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Old 03-31-2014, 09:36 AM   #1
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Sneaky. Now what? Subfloor estimates...

Hello good folks, I'm really grateful for the abundance of experience and advice on the forum. I did a lot of research here and printed off the buyers checklist to use for inspections in my search for my next home (planning to live full time). Unfortunately my first Airstream purchase (81 Excella 500) has turned up some big surprises despite my best efforts to be informed.

The floor felt solid with my hand and screw driver but once I got home and pulled up the re-stapled carpet, I discovered someone had recently put down new thin plywood on top of wet rotted subfloor along the back window wall under the twin beds. I'm negotiating with the dealer to see if he will make this right (he stated trailer had a solid floor and originally said no leaks--I'll save my leak questions for another thread).

I'm trying to wrap my head around the time, money, materials needed to repair the subfloor so I can get an estimate to present to him (and hopefully get some money back to cover). Not sure if I will have a friend help with the job or take it to Out of Doors Mart (about 2 hours away). Some more specific questions:

1. Any guesses how many hours (removing and cleaning up all the rotted wood, priming and painting the rusted floor joists, getting the arc cut in the plywood and fit just right, plus anything else I'm not thinking of)?
2. Any guesses for materials (fasteners, paint, primer, rust converter, marine grade plywood, and anything else I'm not thinking of)?
3. If I try to do this with the help of a friend, will I need to remove the inner skins (and therefore the inner frame around the window)? I can drill rivets out but don't have tools to replace.
3. Will I need to remove belly pan for cleaning debris out and for reaching attachment areas for hardware?

Thanks for any thoughts, advice, estimates, links to similar threads or demonstration videos, support!
All blessings, Kim
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Old 03-31-2014, 10:42 AM   #2
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  • Did the trailer come with a warrantee (my 84 came with 90 days)?
  • Do you have the 'solid floor' promise in writing?

I'd be inclined to make this the dealer's problem. He sold you the trailer, he should be responsible for fixing it. The potential problems start when it's your word against his.

Unless this is your dream trailer, I would hitch up, drive it back and get my cash returned to me, then buy a trailer elsewhere. The goods were clearly not as described, the effort to hide the wet subfloor makes the transaction fraudulent.
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Old 03-31-2014, 11:08 AM   #3
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What You Can't See...

Kim that sure is a shame. I would be even more suspect of what you can't see. There will probably be a fair amount of frame damage to repair from what I can see. To do it right lower interior skins will need to come out, banana wraps off, belly pan dropped... There could very well be rear end separation. Did the seller show you that the appliances worked? If you really love it (we all do when we buy them) the first business of order is to get up on the roof and make sure it is sealed up...then go after the floor. Hope this doesn't discourage you. It's one of the benefits of owning an older Airstream.

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Old 03-31-2014, 11:20 AM   #4
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Can you submit your pictures for a quote from Out of Doors mart?
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Old 03-31-2014, 11:30 AM   #5
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I live in fear of floor rot, I can't i agine how much, so I am no help, I would return and get money back. Welcome to the forums, those in the know willbea huge help to you.
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Old 03-31-2014, 12:24 PM   #6
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Andy, no warranty. The "solid floor" was verbal and written in a comment on the ebay auction post. The dealer I bought it from operates a small business from his home (which is a 5+ hour drive away when towing). He got it for a good deal from a larger RV place where it was a trade in. He says (and I actually believe him) that he didn't know about the cover up job. I say nevertheless, it's his responsibility to have done a more thorough inspection to be sure it's in the condition in which he presented it in ("very nice").

The dealer/Brad did take a lot of time to show me all the systems and appliances were working.

I'm about to call the service guy at Out of Doors Mart for an estimate based on the pictures you all see here which I emailed over earlier. He already gave me an estimate (without seeing it) for re-sealing the whole trailer (old caulk off, new window and AC gaskets, new light fixtures, etc) and that's a whopper!

Thanks, ya'll! Just looked up what a "banana wrapper" is
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:28 PM   #7
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If you bought it through ebay, you have a lot of leverage. They will hold the seller to his written description and you should be able to get your money back.

If you are only relying on the ebay description and the seller somehow talked you into buying it off ebay, you're on your own for protection. I'd take a screen shot of the auction page and print it out and find a lawyer who'd be willing to lend his letterhead for a way to let the dealer know that he can't make claims without backing them up.

Bottom line: The dealer should have been more diligent before making such a claim as a "solid floor." He should know that he, not the person he bought it from, is responsible for the truth of that claim, and for making it good. Be on your guard.
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:48 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by simple sanctuary View Post
I can drill rivets out but don't have tools to replace.
If you do decide to do this yourself - replacing interior panels is easy and relativly inexpensive - the tool you will need can be had for <$25.

Rivet puller

Yes, it is easier with a pnuematic (air) rivet puller, but a manual one will work fine - just take a bit longer. The inside panels are just held in place with aluminum pop rivets.

It's the frame (replace/repair) that is more involved and probably not DIY.

