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Old 01-23-2014, 12:55 PM   #1
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Need some hopefully simple repair advice

I am an AS newbie. I bought my Bambi 16' (which we love) at Colonial in NJ last August, and towed it home to Georgia with no issues other than a flat tire on the trailer in Virginia. The tire had picked up a screw.
Yesterday I am going over the Bambi getting ready to head toward the Alumafiesta in Tucson and discovered that one of the self tapping screws holding the sewer drain storage tube to the belly of the trailer had come out. My drain won't fit in the tube, so I haven't paid it much attention, but the minute I saw the screw missing, I realized was obviously the one the tire picked up.
I'm nowhere close to an AS dealer, so I'm planning on fixing it myself, but simply using a bigger screw is not my idea of a permanent repair, since the same thing could happen. This also applies to the other screws. I'm looking for a permanent fix for them all.
I guess I could remove the tube since I don't use it, but I hate to do away with any type of storage.
I'm even wondering if I should wait and find and AS dealer along the way to AZ, and have them fix it under warranty.
Advice will be gratefully appreciated.
Cheers
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:09 PM   #2
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Be good to try and figure out why it came out. If they missed hitting a solid piece of metal you need to move the bracket so you can hit metal. If they simply overtightened the screw stripping the hole , or undertightened it, a new sheet metal screw can fix it.

Unless you can get behind the attachment point to put on a machine screw and a self locking nut, you may want to put in a slightly larger diameter sheet metal screw.

Take out one of the other ones to determine length needed, head to Lowes or Ace and get a stainless sheetmetal screw one size larger in diameter.
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zenspector View Post
I am an AS newbie. I bought my Bambi 16' (which we love) at Colonial in NJ last August, and towed it home to Georgia with no issues other than a flat tire on the trailer in Virginia. The tire had picked up a screw.
Yesterday I am going over the Bambi getting ready to head toward the Alumafiesta in Tucson and discovered that one of the self tapping screws holding the sewer drain storage tube to the belly of the trailer had come out. My drain won't fit in the tube, so I haven't paid it much attention, but the minute I saw the screw missing, I realized was obviously the one the tire picked up.
I'm nowhere close to an AS dealer, so I'm planning on fixing it myself, but simply using a bigger screw is not my idea of a permanent repair, since the same thing could happen. This also applies to the other screws. I'm looking for a permanent fix for them all.
I guess I could remove the tube since I don't use it, but I hate to do away with any type of storage.
I'm even wondering if I should wait and find and AS dealer along the way to AZ, and have them fix it under warranty.
Advice will be gratefully appreciated.
Cheers
You've really only got three possibilities for fasteners here: another screw, a bolt and nut, or a rivet. My own personal preference would be another screw of the same size, but with some LoctiteŽ on the threads. I wouldn't bother with hunting up a dealer for a warranty repair for just a missing screw.
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Old 01-23-2014, 11:54 PM   #4
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Thanks, Protagonist. I was thinking about the Locktite thing myself.
I haven't found a way to get behind the metal to install a bolt, washers and nut. That would be my preferred way, and IMO, should be AS's preferred way when the screw is supporting weight. Being in the construction business all my life, I saw too many situations where self-tappers failed in these circumstances. Especially with movement and/or vibration.
I think it was simply an overtightened screw.
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Old 01-24-2014, 02:42 AM   #5
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After I got my trailer, I wanted to add a 2nd storage tube to house an extension hose. From my recollection looking at how the original was installed, a couple of the screws went through the belly pan into a brace of some sort and the others were anchored by a square of aluminum simply laying on the top side of the pan. I didn't want to get into a lot of disassembly to get in there. I started looking at the various fasteners at Lowes and decided the expanding anchors used for hollow walls was what I wanted and finally found some that would work with material thinner than sheetrock. All has remained securely in place for 3 years and about 15,000 road miles.
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:30 AM   #6
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Part of what you paid for was the warranty. Make them take care of it.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:09 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
You've really only got three possibilities for fasteners here: another screw, a bolt and nut, or a rivet. My own personal preference would be another screw of the same size, but with some LoctiteŽ on the threads. I wouldn't bother with hunting up a dealer for a warranty repair for just a missing screw.
X2 on the Loctite as long as the screw snugs up when it bottoms out and the thread is not stripped it will usually hold. You can take out the other screws, check to make sure they are not over tightened and stripped and replace them with Loctite applied to the screw threads. If they have been over tightened then use the next larger size screw.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:19 AM   #8
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Is the screw in question one of the two (maybe 3) that screw into the frame member or one of the two (or one) that only goes into belly skin? If it is into belly skin only, I always install a heavy (like scrap exterior skin) 3" X 3" patch over the hole. I rivet it at each corner, using an Olympic rivet. Olympics distribute the weight over a larger surface area. I then attach the tube to the reinforced plate with an expanding well nut.

