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Old 03-17-2014, 02:29 PM   #43
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Removing rivets

A task that is fundamental to restoration of an Airstream is removal of rivets. Rivet removal generally involves a two-step process: (1) drilling through the rivet head and then (2) cutting the shank of the rivet. In some cases, drilling of the rivet head will loosen the entire rivet so that cutting the shank is not required. In other cases, you may not have access to the rivet head, and all you can do is cut the shank of the rivet.

Tools. As described in more detail below, you will need an air compressor, pneumatic (or electric) drill, an appropriate-size drill bit (more about this later), and a self-centering adapter that attaches to the drill and keeps the drill bit centered on the rivet head. For cutting rivet shanks, you need a solid-shank putty knife.

1. Compressor. An air compressor is necessary for many tasks involving sheet metal. I bought an air the compressor at Harbor Freight (3 horsepower motor, 25 gallon tank, 125 PSI), and it has been very satisfactory for most (but not all) tasks.

2. Pneumatic Drill. A pneumatic drill is well-suited to sheet metal and rivet work, as a pneumatic drill rotates at high speed, which is helpful. Unfortunately for me, the compressor that I bought at Harbor Freight simply did not have sufficient capacity to run the drill for extended use in drilling rivet heads. Drills (and some other pneumatic tools) require a large amount of air flow, and my compressor could not keep up. The compressor was fine for drilling a few rivet heads at a time, but the compressor could not keep up if I was drilling out a large number of rivets, such as around windows or when I removed all of the rivets attaching the belly pan metal to the exterior side wall of the shell. The lack of sufficient air pressure caused the drill to slow down, and it became unusable.

3. Electric drill. Because my pneumatic drill could not keep up on large-volume rivet removal (and I was unwilling to buy a larger-capacity compressor), I used an electric hand drill. An electric drill does not rotate as quickly as a pneumatic drill, so the electric drill is a second-best tool to use. Nonetheless, the electric drill worked well enough for me.

4. Self-centering rivet removal tool. The self-centering adapter that attaches to the drill (either pneumatic or electric) looks like this:


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The upper image is of the adapter, and the lower images are of drill bits of different diameters. The drill bits fit inside the hollow shaft of the adapter. The left end of the upper image inserts into the jaws of the drill. To drill out a rivet, you hold the drill in one hand and the hollow shaft (which does not rotate) of the adapter in the other hand. The right end of the upper image has a cap that fits the shape of a rivet head, so you place (and hold) the cap over the rivet head and then press the drill forward, causing the spinning drill bit on the inside of the shaft to come into contact with the rivet head. The cap holds the bit in place over the rivet head as you push the drill bit into the rivet head. This results in a drill hole that is centered on the rivet head.

I bought this adapter, but there are many sources for a tool like this.

5. Solid shank putty knife. As discussed in this post, a putty knife should have a solid shank for cutting rivet shanks. Make sure that the cutting edge is sharp enough for the task.

6. Hammer. I really like a short-handle hammer for hammering through rivet shanks because the short-handle hammer is much easier to control.

Techniques.

1. Drill the rivet head. First, drill through the rivet head, going no deeper than is necessary. As soon as the drill bit penetrates through the rivet, withdraw the drill. The self-centering adapter allows only limited penetration into the rivet, so you should have no fear of drilling through the interior wall of the coach. Some people, with more experience than I have, would say you should drill only a shallow hole into the rivet head (and not drill all the way through the shank) so as to prevent enlargement of the hole in the sheet aluminum through which the rivet passes. I drilled until the drill bit cut completely through whatever metal was in the way, and I probably did enlarge some holes.

Use care with the self-centering adapter because, if the drill bit slides off the head of the rivet with the drill bit rotating, you could seriously damage the surface of the adjacent sheet aluminum. When you use the drill with the self-centering adapter, have the drill bit rotating at maximum speed, and press the drill forward with care to keep it in place over the rivet head. Keep both hands firmly on the drill: one hand on the drill and trigger, and the other hand on the hollow shaft of self-centering adapter.

Here is an image of a row of rivet heads that I drilled:

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You may end up with an accumulation of rivet heads on the shank of the drill bit (or the self-centering adapter drill bit):

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You may be able to use your fingers to remove those rivet heads, but I often had to use pliers. If you rotate the drill bit in reverse at a low speed, you can push the rivet heads up and off the drill bit shaft.

