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Old 04-11-2012, 07:57 PM   #1
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1961 24' Tradewind
Frisco , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Old subfloor rot in 1961 Tradewind how far to go?

We just bought the old gal and were just pulling up the original carpet under the newer top layer of 80's carpet tonight when we found some mold and old rot in the subfloor in the bow section right against the inner shell wall under the front window. The window doesn't leak but the skylight above the kitchen area we've noticed in the 2 last rains we've had here has dripped small puddles on the linoleum. Anyway my question is, should I take the inner shell pieces off (and how to do that) to check as to where the leak came from yet it doesn't seem recent as the carpet is not wet unless it's running down between the inner and outer shell? Thoughts on next steps? Thanks

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Old 04-11-2012, 09:16 PM   #2
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1972 29' Ambassador
1962 19' Globetrotter
1951 21' Flying Cloud
Central , Texas
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Floor rot and leaks

Hello Tkhogg and welcome to the forums. Congratulations on your new vintage trailer.
Floor rot is a common issue with Airstreams. The rotten floor you have uncovered is probably just the beginning of what you will uncover. Any exterior opening is an avenue for water to get in and drip down to the floor eventually. Just because you don't see the water leaking into the interior of the skin doesn't mean there are no leaks. Chances are the front window is or has leaked for a long time. It is probably leaking down between the inner and outer skins as you suggest. The floor is a critical component of the semi-monococque construction of the Airstream. A sound, sturdy sub-floor is critical. A rotten floor under the front window is very bad news for the overall structural integrity of your trailer. Rotten floor must be replaced properly by gaining access to the bottom of the floor by removing the belly pan.
To find the leaks, you can drill out the rivets that fasten the lower interior skin to the ribs. Use a drill with an 1/8th inch bit. You'll have to remove all the old insulation to be able to see where the water is coming from. Have a helper spray the exterior slowly from bottom to top with a garden hose as you look for the source of leaks. You can also go in the trailer when it is raining and look for leaks, of course.
If you have some time, have a look at the work I did on my '72. Good luck and post some pictures!


Work is never done, so take time to play!
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:56 PM   #3
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Hello, saw your post and been there. Chances are you will find soft spots once you start poking around with an awl or ice pick on that older trailer. You will be lucky if you don't need to replace the entire deck, I had to on my '55 FC. Like the post before said, your floor is intregal to the structure of the trailer. I installed 3/4" marine plywood instead of 1/2", also, I used extruded aluminum for the c-channel
where they originally used bent aluminum sheet stock. Check out my pics:
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:37 PM   #4
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For me, how far to go depends on what I've got and how I intend to use it. If I'm going to use the trailer as a park model I don't do a lot of restoration. I get it dry and make repairs of convenience. If I'm going to tow the trailer, I get it dry and safe, whatever that takes. There's a HUGE difference between replacing the carpet, getting rid of some old mildew, replacing a couple feet of damaged floor, and doing a frame off restoration.

Not a lot of people finish a trailer once they gut it. It costs north of ten grand to put one back together with new floor covering, cabinets, fixtures and appliances. New awnings, furniture, drapes, updated converter, and new plumbing will cost close to 5 grand. I priced new awnings alone at $3,600. It doesn't make any sense to put non working or questionable appliances and components back in. Appliances and components for mine cost over five grand alone. Not a lot of people have the skills required to do a frame off rebuild with a new interior, and fewer have the cash to hire it all done.

I'd reverse engineer it. Set the budget. Make a list of needs. Make a list of wants. Price the needs. Price the wants. Do the needs first.
Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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