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Old 12-17-2007, 11:28 AM   #1
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Red face newbie doing major floor replacement

Hi everyone,

Hope these pictures convey my need for help.
So I have gutted out my airstream fully. Most oft he pictures I took are from the end of the AS where the bathroom was. THis was the part the was totally rotted off. We have to take the black tank ( I think I have this terminology down) out as well as the large pan holding it because of the dilapitated belly pan (do I have this terminology down too?). I saw that some of the cross bars have rusted. Definitely want to take care of this before patching up the floor. These are my questions:

~From the pictures, do you guys and gals think that I need to replace some of the cross bars or can I scrape the rust off and treat it with a rust inhibitor and paint?
~I definitley need a new belly pan, any sage ideas on what to do here?

I also need to put in new flooring obviously. However after searching lots and lots of posts I really need to put in the wood without taking the shell off. I believe that this is possible. Here are more of my questions:

What is the C-channel? (I think I know but I truly want to know intsead of guess).
How do I put in the plywood?
I am going to buy 5/8 marine plywood, is this correct?
I know I have more questions but I don't knowhow to ask them until I get these answered.
BTW- there is a picture here that I took underneath where the steps shoud be (the steps were missing). I need to determine ho to add these steps but found the rust and wanted to know of any suggestions to mount then in the future. Thanks for any help!

Maria
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Old 12-17-2007, 11:36 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lyvettely
Hi everyone,

Hope these pictures convey my need for help.
So I have gutted out my airstream fully. Most oft he pictures I took are from the end of the AS where the bathroom was. THis was the part the was totally rotted off. We have to take the black tank ( I think I have this terminology down) out as well as the large pan holding it because of the dilapitated belly pan (do I have this terminology down too?). I saw that some of the cross bars have rusted. Definitely want to take care of this before patching up the floor. These are my questions:

~From the pictures, do you guys and gals think that I need to replace some of the cross bars or can I scrape the rust off and treat it with a rust inhibitor and paint?
~I definitley need a new belly pan, any sage ideas on what to do here?

I also need to put in new flooring obviously. However after searching lots and lots of posts I really need to put in the wood without taking the shell off. I believe that this is possible. Here are more of my questions:

What is the C-channel? (I think I know but I truly want to know intsead of guess).
How do I put in the plywood?
I am going to buy 5/8 marine plywood, is this correct?
I know I have more questions but I don't knowhow to ask them until I get these answered.
BTW- there is a picture here that I took underneath where the steps shoud be (the steps were missing). I need to determine ho to add these steps but found the rust and wanted to know of any suggestions to mount then in the future. Thanks for any help!

Maria
Replacing the floor without removing the shell, is not a good idea.

If you did that, you would have to scab the flooring in place, and have a difficult time adding the floor joiner strips.

The floor is a part of the monocoque construction. If you scab it in place, you will weaken the entire structure, permanently.

The floor twists as the shell twists, which makes every seam moveable. The floor that is joined together with joiner strips, still moves.

Ask those that installed one piece flooring. It will crack at every seam in the floor.

Removing the shell is not a big deal. Yes, it's more work. But it is an extra benefit when it's done correctly.

Andy
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Old 12-17-2007, 12:57 PM   #3
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I don't have the experience to comment on your floor replacement, but I think I can help with your steps. From the photo it appears that your step(s) is in place and is not dropping down properly because of rust. I had the same problem with mine. I fixed them by tapping the step and hinge points with a hammer to free them up. Then pull out the release (the cupped out part seen at the top of your photo. It is big enough for about 4 fingers to fit in.) After you get the step working, then you will have to determine if the rust has not compromised their strength too much for them to be safe to use.
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Old 12-17-2007, 01:07 PM   #4
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Andy, I am in the same boat as Maria, as far as the condition of my floor. By "one piece" floor replacement, I assume you mean several 4x8 sheets layed perpendicular to the trailer centerline? These large pieces would have joints too, so how do we prevent cracking there?
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Old 12-17-2007, 01:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by pauly g
Andy, I am in the same boat as Maria, as far as the condition of my floor. By "one piece" floor replacement, I assume you mean several 4x8 sheets layed perpendicular to the trailer centerline? These large pieces would have joints too, so how do we prevent cracking there?
There was 2 methods of floor attachment.

The first was just simply bolting it down to the top of the cross members.

The second was, if you wish, make the floor one peice by fastening a "joiner" section of plywood at the bottom on each seam, and then bolt it down to the cross members.

However, when the shell twists, as it often does, so does the floor, therefore the seams twist too, slightly, but they do move.