This has worked well for me, and I have one tube with 22 pounds of portable water softener in it. (I did install 2 extra PVC pipe hangers for that application though.)
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:52 AM   #9
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There is yet another solution to this type of problem that I have used over the years on many occasions. It is the "rivet nut" threaded insert. These are rivet-type devices that are set in a pre-drilled hole with a specially designed rivet gun. This threaded inset is now permanently attached to the aluminum panel with a threaded hole that will accept a machine screw. These inserts come in various sizes for different applications.

Over the years, I used about 20 of these on various points on Old Lucy. I haven't used any on New Lucy yet, but I still carry the "Rivet Nutter". I'm sure it won't be long before I use it again.

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Old 01-24-2014, 08:53 AM   #10
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X3 on Loctite for any screws prone to vibrational loosening. Be sure to use blue loctite, it can be unlocked later if necessary. Don't use red loctite, as it produces a near permanent bond.
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Old 01-24-2014, 09:54 AM   #11
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I certainly stand to be corrected if others have had good luck with this, but I would not have expected loctite to be very effective when used with self tapping screws in thin metal.

Generally I am a big enthusiast of loctite and tend to use it all the time when working on cars, motorcycles etc - but on machine screw threads, not self tappers in sheet metal.

I wouldn't think there is enough thread contact area with a sheet metal screw for the loctite to do its thing. I don't really think it is meant for this sort of thing.

In this instance I would initially be inclined to replace the screw - and if it won't hold because the hole was enlarged too much on the initial installation and stripped out, just use a larger self tapping screw.

I would expect with something fairly heavy like the sewer hose tube, the screws should be arranged d to go through the skin and a rib - maybe they missed? Worth checking.

While warranty repair seems logical, sometimes it just isn't worth the effort for little things like this - of course if you make it worse, then you are on your own to fix it!

For things like this that could be poor initial design, I tend to favour the type of improved
securement that Rich described in his post.

Brian.
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Old 01-25-2014, 12:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Goose View Post
After I got my trailer, I wanted to add a 2nd storage tube to house an extension hose. From my recollection looking at how the original was installed, a couple of the screws went through the belly pan into a brace of some sort and the others were anchored by a square of aluminum simply laying on the top side of the pan. I didn't want to get into a lot of disassembly to get in there. I started looking at the various fasteners at Lowes and decided the expanding anchors used for hollow walls was what I wanted and finally found some that would work with material thinner than sheetrock. All has remained securely in place for 3 years and about 15,000 road miles.
If the original stripped out - often a larger screw will do the same - especially in aluminum. I would opt for the small plastic sheetrock expansion anchor. It sounds like the original screw very likely was NOT into anything substantial unless already stripped by the factory at installation.
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Old 01-25-2014, 12:54 PM   #13
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Thank you all for the responses. All very good thoughts.
There is no frame behind the skin at the screw location, so an extra tab riveted on, as Rich suggested, is a good way to go. However, the expansion bolt idea sure seems equally workable. Excellent idea, and one that I would have never considered.
That's what I love about this forum and, even though I'm a newbie, what I love about future experiences with other Airstreamers.
Thanks again.
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