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Old 08-09-2007, 10:34 AM   #1
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Overhead Cabinet Separation '67 Safari

We have had our '67 Safari for a little over a year now. Since we've had it, we've noticed a slow separation of the overhead cabinets above the gaucho from the interior wall. We believe the separation started with the curved end panel next to the fridge, where possibly a rivet came loose (?). Most likely the PO was storing something too heavy in them. Now the center overheads are starting to sag and we've noticed a couple of cracks in the thin wood holding them together.

Wondering if anyone out there has ever had this problem, and how to best deal with it. I'd like to save the cabinets, so I'm looking for suggestions on the best way to repair them. Would it be best to remove the cabinets to repair them?

My husband is pretty handy, so he can do the work, just need some suggestions on the best way to tackle this project. Thanks for any suggestions!
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Old 08-09-2007, 10:48 AM   #2
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Hi Meridith:
I had the same problems with my 86. It's the axles shaking the dog meat out of your rig, or the wheel balance. I started a thread overhead cabinets RRR you may want to give it a glance.
See you at LSA in Oct. Tim
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Old 08-09-2007, 11:01 AM   #3
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Bad News...

Cabinets coming apart and rivets popping are a sign of either bad axles, poorly balanced running gear (wheels and tires), or a combination of both. There is a thread here to check to see if your axles are shot. If the axles are original to the trailer, it's a good bet that they are worn out.
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Old 08-09-2007, 11:19 AM   #4
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We have a similar problem except the only symptom is the space between the top of the shell and panel. My question is has the floor dropped or has the shell flexed upwards??
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Old 08-09-2007, 11:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heirstreamer
Cabinets coming apart and rivets popping are a sign of either bad axles, poorly balanced running gear (wheels and tires), or a combination of both. There is a thread here to check to see if your axles are shot. If the axles are original to the trailer, it's a good bet that they are worn out.
Oh, bummer. I had no idea this was stemming from the axle. I'm glad I asked, otherwise we'd probably be repairing our repairs!

When we bought our trailer, we had the folks at Nolan's RV in Denver, CO. put on new tires and check out our axle. They said the axle was OK. I guess it's time for a closer look.

I'll start mining the axle threads to find out where to go from here. I wonder if we should brace the cabinets for the meantime. It might be a while before we can get to a new axle
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Old 08-09-2007, 11:45 AM   #6
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Meredith,


It looks to me like you may have more than one thing happening here, besides the possibly bad axle. Let me try to quickly cover a few other possibilities for you.

First, the ‘Sagging overheads’ and 'Center Divider Crack’ and ‘Separation inside center overhead’ pictures:

The cabinets were made of a solid wood frame in the front. The wood used was 1" thick and in my case made of solid black walnut. The crack is where two boards were doweled and glued together.

If you observe just inside the top of the cabinet (back side), you should see a lip of sorts, where they used screws, most effectively installed at an angle, to mount the center portion of the cabinet to the aluminum skin above for support. If there are no screws installed, then the center of the cabinet has gone without this support, and would explain the ‘Center Divider Crack’. If there are screws there providing support and the aluminum skin is not sagging, then we need to look at other possible causes.

Another possible cause is water damage. Are there any water stains visible there? If so, it could be that you have a water leak that has caused the wood joint/glue to weaken.

The back portion of the shelf should be fastened to your curtain tracking, used to cover the window above the gaucho, and the other side of the curtain tracking should be screwed or riveted to the aluminum skin.

Second, the ‘First separation – end panel over fridge’ picture:

This issue is normal and can be fixed by using glue inside the trim pressed against the paneling to secure it, while the glue dries. I would use Rhino glue (Google for it).

Third, the ‘End Panel Crack’ picture:

This picture indicates that stress from above, pulling up from behind and/or pushing forward, has been applied. This could happen if the front-top portion of that panel fit too tight against the aluminum skin. I would tend to think, however, that if this be the case, then the crack would have shown up years and years ago.

The overhead cabinet is also attached to this panel, and could be causing this if not attached to the curtain tracking mentioned above. If the curtain tracking is in place and everything fastened as expected, it should keep the shelf from wanting to thrust forward when making a left vehicle turn.

