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Old 06-12-2011, 09:23 PM   #85
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Economics and work interference

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Sandy well economics and time to work on the Excella have forced me to revise my launch date until fall 2012. Hopefully I can complete it by then. If I get it done I would like to go to the TAC rally being held at WDW in FL for Nov. 2012. So I'm not sure yet when I will get to your neck of the woods, maybe late in Mar. 2013. The plan is to go south to the rally then on to Tx. and head west to Ca. and then loop back north and east to home for Apr. 2013 in time to open the park.
We have run head on into this dilemma ourselves. My better half says if I would let him retire, he could get the Albatross all up and running in no time. I remind him that with one kid in college yet and a wife in school as well, he can't think retirement just yet. He won't last too long at his current job after 32 years of it. I am hoping he can hang on long enough to get our son done in college and the AS ready to run. I doubt I will be done with school until 2016 but all bets are off once our son is done.....it might be time to take care of ourselves for a change.

No matter what, come through ND on your travels and we can show you what we have done so far and a little of the area. Despite all the vicious rumors spread about ND, it is a beautiful place to live. At least I think so, until the storms hit and the snow starts.

The plan is to work all winter on the AS during our off hours so hopefully we can make a lot of progress because ND winters are known for their length. We have lots of room and great spaces to park Airstreams. We'll be looking forward to it.
Sandy
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Old 06-12-2011, 09:43 PM   #86
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South Dakota has lots of flooding from that river that comes to us by way of Bismarck. Sioux Falls is fine . . . so far. My lowest property is 200' above the nearest river at elevation of 1,479'. According to Google Earth, Sioux City is 1,076'. They have lots of problems. Plus they have 5 earthen dams at overflow levels above them.
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Old 06-13-2011, 07:15 AM   #87
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We're trying to hold it back

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South Dakota has lots of flooding from that river that comes to us by way of Bismarck. Sioux Falls is fine . . . so far. My lowest property is 200' above the nearest river at elevation of 1,479'. According to Google Earth, Sioux City is 1,076'. They have lots of problems. Plus they have 5 earthen dams at overflow levels above them.
Bismarck is being hit pretty hard in the south and west. Lots of people are living wherever they can until they can try to get back into their homes. A friend living on the east side of the river is surrounded by water but determined to stay in her house. No electricity, no source of clean water, no septic tank. She canoes out once a day to run to town to get gas for her generator. She's a strong one but I am not sure it is so safe as basements have been collapsing due to the high groundwater. Then there is always the thought, "What if the dam goes?"...if that goes, we are all goners.

We will try to hold as much back as we can but we can blame Montana for their snow melts and Mother Nature for all the moisture. It is hard to watch people's lives being rearranged like this but luckily no one has lost their life yet.
Sandy
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Old 06-14-2011, 01:10 AM   #88
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My better half purchased his welder this morning. We went across the river and through the woods, well...maybe not through the woods, but anyway....he picked out a Miller 140, the cart, the gas bottles, gloves, jacket, and other assorted things. The welding shop had a great dog named Bella that I was throwing a very slobbery ball to as my husband made up his mind. I asked if I could get the dog but the owner said his fiance would kill him if he came home without her.

The man in charge is now sitting here reading the directions for his new welder. I would have likely thrown those aside until I got stuck on something but he is a follow the directions kind of guy. Hopefully the snow melts soon and we can pull our sad little rotten frame out of the snow, get some steel hauled in, and start to work.
Nice welder! That should be plenty of power to get the job done. I am just about done with the frame welding now time to put it all back together.
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Old 06-14-2011, 03:44 PM   #89
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Sandy,

I recommend you not only thicken the metal, but use a deeper section.

A 1976 31 footer is a prime candidate for sag and separation. I've not read through this entire thread in a long while so don't recall if you had those happen, but I assume you did or you wouldn't be building a new frame.