2. Cut the shank of the rivet. To cut the shank, use a putty knife that you slide between the pieces that are attached to each other by the rivet. Generally, do not use a putty knife to cut off a rivet head that is not adjacent to a joint between sheets because you may scratch the sheet aluminum. If you cut between different sheets, any scratches will be out of sight.

Here is an image of a putty knife cutting the shank of a rivet between two pieces of aluminum:

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Use care with the putty knife because, if the blade is dull or you use too much force, you may stretch/elongate the hole in the aluminum through which the rivet shank passes, and that is not good. You want to keep the hole as small as possible so that your replacement rivet fully fills the hole.
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Old 03-17-2014, 02:33 PM   #44
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Drill bit sizes

You will encounter, in your rivet-drilling activities, holes of various sizes, and you will need different drill bits that match up to those hole sizes. You will need appropriate drill bits for both a standard drill (electric or pneumatic) and for a drill with the self-centering rivet removal adapter (discussed in this post).

For drilling out pop rivets (that hold the belly pan to the frame or hold the interior walls to the ribs), I think I used 1/8" 135 degree split tip cobalt drill bits, but I now am in Texas, and I cannot confirm that.

The self-centering rivet removal tool uses screw-in drill bits, and the size of the drill bit is marked on the base of the drill bit with a number such as 10, 21, 30, and 40. Here are the fractional size equivalents:

#40 = 3/32"

#30 = 1/8" (which is the shank size of the rivets used most extensively in assembling an Airstream)

#21 = 5/32" (used to enlarge a 1/8" hole in preparation for installation of a 5/32" solid-shank rivet)

#10 = 3/16"

You will need replacement bits because they become dull and sometimes break. You especially need replacement bits for the most-used 1/8" size.
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:50 AM   #45
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Repairing the roof dent

8038 had a large dent in the front endcap on the curbside:

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You can see that the dent was in the third and fourth panels of the front endcap, and the dent also was evident on the upper edge of the second panel. The dent was only in the exterior wall; the inside wall was not dented.

After I had removed the interior walls, insulation, and wiring, I was able to tackle the dent.

Tools. A basketball (yes, a basketball!), a roller tool (described below), hammer, shot (or sand) bag, and a helper.

Techniques. Through the Airforums, I was advised to pop out the dent with a mostly-inflated basketball, and I did that with a good result:

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From the inside of the trailer, (1) I placed the partially-inflated basketball against the dent, (2) I pushed enough to let the ball form around the dent, and (3) then pushed to pop out the dent. Do not push too hard because you do not want to stretch the metal.

Most of the metal popped back into position, but some small areas needed further smoothing, and I used a roller like one of these (that I purchased from Aerowood on the Airforums). I had a helper on the outside of the cabin who was holding a shot (or sand) bag against the outside of the sheet opposite where I applied the roller against the inside of the sheet. The roller head has tapered sides, so it is designed not to leave lines or crease marks in the sheet aluminum. The trick, I think, is to use the roller with light pressure until you are familiar with how it works and moves. Apply greater pressure after you have more confidence with the tool. I used the roller until I was satisfied with the appearance of the exterior metal.

In addition, the seams between the second and third panels and between the third and fourth panels needed attention. The metal along those seams (of double thickness) did not pop out all of the way. I had to reform those seams by force, as the roller did not work over a row of rivets. I used several different blocks of wood and a hammer to pound, from the inside of the cabin, on the rivet seam to reshape the two pieces of metal that form the seam. I started with light hammer blows, and I used more force after I had some experience with the process.

The bent (and reformed) seams are likely not to be well sealed, and I plan to reset (or replace) the rivets on those seams before I cover up the inside of that endcap. You need access to the inside of the endcap to buck the solid-shank rivets.

I generally was happy with the results. My repair was not perfect, but someone will have to look closely to see that the metal had been dented.

