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Old 10-12-2005, 07:12 PM   #1
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Crack(s) in interior ceiling

Hello,

My husband and I purchased our first Airstream (1966 28' Int'l Land Yacht Ambassador). It does have one of those hammock bunks on one side (bunk is in great condition). Is this rare to find these days?

Anyway, my question is...We picked up our Airstream from Indiana and towed it home to central wisconsin (around 550 miles). After we got it home, we noticed some cracks on the interior ceiling. The exact location is where the wood wall meets the ceiling - wall that separates the kitchen from the twin beds (left side when looking at it from living room area). There are several cracks at each end of this wall. It looks like the wood that attaches to ceiling has pushed into the ceiling a bit. A portion of the crack is open. It is hard to explain, but that is probably the best I can explain it.

Has anyone had anything like this happen to them? What do you feel are the possible causes and how would you fix. I am hoping it is nothing too serious. Overall the airstream is in good condition. Any advise would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Ed & Cindy (New to the RV and Airstream World)
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Old 10-12-2005, 07:25 PM   #2
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I have seen the same damage on a 1965 Airstream overlander and I belive it was caused by an A/C unit on the roof .
The weight of the A/C on the roof and rough roads cause the interior skin and the wood to come into contact and poke a hole in the inner skin.

The only fix to the cosmetic damage would be to patch or replace the inner skin, and repair the source of the problem.

Check your running gear (axle shocks and balance, etc...) as well as if it is worn out it will also beat your trailer to death.
Also if there is a problem with the frame or rust you may be getting the flexing there.

It is hard to say exactly what it is that caused it on your trailer, but this will give you a few places to start looking.


Best of luck to you and welcome to the wonderfull world of Airstreams!
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Old 10-12-2005, 07:30 PM   #3
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Crack(s) in interior ceiling

Greetings Ed and Cindy!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstream ownership!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgivern
Hello,

My husband and I purchased our first Airstream (1966 28' Int'l Land Yacht Ambassador). It does have one of those hammock bunks on one side (bunk is in great condition). Is this rare to find these days?
It is somewhat unusual to find a coach with a complete hammock bunk -- in most cases all that remains are the wall brackets and ceiling fixtures. I know that my '64 had its hammock bunks when it was first sold by its original owners in 1980, but either the second or third owner must have discarded them as they had disappeared by the time the coach found me in 1995.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgivern
Anyway, my question is...We picked up our Airstream from Indiana and towed it home to central wisconsin (around 550 miles). After we got it home, we noticed some cracks on the interior ceiling. The exact location is where the wood wall meets the ceiling - wall that separates the kitchen from the twin beds (left side when looking at it from living room area). There are several cracks at each end of this wall. It looks like the wood that attaches to ceiling has pushed into the ceiling a bit. A portion of the crack is open. It is hard to explain, but that is probably the best I can explain it.
I had some similar cracking just starting in my '64 Overlander, and upon investigation, my dealer found that one or two of the outriggers between the door and the front axle had rusted through and needed to be replaced. Replacing the outriggers helped, but the axles also failed inspection and need to be replaced (I have been using my Argosy until I can afford new axles with the upgrade to disc brakes for the Overlander). I would suggest inspecting both outriggers and axles for potential problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgivern
Has anyone had anything like this happen to them? What do you feel are the possible causes and how would you fix. I am hoping it is nothing too serious. Overall the airstream is in good condition. Any advise would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Ed & Cindy (New to the RV and Airstream World)
Good luck with your Ambassador!

Kevin
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Old 10-12-2005, 07:36 PM   #4
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There's a person who lives near me who owns a '66 Globe Trotter. She has the same problem on the road side between the wall that seperates the rear bath from the "closet" just behind the wheel well. The "closet" appears to be pushed up into the ceiliing area. After closer inspections, the floor behind the wall in the bath has a "depression" in it. I crawled under the trailer and found the main "I" beam had rusted completely thru, just behind the wheel on the road side.

Inspect very carefully, I don't mean to be alarmist, but the problem on my neighbor's trailer could cause the trailer to fall apart while being towed. Look closely, hopefully RichardT is right and it's not a bad safety hazard.
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Old 10-12-2005, 07:47 PM   #5
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Question Broken bow......