Andy
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Old 12-17-2007, 01:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lyvettely
Hi everyone,

Hope these pictures convey my need for help.

Maria
Maria.

It appears that the chassis has seen some tough times.

If you want to do a first class job, take the shell off.

That will allow you to completely overhaul the chassis, by getting rid of the rust, and possbly have to add some steel someplace, and then prime and paint the chassis.

Andy
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Old 12-17-2007, 02:03 PM   #7
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I agree with Andy. The repair turns out better when the shell is removed from the frame. It allows access to the frame, for repairs and rust treatment. The end result is a much better product in the long run.

A C-Channel is the lowest aluminum extrusion that is riveted to the bottom of the shell, and to the top edge of the belly material. It follows the perimeter fo the floor and shell.
In a perfect world, this c-channel sits on top of the wood, and is held in place by bolts that go through the floor and through the frame's outriggers. You will also find wood or sheetmetal screws holding the c-channel to the floor betwen the outriggers.
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:14 PM   #8
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Any advise on replacing the belly pan?
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:23 PM   #9
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Lyvettely,

What year and length is your Airstream?
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pauly g
Any advise on replacing the belly pan?
Pull the trailer up on some 2 X 6 blocks, so that it's secure.

Removing the underbelly metal is an easy can do.

Many places have replacement aluminum. .024 or .025 inches thick is fine. Do not use galvanized metal.

Also, when replacing the underbelly, use 3/16 inch "wide head" pop rivets.

DO NOT seal the underbelly, as it must breathe.

If you do it right, the axles will not have to be removed. Simply add a small plate to the new underbelly in those areas.

Of course, all the copper tubing must be removed. Depending on it's condition, you may wish to replace it at the same time.

DO NOT install ANY LPG tubing within the frame.

Andy
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pauly g
Any advise on replacing the belly pan?
Yes. The early 60's belly pans are a little bit more difficult than later models, because there are compound curves on all 4 corners.
I recommend cutting and fabricating the 4 corners, with enough overlap to go beyond the frame rails inwards. To make the dual compound curves, you can either form the metal by hand or english wheel, or cut slits in it, which then overlap and must be riveted. It will look a bit like the curved roof panels.
The center and front pieces can be straight metal sheets, cut to size.
I recommend useing a sofer grade of aluminum for the belly pan, since that would be easier to manipulate.
If your existing belly pan is wrapped into the c-channel, then there is no real need to redo that. You can just slip the metal between the outer skin and the c-channel, and secure it through the existing rivet holes.
Sealer at the lower body rivet line is very important, to prevent water from entering at the floor level and soaking your floor.
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:48 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by uwe
I agree with Andy. The repair turns out better when the shell is removed from the frame. It allows access to the frame, for repairs and rust treatment. The end result is a much better product in the long run.
I believe it is possible to achieve equal results with the shell on. I am in the process of doing just that. With the shell on I am able to accomplish all that Andy has suggested needs to be accomplished. My end result will certainly be better than the original construction... that I know.

I do agree that if you have the space, a shell off restoration is much more straight forward and simple. I'll also suggest that an indoor restoration is preferable to an outdoor one, but the lack of such facilities should not stop the restorer from undertaking the project.

There is more than one way to properly skin the cat.
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Old 12-17-2007, 03:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by byamcaravanner
I believe it is possible to achieve equal results with the shell on. I am in the process of doing just that. With the shell on I am able to accomplish all that Andy has suggested needs to be accomplished. My end result will certainly be better than the original construction... that I know.

I do agree that if you have the space, a shell off restoration is much more straight forward and simple. I'll also suggest that an indoor restoration is preferable to an outdoor one, but the lack of such facilities should not stop the restorer from undertaking the project.

There is more than one way to properly skin the cat.
Having done both, I would still choose the shell off method, hands down, for a full floor replacement. If the damage to the floor is concentrated just to the very rear, then a shell on repair is certainly ok.
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Old 12-17-2007, 04:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by uwe
Having done both, I would still choose the shell off method, hands down, for a full floor replacement. If the damage to the floor is concentrated just to the very rear, then a shell on repair is certainly ok.
Uwe,

If you care to, check out my blog.

Currently, I have the floor removed from the front of the wheels to the back of the trailer and have full access to all of the exposed frame. When I complete stripping and painting the frame I will be replacing the floor up to the rear of the wheels. Then I will repeat the process for the front of the trailer. The floor between the wheel wells does not extend below the shell perimeter so it can be installed as I slide in the front floor.

I am not disagreeing with you or Andy... just pointing out that a quality job can be accomplished with the shell on.
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