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Old 04-29-2004, 10:48 PM   #1
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Securing the floor

Just want some options on securing the original flooring. Here's my problem; 98% of the floor is very solid (that's not the problem ) But after gutting the unit for a make over I found that several of the elevator bolts have become loose or the tops of them rusted off. Oddly the bolts around the edge of the floor are fine. Most of the problem bolts are in the center of the trailer. Again the floor and frame are very solid. The bolts that are loose seemed to be loose because of the fact that the wood around them is worn away from just floor flex over the years. Total I'm looking at around 20 to 25 bolts (didn't count them).

What I need options for is the best way to secure the floor back onto the frame. I would like to avoid removing the belly pan. Even though reading through the forums it's not that hard of a task, it's just that the pan is in good shape and I'd rather not remove it. So how can I secure the floor without removing the pans?

It's not that I'm lazy, but what happens is I pull the pans down and a 2 hour repair turns into weeks or months. I'll decide to sand the frame and repaint, that will lead to while I'm this far maybe a whole new floor would be nice and the next thing you know the Mrs comes outside and I have the shell off! You don't want to see the look I would get or the kind words she'll have for me, so please help! Like most of you I tend to get carry away in my zeal to restore. (that's why it's now gutted-----and yes when she saw that I got the look!!!!!)

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Old 04-29-2004, 11:36 PM   #2
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You'd think

whistler,
Since you're this far along and, she has already "given you" the look...You might wanta think about just biting the bullet~
Look at this way..You wanta do it..The next new owners will praise you forever~!
The belly pan is really not that big of a deal..
I even had mine down in the rear several years ago working on things. I'll say this, unless you jack it up, things tend to get sorta "tight" under there..lol
Are you taking work progress pictures as you go along?
ciao
53FC
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Old 04-30-2004, 07:49 AM   #3
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Don't use the elevator!

If the bolts are that rusted, don't use it. Where does it take you anyway?

Dennis
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Old 04-30-2004, 08:49 AM   #4
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New Bolts!

This is a no brainer to me...............

Why dont you just put new screws in?

They make self drilling screws in all kinds of shapes and metals.

If nothing else, buy some OEM screws from Airstream.

There are very few if any obstructions below the floor with exception of the Water Tanks and the water tanks do not recess into the beams of the undercarriage.

You can buy low profile self drilling screws from most hardware stores. You can even buy them in stainless steel if you are worried about corrosion or bleed through.

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Old 04-30-2004, 09:31 AM   #5
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Yeah, 53FC hit it right on the head. You know you're gonna take that pan off sooner or later. Might as well do it now. It's a wonderful adventure.

You can buy elevator bolts in stainless steel, but not in the original 1 1/4" length. Need to buy 1 1/2" and shorten them. How much more fun can you have with your pant's on?
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Old 04-30-2004, 03:42 PM   #6
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Dropping the belly pan

Hmmmm.
I still don't understand why everyone refers to this as so easy.
I'd rather replumb the entire water supply system in my trailer.

Am I wrong that to take the belly pan off, you need to remove not only the rivets throughout the undersurface of the pan, but also all the rivets around the lower outer edge of the trailer? And then replace them all, right? And that's after getting the bellyskin tucked perfectly between the U-channel and the outer (upper) skin? And of course, you need to worry about any propane lines that pass thru the bellypan.

I mean, I'm on my way. My interior is braced, ALL the perimeter rivets have been drilled out at this point. All the screws in the channel are out from the floor; I just need to cut off a few more bolts.

So, if it weren't for the bad weather I'll have for the next few days, my shell would be off by monday. I expect the weather will hold me up a bit. I'll spend some time inside the trailer, making a good floor template for my replacement sheathing (since all four corners were rotted to dust).

Back to the topic - I agree, no doubt, that the best way for Whistler to replace those elevator bolts would be to be able to get at both sides of 'em; I just don't think it's all that easy.

My $0.02.
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Old 04-30-2004, 04:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by funchucky1
Am I wrong that to take the belly pan off, you need to remove not only the rivets throughout the undersurface of the pan, but also all the rivets around the lower outer edge of the trailer? And then replace them all, right? And that's after getting the bellyskin tucked perfectly between the U-channel and the outer (upper) skin? And of course, you need to worry about any propane lines that pass thru the bellypan.

Yes. you are wrong. and I mean that in the nicest way....

well, actually....I can't speak for your trailer, but for mine, the pan is just a flat sheet that only covers the area between the main frame rails. the curved part with the top edge that is covered by a molding at floor level is a seperate piece. it only goes from the edge of the floor of the trailer down around the area where the outriggers are. the joint between these pieces and the belly pan is a "butt joint"; no overlapping.

my pan is in 3 pieces. one goes from the bumper all the way forward of the axles, up to the fresh water tank. since the tank's support is suspended by "z angle", it has its own pan section. then the forward piece of belly skin goes from the forward edge of the fresh water tank, to the front of the trailer. all gas lines are in this area, so in order to take out the tank or belly in the front part of the trailer...yes, you have to remove the gas lines. but the only obstruction in the back of mine is the stabilizer jacks, which come off w/ 3 bolts.

