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Old 03-10-2014, 04:55 PM   #1
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1974 31' Sovereign
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replacing subfloor

can the subfloor be replaced in full sheets.. i wanted to replace the subfloor in my sovereign from the front to the under the fridge looks like it would be two full width sheets and then the very front looks to be 1/2 sheet rounded to fit the curve of the front. and also in the back ( rear bedroom) when i tried to remove the skins it looks like the lower skins gontinue to go behind the closet and on the other side into the bathroom ... can they just be cut so i dotn have to dismantel the middle of the trailer?

thanks
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:09 PM   #2
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That is how I did it on my trailer, and I fastened the floor down to the frame with self-tapping screws driven down through the floor into the frame rails. I only did the front half of my floor in 2004 and it's been holding up just fine.
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:33 AM   #3
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That is how I did it on my trailer, and I fastened the floor down to the frame with self-tapping screws driven down through the floor into the frame rails. I only did the front half of my floor in 2004 and it's been holding up just fine.

I was told that self tapping screws may come undone in time, and to stick to the elevator bolts. That said, I am very tempted to just use the tap screws.
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:42 AM   #4
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1959 28' Ambassador
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70's era & newer Airstream's have their floors held down to the frame with "self drilling, self tapping" machine screws, i.e. they cut a thread in the steel frame material. They are not the traditional "self tapping" metal screw that uses the thickness of sheet metal to form only one thread. There is a huge difference between the two thread forms, & what loads they can hold.

Elevator bolts were used on 60's era & older Airstream's. Elevator bolts are similar to carriage bolts but they have a large flat head instead of a smaller rounded head. They are not "blind" fasteners, so they require a nut to create the clamping force.

The perimeter of the floor & the "C" channel in the base of the walls are fastened to the ends of the outriggers, front & rear cross members, with regular hex bolts & nuts & in some cases, elevator bolts. In order to fasten the perimeter of the wall/floor to the outriggers & the front & rear cross members you must have access to the inside of the walls & the underside of the steel frame members below. This requires the bellypan to be open at the perimeter as well.

Attempting to fasten the walls/floor to the frame around the perimeter with anything other than some form of bolt & nut will fail.

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Old 03-13-2014, 07:05 AM   #5
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Do you have some photos of the bad floor? Maybe you are trying to replace too much of your floor. I see folks replacing complete floors when a small patch would do. Colin is right about removing the inner skins and belly skins to gain access to the bolts that go through the C-channel and floor. If you want to replace all of your subfloor, you need to remove all the junk on top of it first and then remove the inner skins. The most critical areas of the floor that need to be intact are the rear and front of the trailer. If these areas are sound and the bolts that hold the shell to the frame are in good shape, then you can patch the rest. Most of the time, the connection in the rear of the trailer fails first when water is funneled into the subfloor by the plate over the rear bumper. In the front, the same thing can happen and sometimes there are batteries that leak acid and accelerate the process of decay.

Perry
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:54 AM   #6
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Colin, our '72 had elevator bolts in the subfloor, so they must have extended that into the early '70's trailers also. Our trailer was built in Ohio. We replaced the floor and used elevator bolts again. Tends to be a 2 person job, one on top to hold the bolt, and one underneath to crank down on the nut.

Kay
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:23 AM   #7
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Colin, our '72 had elevator bolts in the subfloor, so they must have extended that into the early '70's trailers also. Our trailer was built in Ohio. We replaced the floor and used elevator bolts again. Tends to be a 2 person job, one on top to hold the bolt, and one underneath to crank down on the nut.

Kay
As we all know, Airstream didn't have exact cut offs of design changes, so I'm sure there were others that used elevator bolts. Both options are fine for the center area of floor, as far as I'm concerned. It's the perimeter that must be bolts & nuts.
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:52 AM   #8
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My 81 had a Phillips head elevator bolt that screwed in from the top. I could not find exact replacements. I ended up using slot head elevator bolts from mcmaster.com although they were a bit of a pain to install using the flat blade. I had to drill and tap holes in all the beams. I think the original bolts would self tap if you had a pilot hole for them.

Perry
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Old 03-13-2014, 12:11 PM   #9
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My 81 had a Phillips head elevator bolt that screwed in from the top. I could not find exact replacements. I ended up using slot head elevator bolts from mcmaster.com although they were a bit of a pain to install using the flat blade. I had to drill and tap holes in all the beams. I think the original bolts would self tap if you had a pilot hole for them.

Perry
Vintage Trailer Supply - parts and supplies for vintage travel trailers and campers! has both.
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