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Old 01-12-2006, 07:18 PM   #15
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1973 31' Sovereign
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A word about outriggers...

The frame is constructed with two lengthwise steel chanel members about 5 ft apart with the u of the channel pointing in toward the center of the trailer. Obviously the floor is wider than 5 ft hence the need for the outriggers which are frame members that attach to the outside of the main channel and extend from the channel toward the sides of the floor. There also are cross members that connect from side to side between the main channel members. My unit is a 1973 so there may be some differences between your frame and mine but the principle of the outriggers is the same.

The ends of metal that I see sticking out are indeed outriggers. I had one sticking through like that at the front of my curb side wheel well. I discovered that it was broken loose from the main frame and needed to be re-attached. Eventually I plan to replace the piece of aluminum in that location too. It connects along the bottom of the floor and to the bottom of the main channel in my vintage trailer so it is not all that large of a piece.

The attached photo should give you some idea of what it looks like. This shot was taken with part of the plywood floor removed. It shows a spot just behind the street side wheel well. You can see the wheel well, an outrigger, the main frame and a cross member all in the one shot.

By the way I had a welder that makes house calls come and do some welding on my frame to fix a few things. The welder that Stephanie used was the same guy I used. To get to your outriggers you will have to remove some of the beltline trim and take off part of the banana wrap (part of the belly pan that connets around to the bottom of the wall. Again your model might be different than my '73. In any case it is not all that hard to get to.

If your trailer has been over some bad bumps it could have contributed to what we are seeing.

Hope this all helps.
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Old 01-12-2006, 07:28 PM   #16
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Personal opinion

Quote:
Originally Posted by sierrajb
... My wife felt I was a bit over-dramatic and over the top...
I do too.

Skin ripples are subject to the weather i.e. the skin being heated by the sun.

On my computer screen, I see your pictures arranged in rows of three. In your top row, the middle & right hand pictures appear to be the street side skin. The right hand picture has the sun hitting the skin. The middle picture does not. The skin in the sun does not appear to be rippled as much.

My Overlander exhibits the same characteristics. Even after addressing all floor issues I could find and reinforcing select parts of the frame. I did not consider it a problem then, and after almost 6000 miles of camping trips do not consider it a problem now.

Don't write your Airstream off because of your perceptions. To do so would simply give the next buyer a real deal on a vintage Airstream. I get the feeling you would be inclined to point out warts to potential buyers.

While I took no pictures that emphasize rippled skin, you may be able to detect it in my photo gallery. To get there, click on the photos tab, and look me up under member pictures.

Tom
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Old 01-12-2006, 07:37 PM   #17
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Ripples In The Skin

J B, Mine Are Not That Prominient, But In The Same Areas As Yours Are. So Check Inside The Wheel Wells And Under The Trailer.
Also From Your Early Pictures You Have Some Damage That Was Done To The Front Corner Of Your Trailer By A Po. That Could Have Caused The Ripples In The Sides From Say An Abrupt Stop By Running The Front Corner Into A Tree Branch Or Other Foriegn Object (corner Or Overhang On A Building?) That Stopped The Coach Violently.
My Best Guess Is That It May Be A Combination Of These Two. The Best First Thing To Check Would Be The Damage To And Around The Wheel Wells Under The Trailer. If Blowout Damage It Should Be Apparent Under The Coach. Remember Losing A Tire At Speed Can Cause The Tread To Beat The Heck Out Of The Skin And Belly Pan Around And Inside Of The Wheel Wells.
The Outriggers Refer To The Short Extensions Of The Framing Outside Of The Boxed Area Of The Frame. The Pictures Of The Metal Protruding Through The Outside Skin Of The Trailer Do Appear To Be The Ends Of Outriggers. This Will Need To Be Repaired For Sure As They Are To Support The Upper Shell Of The Trailer Not Primarily To Hold The Side Walls In Shape. Basically These Trailers Upper Shell Is Supported By The Floor Which Is Supported By The Frame And Outriggers, Then Enclosed By The Skin And Bellypan.
If The Floor Fails On The Outside Edges From Water Damage Or Dryrot Then The Shell Will Flex More In Those Areas. Take An Icepick And Probe The Floor Area Around The Inside Walls To See If The Floor Is Solid, Especially Around The Areas Where Your Wrinkles Appear.
While You Are Checking This You Can Also Inspect The Inside Area Of Your Wheel Wells To See If There Is Any Damage/seperation From The Exterior Skin And Interior Skin. Check For Daylight Or Put A Worklamp Inside The Wheel Well To See If You Can Easily See Light On The Inside Of The Coach. Ed
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Old 01-12-2006, 07:54 PM   #18
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Hmmmm...