I'm getting ready to remove the rear (longest section) belly pan to do a grey-tank retrofit. when I finish the project, the rear pan will have 3 smaller sections, so future access will be much easier.
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Old 04-30-2004, 04:02 PM   #8
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How about these.

John
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Old 04-30-2004, 04:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by funchucky1
Hmmmm.
Am I wrong that to take the belly pan off, you need to remove not only the rivets throughout the undersurface of the pan, but also all the rivets around the lower outer edge of the trailer? And then replace them all, right? And that's after getting the bellyskin tucked perfectly between the U-channel and the outer (upper) skin? And of course, you need to worry about any propane lines that pass thru the bellypan.

You are correct on your description of the issue. The belly pan of the 50's was significantly different than the belly pan in the 60s and 70's. The pan does wrap over the U channel.

Then the shell is riveted to the u channel as well.

Check out this picture from 59 that the floor was redone on.

http://www.airstreamphotos.com/photo...at/500/page/11

This member did a shell off, if you look through the members photos paying attention to pages 10, 11, and 12 It shows how it goes back together. The pages 13,14,15,16 all show the taking apart and the redo.
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Old 04-30-2004, 04:20 PM   #10
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show's you what I know....

well, I did use the disclaimer "I can't speak for your trailer, but for mine..."
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Old 04-30-2004, 05:08 PM   #11
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I would not use self tapping screws - to my thinking they are not nearly as strong as bolts.

Yes the 50's belly is very different - what I plan to do is to take mine down and replace in three sections similar to the 70's trailers. On my other trailer I put the belly back on with stainless screws. I can drop the whole belly in about 1/2 hour.

Ken
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Old 04-30-2004, 05:10 PM   #12
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John

Those bolts don't look like they have a very big head on them - elevator bolts have a big flat head on them

Ken
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Old 04-30-2004, 05:18 PM   #13
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Agreed, you would have to use a few more of these than the elevator bolts, but they are self tapping. Short of tek bolts with big hex heads (that would have to be countersunk) these are about all I have used that would work if he wants to do it from one side.

John
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Old 04-30-2004, 09:46 PM   #14
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I wish my belly was in three pieces

It's true, I do.
Boy, that would ease things a bit.
In fact, it may be in three pieces when I reassemble it.
How old is Whistler's trailer?
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Old 04-30-2004, 10:16 PM   #15
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Don't want to start an argument, but I think using self tapping screws might be a problem because there really isn't enough metal thickness in the frame. At most you could get two threads in that thickness. Which would be fine if it was a dry location and not likely to corrode.
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Old 05-01-2004, 07:47 AM   #16
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Don

No argument here - now that you mention it thats two reasons not to use self tapping screws - the first is the size of the screw itself and second as you mention is the "bite" or lack there of in the cross members.

The 70's trailers use BAL stabilizers and they use self tapping screws in the cross members, very easy to strip if your not careful. On my 75 been there done that, my plan is to have a piece welded just for the stabilizers to get a better bite. In fact on the newer BAL stablizers, they use a hook that hooks around the opening of the cross member rather than self tapping screws into the cross member

I know its been done, in my view, it won't hold up.

As had been said belly removal is not that hard - its work you get to do while laying on your back . Even on the older trailers, I would think you could drop enough to reach the bolts, or if you have to put new metal up the center its not prohibitably expensive to do so.

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Old 05-01-2004, 12:21 PM   #17
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Bs

That is complete bunk about screws and threads!

Look around, almost ALL metal buildings these days utilize this construction.
They use self drilling TEK screws that are:
a. non corrosive
b. hardened steel, (they do drill )
c. come with wide, water preventative washers

If you check and see you will probably find that your gas lines are attached to the frame with self drilling screws.

As for threads, as I said above, they use these to affix steel sheeting to the stringers that run horizontal on the building frame, certainly comparable to or even thinner than the steel in the frame assembly.

Almost all AC duct work utilize this construction on steel that is not even close to the thickness of the trailer frame.

All commercial buildings that utilize steel or tin studs use these screws.

Obviously, this practice is utilized and ACCEPTED by building codes and inspectors.

My 2 dollars worth!

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Old 05-01-2004, 12:31 PM   #18
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Do whatever you want. None of those applications are in an environment that is susceptible to prolonged exposure to moisture and wet plywood. If you can seal the underside, I would be more likely to use them, but if you can access the underside, why not use elevator bolts and screws?
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Old 05-01-2004, 02:42 PM   #19
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but if you can access the underside, why not use elevator bolts and screws?
By far the elevator bolts would be better, larger head, more threads, locking or nylock nuts. But Whistler asked for a solution that did not involve pulling the belly skin. That doesn't leave much but self tapping or self drilling/self tapping. On the plus side these won't be the only source of attachment, just replacing some that have lost tension over the years, he can replace 2 for 1 if that is what it takes.

John
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Old 05-01-2004, 03:22 PM   #20
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It has been said that every time you tow a trailer its like putting it though a torando. Most buildings don't go through tornados everyday. My intention is not to be argumentative, I think were just suggesting what we know works. My intuitive sense says don't do it, however if you go the self tapping screw route, let me know - I'm always open to learning something new.

Ken
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