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Old 11-06-2006, 02:11 PM   #29
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So Andy, in your opinion, the issue of adding weight back there is more of a problem of shell/frame attachment, rather than "frame strength"? If so, is there anything that can be done to adequately overcome the problem, if someone wanted to add anything back there...whether it be a spare tire, a bike rack, bigger tank, etc...
what do you have to do to either the frame, the shell, or both, in order to make it "ok" to add weight back there? (assuming an amount that would not unload the tongue weight, but simply add more stress to the aft areas. and while we're at it, also assume shiney-new axles and properly balanced wheels ). can it be done?
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Old 11-06-2006, 03:55 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by TONI MAC
Hello All - I have recently purchased a 1975 Overlander and have begun the long process of clean-up and fix-up. I have now pulled out carpeting, broken cabinets, galley etc. I have discovered the floor in the rear bath is dipping pretty severly and it feels very spongy. Is it possible this is just a floor problem rather than the dreaded tail end sag I have been ready about? I have no wrinkles on the skin. My family and friends are telling me to cut and run from my loses on this "monster". I am a single women trying to do this on my own - my heart wants me to go forward but I am very scared of the potential problems and costs. Any suggestions?
Hi Toni,
Sounds to me more like rear end separation rather than the sag. Mine is doing the same thing...I just haven't gotten far enough back to fix it, yet.

Run a board search for Rear End separation and you will get plenty of info.

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Old 11-06-2006, 04:46 PM   #31
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TONI MAC

Cut and run before your heart gets you into any more trouble!

(Or find a nice single guy forum member who has experience in this type of thing and date him long enough to get the rear end fixed.)

Seriously, if your floor is rotten, it goes without saying that your frame is probably rusted (to an unknown extent without inspection) including your black water tank box and supports.

Complete repair involves disassembling the bathroom, cutting out the floor, wire brushing (angle grinder), welding new supports if needed, sealing frame with paint, sliding in new piece of plywood for floor, reassembling the bath, and putting all the guts back in place underneath. (See my pics of '72 Overlander rear bath repair)

It's not that you couldn't do it (think of all the defense equipment assembled during WWII by Rosie the riveter), but do you really want to?

You could also choose to ignore it for now but it will probably come back to bite you later in a BIG way! (Especially if you tow much.)
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Old 11-09-2006, 02:13 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by chuck
So Andy, in your opinion, the issue of adding weight back there is more of a problem of shell/frame attachment, rather than "frame strength"? If so, is there anything that can be done to adequately overcome the problem, if someone wanted to add anything back there...whether it be a spare tire, a bike rack, bigger tank, etc...
what do you have to do to either the frame, the shell, or both, in order to make it "ok" to add weight back there? (assuming an amount that would not unload the tongue weight, but simply add more stress to the aft areas. and while we're at it, also assume shiney-new axles and properly balanced wheels ). can it be done?

One word answer. No. You cannot add weight to the rear without it having an effect on the tongue.

Think of a teeter board at the playground. One end does have an effect on the other end.

A beefed up frame will still want to sag. It certainly will flex vertically when hitting bumps.

Therefore beefing up the frame does not accomplish anything for the shell to frame attachment.

To beef up the shell so that it holds up the beefed up frame, doesn't make sense. The frames are usually OK. It's how you treat the frame that causes the problems. We can and often do, increase the shell to frame strength at the rear.

To beef up the shell, to hold up more frame weight, that really isn't needed in the first place, demands even greater hold own attachments, that the sheetmetal simply will not support.

Adding cargo weight to the rear end of any Airstream or Argosy trailer, will result in shell to frame failures.

It was not designed for that, nor can you make it work.

Think of an aircraft. Why don't they put heavy weights in the rear? Because it has a negative effect on the aircraft weight and balance. Same exact thing is true with a travel trailer.

The shell of an Airstream holds up the frame.

The frame does not hold up the shell, never has, never will.

Simple terms, adding cargo weight to the rear is a no no.

Andy
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Old 11-09-2006, 03:52 PM   #33
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Thanks, Andy.

I know you can't add anything to the back without affecting tongue weight. What I meant was an amount small enough so as not to lower the tongue weight below 10-15% of gross trailer weight. OR, perhaps by shifting things around...say, move the aft mounted battery up under the couch. Still within GVW, still balanced....

so you don't think it can be done. but didn't airstream essentially do this, as the models evolved through the 70's? My understanding is that the sag/separation problems started appearing after tanks were added to the rear in the early/mid 70's...in later years, they "fixed" the problem...what did they do to the design to rectify the problem? perhaps all they did was move stuff around inside. (no more rear-baths, etc)?
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Old 11-09-2006, 05:26 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by chuck
Thanks, Andy.