I think your floor may be a bit more rotten then you orginally thought (as per the earlier responses). I see that you battery compartment is close to the streetside ripple (I wouldn't worry too much about the curbside part). My theory is that the body may be sagging down a bit on the streetside vs. the curbside from the rotting by the battery compartment, rippling the skin in that area - and/or that your outriggers aren't attached to frame anymore, again, letting the body settle a bit. Your kitchen crack leads me to think this is the case also.

Next courses - pick with a razor or screwdriver around the edge of wood (as Malcom suggested) to see how soft that floor is. Where are those outriggers poking through again? Are they inback of the wheels? That may also indicate outriggers separated off.

I think if you determine the amount of wood damage (hopefully small), you can fix that part and be good to go. If the wood damage is right above the outriggers, then you don't need to peel back the belly skin at all. (search stephroberts "this is going to be expensive" post - she did the exact same thing - only in the front of her trailer. You'll get a better idea of what we're talking about.) If your wood is ok, then I suppose you can pull back the belly skin to get to those outriggers, but I think you may find that you're looking at pulling the rear interior bath/furniture out (really not THAT huge of a deal), pulling the wood out, and doing a 1/3 to 1/2 rear floor replacement from inside the trailer - and rewelding a few outriggers. Time will heal - money won't be all that bad if you do it yourself. There's plenty of help here (and documented already - see Malcom, Uwe, and Carlos's posts for ideas. Also search "body on floor repair").

The hardest part is taking the first step. You'll find that you'll learn more about these trailers than you ever thought you'd need - but they're really simple animals vs. cars to work on.
Marc
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Old 01-12-2006, 08:46 PM   #19
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I notice the interior wall has started to push thru the ceiling. That is a sign the shell has started to settle down over the frame which supports the plywood floor which supports the wall. This is usually caused by the outriggers being bend or broken. It also can be caused by a bent frame pushing up on the floor at the wheel well locations but not properly supporting the shell toward the back. The localized buckling at the bottom of the outer wall of the shell just at the rear wheel well also is an indication the shell has started to bend. It is like a big sausage and if it gets bent up in the middle there is excess metal at the bottom and will start to buckle outwards. There is usually a flange that hangs down between the sets of wheel. Get under the end of the camper and sight down these two flanges. They should be straight. If they have a buckle, there was a bend in the frame and there was excess metal there which also buckled. If you see that, you really need to get the unit up on a set of ramps so you can pull the center part of the lower pan off and look closely at the frame. If it is just bent you may be able to take it to a place that does frame straightening for trucks and just bolt in on their jig and use a ram to straighten the frame. I would have some reinforcment steel either bolted or welded to the frame before I buttoned it up again. If you find cracks in the frame, you will have to have it it welded and reinforcements installed. It may just be the outriggers and you can have them straightened or rewelded for less money.
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Old 01-12-2006, 09:15 PM   #20
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Thanks for the Homework Assignments!

WHEW! This forum is sooooo helpful! Thanks to you all for bringing me back to reality. I'm not as bummed as I was yesterday, but still concerned about the unexpected time and money that will need to get this rig the way I want it for my family. You've all been extremely encouraging. I'm impressed.

Here's some additional info that will help: The previous owner lived down a very rough, washed out country road. Every trip with the AS meant driving about 1/2 mile one way. This guy has pulled contruction trailers all his life, and being accustomed to that road, I'm sure he never pulled the AS down that rough road as gently as I did last week. Also, he was the one who hit the low tree limb that caused the dents on the top. Those aren't very deep, and he said he was not traveling very fast...only parking it. So, I doubt if the inside ribs were damaged at all.

KENJ: Do you think I can replace any bad flooring without taking SOME of the shell off? I don't see how unless I am able to jack up a section of the shell a bit at a time. I'm sure it can be (and has been) done. Not a simple, one-afternoon job, I'm sure!

