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Old 04-13-2014, 04:04 PM   #61
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A-frame

I decided to completely rebuild the A-frame of 8038, so first I had to remove all that was there. I needed to remove the hydraulic brake system, the LP tanks, and the safety chains. Here is the A-frame at the time of purchase:

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My goals for the A-frame were to clean and grind it in preparation for painting followed by installation of (1) two new LP tanks and (2) a spare tire (if I can find enough room for it; we shall see), and possible a new (electric?) crank.

Tools. You will need various wrenches and pliers. I also used a cutoff tool.

Techniques.

1. Hydraulic brakes. 8038 came from the factory with a passive hydraulic safety brake system. When the tow vehicle brakes were engaged, the trailer would push forward towards the tow vehicle, and that would cause a piston in the trailer brake assembly to pressurize the brake system, which would cause the trailer wheel brakes to slow the trailer. You can see the piston assembly between the two LP tanks in the photo above. I intend to replace the axle with a new axle and brake system, so I removed the entire brake system. The brake system included copper tubing running back from the A-frame to the axle and wheel brakes. I had to drain the hydraulic fluid.

2. LP tanks. The A-frame of 8038 had two of the old-style LP tanks that no longer can be refilled lawfully. I removed the two tanks, the regulator mechanism (between the two tanks), and the holding rack for the tanks. It is my hope that I can rehab at least some of the holding rack. After removal of the tanks and the brake system, this is how things looked:

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3. Safety chains. I also removed the cross bar in front of the tanks that secured the safety chains to the trailer. Rust prevented me from loosening one of the nuts on a u-bolt holding the cross bar to the A-frame. I used lots of rust-penetrating oil over several days, but eventually I had to use a cut off wheel on a grinder to cut through the threaded shaft of the u-bolt.

4. Grinding the A-frame. After I had everything removed from the A-frame, I cleaned it more thoroughly with an electric drill and an angle grinder.
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Old 04-13-2014, 04:08 PM   #62
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Off to Montana in the morning, so before long I can get back to work on 8038!
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:12 AM   #63
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Back at work on 8038

I have not posted in quite a while, but I now am set up and back to work on 8038. I first had to get set up at (and clean) our cabin, refinish the deck furniture, finish a new gardening shed. etc.

I need to catch up by posting on some work done last fall. I will start with interior paint stripping.

Stripping paint from sheet aluminum and window frames and trim is a time-consuming and messy task. 8038 was originally (at the factory) painted with Zolatone, which is a great and tough paint. The problem is that this tough paint is equally tough to remove from the metal.

You should know that you have a choice as to stripping of interior paint: (1) remove all paint down to bare metal or (2) rough up with sandpaper the surface of the painted metal and paint over the existing paint. 8038 had several layers of paint (it had paint on top of the Zolatone), and I did not like the look of the accumulated paint. I decided to strip off all the paint. By doing that, however, I did create more work for my self because I will have to apply an etching primer before I apply the Zolatone.

Before you start stripping paint, transfer any Sharpie markings (described in a post above) from the painted side of the sheet to the inside of the sheet.

Tools. You will need plastic scrapers, plastic razor blades (and holder), rags (have lots on hand), paint stripper, mineral spirits, clothing that will be given to the paint stripping process, and plastic sheets and drop cloths.

Techniques. I created a large working area with saw horses and plywood (actually, OSB). I covered the work area with plastic sheeting, and for part of the process, I had plastic sheeting on the floor to catch stripped paint droppings.

On small pieces, one work table was fine for paint stripping, but for a large piece, I had to create a large work area. Here is the large ceiling unit on the large work area:

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I clamped the ceiling unit to the work surface because scraping off paint requires application of some energy to your scraping tool, and if you do not anchor the work piece, it may move.

I tried several different paint strippers, and I eventually settled on Citristrip, which smells better than some strippers, and it seems less caustic to the skin. Aircraft stripper is much talked about on the Airforums, but I did not try it. I wore nitrile gloves when I was applying or removing the paint stripper.

I started stripping with a wide-blade plastic scraper (do not use a metal blade scraper because it will scratch the metal), but the plastic scraper did not remove much paint, and I had to repeat the cycle of applying the stripper, scraping off the slurry of stripper and removed paint, and cleaning the sheet with rags and mineral spirits. I decided to research the Airforums and discovered the magic of plastic razor blades (thanks, thanks, Reinergirl, for this post). I immediately ordered a box of plastic razor blades and a holder.