I know you can't add anything to the back without affecting tongue weight. What I meant was an amount small enough so as not to lower the tongue weight below 10-15% of gross trailer weight. OR, perhaps by shifting things around...say, move the aft mounted battery up under the couch. Still within GVW, still balanced....

so you don't think it can be done. but didn't airstream essentially do this, as the models evolved through the 70's? My understanding is that the sag/separation problems started appearing after tanks were added to the rear in the early/mid 70's...in later years, they "fixed" the problem...what did they do to the design to rectify the problem? perhaps all they did was move stuff around inside. (no more rear-baths, etc)?
Chuck.

Tanks have been at the rear since the 50's. I traveled over 100,000 miles with a 70 31 and then a 73 31 foot. Traveled many of those miles with a black tank almost full.

Never a problem. The reason I never had a problem, is difficult for some to accept.

Granted, the method of shell to frame attachment at the rear slightly changed in 1969. BUT THAT DID NOT CAUSE THE PROBLEM!!!!!!

Balance, balance, balance. balance, and balance the running gear. No magic, no mysteries, no secrets, just do it, it's that simple.

Rear baths?? That's what I had.

Removing weight from the rear such as batteries, is a good thing.

The rear bath thing and the early 70 thing, is a story that continues on and on and on. In reality, that story is phony.

Adding any additional weight to the rear is "NOT" recommended.

However, it's your trailer and your money. You can do as you wish, anytime.

But when you witness the failure on your trailer, should you add that weight, then you cannot say "I wasn't told."

I try to relate facts, whatever thye may be, based on my over 40 years with the Airstream program.

If someone wishes to ignore them, that certainly is their option. I don't win or lose either way. The owners of the coaches do, but again that's their choice.

But I do not have the time to go over and over again and again, some of the same things. Nor will I any further justify or attempt to prove what I have said.

It's like the old TV program. Believe it, or not. Your call.

I like to share the information and knowledge that I have, with those that are interested. It's for their benefit, not mine. I enjoy helping people with their Airstreaming.

But, there are those that disagree with that as well.

So be it.

Andy
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Old 11-09-2006, 08:09 PM   #35
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Having repaired both a rear bath and center bath unit, I agree with Andy regarding the rear bath "story" that continues. Many assume that center bath units are "golden" in this regard but in my experience, they certainly are not!

The real issue is floor rot and there are two ways for that to happen. Either water from the inside (bath fixtures, plumbing) or water from the outside (rear seal at beltline/bumper, tail lights, trunk door if equipped) rots the plywood floor creating "play" between the shell and the frame. The weight aft of the axles, whether it be bathroom fixtures and tank, or twin beds and luggage, may not differ that much.

While balancing the running gear is obviously very important (I'm with you Andy, really!) , it won't prevent a rotten floor from creating a rear end separation.

My '73 Sovereign center bath frame was actually worse than the '72 Overlander!

I think it would be worth the trouble to make an annual inspection of the rear seal and all plumbing fixtures for leaks, and drop the belly pan every 3-5 years as well.
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Old 11-10-2006, 11:28 AM   #36
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Andy, I'm not arguing...not "not-believing" at all. I'm just trying to gain a more thorough understanding of the problem. Thats all. Due to the unique contruction of these trailers, the causes of, and solutions to various problems are not always obvious. But with other structures, we can make changes that could cause a weakening in one spot, by compensating somewhere else...like putting a door opening in a supporting wall. The tongue weight of my trailer is too heavy for the rear of my truck; no problem, we can overcome that with a weight distributing hitch. So it seems reasonable to ask if there's a way around this particular problem.
But I do see how there are multiple issues beyond simple "weight" that compound the problem. and my house doesn't go bouncing down the road on shot axles. But there must be a difference between, say, a 31-footer with the huge overhang (moment arm) in the back, and a little GT or Bambi? In any given year, was the frame or shell contruction any different, based on the length of the trailer?

