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Old 08-09-2004, 11:51 PM   #1
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Question Rear Separation and Rear Sag on my '72

This is a great site and I've done a lot of research on this topic, but I still have a few questions. I have the dreaded rear separation. I can wedge my finger into the rear seam and pull out bits of rotted plywood. Is there an easy way to determine what caused it? Some believe that it's caused by frame sag from excessive weight in the rear. But isn't my '72 less prone to this problem? My 72 doesn't have a gray tank nor does my frame have the large cutouts that was so common after the oil embargo in '73.

I guess my question is this: Do the two have to coexist? Or is it possible to have rear separation and not have frame sag or cracks?

OASIS RV in Tucson has quoted an estimate for $1000 in labor to repair the rear separation problem which includes the elephant ears. Is this a good price?

Also, should I have them install the frame reinforcement kits as well? Or should I have them inspect for frame cracks and warping first, then have them install it if there's evidence of the problem?

Thanks in advance for your advice....
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Old 08-10-2004, 01:13 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mello mike
This is a great site and I've done a lot of research on this topic, but I still have a few questions. I have the dreaded rear separation. I can wedge my finger into the rear seam and pull out bits of rotted plywood. Is there an easy way to determine what caused it? Some believe that it's caused by frame sag from excessive weight in the rear. But isn't my '72 less prone to this problem? My 72 doesn't have a gray tank nor does my frame have the large cutouts that was so common after the oil embargo in '73.

I guess my question is this: Do the two have to coexist? Or is it possible to have rear separation and not have frame sag or cracks?

OASIS RV in Tucson has quoted an estimate for $1000 in labor to repair the rear separation problem which includes the elephant ears. Is this a good price?

Also, should I have them install the frame reinforcement kits as well? Or should I have them inspect for frame cracks and warping first, then have them install it if there's evidence of the problem?

Thanks in advance for your advice....
Rottet plywood is a sign of a water leak. In a rear bath model, this could be plumbing related, or you might have a rainwater leak from the outside.
The areea right above the bumper often allows water to enter the rear floor section, which in most cases causes the plywood to rot away.
It's a chicken or egg question, which was first?
Frame droop will also allow water to enter, or the leak could have rottet the floor and caused the frame droop. ( separation)
My trailer had the rot, but very little separation. I do have a grey tank.
$ 1000.00 Labor sounds about right. I suggest talking to them and geting a worst case scenario first. They might think it can be done for a thousand, but there are many unforseeables in there.
Getting the frame kit is not a bad idea.
I personally don't care for the elephant ear repair. I believe it is best to remove the bathroom and go at it from the inside, investigating the source of the problem while repairing it. It will cost more, but in my opinion give you more peace of mind. Carefull disassembly will reveal plumbing leaks, or water entry areas.
I believe you can have rear end sag without having any frame problems. My frame was in excellent condition, which became evident once it was exposed.
Good Luck!
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Old 04-28-2005, 07:28 PM   #3
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Uwe,

What exactly did they do to fix your rear rot.

I have a 72 27' rear bath with a little rot in rear that I think was caused by a leak just above the storage area.
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Old 04-28-2005, 08:19 PM   #4
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Banding leak

Quote:
Originally Posted by loechli
Uwe,

What exactly did they do to fix your rear rot.

I have a 72 27' rear bath with a little rot in rear that I think was caused by a leak just above the storage area.
Take a look at my web site, I had a problem on the banding above the trunk. Had to replace a foot of flooring on my '75

http://www.balrgn.com/Airstream/airs...oject_2004.htm
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Old 04-28-2005, 08:58 PM   #5
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I have just replaced the rear floor in my "new" Sovereign center bath and am feeling like quite the "expert" here on early 70's with floor problems. I replaced the rear floor in the '72 Overlander last March/April and found it to be much easier the 2nd time around.

I concur with Uwe's description of the causes and found it interesting that while the floor was in much worse shape in the Overlander, than the Sovereign (not much noticeable rot), the frame was much worse on the Sovereign.

Rear baths are much more likely (for obvious reasons) to sustain above deck water damage (which travels down) from leaky water heater, toilet, etc. but both are susceptible to the rear water damage that occurs at the bumper when the seal fails (vulkem at base where rear skin segment below window meets thin piece of aluminum flashing which runs under the steel channel).

The only real way to fix it is to remove the bathroom and replace the floor section. It's not fun (or it can be) but it's the only way to know that you've fixed it. Interestingly, my Sovereign didn't really show signs of floor rot. There was no furniture or water heater when I bought it, so I had a full view of the floor. Someone had replaced a small section on the curbside under the window (about 10" semicircle) and there was a little rot at the very rear. It wasn't until I removed the belly pan and banana wrap that I got the full picture.

