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Old 10-12-2011, 06:16 PM   #1
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Cracks in skin

We bought our 1994 34' Classic Excella in June 2010. We were newbies, hadn't found this forum yet, and had no idea what to look for. We did notice that the stream had some cracking but the PO told us they had been repaired and were nothing to worry about. Since then I have come across some threads that indicate that it could be a more significant problem. I was hoping to get some idea on whether we should be concerned and if so, what should we do about it. The cracks are the same and have not changed in the time we've had it. We have towed it 3 times with an F250 Ford Diesel. I have read a few things about over rated TV's and hitch bars but you will really have to dumb it down for me cause I don't understand what your talking about. I was hoping Andy at Inland RV could offer some expertise as he has commented on similar issues in the past. I am posting images for your reference.

One at 1:00 from the door frame
Another originating from the frame on the right front side panel and
One in the front at 1:00 from the battert compartment

Thanks,

Yevette
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Old 10-12-2011, 08:33 PM   #2
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I know what Andy would say, and I can't argue with him:
Worn out axle rubber,or
out of balance running gear, or
too stiff hitch spring bars,or
too stiff a tow vehicle, or some combination of the above.

It's interesting to me that it's all on the curbside front corner. I'd be tempted to pull the belly pan off up there and see if there is a frame issue on that corner. Like the right a frame member with a weak weld or bent. Is there any compression of the lower molding where it meets the right a-frame member just below the battery door?
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Old 10-12-2011, 08:52 PM   #3
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you know, coming at this from an airplane maintenance perspective, what strikes me is that these repairs and pretty sketchy looking. would it be hard to get a backing plate behind those cracks and either use solid or pulled rivets to make a nice patch? if they aren't growing, whatever caused them is over, btw.
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Old 10-12-2011, 09:38 PM   #4
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Are the trailers of this era missing the steel reinforcing plate at the bottom of the front endcap? It holds the shell firmly to the chassis. Research this to be sure. Or pm Colin Hyde and ask.

Bill
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Old 10-12-2011, 09:41 PM   #5
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Are the trailers of this era missing the steel reinforcing plate at the bottom of the front endcap? It holds the shell firmly to the chassis. Research this to be sure. Or pm Colin Hyde and ask.

Bill
Wouldn't you see a whole bunch of rivets if it were there? I still think it's strange it's on one side only....
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Old 10-12-2011, 10:23 PM   #6
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That crack isn't quite fare enough back to be at the first outrigger. Maybe there had been an accident and the lower banana wrap had been replaced? Hard to guess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmos View Post
Are the trailers of this era missing the steel reinforcing plate at the bottom of the front endcap? It holds the shell firmly to the chassis. Research this to be sure. Or pm Colin Hyde and ask.

Bill
I don't have the answer to the above question, but A-frame flexing and skin cracks are a well known issue for Airstreams without the steel reinforcing plate. I know that this has been an issue for models like my 25' FB and other recent units with front storage compartment doors (30' Bunkhouse?).

I can observe my A-frame flexing when I engage weight distribution bars. My front compartment door right behind the battery box can be really tough to open or shut when WD bars are engaged. I'd look at this and tow vehicle harshness being more at fault. Running gear would be way down the list for this issue IMO.
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
I know what Andy would say, and I can't argue with him:
Worn out axle rubber,or
out of balance running gear, or
too stiff hitch spring bars,or
too stiff a tow vehicle, or some combination of the above.
Exactly.

Andy
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Old 10-12-2011, 11:39 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the replys. I will investigate the suggested possibilities and get back to you. My main concern is to make sure there is not still an underlying problem. I f there isn't, is it a big deal to have those cracks in the stream?
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:41 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the replys. I will investigate the suggested possibilities and get back to you. My main concern is to make sure there is not still an underlying problem. I f there isn't, is it a big deal to have those cracks in the stream?
Probably not, as long as they don't keep growing and you keep them sealed. It would bug the heck out of me, but it would be prohibitively expensive to replace the panels.
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:49 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by dznf0g

Probably not, as long as they don't keep growing and you keep them sealed. It would bug the heck out of me, but it would be prohibitively expensive to replace the panels.
How prohibitive cost wise? What is involved in replacing? Wondering if we can do it ourselves. I can see how it would be ridiculous to replace the whole side panel for the one over the door, but the cracks in the front/side are on small panels.
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:06 AM   #11
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Panel is $500 - $650, I'd guess, based on some insurance work I am having done. Rivets and Misc...another $100.
To have it done would be $1500 - $1700 based on about $100/hr labor rates. Just a ballpark.
My repair to two rear panels came in at $3500 at JC.

Of course door side panel would be huge. I don't have a guess for that one.

There has to be an underlying cause, though. I'd make sure you have that corrected before any skin repairs.
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:40 AM   #12
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I don't have the answer to the above question, but A-frame flexing and skin cracks are a well known issue for Airstreams without the steel reinforcing plate. I know that this has been an issue for models like my 25' FB and other recent units with front storage compartment doors (30' Bunkhouse?). IMO.[/QUOTE]

Does anyone have an image of the "steel reinforcing plate"? Or can you tell me where and what to look for so that I can check to see if my stream has one? And about TV's, I have no idea what PO have towed this with but we have an 05 F250 diesel and I think we have the reese hitch with anti sway.
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Old 10-13-2011, 09:25 AM   #13
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You should look at your spring bars to check their rating. If they are fairly new there is a decal on them. If they are old, you would have to measure them. If they are 1200 or 1,000 lb. rating, I would replace them with 800 lb rated bars on a rig like yours. I am not familiar with just how the steel plate is attached in your model. If it is there, it is usually riveted through the skin with sizable rivets. If the plate is there, you can usually see the rivet pattern behind the propane tanks.
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:18 AM   #14
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That front steel plate is called the "front hold down plate".

It's welded to the inside of the A-frame starting at the bottom of the frame, and goes upward about 12 inches. It's also about 1/8 inch thick.

When Airstream installed them, they used 3 horizontal rows of rivets.

We found, many years ago, that if that row was "increased" to 5 rows, that it reduced the flexing of the front end enough that it eleminated any further damage over the long haul.

If someone wishes, that front hold down plate can easily be added.

Andy
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