We've seen the pictures of the cracked frame behind the axles, and the plates that Airstream prescribed as a repair; also, the "elephant ear" thing... Do these procedures only "fix" what was broken from neglect, or do they actually add any strength?
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Old 11-10-2006, 01:04 PM   #37
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Andy, I'm not arguing...not "not-believing" at all. I'm just trying to gain a more thorough understanding of the problem. Thats all. Due to the unique contruction of these trailers, the causes of, and solutions to various problems are not always obvious. But with other structures, we can make changes that could cause a weakening in one spot, by compensating somewhere else...like putting a door opening in a supporting wall. The tongue weight of my trailer is too heavy for the rear of my truck; no problem, we can overcome that with a weight distributing hitch. So it seems reasonable to ask if there's a way around this particular problem.
But I do see how there are multiple issues beyond simple "weight" that compound the problem. and my house doesn't go bouncing down the road on shot axles. But there must be a difference between, say, a 31-footer with the huge overhang (moment arm) in the back, and a little GT or Bambi? In any given year, was the frame or shell contruction any different, based on the length of the trailer?

We've seen the pictures of the cracked frame behind the axles, and the plates that Airstream prescribed as a repair; also, the "elephant ear" thing... Do these procedures only "fix" what was broken from neglect, or do they actually add any strength?
A way around which problem, the hitch or shell?

The frame/shell construction within a given year is for all practical purposes the same.

The cracked frame and axle mounting plate are a GROSS abuse of the coach, by ignoring the fact that you "MUST" balance the running gear correctly. To this day, people say "what a waste of money". Oh well, they will pay dearly later on.

Lets not blame Airstream for the frame damage caused to the trailer, because of willfull disregard for basic running gear PM.

That problem is caused by and will continue to be caused by lack of proper running gear balance, PERIOD.

Adding frame beef up plates, simply allows you to continue that disregard.

The elephant ear patch, is a "mickey mouse" method of repairing rear end separation. It's done by assuming the rear floor channel is OK, which it rarely is, and not inspecting anything. Usually the rear steel hold down plate is very rusted and must be replaced as well. But you cannot see it unless you remove the metal.

The correct way to repair rear end separation, has been and will always be to remove the two rear quarter panels and lift up the rear plate. It's amazing how many times you will find the rear floor channel, which is an aluminum extrusion, broken in several pieces. It must be removed and rewelded. Then you can reinstall the floor channel. However, you add a steel plate on top of the floor channel at the frame and add additional bolts. You "also" add a steel angle underneath the banana wrap thats welded to the outside of the frame. You install additional bolts through it and the steel plate that is on top of the floor channel. You may also have to replace the rear hold down plate, that most owners don't know it exists.

You have now substantially increased the hold down ability of the shell to the frame. This repair cannot be done using the elephant ear approach, which again, will get you down the road for a short time, and relieve your pocketbook, only to happen again, usually very shortly.

There are always at least two ways to repair anything. The right way and the "good enough" way, which is far removed from correct.

Additionally, just because the rear end separation repairs may have been done as outlined, does not avoid the need for "correct running gear balance."

Andy
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Old 11-10-2006, 05:15 PM   #38
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A way around which problem, the hitch or shell?
the shell. the "hitch" problem is solved by a WD hitch, right?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In
The correct way to repair rear end separation, has been and will always be to remove the two rear quarter panels and lift up the rear plate. It's amazing how many times you will find the rear floor channel, which is an aluminum extrusion, broken in several pieces. It must be removed and rewelded. Then you can reinstall the floor channel. However, you add a steel plate on top of the floor channel at the frame and add additional bolts. You "also" add a steel angle underneath the banana wrap thats welded to the outside of the frame. You install additional bolts through it and the steel plate that is on top of the floor channel. You may also have to replace the rear hold down plate, that most owners don't know it exists.

You have now substantially increased the hold down ability of the shell to the frame.
Sure sounds like it. But even with this reinforcing, it would still not be strong enough to handle a bike rack or spare tire on the back? (again, assuming new axles and balanced running gear...).

Is it possible to make these mods from the inside, with the bathroom removed? say, if one was contemplating replacing the last 2 feet of rotten floor, that seems to be "standard issue" with an older trailer?

steel plate on top of aluminum c-channel: isn't that going to promote galvanic corrosion?

you should post pics, if you have any!!
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Old 11-10-2006, 05:26 PM   #39
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the shell. the "hitch" problem is solved by a WD hitch, right?


Sure sounds like it. But even with this reinforcing, it would still not be strong enough to handle a bike rack or spare tire on the back? (again, assuming new axles and balanced running gear...).

Is it possible to make these mods from the inside, with the bathroom removed? say, if one was contemplating replacing the last 2 feet of rotten floor, that seems to be "standard issue" with an older trailer?

steel plate on top of aluminum c-channel: isn't that going to promote galvanic corrosion?

you should post pics, if you have any!!
Chuck.

You cannot do what you are proposing without damaging the rear end.

