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Old 08-07-2012, 11:29 PM   #1
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Shell re-install challenge

Calling all shell-off gurus!

I removed the shell of my '73 GT, spent 7 months refurbishing the frame, etc., and have finally dropped the shell back into position. But....

My first indication of trouble (and this may be a complete red-herring) was that I ordered new sections of "c" channel for the straight sections on ths sides. Like an optimist, I assumed it would be the same size as what I have, but the new channel is designed for a thinner (at least 1/16") plywood than what I have (which I assume to be 3/4"). So I went ahead and reinstalled the original channel, which was still a very tight fit (I'm guessing the original plywood was slightly less than 3/4").

I recently set the shell back onto the plywood and frame, and now I am having trouble trying to get all the miserable little rivet holes to line up between the shell and the (original) c-channels. The puzzling thing is that it is inconsistent, and when they don't align, they are not lining up because they are high or low. I did not remove the curved sections of C-channel at the ends of the trailer, so one would think these would create alignment for the ones on the sides that I did remove. I made sure the frame is level and supported by 6 jack stands, and even by putting a floor jack under a particular mis-aligned spot, I don't get enough flex to make the holes line up.

So, am I being way too anal, trying to get these holes to line up? Should I just drill additional holes into the channel, and hope there is enough meat left to hold solidly? Is there some secret technique that is used to make this go slicker?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:10 AM   #2
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im not sure about everyone else here (6 months) wow I wish I had that much time, I had a dead line and got mine back and running in 1.5 months . 12 hour days. not fun.


I had mine hanging from gantry's. I lined up the front rivets to the metal plate on the frame first. Took me an hour or two to get them all in. Your floor may have been 5/8 like mine. Not a lot of my rivets lined up on the sides. Around the curves they lined up till about 3/4 of the way around and then didn't. I couldn't figure out why and just drilled new ones. It's back together and every thing seems fine.
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:29 PM   #3
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I'm at nearly the same stage with a shell off on a 75 GT 21'. I too ordered new double "C" channel thinking it would be easier to install new than to try and match rivet holes for the straight sections. The new channel fits my 5/8ths floor, however, my walls are narrower than the vertical "C". Oh well, I will be re-installing the ol'channel. I'm hoping the gantry shell-off method will help swing the shell into alignment of holes. I'll be following for this thread for tips. I didn't mark a line across the straight channel for putting the shell down back down as suggested.

Did you install new belly pan aluminum. And if so, did you need pieces wider than the 48" available width of aluminum and what was your method for seaming or joining the aluminum sheet to get a wider width … a riveted seam?
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottaandy View Post
I'm at nearly the same stage with a shell off on a 75 GT 21'. I too ordered new double "C" channel thinking it would be easier to install new than to try and match rivet holes for the straight sections. The new channel fits my 5/8ths floor, however, my walls are narrower than the vertical "C". Oh well, I will be re-installing the ol'channel. I'm hoping the gantry shell-off method will help swing the shell into alignment of holes. I'll be following for this thread for tips. I didn't mark a line across the straight channel for putting the shell down back down as suggested.

Did you install new belly pan aluminum. And if so, did you need pieces wider than the 48" available width of aluminum and what was your method for seaming or joining the aluminum sheet to get a wider width … a riveted seam?
Attachment 165858
I am about to start my floor replacement as well. I've waited unitl I have a month off so that I can complete it without interference from other duties. Is there any information or pictures you can furnish as to how you supported the shell from your gantry? It seems from the pictures that your lift system passes through the vent holes in the roof, but how did you tie into the floor or structure the lifting beams so that the shell is not warped or mis-shapen while hanging?
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:20 PM   #5
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The Airstream mother ship sells aluminum that is wider than 48"
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:32 PM   #6
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I used the same style of gantry frames as are pictured above. I didn't use any bracing inside the shell at all, and ran a 2x8 the length of the inside roof and lifted against that (see the pic). I had used a different lifting method on the original pull, and chain hoists on the replacement, so that is why you see the beam built up with "spacers" (so that the added length of the hoists get swallowed inside the vent holes). The overall shell has very little flex to it. I spent a lot of time researching and planning my lift, and there are forum members who swear that elaborate cribbing is necessary to avoid the shell changing shape; however, it seems that most of the pros lift via the vent holes with a beam like I did and do not brace/crib the shell at all.

So I have been fiddling around for the last week or so working on alignment of rivet holes. My original floor was difinitely thicker than 5/8", but must have been a hair thinner than 3/4. I have finally gotten all of the holes that tie the front of the shell to the metal plate that is welded into the front of the frame to line up, which confirms that my new 3/4" thick floor must be pretty close to the original (or my holes in the front would be a whole 1/8" off, and they definitely aren't). It seems like the sections that are way off on alignment are just fore of the street side wheel, and just aft of the curb side wheel. And by off, I mean like 1/4" high/low!