Hank
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Old 03-23-2014, 12:20 PM   #46
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Removing the exterior hardware

I removed all of the various exterior hardware: the taillights, the license plate holder and light, the clearance lights, and the door light. Why remove the external hardware? I removed the exterior hardware for several reasons: (1) to permit cleaning of any corrosion of the alclad aluminum sheet metal around the hardware, (2) to make easier the polishing of the exterior sheet metal panels, and (3) to rehabilitate and possibly replate the hardware.

Corrosion often is a problem with Airstreams because of electrolysis (the electrical interaction of dissimilar metals; search the Airforums for additional explanation). The exterior sheet metal of 8038 is alclad aluminum, and many of the exterior hardware fixtures are of different metal. Over time, corrosion often occurs, and it is best to clean up that corrosion (and try to prevent it from occurring in the future).

Polishing. Most restorers of 1950's vintage Airstreams choose to polish the exterior sheet metal aluminum, as it is possible to polish that metal to a high gloss. It is much easier to get a good polish of the sheet aluminum around exterior hardware items by (1) removing the hardware, (2) polishing the sheet aluminum, and then (3) reinstalling the hardware item.

I will discuss in another posting the rehabilitation and replating of these items.

Tools. The tool requirements for removing the exterior hardware were simple: screwdrivers, a putty knife, and wire cutters. Be careful with any screwdriver or putty knife (or scraper) to avoid scratching or denting the relatively soft alclad sheet metal aluminum.

Techniques. I removed from the exterior the following:

1. Bargman tail lights. 8038 had the original Bargman No. 9 tail light assemblies:

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These Bargman fixtures are very difficult to replace, and I wanted to rehab the taillight assemblies if I could. My plan was to rewire the whole trailer, so I simply cut the wires (after taking a series of photographs that would help me with the eventual re-wiring if I succeeded in rehabbing the taillight assembly) and removed the light fixture.

2. Clearance lights. 1956 Flying Clouds had four clearance or (running) lights, two on each side of the trailer:

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At some prior time, two of the original Bargman clearance light frames had been replaced, so 8038 had two original Bargman frames and two aftermarket frames, as you can see in the image above.

I suspected that the bottom two frames were aluminum, as they show no corrosion. Eventually, I discovered that the two missing original Bargman clearance lights came with the trailer in a box of miscellaneous items. I intend eventually to re-plate and install the four original Barman frames.

3. License plate light. This image is of the license plate light and plate holding assembly (with the red glass lens already removed):

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The light fixture secures the license plate holder to the sheet aluminum, and there was quite a bit of corrosion on both the aluminum and the license plate holder.

4. Door light. I also removed the light adjacent to the entry door for the cabin. Removing several screws was all that was required.

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This is the only image I have, and the light is upside down on the workbench.
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:59 AM   #47
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Cleaning the exterior hardware

To clean the exterior hardware first required some dis-assembly. I took a lot of photos to help me reconstruct the hardware if necessary. After the dis-assembly, I turned to cleaning.

Tools. To de-rust and clean the exterior hardware items, I experimented a good bit, trying to find a technique that worked best. I am sorry to report that I have no sure-fire method to recommend to you. I used naval jelly, mineral spirits, acetone, rags, scrapers, dental picks, and nitrile gloves:

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I also used a vise, a small anvil, and a hammer.

Techniques. The naval jelly is for the rust. Naval jelly has been around a long time, and I do not know if it is state of the art today. I brushed on the naval jelly, let it sit for awhile, and then I wiped it off.

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Naval jelly is good for surface rust, but the Bargman taillight rings were deeply pitted, and a good bit of the metal was gone (eventually, I decided to replace the rings). I used rags and mineral spirits to clean the hardware after using the naval jelly.

The license plate light was structurally sound and ready for re-plating. The license plate holder needed some attention, as the holder was corroded and bent. First, I used sandpaper to clean the holder surface of rust and corrosion. I then used my bench vise and a small anvil to reshape the holder to proper form:

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The trick was to gradually reform the holder on the flat surface of the anvil (which is held stationary by the vise) by gently striking the holder with the flat face of the hammer. Subsequent to that photo, I purchased (1) a better hammer for working metal (something like this) and (2) a larger anvil, and I have used the larger anvil for a number of tasks (one of which was reforming a drip cap, and I will post separately about that).
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:10 AM   #48
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Door lock removal and disassembly

Here is the exterior handle portion of a Bargman L-54 or L-55 (I believe) door lock assembly:

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I believe that the handle is referred to as the Bargman H20-2 door handle.