Before I button it up, I'm going to weld some ears on the outside of the frame rails to add one more "thru bolt" on each side. (I'll take pics and post)

The hardest part is disassembling your bath. But, it is a great time to update the bath (if you haven't already) with a resurfacing (2-part epoxy paint), linoleum, and a nice Sealand china toilet.

I guess bandaids are nice for small cuts, but rear end separation is nothing to fool around with.

Remember....the grass whithers, the flower fades, and 70s airstream floors eventually get wet, rot, and separate from the frame!

See my pics

(the first 10 or so are of the '73 Sovereign (current project), all after are of '72 Overlander (will be for sale soon)
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Old 04-28-2005, 10:07 PM   #6
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Ron and Uwe have about covered it...I knew my unit had rear end sag when I bought it...good for a $1k discount of the asking price I did check for the frame kit and it was installed...most likely by a dealer from the looks of it. Face it the unit is 30+ years old, and is going to need some serious TLC. I have yet to see ANY vehicle with any amount of use of this vintage that doesn't need at least some repair/replacement of items.
And to add fuel to the fire... there are some that suggest that running gear balance plays a part in it too. And FWIW I agree, mine showed signs of distress; sheared rivets on the interior, strange leaks, rub marks in odd places. Balanced the running gear and it towed noticeably better, but still issues. Turns out the main frame bolts at the front were sheared and or wallowed out, due to not known leaks.
Also run a board search on Oasis RV...?

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Old 04-28-2005, 11:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loechli
Uwe,

What exactly did they do to fix your rear rot.

I have a 72 27' rear bath with a little rot in rear that I think was caused by a leak just above the storage area.
Well, "they" was "me", actually.
I thought I had a little rot along the rear perimeter. Once the bath was out, the little rot turned out to be a disaster waiting to happen.
I cut the entire rear section of flooring to one of the crossmembers, about 3 feet forward, and replaced it with fresh plywood. I had no rusted outriggers or other rust problems, fortunately. The rot was caused by a leaking faucet, leaking shell/bumper cover transition, and a slow leak from the rear window.
The sequence: remove bath, assess damage, make plan, fix, re-assemble.
I took this opportunity to have my bath fixtures refinished,and also replaced the toilet with a porcelain Sea-Land model. Some plumbing was re-routed, and new water supply lines and faucets were installed. I painted the little wet bath's walls, put up a new drape and matching wallpaper, and then applied sealer to the walls.
At the same time, I replaced the entire rear section of belly pan.
That's it, in a nutshell.
The important thing is to make sure you find the leaks and repair them while you replace the bad floor.
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Old 04-29-2005, 08:10 AM   #8
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Mellow Mike

Mellow Mike:

I, also, have recently replaced a section of floor.

I agree totally with Uwe's and Pizza Chop's (and Balrgn's and Wahoonc's) assessment of the separation/frame sag/floor rot thing.

I truthfully believe that, unless a trailer was garaged its entire life, you will find floor rot somewhere – it might take a while, but a BUNCH of things need to be removed to properly inspect the whole floor/shell/frame monocoque structure assembly.

The fact that you have a rear bath indeed complicates and (probably) accelerates the floor rot.

I am not a big believer in epoxy “fixes” for the floor. For one thing, epoxy “cement” is just not that good a fix by itself, the real strength of fiberglass is in the glass mat, not the epoxy. The epoxy does not (in my estimation) have enough flexibility (by itself) to hold up to the dynamic stresses of an over the road trailer. The rot I discovered in the rear area was way too gone to be fixed by epoxy injection – there was no strength left to the wood at all – just the cellulose body. Having said that, thin epoxy is a GREAT preservative/treatment for new (and old) flooring plywood - just do not rely on it for a whole lot of strength.

To properly evaluate the scope of a proper “fix”, as has been pointed out by others, requires, at the minimum, pulling the “insides” of the trailer, possibly the interior panels, and probably the belly pan.

If you already have a fingers worth of separation, I believe that you will have to pull all three abovementioned items (interior, bottom interior panels, and belly pan) to properly effect a repair.
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Old 05-02-2005, 08:25 AM   #9
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Post Thanks everyone. Here's what I did....

After careful inspection, the only water that was entering the rear was along the seam above the rear bumper, classic rear end separation. The separation was so bad that while somebody stood on the rear bumper, I could wedge my finger in the seam and pull out bits of rotted plywood! Fortunately, the trailer was in a very dry climate in the Arizona desert, so the damage didn't progress too bad.

Since I don't have the time or skill, I decided to shell out the bucks and have Oasis RV in Tucson do the work. The replaced about 5 inches of the floor around the rear bumper and installed the nuts and bolts to close up the separation. The elephant ears don't look too bad. While they were at it I also had them bolster the frame with the frame strengthening kits. These pieces were welded rather than bolted. Both repairs cost $2,000. I figured that I should just go ahead and do the job right the first time around.

