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Old 02-01-2011, 07:36 PM   #1
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Shell on? Shell off?

Alright I'm debating weather or not to go the FULL MONTY on our 68 TW as I was originally planning. I expect lots of feed back on this so let me hear from anyone who's done either or both. First my thinking was I need to replace and repair the Aframe and I'm putting on new axle assy's. Ive seen though that lots of resto's have been done removing the belly skins and floors and calling in a welder to do the necessary repairs on site and I have a couple local guys who can do this. I have, for anyone who has followed my threads, moved into a hangar and have 6 months to a year in the space. I don't have a hoist though so I'd be jacking it up and saw horsing it, which I don't like the thought of. Also I won't be able to sand blast the frame in my hangar space as I intended, so lots of die grinding with scotch brite pads to remove corrosion. Also I'll be replacing the street and curb side lower exterior panels to repair the cuts caused by the outriggers. So let's hear it.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:48 PM   #2
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I did mine semi-on. meaning I raised the rear enough off the frame to insert the new floor and then the front. So while the entire shell was not off the frame at the same time I did lift the shell off in increments.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:59 PM   #3
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Althea68 I did the full monte on mine. I too was very aprehensive about taking the shell off. It was surprisingly easy to lift the shell with a couple of bottle jacks and put it on sawhorses. Once it was high enough the chassis just rolled right out. It made replacing/repairing the frame much easier and the floor installation was also easier to do with the shell off. I was extremely worried about putting the shell back on but it dropped right into place and fit like a glove. I have never done anything quite so involved before and if I ever do it again i wouldn't hesitate about it at all.
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:04 PM   #4
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Shell off. It's not nearly as hard as you might think. That way you get to see everything and you won't have any regrets.
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:16 PM   #5
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Althea68,
I know taking the shell off seems like a lot of extra work, in the long run it will save a lot of time and aggrivation. You will be able to do the frame and axles from above. On the inside the inner skins will be off and that will help with the electrical work and floor bolt removal. Take your time and do it right the first time!
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:17 PM   #6
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Oh, forgot to say that if I were to do it again...probably shell off. Would make a lot of things easier.
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:43 PM   #7
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I have a question, I've seen a lot of pictures of people doing a shell off in their driveway. what do you do about bad weather? Like a storm with high wind, I live in Oklahoma. I would like to back up and start over, shell off, but I dont have a large building.
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:50 PM   #8
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I've seen some that stake them down with ropes, cables, wires, etc. Like you would a tent.
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:06 PM   #9
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Ok, dumb question: Is it possible to lift shell and remove frame without completely gutting interior?
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walter1
Ok, dumb question: Is it possible to lift shell and remove frame without completely gutting interior?
No. It is not possible.
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:04 PM   #11
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Okay so next question did everyone who has done shell off build all of the extavagant trussing and stabilizers in the shell before lift off. How do you really need.
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:36 PM   #12
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No.
If on the interior you just remove the bottom panels, I think that the diagonal bracing is entirely unnecessary.

I'd say 2x6s one every other 'stud'. So that will be maybe 5 or 6 of those. 2 bolts on each end into the stud so they don't twist.

I have a 31' sitting up on blocks out in the yard and it is doing just fine.

If I were going to do it again, I'd be collecting cinder blocks and scrap pieces of 2x6 to use to support the thing all around while I was jacking it up.
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:37 PM   #13
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I would vote for the Shell off. I just took mine off 2 weeks ago. I only used a 3 - 3/4 plywood cut into 3 inch strips and fastened to the ribs. I would add a few more and some 2x4's to tie them together before jacking it up. The whole shell is only about 500lbs.

I used the steel rafters in my barn to lift the shell off. I did it alone and it was surprisingly easy. It did take a bit to get all the hidden rivets and sealant lose.
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:21 AM   #14
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Definitely Shell Off

Quote:
Originally Posted by Althea68 View Post
Okay so next question did everyone who has done shell off build all of the extavagant trussing and stabilizers in the shell before lift off. How do you really need.
The one thing I would do differently, knowing what I know now, would be to build a new frame for the '78...not that the '78 frame is bad - it isn't - it's just that now, in hindsight, I would build a frame that is hell-for-stout and incorporate as much water capacity in it that would fit. Also, build in more storage bins into the floor (down into the frame area), and possibly install a couple of hangers for a pair of Honda 2000's.

As far as taking the shell off in the hangar, below are a few pics of a '66 Safari currently hanging from some scaffolding. Note that we built the scaffolding 3 sections (15') high - two sections (10') would have been sufficient. We could have added a cinder block or two under each scaffold leg and had more than enough height with just two sections on each side. You should have more than enough head room in the hangar to utilize a similar set up.

That's me on the left, and the dapper young man with the South-of-the-Border Safety Shoes on the right is the owner.



Below is a shot of the interior upper lift assembly and bracing. We used a pair of come-a-longs mounted in the interior to lift the shell. We used the forward and aft vents to pass the come-a-long cables through to the beams mounted on the scaffolding.



