Originally Posted by Windy59
What is the process for removing the lower panels?
I've been reading the It's a girl post and they just flew by that...is it that easy?
Don't drill holes & patch!!! There is no need to do a whole shell off restoration to replace the floor sections at the front and/or back. As you found in my "It's a Girl!!!" thread, we replaced our entire floor without removing the shell. You do
have to remove the inside lower skins though - which is very easy to do. Just drill out the rivets and slide the panel out. When you are through, replace the rivets with standard 1/8" aluminum pop rivets. No problem. You'd be doing almost as many patch rivets by drilling holes at every bolt - they are about 9-12" o.c. along the entire perimeter. You (and your trailer's next owner) would regret it.
At the beginning of our restoration, we thought we would only be replacing the front and back portions too. However, we ran into the following issues that would have to be addressed if we did:
1) the new wood was not the same thickness as the old plywood. The old wood was 5/8" + the thickness of the floor tiles which went under the c-channels. We used 3/4" marine grade plywood because we could not find 5/8" marine grade. We also would not be able to put the new floorcovering (linoleum) under the channel at the front & back with 5/8" plywood - thus leaving a gap. The c-channel/wood floor connection is an integral part of the structure so we didn't want a gap or have a potential buckle at the exterior skin due to an uneven floor - either with 5/8" or 3/4".
2) the old plywood which was in good shape had the old VCT on it which was not easily removed. What portions we did attempt to remove damaged the plywood underneath which would have needed to be patched/filled/sanded.
As far as replacing the plywood goes, our entire floor was out and we did the two ends first which may have been easier than just doing the ends. The way we did it was to lay the new end pieces down flat on the frame but on an angle to the front/rear and rotate them into place. It did require a 2x4 and a big mallet to pound them into place, but it wasn't hard. However, with the existing middle section of floor in place like you are talking about, you wouldn't be able to lay the new end portions flat, they would be angled up on the existing floor section so it may not work (this was our #3 thought that should be included above). We also had the rivets on the exterior panels along the belt line removed which made the skin more flexible thus allowing the shell to flex a bit - which made it easier than you would think.
I've also heard of some folks who have replaced the end portions of the floor from the outside. They drill out the rivets along the beltline/c-channel and slide the new floor portions in from outside. You will still need to remove/replace the interior panels in order to access the c-channels, but it would alleviate the angled insertion over the existing floor. We considered this option (if we could have resolved 1 & 2 above), but in the end decided that if we were going to do it, we were going to do it right.
We are very happy with the results and would do it the same way if we had it to do over again. Regardless of if you decide to replace just the ends or the entire floor, I wouldn't let a few dozen pop-rivets be the determining factor - they are so easy to drill out and replace.