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Old 08-29-2010, 12:44 AM   #1
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1953 21' Flying Cloud
Encinitas , California
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Yet Another Shell-off Resto

Ok. Here I go. This is my first post. I have read many of the "shell-off" threads and I have been truly amazed at the ingenuity and generosity here. I'm starting this thread in hope that someone else will benefit from the exchange.

We bought our '53 Flying Cloud in November of 2008. We got right in to removing everything and started to remove the old rotted floor in anticipation of replacing the floor while leaving the shell on. Well, a few months into 2009, we had to turn our attention to our business to nurture it throught the recession. The business is somewhat stable now and we're back on the Airstream this summer, at least part time.

Over the previous year, I agonized over the thought of removing the shell. The wife and I had been been doing all the work in our driveway which is somewhat uneven and I was worried about everything going back together skewed. I also thought the amount of work would be too much to fit into my schedule.

Well, an opportunity arose that I couldn't ignore. I have 2-month access to a 24' x 40' industrial space with a flat, level floor, lighting and power. I jumped in and didn't look back. But now I'm on the clock. I'll need encouragement. Chime in please.

Chris I.
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Old 08-29-2010, 12:50 AM   #2
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Over the course of a weekend I had the shell off. Piece of cake! I was worried over nothing. We'll see how the rest goes.
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Old 08-29-2010, 01:23 AM   #3
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Sawhorses on carts! Ready to roll!
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Old 09-04-2010, 10:20 PM   #4
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Did you brace the shell in any way to ensure it retains is form? I expect to remove the shell in a few weeks and expect to put a lot of effort into bracing the shell to make sure it doesn't deform in any way.
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:26 AM   #5
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Hi phoyt,

I actually used minimal bracing but I have a relatively short trailer ( the shell of the '53 Flying cloud is only 18 feet long). Also, I am working on this indoors. I have no worries of wind blowing it over. I see you have a much longer trailer. You'll probably need more. I have seen much more extensive bracing on these forums than mine.

I braced two of the ribs (one forward of the door and one behind the wheel well) with 1x4s near the floor and a couple feet up just under the upper inner skins. I had previously removed the lower inner skin. I then placed a diagonal 1x4 between these upper and lower 1x4s. And finally I put a couple criss-cross boards between the lower 1x4s.

Once I got the shell free and lifted a few inches, I added some verticals to the 1x4s that extended below the level of the outer skins and attached the horizontal 2x4s that are riding on the sawhorses.

I lifted the whole thing by myself by going back and forth between the horizontal 2x4s with a floor jack and blocking them up until I reached the height of the sawhorses. Then I just rolled the frame/floor out from under the shell and pushed the shell off to the side. The shell seems fairly rigid with the bracing I have.

Here are a couple of photos.


Also here is a link to our Picasa photo album.
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Old 09-07-2010, 07:52 AM   #6
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Wow, thanks for the info... the photo album was especially helpful. I am ready to remove the lower, inner panels now. I was going to cut into the floor before lifting off the shell but now, I think I'll try to lift the shell and roll the frame out from under like you did.

Fortunately, I am also working inside but that means something different in northern Idaho than it does where you are working. :-) So I've got to hurry if I am going to get to work on the frame before the snow starts!

Thanks again, Pete
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:29 AM   #7
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This looks great. Nice job with the shell removal. Glad I found this thread. I agree about the photo album, very good information through pictures. I’m curious, except for the floor removal done before moving it inside, it looks as though you removed all the perimeter rivets and lifted the shell leaving the bottom u-channel bolted to the frame. Then cut the bolts with a sawzall. Is that about right?

Many of the shell removal posts I’ve found haven’t shown or said much about what the issues are regarding putting it back together. I’m looking forward to your progress.

I’ll be doing the same to my ’55 Overlander but not until next summer. We’re still using it but the floor needs replacing, so we’re going to take it all the way down and redo the whole thing. We’ll be watching. Thanks for the posting.
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Old 09-07-2010, 11:38 AM   #8
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Looks good you guys, let me know if you need any help....
Greg
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Old 11-04-2010, 02:34 AM   #9
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Long time, no post

Well, this phase of the project was certainly an adventure. Business work all day, Airstream work all night and all weekend for two months, except for a week and a half in September working a trade show for our business. I was just too tired in the evening to post my progress here.

I got everything accomplished that I set out to do and then some. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the results. I ran into some issues that were beyond my skills with the front and rear belly skins but I had no time to look back.

Lots of photos were taken along the way but many are missing because of a camera failure. Here are a couple more links to photo albums.

Picasa Web Albums - Chris Isaacson - Frame and floor#
Picasa Web Albums - Chris Isaacson - Belly skins a...#
Picasa Web Albums - Chris Isaacson - Shell back on!#

I will try to gather my recollections a recount some of them here in the coming day and weeks. Comments and questions are welcome.
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Old 11-04-2010, 07:40 AM   #10
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Starman,

Great work in a really short amount of time! Making me feel as though I am stuck in quicksand though. I'm with you on the bellypan, it was beyond my capabilities also. I did what I could, not to my liking but had to move on. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11-04-2010, 09:23 AM   #11
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Wow, great work, Star-Man! Can't wait to hear your narrative...!
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:02 PM   #12
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Wow! I looked at those pictures and don't have a clue what I am looking at, but it sure is impressive.
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