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Old 07-14-2012, 02:23 AM   #1
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Subfloor replacement...

I just removed the shell and old plywood subfloor from my 1954 flying cloud and now am prepping the frame for paint. I will replace the old plywood with new and want to know what I should replace it with. the P.O. started the project by using inferior grade plywood that had been out in the weather prior to replacing the shell. They remained intact after removal but it seems like they weren't cut properly on the perimeter so the shell didn't fit just right. My thought was to set the shell onto the new plywood, get it all "squared up" and trace an outline. Then lift the shell back off and cut the perimeter to the line. Anyone care to share their experience with these questions?
Also, the frame seems really flimsy to me. On the corners especially where the outriggers are. It seems to me that they should also go out to the edge like the beams in the central part of the trailer.

Thanks for any input...

JT
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Old 07-14-2012, 07:07 AM   #2
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This can be a very tricky job. The most important thing to do is get the corners properly set before you trace your cutting line. Making sure the width and length of the shell are exactly "squared up" before you trace is critically important.

You may need to "push out" the ends by a few inches to get the length back to the original dimension. If you don't, the corners will be rounded out. The corners should be oval, not circular. Without a floor, the natural tension in the shell will try to make the corners circular, not ovular.

Take note of the angle of the rear shell where it meets the floor. The angle between the wall and floor is about 85 degrees on my '59, it might be different on your '54. You'll need to shorten the rear to accommodate this angle when you trace the shell.

Also, if the belly pan tucks between the shell and the floor you'll want to leave about 1/4 inch clearance for the belly metal.

All in all, this is one of the toughest parts of a shell off restoration to get right. If you take your time and test the fit a few times you'll end up with a beautiful result. If you rush through it you might end up with a bulge or ripple and need a do-over.

I used 3/4" BC exterior plywood.
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Old 07-14-2012, 09:03 AM   #3
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When I did mine I pulled my front and rear c channel to match up with the old floor I took off. the floor was in bad shape. Between the two I got it right..

As for sub flooring. I wanted to go with 3/4 T&G but my old flooring was 5/8 and the extra 1/8 would have move a lot of holes and they would had to have been re-drilled.

I went with 5/8 ply and painted the bottom with truck bed liner from the walmart. just a thin coat to protect the plywood. Then I painted the top with exterior house paint. This way if anything spills it doesn't soak in. any kind of water will work it's why into plywood fast.

I think marine ply would be the best but it's hard to find (unless your on the coast like you) and very expensive. about $100 a sheet. You can see what I did here:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f174...8-a-90934.html
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Old 07-14-2012, 09:44 AM   #4
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JT, as you hve undoubtedly noticed, the c channel in the mid 50's was really more like a "U" channel. It doesnt wrap around the plywood as in the later years which allows you to use pretty much any thickness of plywood you want. In my 55 FC I am using 3/4 marine grade fir which has virtully no voids and a minimum of 7 plys with glues designed not to delaminate when and if it does get wet. Stay away from treated ply- it will corrode any aluminum it comes in contact with. While you are at this stage take a good hard look at the condition and construction of your frame as this is probably the last time you will be able to easily access it for repairs or modifications. Mine had crossmembers made of 4 different thicknesses of steel and 3 different profiles, 2 of them could be deformed with my bare hands while still welded at both ends wouldn't have made a decent beer can in the 50's. I really think that Airstream utilized whatever parts were on hand in many cases instead of optimal components. Dont try to make the frame completely rigid as it is designed to flex while traveling but some minor redesign and replacement of components will allow for gray tank placement etc. while still strengthening the frame substantially. When you are ready for paint consider POR 15 very highly thought of here and in hot rod circles. I found mine at a local automotive paint supply which means no shipping and you can get only as much as you need easily. Pricey but well worth it.
Spend some time if you haven't already searching the forums for similar units,54-56, there are a fair number in the forums with build threads and several like mine who aren't too far ahead of you. We will all have fun watching and learning together.
sorry about the long reply. Have fun and do it right the first time.
tim
Oh, in case you havent already noticed we like lots of pics this also helps you remember how to put it back together later if you are as old as I am
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Old 07-14-2012, 07:47 PM   #5
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I've also noticed that the frame ribs look like they have been cut off about 2" at the bottom where they would sit in the U channel. Previous owner had only angle aluminum pieces bolted to the floor and shell clecoed to the angle pieces. I'll need to make new u channel for the entire trailer. How hard could that be, right? Anybody want to loan me their metal stretching/shrinking tool?
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:00 PM   #6
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As far as the shortened ribs, I'll rivet extension pieces to the existing ribs to the correct length. When I get the new floor cut properly, I'll make a pattern so I can pass it along to others. Thanks everyone for sharing.
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Old 07-14-2012, 09:17 PM   #7
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I've also noticed that the frame ribs look like they have been cut off about 2" at the bottom where they would sit in the U channel
If my vote counts for anything, I vote for photos of these discoveries!
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:31 AM   #8
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Detail photos will be coming. The shell is at a different location so next time I'm there I'll take more.
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:36 AM   #9
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Additional photos of shell removal...

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Old 07-20-2012, 09:52 AM   #10
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Here is the axle before changing it. I wanted to gain some ground clearance because it seemed like the trailer was just riding too low. I decided to mount the axle under the leaf springs.



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Here it is after changing it. It was pretty straight forward. I didn't need to cut the U bolts. Just sprayed some lube on the threads, used a breaker bar and they came right off. New U bolts, nuts and lock washers were about $22.00. It helps to have a buddy to help, but not necessary. A floor jack is necessary if you're working alone.
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Old 07-20-2012, 09:55 AM   #11
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Here's a profile shot after installation. If I still think I need more clearance after I get the shell back on, I'll get taller tires.
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Old 08-02-2012, 12:44 PM   #12
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Looks really good. I've been thinking about doing this for my trailer (contrary to a post I put on some other thread of yours before), because after a few trips its incredible how close it comes to dragging. You put these old lowriders on radials and they sit so low to the ground its incredible- Sometimes I feel like the SOBs parked next to us could step out of their door onto our roof.
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Old 08-04-2012, 08:47 AM   #13
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Peter,
I'll let you know how it tows when I get all put back together.

JT
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:21 PM   #14
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I started to fabricate the U-channel for the perimeter of the subfloor. The previous owner had given me a basic brake, a sheet metal bending machine and a metal shear tool so it went pretty fast. I used the old floor as a template. Next, I will install the new holding tanks, tank level sensors and wiring, then the new subfloor.

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Bending machine.

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Bending the corner pieces

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Clamping the corner pieces
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