Our crack was like yours and it was caused by a broken bow/rib/whatever in the ceiling, probably caused by the weight of the airconditioner or the airconditioner installer. Anyway, we had to cut out a portion of the ceiling repair the rib by reinforcing the broken area and then we covered the damaged ceiling with a thin piece of wood stained to match the rest. We even took out the "door frame" between kitchen and bedroom and replaced it. It doesn't look too bad if I do say so myself

Good luck with determing exactly how you can mend your "new baby".
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Old 10-12-2005, 08:18 PM   #6
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Ed & Cindy,
We used to have a '66 Overlander that had this same issue wit the doorway posts punching holes in the inner skin of the roof. That trailer also had rear end separation and rear end sag. I beleive that it was the droop of the rear of the trailer that caused this issue. The frame and aluminum shell of an Airstream form a monocoque. If the rear end is of the trailer bends downward, the shell will have to warp. I beleive it is that warping that puts pressure on the top of the posts and cuases the tearing of the inner skin. I would not be surprised if this warping also caused some of the frame outriggers to break as other have noted they have found when their trailer exhibited similar damage to the inner skin.

There are many threads on the forums about causes and effects of rear end separation and rear end sag/droop and the repairs required for each condition.

One way to see if your trailer has these issues would be to look at where the frame exits the aluminum skin going to the rear bumper. If there is a gap betewwn the top of the fame beams and the bottom of the trim rail that surrounds the trailer where the sides meet the belly pan then your trailer might also have this issue. If you jump on the rear bumper and this gap changes, that also inicates that problems exist. Finally, if you look down the side of your trailer and see bulges outward near or above the wheel wells, this is a pretty clear sign that the rear of you frame has sagged.

I hope this does not turn out to be your issue, but if it is, repairs can be made. For rear end sag, the frame can be straightened and than have braces bolted or welded to the frame just rearward of the axles (gotta open the belly pan to do this, however). If it is rear end separation, then there are ways to resecure the rear of the aluminum shell back down to the frame (gotta open the aluminum skin to do this). Search the forum on these topics for more detailed information, if you beleive that your trailer may have these conditions.

Good luck.
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Old 10-12-2005, 08:22 PM   #7
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Here are photos of the inner skin and rear bumper area of our old '66, before we sold it. One shows the ripped inner skin and one shows gaps above the rear bumper (which I have attempted to caulk shut as a temporary solution, which worked only until the next time we moved the trailer).
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Name:	Rear End Separation.JPG
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Old 10-12-2005, 08:56 PM   #8
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Thank you all for your feedback. I am so impressed by the time everyone took to respond our question.

Your knowledge and experience is so valuable... I can't thank you enough.

We will look into these areas.

Ed & Cindy
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Old 10-13-2005, 10:44 AM   #9
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Ceiling damage

Cracks in the older trailer ceilings are caused by "lacK" of proper running gear balance. It was a very common problem.

The wheels shake enough over time, to eventually drive the bulkheads through the ceiling, and causing the shell to somewhat change shape.

The air conditioner has nothing to do with the problem, as the same problem has happened hundreds of times to Airstream trailers that never had an AC.

The fix is not difficult.

1. Lower the front of the trailer, several inches.
2. Place two jack stands under the frame at the bumper.
3. "SLOWLY" raise the front of the trailer.
4. Continue to raise the front end and observe the bulkheads slowly retracking from the ceiling.
5. Continue lifting until the bulkheads are free from the ceiling.
6. You may have to remove some rivets from that area if someone has worked on the problem.
7. Shave 1/4 inch or so, from the top of the bulkheads.
8. Plate the damaged areas.
9. "SLOWLY" lower the front of the trailer, so that the bulkheads return to their proper position.
10. Reinstall pop rivets as necessary.
11. Get the "complete" running gear balanced.
12. Have a beer.

Andy
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Old 03-16-2010, 05:10 PM   #10
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I'd never heard of this defect til today. What years did one have to worry about this ? This thread so far is speaking of 60's era.('64,'65,'66,'67were mentioned above)
Pretty slick fix thanks to Inland Andy.
If you click on the top pic in post #7 you can see the punched out ceiling much better, Is the ceiling headliner the same metal that was used in the 70's (vinyl clad like the sidewalls)?
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Old 03-16-2010, 05:39 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Distantdrummer View Post
I'd never heard of this defect til today. What years did one have to worry about this ? This thread so far is speaking of 60's era.('64,'65,'66,'67were mentioned above)
Pretty slick fix thanks to Inland Andy.
If you click on the top pic in post #7 you can see the punched out ceiling much better, Is the ceiling headliner the same metal that was used in the 70's (vinyl clad like the sidewalls)?
That's about the year models that had the problem.

Andy
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