Shari
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Old 03-31-2014, 02:40 PM   #9
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I'm just finishing this job on my Safari. I have a rear bath so removing the plumbing makes it a bigger job than your bedroom, but this is a big job and not something for someone who is not handy.

I don't want to scare you but here's a list of some of the tools I've used for my repair:

To disassemble:
Dill
Sawzall
Cut off wheel
Acetylene Torch
Pipe cutter
Floor Jack and Stands
Impact Gun


To repair/reassemble:
Mig Welder
Router
Table Saw
Jig Saw
Hole Saw
Rivet guns - both for blind rivets and bucked rivets
Drill press
Soldering gun
Pex Crimper


Good luck!
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Old 03-31-2014, 02:59 PM   #10
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If you bought it through ebay, you have a lot of leverage. They will hold the seller to his written description and you should be able to get your money back.

If you are only relying on the ebay description and the seller somehow talked you into buying it off ebay, you're on your own for protection. I'd take a screen shot of the auction page and print it out and find a lawyer who'd be willing to lend his letterhead for a way to let the dealer know that he can't make claims without backing them up.

Bottom line: The dealer should have been more diligent before making such a claim as a "solid floor." He should know that he, not the person he bought it from, is responsible for the truth of that claim, and for making it good. Be on your guard.

If you did buy it via eBay, you generally have 45 days to start the dispute process. Remember that you can also end the dispute process, so don't rely on non-material promises from the seller to delay things past that window to initiate the dispute if you even consider going that route.

It would also be a good idea to check on eBay Motors and make sure they have the same timeframe for the dispute process that regular eBay transactions do, I've never purchased a trailer or vehicle through eBay Motors and can't swear the dispute process is the same.
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Old 03-31-2014, 08:50 PM   #11
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Again, thanks all.

It was an ebay item but I paid my deposit through paypal to hold it (and take it off the auction) and the rest in cash in person. So, I don't think I have any legal way to challenge him if he doesn't agree to pay for repairs. He does have 100% positive feedback rating on ebay (one reason I felt confident in what he was offering) and I've shared that if he doesn't make this right, I will give feedback recommending folks are careful before they purchase from him. I'd like to drive it back and get my money back but that's a long haul and maybe a long campout in his driveway if he doesn't agree to pay me back (plus I've pulled things apart now).

As for possible frame damage, are you referring to whether the rust on the floor beams is surface or has eroded the metal so much that it is compromised? I'm not sure how to tell other than pull back more of the wood and do a visual inspection. Out of Doors Mart came back with a quote of 5-7 hours to replace the floor wood (at $90/hour). If that means taking off the inner skin, belly pan, bumper, addressing the rust and laying down marine grade wood I'd say that's a lot quicker than I or friends could do. What do ya'll think? By the way, what is recommended for floor insulation instead of the fiberglass these days?
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:46 AM   #12
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Kim:


I agree with all of the above posts.


Sad to say, yours really looks like it is a candidate for a shell off.


The real strength of the Airstream monocoque type of construction lies in the junction of the frame and the shell. Unfortunately for you, the interface of that junction is the wood floor - and you have no wood left to tie the frame and the shell together.


Inside out is a former moderator, and she has done an excellent job on her rebuilds....trust what she says.


At a minimum your entire floor needs replacement, and, as others have said, the frame probably needs a lot of work as well. If you cannot do this yourself you are looking at big bucks. To do a proper job of replacing the floor you have to remove ALL of the fasteners holding the floor to the frame (many of these are at the shell perimeter).


The shell needs to be removed in order to install side to side new plywood as seamlessly as possible, and then refasten the shell to the new floor via the "C" channel and the outriggers.


PM frequent posters here who have "been there and done that" for some honest opinions.


Good luck with whatever you do - the trailer as is does have some value to someone who may want to undertake a total rebuild.


I am extremely happy with my '78 31' Sovereign (thread below), and use it frequently both for camping and as a work related habitat.


Regards,
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:03 PM   #13
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just posted a few pictures of the frame where it's heavily rusted and and corroded in the back to get opinions. a friend stopped by to look (he can fix most anything and has worked on his own avion) says he thinks it's over all structurally sound (though does need work).

still wanting to hear about floor insulation ideas. foam board?

thanks all! i'm talking to the seller tonight and will let you know how it goes. staying hopeful he'll step up and do the right thing and either pay for repairs to get it in the condition in which it was presented or take it back and refund my money.
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Old 04-01-2014, 07:52 PM   #14
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I don't think a shell off will be required. I can see the hold down plate and it looks pretty good. He will need some frame work but it is at the ends. The belly needs to be pulled to see what else is up. I would get money back if at all possible. It took me two months to fix what you are looking at. The good thing is you don't have a rear bath unit. This is typical of a 30+ yr old trailer or even some 10 yr old trailers on the east coast. Most RV's don't last more than 10 yrs without good maintenance. The shell will last forever but what is under it won't. A square box trailer would just be loose sheet metal and rotten wood.

A shell off would only be required if there are areas this bad farther forward. I bet there is rot around the door and at all four corners.

Perry
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