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Old 01-10-2013, 04:21 PM   #155
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Back on wheels

Whoohoo, the Safari is off the blocks and back on running gear! I took the axles off 20Jan12 and got them back on with wheels on 10Jan13. I managed to beat the one year clock! See, honey, when I say I'm going to do something, you don't have to remind me every six months.

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It's been a heck of an Airstream week here at Airstream Doctor--I've managed to do something major on each of mine. I love it when the Airstream mania strikes...

Zep
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Old 01-10-2013, 04:49 PM   #156
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Congratulations! Must be a good feeling to your Safari sitting tall with those axles at their load-bearing-best!
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Old 01-19-2013, 05:22 PM   #157
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1975 31' Sovereign
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I'm going to try and get all the banana skin back on in the next few warm days. I'm doing two modifications connected with the rear skins.

First, I'm riveting the curved banana wrap and the connecting triangle of belly skin into one piece. Generally, when you remove this area of skin, you need to remove both of these pieces. The attachment between them is always problematic, anyway, so making them one piece really makes it easy to put on and take off. The real benefit in the rear, however, is that the piece of skin subject to damage by tread separation is this piece. This modification changes the skin pattern so that the skin immediately aft of the tires is only 27" long, instead of 58", so it's easier to remove/replace. It costs 1 extra inch of skin in order to do the overlap joint between them. (the first photo is actually from the Overlander. I didn't put the rib in this one, but it's the same idea--one piece.) (Oops, I didn't do you any favors with the drawing--the photo is of the curb side banana wrap, but the drawing has the triangular part of the skin reversed. However, that shape fits both sides--just flip it over.)

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The other modification is a "protection plate" immediately aft of the tire. On the Overlander I riveted two extra layers of skin in this area, but on the inside face of the skin and made it an integral piece of the skin. So if it gets damaged, the the whole thing would need replacing. I did this to conceal the extra layers of skin, but as you can see below, I don't think that was necessary.

A better idea, I think, is to put a heavy plate on the outside and attach it with machine screws and nutplates. Now the plate can be quickly removed and replaced (4 screws and 4 #30 pop rivets). The banana wrap skin underneath is 0.025 and this plate is only 0.040, so I doubt it will be totally effective. However, I can replace the plate with something thicker when I get my hands on some. Bending the plate around a 3" PVC pipe worked OK, but it's easy to get too much curve, so be careful to put in less than you need and then pull the skin up tight to the curve when you put in the pop rivets.

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The plate is hardly visible and probably wouldn't attract anyone's eye unless they knew it was there.

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Old 01-19-2013, 06:09 PM   #158
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Smart idea I see. Why load and unload the blue boy. Just put a hook under the belly and tow it with you
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:43 PM   #159
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Total failure day

OK, I've been able to put the 90 degree roll in the straight 0.025 banana skins by just holding the pipe by hand and sorta leaning on the skin. This did not work for the 70" piece. What I got was several oil can dents with creases and some other ugly creases where the end of the pipe was in the sheet, not hanging over the sheet. Geeze, I hate to throw out a skin that already has been fit and drilled....

So, be forewarned. For longer pieces you need to appropriately clamp them and use long pieces of wood as your bending lever. As it turns out, 70" of even thin stuff like 0.025 is too much to do with clamps.

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I cut the skin down to two pieces and was able to form two very nice skins. They installed and nested into each other almost perfectly (I know Kip will notice the .015 gap in a couple of places...).

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Technique note: The air conditioner drain exits in this area, just ahead of the wheel well. I didn't want to grommet the hole, but I also didn't want the plastic pipe to vibrate in a sharp hole in the skin. I made the hole self-grommeting by drilling a smaller hole, cutting a number of radial slots, and then bending the small leaves into the inside of the skin. This will protect the pipe* without a fat visible grommet.

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* yes, there are a few sharp little corners. Vigorously running a small tube of sand paper through the hole takes care of them.

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Old 01-22-2013, 08:17 PM   #160
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Originally Posted by Zeppelinium View Post
hopeful exuberance here in Zeppelinium land today!

I cut a panel to approximate the wing window size from 2024-T3. As noted above, the full sheet wouldn't even come close to curving into the shape of the shell. I was thinking maybe the smaller piece would do better. Before I could try it out, Aerowood loaned me his roller tool and suggested I give it a try on a shot bag. Not having a shot bag, I settled on a piece of my firm rubber floor mat.

