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Old 01-16-2004, 12:00 PM   #1
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repairing floor rot

Dear Friends:
After buying our AS few months ago, we noticed floor rot at 4 locations. Front street side, front curb side, rear bathroom closets both sides. I have attached pictures in my photo galary. After reading more than 100 posts about leaks, floor rot, and floor replacement, I am going crazy. I cannot believe that for some little floor rot, one must replace the whole floor, or to dismantle the whole body. This is a huge flaw in the design of the AS. I think the designers at AS have made a huge mistake. with the shape of the AS and the possibiltiy of leaks and even condensation inside the walls, it is a big mistake to not provide a place for the water to go without touching the wood floor. In any event, now that I am a bit cooler?? can anyone give us an advise how to fix these problems (please see the photos) short of replacing the whole floor or removing the exterior walls or seperating the frame from the body.
Thanks
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Old 01-16-2004, 02:42 PM   #2
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Unfortunately, You will have to do some disassembly to fix some of the larger areas. I couldn't tell by the photo, but you might be able to get away with applying a epoxy repair to one of the areas. Not sure how bad it actually is.

Your first course of action is to determine where the leaks are and fix those first. It is important that you do repair the area properly as Airstreams are basically monocoque structures. The floor supports the body, and the body supports the floor. The design allowed substantial weight savings and superior strength. Unfortunately, it is a little more involved to repair. If done incorrectly, you can compromise the rest of the trailer since the damaged areas are no longer adding support.

As you have read, some repairs can be daunting, not to mention expensive. Having said that, if your repair is done correctly, and your leaks fixed, you should be good for another 30+ years!

Good luck!


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Old 01-16-2004, 02:57 PM   #3
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Sorry, didn't actually answer your question did I?

If it were me, I'd unrivet the belly pan where it meets with the outside side walls, pull out the insulation, cut out the damaged wood, chisel out the wood in the 'C' channel, cut a matching patch, put it in place, and depending upon where your crossmembers/stringers are, screw through the wood into those. Any unsupported areas need a "cleat" to help support it to the surrounding floor. There have been many posts describing this. With this type of repair, you still will not have the support of the "c" channel being screwed to the edge of the flooring, unless you can get some in from the underside through the opening in the bellypan.

Here's where it can/does/will get interesting. The above can be done, if, and only if you happen to have a small enough patch that falls between two "ribs". This is very unlikely. At that point, you will need to remove the inner aluminum panel to gain acess to the rib itself so that you can rebolt the rib through the patch you just made. Be sure to rescrew the "C" channel too. It is an important piece of hardware.

None of this is too hard. Its more of a time thing. . .having to dismantle the interior, reassembly, etc.

Consider yourself lucky, there are those out there that have done "body off" floor replacements! I will be one of those soon with my 50's model. I had a 2'x2' patch I completed in my '73 over the holidays. Took about 6 hrs start to finish.

Good luck! PM/email me with questions.


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Old 01-16-2004, 03:30 PM   #4
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patch

Thanks for the detail. Just found a rotten patch (now a hole) just inside the access door where my battery is. I hate the idea of having to get involved in this. Seems like until you tear into it you don't know what you're getting into. The hole is literally up against the side c channel right behind the wheel. I thought about pouring GITROT on the rest of the area and then just covering it with galvanized metal or plywood. Would not truly correct the problem or add back any structural help but would hopefully prevent the battery from falling thru the floor.
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Old 01-16-2004, 03:39 PM   #5
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TInHut,

Noticed you're in Southlake, I'm in Rowlett-work in Plano. I could help you out if you needed it.

PM me if so.


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Old 01-16-2004, 04:36 PM   #6
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In looking at your photos, it appears that the first two are classic examples of a penetrating epoxy repair. I really, really like Rot Doctor (www.rotdoctor.com), but Gitrot (boating stores) is a popular brand. You want to kill the mold and mildew first, and then make sure the wood has dried out. A word of caution: before applying Rot Doctor, take out the water pump. Othewise, once you have enough Rot Doctor applied, the screws holding it down will never come up again.

The other two areas can probably be scabbed. To expand on the posts above, the key is to tie your patch both to the remaining floor and to the C channel which runs the perimeter of your coach. It is probably going to be necessary to get up through the belly pan at the affected spots, and it will be necessary to remove the interior panels there as well so as to run the bolts through the C channel and floor.

And, as noted, you've got to fix the leaks!

