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Old 01-15-2015, 09:42 AM   #1
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1974 27' Overlander
Twisp , Washington
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Shell alignment?

My wife just asked me this question, and I didn't really have a good answer. How do you get the shell perfectly aligned back on your nicely overhauled frame? And how do you tweak it as needed once it is sitting on the new deck? I have some ideas, but I'd like to hear if there's a consensus technique. Thanks.

Dave
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Old 01-15-2015, 11:29 AM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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On your 70's trailer, you will drill out the rivets holding the shell to the C-channels on the straight sides of the floor, but not on the curved sections. When you have replaced your floor, you will reinstall the C-channels on the straight sections. Assuming you have done a good job of cutting your floor to the right size, your shell will drop into place, and not hang up on anything. It will stop when the C-channels in the curved sections front and back seat onto your new floor. You should have a "hold down" plate in the front center, and you will want to get the rivet holes in your front panel to line up with those in the hold down plate. I played hell trying to get all the rivet holes in the original C-channels along the sides to line up with the holes in the shell. Finally gave up and drilled new holes where needed. It is critical that you don't change the thickness of your subfloor, or you will never get the holes in the hold down plate to line up with those in your shell again.

My frame was so rotten that it required total replacement of approximately the last 4 feet, and replacement of some of the outriggers as well. I figure with all that change, it was to be expected that every rivet hole wasn't going to line up perfectly. I posted a thread to see what others recommended, and the general opinion was that I shouldn't worry too much about it and drill new holes.

Good luck!
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Old 01-17-2015, 04:48 PM   #3
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1974 27' Overlander
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Thank you for that info, it makes a lot more sense with the interior skins removed . I noticed that NONE of the ribs are riveted to the C-channel, just the ext. skin, is that normal? And while I'm thinking about it, what's the best way to drill out buck rivets without drilling off center? I've done a few, but no matter how careful I am, I still seem to be pretty hit or miss when it comes to getting them centered . Later.

Dave
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Old 01-17-2015, 09:40 PM   #4
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Tampa , Florida
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You will get better at drilling out the buck rivets. I can drill them out almost perfectly now.... Although, I almost always up drill them to 5/32 and install the vintage trailer supply replacement rivets.

As far as lining up, do your best. But as Belegedhel said, you may not be perfect. I was pretty lucky and lined up everything back the way it was. It took some jacking up here and there, but I think I got all the old holes to line up. The front tie down plate is will line up pretty easily. At the end of the day, I dont think an exact replacement is THAT important. There will be places that you want it to be accurate- like around the openings. But remember you're essentially rebuilding the way Airstream did, so you'll have the freedom to re-build the way it goes together. The more you can line up ahead of time (or pre-drill for assembly while its apart) the easier it will go back together. Ultimately though, it will be just fine.
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:18 AM   #5
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As long as your running gear is balanced you should not have any problems... Seriously!
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Old 01-18-2015, 09:42 PM   #6
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Houston , Texas
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On the topic of how to better drill out rivets: One method is to get a spring loaded center punch and start by punching the center of each rivet before you drill it. Use a sharp bit, and you should be able to steer it and stay on center. Another option is to buy a "rivet removal tool" from a source such as Vintage Trailer Supply or "the yard store". This tool will mechanically find the center of the rivet and speed up the process.

Another technique that I really like is getting a stout (yet thin) putty knife (I have a great one made by Craftsman), and hammer it between the aluminum sheets, sheering the rivets. You will still need to tap the rivet bodies out of the holes (I use a spring loaded punch described above), but in terms of getting things separated in a hurry, you can hardly beat it for speed.

good luck!
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