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Old 07-30-2006, 06:13 PM   #1
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1977 31' Excella 500
Berkeley Springs , West Virginia
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What should I do now?

Well I am depressed.

I just discovered that in addition to a mild case of tail droop/sag in my trailer (which I thought I had a good fix for), I have just discovered that it's also got the separation issue on the street side.

I hooked the water up for the first time. Guy I bought it from said he thought he'd let the pipes freeze. Hooked the water up and it seemed to leak from the water heater. Soaked the corner by the toilet. So now I've got it sitting out there with the a/c running to dry it out.

But what really got me is where we saw it leaking from. Came out the top of the banana wrap and down the back street side corner. Had my wife jump up and down on the bumper while I was down there at eye level, and sure enough; I saw the bottom move independantly of the top. Classic evidence of tail separation.

I'd just read a post the other day where Inland Andy outlined all that needed to be done to fix it. It looks like a real job.

Combine that with the slight buckle I can see fore and aft of the wheel wells on the street side, and I belive I've got both the separation and the sag.

I've also got the old hydravac brake system and worn out axles. Looks like I've basically got just a shell.

I'm thinking there are only a few options here:
(A) Drag it somewhere and use it for a cabin
(B) Sell it as-is to somebody with more time than me, and lose my hat on it
(C) Build a new frame

I'm thinking it'd be just as much work to build doublers for the sag, follow Andy's guidance for the separation, and install new axles, as it would be to just do a new frame. Only problem is, I can't weld very well.

Had a buddy who was gonna build me a new frame at his shop, but that looks to be not happening. That's why I was looking at the doublers. Now, I'm back to square one. Looks like I've got a totally unroadworthy rig. The shell is perfect, and the stuff inside is pretty good, but the chassis is basically bad.

What should I do?
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Old 07-30-2006, 06:24 PM   #2
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1993 21' Sovereign
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There are always alternatives

You could find a coach with a trashed interior, and good frame and floor, and install your stuff in it.
You could contract out the stuff you can't do on the coach you have now, and do everything else yourself.
You could find someone that has done this before, and see if they are willing to help you.
You could tack it together, and sell it on Ebay.
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Old 07-30-2006, 06:31 PM   #3
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1978 31' Excella 500
Goose Creek , South Carolina
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Well....I feel your pain. It all started with getting rid of the carpet do to the daughters allergies. Found rotten floor and frame. After a couple cold ones and some choice words I opted to repair instead of replace.

If I where you, I would do some further probing. Pull down the belly pan in the back and see whats going on. Search the threads and post some pic's. In the end you have to make the call. In the meantime this can be your support group.
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Old 07-30-2006, 09:13 PM   #4
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1980 31' Excella II
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Jim,
Just so you know you aren't alone I have not one but two Airstreams that need frame work of one sort or another. I have actually torn into a total of three 70's vintage and one 80. All have been rear bath. None of them require(d) a complete frame. Typically I have found 2-4 outriggers have been bad, usually some frame damage in the rear (but not on the 80 just the floor) and some areas around the door. I usually have more wood damage than frame work to do. So if you can get the stuff out of the way and have a welder come over for an afternoon you should be good to go. FWIW on one unit all we found were 2 bad outriggers, we replaced those with a fabricated piece of 18 gauge galvinized steel and just ran it over the top of what was left of the old outrigger, and button welded it in place. That only took 20 minutes, what took longer was getting the interior and plywood out of the way to do the welding. On my 80 I will probably do the outriggers from underneath and not pull any plywood unless it is bad.

Aaron
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Old 07-30-2006, 10:35 PM   #5
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First thing to decide is if you like the basic layout and length of the trailer. This is stuff you can't change. If the answer is yes, then you should probably keep it and proceed on the repairs.

Likely any vintage unit will need work. Some less than others, or less than the owner realizes anyway.

Just take baby steps. Or it becomes too overwhelming for any of us. Just think in terms of working on each system and component seperately, break it down to its basic components. Keep your emotions and imageination out of it.

Another word to the wise is to really try to do as much of the repairs as you can. Even if you have to learn a new skill, buy new tools, or ask for advice. Save paying the experts for stuff you really can't do, like welding or electical if you're unsure about it.