Good luck,

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Old 01-16-2004, 10:56 PM   #7
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thank you all. I guess first thing is to get rid of leaks. since
I do not know the source I will caulk all the seams and around the windows and roof stuff. I know one leak is from window pane glazing (glass bead). I do not know how to fix that since
I caot find new material. I guess I should caulk that too. Tripp in your photos I noticed you did repair a fixed window. I would be interested to talk to you about that.
thanks again.
cheers
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Old 01-16-2004, 11:13 PM   #8
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Cool floor rot

The wood restorer products work well. the areas where the floor is gone or allmost gone are not fun . There are several ways to do it. One way I have fixed them as long as they are not near one of the corner frame bolts is to do it from the inside with fiberglass.
The materials you will need are fiberglass mat and resin . you can get them from a paint and body supply houseby the Qt or Gallon .Several throw away plastic or metal pans or cans to mix in . A bunch of disposable 2 or 3 in brushes. And 3/16 or1/4 inch galvanized rod long enough to cross the area several times [see below] You have to remove the rotted area back to good wood. Scrape out the channel and clean up the area.Use a dremel tool or chisel to put grooves abou 2 inches apart in the edge of the good wood about half way down thru it. These should go in a straight line from the center of the trailor to the outside channel. Cut your rods long enough two lay into the groves and go across the gap and into the channel.This will act like rebar in concrete. Attach a wood support under the floor by using 2 pieces of thin 1/4 in plywood a little larger than the hole and sliding them under the floor and putting screws down thru the good floor into the patch.Brush a layer of resin into the area to be patched and bring it out of the hole at least 2 inches around on the wood area .lay a double layer of fiberglass into the resin and brush on more resin. Put in the rods and rut in more resin and mat following the directions on the containors for mixing the resin . Only flow the first two layers onto the floor around the hole.Be sure to push the mat into the channel.The areas in between the rods can be filled with smaller pieces of mat.to bring them to the level of the top of the rods. Keep putting in layers untill you reach floor level.The last layer should flow out over the floor edge like the first two.This will create a patch strong enough to park on .
You can keep putting the layers in without waiting for the previous one to dry. It will set up in about 30 minutes, and can be sanded smooth if there are any rough areas
The reason you use thin plywood is that it is only used to hold the glass and resin untill it sets up.

I have patched areas up to 2 feet long and 10 inches into the trailor with this method and it has worked well. I have a friend that deals in used a/s and have had to patch a lot of holes.

Good luck
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Old 01-16-2004, 11:35 PM   #9
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Let's see -- my wet floor areas are due to bad gaskets on the battery compartment door, a water heater that needs replacing, and something yet unrecognized at the water pump. Get totally dried out first.

Rotdoctor is a good penetrating epoxy treatment for lesser problems. Getting into structural replacement might get you into epoxies used for wooden boats and planes. Most hardware store epoxy is not waterproof. Using waterproof epoxy does not make wood completely rotproof. You cannot mix normal fiberglass/polyester resin with epoxy systems. Epoxy is easy to use but requires clean technique -- it is good to avoid skin contact.

Want to learn more? Sign up at www.systemthree.com, then download the no-cost 1.8MB Adobe Acrobat file, "The Epoxy Book." If you have to go this far in your restoration and this seems too much, ask yourself how much do you want to go beyond handy-man or -woman. Hire it out if the project seems like it'll take forever and you'll never get to go camping!!
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Old 01-17-2004, 07:43 AM   #10
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"Rotdoctor is a good penetrating epoxy treatment for lesser problems. Getting into structural replacement might get you into epoxies used for wooden boats and planes."

Rot Doctor is commonly used in boats. That is probably its most popular application. My own opinion is that wood treated with Rot Doctor will have something approximating the structural strength of new wood of the same dimensions. Just an opinion based on my own results.

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Old 01-17-2004, 09:42 AM   #11
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Been routing round the system 3 site for a while, and can't find the epoxy book pdf, Bob, any link to where it actually is?

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Old 01-17-2004, 09:51 AM   #12
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6 of the 10 sections of The Epoxy Book exceed ASForums 102K limit for attachments. You will need to register as a member to access it on the System3 website (upper right of webpage). Decline the chance to receive further info (I did). They will send you a password right away by email. Then sign in as a member and click on "Literature and Catalog." That's it!

Certainly you can do an AirstreamForums search on the word epoxy. And look at the mega restoration project a few members have going. We discuss some epoxy recommendations in the 3rd page.
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Old 01-20-2004, 11:52 AM   #13
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Dear Joel:
Do you have any pictures of your floor repair? It sounds like a very good idea. My floor openning is 8"x 36" (the largest) and they are at the places where the ribs are connected to the floor channel. At least that's what I think. I would be interested to talk to you about this technique, since it sounds better than the original wood(regarding resistance to the possible future leaks).
Thank you all for the help. Meanwhile I have contacted an AS dealer to find out the cost of repair if it is done by them, in case it is too much for me to do. I am not really looking forward to this kind of work on the AS. As a matter of fact I specifically asked the PO if there were any leaks? and he said NO!! As it is, I guess we have to make the best out of this.
I'll let you all know how it all ended up.
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Old 01-20-2004, 01:22 PM   #14
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Danesh,

PM me with the window questions. I'll be happy to help you out.