In 1985, Airstream made their frames 1" deeper and that effectively solved the sag and separation problems. The older frames simply weren't stiff enough in the longer trailers. They were barely adequate for a 26 footer, but when you get out to 31 foot, they bounce around too much.

You'll have to modify or remake the lower panels, but that's not that big a deal with the level of resto you're looking at. I'd make the frame 6" deep and use at least 1/8" thick material. Probably use C channel, but you could also use I-Beam. You could box portions of it where the higher stress areas are. The only problem with boxing the whole thing is that if water does get in there, it will tend to lay there for awhile and rust it out. Open sections shed water better.

As to Airstreams being monocoque construction; that really isn't true. I know it's big in their sales literature, but realistically the holes (windows, doors, etc.) are too big, the ribs are too far apart, and there's not much for longitudinal stiffeners to be a real monocoque structure. You won't hurt one with a stiffer frame.

Avions are built very similarly to Airstreams, but they have a much stouter frame. It doesn't affect their shells at all. In fact, it would reduce stress on the shell because the shell wouldn't be required to carry as much. Avions don't sag or separate either. Avions use a 6" deep main frame and have three rails running the length of the trailer instead of just two. As well, they have an 8" deep suspension frame that the suspension bolts to. this frame is then welded to the main frame, so you have a 14" deep frame in the area of maximum stress. The suspension frame extends about 3-4' on either side of the wheels.

When I had my 77 Excella 500, I designed a new frame for it that had an 8" deep cross section. It would have been about 7 times stronger than the OEM frame, and would have added about 140lbs total weight to the trailer. It was a good design and easy to make using 8" channel section for everything. The only reason I didn't do it was because I was in the middle of building a house at the time and didn't have the time to do a complete shell off resto, and I found a 34' Avion which was just about what I'd have wound up building anyway. So I bought the Avion, sold the 'Stream, and am still finishing the house

But anyway, if you guys are fabricating a totally new frame, there's no reason to copy the original geometry. You could greatly improve on it. If you haven't already, look at the one Boat Doc did. It's stainless steel. Awesome!

Best of luck,
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Old 06-24-2011, 06:05 PM   #90
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Ordered our axles!! Yippeee!!

Guess I have to say many women would be thrilled with diamonds or whatever but I am thrilled to say we ordered our axles today!! Yippee!! Should be here in about a month and hopefully by then we will have our frame work done.

I feel like dancing!! Skip the diamonds and the flowers and heck, skip the card...just bring on the new Airstream frame and axles!! We might actually have a trailer to camp in before I die....Hooray!
Sandy
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:27 PM   #91
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Congratulations! I've never seen someone get so crazy about new axles! Well, besides me of course
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Old 06-24-2011, 08:27 PM   #92
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At least I am not alone

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Congratulations! I've never seen someone get so crazy about new axles! Well, besides me of course
Hey Top,
Glad to hear I am not alone. I feel like I am having my birthday and Mother's Day all wrapped up together when I heard my husband ordering the axles after work tonight. The progress is slow but in the right direction at least. Yippee!! Now all we have to do is get them on the non existent frame....all in good time.

Axles....they are a good thing.
Sandy
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Old 06-27-2011, 11:52 PM   #93
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Hello Sandy,
I found your thread because I was searching for info on new axles... but got side tracked reading the discussion on welding, learning welding, and welding equipment. Very interesting information! :-)

I'm working on a 76 31' center bath, shell off restoration. I hope to have the shell off soon. Meaning, I need to look at new axles also. How did you know you needed new axles or did you just do what I might do and just replace them to be safe? I have no idea what condition my axles are in, or if they really need to be replaced or not. Not sure how to tell either. :-)

Can I ask, where you ordered your new axles from?