Viola! In about 10 minutes of rolling and a few more minutes running in and out to the Overlander to see if I was getting and effective compound curve, it looks like it's working. I won't be able to fit it to the Safari until Wednesday.

Attachment 55095

The technique is to put your full weight on the roller and move it rapidly (maybe speed has nothing to do with it) back and forth along the lines shown in the photo. Actually, there was a fair amount of orthogonal rolling cross ways and length way, too. The objective was to get the sheet to deform outward [very slightly] approximately where the gray lines converge. This would force the upper outside corner to bend inward the 1/2" that was required.

From the photo it may appear that the panel is only single curved, but even though it's curved more in the lengthwise direction, it's also curved cross-wise, just not as much. Once I can put the panel against the shell I'll see how much more rolling is needed, if any.

The green lines show where the panel edges conformed to the shell without any rolling at all. As you can see, the area of curvature is quite limited.

Zep
Hey Zep, has anyone tried to use heat and cold to help shape a panel? I spent much of the last couple of weeks watching the welders straighten back pretty thick plate with oxy torch and fog-water spray (the welded flange would bend towards the thicker weld, then needs to get straightened back out to meet "profile" specifications). They made the fog spray with a fitting of a tube in a bucket of water into a T at the end of the air line.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:57 PM   #161
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Hey Zep, has anyone tried to use heat and cold to help shape a panel? ...
I've heard of people using ice (or even dry ice) to pull out dents, but you need to do it fairly soon after the dent is created. Otherwise, the metal slowly stretches to relieve the stress of the dent and it can't be treated with ice.

Heat is more problematic in thin aluminum sheet. I'm no expert, but it would be easy to overheat the aluminum. I think you can overheat using a heat gun, if you're not careful. But if you do it successfully, it makes rolling out a panel much easier.

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Old 01-23-2013, 11:31 AM   #162
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Well, it got up to 40 today, and sunny, so I ran out of excuses. The good news is, this first axle practically moved itself. Once I got it balanced on the floor jack (it only fell of a couple times), it was surprisingly easy to move by rolling the jack on the plywood (I can hardly pick these suckers up, so under the trailer there is no hope unless it can move on the jack....

...So far, it's not too bad as a solo exercise. I am surprised. The slots in the flanges don't line up with the existing holes in the fish plate, so I'll deal with that tomorrow.

Zep
Zep, your two posts (#154 & 155) have got to be a new record for a concise report on replacing axles, especially given the time between start to finish...
But, since I am doing the research on this (including your Overlander and disc-brake threads, and others, so I can do mine this spring) did you end up with the Dexters (?) as they came from the factory? And, was the axle rated-weight in the range you were considering earlier? Up here in Griz Nation options are few, but we do have a local Dexter dealer and I can get their "free" shipping. Lastly, it seems you did this set on your own, maybe even by yourself. Any lessons learned? Thanks - you do great work.

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Old 01-23-2013, 09:53 PM   #163
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...did you end up with the Dexters (?) as they came from the factory? And, was the axle rated-weight in the range you were considering earlier? ... you did this set on your own, maybe even by yourself. Any lessons learned? Thanks - you do great work.
Dave, I only know two sources for these axles, Dexter and Axis. I have Dexters on the Sovereign and Overlander, and I had an Axis on my Caravel. All I can say is, I can't tell the difference between them. They use the same brackets and you have to drill out the fish plate for either of them. I gather that if you order Axis axles from Colin Hyde he gets them with different brackets so there is no drilling required.

I finally ordered 2800 lbs axles. For an Airstream that will never exceed 4600 lbs, that provides 22% margin at the max. You need some margin, something between 20-30%. The more margin, the less chance of bottoming the axle(s), but the harsher ride. Just remember that sometimes you won't have full water or full baggage, so be careful about the light weight days. I figure I'll most often travel around 4300 lbs, so two 2800 axles provide 30% margin, which is as high as I would like to go.

I did put them on single-handed. You can do it if you have a floor jack and two hydraulic jacks. Make sure you have a 5/8" rotobroach drill (my opinion is that a 5/8" twist drill will either break your wrist or wrap you up when it catches, plus the rotobroach is faster and can use a smaller drill motor).