You might want to make sure the fridge is securely fastened to the floor, both in front and particularly from behind. If it is not secured properly from behind (possibly due to floor rot?), then I could see the fridge weight being thrown forward at the top, causing the crack. I would suspect floor rot behind the fridge, because the gasket to the access door there is often a neglected (out-of-sight, out-of-mind) feature, allowing water in to erode the floor. If this is the case, however, I would expect the panel on the other side of the fridge (next to the gaucho) to also show signs of stress.
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Old 08-09-2007, 02:24 PM   #7
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missing screws?

Thanks, Spiffy Gem, for a very helpful response. We are such newbies at this, you're assesment really helps us to focus in on all of the possible causes of the separation.

Quote:
First, the ‘Sagging overheads’ and 'Center Divider Crack’ and ‘Separation inside center overhead’ pictures:

If you observe just inside the top of the cabinet (back side), you should see a lip of sorts, where they used screws, most effectively installed at an angle, to mount the center portion of the cabinet to the aluminum skin above for support. If there are no screws installed, then the center of the cabinet has gone without this support, and would explain the ‘Center Divider Crack’. If there are screws there providing support and the aluminum skin is not sagging, then we need to look at other possible causes.
I checked for these screws and I do not see any. I am not sure exactly where "just inside the top of the cabinet (back side)" is so I attached another picture to show you where I checked for the screws (both A & B.) Are either one of these spots the area you are referring to?

Quote:
Another possible cause is water damage. Are there any water stains visible there? If so, it could be that you have a water leak that has caused the wood joint/glue to weaken.
There are no water stains or indication of leaks anywhere that I could find.

Quote:
The back portion of the shelf should be fastened to your curtain tracking, used to cover the window above the gaucho, and the other side of the curtain tracking should be screwed or riveted to the aluminum skin.
Yes, this appears to be the case, although I cannot actually see this because the curtain track is covering it up. There is one odd note here - our trailer came to us with the gaucho window sealed shut (part of the bottom frame was cut out and all the window hardware removed.) The sealed window is water tight, but perhaps somehow this is connected to the separating overhead cabinets.

Quote:
Second, the ‘First separation – end panel over fridge’ picture:

This issue is normal and can be fixed by using glue inside the trim pressed against the paneling to secure it, while the glue dries. I would use Rhino glue (Google for it).
Rhino glue, check. After the glue completely dries, would you then replace the missing screw at the joint? Or, was that a rivet?

Quote:
You might want to make sure the fridge is securely fastened to the floor, both in front and particularly from behind. If it is not secured properly from behind (possibly due to floor rot?), then I could see the fridge weight being thrown forward at the top, causing the crack. I would suspect floor rot behind the fridge, because the gasket to the access door there is often a neglected (out-of-sight, out-of-mind) feature, allowing water in to erode the floor. If this is the case, however, I would expect the panel on the other side of the fridge (next to the gaucho) to also show signs of stress


We will pull out the fridge and check this out. The fridge was replaced a few years before we bought it, so it's on the newer side. It's possible it wasn't installed properly. Would you suggest completely replacing this panel?

One thing we have been doing which may be stressing this area is that we have been placing our microwave above the fridge on the table top. We don't tow with it on the cabinet, but it sits there whenever we are parked. This could be pulling the cabinet forward too. I guess this is another one of our newbie no-no's.
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Old 08-09-2007, 03:17 PM   #8
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Meredith,

I'll post more later, maybe even tomorrow after I take a few pictures to help you find “just inside the top of the cabinet (back side)".

Please don’t pull the fridge yet: you shouldn't have to do that to check the floor. If you go outside and around to the backside of where the fridge is located, you should find an access panel (removable via the use of a key that should have been given to you by the PO at the time you bought the coach). Removing that door gives you access to the back of the fridge and the floor.

With regard to replacing the screw after using rhino glue: I would replace it for cosmetic purposes.

The curtain track should have screws drilled through it going both toward the shelf and toward the aluminum skin of the coach/TT.

The gaucho window being sealed shut does not sound good. Is this because of a leak the PO could not get to stop leaking? If so, what kind of floor damage occurred, if any?

It is possible that when the new(er) fridge was installed the paneling was forced in place, which would cause unwanted stress, especially if it is load bearing (and we know it is, at least in part)? I would not immediately jump to this conclusion.

I wouldn’t replace any of the woodwork until you determine the cause of the damage. After that you will want to have the shelf repaired. Replacing the cracked panel may be more a personal decision.

