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Old 04-29-2014, 01:13 PM   #1
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Trestrey's Avatar
1961 16' Bambi
Rowley , Massachusetts
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 16
63 Bambi, Reinforcing Interior of shell frame

Hi Folks,

I am renovating a 63 Bambi. I have gutted the interior, and am in the process of replacing some of the exterior panels. As I have been drilling out the exterior buck rivets, I notice the internal wall studs that have fallen to the ground, as a result. I have been riveting them back to their original position on the new panel through the holes I drilled, by using the old panel's rivet holes as a template.

When I eventually close the inside back up, I am planning on installing some long wooden anchor bars along the walls. (Picture a finished 2x4 horizontally mounted along the Streetside interior wall, about a foot under the double windows*). I will use this "anchor bar" to anchor some free-standing furniture to the walls, through some holes in the bar.

Anyway, my question is:

Does anyone have any experience with adding extra reinforcement to the internal framing in the actual shell? I have seen plenty examples of reinforcement done on the steel trailer frame, but nothing on the actual aluminum shell frame. In talking with my body-work buddies, they advised riveting, and not welding in any additional framework, so as to allow for flexing. I am just wondering if there are any best practices for this kind of thing that I can work from. Airstream work seems to have its own set of rules, and I am continually stressing about committing some kind of Airstream renovation faux pas.

My thought is that I already have the shell frame exposed, and I am modeling the interior differently than the original design intent. If I am going to be creating an increased load on the walls, I might as well add some reinforcement to the frame structure, before I close it back up for good. Right now, I am thinking of riveting in some 1/8" thick aluminum(probably 5” x 30”) between the main frame studs, so that when I mount the “anchor bar” I spoke of earlier to the interior skin, the screws are biting into something a little more substantial than just the 2024. I feel like this will help distribute the weight of the furniture’s load a little bit better. I got this whole idea when I was dismantling the original furniture from the interior, and I saw how flimsy the anchoring of the existing pull-out bed was. This also made me think that the anchoring load I intend to have on the wall will not be too much in my new design concept. Making this trailer as heavy duty as possible, while not changing the outward appearance from it’s original form, is also one of my goals.

Anyway, if anyone can offer any feedback on experiences with anything similar to this, or can think of any potential pitfalls with this idea, I would be most appreciative. I want to do this stuff once, so I am trying to take every precaution and make consideration beforehand. Thanks for your internet time; )


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Old 04-29-2014, 01:47 PM   #2
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1968 17' Caravel
Battle Ground , Washington
Join Date: Dec 2002
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I think if your anchor bar screws into the aluminum ribs, you'll be fine. That's how it was originally designed, and many original trailers have held up through decades of abuse that way. I think you might be over-engineering your new interior. Most of the weight of the furniture will be on the floor, where it can be solidly attached. I thought at first maybe you were engineering an overhead bunk bed or something, but unless you are trying to hang weight like that right off the aluminum shell, I don't think your furniture that is floor mounted is going to need significant wall reinforcement.

My trailer has seen a lot of travel (annual trips to Alaska before I bought it) and everything inside is still intact and for the most part, attached to the walls as it was when it rolled out of the factory.

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