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Old 09-07-2015, 10:36 AM   #1
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Seam Flashing Aluminum Material

Let me start by saying this forum has been a great help. You all are awesome and filled with knowledge that knows no bounds. (Have I buttered you all up enough )

I don't have an Airstream, but I do have a very old (1940's) AS knock-off that I am repairing. I have another thread (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f456...ng-140428.html)where I received great suggestions on how to seal the lap joint between the 2 seams.

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After really inspecting the current rivet holes and the wooden ribbing within the trailer, I've realized that I can't just rivet them together. For one there is too much damage (holes elongated, gashes between holes, etc. Secondly, the wooden ribbing is supposed to attach to the roof. Apparently, when the unit was first built, the ribbing was installed and the skin laid over it.

What I have decided to do is fill the seam with Vulkem 116 and then use stainless steel aluminum flat head screws to close the seam by attaching it to the interior wood ribbing. My plan is to then cover the entire exterior seam with a 6 to 8 inch wide strip of aluminum. This would be sealed with Vulkem and riveted along the edges. This would cover all of the screw holes, gouges, etc. The only thing someone would see is a riveted band from one side to the other.

I hope I described what I need to do. The question I have is:

What type of aluminum should I use for this band? It needs to be flexible enough to conform to the bend in the trailer but sturdy enough that it won't rip. While the trailer currently is painted, my wife wants it to be bare aluminum. I have no idea what type of aluminum is under the paint nor if it can even be polished like an AS.

While I only showed the front of the trailer, I have the same repair on the rear.
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Old 09-07-2015, 12:07 PM   #2
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Wooden ribs and panel endcaps

Before I went to the trouble to try to make up strips of aluminum to try to patch over each seam on the endcap sections I would remove the segments and create new sections that could be buck riveted together without the need for all the wood ribbing inside. Use the old segments for patterns. Find a Metal shop with an English Wheel to get the right shape for each section and use the same aluminum that Airstream used for the multi segmented (13 panel) endcaps from early trailers. This would make for a stronger endcap without all the flexing that the wooden ribs caused (which eventually caused the rivets and ribs to fail) on the original panels. You may even be able to get some salvaged aluminum ribs from donor Airstream trailers to use where ribs are required such as the junction between the panels and the roof and sidewall sections. Aluminum ribs will make for a stronger more rigid joint than the wood would ever make and will last much longer! The 40's Caravan you have would be very cool restored and shined up! Good Luck, Ed
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Old 09-07-2015, 12:12 PM   #3
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I don't know what brand of trailer you have, or what the potential value of it may be (depending on the way in which you go about repairing it). Do you want to end up with a trailer that looks "original", or will you be satisfied with a job that will be best described as a "quick and dirty fix"? Will this be a restoration or a repair? The process you describe seems like it should at least keep the rain out.

I guess its really a question of how much time and energy you want to put into the project, and of the resources that are at your disposal (tools and work space). Are the wood ribs solid? Would you consider panel replacement and end cap reconstruction? How deep a hole are you prepared to dig for yourself? I don't think that the construction methods employed in building these old trailers are beyond the abilities of most people, it's just a matter of commitment.

There are a number of threads that describe the ways in which different people have gone about bringing old trailers back to life. I think one is called "48 liner resurrection", and that guy is doing some really great work.

Regarding the grade of aluminumů. My old trailers have labeling on the inside surface that was clearly marked by the mill. Off the top of my head I'd imagine that most builders at the time were probably all using similar war surplus aircraft grade material such as Alclad, but that is just a wild guess.

Good luck.
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Old 09-07-2015, 12:25 PM   #4
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Very good questions:

1. I'm not looking into restoring this to "original" condition. Nor am I looking at the other end of the spectrum with it looking like it has band aids keeping it together. I'm looking at somewhere in the middle.

2. I'm not prepared to do a complete panel replacement. It is more like a refurbishment.

3. Some of the ribs are in good condition. Others will need to be re-bent and replaced.

In the end I want a solid trailer that looks good but doesn't cost me what I could have spent on a completely refurbished AS.
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Old 09-07-2015, 01:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whalensdad View Post
Very good questions:

1. I'm not looking into restoring this to "original" condition. Nor am I looking at the other end of the spectrum with it looking like it has band aids keeping it together. I'm looking at somewhere in the middle.

2. I'm not prepared to do a complete panel replacement. It is more like a refurbishment.

3. Some of the ribs are in good condition. Others will need to be re-bent and replaced.

In the end I want a solid trailer that looks good but doesn't cost me what I could have spent on a completely refurbished AS.
It appears that the rear "main bow" has sagged.

