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Old 04-06-2009, 09:04 PM   #1
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Rear Separation and bathroom floor repair for my 1972

Okay, its time to get off my butt and finish refurbishing my 1972 Sovereign. Before I do so, there's one issue that needs fixing. Here's a quick history. My Sovereign had the dreaded rear end separation which was repaired in 2006 by Oasis RV in Tucson using the official "Elephant Ear" method. At the time I wasn't aware that this was a bogus fix and to tell you the truth, I wasn't very happy with the quality of the repair at all. Not only did I want the separation fixed but I also wanted the sloping floor in the bathroom fixed, too. Well, as you can see in the pics, Oasis did the repair, but instead of fixing the floor (water had rotted the edge of the floor in the C-channel) they simply patched long pieces of plywood to wedge into the C-channel. The problem is that there is nothing to support the floor in the rear. When you step on the floor in front of the cutout for the black tank valve the floor "gives" about a 1/2 inch. Not terrible but I notice it and I want to fix this once and for all, the right way.

So here's my question for you experts out there? Is this a relatively easy repair to replace the floor in the bathroom or should I have this done by professionals? Your opinions will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:19 PM   #2
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I don't feel so bad about my "hack job" rear floor repair in our Sovereign now. It's ten times better than what Oasis did, and seems to be holding up pretty well, considering.
I put 3/4" plywood where it is supposed to go, and sandwiched the new plywood and old plywood between plywood above and below at the joints, with everything glued and screwed together with deck screws.
We still have a slight slope in the bathroom, but it's from a different issue.
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:52 PM   #3
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You might want to attend the 4 Corners Unit restoration rally to get the answer to your question......they may still have an opening......paula
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Old 04-06-2009, 09:58 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mello mike View Post

So here's my question for you experts out there? Is this a relatively easy repair to replace the floor in the bathroom or should I have this done by professionals? Your opinions will be greatly appreciated.
Be careful who you call professional. Wasn't Oasis professionals? If you have someone else do the repair make sure they have the experience. That doesn't mean any AS dealer either. You need somone who knows this year and problem.

Another unknown is the condition of the connection of the floor to the frame in the rear 4-8 feet of the AS. The floor is bolted to the frame at many points which is a significant factor in the structural integrity of the whole coach. If the plywood is rotten it could be part of the problem. I would think it is also possible that an unsupported frame could be prone to stress cracks in the area of the fulcrum point, where the axles meet the frame (but this is just my speculation)

Not to say you can't scab on a patch like it is described above, but there may also be less apparent related problems.

There are several past threads on how to replace the whole back section of floor without removing the whole shell, but it looks like a pain in the rear.

If you try the quick fix I suggest you treat the affected plywood with a penetrating epoxy resin such as Rot Doctor, so it does not get worse.
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Old 04-12-2009, 09:50 PM   #5
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I'm trying to get quotes for this work from service centers like Andy's.

In the meantime, I have a few questions:

1. It appears my C channel is cracked near the centerline as you can see a 2/8" metal plate bolted to the top of the C channel. Shouldn't this have been welded or is this an adequate fix?

2. Can two pieces of plywood be used instead of one large one in the bathroom? Seem's like this would be easier.

3. Do the bolts holding down the plywood in the C channel remove by simply screwing them out or are they typically rusted. And if they are rusted, do you simply drill out the old bolt so you can use the existing hole in the C channel? What size "elevator" bolts do you use for this application?

4. It looks like most here have used 3/4 inch marine plywood. Is that the prevailing opinion?

5. How many man hours does this job typically take?

Thanks in advance,

Mike
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Old 04-25-2009, 01:14 AM   #6
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Try out C&G Trailer too. They are great at repairs specializing in Airstream. They are in So. Cal too (Bellflower, CA). Here's their website: Airstream Trailer and Motorhome Service Center - Bellflower, CA We have had repair work done with them. They are excellent, they do it all....frame fixes, vent installs, bath repairs, upholstery, etc. They too (like Inlandrv) have been working on the Airstreams for a long time (since 1964). My understanding is they have a very good turn around time. Very honest people. We had our bath ABS repaired, we went in with a cracked side ledge piece, and what luck they actually had a donor part to use to repalce it with (this was great as they are very hard to repair from what I understand). Price was very reasonable, they only charged $70 for that part(not including labor), which was priceless in my book. They also installed a new shower fixture at the same time (old one broke). Overall we were very happy, and it only took a few days to be completed. Frame work might be a bit longer. Other AS owners we saw there when dropping off/picking-up all said they would highly recommend him also. I hope this helps your quest for a solution.

