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Old 10-05-2007, 07:21 PM   #1
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1971 25' Tradewind
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Need some advice on PO frame work and rear end sag

First of all, I want to thank all the people who've contributed to this forum, you've given me such confidence to try fixing these things on my own.

I've had this airstream for a month, been doing very minor repairs(Of the resealing windows and getting rid of rusty screws variety), trying to understand what I see before I jump in and change anything. Its been a learning experience.

It looks like there was some major frame repair on this unit in the past. They slid more frame into the old frame channels. And it looks very very recent. Thereís no rust at all on these new members. They even replaced all the cross brace frames. I donít know how far this repair goes, Iíve only been able to pull the belly skin down part of the way to the axels and it goes that far.
And I do know thereís a piece of wood that will have to be replaced anyways on the road side.
What I want to know is: will this repair hold long term? Should I be worried about the fact that they slid a new piece of plywood into a space under the old plywood and seemed to go crazy screwing these two pieces together? Should I be worried about separation if, when I do the separation test it moves maybe 1/16th of an inch at most?

I'd prefer doing preventative maintenance since it is a vintage unit in pretty decent condition. If I take care of it, it'll continue to last.

And if it turns out Iíve been had, please be gentle about it. It seems that even with all the research I did(being a complete newb), it wasnít enough to save me from learning by doing(I thought I was getting a deal).
And here's me being brave: Airstream2
There's images of work in progress on the 'stream. Any comments would be appreciated.(I already know it needs new axels.) As well as any reassurance that everything's going to work out.
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Old 10-05-2007, 09:18 PM   #2
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Hi catzdragon -- In frames 16-17, is that steel deteriorating there? I can't quite figure out the location. The next 8 pictures show shell-floor junction in the back bumper area -- a well known weakness in Airstream construction. I don't even see any C-channel so perhaps there has been some sag/separation. Doubled up floor looks suspicious. Does the side skin aft of the wheelwells show any deformation? Examining frame after taking belly wrap off behind the wheels might be suggestive. Yes, this whole vintage of Airstreams may not have aged very well.

Belly skin is intended to be applied loosely enough to allow air circulation, so the bug issue is par for the course.
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Old 10-05-2007, 09:50 PM   #3
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Yes, The steel is deteriorating, its on the curb side back end and its the original frame. But that new frame goes far up inside the belly skin next to the old frame.
I was wondering if I was missing a floor channel. I was planning on buying a 1972 Maintenance manual, would that help me identify any parts I’m missing?
No..that’s the thing, no deformation of the skin aft the wheel wells. I looked for that too.
The only thing that’s funky, is the subfloor inside the unit isnt completely flat, there’s like, a bend in the floor?, 5 or 6 inches out from the wet bath into the center sleeping area, no where near the axels..which is where I would expect frame fatigue to start.

I understand about air circulation..its the rats I bought with the airstream that bother me..I mean..the PO could have warned me?! The belly skins are minimally attached in some places and partially damaged around the holes with great big gaps where skin meets banana wrap.
I'd look up near the wheel well..but that’s where the buggers live..and I need to kill them or evict them first. If you have any suggestions?
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Old 10-06-2007, 07:18 AM   #4
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Catz,

You haven't been had if you really like the trailer - just a little more effort to bring it up to your standards than originally planned.

I have a 71 so I'm going to add just a few thoughts until the experts who have done the serious frame/flooring work see your post.

There will be gaps in the belly but not to the extent your posting at least from what I've seen on mine. Had the rub rail off in places and the wrap either is over or under the skin - no gaps there and no corrosion. I wouldn't like the sounds/sight of the bend in the floor - the seam in the wood is at the bath door - solid piece where you are talking about?

There should not have been enough room for the P/O to be able to insert another piece of wood. There is a rear hold down plate (L shaped) that attaches at the rear flooring edge - is it still there.

Your going to have to deal with the mice - if you have the belly open at all try putting paper plates of moth balls (lots of them) up inside on top of the belly skin. See if that will run the suckers out. Otherwise your just going to have to drop the belly and drive them out of there.

The 72 manual is worth your money but only shows one real diagram of the chassis assembly. I can scan that page for you if you like (Monday) but it doesn't give you "this piece attaches to this piece" etc..

Good luck to you! Back to the top where the experts will see your post.....
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Old 10-06-2007, 07:52 AM   #5
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This is a very interesting way to repair rear-end separation.

Having done it twice myself, I think I've made some sense of the photos.

What was done might hold up (assuming the joint was secured properly at the shell/floor/hold down plate/frame junction) but will probably be susceptible to further corrosion eventually. (But eventually could be a long time from now.) (Adequate sealing is essential.)

I'm not sure I'd be willing to assume the joint was secured very well without inspecting it, but that will require further disassembly. (1/16" movement will eventually become 1/8", then 1/4".....but it might take another 10 years for that)

Looks like whoever repaired it wished to avoid floor replacement.

If it were me, I'd pull back the belly pan a bit further forward for further inspection and make sure the frame extensions are adequately secured to the original frame rails (I didn't see any welds but the pics were limited), make any necessary repairs, paint everything with a good sealer (POR-15 or equivalent), replace all the insulation, and button it up.

The corroded frame rails which extend beyond the banana wrap can be filled with a fiber reinforced epoxy body filler and painted (make sure added frame inserts are adequately fixed to old rails to prevent any movement which will crack your filled areas eventually) and no one but you will know the secret.

