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Old 09-30-2013, 05:01 PM   #1
3 Rivet Member
1976 31' Sovereign
Sandpoint , Idaho
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 100
Reattaching My Shell

A long time ago I started a shell-off restoration effort. It is now time to reattach the shell to the floor.

I have placed the shell on my 31 foot AS back on the trailer and everthing looks good, except for the fact that the shell has rotated about 1/3 of an inch clockwise, as seen from above.

That means that the shell is not lining up with all the holes, especially the really big one, in steel plate at the front of the trailer, that is welded to the frame. I tried a few ideas to skooch the shell a bit to align things but nothing is working.

So, does it really matter if I have to drill new holes in the shell to rivet the shell to the frame? Everything would be covered by the trim that goes around the perimeter of the shell/trailer joint.


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Old 09-30-2013, 06:21 PM   #2
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1959 26' Overlander
Western , Massachusetts
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I'd be worried about two things if you don't align it on the old holes
- holes weakening the metal, too close to the new rivets
- water getting behind the overlapped metal from below while driving

You'll have enough penetrations in the shell, why double the number?

Is it possible to lift it up with a set of bottle jacks inside the trailer so that you significantly reduce the friction that currently prevents you from skootching it that 1/3 of an inch? Right now, you have about 80 feet of overlapped metal, about an inch and a half wide. That's a lot of friction. If you could reduce that width to about 1/4 inch by carefully jacking it up, you'll greatly reduce that drag.

Two-bys, screwed or bolted into your main ribs, crossing the trailer about a foot above your floor should provide the lift points for the bottle jacks.

The idea of the 1/4 inch remainder is so you don't have to realign everything again.

Hope that isn't one of the ideas you've tried.


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Old 09-30-2013, 08:24 PM   #3
3 Rivet Member
1976 31' Sovereign
Sandpoint , Idaho
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 100
Hi John and thanks for the input.

What you describe is how I got the shell off in the first place. I was looking around for those 2x6 pieces that I cut down to fit but couldn't find them... at least not yet. I've been thinking along the same lines and I closely inspected the situation and found a number of the floor bolts, that run thru the outriggers and thru the floor/wall channel, are right next to the ribs. In some cases, the rib is even bent a bit to account for the bolt. That means the factory had the same problem... but they had a nice rig to use for lifting and placing the shell.

I'll have to take another look at the situation and see what I can do. I'd like to avoid adding more holes to the skin and the channel it will be secured to. But might not have a choice... I had the devil of a time getting the shell down and in place so I don't want to lift it entirely off the trailer again. Not sure I can even lift it enough to get past those few bolts in the way without it coming off of the floor channel... but I'll look again to see what I can do before I break out the drill and rivet gun again.

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Old 09-30-2013, 08:35 PM   #4
3 Rivet Member
1976 31' Sovereign
Sandpoint , Idaho
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 100
Extra holes are bad... in my Airstream as they are so many other things. :-)
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Old 10-08-2013, 09:18 PM   #5
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1975 Argosy 28
Vintage Kin Owner
Camrose , Alberta
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 65
I put my shell back on the weekend it was out just a bit as well, but we were able to just push it by hand with 4 guys without lifting it back up. it shifted pretty easily I thought
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Old 10-08-2013, 09:36 PM   #6
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1991 34' Excella
1963 26' Overlander
Central , Mississippi
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My suggestion (it's what I've done in your situation), jack up the shell in the rear and get the front centered properly, then cleco it. Then lower the rest of the shell working it as you go.

I've had to use a rachet strap to pull the ends side sways so they center properly.

Getting the wheel wells to line up is horrible, pushing up from below with a jack has worked for me.
Hi Ho Silver RV! Vernon, Sarah, Mac the Border Collie -
A honkin' long 34' named AlumaTherapy
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Old 10-08-2013, 10:58 PM   #7
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1978 31' Excella 500
Genoa , Nevada
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,220
Sun and dark, Sun and dark, Sun and dark. How many months of heating and contracting was that shell doing its own thing? May be the way to get it back in line, contract and heat

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