Happy trailering!

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Old 04-25-2009, 09:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mello mike View Post
I'm trying to get quotes for this work from service centers like Andy's.

In the meantime, I have a few questions:

1. It appears my C channel is cracked near the centerline as you can see a 2/8" metal plate bolted to the top of the C channel. Shouldn't this have been welded or is this an adequate fix?
Not sure on this one, you might want to replace that section of channel. Many people piece the channel together in segments, the most important thing is that the channel is securely fastened to the floor, the outer skin, and the inner skin.

Quote:
2. Can two pieces of plywood be used instead of one large one in the bathroom? Seem's like this would be easier.
Some people do this. It is definitely easier for installation, though I think you lose some of the structural support. The floor is an important part of the structure.


Quote:
3. Do the bolts holding down the plywood in the C channel remove by simply screwing them out or are they typically rusted. And if they are rusted, do you simply drill out the old bolt so you can use the existing hole in the C channel? What size "elevator" bolts do you use for this application?
They're probably going to be quite rusty. I removed mine by putting vice grips on them right at the nut, and giving them a sharp back and forth movement. Most of them simply snapped off. That goes for the bolts through the channel, as well as the ones that just go through the floor. In some cases the floor was rotten and they just pulled up through the channel, leaving a larger hole than original. For those, I just drilled new holes nearby, rather than trying to use the old hole. The elevator bolts are 1/4-20 by 1.5" I think, with a wide flat head. I got mine at Vintage Trailer Supply, though I'm sure there are other sources.


Quote:
4. It looks like most here have used 3/4 inch marine plywood. Is that the prevailing opinion?
I used 3/4 ACX. Many use 3/4 MGP. The cost difference is significant, especially when faced with replacing many sections. Whichever you use, I would advise sealing the edges and the first few inches around with 2-part epoxy to prevent moisture from penetrating the end-grain of the plywood, where it is most vulnerable. I know for fact this DOES make a difference, since I didn't do it at first, and during a rainstorm water came in through my water heater opening and after only that one storm, the plys had already begun some very minor delamination. I went back and hit it with epoxy, problem solved forever. That edge will now last longer than the center of the plywood.

One other thing, my original floor was 5/8, so be aware that their could be a slight height difference, which will affect inner panels and furniture when they go back in.



Quote:
5. How many man hours does this job typically take?
I honestly couldn't tell you. For a DIYer like me, it took dozens of hours. Maybe close to 70 or 80? Or maybe it just felt like that? When your floor comes up, you'll have the chance to inspect the integrity of the frame. Mine had severe frame rot in the back three cross-members. Many units with rear bathrooms have this problem. If you find frame rot, you will need to address it. More time, more money. Learn how to weld, or find a great shop.

Good luck!
-Marcus
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Old 04-25-2009, 11:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mello mike View Post
I'm trying to get quotes for this work from service centers like Andy's.

In the meantime, I have a few questions:

1. It appears my C channel is cracked near the centerline as you can see a 2/8" metal plate bolted to the top of the C channel. Shouldn't this have been welded or is this an adequate fix?
Your "C" channel will have to be remove, welded and reinstalled. The front and rear floor channels for the older units are not available.
Quote:
2. Can two pieces of plywood be used instead of one large one in the bathroom? Seem's like this would be easier.
Cutting the floor in pieces weakens the structure.

Quote:
3. Do the bolts holding down the plywood in the C channel remove by simply screwing them out or are they typically rusted. And if they are rusted, do you simply drill out the old bolt so you can use the existing hole in the C channel? What size "elevator" bolts do you use for this application?
Throw away the old bolts. Use 1/4 inch bolts, with lock washers and "fender washers".

Quote:
4. It looks like most here have used 3/4 inch marine plywood. Is that the prevailing opinion?
Use marine plywood.

Quote:
5. How many man hours does this job typically take?
Thanks in advance,

Mike[/QUOTE]


Good question. That's like going to your family doctor and have him examine your little finger, and then ask him for a complete physical report.

Ball park estimates are all to many times, taken out of context, and when repeated to someone else, the words "ball park" never seem to enter the conversation.

That can damage even a good dealers reputation, however unintentional.

A former Airsteam national sales manager, had a good answer, when someone asked for a "ball park." His answer was, "Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium, etc."