Tools. Removing and disassembly of the door lock required screwdrivers, a hammer, and a nail set.

Techniques.

1. Removing the lock assembly from the door frame. In removing the door lock assembly, proceed carefully, as replacement parts are very hard to find. I removed the entire door lock assembly, which required patience, and I took a photo of each step (1) as I removed the lock assembly from the door frame (these photos would help me re-install the assembly) and (2) as I disassembled the lock mechanism (these photos would assist me in rebuilding the mechanism).

For example, here are several photos of the removal of the lock assembly from the door (from the inside of the cabin):

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I used these photos to leave myself a record of how all the pieces of the assembly fit together and were secured to the frame of the door. I actually took eight photos of the removal.

2. Disassembly of the handle mechanism. Next, I went to the bench and disassembled the handle mechanism. If you do this, be careful in disassembly, as many of these pieces have been stressed over the years and may break. I also took a photo of each step of the disassembly process. This photo shows the mostly-disassembled handle mechanism:

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I used a hammer and nail set to drive the pins out of the assembly, and I also used a small-blade screwdriver to remove some set screws. I took seven photos of the various steps in the disassembly process.
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:17 AM   #49
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Compartment door

Most camper trailers have exterior-access compartments. 8038 had one compartment door on the curbside (the compartment storage space was under the double bed running along the curbside):

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The compartment door and the surrounding frame both were in bad shape (and showed signs of water penetration), so I decided to remove (and eventually rebuild) both the door and the frame.

One issue I faced was the lock to the compartment door. The door had a locking mechanism, but I had no key for it.

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I thought it would be easy to have new keys made for it, but that was not to be. I removed the lock cylinder and took it to several locksmiths who could not provide me keys. Eventually, I found a high-volume and knowledgeable locksmith who was able to fabricate new keys for the mechanism. The locksmith had to make the keys from blanks designed for a different lock cylinder.

Compartment doors are notorious for leaking, and I expect that I will need to beef up the framing and do a better job of sealing with gaskets, and I will address those tasks in another posting (when I get to it).
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Old 04-01-2014, 08:50 AM   #50
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Roof vents

The roof vents on camper trailers are known to cause problems, and the problems often involve water entering the cabin through or around the vent opening. When I purchased 8038, it had two roof vents and a large (and very ugly) air conditioning unit on the roof. One roof vent was in the rear of the cabin, one roof vent was in the front of the cabin, and the roof air conditioner was in the center. I will discuss in another post removal of the air conditioner.

The two roof vents were Hehr roof vents composed of two parts: an interior frame part and an exterior frame part. I could not figure out how to disassemble the vents, and I ended up spending time on the Airforums to find out how to do so. I hope that my explanation below may save you some time.

Tools. Removing the Hehr vents requires a slot-blade screw driver. To remove the interior and exterior frames (as described below), you also will need tools to drill out the rivets holding the frames to the trailer. This post discusses the tools and techniques for drilling out rivets.

Techniques. To remove these frames requires separation of the interior frame from the exterior frame and then removal of (1) the interior frame from inside the cabin and (2) the exterior frame (and vent hood) from the outside. Here is an 8038 Hehr vent (showing its age), viewed from inside, before any disassembly:

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1. Remove crank handles. The first step is to remove the crank handles that operate the lift mechanisms. In the image above, two handles are protruding through the screening. Those handles are attached to a shaft with a friction fitting, so gently pull the handles toward the floor of the trailer. This photo shows the vent assembly upside down on a benchtop with the two handles removed, and it shows the detent for the friction fit of the handle:

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2. Remove screening. After the handles are removed, the screening will slide down the shafts to which the handles had been attached. Be careful, as when you remove the second crank handle, the screen will be free to fall to the floor, and that could damage the screen.

3. Detach lifters from interior frame. The photo above also shows the cylindrical lifter mechanism (referred to as a Ladeau or possibly LeDeux or LaDeau lifter) that raises and lowers the exterior vent hood. Turning the handles turns the crank shaft, which causes the lifter to expand or contract, thus raising or lowering the vent hood.