Below is a shot of the lower bracing and how we landed the shell on saw horses.



Not shown is are the 2X6's about 10' long mounted on the bottom curb and street side just above the "C" channels. We tied into each rib with a single screw to increase the stability of the bottom shell. THe shell was strapped down front and aft and has weathered a couple of fairly strong storms with no movement or damage.

We probably went overboard on constructing the scaffolding spanning beams - two 2X12's sandwiched together with a 1/4" steel plate between the wood bolted together every foot or so.

Wish I would have taken some pics while dragging the old frame to the welder's place (about 10 miles in a VERY rural area). Several stops to pick up parts that were fallling off. The frame was actually broken in half on either side by the time we delivered it - the right side was fractured behind the axle and the left side separated in front of the axle - the only thing holding it together was the very rotten flooring.

New frame has been constructed, powder coated, and ready for new tanks to be installed.
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lahrfarm View Post
I have a question, I've seen a lot of pictures of people doing a shell off in their driveway. what do you do about bad weather? Like a storm with high wind, I live in Oklahoma. I would like to back up and start over, shell off, but I dont have a large building.
I did (am doing) mine out in the back yard.
Weather has definitely been The issue.
- Place to put parts and what-not
- Place to keep tools and what-not.
- Lighting to work at night.
- Inconvenience of having to drag everything out to work and then dragging everything back in when you are done.
- When it rains.. not getting things wet that you don't want wet. I don't know how many times I hauled the 7 sheets of 3/4" plywood out to work on the floor then hauled it back in. Not fun.
- Wind is blocked pretty good here, but still got the heebie-jeebies a few times when the winds picked up and the shell was up on the horses... not tied down.
- I'd def. have at least one decent tarp big enough to cover the entire chassis/floor and something to keep the edges from blowing up.
It is inconvenient, but def. doable.

Tonight I was out with my flimsy shop light mounting the axles in a slow drizzle.
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Old 02-04-2011, 03:05 AM   #16
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Thanks all.

So Thanks to all who have responded to this thread so far. I'm going to Harbor Freight on Saturday to buy a couple of chain hoists to lift the shell. I'm gonna post pics of some of the frame rot that I have so far uncovered. I have gotten into the front end and its pretty crummy esp. the hack job patches to reinforce the frame, its kind of hard to see in the photos because it all just looks like a lot of rust. However from what I can see of the forward cross members and 18 inches or so in from the front on the frame rails theres some solid steel under the rust. I also wanted to give a BIG THANKS to Colin Hyde at Colin Hyde Trailer Restorations, he has been very helpful with some tips as well as encouraging with a great attitude about undertaking a major restoration like many of us have gotten ourselves into. I am purchasing tandem axles from Colin's shop and the price is WAY better than all of the other resources I have been able to find. So I would keep him in your book of Airstream resources.
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:17 AM   #17
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Althea68 I lifted my shell with a couple of bottle jacks between the floor of the trailer and the framing built to brace the shell. I was quite easy to lift and I did the job alone. If you have some bottle jacks you can save the purchase of chain hoists. Also that way the shell is not swinging around like it would with chain hoists.
Nothing against Colin but have you factored in shipping costs to washington form his N.Y. location. These axles are quite heavy and must be shipped freight which is much higher than parcel rates.
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:56 AM   #18
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Well?

Yeah Wasagachris, I did A LOT of shopping around for axles as well as the continuing and nonstop shopping for parts and such. What I learned was.
1. Do you need new brakes?
2. Do you need new drums, rotors, hardware?
3. Add up what its gonna cost = slightly less than new assy's for both axles with all of the above included, for me.
Honestly even with $300 for delivery to a commercial address for shipping, the price still came in signifigantly lower than if I was to, say drive down to Inland RV in CA. and pick em up myself. Nothing against Inland, I have bought stuff there and have had good experiences as well. I will say though that the prices are going up on a lot of these parts and I would recommend asking, if your just pricing things, if there will be an increase by the time you plan on spending your $$$. Advice garnered from a good source.
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:52 AM   #19
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first question: Shell off for sure. Here is what I use to lift shells.
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Cost me about $150 in materials to build. It could lift the shell and chassis. Doing it shell on will only have you wondering if got to all the areas. Also, it is impossible to do this shell on or off with the belly pan left in place. I will have someone argue this, just to get it out of the way, you are wrong, end of discussion.

On a final note... The axles are made in Indiana. Axis does not ship them to Northern NY then Colin sends them to you, the axle is sent from the factory. I know the "shipping cost" to be a scam perpetrated by many dealers not just the ones selling axles. They are dropped shipped and do not have to go to the dealer first.
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Old 02-05-2011, 08:08 AM   #20
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I'd check with Frank who just posted above, I believe he also sells axles. You can PM him.

As for the original question. go shell off if you have the space, and it sounds like you do.

I did not have the space, so I had no choice but to do shell-on. There are many things that would be easier with the shell off, but we don't always get that choice.

Good luck!
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