This order was one of the best I have made so far in the restoration of 8038 because the plastic razor blades made a huge difference. The plastic blades removed considerably more paint than the plastic scrapers. The plastic razor blades significantly reduced the number of times I had to apply and scrape off the paint stripper.

Here is the ceiling unit showing the scrapings from the first application of the stripper:

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The scrapings are very messy, and are of softened paint, so you have to be careful in collecting and disposing of the scrapings to make sure that they do not make a mess of something else (like the floor of your garage or the living area of your house). Be very careful with your shoes!

I scraped the paint scrapings into a plastic garbage can with a plastic liner. After removing the scrapings, I cleaned the surface of the aluminum with mineral spirits. I repeated the process as many times as necessary to clean the aluminum. It took quite a bit of time to finish the process.

I worked my way around the ceiling unit, but I could not reach to the center of the unit. I reconfigured the saw horses so that I could crawl under the work surface and stand in the center vent opening of the ceiling unit (I am 6’ 0” and 180 pounds, and I could get my upper body through the vent opening if I (1) first raised only one arm and shoulder through the opening and then (2) brought the second arm and shoulder through). From that standing position, I could strip the remaining area of the ceiling unit.

After several cycles of stripper, scraping, and cleaning, the surface would be clean enough. I intend to repaint the interior of the cabin with Zolatone, so I wanted the sheet aluminum walls to be free of old paint, but the sheets did not have to be perfect. Some people intend to polish the interior walls, and for them the sheets must be perfect.

I decided to strip the paint from all the rectangular interior trim pieces that surround the windows. It is my intention to repaint those trim pieces with Zolatone. The challenge of working on the window trim is that these pieces are quite flimsy, and caution is required to prevent bending or otherwise damaging these pieces. Some of these trim pieces were no longer structurally sound, such as if the piece had lost a corner rivet that kept two sides of the rectangle together. I ended up placing (as a temporary fix) a small nut and bolt into some of the pieces so that they would hold their shape and not cause bending or other damage.

I stripped the paint from the two interior endcap units while they were installed in the cabin because I did not think that, after removal from the ceiling, there would be enough support on the endcap to remove the paint.
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Old 06-08-2014, 09:30 AM   #64
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More window frame cleaning

I have posted above about window frame cleaning, but I had more of that to do.

Tools. For window frame cleaning, I used mineral spirits, plastic and metal scrapers, popsicle sticks, silicone remover, sandpaper, and Scotch-Brite pads.

Techniques. To clean a window frame, I first would remove the bulk of the caulk, gasket, etc., with a popsicle stick if I could. Sometimes I would carefully use a metal scraper (if I was working on an inside surface that will not show when 8038 is back together). I would apply mineral spirits, which sometimes softened the crud, and sometimes I would apply silicone remover (which only softens, not removes, silicone and other materials).

Some of the metal had deep oxidation and corrosion. I just could not get rid of all of the corrosion. I sparingly used sandpaper on tough corrosion, and I more generally used pads like Scotch-Brite, which are not as abrasive as sandpaper. Before:

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After:

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I found that sitting on a stool really helped the condition of my back at the end of the day. My dentist brother-in-law gave me a height-adjustable stool, and I used it a lot when I was cleaning window frames:

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Finished cleaning:

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Old 06-08-2014, 09:50 AM   #65
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Additional Baggage Compartment

Because I will change the interior configuration of 8038, I can add a baggage compartment door under the rear window.

I was lucky and found a complete baggage compartment assembly (the door, the frame, the piano hinge, etc.). It shows its age, and it was badly bent:

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I drilled out rivets and disassembled the various pieces so I could clean them:

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Next, I took the bent pieces to my woodworking vise and reformed the aluminum back into proper alignment. Aluminum is very soft and pliable, so by carefully applying pressure, you can reshape it. I generally used relatively soft wood to reform the aluminum by placing one piece of wood underneath the aluminum piece and placing another piece of wood above the aluminum piece. I would strike with a hammer the wood piece above the aluminum piece:

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Rarely, I would strike the aluminum piece directly with the plastic-covered hammer head. Even more rarely, I would strike the aluminum piece directly with the metal-covered hammer head.

