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Old 01-31-2008, 05:01 PM   #1
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Soy Beans for Sub-floors

I have read in a couple different threads somewhere around here that some of the Argosys had sub-floors made of soy based plastic sheet. Is this true?

If anyone has had any experience with this type of sub-flooring, I have a few questions...

What was the weight and thickness?
Did it have any rot problems we see in so many of the plywood floors?
Are there other disadvantages or advantages?
Is it still available?

I have a sub-floor to replace this year and am trying to research alternatives to plywood. I have read other threads concerning quite a few products, but haven't come across much info on this one.
Thanks,
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Old 01-31-2008, 05:21 PM   #2
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Nope. Floors were 1/2" plywood. Pretty thin at that. A small number of the Minuets had an aluminum honeycomb sandwich floor similar to skin panels of the B-58 bomber of the time. It was light -- some worked out, others didn't. I believe you had to baby it. Member overlander64's Minuet may still have that floor. We all wish they'd have continued the experiment.
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Old 01-31-2008, 05:30 PM   #3
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And by the way. Subfloor and underlayment are terms used in house construction when 2 layers are used. There is only one layer in an Airstream, so it's good to just say 'floor.'
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Old 02-01-2008, 07:58 AM   #4
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I thought there were two layers used. In construction when you use plywood and something else like linoleum or carpet, the plywood is considered the sub-floor and the carpet, hardwood, linoleum, vct tiles, etc are the "flooring". How are Airstreams different from this?
Thanks for the info on the composite. I had heard of that, too. I just thought I had at least read one post that mentioned the plastic.
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:16 AM   #5
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Hi Brent -- I have heard of people experimenting. Browse through the floor subforum for some possibilities. Also search on the term Advantech.
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:33 AM   #6
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Having been involved in building many houses, we always refer to the plywood as the sub floor and the linolium, ect. the floor... I did not know it was different in an Airstream. Is the linolium a floor covering? Is that what you are saying?
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:37 AM   #7
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- there are many non-wood (sub)floor products (to be technically correct, you would say sub, and let the lino, carpet, etc be the 'floor') most are made from recycled plastic in one form or another, very inert (not much off-gassing), extremely waterproof (they're plastic after all), and VERY expensive which is why most folks end up using AC exterior plywood when replacing the subfloors...

- here's one composite that's very popular with water-averse boatbuilders:

Coosa Composites, LLC - Manufacture of high-density, fiberglass-reinforced polyurethane foam panels

...who can afford it, anyway!
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:38 AM   #8
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not trying to split hairs with that post... I have just seen in depth discussions about trivial things like water vapor between the skins and belly pan ventallation. Heck there are daily discussions about wether balancing the running gear is important.
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Old 02-01-2008, 09:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanoeStream
Hi Brent --Browse through the floor subforum for some possibilities.
Bob,

I'm confused... are we talking about the sub-floor forum or the floor sub-forum? ...or are they the same thing LOL!

Brent,

Check out THIS thread for info on a floor/sub-floor alternative. I also have some picts and pricing on my blog.
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Old 02-01-2008, 09:45 AM   #10
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HERE is thread on the Coosa stuff, but hold on to your wallet... the stuff is VERY expensive.
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Old 02-01-2008, 04:26 PM   #11
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I have been recommending Polyboard as a replacement floor material. At the time I bought it about 2 years ago I paid about $65 per sheet (3/4" x 4' x 8'). The last time I checked it was more like $85 to $90 per sheet. I am still happy with my choice but if cost had not been so much of an issue I might have opted for King Plastics Startboard. At the time I bought my Polyboard I could have bought Starboard for about $120 per sheet. I have no idea how much it may have gone up since then but I am betting it is not as expensive as some solutions. It is definitely stiffer than my Polyboard. It is apparently widely used in the marine industry as well as other applications. Take a look at the following website:

Products - King Starboard Family

A very important factor in these types of specialty products is whether or not you can get it locally. If you have to have them shipped to you that can radically increase the price per sheet. My guess is that Starboard would be more readily available than some other alternatives. It could be worth checking with marine supply stores in your area to see what they can get for you.