The following image is of the exterior roof vent frame and hood, and it is sitting upside down on my workbench. The left lifter is expanded and the right lifter is not:

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The lifter mechanism is riveted to the frame of exterior vent hood.

Now, back to the disassembly. After removing the handles and the screening, the next step is to detach the bottom of the lifter mechanism (remember that the top of the lifter mechanism is riveted to the exterior vent hood) from the interior frame. The bottom of the lifter attaches to a bracket on the interior frame by a small pinch pin on each side of the lifter. In the following photo (from the Airforums) of the bracket (which has been detached from the interior frame), the bottom of the lifter is held in place by the short pins that protrude from the legs of the brackets:

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Place the blade of a slot-blade screwdriver between the bracket leg and the lifter. Twist the blade to disconnect the short pins on the bracket leg to separate the lifter assembly from the bracket.

4. Remove interior frame. Now that the lifters are detached from the interior frame, you can remove the interior frame, which will involve drilling out the rivets that hold the interior frame to the ceiling of the cabin.

5. Remove exterior frame. After the interior frame and the exterior frame are separated, you can remove the exterior frame (and the attached vent hood). This will involve drilling out the rivets that hold the exterior frame to the exterior roof the trailer, so you must have access to the roof of the trailer to drill out the rivets holding the exterior frame to the roof. I will describe in another post the scaffolding I used to work on the roof.
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Old 04-01-2014, 09:01 AM   #51
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The air conditioner

I think that 8038 generally has graceful lines and proportions and is pleasing to the eye. Not so, when it comes to the unlovely air conditioning unit on the roof:


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Look at that ugly barnacle! I was determined to remove that unsightly blemish. I expect 8038 to live its life with my wife and me in the mountains of North America, and I plan not to install a new air conditioner (but I will install 120v AC wire and a drain tube in case I or another owner wants to install an air conditioner).

The original installation of the air conditioner made a huge mess of the roof, and I have considerable anxiety as to whether I will succeed in keeping the cabin dry because of all the holes in the roof (photo below). In another post I will discuss repairs to the roof because of removal of the air conditioner.

Tools. To remove the air conditioner, I spent time on the roof of the trailer, and I used a scaffolding system, putty knives, a hammer, penetrating oil (to loosen stuck nuts and screws), and other miscellaneous pliers and cutting hand tools. I also drilled out some rivets, and this post discusses rivet drilling.

Techniques:

1. Access to the roof. Several techniques may be used to work on the roof of a trailer. Airstreams are quite light weight, and the rib structure supporting the roof is not, to my eye, confidence inspiring. I am 6' tall and weigh 180+ pounds, and I am reluctant to place my weight on the roof of 8038. I have seen smaller persons on Airstream roofs, but they are careful to distribute their weight onto the rivet lines that show where a support rib is underneath the roof metal. If you are comfortable on the roof, good for you. I was not comfortable. Here is more information about the roof.

I had to come up with other methods of working on the roof, and I came up with two:

a. Access through the roof vent opening. After the interior and exterior roof vent frames have been removed (see this post), the roof vent opening is as big as it will be. I discovered that I could fit my upper body through the roof vent opening, but only if I did it a certain way. It turns out that the problem for me was getting my shoulders through the vent opening. The only way I could get through was to (1) stand on a step ladder, (2) lead with one arm and shoulder extended up and through the vent opening, and then (3) bring the other (lower) shoulder and arm (which had been hanging down while I moved the first arm through the opening) through the opening. I then would have both shoulders and arms through the roof vent, and I could stand on the step ladder and work on an area surrounding the vent opening. This method limited my roof work area to the area I could reach while standing on the step ladder (but I could work from both the front and rear vent openings).

b. Access by scaffolding. Scaffolding is well designed for just this kind of work, but I had access (thanks to a neighbor) to only one unit, so I had to self-construct a scaffolding system. Here is what I put together, and it worked very well. This is the curbside view:

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This is the streetside view:

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I used the green t-shirt to keep the ladder from marring the sidewall of the trailer. I also placed a blanket underneath the plank that ran across the roof of the trailer. I did attach cleats to each end of the plank so that it could not move.