I used similar techniques to flatten the sides of window frames that were wavy because the window originally was installed with a gasket between the trailer side wall and the window frame. I intend not to use that kind of gasket system in 8038, so I wanted to straighten the window frames.
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Old 07-01-2014, 10:14 PM   #66
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Hi there! Great blog...we are starting a similar renovation. Our subfloor is mostly good, just need to replace the part under the bathroom. But we had thought to replace the whole thing anyway, just to remove any doubt, lingering odors, and to be confident that it was entirely sound, sealed, etc. Did you consider replacing the floor despite the relative good condition?

Thank you!
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:11 AM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O Shiny View Post
Hi there! Great blog...we are starting a similar renovation. Our subfloor is mostly good, just need to replace the part under the bathroom. But we had thought to replace the whole thing anyway, just to remove any doubt, lingering odors, and to be confident that it was entirely sound, sealed, etc. Did you consider replacing the floor despite the relative good condition?

Thank you!
Sorry, but I have been AWOL working on other projects.

No, I did not think seriously about replacing the floor. I am satisfied as to its physical integrity, and the odors I sensed originally have disappeared (possibly because of removal of the old insulation and the top surface of the floor, which I sanded off).

Hank
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:46 AM   #68
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Polishing window frames

I have removed all of the window frames from 8038, and a while back I did some polishing of the frames. The polishing went fine until a major disaster, and I have some advice to pass on about avoiding a similar disaster.

I first built a 2" x 4" wooden frame to support the window frame, and then I anchored the wooden frame to the work surface:
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I used screws passing through rivet holes in the window frame to hold the window frame to the wood frame. By the way, use pan head screws to hold the window frame to the wooden frame (so you do not expand the diameter of the rivet hole). Note that the wooden frame did not go completely around the window frame, and that was the source of my disaster.

As I was polishing away, the buffer caught on the window frame, and because the window frame was not adequately supported and anchored, I ended up badly bending the frame and ripping the backing of the window frame:
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After rethinking my approach to window frame polishing, I (1) decided I need to build a much more sturdy frame and (2) went to work fixing the damage I had done to the window frame.

Here is a wooden frame that fully supported the window frame. Note that I screwed together all four pieces of the wooden frame:
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LESSON LEARNED: Build a full frame, use pan head screws to hold the window frame to the wooden frame, and anchor the wooden frame to the work surface.

In the next post, I will show my efforts to restore the window frame.

Hank
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:54 AM   #69
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Repairing a damaged window frame

In the post above, I explain how I damaged one of my window frames. In this post, I will explain what I did to repair the damaged frame.

I have been satisfied with my attempts to straighten aluminum by gently reforming it using soft wood (pine or fir) above and below the area I was reshaping, and I did the same with the damaged parts of my window frame:
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Although the window frame does not look as good as it did before my disaster, it turned out well enough, and the rip on the back of the window frame will be out of sight, so I came out of this pretty well. The last image in the post immediately above shows the condition of the window frame after my repair efforts.

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Old 07-08-2014, 04:57 PM   #70
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I wanted to subscribe to your thread but I can't figure out how to do it! Maybe if I post a message I will have that option. I'm a rancher and I've been backing up large and impossible things for many years. An easy way to do it is to put your hand on the bottom of the wheel and move your hand in the direction you want your trailer to go. You have figured out something already, but might help someone. Thanks for all your detail. I appreciate it. Jane in northern New Mexico
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Old 07-13-2014, 07:09 AM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janeinthemtns View Post
I wanted to subscribe to your thread but I can't figure out how to do it! Maybe if I post a message I will have that option. I'm a rancher and I've been backing up large and impossible things for many years. An easy way to do it is to put your hand on the bottom of the wheel and move your hand in the direction you want your trailer to go. You have figured out something already, but might help someone. Thanks for all your detail. I appreciate it. Jane in northern New Mexico
Jane, when viewing a message, there is a "Thread tools" dropdown (above the messages) that will let you subscribe to a thread. Hank
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Old 09-06-2014, 07:38 AM   #72
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Where has the summer gone?

I cannot believe that it is September, and I have not posted for two months. It turns out that I am only partially retired, plus I became involved in a volunteer project that took many, many hours. In addition, July and August are visitor months for us in Montana. As a result of all that, I did not work on my Flying Cloud at all for two months. I now am back at it, so I finally have some progress to report.

I worked on tail lights and running/clearance lights. I rehabbed the Bargman tail light cans:
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I now need to get new bulb bases and wiring; I expect to put in LEDs for the tail lights, the running lights, and the door lights. See here.

