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Old 11-30-2008, 09:11 PM   #1
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1975 27' Overlander
1976 28' Argosy 28
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Unhappy I don't know how it made it 32 years

I just finished taking the last interior panel out of my 1976 Argosy MH and all I have to say is "holy c**p". I am convinced that no one has ever had this apart and what I found is indeed "factory".

The first thing I noticed was that I had grease on me and I didn't know where it came from. Not the powdered aluminum grime from between moving panels I mean fresh green axle bearing grease. After removing all of the insulation I discovered it is dobbed in various seams all over the inside of the outer shell. My guess is that's how they got them to pass the infamous "water test" and not have to re-seal and re-test them back in the day. Most of the spots have since developed leaks and caused their share of rot. Upon removal of the wheel wells I had to remove some rather large deposits of rusty sealant and I discovered that wherever there was a large hole to fill with sealant they would pack it full of fiberglass insulation and seal over it. Looks good from the top!! NOT from the bottom!! The insulation accumulated water and caused the wood to rot around it. Bad practice! I can deal with the grease and leaking seams. I was thinking about spray in bed liner in the interior of the outer shell after all of the outside rivets are in. Anyone tried this? Just a thought, it would keep it from sweating.

The second and most major is the structure! I don't have a complete rib anywhere from the main hoop in the rear to in front of the door! There are 4 ribs in between and they are hacked off above the wheel wells and generator housing and just hanging in the breeze. There is a 5th one in front of the door that apparently was wrangled off so they could run a wiring bundle. It's hanging in the breeze as well. No wonder the door frame and that area of the trailer have loose rivets everywhere and things were moving around. If you have the same problems of gray streaks from rivets on the outside you may have structural problems in this era of a trailer as well. Hopefully things are better at Airstream today, I know the Beatrice Foods era was particularly bad. Anyway anyone know where I can get a rib?? I can fix the 4 above the wheel wells but the one in front of the door is gone from about 5' on down. I'd rather find a premade one than to spend a bunch of time trying to make one by hand.

Don't get this post wrong, I'm not slamming Airstream. I really like them, that's why I'm putting a Freightliner chassis with a Cummins 5.9 and a MD3060 6 speed in mine. I'm just disappointed they would let stuff leave the factory this bad off structurally. Any advise or help would be greatly appreciated. I have some pictures if anyone wants to see, I just don't know how to upload them.....

Larry Olson
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Old 12-04-2008, 08:20 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverDollar View Post
Anyway anyone know where I can get a rib?? I can fix the 4 above the wheel wells but the one in front of the door is gone from about 5' on down. I'd rather find a premade one than to spend a bunch of time trying to make one by hand.
Larry,

Several years ago I was able to buy a rib from a local airstream dealer. I think I paid $85 for it. Try contacting Colaw's in Missouri, they have a lot of wrecked Airstream trailers there and the ribs from the mid 70s trailers should work on your Argosy.

Brad
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Old 12-05-2008, 08:28 AM   #3
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Disconcerting, to say the least.
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:44 AM   #4
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With that kind of quality they should be able to qualify for a "Bail Out"
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Old 01-22-2009, 10:18 AM   #5
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1975 25' Tradewind
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I am working on 1992 excella with the same complaint. Poor QC at the factory caused the fender wells to leak to the interior. I can't believe they would merely glue a fender well to the frame and hope the glue held over time. It didn't the result was a failed seam and water being sprayed up onto the wood flooring while underway.

I am going to seal the seam then have white bed liner sprayed to the wheel well. I am hoping this will provide a durable skin and keep water out...
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Old 01-22-2009, 06:21 PM   #6
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Enjoying the monocoque shell are you?

Our eyes and tastes are trained to look for complete ribs from wooden housing and boat construction - very rare to be constructed with the rigidity of sheet metal and precision drilled metal rivets. If each bucked rivet has a shear strength of X pounds with zero play the eggshell construction of the outer shell holds itself up solo - the ribs are to hang the interior liners from (providing exponential stiffness increase) and also in extension the partitions. galley & bathroom and link into the flooring & frame. I especially enjoy knowing the vulkem rib glue will still be holding after the rivets have corroded away...
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:36 PM   #7
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I agree. I saw the video of how the shell was constructed at the factory but you do have to admit that missing ribs in an area such as directly behind the door hinge results in loose rivets and metal fatigue from the skin flexing over time. I'm going to do it right when I start to work on the fuselage after I get it set on some level cribbing.
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Old 01-23-2009, 07:19 AM   #8
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I am not in opposition but it is just a trailer. Perhaps it is intentionally omitted to reduce damage from a door popping open, cushioning the slamming door by spreading the impact out over a larger area?

Loose rivets and metal fatigue from the skin flexing sounds like bent and/or rusted out outriggers and/or problems from lost U-channel rigidity from rotten plywood sections. The flex required to loosen rivets usually is transmitted and focused from the opposite side/corner of the shell; The door frame itself is probably 200% of the support that area needs and any ribs nearby are there to hang liners from etc..

One more ingredient to throw into the fray is the fiberglass the factory crushes between iron frame and plywood floor. If there has been moisture saturating the insulation it will act to wick water into the wood grain for many feet past the sodden fiberglass, I saw layers of the flooring plywood dry-rotted and missing up to six feet away from long term leaks leaving a 1/8th to 1/4-inch void above the outrigger & frame pieces. This made for loose U-channel bolts above most of the outriggers - and if you strip out the fiberglass check provide for the dimension change before tightening the bolts, is it just the now absented fiberglass thickness or a couple plies of wood gone...
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