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Old 09-04-2006, 07:30 AM   #1
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Frame Repair or New Frame

I'll be starting a new project in the near future (hopefully) and I have decision to make about the frame of a 50s caravanner. Build a new one or patch the old.

I've attached a two pictures showing the rot on the front and back. The rear main rails that attach to the bumper are pretty rotted out and the left one is seperates from teh body. The front is petty ugly and you can see a patch job where they scabbed on some steel to reinforce, but it looks pretty rough. The other part that you cannot see in the picture is the hitch itself and the amount of rot it has.

Looking over the interior and peeking up under the belly where I can, the outriggers look in pretty good shape, the other parts of the frame look pretty good as well. The PO has done the "California" style floor replacement in the rear and the mid section, but looking under I did not see where he had removed the belly skin or attached elevator bolts. From the segments that I could see, he used screw nails to attach the floor to the frame.

My plan is to gut the trailer and check out the frame and replace the floor or property secure it to the frame, assuming we keep the existing frame.

What I am debating with myself is do I have someone try to patch the frame and retrofit a torsion axle to this rig or go the route of having a new frame built with new tanks, a modern axle, and the lot. I would like to keep the interior cabinets since they are in great shape, with the exception of adding a new shower pan.

What are you opinions? New Frame or Patch the Old?


Doug
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Old 09-05-2006, 07:14 AM   #2
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I had a nasty section on my '75. We cut out the offending section and welded in a new (stronger/better) one on each side
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Old 09-05-2006, 11:06 AM   #3
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So many factors...

Are you removing the belly pan? Will you be repacing the floor? Doing a frame off?
There's no way to acurately assess your frame from a couple of photos.
I would inspect the entire frame closely. I've welded on 2 AS frames now.
One (Markdoane's) we were able to repair several sections that were rotted. The other (non forum member) I advised that we replace the frame completely. These frames are rather simple weldments if you are starting from scratch. Repairing them is a little harder as you have to try to get in to tight places to do the welding. But neither are really that hard if you are a good welder.
One thing that bothers me is how people seem to feel the need to do a big overkill on things like frames. These trailers were pretty well engineered for strength using lightweight materials. There is really no advantage in using heavier guage materials than the factory used.
All you do is increase the weight of your trailer. I would rather have that extra capacity to haul an extra 12 pack.
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If you wanted to send me some high resolution photos I would try to assess your rot issues.
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Old 09-05-2006, 11:22 AM   #4
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I just had similar repairs done to my Ambassador. The rear main frame rail out to the bumper was rusted through on one side, and the A frame was kind of weakened.

The welder put in a replacment box peice in the rear and scab patched the A frame much like yours already has.

I pulled the floor out above the area and also removed the belly pan to give him full access. I was also able to inspect most of the frame by looking up in the belly pan and it looks great. In fact, most of the paint is still there.

I'm pleased with the results.

You can see the thread about mine here. Look for the photos in post #8.

*On Edit: Didn't realize you already saw my weld thread. Sorry...
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Old 09-05-2006, 09:05 PM   #5
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Doug ,I also say to get more of a good lok at the whole frame and the floor
as your frame could be in bad shape ,so far it looks really heavily rusted ,but if you get a look in the bellypan at more of it you will have your question
answered.Safari Tim and myself did rear frame horn replacements on our trailers ,the rest of my frame is in really good condition ,luckily.

Scott of scottanlily
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Old 09-05-2006, 09:50 PM   #6
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New!

I'm solidly in the "New Frame Camp", and am going to build a completely new frame for my 31 footer. So, I'm a bit jaded, but if your current frame is rotted half up, I'd say do a new one.

I've designed a new frame for my rig with a deeper cross section that will be much stronger than the original. From what I've seen on these forums, a shell-off is a job, but not that much worse of a job, than patching up a really rotten one. So, I'm going all new.

I vote all new for you

Take that with a grain of salt, but the aluminum shell lasts forever; it's the steel that eats the salt, etc. In my book, the labor required to patch up the old isn't much less than that required to go all out, so why not?

At any rate, best of luck whichever route you choose!
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Old 09-05-2006, 10:19 PM   #7
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Take a look at Colin Hyde's new website for GSM Vehicles. It shows a new frame for the new Airstream Life project. http://www.gsmvehicles.com/

If you remove the shell, you can "easily" build a new frame of whatever depth and cross members where you want them for all the holding and water tanks on top of the old frame as a pattern.