I also started working on my window crank mechanisms. See here. I have not received any messages in response to my post, so I am unsure what I will do about the malfunctioning cranks.

I cleaned and polished the cranks that came from 8038. First I used steel wool or a pad to get off the worst of the crud. I also cleaned the inside of case, where lots of dirt and bugs can accumulate. I also used a file to knock off any rough edges on the case.
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Eventually I polished the old hardware, and made good progress:
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Next up: more window work.

Hank
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Old 09-07-2014, 08:17 AM   #73
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More window work

Boy, do windows ever consume a lot of time!

I spent several days polishing pieces of the interior side of the windows. I first went to the table saw to make a wood base jig to which I could attach the various angled pieces and give some support to both sides (the cut in the left side of the photos was at less than 90 degrees):
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I cut the horizontal base of the jig shallow enough that the bent back part of the window piece (the side with the holes that I screwed to the jig) would hang over the side and not get compressed as I was polishing (see the first photo above). Make the wood base long enough to hold all of the pieces you need to polish; some of them are quite long. Sorry, but I do not have a length measurement at hand.

I started with my hand-held power drill, but I switched to my large Makita polisher, which brought a much better shine to the pieces.
1. I would buff all the surfaces with all the wood base screws in place, and then I would clean all the surfaces with mineral spirits on a rag.
2. I would remove one screw at a time to polish the area around where the screw head had been. I then would clean with mineral spirits, replace that screw, and remove another screw to start the process again.
3. Pay attention to the side of the angle that does not have any holes (the part that stands up, more or less, from the side with the screw holes). I was not very successful at getting a good polish on that side of the pieces, which was unfortunate, as that side will face into the cabin.

After several days of tedious polishing, I had a large bunch of polished pieces:
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Some of the pieces look really good, almost new. Other pieces, particularly those that were pitted by corrosion, did not turn out so well.

I also painted the center support arm pieces. I used a shiny silver spray paint, and the jury is still out on that choice. So far, the paint seems to rub off on my fingers.
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Old 10-07-2014, 08:33 AM   #74
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I ended up not being happy with the polish on the pieces that press against the window glass and attach to the window frame. See the next to last photo in the prior post.

I decided to redo all those pieces so that I could polish the side with no holes. To do that, I rotated the wood jig 90 degrees so that the side with no holes was facing up:
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I could apply more pressure with the Makita polisher, and I now definitely have a better shine on that side.
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Old 10-07-2014, 08:47 AM   #75
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Welding

My friend and ranching neighbor brought his welding equipment, and we made great progress.
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I have two Vintage Trailer Supply gray tanks that fit in the belly area, and to fit and plumb them, we had to (1) remove some angle iron cross members, (2) add two full cross members, and (3) cut/torch several holes in the cross members to let gray water piping pass through. Cutting and grinding tools were used to finish up. That kind of work under the trailer on your back is not much fun, and you get really dirty.

I also cut off the rear bumper, as I intend to install a bumper trunk (for the sewer hose), and that requires a greater distance between the rear of the coach and the bumper.

After another welding session, I can get started on installing the plumbing system.
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Old 10-07-2014, 09:10 AM   #76
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Polishing around windows and doors

I removed from the coach and have been polishing all the window and door parts. Before I re-install any of those parts, I need to polish the surrounding aluminum.

I had some time one day, so I took out the Makita polisher, loaded a wide (120 ply) buff, and used the gray (coarse) compound to make a first pass at removing almost 60 years of grime and oxidation. I am using the Jestco Products system for polishing.

This was my first real attempt to polish the sheet aluminum, and my technique improved with time.

Unfortunately, prior owners had dragged 8038 through the brush, and there are some serious scratches on the side walls of the coach. I spent a good bit of time on one section, experimenting on how much time and effort were required to remove deep scratches. I understand that, with enough polishing, you can remove most scratches. I started out to polish only around the windows and doors, but the streetside rear quarter panel had lots of scratches, and I ended up polishing the whole section.

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I was taught that you need to keep the polisher moving because, if you leave it in one place, you may burn the aluminum, and that is something that you cannot repair (unless you remove the damaged metal).

Off to the garage for more window frame polishing (the last pass, I hope!).