The alternative is to rip everything out (bathroom included) and replace the floor properly.

It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.

I have a few pics under my photos which may give you a better idea visually.

'73 Sovereign

'72 Overlander

Below are some pics of another '72 Overlander (from Florida) that I fabricated some new frame pieces for.
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Old 10-06-2007, 08:09 AM   #6
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Thank you Ganglin, thank you CanoeStream.

In response to your questions.
The bend in the floor isnít at the bathroom door..its slightly away from it. In terms of layout..the bend happens right in the middle of the closet door closest to the bathroom. (I have the central twin model.) Itís not major enough to cause the door to be unable to open, though the door doesnít sit square in its frame, but I can feel it with my bare foot if I walk over it.

Yeah, some of the wraps are above and below the skin.

There is one steel L shaped cannel, its right in the center of the back end. Itís what caused the aluminum corrosion. The new peice of wood is actually underneath this L piece.

No, not mice..if they were mice I wouldnít be as afraid. They're rats. I saw one under the sink. It was much bigger then a mouse with a bald tail. I've seen pet rats before, this one was about the size of a female. The only problem with driving them out, is I live in a suburb and Iím sure the neighbors wouldnít like getting rats. Does buying smoke bombs, driving out to the country, smoking them out sound too extreme? They have refused to take any bait from my rat traps.

Oh, and if you need more pictures because the ones I took arenít clear enough, allís you have to do is ask.

Please please please scan the page for me? Thank you.
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Old 10-06-2007, 08:30 AM   #7
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Hey Pizzachop, thanks for responding.

I guess Iíll say this now..if thereís anyone in the area of Tally who has experience with frames and doing them correctly and wouldnít mind supervising and advising on this unit(I'm willing to work, just afraid Iíll mess up because I donít know what to look for), Iíll buy you a case of beer or dinner, your choice, for having a look-see and letting me bother you with questions.
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Old 10-06-2007, 10:30 AM   #8
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A thought on the rats. They are not stupid. Try placing traps along the walls and under the sink - not out in open areas - they run the edges. Bait but don't set them - use peanut butter squished into the bait blade. Leave them until they eat the bait - then bait them again - wait till they eat the second round. Then bait them and set them. Enjoy..!!

See the cavalry showed up that really knows how to fix floor/frame damage...
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Old 10-06-2007, 11:37 AM   #9
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Catz,

I kinda brushed past the part about the floor hump but I'm sure it is probably at the crossmember underneath. If there's no deflection in the shell, I'm wondering if there is some slight frame sag that has been accounted for with the "spacer" plywood at the rear.

This could work long term but you'll never lose the hump in the floor if it's coming from that sag.

My "baptism" into this stuff basically started innocently enough, same as you. Everything is "fixable", provided you're willing to spend the time, effort, and $$$ to do it. If you're not sure of your commitment level, a rear floor job is a pretty good gut check.

You need to remove the belly pan all the way back to the axles, if you haven't already, if you want to see where your hump is coming from. It might also expose your rodent problem (be sure to wear goggles and respirator, as you won't like what comes down).

I'll PM you with my phone #.
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Old 10-07-2007, 10:30 AM   #10
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Hey Ganglin, These rats are so smart, I’ve left peanut butter out in unset traps for 5 days right along the walls and they still haven’t touched it. They do however like the native beauty berries as evidenced by the leavings right around the wheels.

PizzaChop,

Thank you. I don’t mind the hump in the floor. My main concerns right now are:
Making sure all the repairs done on it to date were done well.
Making sure all repairs in evidence will last for awhile(say 5 to 10 years, preferably longer with fulltime use).
Making sure any repairs I make will either be temporary and undoable with minimal damage until I can do them correctly(as a gift to anyone else who buys this from me and wants to fix it) or done correctly the first time or even done as correctly as I could based upon the limitations of past repairs.
And last but not least, making sure none of this overwhelms me to the point I shut down.
I'm really not at a stage to do a full monty..you people are brave. Not to mention I don’t want to be working on this a year from now. I do however have time (4-5hr a day), and tools(woodworking, electrical, metal working), my cash flow is limited for now but will change in 2 months(300 a month I can spend on this) and I like learning new things.

I'll call you as soon as I get the rodents out, the belly skin off and have a really close look at how exactly those new inserts were attached(while taking lots of pictures). Then we can talk about possible solutions. Again, thank you for reaching out.
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Old 10-07-2007, 11:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
These rats are so smart, I’ve left peanut butter out in unset traps for 5 days right along the walls and they still haven’t touched it. They do however like the native beauty berries as evidenced by the leavings right around the wheels.
Then give them what they like - try mixing boysenberry jam in with the peanut butter.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganglin
Then give them what they like - try mixing boysenberry jam in with the peanut butter.
They'll have to settle for cherry..
I noticed what might be lick marks today on the peanut butter. And they seem to like cockroach. I left a rather large one smashed on the floor nearby(havenít gotten around to cleaning up the inside yet) and it had all but two of its legs eaten off and a few bites out of it.
*Grin*Youíre not telling me to bait the traps with dead roaches next?
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Old 10-08-2007, 08:01 AM   #13
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Frame Diagram

Diagram.
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Old 10-08-2007, 01:12 PM   #14
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Thank you very very much, Ganglin.
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