blueprints were maybe a bit flexible.
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Old 04-30-2014, 08:02 PM   #73
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Thanks for all the support and good chatter. We are a ways from getting a welder, etc but what are the ideal improvements over the stock frame?

1) 3/16 steel
2) rectangular tube steel for the main rails

Would you have them fabricate all the outriggers or order them, which would be cheaper? Newbie questions I know please forgive
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Old 04-30-2014, 08:31 PM   #74
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I fabricated my outriggers and glad I did. I made them way stronger- I think I used 1/8" steel?

I did some modifications to mine- some because I had to, others to try and improve. With that in mind, I'm with J.Morgan, in that if you change too much, you may create alot of work re-designing as you put it back together.

One thing to keep in mind... Since you're not building new, you have to build it the way it is.... The frame has many areas that line up with the shell. If they are off by even a 1/2", it will cause problems with the whole thing. i.e. Outriggers that hold the steps, line up with the door frame. Outriggers for the wheel wells line up with the cutout on the shell. etc.

If it were me, I'd try and re-build exactly what you have- only WAY stronger. You'll have to determine the method of achieving that after you get the shell off and frame stripped. You can hopefully reinforce & fix rather than try and redesign a whole frame that must be EXACTLY the same dimensions so that your shell fits back on it perfectly.

The key for me, is to build it stronger.... These frames were meant to be light- and that means they were not as strong as they could have been, because they were designed to be towed with the family sedan. Nowadays we can pull some weight, so I wouldn't be afraid of adding weight to make it stout. Avion did it right- their frames are tough.
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Old 04-30-2014, 08:48 PM   #75
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ahoy sir and if you change the weight then you will or may need to increase the axle rating for the heavier load! dont mount 12 inchers on a mike boat!!! first get the frame seperated from the shell. Next find your welder. repeat FIRST get the shell off of the frame! This means that you your camera and about 20 1/8th inch drill bits (Andy we in the south still use american standard) and a six pack and get busy while you are waiting for other things to happen and the storage locker idea will keep the better half from doing that flogging thing!!!!! Remember it is better and easier to start where airstream finished or as we say in the Corps from front to rear!!! If you want this done quick then it as*holes and Elbows sir! Half a heart beat aye aye sir!
More pictures swabby! Your will do an awesome job just stay focused!
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Old 05-01-2014, 07:17 AM   #76
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If you use a #30 drill bit you get a little more of the old rivet out of the hole. I like these double ended short sheet metal drill bits. These don't punch a hole in the outer skin when you are drilling out interior rivets and don't break as easy as a long bit.

https://www.mcmaster.com/#double-end-drill-bits/=rrxj44

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Old 05-01-2014, 03:50 PM   #77
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Click image for larger version

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On order!
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Old 05-01-2014, 04:43 PM   #78
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I bought those when I started, but then quickly ran out. I'm lucky to have a Harbor Freight 5 minutes away, so I'm a converted man. I have a buddy who's ex-mechanic with this $35,000 worth of Snap-On tools, and he really had me brainwashed to think that everything else is crap. Now, I do own some nice, name brand tools, (a $80 Snap On screwdriver comes to mind) that I love, BUT HF has alot of stuff for cheap that I'm totally please with. I have probably drilled 100 holes through 1/8" and 3/16" steel in my "new" frame, with HF bits, and they work perfectly. I had never been a metal worker before this Airstream, so I finally learned the key to drilling steel is lubrication and a drill press OR a slow & steady hand. Same bits have lasted a LONG time.

For the 1/8" rivet drillers, I buy the heck out of these: 1/8" High Speed Steel Titanium Nitride Drill Bits, 7 Pack

I've literally drilled THOUSANDS of 1/8" holes. They last just as long as the jobber bits I used to pay twice as much for.... All I'm saying is that if you have a HF close by, dont overlook them because its cheap junk. 12 jobber bits will get you going, but you'll be buying LOTS more!
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Old 05-02-2014, 08:27 PM   #79
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Things going slower this week than I would like but tomorrow morning I will be dropping the belly pan and removing everything underneath so that our friend can get a good look at the whole frame. Not sure we will like what we see! Pictures to follow soon.
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Old 05-02-2014, 08:54 PM   #80
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Not an engineer, (I just work with them)....but if the frame were altered to be "stronger" meaning more rigid/less flex, then won't the force of the road shock as the trailer moves be transferred elsewhere, with unknown results? I don't know this for a fact, just asking?
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Old 05-02-2014, 09:11 PM   #81
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Less flex is good and I am an engineer. Actually, the frame does not have to be stronger if it was connected to the frame at more than a few places. The main connections are at the front and back and very little in between. Making the frame more rigid won't hurt anything. Due to the crappy connection between the shell and the frame, the shell and frame don't do a very good job of supporting each other. The 70's trailers have a simple channel beam and the newer trailers have full box beams. They did get better over time. Frames did not get much better in the 70's but they added more stuff at the back like bigger holding tanks at the rear. Rear baths are not a great idea. The plate over the bumper that goes under the floor is notorious for leaks. The quality of the steel got worse in the 70's as well.

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Old 05-03-2014, 03:54 AM   #82
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Hey there piggy bank actually if it were a plane boat or train I would be concerned but the way these were built i don't think there will be a major issue as long as you don't exceed the axle rating but then again putting a extra ton or 2 on would probably be over doing it. Increasing the frame weight by less then 700 to 800 hundred pounds will not hurt anything. Just remember to add that increase when ordering new axles.
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Old 05-03-2014, 04:27 AM   #83
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Good to know. Thanks for explaining that.
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Old 05-03-2014, 07:42 PM   #84
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Millertime's rear bathroom rot '76 Tradewind thread

Had a few folks over to look at the trailer today, including the boat trailer guy. He wasn't optimistic about the frame, confirmed all the opinions that a frame off is necessary. So here goes, here are the before pics and one of my smallest camper. Click image for larger version

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Guessing I'll be gutting next weekend...
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