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Old 02-19-2010, 07:01 AM   #1
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1973 Argosy 26
Norristown , Pennsylvania
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Learn from my mistakes.

Hello Forum Members;
Before attempting a Shell Off or major restoration you should read my story to avoid the mistakes I have made while restoring my 1973 26' Argosy. My mistakes were initiated by my eagerness to get my tools in motion. Owning only S.O.B's previously, Airstream was a new experience. We have purchased a used 1973 26' Argosy on e-bay in the Fall of 2007 based on pic's provided in the ad. The trailer sparked my interests because I could not see any dents in the shell or rust spots in the end caps. The seller also agreed in writing to return my deposit should we find the trailer not as described. We won the bid at $4831.00 and after long drive to outside of Cleveland, Ohio we were able to inspect it in person and found in condition as advertised.

After bringing it home we did a very thorough inspection and found out that the belly pan was held in place by a massive wasp nest filling just about entire cavity of the belly pan. It was the nest that held the belly sheet metal in place. After removing the nest and exposing the frame we found issues with rotted out outriggers and back section of the frame. Torsion arms had no bounce back although tires had plenty of clearance. After pondering the next step for a week, we decided to scrap the frame and undercarriage. After the analysis of the cost involved in repairing it, we opted for a new frame and undercarriage. Our fabricating experience along with the facility to fabricate made the choice simpler. Our huge stockpile of Stainless Steel tubing tipped the scale. Shell was removed and the frame measurements were transposed onto drawing of a new and improved frame. Using 2" X 6" rectangular SS tubing instead of formed 5" C channel, offered us the ability to install the black tank within the frame confines instead of having it on top of the floor. My point however leads into other than a frame issues.

My mistake #1 was in being too anxious to build a frame instead of pretending to live in the trailer as it was for a week, especially during night time. I should have hooked up a battery and inspect a lighting for emitted lumen's and their location. This would have provide me with enough information to find out if the lighting was sufficient and if it was located in most needed places. Since I already had a large selection of LED lights, it would have been easy to make determination what light and how many lumen's to install where needed. By the time I have realized my mistake the trailer was gutted. While my new wiring did not turned out so bad, the shortcomings were discovered by no other than my wife, the lady of the house during the 2008and 09 seasons. Since we pushed to go camping some things still needed to be done. Plan was to finish it during the 2009-10 Winter. I decided to change and add some interior lights but not without paying the piper for the original mistake. Before installing the inner skins in 2007 I have made some drawings of the locations of the holes in ribs and horizontal connectors. The trailer was insulated with bubble foil leaving a 3/4" of air space between outer shell and foil. Wiring was routed on top of foil behind the inner sheeting. After about 18 hours of very frustrating work I was able to add two circuits where my wife Margaret Kay wanted them. I should have given more consideration to the fact that it would not be so easy to do it later. What I should have done was to run more wires to strategic locations, and make drawings for the location of unused circuits for ease of future additions.

In order to eliminate stray currents in chassis I have grounded each circuit via wire directly to negative bus block which was grounded directly to the battery via 40 Amp Circuit breaker as lightning protection for the 12VDC circuits. The positive side is also protected by 40 Amp circuit breaker. All wiring is a Marine grade "Thin Coated" wire. The 110 VAC is also Marine 12 Ga.stranded and "Thin Coated" wire with 10 Ga. for my Carrier AC.

And finally, when gutting the interior of the trailer post notes on every piece as you remove it, and note where it belongs. Make notes of bad original cuts in panels and trim, it will keep you from duplicating someone else's mistakes. You will understand why you need to do it when you go to install 500 or so pieces in order go get it back together. I took hundreds of notes and still got frustrated numerous times. Save every piece so that you can duplicate it. After all it is not easy to cut up 17 sheets of expensive Okume African Mahogany Marine Plywood without a concern of making a mistake. Do more planning ahead than cutting, and your chances of getting it right will improve considerably. It is easy to replace a single piece of furniture, but you can pat yourself on the back after putting back together a gutted trailer especially when you save only a shell as I did. Satisfaction from job well done is indescribable. Thanks, "Boatdoc"
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Old 02-19-2010, 07:11 AM   #2
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1975 31' Sovereign
1973 27' Overlander
1977 23' Safari
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Congrats on Post #500

Congrats on making this milestone. More comments on the substance of your post a bit later.

Zep
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Old 02-19-2010, 07:14 AM   #3
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Mistakes

I can't imagine how hard it must have been for you to do a complete frame up restoration. My 65 Safari was in great shape but still caused many problems and many, many hours of work and sometimes frustrations. You are right on with the take lots of notes. I thought I did and still ran into some problems. The red mahagony is really cool....Tim
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Old 02-19-2010, 07:52 AM   #4
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I thought that frame you made looked exceptional in your photo not realizing it was stainless. A stainless frame is verrrry nice.

The little bit of replacement that I did woke me up to the fact that some panels were not cut right and slapped in place with trim to cover it up. I did buy extra lighting to add where needed, now to get to the wiring for them.
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Old 02-19-2010, 08:17 AM   #5
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Another mistake

was that you posted this too late.... for me at least. Mine is gutted and I've been struggling with getting the fit on the rearmost floor section on the complete floor replacement. I did not make any notes as to bad original cuts on the interior. Great thinking, though too late for me. I thought I took enough photos but realized when I wanted to see a detail of floor to C-channel to skin, to bellypan I did not have the shot. I restored an FJ40 once and did not take enough photos of that project either and swore I would this time. I didn't! I told my wife that what I wished I would have done is have her out there at all times taking pictures as I worked. It's sometimes really hard to make yourself stop and take a pic. I commend the many who have, it helps us a lot. Thanks BoatDoc although too late for me, this will help some that are not too far gone...
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:34 AM   #6
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Pics?

I posted this somewhere else, but I'll put it here anyway. I'm looking for your pics. Can only find one of the frame. Are there more?
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Old 02-19-2010, 10:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium View Post
Congrats on making this milestone. More comments on the substance of your post a bit later.

Zep
Hi Zep.
You must have been watching me editing my post because no sooner I have submitted the post your congrats to me were there. Thank you much for your kind words. "Boatdoc"
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Old 02-19-2010, 10:50 AM   #8
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1973 Argosy 26
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Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
I posted this somewhere else, but I'll put it here anyway. I'm looking for your pics. Can only find one of the frame. Are there more?
Hi TG Twinkie: Yes there are many more pics if you look trough my past posts. Thanks "Boatdoc"
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Old 02-19-2010, 10:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverHoot View Post
was that you posted this too late.... for me at least. Mine is gutted and I've been struggling with getting the fit on the rearmost floor section on the complete floor replacement. I did not make any notes as to bad original cuts on the interior. Great thinking, though too late for me. I thought I took enough photos but realized when I wanted to see a detail of floor to C-channel to skin, to bellypan I did not have the shot. I restored an FJ40 once and did not take enough photos of that project either and swore I would this time. I didn't! I told my wife that what I wished I would have done is have her out there at all times taking pictures as I worked. It's sometimes really hard to make yourself stop and take a pic. I commend the many who have, it helps us a lot. Thanks BoatDoc although too late for me, this will help some that are not too far gone...
Hi SilverHoot; I do not know what to tell you, I am sorry, but being busy it took me only eight months to post it. "Boatdoc"
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