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Old 04-19-2016, 07:32 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1960 24' Tradewind
Kingsville , Ontario
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 20
Shy about Full Monty

Hey , planning to take belly pan off, and interior floor, to get at frame ( I know the tongue at least a foot into the skin is beyond repair), as well as some of the rear. I have talked to a local expert who says he has never done a full monty, and repaired many (dozens) of frames - he does some of the welding and hires out some....
So my questions are:

1. if I want to put the trailer in a position to do this in my driveway, I might also mention, I will be redoing the brakes while in the same place, how should I jack/block it ( the belly skin is in great shape and I don't want to damage it)

2. What are the next steps....

3. how to know if frame steel needs replacing (hammer/screw driver?)

4. Do you suggest a small sandblaster for cleaning

What sort of welder? I'm leaning toward MIG for ease (I'm a beginner)

Thanks again guys, really excited to get it started.


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Old 04-19-2016, 07:49 AM   #2
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1956 22' Flying Cloud
1953 32' Liner
1955 22' Safari
Valley View , Texas
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Do you

The Forums are full of info you want, and need. Pick some for your welder help to read too. Plan, plan, plan helps the process.

"If it can't be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:21 AM   #3
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1967 26' Overlander
Tulsa , Oklahoma
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 77
Flux core mig welding is the cheapest and easiest type of welding and is well suited for your AS frame. Here's a link to the most basic type of welder that will get the job done on your AS
1967 Overlander International 26ft
2006 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S 520hp 530ft-lbs torque 7700lb towing capacity
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:42 AM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,902
I would recommend you build some gantry frames, lift the shell, then use the gantries to lift and flip your frame during your frame repairs. There are lots of threads--do a search for "gantry frame" "gantries" "shell off" and "full monty" and you will see lots of different ways to skin this cat.

You may be shy about lifting the shell, but if you have extensive frame repairs, and intend to replace the entire floor, you may as well bite the bullet and go all the way. Plenty of people do the job without lifting the shell, but they are doing it the hard way.

good luck!
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Old 04-19-2016, 11:34 AM   #5
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1959 18' "Footer"
san francisco , California
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 202
yeah, if its that bad where you can see then under belly pan is probably worse.
You def want the shell off. Trying to work around, under is total hell.
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Old 04-19-2016, 12:28 PM   #6
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1969 18' Caravel
Deer Harbor , Washington
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 8
I have recently built two gantries and did a shell off. My '69 Caravel 18 was a disaster and in the end all I could save was the rusty frame and shell exterior. Axel, wheels, tires, interior, sub-floor, insulation and the pan all went to the dump! Since last September have repaired and painted (POR-15) the frame, installed new marine plywood sub-floor, wired the running lights and brakes, installed rigid closed-cell insulation, built and installed a new pan and axel, and then re-connect the shell to the frame. Whew. Time consuming, but rewarding and fun. Recommendations: Lots... But as to gantries, I built them 12 feet high, 4 x 4 verticals, and used 4 x 6 top cross beams. Made one 10' wide and the other 12' wide so I could slide them close together if necessary, which I did.
The first time I flipped the frame I only used two chain hoists, too difficult but managed it with my wife's help. Bot another chain hoist and it was much easier, only took 20 minutes instead of 2 1/2 hours! And much safe.
Installing the sub- floor much easier with shell off. Good luck.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:20 PM   #7
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1986 25' Sovereign
Oak Harbor , Washington
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Leave the belly pan on, unless you plan on leaving the wooden floor.

You can find the frame edges by following the bolts, just remove the floor to mid point on the steel frame.

It is a lot more enjoyable to weld from the top. I posted a video on Youtube that shows this type of repair. 1986 Airstream frame repair in the title.

You should only need to sister steel plates (really called steel bars) on the sides, likely the top and bottom will be good. The tongue is heavier to handle the torque on the front as it translates to the axles.

You can tell what is bad by the large amount of rust chips and particles, also holes through the tubing.

Metal working for welding is done with a high speed circular grinders and sanders, and a bit of SS wire wheel. The both the old and new metal is cleaned to shinny where the welding is planned, then only the loose chips are wheeled off everywhere else. If you wish you could apply a rusty metal primer before the new metal is added.

The sistered steel is commonly stitched welded, there are some cases that a continuous weld is used. Then prime and paint or some other finish that you feel is necessary.

Steel is not very expensive, go with a slightly thicker bar stock, make cardboard patterns, cut out your pieces and you can beef-up any water damaged frame member.

In the future, protect the trailer from water intrusion, switch to pink insulation board spaced up from the belly pan but below the bottom of the wood floor; and you should be good for life.
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Old 04-21-2016, 12:01 PM   #8
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1972 29' Ambassador
Boynton Beach , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 309
I recently upgraded my wire-feed flux core welder to a full MIG, using a CO2/Argon gas mix that my welding shop recommended. Wow is it nicer! Makes for really great beads, very clean. I'd be careful about using one of the smaller 110V welders, as you will probably be using at least 1/4" steel, and would need lots of passes. Also, look to see what the Duty Cycle on the welder is. Many of the cheapo welders will only work for 2 min. out of 10!
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Old 04-21-2016, 08:15 PM   #9
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1968 26' Overlander
Manheim , Pennsylvania
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Posts: 83
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My advice... Crawl under there with your drill and try to take the belly pan off. Feel all the dirt drop on your face... mouse poop, road grime, and anything else that has made its way under there. Curse a while and then go buy a some 4x4s, lag bolts, chain hoists, and do the full monte! That's what I did... Hoping to flip the freshly painted frame next week!
'68 Overlander
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Old 05-16-2016, 11:19 AM   #10
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1957 22' Custom
Lago Vista , Texas
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 106
Pull the shell

I'm doing a full Monty on a 1957 22' Custom and I'm documenting it in the General Repair forum under, 'I Love Lucy.' I'm a complete newbie to Airstreams, and probably just ignorant enough to attempt a full Monty by myself with no experience, but so far I'm really glad I pulled the shell. As intimidating as the idea sounds, it's really not that bad. I think it would be more work to attempt to refurb the bottom of the trailer with the shell on.

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