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Old 08-06-2011, 08:26 PM   #1
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1983 34' Excella
Minter , Georgia
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Need help-Frame rust

Hello all!

This is my first post. My wife and I are the proud owners (at least I think we're proud) of a 1983 34' Excella. We live just outside Dublin, GA.

When we bought it, the PO told us that the steps were "broken", so we should just use the first step and shouldn't unfold the second one. Well, I've since realized that the problem is that the supports on the side of the step are seriously rusted away. You can see this in the pics below.

There is no significant water damage to the plywood floor on the inside of the trailer (that we've found so far). We've removed the couch and the carpet in the living room, getting ready to install a floating floor. Before I do that, though, I need to be sure that I don't have a terrible problem on my hands.

Do I need to remove the plywood and examine the frame and outriggers before I proceed with the new floor? I feel capable of doing that, but I don't think I could handle some of the extreme tear-downs and rebuilds that I've read about on this forum. I can't imagine myself trying to remove the shell from the frame, for example.

At the moment, I don't feel any weakness anywhere in the floor, and I'm a pretty big guy.

Another question - somewhat related - When water runs down the side of the trailer and hits the trim that is level with the bottom of the door, does it run into the banana wrap if that trim is not sealed perfectly? I would hope that the banana wrap is tucked behind the aluminum piece above it, but I'm not sure.

Anyway - thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Jacob
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Old 08-06-2011, 08:43 PM   #2
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Hi welcome to the forums. That looks like some pretty significant rust. I would take a section of the belly pan off to make sure it is not worse around the steps. Sometimes that kind of damage is from bad door seals. If the belt line trim is not sealed water can rot the edges of the sub floor. Check around doors and openings for sub floor damage. Bad door and window seals can allow water leaks to occur and cause alot of damage. Also the vent gaskets need to be changed every two years or so.
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Old 08-06-2011, 09:05 PM   #3
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1983 34' Excella
Minter , Georgia
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Thank you! I'll do some searches to learn what's involved in removing the belly pan.

To be sure I understand, the belly pan is the sheet metal underside of the trailer, and the belt trim is the wider, blue stripe about mid-door height that includes the "Excella" logo, right?

And thanks for the tip about the vent gaskets. I haven't even gotten up that high yet.
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Old 08-06-2011, 09:11 PM   #4
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My trailer takes any water she can find and routes it into the belly pan. The biggest offender I found was the step release slot. I ended up installing screened drain holes in the belly pan. I removed the pink insulation, screened the bottom of the cavity and layered bubble aluminum foil insulation above the screen.

Before I put it all back together I wire brushed the exposed frame and coated it with POR 15. Iconically, my step area didn't have a rust issue. The only real frame damage was a rusted cross member due to a leaking center roof vent cover. I welded in a stronger than new repair and coated it all with POR 15.

I wouldn't go to the work and expense of adding a new laminate floor if I had exposed frame damage. Like others have written, I'd pull the belly pan at least in the area of the steps so I could take a pragmatic inventory. Frame repair isn't a big deal, but for me, covering it up is going in the wrong direction.

Most all of these antique trailers are projects, some acknowledged, some denied:-)

Gary
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Old 08-06-2011, 10:41 PM   #5
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1983 34' Excella
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Never used a rivet tool before, so this would be new territory for me.

A question - why do you feel I'd be better off to remove the belly pan than to remove the plywood? Wouldn't both allow me access to the frame?

Thanks for the quick replies here!

Jacob
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Old 08-07-2011, 10:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkelley73 View Post
A question - why do you feel I'd be better off to remove the belly pan than to remove the plywood? Wouldn't both allow me access to the frame?

Thanks for the quick replies here!

Jacob
Dropping the belly pan involves removing rivets. Removing the wood floor involves removing the inside components, furniture, removing the lower inside skin, and still removing the belt molding the lowering the skirt and the banana wraps.

All the body removal work may be necessary if there's major frame repairs needed, but if the floor's solid and it just needs an inspection, I wouldn't remove a good wood floor to inspect a frame.

Removing the wood floor, is sort of wrecking the trailer just to look at it.

The other question is what's this trailer going to be used for? This is a big trailer. Is it going to be a long trip motel room? A short hop weekend camper, or a park model set up on a permanent site.

If it's going to be a park model, I'd just add some wood steps and forget about tearing it apart. I'd still do the maintenance to prevent future water damage.

If I'm going to use it as a travel trailer, I'd drop the belly pan enough to see what's going on and repair any revealed damage.
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Old 08-07-2011, 01:20 PM   #7
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If those outriggers need to be replaced, this website will guide you through selecting the correct ones:
Airstream Special- Outrigger Guide
Nick.
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Old 08-07-2011, 03:16 PM   #8
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2001 30' Excella
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Hi Jacob. You are correct on the belly pan. The belt moulding is where the belly pan joins the aluminum body. Down low. Get comfortable with a drill and begin to drill out the rivets. Don't fret over them. They are easy to re-install if you're careful during your drill out. After the moulding is removed and belly pan dropped you can better inspect the edges of your sub-floor and outriggers and frame. The steps run in a slot in a pair of outriggers. It they are badly rusted you can replace them. They are available from various sources and you can get a welder to remove the old ones and weld them in. If you're lucky you can work with the ones you have. There are various products out there to coat and stabilize rust. POR 15 is one of them and I think one of the best. Not cheap but a good product. I'm sure you'll find something that needs to be done when/if you drop the belly pan to inspect. Be prepared. There's lots of threads here about floor repairs. And that means plenty of re-enforcement if you decide to tackle the job. Good luck with it. It will be worth the effort.
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