If you pay someone for every little thing that needs to be done, you'll be top heavy in value in no time.

Just think small steps, tackle one problem at a time. With patence and a lot of asprin, you'll get there!
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Old 07-30-2006, 10:48 PM   #6
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1960 24' Tradewind
santa barbara , California
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Hello jim golden ,

As SafariTim says focus on the one area and forget about the rest till you get to that point or you will really be unhappy.Get the belly pan down out of the way ,see whats up .you can get the frame reinforced after it is raised back up into level position ,jack it up at the rear reinforcing plates then can be added along the frame sides for extra strength .Long plates placed along the outsides of the frame .Andy knows the procedure ,you could use his repair
procedure ,once that is done ,you go on to the floor separation ,remove whats needed ,address the problems etc.Because those rear bath coaches
are known for this and a solid repair is available ,you wouldn't need a new frame ,if you were gonna do a shell off and replace the frame ,heck you
can do this .Take a breather and regroup your ideas and then go for it .
You just have to go in a different direction ,but it sounds like you have a real nice airstream ,a great shell ? no dents Thats a big plus !!Just post regular
and everone will give you any help they can here and support!

Scott
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Old 07-31-2006, 01:54 AM   #7
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Don't be depressed. I don't know anything about Airstream repair but I do restore old military vehicles for relaxation. The similarity is that if you only focus on one system/issue/problem at a time before you know it as each one is solved/repaired/replaced you are done. If you don't have to go parts hunting you are ahead of the game. Good luck.
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Old 07-31-2006, 05:21 PM   #8
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Berkeley Springs , West Virginia
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Thanks!

Thanks for the kind words everybody. I'm still thinking on this. I still like the idea of a new and stronger frame. Been running the numbers and I think the steel will cost me about $1200 from my local supplier. A lot, but not so bad I guess. I've got all the Lincoln books on welding, just not much practical theory. And my dad's got an old Lincoln stick welder. That'd be enough to do the job.

I'm not giving up yet!
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Old 07-31-2006, 06:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimGolden
Thanks for the kind words everybody. I'm still thinking on this. I still like the idea of a new and stronger frame. Been running the numbers and I think the steel will cost me about $1200 from my local supplier. A lot, but not so bad I guess. I've got all the Lincoln books on welding, just not much practical theory. And my dad's got an old Lincoln stick welder. That'd be enough to do the job.

I'm not giving up yet!
Try to see if someone you know has a wire feed welder. Stick welding sucks to learn in my opinion. I was a welder for about a year making machinery frames. I learned wire feed welding very quickly, but still to this day can't stick weld worth a damn.
Try to use a wire feed welder that has a purge gas, the welds will be a little nicer that way.

Also, one more bit of advice. After all the lengths are cut use the scrap to practice, practice, practice.
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Old 07-31-2006, 06:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimGolden
Thanks for the kind words everybody. I'm still thinking on this. I still like the idea of a new and stronger frame. Been running the numbers and I think the steel will cost me about $1200 from my local supplier. A lot, but not so bad I guess. I've got all the Lincoln books on welding, just not much practical theory. And my dad's got an old Lincoln stick welder. That'd be enough to do the job.

I'm not giving up yet!
We have an 85 31 foot frame available.

Andy
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Old 07-31-2006, 07:43 PM   #11
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Wow, if the price is right.....
That would be a quick solution.
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Old 07-31-2006, 08:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by davidz71
Wow, if the price is right.....
That would be a quick solution.
Not really IMHO would require quite a bit more work than selectively repairing a partially damaged frame...

Aaron
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Old 07-31-2006, 10:36 PM   #13
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Well , Jim has been wanting a new frame in the first place so if Andy
has one in excellent condition and could be reinforced in the weak areas ,thats even better ,I say Jim should get after that frame and see
if it is what he wants.Get it home and get started .

Scott
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Old 08-01-2006, 12:07 AM   #14
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1958 18' "Footer"
Sebastopol , California
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Jim, Remember the prize!! They all have problems, the only way you know its right is to fix it!! My 58 Traveler of about 4 weeks just keeps getting worse, everytime I go to fix one thing I find more. It is no big thing I just keep seeing the finished product and add to the todo list!! Stay focus and roll up your sleves and geter done!!
Greg
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