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Old 02-24-2015, 06:41 PM   #1
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1972 Ambassador - main step won't fully extend

Just picked up a '72 Ambassador this past weekend, and I'm starting to go through it and make a 'fix it' list for it. One of the issues I came across pretty quickly was that the two-part step is not fully extending (nor staying retracted)

The main step extends down part ways, and then it hits on a bar or something that is on both sides. I'm guessing this may be somewhat related to the fact it will not stay retracted either? The step pulls down just shy of far enough to unfold the second step, and while it can hold my weight in its current position, it's not at all at a convenient (or safe) location.

Any recommendations on what I need to do to remedy this?

I've attached two images, one of as far as it'll go down, the second it pushed back with the 'bar' it's hitting color shifted so it'll stand out.
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Old 02-26-2015, 12:04 PM   #2
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You should see a little "handle" sticking out of the body on the right hand side of your steps. This handle is attached to a lever that is on the right hand side of the right-side outrigger that your steps are mounted on. The lever pivots in the middle, and the far end of it is what is supposed to keep the steps from extending when they are retracted for travel. If the lever is missing altogether, or the spring has broken, then this may be why your steps don't stay up like they should.

I suppose that this lever mechanism could interfere with deploying the steps as well, especially if the handle is broken off altogether.

good luck!
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Old 02-26-2015, 01:22 PM   #3
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I just took another look at your pictures--the square bar that goes from left to right in the top of the upper picture--that is the mechanism that connects the "levers" on the right an left side (the levers that keep the stairs from deploying). Try grabbing hold of that square bar with some vise-grips and see if you can move the levers that you see interfereing with your step travel. If the handle part is broken off outside the banana wrap, be careful that you don't get the steps locked into the retracted position with no means of disengaging the levers.
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Old 02-26-2015, 02:00 PM   #4
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Thanks! I will take a look when I get home to see what the situation on the lever when I get home.
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Old 02-26-2015, 11:10 PM   #5
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Took a look with a flashlight that I could find when I got home from work tonight.

Definitely looks like the handle was broken off at some point, amusingly right at the exterior surface, so it set up inside the slot. Definitely explains why I didn't notice it. I looked inside, not quite sure how the handle moved about or managed to pin itself in such a way. It may have actually spun around and that's what's holding the right (handle) side in place when I tried turning the square rod with a crescent wrench, as the left side seems to be moving OK.

I'll take a look in the morning, as the sunlight's shining directly at that side of the trailer then. I think for the moment my best bet will be to reach in there with a long-necked side cutter or pliers and remove the cotter key and the handle. Then I can get the step extended and come up with a solution for this, hopefully one that won't require having to remove panels / rivets.

If that's unavoidable, I'll hold off on fully repairing it til a bit later. I won't be moving the trailer more than a few feet if at all for the time being, and if I do that I'll tie-wrap it up so there's no risk of damage. If I do have to remove panels, that'll hold off til I get to the point where I'm digging into things for repairs I need to do.
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Old 02-26-2015, 11:17 PM   #6
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As a side note, any recommended source for replacing the handle? Doing a bit of web searching and not turning up much...
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Old 02-27-2015, 09:56 AM   #7
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As I recall, the steel lever extends outside the skin, and then has a 90 degree bend toward the door. The "knob" on that bent lever looks a lot like the knobs on the interior window lifters. Getting at that broken off lever for the sake of repair will be a bit of a pain, as you will have to remove the lower trim, drill out the pop rivets holding the wrapped bellypan up, and then pull it downward to expose the mechanism. As I recall, the lever itself was nothing too fancy, and could be refabricated, or just repaired relatively easy.

good luck!
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Old 02-27-2015, 10:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flaagan View Post
As a side note, any recommended source for replacing the handle? Doing a bit of web searching and not turning up much...
Try Out of Doors Mart Steps & Stabilizers : Out-of-Doors Mart!, More Airstream Parts on-line than anyone!

It looks like they have parts and the complete Airstream Step assembly if needed. Good luck
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Old 02-27-2015, 11:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adonh View Post
Try Out of Doors Mart Steps & Stabilizers : Out-of-Doors Mart!, More Airstream Parts on-line than anyone!

It looks like they have parts and the complete Airstream Step assembly if needed. Good luck
Was looking on there and some of the other vendors, will have to give it another look as I didn't see it on there (unless I completely missed it looking at the wrong terms for it).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
As I recall, the steel lever extends outside the skin, and then has a 90 degree bend toward the door. The "knob" on that bent lever looks a lot like the knobs on the interior window lifters. Getting at that broken off lever for the sake of repair will be a bit of a pain, as you will have to remove the lower trim, drill out the pop rivets holding the wrapped bellypan up, and then pull it downward to expose the mechanism. As I recall, the lever itself was nothing too fancy, and could be refabricated, or just repaired relatively easy.

good luck!
Yup, it's sheered off at the body surface. Good info on what it's supposed to look like!. Definitely seems to be the case that I'll have to drill out a few rivets, none of the long-necked tools we have could quite reach the cotter key, especially around some of the step hardware.

I am a bit confused on one thing though - for being broken off, the amount of movement the remainder of the arm allows still won't allow the step to extend. The arm hits against the body 'all the way up' but the mechanism is still blocking the step. Something may have been properly messed up in there that won't reveal itself til I've got the skin off, I'll report in on it when I'm able to do that.

Seeing as the step's going to come in handy for all the cleaning work I've got to do, I may try to remedy it to some extent this weekend.
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Old 02-27-2015, 12:56 PM   #10
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What you need to do is cut some holes in the sheet metal on each side of the steps to gain access to both sides of the mechanism. When you are finished, you can make some sheet metal covers over the holes and secure them with screws so you can get back in there to tighten bolts and lube the steps etc. You can probably come up with a way to keep the steps from falling down while traveling. As long as the second step does not unfold, the step usually is not low enough to the ground to be a problem. The locking mechanism on mine is not that great and sometimes the steps fall down anyway.

Here is an old thread that might help to some degree.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f475...one-92563.html


Perry
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Old 02-27-2015, 04:18 PM   #11
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After looking at your thread, Perry, the assembly drawing shown in it, and on a parts page, is this what the 'lever' consists of on my '72?

Step Release Casting 100298 [100298] - $62.95 : Out-of-Doors Mart!, More Airstream Parts on-line than anyone!

The piece that goes all the way across the front? Think I saw somewhere that it's for newer models (78 and up).

Looking around on the forum a bit I came across this image, which I believe is from a '70 model:


I'm getting a good chuckle out of how something so simple is causing me this kind of confusion, but after rebuilding a Barracuda from the ground up, I'm not the least bit surprised.
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Old 02-27-2015, 07:51 PM   #12
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Those steps are way over designed. It is worse than some of the NASA stuff I worked on most of which is designed by a commitee of 1000.

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Old 02-27-2015, 08:32 PM   #13
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Yup! First time I saw how it all went together it struck me as a bit overdone.
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Old 03-01-2015, 09:53 PM   #14
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Was clearing some more of the junk outta the trailer today, look what I found buried at the bottom of the magazine holder by the door:
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