TomW: You are correct. The first and second photos ARE the streetside. The second photo is merely a close up of the first. The third and fourth shots are of the curbside, and yes...ripples are not as visible. The sun is shining just right to minimize the rippling. And, by the way, I am definitely cursed with the "wart finder" gene. Sorry....my sweet wife says I need counseling for that, too. I'm a terrible salesman because I point out everything that is wrong to the buyer...How stupid is that? (I simply LOVE the looks of your Overlander, and enjoyed your site. Sure gives us hope, huh?)

BIGED52: Thanks for your words of wisdom, too! I will take your advice (and others) by checking the edge of all flooring with an ice pick. I'll also look for the light (something I tell others to do in my "profession" ) as you suggested.

Marc: The outriggers have come through on the streetside only, at the front and rear of the wheel opening. I will also check into the post by STEPHROBERTS as you suggested.

Thanks to you all, I have much homework to do. I'll keep you posted on my discoveries and progress.
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Old 01-12-2006, 10:19 PM   #21
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Followed your thread and I have one thing to say....

Look on the bright side - you are young - you have great kids and you live in Texas - There is NO winter as us northerners experience! thus.....

You have all the time in the world to fix your trailer - bit by bit. Fix any leaks (windows, roof door etc.) first. Goup the parpon on if you have to. Work on your floor next, do it in sections if you have to - get your axles fully checked - get your wheels balanced and tire pressure spot on Running gear is the next top priority before anything else. Now you GO CAMPING.

She does not have to be perfect to go camping with the kids. Even if you have sections of your interior missing each trip - who cares. The bathroom is apart for a weekend trip - then take a bucket and portapotti - campgrounds usually have facilities.

Next time your kitchen may be in shambles - a BBQ and propane burner work great.

Maybe the bedroom cabinets are out the next long weekend - so grab a bunch of foam and have a sleeping bag pile up in the middle of the trailer.....

The kids just won't care - cause they will be going Tin-Tenting..

We have a 61 Overlander - but were expecting the worst - and this booty sag deal IS NOT just in the 70's - any of the older units that have sever floor rot causes the shell to release from the frame - as that is basically what holds it together - a simple bolt from the frame through the floor to the c-channel which is then riveted to the shell. No solid wood between that set up and you have a sloppy trailer - that is going to shake rattle and roll down the highway. Any poor running gear set up and you will get some pretty good flexing and damage to your shell. If you have extras like A/C or Awnings that will be added weight and through her around even more.

The days of traveling 50 miles an hour are long gone too - more like the most widely used saying on this forum - Towed like a charm - at 70 miles an hour. (Just think of a tarp flapping in the wind)...

...But as you have found out - take a deep breath and take one thing at a time - and you know you will always find help here.

We started with the running gear on the Overlander first - she still leaks in several places - but we are doing the floor in the spring - love to do it now - but a cold winter has something to do with our work schedule

Good luck with your reno's

PS building re-use it places have great chunkc of solid 1/2 -3/4 plywood - or go to a building site and check out their dumpsters. You may only need 2-3 foot sections with the middle being solid.

Check out e-bay for bags of rivets - or a specialty stores on the internet that sells bulk.
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Old 01-12-2006, 11:24 PM   #22
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Small Update at 10:45 PM...

GT6921...I appreciate your perspective. Quality camping with the family is the ONLY reason I bought this Airstream. Gotta keep that in mind, don't we?

After reading all the posts I took one final trip outside to do more inspection. Armed with an ice pick in one hand and a drop light in the other, I headed out the door. Set the drop light on one of the tires inside the wheel well. Crawled around in the dark trailer to see if I could see any light coming through at all. TOTAL DARKNESS. (That's a good sign, so far...)

Further inspection of the wheel wells called for me to lay flat on my back outside the trailer, looking deep into the recesses of the wheel well. Here's what I noticed about the streetside (the side with the most ripples):

1. The wheel well has suffered a blow, apparently from an earlier blowout(?). I could see an outside crease about 7" long on the uppermost part of the wheel well (immediately above the tires). Not sure if a blowout could have caused an outward crease, to be honest. Looks like something inside could have caused the crease, or a blow to the side skin (but no indication of that). Cornfusing...