I played around with lifting one end or the other via the vent holes, but the whole end of the shell would lift away from the plywood. I am pondering the idea that when the shell was originally installed, the air conditioner was probably not on there. Since it is on there now, maybe it is squishing the shell down a little bit right in the middle and causing this mis-alignment. Again, it doesn't seam like the shell has that much flex to it, and maybe I just need to drill fresh holes and get it over with. I have screwed down the curved sections of the channels at the front and back, so maybe I will try putting a floor jack inside the trailer and using a 4x4 to push up on the AC just a tad to see if my alignment improves.

As for the belly pan, I replaced the entire thing with new aluminum. The stuff I bought was in 4' x 12' rolls. I added grey tanks in the two bays behind the axles and built supporting panels much like the 1" thick panel that supports the fresh water tank. This broke up the pan into a lot of sections. I think I used two 4x12 rolls and one piece that was 4x6, and didn't have much excess left over. See the attached picture of the underside of my frame. Since the average "bay" is something like 58" x 24", I cut the panel out of my roll long-ways, rather than across the 48" dimension, if that makes sense.
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Old 08-15-2012, 02:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by LarryGlover View Post
I am about to start my floor replacement as well. I've waited unitl I have a month off so that I can complete it without interference from other duties. Is there any information or pictures you can furnish as to how you supported the shell from your gantry? It seems from the pictures that your lift system passes through the vent holes in the roof, but how did you tie into the floor or structure the lifting beams so that the shell is not warped or mis-shapen while hanging?
Take a look here At my thread on how I did it.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f174...8-a-90934.html

You don't need any support if you use a gantry. I ran a 2x10 between the two vents on the roof and wrap a strap around that and then hooked the chain hoist to that. The shell will holds it's own shape..

Then I lifted it straight off. Mines a 28' trailer and stayed in perfect shape. I did brace it once it was off so the wind wouldn't take it away.

I left the c channel on the sides and cut it off the floor. Most was in good shape. The stuff that wasn't I had a metal shop make me some new, and also some that would fit in the old stuff to make it stronger.

When I put it back on all I had to do was screw and bold the c channel to the floor. I did take the front channel off to use as a pattern for my new floor.

Not all the holes lined up and I just drilled new ones if it didn't. Hard to get it exact again. I started at the front with the metal that comes up to support the shell, then worked my way back 4' at a time on each side...

Good luck.
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:31 PM   #8
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I really didn't screw with mine much. I replaced the side "C" channels and part of the rear. The front lined up and the back lined up, the frame was level and I just drilled new holes. Who's to say it it was perfect from the factory anyway. The door opens and closes and all the windows work fine, it was good enough for me and I'm pretty anal as far as metal work goes.
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Old 08-15-2012, 04:02 PM   #9
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I did not brace inside the shell, also. What is nice about the gantry lift off is then the gantry can be used to rotisserie the frame as I see you have done to install the belly pan. Thanks for including your belly pan pic. It showed me where you made a seam on the front piece surrounding the spare tire. The old panel there needing to be replaced is all one piece. I'll cut the new piece where your seam are show (pic). I only have one other aluminum piece needing to be 61-1/4" X 51-1/2" and it is the piece aft of the fresh water tank above the axel. Since you modified the gray tank under frame area you were able to cut aluminum belly skin panel within the 48" material constraint.Click image for larger version

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Old 08-15-2012, 04:42 PM   #10
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One trick I used to bring the shell down into final position was to use ratchet straps inside the trailer. I took large marine pad eyes(u shaped cleats) and screwed these to the floor.( Making sure I'm not over a tank) You could use anything you can screw solidly to the floor and run a strap through. Then ran it through an existing wire grommet hole on a rib and was able to carefully crank the shell down onto the floor as needed. This might help you to tweak certain areas the shell needs to come down further. Ed
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Old 08-17-2012, 02:58 PM   #11
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Has anyone done a floor replacement on a Streamline; and if so, was a shell off required?
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Old 08-18-2012, 05:34 PM   #12
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Shell Off -- J-Channels

FWIW, I made a simple sheet metal brake (EAA - EAA Experimenter - Dave's Sheet Metal Bending Brake)



and made my own J-Channels.



I'll also be making new belly skins so new holes all around.
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Old 08-19-2012, 06:33 AM   #13
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n2btr, I have 3 ribs just behind the SS wheel well that are 3/8" from meeting the C floor channel bottom. All other ribs nested properly. Would you still recommend the ratcheting strap method? As best as I can determine, the frame is level.
mhutchinson, Where will you be using the J channel?
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Old 08-20-2012, 04:56 AM   #14
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On '63's the J-channel runs the perimeter of the floor to attach the belly skin and shell skin to the floor.
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