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Old 10-22-2019, 12:57 PM   #1
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1963 30' Sovereign
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Were they all built this way?

Hi all,

As we restore our 1963 Sovereign, we've come across a number of design aspects which are head-scratchers. One such example is the rib structure from the wheel wells forward to the front end cap.

In that space, we have five half ribs and no complete ones (other than the one at the seam of the end cap). None of the half ribs are spaced the same as any others. The largest gap between ribs accommodates the street side double windows. Pictures below, comments appreciated ... were all of the Sovereigns of that vintage built like this?

Rob & Heather
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Old 10-22-2019, 01:04 PM   #2
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Answered my own question ...

I did a quick search and now gather that many have these half ribs.

Go figure.

Rob
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Old 10-22-2019, 01:05 PM   #3
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I think you'll find most models have these partial ribs to deal with window placement, outside access panels or wheel wells. My Overlander has a few also.
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Old 10-22-2019, 01:57 PM   #4
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Thanks ... at first I thought someone was having a bad day at the plant ... measuring once and cutting twice.

Like these vertical supports in the rear corners. Why stop 10" from the floor and use additional pieces to bridge the gap?

I struggle to understand some of the choices, but what the heck ... it lasted this long.

Rob
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:28 PM   #5
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Keep in mind the front wall isnít holding up structure per se. bow #1 is the first structural member. The rest of the front is supported by the compound curve and the stiffeners added. The stiffeners were also spacers for the inside skin so pieces are often spliced to use scrap. Many 50ís trailers even used presumably military surplus aluminum already in primer for these out of sight parts. Our 63 must have been built with a newbie on the shrunken/stretcher because our bows were all about 4-6Ē short of the floor and only 2 (#1 and #6) were full bows. The rest hit doors, hatches, windows or wheel wells. Add the fact it went on the around the world caravan and was abused on that year and a half journey more than virtually any other trailers out there (with exception to the African Caravan) and that most trailers are designed to live 10-15 years this 56 year old trailer has done pretty well as you pointed out.
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Old 10-23-2019, 07:43 AM   #6
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(with exception to the African Caravan) and that most trailers are designed to live 10-15 years.
Most trailers these days are lucky to last the warranty period.

I was shocked at how many "new" trailers and fifth wheels I saw this summer with overloaded axles; wheels splayed out at incredible angles, waiting for unsuspecting new owners, all won over by the massive stainless steel fridge and granite counter tops inside.

Cheers
Sidekick Tony
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Old 10-23-2019, 07:56 AM   #7
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Definitely a sign of bad engineering. The good thing is that sheet metal is very forgiving and these things don't fly in the air.



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Old 10-23-2019, 08:09 AM   #8
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Like these vertical supports in the rear corners. Why stop 10" from the floor and use additional pieces to bridge the gap?
It's a question of basic manufacturing, manufacturing tolerances. Where does the aluminum shell need to be perfect? Answer is, where is sits in the c-channel.

Since there will always be some variability in the aluminum shells (no matter what the armchair manufacturing engineers on the forum say), trying to build the shell with ribs that go to the floor would end up with ribs a hair too long or short just about every time. Ribs that are too long would need to be cut perfectly, which would be a challenge. Ribs that are too short would need to be fixed anyway to transfer the weight of the shell to the frame.

They probably start out with the center section of the shell where it would be easy to get a perfect match with the ribs and skin, then add the pre-built rounded ends. The ends are probably left slightly oversized (too long at the bottom) to account for manufacturing tolerances, and trimmed after being riveted to the center. A lot easier to trim with the ribs left short.

Then lower the whole shell on the frame and add the rib supports while they are resting in the c-channel, which allows for a "perfect" fit every time.
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Old 10-23-2019, 09:22 AM   #9
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Actually from what Iíve seen the ends were built on a frame and set on the trailer then the bows and flat sheet was done to match those. From what Iíve seen the bottom sheet was then placed between them then bows attached to them then they just infilled.
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Old 10-24-2019, 11:40 AM   #10
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Thanks for the thoughts. Interesting to muse about the choices that were made, but as noted, these things hold up really well so someone obviously knew what they were doing.

The level of interest and knowledge on these forums is great. Thanks for the replies.
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Old 10-28-2019, 12:18 PM   #11
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Now you know the truth as apposed to the myth! Mass produced for a profit, craftmanship maybe a bit above average but still not intended to last 50+yrs. I've done a few now, only the 1st one was a supprize. Current '63 ambassador is typcal. Only front and rear bows at encaps are one piece, go to and are anchored to floor. Some rib buck rivits miss bowes to maintain a straight exterior rivit line. Some stringers were never buck rivited on exterior at all. one front right endcap segment so far misplaced it had a 16 inch cleat inside to hold it in place. My favorite, the lower left read corner sheet was cut to short to reach the C-channel / belly pan, they just left it and overlayed another complete sheet. Good job, didnt show 'till interior was removed! Point being don't worry to much. You're confinded by exterior buck rivit holes. Just go ahead and modify and strenghten as you see fit. If "good enough" held up this long odds are any extra you do will be fine.
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