2. The entire side of the wheel well should be attached somehow to that top (cold weld? molded?), but it has separated itself from the top, making the side that should attach to the aluminum skin very floppy in places. This would certainly account for the lack of strength in the outside skin and possible a ripple or two.

3. The aluminum skin and trim molding around the wheel well SHOULD be riveted to the inside wall of the wheel well, but it is not. In fact, either the skin is LOWER than the wall of the wheel well, or the wheel well is HIGHER than the skin. Either case, both do not line up with each other. It's off by at least 1/4". This could indicate the probable shift of the shell to that side, thus resulting in the small crack in the interior ceiling panel. Which of you suggested that possibility? You may be onto something.

4. Next, I went back inside the Overlander with my trusty ice pick. I could only find TWO soft spots that I was able to jab the pick all the way through the floor. One was at the front where the fresh water tank was. (Earlier I removed it because the plug on one side was leaking.) The size of this spot is approximately 8" x 4". Is that large enough to compromise the integrity of the floor? Would you go to the trouble of replacing that small piece?

The OTHER SOFT SPOT (as mentioned earlier...see pics) is in the HW Heater compartment, along the outside wall very close to the rear bumper. This is definitely the most obvious...you can see the bumper through the hole about the size of your palm. Other wood along that wall looks worse than it is. Again, would you remove the entire bathroom to replace this piece, or use another case of that expandable foam? (ha!)

Well, that's all I could do tonight. Gotta get some shut-eye. I hope to squeeze away from work early tomorrow and remove some of the lower pans underneath. What a story that will tell, huh?

Thanks again to everyone on this thread and in the forum. Indeed, you are the very best at what you do....namely, helping an ignorant Newbie like me maintain his sanity. God Bless you for it!
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Old 01-13-2006, 03:41 PM   #23
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At this point I would make a list

1. Rot - not sure what extent - even with an ice pick, you should assume there is more
2. Rough roads tell me a lot - if the shell is loosely attached to the frame (which it probably is because of the rot) all that damage you are seeing is explained by the contractor driving over the rough road - as a side note something you may want to do (and this will be fun) is hook up the trailer, you get in the trailer, and wife in the truck - go for a ride - you will see exactly whats bouncing around

So this is the list

1. Remove some or all of the interior
2. Check the frame - probably have broken welds from bad roads - rot puts that much more pressure on the frame because it is now two units rather than one.
3. Fix the frame - new paint would be nice
4. Fix the floor (can be done with shell on)
5. Refasten all the rivets that came loose in the wheel well
6. Put it all back together and enjoy.......

So if you up for the above, then I would tear into the belly.

May sound like a lot - and it is, but it is very doable - many of us have been there done that - in fact I would plan on the above for most any trailer over 20 or so years old. Not near as much money as time...

Ken
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:00 PM   #24
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How to Print This Stuff Out?

Hey, all...I don't want to forget everything you've all told me, and I surely want to keep track of those who have helped in this venture. May I ask another toddler question? How can I print this entire thread? I've looked for a print button or command, but can't seem to find one.
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:09 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sierrajb
Hey, all...I don't want to forget everything you've all told me, and I surely want to keep track of those who have helped in this venture. May I ask another toddler question? How can I print this entire thread? I've looked for a print button or command, but can't seem to find one.
Sierrajb,

Good question, I have used the print button on my browser to print the entire thread. I would like to know how to print just one post, however. Can anyone help me?

Bill
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:10 PM   #26
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push file - then scoll down to print
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:11 PM   #27
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Bill

I would think you could copy then paste it to a word file.....

Ken
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:32 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkerfoot
Sierrajb,

Good question, I have used the print button on my browser to print the entire thread. I would like to know how to print just one post, however. Can anyone help me?

Bill
I am not certain whether this method will work with Macintosh operating systems, but with recent editions of the Microsoft Windows system, you can:
  • Use your mouse to left-click and drag to select the post that you wish to print.
  • Then go to the Menu Bar at the top of your Browser's Window, click on the File menu and select Print
  • In the Print dialogue box, find the Page Range box (on the General tab), click on the radio button next to Selection
  • Click Print, and only your selection should print.
Kevin
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