The main bow goes from the floor across the top and then back down to the floor. Shaped like a huge horse shoe.

Increasing it's height will take up that gap.

Then, no new metal required.

But, use plenty of Vulkem sealer.

Andy
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Old 09-07-2015, 04:22 PM   #6
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I'm assuming the bow you refer to goes side to side. The one in from was rotted and had been partially replaced by the previous owner in a poor attempt at a repair. I had to remove the whole thing and will re-bend and install new wood. I'll have to do the same to the rear as well.

Since the seam has been repaired so many times the holes are not always uniform and the aluminum is damaged in spots. Even if I just used rivets Id still have to put patches on. That is why I'd rather create a new bow and attach the current seam to that with screws. Then I could overlay a 6 inch wide sheet of aluminum over the entire seam.
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Old 09-07-2015, 04:49 PM   #7
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What size holes are you talking about? You can shoot a pretty big "A" rivet back in.
If it was me I would use a shrinker to bend an 1x1x 1/16 aluminum angle to match the contour of the wooden rib. Bolt the angle to the rib and then rivet the exterior skin to the angle.

It also looks like you have some damaged segments, I would just replace the worst. The trailer was most likely made from 24 ST-T3 which was replaced in the mid 50's with Alclad 2024-T-3.

Once you except that you will have to learn how to shoot and buck rivets then this repair will be much simpler. Don't over complicate the repair.

PM me if you would like to discuss this over the phone and I'll send you my number
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Old 09-07-2015, 04:59 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Aerowood View Post
What size holes are you talking about? You can shoot a pretty big "A" rivet back in.
If it was me I would use a shrinker to bend an 1x1x 1/16 aluminum angle to match the contour of the wooden rib. Bolt the angle to the rib and then rivet the exterior skin to the angle.

It also looks like you have some damaged segments, I would just replace the worst. The trailer was most likely made from 24 ST-T3 which was replaced in the mid 50's with Alclad 2024-T-3.

Once you except that you will have to learn how to shoot and buck rivets then this repair will be much simpler. Don't over complicate the repair.

PM me if you would like to discuss this over the phone and I'll send you my number

Your response has intrigued me. How do you bend an aluminum angle?
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Old 09-07-2015, 10:15 PM   #9
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There is a set of bench mounted tools for shrinking or stretching one leg of a piece of aluminum
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Old 09-08-2015, 12:31 PM   #10
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There is also a pair of fluting pliers that allow sheet aluminum to be formed in a curve, much cheaper than a shirker. I have both, and used the pliers to form the ribs of my two place home built aluminum airplane, a scratch build Zenith 601 XLB.
Go to Aircraft Spruce or Wicks aircraft web sites for the tools. You can also buy the proper sheet aluminum from Wicks or ACS, or a supplier like Industrial Metal Supply or a like local business. I used .032 6061T6 for repairing a 1978 Excella inside and out. Local metal suppliers can also supply the metal in 12' lengths and shear the sheets into strips which can be then made in to angles with the proper length of legs to make new ribs. to form the new ribs use one of the existing to make a pattern, then just flute one leg every inch to start to curve. Add evenly spaced flutes in-between the first flutes to achieve the desired curves. You can also bend your own angle with two pieces of 2" X 4" a rubber mallet and a lot of clamps if you want to do it your self. A lot of work to make angles that can be avoided if you have the metal supplier with a shear and break.
I hope this helps, it sounds much harder and complicated than it is, go for it you can do it and have fun finding out just how many things you can accomplish that appear daunting until you break them down in to simple steps.
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Old 09-08-2015, 02:46 PM   #11
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i've had to repair many metal roofs. the problem you have is similar to the problems i have with wood framing and bent metal. while i will receive many thumbs down from the airstreamers, an excellent sealer for these types of seams is fire and ice roof membrane. it is self adhering and self sealing.
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Old 09-08-2015, 05:10 PM   #12
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There is also a pair of fluting pliers that allow sheet aluminum to be formed in a curve, much cheaper than a shirker. I have both, and used the pliers to form the ribs of my two place home built aluminum airplane, a scratch build Zenith 601 XLB.

Everything I've seen about using Fluting Pliers is to straighten ribs not bend them. How do you use them to bend?
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Old 09-08-2015, 06:09 PM   #13
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Onlinemetals.com will have what you need. As time goes on post an update if you would. That is an awesome project.
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