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Old 06-10-2016, 06:01 PM   #15
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1983 31' Airstream310
Hillsburgh , Ontario
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Originally Posted by DeltaRon View Post
Seems like I read on one of the forums about replacing the floor with a product called Coosa Board (Coosa Mfg.). My new 28 has not started in to production yet and am thinking about exploring that possibility. Any advise, Gang?
Ah, Ha I have a convert.

You are indeed a very smart man to protect your very expensive investment. Coosa is 40-45% lighter than plywood, will not rot , mildew, support fungus growth or absorb water. I'm so glad I used it in my subfloor replacement.

Hopefully the factory will acquiesce to your DEMAND that Coosa be used, but be prepared to deliver the boards to the factory yourself and fight for its use. I know I would. You will also get back three fold in your cost in resale with a Coosa subfloor as everyone will know it doesn't rot and the floor will be in great shape.

BTW If you or Airstream is concerned with strength I used Bluewater 20 not 26 (which is stronger) and had a 4'x 5" off cut. I placed the 4'x 5" off cut inbetween two short sawhorses and stood in the middle; I'm 6'3" 255 lbs, it bent but supported my weight..........then I started took six to seven progressively harder bounces before the Coosa cracked; didn't break, but cracked. That's how strong this stuff is.


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“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your own.” "Harry S Truman"
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Old 06-21-2016, 08:02 PM   #16
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1976 31' Sovereign
newport , Virginia
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I recently purchased a very mildewy 1976 31 ft Sovereign. At this point I have gutted it down to the interior skins and a very rotten subfloor.

It seems that the major design flaw is that the subfloor extends beyond the interior wall allowing any water trickling down between the skins to land on and soak across the subfloor.

My idea is to replace the subfloor but allow a 1/2 inch gap between the edge of the subfloor and interior skin, to prevent wicking and allow water to go straight down to the bellypan. I plan to use a thicker plywood and finish with pine flooring and trim with quarter round. I agree with Foiled Again that puncturing a few holes in the bellypan would also just allow this water to leave.

I haven't removed my subfloor yet, but from reading I understand it is attached both with elevator bolts and screwed to a lip on the exterior shell.

My question is: If I don't connect the subfloor to the lip of the exterior shell does this pose a serious threat to the structural integrity of the trailer?

Side note: For all intents and purposes my trailer will be mostly stationary, not putting a lot of miles on it, so perhaps if this isn't much of a concern I could get away with leaving the proposed gap between the subfloor and interior skin?


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Old 06-22-2016, 06:23 PM   #17
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
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Hello roryhale, Your top of the line 76 Sovereign has a lot of subfloor to rot compared to the smaller trailers. The mid seventies longer trailers seem to experience floor rot and frame rust more than average.

You are correct that rainwater can leak between the exterior and interior skins and soak the subfloor causing the rot. We owners are often oblivious to this leaking because we aren't standing in puddles. Probing with a moisture detector helps alert us to an exterior skin rainwater leak.

I've learned in these forums that some rebuilders provide "drains" in the C channel that can help let rainwater water out. And epoxy sealing the ends of the subfloor also helps prolong life.

I don't know your plan of attack on this big vintage Airstream. Many folks plan on completing the "full monty" rebuild which includes lifting the body from the frame. This ton of work is probably the best course of action. Easy for me to say, but I enjoy working on these vintage Airstreams. It's a 2000 hour and $15,000 project start to finish, but you will have a fine vintage Airstream when done.

So maybe you will pull the bottom course of interior skins so you can have a good look at the "C" channel. As you know, the Airstream is built like a very old aircraft. It is "semi-monocoque" construction where the frame is light, the light subfloor holds the frame rigid, and the aluminum body holds the frame up. You gotta attach the subfloor very well to the frame, and attach the body very well to the subfloor. Leaving the subfloor short of the C channel would compromise the strength of the trailer significantly.

You need to drop the belly pan and all the trash insulation (yuck) so you can inspect the frame. Old long trailers are subject to rear end separation due to the rear frame cross member rusting away. The strength of the trailer is compromised and sometimes the frame rails bend or buckle from the axle mounts to the rear bumper. Now is the time to make this repair if your trailer needs it. This is a good example of why the frame, subfloor, and body need to be well attached to each other so they can hold each other together.

There are several good threads about enthusiasts refurbishing their Sovereigns. I especially like "little girl" by Mino. Their trailer is a 71 if memory serves. You'll find it in the Airstream Knowledge Base section toward the bottom of the Forums page, then click on Sovereign, and finally 71 year range. It's a good thread.

My views are just like any other yay-hoo on the internet. Your plan to make your trailer a "park model" where routine towing is not planned will change your approach. For example, you may not need new axles and brakes right away. But a well documented, complete rehab to the "bones" of your trailer will certainly add value no matter the intended use.

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Old 06-22-2016, 07:52 PM   #18
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1973 27' Overlander
1972 29' Ambassador
St. Paul , Minnesota
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Howdy... A while back I installed blocks of solid aluminum bar as placeholder for the NEW plywood floor across the leak-prone back of my '73 27'. This could've been done with one long piece instead of the three pieces I used, just grabbed what was handy. Between the metal-to-metal clamping and the 3m 5200 sealant that is used on blue-water boat hulls, I can report all is well & dry still, but I haven't dragged the back frame on pavement anywhere either... Thread & post here:

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Old 06-23-2016, 10:28 PM   #19
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1976 29' Ambassador
Atlanta , Georgia
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I looked into this. I got a quote on their 4x8 panels. They have two varieties,Bluewater and Nautical. The panels come in a variety of densities and thickness. Bluewater 26 1" 4 x8 - $249.60/sh, Nautical 24 1" 4 x 8 - 238.05/sh. AThe salesman recommended Bluewater 20# (heavy fiber reinforcement/ lower weight/cost) 1" 4 x 8 - 218.04/sh.