I admit that the curbside arrangement made me a bit nervous, so what I ended up doing to get on the roof was to enter the cabin, climb the step ladder, get my upper body through the roof vent opening, and then bring the rest of my body weight onto the plank across the roof. Getting off the roof was complicated, but I did not have far to fall into the cabin (and I never did fall).

I hoped to remove the air conditioner in one piece, but that was not to be. After I removed the shroud, I realized that I need to disassemble the unit into pieces while it was on the roof so that I could handle the weight of each piece in removing it from the roof. I ended up working on the AC from both the front and back roof vent openings. I will not bore you with all the details, but (after a good bit of time, penetrating oil, muscle on wrenches and hammers, and a few curses along the way), the removal was complete:

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The problem is all the *&! holes in the roof. The photo above is after I removed lots of caulk, silicone, and other materials accumulated after 50+ years of use.
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Old 04-03-2014, 04:28 PM   #52
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Removing swinging window frames

A "swinging" window frame is one that will open by use of a crank mechanism operated from inside the trailer. 8038 had some swinging windows that were (1) part of a two-frame window (a fixed-in-place upper window frame, and a swinging lower window frame) and (2) a one-frame window. Regardless of whether the swinging frame was in a one-frame window or a two-frame window, the process of removing the swinging window is the same.

Tools. The tools necessary for removal of a swinging window frame are quite limited. You need a screwdriver and pliers, and a helper would make things much easier.

Techniques.

1. Free the crank mechanism. From the inside of the coach, remove the screws holding the crank mechanism and free the mechanism from the center support of the fixed window frame with the screening.

2. Free crank arm from swinging window. Next, free the far end of the crank arm from the swinging window frame. The crank arm extends through the center support of the fixed window and through the screening. Free the far end of the crank arm by sliding the end of the crank arm, which has plastic bushings at the end, up the center support of the swinging window so that the end of the crank arm will slide free of that center support of the swinging window. This is an image of the crank arm protruding through the fixed window center support and the screening:

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Here is an image of the end of the crank arm free of the center support of the swinging window (but the center support has been removed from the frame of the swinging window):

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3. Bring crank arm into cabin. Next, pull the crank arm through the screening and the center support of the fixed window and into the cabin. If the plastic bushings at the end of the shaft do not fit through the opening in the screening and the center support, remove the bushings from the end of the crank arm. The arm now should fit through the center support of the fixed window. It is nice to have a helper for this task, as it is difficult to be on the inside and outside of the trailer at the same time and the swinging window frame now will swing freely (and get in your way).

4. Remove swinging window frame. From the exterior of the coach, the swinging window panel will slide sideways out of the fixed frame, but you first must bend up a retaining tab (at either end) that holds the swinging window in place. The tab is in the center of this image, and the tab is facing down as it would be to hold the swinging window frame in place (even though the swinging window has been removed):

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Carefully bend the tab up so as to be parallel to the ground (you may be able to use your fingers; if not, use pliers), as the tab eventually must be bent back down when you re-install the window. Be gentle with the tab, as you do not want to break it off!

The process of removing a swinging window is the same for both a one-frame window and a two-frame window.

These old window frames are very hard to replace, so make sure you work carefully with them.

Hank
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Old 04-03-2014, 04:31 PM   #53
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Removing the riveted-in-place window frames

Initially, I did not intend to remove all of the window frames, but eventually I decided to remove them all so that I could replace all of the original glass with safety glass. The window frames must be removed to replace the glass. In addition, I had to remove some of the riveted-frame windows to remove aged window gaskets.

See this post about rivet removal and the related equipment. The tools and techniques for window rivet removal are no different.
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Old 04-05-2014, 01:40 PM   #54
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Hello RankAm,
I share much in common with you. I forward to following your progress.
Do you have any suggestions for replacing damaged ribs? I'm down to the bare frame now and ready to start building but have three ribs that were damaged beyond use.
Good luck with your rebuild.
Edward
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:20 AM   #55
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1956 22' Flying Cloud
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkeytek View Post
Hello RankAm,
I share much in common with you. I forward to following your progress.
Do you have any suggestions for replacing damaged ribs? I'm down to the bare frame now and ready to start building but have three ribs that were damaged beyond use.
Good luck with your rebuild.
Edward
Edward, I suggest you use the Airforums Search function. I just searched on "rib repair" and had several hits. I have not had to do any rib repairs.

