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Old 05-03-2016, 11:29 AM   #1
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New owner! Shell off?

Hello all. Just acquired our first airstream. 1972 ambassador! Really excited to join everyone here, your information and help for others is amazing. I'v already learned so much just trolling around. Our camper was the typical 1972. Floor rot in rear bath, a couple small patches in the front no biggie...and is now looking more and more like a shell off...I got carried away when taking old stinky things out to clean repair and repaint. I then found where it looks like the curb side from the furnace to the battery box looks warped. Not rotted but warped. With a level on the floor its a half inch difference in only 12" or so. Click image for larger version

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ID:	261802 there's obviously been water intrusion but no rot. The exterior skin had a little bulge on the same side I just figured some frame repair which was included in our budget but shell off. Negative. Has anyone ever seen this? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 05-03-2016, 11:45 AM   #2
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1972 31' Sovereign
1975 31' Excella 500
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Some of the outriggers are either bent or breaking off, and the frame is likely bent at the axle slot.

This can be fixed shell on or shell off.


Superat stultitia.
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Old 05-03-2016, 11:54 AM   #3
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1972 31' Sovereign
1975 31' Excella 500
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Benton , Arkansas
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New owner! Shell off?

My trailer was similar, I replaced the last four feet of frame, two outriggers, and the back sheet of plywood, and then straightened and reinforced the frame at the axles all shell on.

Would I have had a better product had I gone the shell off route?

Yes, but does it matter?

I was camping 120 days from purchase. Everything is a balancing act.

From what I see I say you don't NEED to do a shell off, but you have to decide what you want.

Remember, a lot of projects get abandoned when they become too much work. When you take the first bite, set your mind on eating the whole piece, but don't take too big a piece to start with...


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Old 05-03-2016, 12:42 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info I'm taking down the curbside banana wrap as we speak, I wanna see those outriggers.
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Old 05-03-2016, 06:26 PM   #5
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Ok, got the outriggers exposed, doesn't look like any damage to me. A little rusty but not rotten. The frame isn't cracked anywhere I can see. There's a little ripple on the axle support. Click image for larger version

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ID:	261842. Could a hard enough hit on bad axles do that maybe? There is a crack in the banana skin by the door and the weld has broken at the lower left corner of the door frame.Click image for larger version

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ID:	261843 big bump? Water damage? Or both maybe...
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Old 05-03-2016, 07:04 PM   #6
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I vote "shell on" and ignoring the floor contour...


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Old 05-04-2016, 06:42 AM   #7
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Thanks for the info and advice. Much appreciated.
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:22 AM   #8
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depends on how you plan to use the trailer - flip, hobby, or get it out camping as soon as possible. If it's a flip then do as little work as possible but make it right, etc.. It it were me I'd be camping in it this summer and plan to do some work on it during the winter months if you can work on it inside
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:40 AM   #9
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Mine was sagging the same way around the wheel wells. Turned out my main frame rail was cracked. I was surprised to see how very lightweight the frames are built. I chose shell off and re-welded and reinforce my frame so I'm nice and flat, and solid now.

That said.... I have yet to camp in mine after 3 years of ownership and it is still a huge project to finish. Granted I have 3 kids and am the sole provider for my family.

However, I am ok with my decision to go complete rebuild because its looking awesome, and I'm re-engineering many things from the ground up to address most of the issues that come up from the members in these forums.

Additionally, I am confident that I am creating a solid product that can be used for many years to come and if/when I ever decide to sell, I'll have a much higher re-sale value because its essentially a new trailer.

I agree with the above posts in that it depends on your own preferences. I can attest that a shell off is a huge undertaking, but the silver lining is that it should pay off in the end if thats your route.
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Old 05-05-2016, 01:18 PM   #10
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I found some serious frame rot in the front yesterday and I want this thing to be done right. I've got a friend who is a great welder/fabricator and I have access to all the tools a rental company carries. I think I'm gonna go shell off, this is gonna be our "Tiny House" in the future. We don't have any kids or the tiny house idea probably wouldn't work anyway. And that leaves me plenty of time to work on it. Plus the added value in the end would definitely be a plus.
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Old 05-05-2016, 01:20 PM   #11
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Thanks again, I'll keep updating as I go. Best of luck to everyone and their projects!
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Old 05-06-2016, 03:18 PM   #12
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Wise words from J. Morgan and Mixter.

I really admire people like J. Morgan who determine what is truly important, get it sorted and get on with enjoying life (getting it sorted doesn't do justice to his quality work though based on all the photos I've seen).

Also inspired by the work Mixter has done while juggling family life!

I am about to start a shell-off as well and just can't help but go all the way with stuff like this. Honestly I suffer from that perfectionist syndrome but really have been trying to reel it in a bit. I know it will be important to exercise discretion or else it will drag on for a decade.

Anyway, I am coming at this eyes-wide-open building and extensive plan of attack and realistic budget/timeline. It looks kinda scary but we have lots of great info and inspiration around here.

I say go for it! Especially if you have access to tools, work space, and a welder friend. You got this.
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