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Old 02-19-2009, 01:53 AM   #1
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1968 20' Globetrotter
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Techniques for lifting body off frame.

I finished completely gutting the trailer today. My next move is to wash it out and then remove the belly pan. The floor isn't in bad shape but I'm going to replace it with marine grade ply-wood anyway, this way I'll know it's good for many years to come. I also want to do a better job painting the frame and installing the tanks than I, believe I could, keeping the floor I've got. Is there a trick to getting the elevator bolts out? I know that they are bent so should I just cut them off below the nut and if so with what...saw zaw or disc? What about those T nails...any pointers. My big issue is how I'm going to lift the body. I have limited space and the trailer is outside. I'd like to lift it a few inches, then pull the trailer out into the street to inspect and work on, and then lower it down back onto the ground while the frame is being finished. Is this practical and safe?

Thanks for any help,
Troy
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Old 02-19-2009, 07:19 AM   #2
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When you read through the major renovation threads you'll see lots of ideas on how to lift the shell. My floor replacement was shell-on so I can't help you there, but there are plenty who can. I can tell you that others have done what you are proposing, and most of them advise bracing the interior of the shell to prevent it from flexing and bowing too far out of shape while it is off.

The majority of ebolts will be so rusty you can break them off from below. Just put a pair of vice grips on the nut, clamp down tight, and bend the bolt back and forth a couple of times. They will snap right off, and the head will then pull up out of the floor from above. For the ones that don't just snap, you can slide a thin-bladed sawzall between the floor and frame, or use a cut-off wheel on a Dremel tool or drill.

I actually had more trouble with the slotted-head screws that run from the j-channel down into the floor. They were corroded enough that the slot was almost useless. In many places, my floor had disintegrated to the point it was gone underneath, and it was more effective to clamp on the the threads of the screw with the vice grips from underneath and turn them out that way. Lots of PB Blaster was used here as well.

Good luck!
-Marcus
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Old 02-19-2009, 07:33 AM   #3
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I would use a 4 1/2" angle grinder with a cut off disk installed to cut off the bolts. You will also find some screws holding the bottom c-channel down to the plywood.
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:06 AM   #4
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Is there a trick to getting the elevator bolts out? I know that they are bent so should I just cut them off below the nut and if so with what...saw zaw or disc? Troy
If you don't want to crawl around under the trailer you can do like I did and just drill the heads off the elevator bolts from inside. I actually did this and removed the subfloor with the belly pan still attached so that I could remove the nasty insulation from on top instead of having it fall on my face. Afterwards I removed the belly pan which was vacuumed clean by then.
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Old 02-19-2009, 12:20 PM   #5
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Ditto to what vhord said, about insulation. Hopefully that's all that will fall in your face! I set my skilsaw to 9/16" deep and made a cut on each side of the rows of bolt heads, about 2" apart. I then pulled up the majority of the plywood pieces and used a pry bar to pull the 2" strips off of the blots. Then cut the heads off with a bolt cutter, all from above. Pull up the insulation, vacuum.
I'm also going to wire wheel the frame, paint it, and replace the flooring, all but the bolts. lastly, I'll drop the pan and finish the bottom of the frame and put in 3" rigid insulation.
Everyone has a little different take on how to go about this. Read on and see what works for you.
Good luck, Rich
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Old 02-19-2009, 12:40 PM   #6
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Sounds like as good a way as any and better than some.

As my bellypan came down, it definitely deposited some unpleasant contents onto everything below-- which included me!
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Old 02-19-2009, 01:29 PM   #7
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Sounds like as good a way as any and better than some.

As my bellypan came down, it definitely deposited some unpleasant contents onto everything below-- which included me!
What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger
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Old 02-19-2009, 01:39 PM   #8
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I did a pan off restoration on a VW Karmann Ghia convertible a number of years ago. Removing the body from the pan seems alot like taking the AS shell off of the frame. I unfastened the dozens of bolts that held the two together, lifted one side just enough to slide a long 2x4 through til it reached the opposite side. I then lifted the opposite side enough to slide the 2x4 under it. (It kind of looked like the chair carrier that the ancient egyptians used to carry the kings.) I got several strong friends and we lifted in unison until the pan would roll and would clear the body. We then lowered the body onto saw horses.
The idea of bracing the interior sounds like a good idea.
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Old 02-22-2009, 02:35 AM   #9
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Floor removal technique

So I decided to drill out the heads of the elevator bolts from the top as this sounded like a great idea. And after seeing all the crap lying on the under belly it really became clear why. I can't imagine doing this job from under the trailer. This actually worked very well until I tried to drill out the screws also. Not a good idea. This quickly dulled my brand new $8 Dewalt 5/16 drill bit. So instead of going back to Lowe's I used a 1" hole cutter that went with a door knob and lock instillation kit. I took out the pilot hole/centering drill bit and just drilled over the top of bolts and screws. If you start your cut on 45 degree angle it's much easier to center the drill...it wants to run away from you if you don't. This was super quick and effective. I had already drilled out the bolts in the c-channel and cut off the square nuts on the upside down bolts with a disc. And for the screws I didn't get, I just pride them through. Oh and I also took skill saw and cut down the center of the board so I could get the board out from under the c-channel. I have scarred the frame in a few places. Nothing deeper than a 1/16"...are these areas going to need welding?

