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Old 04-13-2010, 02:04 AM   #1
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1969 31' Sovereign
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Welding a spine from front to back

Hey Guys, I am in the process of removing the sub floor from my 31' Sovereign, shell on mind you. Question, why can't I weld a spine straight down the middle of my trailer, so that way I can cut my new ply sub floor down the middle and with the spine in place, piece it in and have plenty of "structurally sound area for bolts" I wouldn't be compromising any structural integrity would I? Adding weight maybe. Please forgive me if I am repeating a question that has been ask before, but I have been going round and round with this!
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:54 AM   #2
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I am not knowledegable on your trailer.
Something to keep in mind is welds are not flexable. With vibration and stress they will break or break the metal around it. This may not be a concern in the short term, long term, when you are on the road it may come into play.
Is there a way to blot a piece across the area in question and remove it upon completion. The bolt holes could be easiley filled with anadized bolts or counter sunk screws.
If a support piece was spot welded for the duration of the repairs and then removed upon completion, could be an option.
As I said, I am unfamilure with your work area, so if none of this is pertenent please disregard.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:29 AM   #3
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Are you talking about removing all the plywood and running it with the long side of the plywood parallel to the sides of the trailer (2 pieces side by side to cover the width of the trailer)? If so, sounds reasonable because the more floor 'joists' you catch with each piece of plywood, the stronger the structure would be. Instead of welding steel in as a spline, could you not simply glue and screw a plywood spline to the underside of the center joint between each joist? Staggering your short side of the plywood joints would help with strength, too.
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:08 AM   #4
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Hey Guys, I am in the process of removing the sub floor from my 31' Sovereign, shell on mind you. Question, why can't I weld a spine straight down the middle of my trailer, so that way I can cut my new ply sub floor down the middle and with the spine in place, piece it in and have plenty of "structurally sound area for bolts" I wouldn't be compromising any structural integrity would I? Adding weight maybe. Please forgive me if I am repeating a question that has been ask before, but I have been going round and round with this!
The one piece, side to side flooring, is a part of the "monocoque construction".

Cutting the flooring in half, will weaken that construction, no matter how many "spines" you may add.

As with other things, replacing the floor with the shell on, is a short cut that offers nothing positive except saving time, but compromises the overall strength when the floor is cut into pieces and spliced.

Andy
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:54 AM   #5
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Not that I have any business saying Andy is right... but Andy is right.

When a floor rots, the structure of the trailer is weakened. I could see visual evidence of this in our '67 Overlander. With the rear end separation, rear bath floor rot, the coach flexed. This "punched" a dent in the ceiling where a vertical wooden support was located.

In the Overlander, we have a new subfloor of 5/8" ply attached while the shell was off. I need a really good surface for our planned cork tiles, so I'm adding a layer of 5mm hardwood (marine mahogany?) ply. I plan to glue the sheets of 5mm overlapping the seams in the 5/8". This will give me a subfloor slightly thicker than 3/4" but with better overall "stiffness" because of the reduced flex at the seams.

It's a theory, anyway.
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:57 PM   #6
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Thanks guys! Back to the drawing board!
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:09 PM   #7
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Andy, or anyone of you fine Airstreamers, I don't want to weaken the construction by any means, but I am limited to space, is it possible to do partial shell on/off floor replacement? I.E. jack her up in sections, replace floor in sections and continue down in that manner? Or am I just loosing my mind? I wasn't kidding when I said I was going round and round on this.
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Old 04-14-2010, 09:50 AM   #8
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Andy, or anyone of you fine Airstreamers, I don't want to weaken the construction by any means, but I am limited to space, is it possible to do partial shell on/off floor replacement? I.E. jack her up in sections, replace floor in sections and continue down in that manner? Or am I just loosing my mind? I wasn't kidding when I said I was going round and round on this.
If your going to lift the shell in sections, then the bottom line is that the entire shell at some point, will be lifted, but not without a bunch of headaches.

The complete shell can be lifted a couple of inches, very easily.

Have a few small horses along the side of the trailer, lift up the shell and hold it in place using some 2 x 4's that are on top of the horses.

But remember to support the chassis before you remove the shell, as the chassis will sag if you don't, giving you more headaches.

Andy
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:31 AM   #9
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I was in the same situation. I didn't have the space (or the technology) to get the shell off so I jobbed out the frame renvoation and floor replacement. There are a number of good threads on how guys have done "shell on" floor replacements. The notion of "jacking up" a shell makes me a little nervous. I think the approach I've seen most often is to lift the frame. Now... could a guy gently lift one end to sneak in the floor? I'll defer to the renovation gurus.
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:00 PM   #10
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I did a partial floor replacement, shell on. I found there was very little flex in the shell that would have allowed me to jack up portions at a time. I think if you're talking about lifting the shell, just lift the whole thing at once and get it over with. If you are doing a full floor replacement, most of the work is in removing the interior and the lower interior wall panels. At that point you might as well disconnect the shell and lift it out of the way, remove the old wood, repair any broken welds, and put new wood down.

It's not as bad as it sounds, pulling out the interior and putting it back in is the part that takes all the time.
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:16 PM   #11
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I keep hearing that it's HARD and IMPOSSIBLE to replace the floor with the shell on. I guess I had better pull mine back out, and do it the "right way"

RIGHT!!!!!
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:22 PM   #12
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I did a partial floor replacement, shell on. I found there was very little flex in the shell that would have allowed me to jack up portions at a time. I think if you're talking about lifting the shell, just lift the whole thing at once and get it over with. If you are doing a full floor replacement, most of the work is in removing the interior and the lower interior wall panels. At that point you might as well disconnect the shell and lift it out of the way, remove the old wood, repair any broken welds, and put new wood down.

It's not as bad as it sounds, pulling out the interior and putting it back in is the part that takes all the time.
I would think the shorter the trailer the less it will 'flex'.
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:25 PM   #13
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It's not as bad as it sounds, pulling out the interior and putting it back in is the part that takes all the time.
Can you "guesstimate" how much time that part took you, Steph..?
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:49 PM   #14
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I would think the shorter the trailer the less it will 'flex'.
I would expect that to be true. My trailer had pretty much zero flex but only half of the shell was disconnected. Still, I was expecting to be able to lift it a little to make fitting the floor easier and it wouldn't budge. I ended up going with a seam down the middle, which has not been a problem so far.

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Can you "guesstimate" how much time that part took you, Steph..?
I can't, I'm really lazy I only worked on it a couple hours at a time, spread out over about four months (the whole project). There were all sorts of annoyances, stripped screws, rivets that wouldn't drill out easily. Nothing hard, just dirty and tedious work.
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