I still need to take the bathroom apart, anyway, to paint and epoxy the fixtures with POR-15 and to pound out a few dents in the rear. I figure I could save some big bucks doing it that way rather than replacing the entire panels.
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Old 05-03-2005, 06:47 AM   #10
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$2000!!

Mike,

And all they replaced was 5" of plywood? I've remarked many times to my wife that we couldn't afford to pay someone else enough to do this, even though there's not more than $100 in materials in the whole job. (I guess I was right.) Wow!!

I think the important maintenance now is to make sure that seal (below beltline) is inspected every 5 years or so. (which will probably be forgotten when you sell it to the next owner. )

My bath fixtures are in the living room "curing" as I sprayed them this weekend with "Tough As Tile". It all turned out pretty nice, only a couple of spots I'm not as pleased with. (Faulty applicator (me), not the product.) I hope to have it together this week.

Make sure you repair (fiberglass repair kit) any cracks to pieces before you prep for painting.

If you've never disassembled a rear bath, you're in for a real treat!

Unless they've changed things from '72, you'll have to remove (or should) the walls between the bath and bedroom. A shop manual might be helpful, but not necessary.

I've got pics of my rear bath ('72 Overlander) that aren't posted on my photos page which might be of some assistance. I replaced the linoleum (to go with the new floor) and cut strips to use as trim in the aluminum channel which hides the seams in your fixtures. (Turned out nice, see below)

BTW, what'd you do in the Navy? I spent 6 years as Supply Officer, 3 aboard the USS Tripoli (LPH 10) from '88-'91. My sister is a retired CW03 (electronics...whatever that's called). She made ETCS before being commissioned.)
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Old 05-03-2005, 08:46 PM   #11
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Yeah, it pained me to fork out that much, but they

did the job right. I don't have any cracks but I do have a small hole on the corner of "table" near the tub and a missing chunk of about half an inch at the top of the sink counter near the trim. Do you think the fiberglass repair putty will fix the missing piece. It should fill the hole pretty well.

Wow, you were on the Tripoli. I was on the New Orleans (LPH-11) from 88-91 in San Diego. I was an RM1/RMC at the time. Was commissioned in 1998. Just retired last year. I was in communications.

I'd love to see more pics of your bathroom and the rest of your 'stream. Your bathroom looks great, Ron. Did you paint and epoxy your bathroom fixtures while they were in place or did you remove them? Very Nice!!!!!
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:26 AM   #12
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Bathroom Painting

Mike,

So you were on the NO boat, huh? I guess you must have made the Persian excursion with us. Great fun in the Gulf! (mine hit, 35 days drydocked in Bahrain, return to station) I think we offloaded a bunch of Marines to you as well as HM14 when we went in for repairs.

As for fixing cracks, the putty might work. Since I had all the fixtures out, I used the real stuff on the backside, filled in cracks in front with resin.

Sneakinup sprayed his in place and has pictures on his website. I guess it can be done but you better tape real thoroughly. Of course, disassembling the bathroom is quite a chore also.

I think you'll have better repairs if you remove fixtures, and you'll be able to inspect everything if you remove. But it will take you a lot longer. (I've got to put that Sovereign bath together today or tomorrow. All of the pieces are sitting here next to me in the living room.)

The Tough AS Tile worked great for us. Just follow instructions for prep and apply in two coats.
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Old 05-04-2005, 08:20 PM   #13
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Question

Yeah, I was there in the Persian Gulf, but I transferred out in late Feb 91 to reenlist.

Question: What's so difficult about taking out the bathroom fixtures? Can you give me some pointers, or as they say in the Navy, Lessons Learned?

Mike
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Old 05-04-2005, 09:25 PM   #14
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Lessons Learned (and soon forgotten)

Mike,

I should have written my thoughts down afterwards but I had no plans of ever doing it again. I'll try to think of everything.

First, remove all the plastic trim insert (which is probably yellow and will crack) and put it in a trash can.

Next, remove all the aluminum channel by drilling out all the rivets. (1/8" drill bit for most of them). Be patient, careful, and go slow so that you don't damage the plastic fixtures. (When the rivets spin, they heat up and sometimes wallow out the hole)

When you remove the aluminum channel, you'll find more rivets attaching the fixtures to the wall or each other. Very carefully drill these out.

What frustrated me at this point was that the table top above the bath on the side had two screws holding it from inside the pocket door space. I ended up removing the door and both walls in order to obtain best access. To do this, you must remove the gaucho/beds as well as unscrew the overhead compartments in the bedroom from the bathroom wall. (everything is connected to something else)

Oh yeah, the vanity was a trick too, because I couldn't figure out the best order to put back together. (I can't remember the details now, but it had me stumped at the time, I remember that.)

I have a '76 service manual and I'll look and see if it is similar and if it gives the proper sequence.

Well, gotta get to bed. Going to Atlanta ABF terminal tomorrow to pick up my new refrig.

Here's a couple of pics for ya!
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