Thanks,
Peter
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:55 PM   #94
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Lots of reading

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Hello Sandy,
I found your thread because I was searching for info on new axles... but got side tracked reading the discussion on welding, learning welding, and welding equipment. Very interesting information! :-)

I'm working on a 76 31' center bath, shell off restoration. I hope to have the shell off soon. Meaning, I need to look at new axles also. How did you know you needed new axles or did you just do what I might do and just replace them to be safe? I have no idea what condition my axles are in, or if they really need to be replaced or not. Not sure how to tell either. :-)

Can I ask, where you ordered your new axles from?

Thanks,
Peter
Hello Peter,

We did a lot of reading too and it didn't take too long to realize if the rest of the frame was in such poor condition, the axles would likely be too. Lots of people weighed in and said it is a must do after so many years-nothing lasts forever. We figured we were going to do this once and then hopefully not have to touch it again for a long time. We just ordered our axles from Inland RV and hope to have the frame started shortly. Our main welding guy is supposed to be back home soon and should be calling us. If not, I am going to break down and cry. Not a pretty sight.

About the only thing that won't be new on this Albatross is the outside shell and the hitch. We have all of the pieces we took out of it to use as templates and will work all winter on it. We hope to have it up and running for next year's camping if at all possible.

Plus, we are keeping the neighbors entertained with our shenanigans. Like someone recently said to me "Can't you guys do something normal like other people?" and my response was "You know we aren't normal. Don't expect a personality change at this late date." If nothing else we are serving as a bad example to other people.
Sandy
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Old 06-28-2011, 10:57 PM   #95
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Hi Sandy,

Thanks for sharing your logic with replacing the axles. I think it is sound and will follow suite. It is also nice to know that I'm not the only representative of the type of people my father used to call the "neighborhood entertainment"... we always were the entertainment in our neighborhood... and the tradition continues... :-)

My wife asked me when I might have my AS on the road again, I replied probably in time for our son's graduation... he is headed to the fourth grade in the Fall. :-) Slow and steady progress is better than none at all!

Peter
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Old 06-29-2011, 07:26 AM   #96
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Slow and steady wins the race, right?

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Hi Sandy,

Thanks for sharing your logic with replacing the axles. I think it is sound and will follow suite. It is also nice to know that I'm not the only representative of the type of people my father used to call the "neighborhood entertainment"... we always were the entertainment in our neighborhood... and the tradition continues... :-)

My wife asked me when I might have my AS on the road again, I replied probably in time for our son's graduation... he is headed to the fourth grade in the Fall. :-) Slow and steady progress is better than none at all!

Peter
If you are planning for it to take you another 8 years to finish your Airstream, then we might be in for the slow and steady. It is a labor of love though and a person who has pride in their work and enjoys it doesn't find it work (most of the time anyway).

Thanks for calling my random musings "logic"-can't say anyone has ever said that about me My husband will be impressed if not amazed. He knows I read the forums constantly trying to figure out one thing and another so he knows I get my ideas from other people on the forums that are way, way more intelligent than I am. They also turn out to be some great friends to have to ask questions of. I continue to be amazed at how people in this forum will go above and beyond to explain and help you no matter how silly the question may be.

We are wanting to get out camping as soon as we can so we want to put the emphasis on doing the main parts now and getting all of the fine touches on later. Like the hottub and heliport
Sandy
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Old 07-08-2011, 08:34 PM   #97
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So here is the latest conversation, "Hey......, this is Sandy. You know the person with the Airstream that you said that you would see if you were interested in helping redo the frame?" Response "Who?" and then "Oh yeh, I remember now. The people with the aluminum frame." I don't have a lot of confidence at this point...Am I doomed or what?
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:32 AM   #98
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Hi Sandy,

I hardly think your project is doomed. :-) It is just a matter of finding the right welder. In my case, I'm going to learn how to weld so I can do my own repairs. At least that is the plan. I just learned that one of my "auction treasures" actually runs... it is an old Lincwelder 225 DC arc welder.

I vote for a brief mental break, a deep breath and the resolve to patiently just keep trying. :-) You'll find the right person soon.

Peter
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