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Old 09-06-2006, 05:05 AM   #8
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Cruiser

Quote:
Originally Posted by wkerfoot
Take a look at Colin Hyde's new website for GSM Vehicles. It shows a new frame for the new Airstream Life project. http://www.gsmvehicles.com/

If you remove the shell, you can "easily" build a new frame of whatever depth and cross members where you want them for all the holding and water tanks on top of the old frame as a pattern.

Bill

I saw the frame off job going at Colins and I'm going to call him to chat about the cost benefits of frame repair vs. frame replacement.

For me the question comes to how much do I want to put into a 56? The body is in great shape and the interior is mostly original, but the PO-PO did replace part of the floor and updated some of the pipes.

What I would like is peace of mind that the frame would not need further work after a patch job and that the axle would support being hauled around. So assuming I get a good welder (maybe GSM) and replace the axle, I'm still looking at 5-8K IMHO.


So what's the deal with axles from the 50s? Are people replacing them with modern torsion axles or like axles from the 50s?


Doug
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Old 09-06-2006, 09:47 AM   #9
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You can not tell the condition of the frame without removing the floor. I had some bad spots on the frame under good floor in the middle to the trailer. Bad enough that some cross members were replaced. But alot less work, fussing and money then a new frame. That is old steel from an American plant. I'll bet you it's stronger and more rust resistant then the new stuff. Most of my 59 frame was spotless. Got it sand blasted in Oxford, painted it with POR 15 in about an hour, and good to go.
I'll stay with the old axel style, Whole new axel 250$. no fitment problems, and part available everywhere. With your truck you may want a disc brake upgrade to save the truck brakes. Take it off, take it all off......
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Old 09-06-2006, 10:51 AM   #10
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I did the new axle thing also, but kept it a leaf spring setup. There's just something cool about leaf springs. Also, they're adjustable if you change the weight of the trailer.

I had two bad rust spots. One under the front water tank drain, and the rear crossmember was pretty bad.

One thing about doing either a new or remodeled frame is you can built in a graywater tank if you want.

The only thing I would change if doing it again is I would change the 30" wheel wells to 32" to accomodate larger tires.
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Old 09-06-2006, 11:36 AM   #11
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I'm viewing this as a fun exercise. I know it'll be a ton of work, but I think it'll be fun.

I'm signing up right now to take a welding course. Have been to the local supply house and have been saving my nickels. Looking at a Lincoln Power MIG 215 welding machine. I was going to buy a stick welder and save the $$$, but everybody I talk to that's had a stick and the later bought a MIG said they never strike an arc with the buzz box after getting their MIG. So I'm thinking why spend the $600 on the stick machine, but rather just put that into the MIG.

I just checked out that GSM link. Pretty cool! Hopefully that'll be me in six months
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Old 09-08-2006, 11:09 AM   #12
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MIG is the way to go

MIG (metal inert gas), otherwise known as GMAW (gas metal arc welding) is the way to go. Much easier to learn, relatively little smoke, no slag to chip off, and nicer for out-of-position welding (vertical and overhead).

Only problem is, you'll be useless with a stick welder.
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Old 09-08-2006, 02:30 PM   #13
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I'd heard that. The only thing I can say in defence is that the class stresses stick and oxy acetylene, with some mig and tig. But I talked to the head welder here at work and he calls mig "monkey welding", and says if you can learn to stick, then the mig will be like cake. So I guess I'll do 7-8 weeks of the stick and then 2-3 of the other. Plus I can stick weld at work.

I've been analyzing welds for 12 years...time to learn how to actually make one. I'm excited about it. Yeah, simple things make me happy
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Old 09-26-2006, 06:15 PM   #14
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Hi muddy hollow; I just started on brand new Stainless Steel frame for my 26' 1973 Argy. I do not know if my frame will fit your rig, you will have to check with experts if it can be modified to suit your need. My frame is 5" and is in good shape and much so repairable. The rear crossmember rusted out rest is good. Just towed it 440 miles from Ohio. I am keeping my axels, frame is free if you pick it up in Norristown, PA.
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