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Old 01-22-2014, 02:41 PM   #1
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Crazy or cunning Shell off

I can't believe I'm considering this but have to ask. Has anyone tried or even seen a thread where the shell is split in sections for restoration?

It occurred to me that a major hassle on my next trailer is a lack of shop space, we just bought a new place in the summer with an oversize triple garage with 13' walls and high lift doors but only regular size openings say 16' x 7' and 8" x 7' and not quite big enough for a whole 30' shell. (the little car is 12' long for scale). Yes, both the yard and driveway are big enough for the trailer but not so huge that having a massive shell and chassis parked there for a long time are not going to be a hassle. So my genius ideaÖÖ.. brace, yoink the shell off and split in the middle so there's two sections about 15' long each then carry them into the garage for disassembly of skins and windows etc.

The more I dwell on the concept the better it seems. I can store the "body" in a tiny space all labelled very, very well, then I could strip every rib and etch prime the whole skeleton; dip and strip the windows the whole deal, and rebuilding with all new skins would lend itself to some serious leek prevention measures perfectly. I could build each section inside in climate controlled luxury and join outside on the chassis or rivet it all in one big push on a cloudy day in the summer. I'd guess that I have at least enough Cleco's so what's the snag?
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Old 01-22-2014, 08:31 PM   #2
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To just to confirm my understanding; you want to remove the shell, and then split it into two pieces, put it into your garage, and then:

A) You are going to drill out/remove every rivet in the shell, and then reassemble using new sheets based on the originals?!?!?

Or...B) you are only going to replace certain damaged panels/segments, but still disassemble completely, then that is different (but still nuts).

If you are considering all of this disassembly because of the space limitations in your garage, then I would say you are potentially creating more problems than you are solving. If you are taking it all apart because you are obsessive-compulsive, then I would recommend therapy.

You didn't mention what year/model (is it the 1960 Sov?) you are talking about working on, but my guess is that there aren't vertical seams in the body at about the midpoint that would allow you to split it nicely into two halves. If you cut it in half, then you will create a big old ugly vertical seam of double rivets to splice them back together. It will look kind of like that weird band on an earthworm.

Good luck!
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Old 01-22-2014, 08:47 PM   #3
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Um A. But I would as an absolute minimum be replacing all the flat sheets anyway due to damage and corrosion etc. Obsessive -compulsive check and possibly double check, you can never be too sure. It's the 1960 Sovereign but it is unusual in that it does have end sections and then two 12 foot section in the middle.
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Old 01-22-2014, 09:10 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by truckasaurus View Post
?..It's the 1960 Sovereign but it is unusual in that it does have end sections and then two 12 foot section in the middle.
Humm, verrrry interesting!
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Old 01-22-2014, 09:24 PM   #5
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I've never done a shell off. But considering the vintage trailer you have, the amount of work it needs, it's general assembly (seams) and work space available.
Well, I for one, think you may be on to a good solution.
If it was not for innovative minds the Airstream would not exist.
Good luck
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Old 01-22-2014, 10:17 PM   #6
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I think this is a relatively unusual situation, I can't think of another airstream that has a center seam. Honestly, I don't see why this isn't possible, and if not cunning at least it's creative thinking. Basically you are building it from scratch, if Airstream can do it, and you have the requisite skills I say GO FOR IT! Take your time, seal every seam and rivet as you go, and you may have one of the best Airstreams ever built. I'm pretty sure Aerowood here on the forums took off every panel and resealed as he rebuilt..... It can be done for sure. Take lots of pictures or the details will crush you!
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Old 01-23-2014, 07:26 AM   #7
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You have the cieling height why not put in a 10ft tall garage door? I don't know what this will do to the outside appearance but there is no reason structurally you can't put in a larger garage door. You are going to need a place to store it anyway. ALL RV's leak so covering it after you spend years restoring it makes sense.

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Old 01-23-2014, 07:31 AM   #8
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I thought about that but although the Overlander would fit OK the sovereign would have to go diagonal across all three bays which would have very low WAF. I do need some better long term storage plan but I'm thinking of a roof on pole type deal. I don't know why the house builder went to so much expense then just put regular doors in, shame really.
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Old 01-23-2014, 07:37 AM   #9
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If the garage is free standing there is no reason you could not put a shed roof off the back to get a little more bay length. This is possible if it is a free standing single story structure. It might get complicated if it is part of the house.

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Old 01-23-2014, 09:28 AM   #10
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Ah, it would be extremely complicated, the rear of the garage is also the O/S wall of the top few feet of the basement wall and the lower section of the family room wall. By comparison taking a trailer apart should be a cake walk.
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