Hank
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Old 10-26-2014, 09:08 AM   #77
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More welding

My ranching neighbor was able to get away from his other many chores to spend an afternoon welding on the frame of 8038. He finished up work on:

1. The two new full cross members with reinforced holes (for gray water piping).
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To reduce wear on the gray water piping, I intend to put a rubber gasket around the perimeter of the holes.

2. The reinforced hole passing through the the streetside main rail (for the gray water piping to join the dump valve assembly behind the streetside wheel well).
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He had a miserable time making that weld, as his wire welder was not working, and he had very little room to make the weld using his stick welder.

3. Convert the rearmost cross member from an angle to a full "C" cross member. Well, it is not a full "C", as I asked him to do an overlap, rather than a butt weld (so it is less than 4" in height). He made sure that he had a solid weld on each side where the cross member joined the main frame rail. That should strengthen the rear end of the frame a good bit, and the overlap will reduce the sharpness of the bend the belly pan metal will have to make as it comes up to fit between the outside of the C channel on the floor of the coach and the inside of the exterior wall of the coach.
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Hank
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Old 10-26-2014, 09:33 AM   #78
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Entry step repairs

One other bit of welding: the entry steps. Two things need welding: (1) the detent that holds the step in place when it is in the lowered position and (2) a piece of flat bar from which to build a rodent enclosure behind the sliding step mechanism.
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1. The detent. The photo shows the recessed detent into which the round shaft is supposed to fit when the step is in the lowered position (the step is not fully lowered in the photo). I had noticed that the step sometimes would move when I stepped on it, and that was not safe. I examined the step mechanism and noticed that the recessed detent on the right side had been worn and rounded so that the round shaft sometimes would not stay in place. My neighbor did a spot weld to add some metal to the rear edge of the recessed detent. I used a grinder (not successfully because the grinding wheel would not fit in that space) and some files (round and flat) to smooth out the top of the weld and to make a good space for the round shaft to sit when the step was in the lowered position.

2. Flat bar. I had read on the Airforums about containing rodents who might enter the belly pan via the steps, which have a large opening on either side for the step mechanism to slide between the raised and lowered positions. I decided that I would build an aluminum box on the outside of each existing sidewall of the steps, so my neighbor welded a short piece of flat metal to the front of the outside of the sidewall of the steps. You can see the flat piece on the left of the photo (just right of the bolt and nut coming down through the floor). With that in place, I can fabricate an aluminum box that I will rivet to the stair frame and the main frame rail.

Hank
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Old 10-26-2014, 09:46 AM   #79
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1956 22' Flying Cloud
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Outrigger welding

My neighbor previously had repaired the outrigger damage (discussed here) by welding an angle to the bottom of the outrigger.
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The angle will add about 1/8" to the depth of the outrigger, but I do not think anyone will see the effect of that on the belly pan metal and the angle will add considerable strength to the compromised outrigger.

I decided to leave the opening in the outrigger just in case I decide to bring some gray water piping (from the wetbath) through those outriggers.

Hank
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Old 10-26-2014, 10:18 AM   #80
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1956 22' Flying Cloud
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Rebuilding the windows

After finishing the polishing of all the window parts, I was ready to rebuild the windows. I previously had ordered from Vintage Trailer supply (1) the Hehr standard glass seal and (2) the butyl glazing tape.

1. Butyl tape and glass seal. I learned that I had to use the butyl tape sparingly and I had to make sure it did not interfere with the glass seal gasket. If they overlapped, the glass would not fit tight against the frame (and that would make for a leaky window). I ended up putting short pieces of the butyl tape around the perimeter of the window frame and made sure that the butyl tape would not interfere with the glass seal gasket.

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For the corners, I used a plastic razor blade and needle-nose pliers to remove the paper backing from the butyl tape.
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2. Attaching the rear tension brackets and front channel. After installing the glass, I then reassembled the angled aluminum brackets that hold the glass to the front frame. I learned this: before you tighten the window fasteners make sure that the holes for the Hehr front channel are aligned with (1) the holes in the angled aluminum brackets and (2) the holes in the window frame because the angled brackets can move side-to-side somewhat, but the front channel must be aligned with the correct attachment holes.
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3. News from VTS. After rebuilding the windows that way, Steve at VTS emailed me that I should not use the the butyl tape with the standard glass seal; I should use only the glass seal. I have not decided whether to tear apart the windows to remove the butyl tape, as all of the window frames are bundled up for a winter nap (I soon am leaving Montana, and the windows will be sitting until next spring).

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