But since you insist, then do it and report back in time the amount of damage you created.

Sometimes, you will have to accept old facts.

If you do not want to accept those facts and want to reinvent the wheel, then good luck.

The mods cannot be done from the inside if the rear hold down plate needs changing.

Don't worry about the wives tale about any galvanic corrosion, as steel screws are used all over your trailer.

Why should I post pictures? Others have posted them before.

Andy
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Old 11-10-2006, 08:51 PM   #40
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What Im reading here is that you reattach the shell /floor back to the frame
with the rear of the frame supported so its back to level ,once thats done
you reinforce the frame on the outsides up to the floor with more bolts .
Basically recreating the shell /frame foundation as a whole unit .That sounds
right .The more weight you add to the rear ,the more frame problems can and will result.Remember how long these frames are with just one or two axles
in the middle ,natural forces always want to work the frame on each end
after the axles. you can reinforce the frame with what are called
fishplates that are utilized to correctly repair a cracked frame and strengthen
it ,you cannot just run a bead of weld verticle to any frame or it will recrack
on or right next to the crack ,welding changes the steel and the welded areas are harder (the steel) and therefore will crack much easier .The fishplate is a span of say 1/4 steel plate that overlays the side of the frame
with tapered ends ,the overlay can be 2 or 3 feet long and can be plug welded along the length and then small welds 2" spacings at the tapers.
you can weld it lengthwise at the top also ,but not verticle.I definately
recommend repairing the frame in this manner,most books or welding manuals
as well as truck repair manuals on frame repair will recommend this type of repair on most frames ,usually have diagrams of such repairs.These frame repairs do not mean however that you can add weight to the rear or overload
the trailer .It just means that a correct repair has been made to return the
frame to operable condition.Lastely ,running gear balance and good axles are
criticle to the frame and shell longevity ,any way to cushion and give the smoothest ride possible to eliminate any harsh impacts to the trailer is very
important .to chuck ,if the tongue weight seems too heavy ,and the TV sags
down ,Get the correct WD /bars to level the rig ,with the WD setup correctly
with the right # bars it will not sag ,given the hitch head is also at the correct height it will be level .

Scott
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Old 12-26-2006, 04:53 PM   #41
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Well here are the pictures I have been promising. Sorry for the delay, I had a computer crash and then my camera went out on me too.

In these pictures I hope you will be able to see the wavy or bent axle mounting plates, the difference in height in some of the outriggers, the broken weld between the reinforcing plate and the frame, and the new reinforcing kit sold by Airstream.

In the area of the broken weld, rust had occurred between the frame and the reinforcing plate, forcing the reinforcing plate out or the reinforcing plate had bent out allowing rust to form between it and the frame.

There are approximately four 1/8th inch holes rusted through the frame.

Once the rust is removed and the broken weld is rewelded, will any other reinforcement be needed in this area? What do you think?

Thanks for your help and suggestions.
airstream74
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Old 12-26-2006, 05:28 PM   #42
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Well here are the pictures I have been promising. Sorry for the delay, I had a computer crash and then my camera went out on me too.

In these pictures I hope you will be able to see the wavy or bent axle mounting plates, the difference in height in some of the outriggers, the broken weld between the reinforcing plate and the frame, and the new reinforcing kit sold by Airstream.

In the area of the broken weld, rust had occurred between the frame and the reinforcing plate, forcing the reinforcing plate out or the reinforcing plate had bent out allowing rust to form between it and the frame.

There are approximately four 1/8th inch holes rusted through the frame.

Once the rust is removed and the broken weld is rewelded, will any other reinforcement be needed in this area? What do you think?

Thanks for your help and suggestions.
airstream74
Your photo's are real proof, that an Airstream trailer does flex. The frame flexes with it, as you have shown.

The cause for the wrinkles in the axle mounting plates, is not due to a poor frame design.

In this case, the problem was caused by an inadequate amount of welding bead to hold the axle mounting plate to the bottom of the frame. If you wish, increase that bead to be 100 percent. The wrinkles could also be caused by the shocks doing their job.

Jack up the rear end of the trailer so that it's places considerable stress on the axle mounting plate area. Heat the wrinkled steel and then flatten it. After that, then you can increase the amount of welding bead. Then you can add the steel plates.

You can weld the plates in place as most servicing dealers do, instead of bolting it. Just make sure you add some weld to every hole.

Contrary to popular opinion, the axle mounting plate kit does nothing for rear end separation, as it will not correct it nor will it eliminate it from happening.

Andy
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