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Old 05-03-2014, 08:48 PM   #1
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1985 31' Sovereign
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Subfloor replacement - shell on possible?

Okay - I think part of me is still in denial in reference to what it'll take to properly replace the rotten subfloor in my 1985 Sovereign....so gotta ask....
Any way I can keep the shell on while the floor is going in?

Also, for this year trailer, once it's gutted, is the next step removing the inner walls before tackling the floor? Whew...as a single female, this is turning out to be much more of an endeavor than I imagined.
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:45 PM   #2
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If it is any consolation, it is a huge endeavor for anyone male or female, single or a couple. I have read many posts on the subject and know I would never try it, and I have lots and lots of Airstream experience.

Best to you of course.
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Old 05-03-2014, 10:58 PM   #3
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It can be done if you are open to the idea of removing and replacing the plywood split down the middle and cleated together.

Is the whole floor wasted or just the edges?
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Old 05-04-2014, 02:25 AM   #4
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Not sure about "newer" trailers, but we replaced the entire floor in our '56 without "splitting down the middle and cleating it together" which IMO compromises the integrity of the Airstream design.

It was a lot of work and if you can take the shell off, it would probably be easier - but that wasn't an option for us at the time due to work area constraints. Check out my "It's a Girl!!!!" thread starting around post #171 for some tips & tricks.

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Old 05-04-2014, 06:44 AM   #5
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Yes you can read the renovation threads and you will see that it has been done several times. Also as a man with an awesome wife and 2 wonderful daughters I will tell you that there is nothing that a man can do that you cannot! Take your time and lots of pictures for reference and questions and don't be afraid to ask for help!
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And yes you need to take at least the lower skins off (interior)
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Old 05-04-2014, 07:35 AM   #6
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How much of the floor is bad? What is the condition of the frame? Before you go hog wild and start pulling everything out, maybe you only need to work on a smaller section of the trailer. The whole subfloor is not one monolithic piece of plywood, so even if you did a shell off, you are replacing it in sections that have to be secured together.

I'm going to go against the flow here a bit and say that a shell off is the last option I would take unless you like the idea of a trailer sitting in the back yard for a year or two while you spend countless hours taking it all apart, replacing the floor, fixing the frame and then trying to remember how it all goes back together.

Assess what is wrong, post some pix and then you can get some better feedback. And to answer your original question, yes you can replace "sections" of the floor without doing a shell off.
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Old 05-04-2014, 07:51 AM   #7
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Ok, I have seen in this forum several times by several posters that piecing a subfloor, will compromise the structural integrity of an Airstream.

If a sheet of plywood is split down the middle and rejoined with a well applied cleat, to the point that the plywood is virtually as strong as it was before it was cut, how is structure negatively impacted?

There are reasons to do a shell off no doubt, but if the frame is solid, and the major problem to be addressed is floor rot, structural integrity is not one of the considerations.
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Old 05-04-2014, 04:11 PM   #8
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Thanks for the encouragement and advice. Didn't mean to play the "helpless female" card - it's just this endeavor has become much more work than I could have imagined. I'm unaccustomed to feeling so out of my league in affecting needed repairs. I think I've over the shock, best do it right, and do it once.

The purchase of the Airstream is my solution to safe housing; chemically sensitive as a result of severe carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty heating system (a miracle I'm still here...please, make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors).

Feeling more at peace with the reality, and my sense is that the shell will have to come off. The floor is pretty bad, especially around the edges, and for health reasons I need to remove all the rot...lots of prior water intrusion beneath the windows, water heater, and shower toilet area. I'll be using Nylosheet Ultra - perhaps another reason to go with removing the shell in reference to how it's install....?

Next I'll assess the frame and belly pan.... I'm prepared for the worst (the trailer is originally from Washington state) and as always, hope for the best.. :-)
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Old 05-04-2014, 07:02 PM   #9
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You go girl! Now is where we tell you to take your time and when you are feeling overwhelmed then take a break and list the process out so that you have obtainable goals first gut with lots of pictures for reference and questions. Next make a template of the floor at both ends using cheap paneling and trace and cut your curves reference 62overlander go to his blog or any of his threads! He is a wealth of information. Then using examples from the Reno threads brace the shell, the lift can be accomplished with help or a scissors jack if you take your time. You do not have to remove the floor until the shell is off. Frame and axles are next so don't concentrate on the shell until the frame is done. Just remember we are all here to help if you need it but you can do it! Looking forward to the pictures.
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Old 05-15-2014, 09:40 AM   #10
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it can be done we did it, I would suggest you brace up the shell before you remove the floor. I used pieces of the old floor at the outriggers after the the floor was removed. On installation the front piece went in with the help of a small sledge hammer and tapping it into place using a 2x4 block so I didn't damage the edge. The other pieces went in no problem. Then the rear piece I used a floor jack inside with a 4x4 across to lift the rear a couple inches. The rear was already lifted so I could have the rear three feet of frame and cross member welded on. So when the frame was finished we were able to slide the rear piece of floor into place. I had a new rear hold down plate fabricated and started bolting everything down. All done in full sheets. Pam encourage me the whole time, we had to do it that way because of our limited space to work on the trailer.
If I had the space I think I would have done a full lift, but it really was not that bad. Post 58 through 68 I think tells our story, have fun good luck.


http://www.airforums.com/forums/f420...d-98384-5.html
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Old 05-15-2014, 10:47 AM   #11
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If you are sensitive to stuff, I would think this would be a pretty tough job for you. You are going to be stirring up all sorts of crud while removing and renovating. I am not sensitive to anything, and I still wore a respirator for much of the teardown. Build up is much easier since you're dealing with all clean, new materials. It's certainly the best way to end up with a trailer built the way you want it, but I think you will find it very challenging to avoid exposure all sorts of nasty stuff while you're doing it.

I did a partial floor replacement on our Caravel several years ago, with it split down the middle and screwed down to the frame, and it is holding up fine so far.

I don't know about the rigidity of Nylosheet, but I know the plastic subfloring available ten years ago really needed extra support in the form of additional frame members to keep it from flexing, which is why I ended up going with marine grade plywood. Just something to consider.
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Old 06-14-2014, 11:58 AM   #12
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Hi There -

I would like to get some thoughts on this subject, but with a different type material. We too are going to have to do some floor repair on the front plywood of our Minuet. We plan to only do the 1 panel at this point and I have been looking into this:

http://www.cptpanels.com/materials/core-materials/

The company is located in Canada, but I called their toll free # and talked to an engineer there. The cost is wayyyy higher than plywood, like hundreds instead of maybe $25 per panel, but I wonder if it might not be worth it for front/back. According to the engineer, it should not matter if the floor is of mixed material (in other words, composite front/back w/plywood middle). What do you guys think. Note: on the referenced page it does list recreational.

Thanks,
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:15 PM   #13
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Are you looking at the Al core panels or the Polypropolene core panels? How much does it cost in the 5/8" thickness? Yes, it looks like a great product.

Me, I am a wood guy. My bias is to replace the sections of the floor that need replacing with plywood and move on. Put more effort in trying to keep it dry.

I am never going to do a shell off. If I buy one that has been done I am going to want pictures of what has been done to the frame, etc. and would suggest anyone take pictures of any major work to have for a possible buyer.
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