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Old 02-02-2004, 11:36 PM   #15
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Cool floor repair

Sorry to be so long getting back to you. I have been gone. I don't have any pictures. It really is a strong and long lasting way to repair the floor.Using the rods are like putting re-bar in concrete.One of the areas I repaired was in the door area on my 73 31' so it was high traffic area. We sold it but we put two years of travels on it with no sign of weakness.
If you do it this way make sure you scrape out the channel and be sure the rods go into the channel and be sure to force the fabric and resin into it to.Also check and make sure the bolts that go thru the floor are still intact. You could stand for one or two to be weak but if several of them are gone then you will need two roll the interior wall up far enough to replace them.You also need to pull the banana wrap to get to the nuts. If you have any more questions ask. I will be around a little more for a while. Good luck
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Old 02-03-2004, 10:20 AM   #16
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Plywood or OSB / "U-channel" or "y-channel"

I have been up to my arse in aligators with so many other repair subjects on my Excella that I have not addressed floor rot yet.
So far I have only found a small amount but there is alot more hidden floor to check out.
danesh's pictures look to me that his 1985 floor was a OSB strand chipboard.
Is that correct?
My 1974 floor is a traditional plywood .
Is there a year certain when Airstream Inc went away from traditional plywood?

Also the so-called "C-channel" or "U-channel" changed from a simple trough that held the two wall skins and the rib bottoms.
It was "improved" into the trough on top with a lip below to recieve the edge of the wooden floor (as I understand it). Sort of a lower cased cursive"y-channel"
Is there a year certain when that took place?
Also was the gauge of the channel made heavier?
Was the "improved" channel extruded aluminum?
I think the plain "U-channel" was roll-formed sheet metal (just guessing from pictures).

My guess is that the old plain "U-channel" would be easier to repair floor under.

Another question is Does the Rot-Doctor type epoxies work on OSB ? since it is already permeated with glues to hold it together?
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Old 02-03-2004, 10:53 AM   #17
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Joel regards to fiber glass work.

I have always had trouble using the stuff simply because I had to use some tool to do all the handwork. Sort of like eating Barbecued Chicken with chopsticks.
If I could just use my hands than I think I could master fiberglass layups.
What will happen if you get the resin on your skin?
Will latex gloves make sense? or will the stuff screw them up and you'll still get it on your hands?

I suppose this all sounds pretty dumb but I honestly have always wondered about fiberglass clean-up. Plus in tight quarters it's bound to get messy. I'd probly get it in my hair.

Oh and doesnt the mat come both in a fabric and another form? What are the advantages of either? over the other?
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Old 02-03-2004, 12:08 PM   #18
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In the interest of health & safety, always use the proper personal protection equipment, i.e. gloves, coveralls, respirator, and eye protection when working around fiberglass and resin.

That being said,
Quote:
Originally posted by jaco What will happen if you get the resin on your skin?
It will stain your skin unless you remove it with lacquer thinner before it hardens. But people will think you've been working hard before they wonder why you didn't wear gloves

Quote:
Will latex gloves make sense? or will the stuff screw them up and you'll still get it on your hands?
Latex will gloves will work, but they take getting used to.

Quote:
I honestly have always wondered about fiberglass clean-up. Plus in tight quarters it's bound to get messy. I'd probably get it in my hair.
Lacquer thinner works great cleaning up uncured resin. But, wearing gloves, coveralls, and a tight fitting cap should keep you clean.

Quote:
Oh and doesnˇ¦t the mat come both in a fabric and another form? What are the advantages of either? over the other?
It comes in mat, and cloth. My preference is the mat for most repairs because, being thicker, it takes less layers to build it up. Also, because of the randomness of the fibers, the repair will be stronger. The cloth works better on curvy or featured surfaces.
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Old 02-03-2004, 10:34 PM   #19
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floor repair

Gloves are a must. I also favor the cloth because it conforms around the rods best. I like to get my cloth cut before I start because once you start it is murder to try to cut without it sticking to your gloves and hands. cut it and lay it out so that each piece can be picked up without touching the others. Lay it out like a set of upside down stairs. Also find a bunch of the cheapest plastic bowls and shallow pans you can find to mix in. A good place to find them is your local salvation army store or something like that.That way you don't need to clean them up ,you just throw them away. Use 2 or 3'' disposable brushes to spread the resin.
You don't have to wait for a layer to dry before you lay in the next one.One thing to make the floor repair extremely strong is to put in cloth up to the level of the bottom of the grooves inthe floor and then lay in every other rod then put in a couple of layers and put in the rest of the rods and finish filling in the repair . Remember to let the first 2 and the last layer of cloth flow about an inch or two onto the good floor . This will not leave a noticeable bump in the floor.This will also give a sort of swimming pool effect .If you stop just short of the floor level you can just use resin for the last 1/16" .This will give you a nice smooth surface that will need very little sanding, if any. Good luck.
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