Malcolm

P.S. Just do a search for Polyboard if you want more information about what I did.
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Old 02-01-2008, 08:16 PM   #12
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One,thing to remember is that the shell of the airstream is attached to the
floor edges ,by way of the channel ,as we all know .so do these alternative
type floor replacement materials have the ability to support the shell complete all around the edge ? will the plastics start to deform ,very possible
i would think ,soybean board ? Id think that kind of thing is risky at best .
plywood is very strong and is time proven ,not pressed together from soybean curd ,its multi layered for strength .Some things we use in life
are very necessary ,some not ,in this case Id go with what we know works best ,just seal and coat the plywood to prevent water damage and save
some money for other things you might want to buy for your trailer .

just a thought on the subject,

Scott of scottanlily
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Old 02-02-2008, 08:20 AM   #13
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I first want to say that I went with aquatex. It is a marine plywood made by a Japanese company in Indonesia.
Attachment 53561
The wood is a tropical mahogany and uses some sort of resorcinol glue. It is very flat, very uniform, strong, and lightweight. For me it was a perfect fit. When my plywood vendor quoted me $125 per sheet, I did not even blink. I am a cabinet maker, and the plywood I use for painted cabinets runs me $58- $64 depending on the market. Lumber is a commodity and prices fluctuate with the market.
The reason I am posting is to say that soybean board is not made out of curds. It made from the cellulose that makes up the hull of the bean. Cellulose is what gives wood it's strength. The soybean board has been used for many years as a granite countertop substitute. I am not so sure it would hold up as sub floor in an Airstream. The strength in plywood comes from the alternating layers of wood or the ply. Soybean board is made by compressing the hulls and the resin together to form a board. I am very doubtful that it will have the tensile strength needed to work structurally. It is also a very heavy product due to it being formed by compression. Is this soybean board being considered because it is a green product? In Holland they are developing plywood and engineered lumber made from hemp fiber. Hemp fiber has a higher tinsel strength than steel. Someday we have the perfect green plywood for our Airstreams. Lets face it, fir plywood has worked just fine for 75 years in our campers and would work just fine in the future. We do not need to try and re invent the wheel too much. Yes, I deviated from the original, however the product I used is stronger, lighter, and will resist water. I have not made a change, I have made an improvement. I know that is what everyone else is trying to do too, and I am not trying to dampen anyones campfire. These are just my opinions.
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Old 02-02-2008, 01:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottanlily
One,thing to remember is that the shell of the airstream is attached to the
floor edges ,by way of the channel ,as we all know .so do these alternative
type floor replacement materials have the ability to support the shell complete all around the edge ? will the plastics start to deform ,very possible
i would think ,soybean board ? Id think that kind of thing is risky at best .
plywood is very strong and is time proven ,not pressed together from soybean curd ,its multi layered for strength .Some things we use in life
are very necessary ,some not ,in this case Id go with what we know works best ,just seal and coat the plywood to prevent water damage and save
some money for other things you might want to buy for your trailer .

just a thought on the subject,

Scott of scottanlily
Scott,

I originally thought that the plywood was a major component is supporting the bottom edge of the body. I am sure that it does contribute but just how much it needs to I am not sure any more. I changed my opinion a bit when I discovered that I could stand out at the end of an outrigger without any problem. I already had all of my old subflooring out and the body was still in place sitting on the outriggers without any sag. I don't remember now why I was standing out on the end but the outrigger did not have any problems supporting me along with the body. I weigh in at about 245lbs. So if the end of each outrigger can support the body plus an additional 245lbs is extra strength from the plywood really needed? Maybe not. In fact in my '73 the u-channel has a c-channel along the bottom edge that does a pretty good job of supporting the edge of the plywood (or Polyboard in my case).

Malcolm
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