Lesson learned (from memory, so take these for what they're worth):
  1. I didn't pay enough attention when I drilled out the new holes (there's about two inches available). It's not a problem until the next set of axles, twenty years from now. But you need to think out how you're going to put the holes in a repeatable position, relative to each axle bracket.
  2. Be careful about getting the axles perfectly aligned in rotation. I think I pushed up on the swing arms a bit too much and they might be rotated CCW (looking from the street side) about 3 degrees from horizontal.
  3. If you have your Airstream up on blocks, try to avoid putting the blocks in positions that will prevent you from measuring the distance from the axle slots to the hitch. Luke (up in Ft Colins) pretty regularly finds that fish plates are not lined up opposite each other by significant amounts--my Overlander was off by 1/8" (fixed that by pulling with cables opposite directions) and the Sovereign was off by, what was it, maybe 3/8", so we flame cut the slots on one side. If your fish plates are off, your Airstream will track down the road a little bit sideways and you tires will wear out early.
Good luch. The first one is scary but after that it's just work.

Zep
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:10 AM   #164
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Zep so what worked on pre-bending the side wraps? Did the PVC mandrel work without kinking the metal? I used a piece of PVC pipe to pre-bend my rear side wraps and it helped. I think the metal was .032 6061-T6. I created a seam between the rear wheel and the corner sorta like you did but for different reasons. I have a center bath and the side wraps behind the wheels go up under the holding tank flanges and are hard to remove. Rather than get into a whole broken tank support bolt/redrill holes fiasco, I just left the first 4 foot or so side wraps under the tanks and made a two piece side wrap sorta like what you did. The rear side wraps were pretty much toast from the water leaks from the bumper compartment and bumper plate leaks. Without some sort of pre-bend the side wraps with the thicker metal would not have worked. My corner wraps are plastic which has pros and cons. The stuff cracks pretty easy.

At some point, I will have to bite the bullet and remove some of those tank support bolts and I am sure that many will break. My gray and black water tank pans were crushed by a careless PO or garage ape missing the axel plate with the jack and hitting the tank. I am going to attempt to splice in a new section of tank and also gain access to the leaking dump valves which I am not sure you can remove without dropping the tanks. The valves are sandwitched between the two tanks with very little clearance.

Perry
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Old 01-24-2013, 08:39 AM   #165
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Zep so what worked on pre-bending the side wraps? Did the PVC mandrel work without kinking the metal? I used a piece of PVC pipe to pre-bend my rear side wraps and it helped. I think the metal was .032 6061-T6.
Yes, it worked great. A 3" pipe has a slightly small radius, so you have to be careful to bend the skin "loosely" around the pipe. I found that bending about 200 degrees resulted in a permanent set of 90 degrees. You need to clamp the skin to the pipe and you need a long piece of wood clamped to the free end of the skin to push on. Otherwise you oilcan the skin where you are pushing and leave a crease.

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I am going to attempt to splice in a new section of tank...
I don't know what your tanks are made of, but if it's polyethylene it's very difficult to weld. Good luck. I've managed to weld a few small cracks that were leaking and I found a 3M glue (something like 8003) that will glue the stuff, which I used to fix a crack next to the toilet flange.

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...and also gain access to the leaking dump valves which I am not sure you can remove without dropping the tanks. The valves are sandwitched between the two tanks with very little clearance.
My 75 Sovereign has a mid-bath and the valve arrangement in it sounds a lot like yours. I managed to get the valves out without removing the tanks. The thread just gives you an idea of how to start, I didn't document the actual removal.

Zep
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:37 AM   #166
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Sorry I ment tank pan not tank. The pan needs a new section spliced in but the tanks under the pan are good. I had to repair the fresh water tank pan already. I learned that you can't install 3/16 Stainless pop rivets with a hand tool without being the hulk.

I looked at your center bath repair link and my valves are not separated like that. mine face each other and I can get them out by destroying the common y-pipe between them but I don't think I can get the y-pipe back in. I am seriously thinking of putting elbows on the tanks and make a manifold outside the tank so I don't have to go through the hell of pulling the tanks to replace a valve seal. Right now having a third valve is a fair trade for not having to mess with removing the tanks. I maybe able to figure something out but right now it does not look great.

Perry
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