I have a 29' Ambassador, of which the actual length is 26 or 27' (haven't measured it yet) so I'm thinking I need at least 7 panels. Not cheap, obviously but it should be completely water-impervious.

I do see two issues. First is whether the panels would be stable over the frame span. If the subfloor flexes or buckles, it would be very nasty. Second is thickness. 1" is the minimum thickness. I'm thinking the original subfloor is 3/4? Would that make a difference? I don't know. I literally just got the AS and will be gutting it out this weekend.

I am reserving shell-off reno until I gut and remove a portion of the subfloor (yup, rear by the window is completely rotted out) to check on the frame. If I do a complete shell-off, then a complete subfloor replacement would be very tempting. But at $1500-1800? I don't know...
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Old 06-24-2016, 06:33 AM   #20
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1976 29' Ambassador
Atlanta , Georgia
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Wabbiteer, I went through the linked thread. Impressive work. I'm just starting my work and expect to gut it completely as you have. I'm sort of obsessed with the subfloor right now because I do have water damage, and it is a vulnerable area, and because I have one shot at this as I reno the AS. So it's important to get this right.

I especially like the aluminum bar idea. I am considering Coosa composite panel but cost is a huge consideration. I had an idea this morning in the vein of that aluminum bar however. A Trex or similar composite decking might work in place of the bar. A line of countersunk weep holes along the length of the decking could help water that came through just pass to the underbelly. I plan on using vinyl flooring on top. It's click-on, "premium" vinyl that goes on like laminate that's supposed to be waterproof.

Demo starts today so the decision on the subfloor is a bit off in the future.
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Old 06-24-2016, 02:09 PM   #21
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1972 29' Ambassador
St. Paul , Minnesota
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SAVE THE CURVES, make templates, even if they are crumble mealy and obnoxious...

A good flavor of MDO sign makers plywood with proper priming and 3x coats of porch paint is about as forever as me, a mere mortal, can aspire to... with the drop in petroleum prices there may be price reductions on Nyloboard or the like but I seriously doubt it.

If you've read the post you were flooded with information along with the blather, just note I indeed lucked out and found MDO in 49" x 99" inch so I could overlap, w/ glue and screws, over the frame cross members.

To those who wanted Jackson Center to use their choice of product for flooring, I've read here before that thats been soundly refused many times over the years.

Pressure treated lumber would eat iron and aluminum alike, note the epoxy coated or stainless steel fasteners they use on outdoor decking - besides that the junk outgasses unhealthy compounds for years that outdoor wind, sunshine and rain diminish pretty rapidly...

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Old 06-26-2016, 05:45 AM   #22
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I also have a 28 ft Intl with rotten floor in 2 soft spots, front and back and I feel this is quite common based on my research.
I had two soft spots that I THOUGHT were rot but after cutting the vinyl and looking I found happily that it was nothing. Then came the new floor.
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Old 07-19-2016, 08:48 AM   #23
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san jose , California
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Question for all you floor experts. On a 2006 Bambi 16 does the subfloor go under the shower, sink/range, closet? If so, how do you replace the subfloor under these obstacles?

Looking at purchasing a used 2006 with floor rot and want to know better if it is worth it or there will be sections I can't get to that will require a full gut to fix. Thanks.
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Old 07-19-2016, 08:57 AM   #24
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Hanover , Pennsylvania
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Originally Posted by rodsterinfl View Post
I had two soft spots that I THOUGHT were rot but after cutting the vinyl and looking I found happily that it was nothing. Then came the new floor.
What type of new floor did you install? I need to do the same, having been through about same thing as you, and am looking for ideas/recommendations.

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Old 07-19-2016, 09:01 AM   #25
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Lexington , Kentucky
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Originally Posted by vis0rd0wn View Post
Question for all you floor experts. On a 2006 Bambi 16 does the subfloor go under the shower, sink/range, closet? If so, how do you replace the subfloor under these obstacles?

Looking at purchasing a used 2006 with floor rot and want to know better if it is worth it or there will be sections I can't get to that will require a full gut to fix. Thanks.
When I was in JC getting a soft spot repaired I asked about replacing the vinyl flooring. They said everything has to come out, that's the only way they would do it. So if they take everything out to do the vinyl, they'd do it for the sub-floor too, I would think. The service guy said the bath area was especially difficult. The more you can do yourself, the more money you save.

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Old 07-19-2016, 09:07 AM   #26
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1983 27' Excella
Charlottesville , Virginia
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I bought a thirty foot triple axle race car trailer a few years ago from a small company in PA. They do not use any plywood at all in their construction. Aluminum floors and walls. One piece roofs - no leaks. They do not have any dealers and most of their trailers are made to order. Nice people, superior product. I never had a single problem with it.

Airstream could save themselves and their customers a lot of time, money, and grief if they would ditch the plywood floors. Sure it would cost more up front, but it would be way way cheaper in the long run.
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Old 07-19-2016, 12:34 PM   #27
1990 34' Excella
Zephyrhills , Florida
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Does anybody have a link to replacing a rotten section with removing the body? I can't imagine it's that difficult. Thanks. I have a small place up front that i need to replace.
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Old 07-19-2016, 04:27 PM   #28
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1973 31' Sovereign
Mount Angel , Oregon
Join Date: Mar 2014
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when ordering a brand new Airstream from JC....

..I wonder if the purchaser could bring in their own Coosa subflooring and ask that it be used instead of the usual plywood subfloor material?

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