Visual inspection, is the "ONLY" proper way to provide you with a reasonably accurate bottom line answer.

Ball parks, in this case, is where the game of baseball is played.

A "ball park" hours estimate, would only be given by someone that has never completed a rear end separation, such as your Airstream suffers, or has no idea of all the things that you could get into.

But to give you some idea, since most of the facts, in your trailers case, of the damage are unknown, and undocumented, I will try.

To do the job correctly, looking at the space between left and right field, "could" run as many as 100 man hours, or more.

There are 2 keys to those repairs.

1. Correctly, by someone that has done many of them before. Correctly has many definitions, depending on who you ask.

2. The "TOTAL" damaged or bad parts that must be replaced, and/or repaired. Floor, frame, shell, axles, furniture, LPG system, electrical systems, water leaks, plumbing problems, fresh water system problems, appliance problems, are all things that can be related to the rear end separation.

Anyone that will give you a quote, let alone a written quote, without visual and personal inspection, is a "guess" that just won't hold water.

It's things like this that usually keep attorneys wealthy.

Why?

Because the trailer owner can always say, "I assumed that was included in your price."

Then the wars begin.

Andy
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Old 04-25-2009, 11:14 AM   #9
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one more thing

Good advice, Marcus. Mike, there is one other thing you want to look at closely, and that is the connection between the center channel in the middle of the floor and and cross channel under the back of the trailer.

I had the same slope in the bathroom floor on our '74, and when I got the old floor out, I saw that the top flange in the center channel had rusted away. Fortunately for me, the flange of the channel was still good, so I bolted a 1" by 1" angle to each side of the flange and bolted them to the cross channel.

One other thing you might consider is bolting a 1" by 1" angle to the back of the cross channel, which strengthens the channel and provides support for the flashing under the back of the trailer.

All new angles are galvanized and all bolts are stainless steel. Good luck with the project, it will take some time but it's worth doing right (and once).

Laird
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Old 04-25-2009, 12:56 PM   #10
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wrong term

I just proofed my post below, and I should have noted that the web (vertical part in this case) of the center channel was still good (not the flange) and I bolted the angles to the web of the channel.

Sorry for any confusion.

Laird
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Old 05-31-2009, 03:48 PM   #11
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Thanks, Laird and Andy. The next thing I need to do is remove the old bathroom fixtures. Any advice for this process? Do I simply cut the old Drain pipes to remove them?
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Old 05-31-2009, 03:58 PM   #12
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Thanks, Laird and Andy. The next thing I need to do is remove the old bathroom fixtures. Any advice for this process? Do I simply cut the old Drain pipes to remove them?
Don't cut them too short.

Leave enough length so that you can put them back together again, with "couplers.

Andy
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Old 05-31-2009, 09:22 PM   #13
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Mike,

I've done two rear floors ('72 Overlander rear bath, '73 Sovereign center bath).

I guarantee your 2nd floor will go more quickly than the first. (especially if not a rear bath)

Removal of all bathroom fixtures was perhaps the most discouraging part, as I knew I'd have to somehow put it all back together when I was finished. Prepare for massive frame rot, as all that moisture wasn't any nicer to the steel underneath than it was to the plywood floor.

While welding the C-channel would be nice (if you have a TIG welder), I would use a piece of aluminum channel to scab it together with multiple fastening points. Steel would be even stronger but you may have dissimilar metal issues. Pull the banana wrap and use a cutoff wheel on the floor bolts (be carefull not to hit the skin).

You will most likely have a good bit of welding to do on the frame, especially the black tank supports/box.

Take your time, don't be discouraged, many have been down this road. I used the opportunity to redo the bath in the Overlander with 2-part epoxy and wound up with a completely new bath (Sealand china toilet).

I took a few picture along the way as well.

From one former sailor to another... You can do it!
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Old 08-04-2009, 10:02 PM   #14
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'74 Argosy rear bath floor

I've noticed a leak when shower is used. Water drips down along the banana wrap under shower drain. I'm thinking (i'm a plumber) a freeze broken shower trap? or a broken pipe to tank. Both tanks have been full with no problem so they are O.K. The floor slopes down to the sewer tank and is not soft but creaky. The tub has soft spots underneath (when standing inside you can feel the floor flex).
My question is:
Can I remove the tub and the floor back to the sewer tank or does the floor go under the tank? Is there a channel across the front of the tank to screw/rivet floor to?
I guess what I'm asking is it possible to do a partial floor replacement?
Dave
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