Good luck to you!

Hank
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Old 04-08-2014, 03:45 PM   #56
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Disassembly of swinging windows

I decided to replace all of the glass in the windows of 8038, so I had to remove and disassemble every window. Another reason to disassemble windows is to give them a thorough cleaning and polishing. Vintage trailer aluminum usually needs some cleaning before you can return it to its full glory.

I did not know how to disassemble a window, but I learned that it is quite simple. Take your time, have the correct tools, and march ahead!

Tools. For window disassembly you will need a slotted screwdriver, wrenches, a putty knife, a single-edge razor, and a flat workbench surface.

Techniques. To disassemble a swinging window that has been removed from the trailer, do the following:

1. Remove center support arm from swinging window frame. If the swinging window frame has a center support arm, the arm must be removed by removing the screws that hold the arm in place:

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Now you can remove the center support arm from the frame.

2. Remove aluminum brackets holding the glass. The window glass is held in place by four aluminum brackets that are attached to the inside of the window frame by machine screws and nuts, like the rusty ones in this photo:

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Gently loosen the nut with a wrench and then remove the bracket. I marked (on the back side out of sight) each bracket, as soon as I removed it, with a Sharpie pen to identify its location in the frame:

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After I removed and marked all four brackets and the center support arm, I bundled and taped all the pieces together for storage. I marked on the bundle tape the window to which the parts belong.

Next, removing the window glass.

3. Cut around seal with window frame. As you work on removing the glass from the frame, be careful of cutting yourself on the glass. I sometimes wore leather gloves, and sometimes I did not because (when wearing gloves) I could not do with my fingers what I wanted to do.

Place the window frame on the workbench, exterior side up. If the frame is not fully supported by the workbench surface in that position, do whatever is necessary to provide the support. The aluminum frames will bend if you are not careful. I used scrap wood to provide support, and sometimes a part of the frame would hang over the front edge of the workbench to stabilize the rest of the frame. You also may need to clamp the frame to your countertop to prevent it from moving.

The glass is secured to the frame in several ways, including a gasket, caulk, possibly silicone, and accumulated dust and grime. I first used a utility knife with a sharp blade to break the seal between the glass and the frame:

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4. Remove materials on inside of frame. If the glass pane does not come free of the frame after you use the utility knife, place the window frame on the workbench, interior side up. You might place a towel on the bench top to protect the window frame from scratches.If the frame is not fully supported by the workbench surface in that position, do whatever is necessary to provide the support. Remove any caulk, silicone, etc., that holds the pane in place. I used a putty knife, a single-edge razor, and dental picks.

If you have silicone holding the glass pane in place, you have a special treat in store for you, as silicone is very difficult to remove. It will come off, but only after considerable effort. I used several products to remove the silicone, and none of them was particularly successful. The products merely softened the silicone, which made it easier to remove the silicone with a scraper, single-edge plastic razor blades, and rags with mineral spirits.

After enough repetitions of silicone remover, rags, and mineral spirits, I eventually would get rid of all of the silicone, but it did take a lot of time.

5. Remove glass from frame. Once you have cleaned up all the materials holding the glass in place, and with the inside of the frame still facing up, try to remove the glass by raising one corner of the frame. Get a finger or two under the corner, and push up with your fingers to see if the glass is free of the frame. If the glass is free, work the glass away from the frame so that you can safely grab the pane (now would be a good time for leather gloves!).

If the glass pane does not come free with the inside of the frame facing up, switch the orientation of the frame. Place the window frame on a workbench with the exterior of the window facing up (again, supported as necessary). I placed a towel under the frame. Now, gently press down on the glass pane until it separates from the frame.

When the gasket comes free of the frame and the glass, remove and dispose of it. Fifty-year old gasket material is no good for re-use.

6. Dispose of glass. I did not intend to re-use the glass, so (after retaining a few pieces for when I needed a flat surface, such as for sharpening shop tools), I broke the rest of the glass in a trash barrel. If you intend to reuse the glass, store it away.

You now have swinging window frames with the glass removed, but you have some frame cleaning to do, which comes next.
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