You can view my photo gallery to get some idea of what some of this cabinet stuff looks like behind the scenes. Realize that the stuff in my pictures are custom, but much the same concepts: http://www.airforums.com/photos/browseimages.php?do=browseimages&c=500&userid=8174
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Old 08-09-2007, 06:13 PM   #9
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Meredith,
I reviewed your pictures and think I mis-located the 'End Panel Crack' picture. Is that above the fridge?
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Old 08-09-2007, 06:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Road Ruler
We have a similar problem except the only symptom is the space between the top of the shell and panel. My question is has the floor dropped or has the shell flexed upwards??
Don't know for sure, but looks to me like the cabinets were not built to fit, have had some weight added at some point, or has dried out from when the cabinets were built. the floor dropping or the shell flexing upwards just isn't something that is normal.
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Old 08-09-2007, 08:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by airdrmr
We have had our '67 Safari for a little over a year now. Since we've had it, we've noticed a slow separation of the overhead cabinets above the gaucho from the interior wall. We believe the separation started with the curved end panel next to the fridge, where possibly a rivet came loose (?). Most likely the PO was storing something too heavy in them. Now the center overheads are starting to sag and we've noticed a couple of cracks in the thin wood holding them together.

Wondering if anyone out there has ever had this problem, and how to best deal with it. I'd like to save the cabinets, so I'm looking for suggestions on the best way to repair them. Would it be best to remove the cabinets to repair them?

My husband is pretty handy, so he can do the work, just need some suggestions on the best way to tackle this project. Thanks for any suggestions!
Odds are the trailer has 3 huge problems.

1. The axle must to totally shot.

2. The running gear is not balanced.

3. Badly cupped tires.

Any one of the three will tear up an Airstream, exactly as it has yours.

Have two of them going, and look out.

Have all three going at the same time, and the poor trailer doesn't have a chance.

Andy
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Old 08-09-2007, 08:44 PM   #12
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There is a 4th item, usually not noticed until the wheel bearings are repacked. Our Sovereign had a bad wheel bearing, but not bad enough to come apart. The constant rumbling vibration slowly shook apart a lot of cabinetry in out trailer. The most severe damage was over the wheel that had the bad bearing.
Sooo....If you get a new axle, the additional cost is worth it to get new drums and bearings, along with the new brake gear.
A new pair of properly balanced tires, and a new loaded axle with shocks should stop your trailer's world from shaking, and give you a chance to fix, without having to re-repair your repairs.
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Old 08-09-2007, 09:24 PM   #13
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the big 4

wow, you guys are so helpful....and I'm sinking lower and lower into my chair


Quote:
1. The axle must to totally shot.
My husband just reminded me that our axle was recently checked out at Inland RV (we made an emergency stop there in January after we lost a window on Hwy 101.) A really nice guy took a look at it and said we were in pretty good shape. I'm not sure that rules out Andy's #1 since after 40 years, I'm sure the axle should be replaced.

Quote:
2. The running gear is not balanced.
OK, I'm not ashamed to say this since, afterall, I am still a newbie, but what exactly is running gear? Is this what you have inside your trailer?

Quote:
3. Badly cupped tires.
When I ran this one by my husband he is certain that this is not the cause, or even a symptom of the problem.

Quote:
There is a 4th item, usually not noticed until the wheel bearings are repacked. Our Sovereign had a bad wheel bearing, but not bad enough to come apart. The constant rumbling vibration slowly shook apart a lot of cabinetry in out trailer. The most severe damage was over the wheel that had the bad bearing.
Sooo....If you get a new axle, the additional cost is worth it to get new drums and bearings, along with the new brake gear.
A new pair of properly balanced tires, and a new loaded axle with shocks should stop your trailer's world from shaking, and give you a chance to fix, without having to re-repair your repairs.
Now, #4 is a contender. We had new tires installed in June '06 and according to the service records, the bearings were re-packed at that time. But, after a closer look at the drums, Jack, my husband, says he thinks the drums may be out-of-round.

So, I am getting the big picture that there are several (big) reasons why the cabinets are getting the "dog meat" shaked out of them (thanks, Tim, for that great line....) I see alot of work ahead of us.
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Old 08-09-2007, 09:27 PM   #14
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End panel crack

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiffy Gem
Meredith,
I reviewed your pictures and think I mis-located the 'End Panel Crack' picture. Is that above the fridge?
Yes, it's to the right of the fridge, on the end panel next to dinette.
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