Thanks for all the tips.

Troy
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Old 02-22-2009, 07:28 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by troyreeb View Post
So I decided to drill out the heads of the elevator bolts from the top as this sounded like a great idea. And after seeing all the crap lying on the under belly it really became clear why. I can't imagine doing this job from under the trailer. This actually worked very well until I tried to drill out the screws also. Not a good idea. This quickly dulled my brand new $8 Dewalt 5/16 drill bit. So instead of going back to Lowe's I used a 1" hole cutter that went with a door knob and lock instillation kit. I took out the pilot hole/centering drill bit and just drilled over the top of bolts and screws. If you start your cut on 45 degree angle it's much easier to center the drill...it wants to run away from you if you don't. This was super quick and effective. I had already drilled out the bolts in the c-channel and cut off the square nuts on the upside down bolts with a disc. And for the screws I didn't get, I just pride them through. Oh and I also took skill saw and cut down the center of the board so I could get the board out from under the c-channel. I have scarred the frame in a few places. Nothing deeper than a 1/16"...are these areas going to need welding?

Thanks for all the tips.

Troy
I doubt it, but you could post some pictures to help us out. I saved the majority of my c-channel, so didn't want to pry the screws through. In a couple of cases I had no choice, and it broke out bits of the channel, so I scabbed in extra material and/or used large washers for those areas.

-Marcus
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Old 02-22-2009, 11:55 PM   #11
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Thanks Marcus.

When I said I pride up the screws I was talking about the ones I missed that attach the plywood to the small pieces of plywood that fill the gaps. I'm going to try and replace the floor without drilling out all the rivots and lifting the body. I'm trying to figure out the best way to do this without cutting the sections in half or something like that approach. I was thinking I could just remove a section of the c-channels on both sides of the trailer and use it as a spot to insert the floor sections. This would take care of the piece at the front of the AS and then the two following. The rear piece and the piece that goes just behind the wheel well is a different story. Not too sure how I'm going to manage that. This may be where I have to drill out the rivets holding the outer skin to the c-channel. Found a mouse living in my under belly today...scared the **** out of me.

Troy
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Old 02-23-2009, 07:34 AM   #12
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Here's a neat video clip and, a few photos that might be of value for you..I am sure there's other out there..
about - airstream renovation pics
GOOD LUCK
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Old 02-23-2009, 10:06 AM   #13
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Thanks Marcus.

When I said I pride up the screws I was talking about the ones I missed that attach the plywood to the small pieces of plywood that fill the gaps. I'm going to try and replace the floor without drilling out all the rivots and lifting the body. I'm trying to figure out the best way to do this without cutting the sections in half or something like that approach. I was thinking I could just remove a section of the c-channels on both sides of the trailer and use it as a spot to insert the floor sections. This would take care of the piece at the front of the AS and then the two following. The rear piece and the piece that goes just behind the wheel well is a different story. Not too sure how I'm going to manage that. This may be where I have to drill out the rivets holding the outer skin to the c-channel. Found a mouse living in my under belly today...scared the **** out of me.

Troy
There are some differences between the way your late 60s belly pan is attached, and the way my early 60s bellypan is attached, to the c-channel and outer skins.

But either way, you CAN replace the floor without removing the shell. I replaced the back two sections (back 8') of subfloor in my trailer, without cutting them in half. I walked them though the front door, shifted them, and slowly and carefully finessed them into place. Right up until I had to take a sledge-hammer to them, but one way or another, they went into place.

Anyway, if you're interested in how I did it, you can check out my blog linked in my signature below. There are also several threads on these forums where folks discuss their tactics for their shell-on frame-up restorations.

However, I will still advise you remove the belly skin, because that's the only way to inspect the frame from all sides, and make any necessary repairs if the worst is confirmed. If there are floor rot issues, it's quite possible there will be frame rot issues down below that. Or, if you find the frame to be in great condition, then you can button it all back up and have peace of mind.

Good luck!
-Marcus
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Old 02-23-2009, 06:10 PM   #14
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Online I've seen lot's of different approaches to lifting the shell when it's finally cut loose. The slickest method was what I saw them doing at the AS factory. They simply lift from overhead with an electric hoist. They use an inverted "T" piece lift rig that they slide through the center vent opening at an angle. Straighten it up, line it up along the long axis of the trailer, push the button and up goes the shell. Depending on your model and where the vents are located this might work with a single lift rig or possibly two. I'd think a properly rated chain-fall or two would work if you can pull the frame out from under the lifted body.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Roy
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