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Old 04-10-2009, 01:23 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Replacing a panel 101

I had posted an oversimplified albeit short step-by-step on how to replace a panel within the depths of another thread talking about endcaps. It was suggested that I post this somewhere that it would be more easily found by others at a later date, so - here goes:

If you are putting the same panels back in or new panels with holes placed from the old panels using the overlay method (see "It's a Girl!!!" posts #227-239), 99% of the holes should line up.

The way we did it with new panels was:

1. drill out the old rivets using an 1/8" drillbit
2. drill the new holes on the new panel(s) with an 1/8" drillbit using the old panel as a template
3. cleco everything in place back on the trailer with 1/8" clecos
4. take out every other cleco
5. drill the empty holes in place with 5/32" drillbit through the panel(s) & rib/c-channel
6. buck (or pull Olympics depending on the project) those rivets starting from the center of the panel and work out w/ 5/32" rivets
7. take out the remaining clecos
8. repeat #5-7

If you are re-using your old panels, it should be the same except skip #2. I wouldn't expect that "some holes line up and some don't", the aluminum is rigid, not really flexible enough for that. Either they will line up or not - unless it's plastic/fiberglass endcaps you are working with, which could be more flexible. A bit of finessing may be required because ribs may have shifted or "sprung out of place" while lose, but they should be able to be put back in place and lined up with a few choice words, an extra set of hands and lots of clecos. If one or two holes don't line up, no big deal just drill them out. If it's a totally new panel with new holes, shift them so they miss the old holes - but I would definately try to use the old ones.

Hopes that helps ~

Shari
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Old 04-10-2009, 01:29 PM   #2
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The second part of this "learning experience" came several months later when we went to put in the wood walls.

LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKE!!!

Even if you have the original wood interior panels and have painstakingly used them as templates, after replacing the floor or aluminum panels - they may not fit!

Two reasons...
1) the new panels needed to be about 1/8" shorter than the old (we knew about this one). The reason is, the old flooring went under the c-channel & skins. Our new flooring is up to the c-channel, inside the skins - so the existing wood panels that go from floor-to-ceiling are "the thickness of the floorcovering" too long. No problem, trim about 1/8 - 3/16" extra from the bottom. I did this after tracing out the old panel templates onto the new wood. Then finished the panels with five coats each side and went to install them - that's when we discovered problem number two.

2) while we didn't do a complete shell off floor replacement, we did separate the entire shell from the frame in bits and pieces, so that when we reattached it, the shape changed enough (even re-using many of the same rivet holes) that the old panels were too small! Not top-to-bottom (we figured that one out - see #1), but across the width. When the panels for our bathroom were fit together and laid out with the door frame, using our old pan as a "placeholder" they came up short at the u-channels that hold them in place at the walls. There was about a 1/8" gap to the u-channel. You could see daylight. Not good for a wet bath/shower. The panel was actually about 1/2" too narrow. It didn't go into the groove at all in some places.
At first we were dumbfounded as to why the panels that were cut EXACTLY the same size as the old ones were now too narrow. So we pulled out the old panels which still had the paint on them showing how they had fit into the grooves, trimmed them the 1/8" on the bottom and tried them. We then realized that things must have shifted just enough that the sides of the trailer were not in exactly the same place - because the old panels wouldn't fit either.

LESSONS LEARNED -
1) After floor replacement, test fit the old panels before cutting and finishing the new ones - the shape of your shell may have changed. Make sure they still fit.
2) Cut the straight edge of your new panels wider than you think by adding an inch to the straight edge, then come back and trim them to fit.

Shari
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