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Old 08-06-2012, 12:46 AM   #1
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1963 Belly Pan is Kicking, my.......

I am doing a shell off restoration on a 1963 Bambi. Probably a mistake, but decided to just replace the belly pan, rather than re-install the old worn material. (most rivets had worked there way through the material, road rash, rips..etc....)

I simply cannot get the front corners to rivet to the U channel, without bows and ripples in the material. In the older belly pans, in the front corners, the belly material "slants up", from the last 3" frame rib, to the edge of the plywood floor, then wraps around the plywood floor, then up to the U channel. the belly material transitions from 3" below the plywood to the plywood as it moves forward from the rib to the front, and also slants up 3" as it moves from the center of the frame, to the outside edge.

Anybody understand what I am trying to explain?

Any magic technics to get the material to transition both directions, without bends, and bows?
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Old 08-06-2012, 02:22 AM   #2
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I am doing a shell off restoration on a 1963 Bambi. Probably a mistake, but decided to just replace the belly pan, rather than re-install the old worn material. (most rivets had worked there way through the material, road rash, rips..etc....)

I simply cannot get the front corners to rivet to the U channel, without bows and ripples in the material. In the older belly pans, in the front corners, the belly material "slants up", from the last 3" frame rib, to the edge of the plywood floor, then wraps around the plywood floor, then up to the U channel. the belly material transitions from 3" below the plywood to the plywood as it moves forward from the rib to the front, and also slants up 3" as it moves from the center of the frame, to the outside edge.

Anybody understand what I am trying to explain?

Any magic technics to get the material to transition both directions, without bends, and bows?
I kinda get it... pictures would help a lot. What thickness is the aluminum that you are useing? I re skinned my belly pan with 5052 .032. When I got to the rear corners I couldnt get the corners to bend without buckeling. So I switched the corner material to 5052 .025 worked perfectly.
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Old 08-06-2012, 05:54 AM   #3
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I hope these pointers help...
You need to copy the original exactly.
The slits on the edge are slightly angled toward the rear.
The slits end right where you need to bend the part going between the skin and channel.
Start at the front and work back or at the back and work forward depending on the corner you are working. The big curved slit that looks like a tear about 2/3rds around the curve is VERY important. It allows you to transition from one curve to the other. The front edge of that curved cut goes over the rear one.
It is just aluminum, if you mess up, do it again. It took me five tries the first time I did it...
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Old 08-06-2012, 06:36 AM   #4
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Did you not make an 8" or so cut in your panel just at the point of the transition you are speaking of? You can see the cut in this panel just before my friends left hand (he is looking at it). This is critical for the panel to do what you want it to do. I used .040 and it worked quite nicely (heavy duty), so I wouldn't change the gauge of material to try and make it work. Check out these pics:

bellypanel - My co-hort displays a belly panel. Photo Gallery

New belly - Belly good as new. toughest part of the job, hands down! Photo Gallery
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Old 08-06-2012, 06:48 AM   #5
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Did you not make an 8" or so cut in your panel just at the point of the transition you are speaking of? You can see the cut in this panel just before my friends left hand (he is looking at it). This is critical for the panel to do what you want it to do. I used .040 and it worked quite nicely (heavy duty), so I wouldn't change the gauge of material to try and make it work. Check out these pics:

bellypanel - My co-hort displays a belly panel. Photo Gallery

New belly - Belly good as new. toughest part of the job, hands down! Photo Gallery
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Old 08-06-2012, 10:15 AM   #6
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I hope these pointers help...
You need to copy the original exactly.
The slits on the edge are slightly angled toward the rear.
The slits end right where you need to bend the part going between the skin and channel.
Start at the front and work back or at the back and work forward depending on the corner you are working. The big curved slit that looks like a tear about 2/3rds around the curve is VERY important. It allows you to transition from one curve to the other. The front edge of that curved cut goes over the rear one.
It is just aluminum, if you mess up, do it again. It took me five tries the first time I did it...
It only took me two times! In your FACE Frank! But I agree with the above Copy and bend carefully. Thickness of material is not a big advantage (sorry Cdmagda I dont agree) Use what works for you. I just found .025 was easier to work with. My original belly was 3003 .025. I know that there are alot of people that over do all kinds of crap thinking that it will be better. They just end up over complicating things. The only reason I went with .032 is because I made a mistake and ordered the wrong thickness. IMHO .040 is serious overkill (unless are 4 wheeling on Mars). I went with 5052 because of its corrosion resistance, that is an advantage over the original material in any thickness.
Seriously we are a bunch of armatures (Frank not included) so do your homework and do what is best for you.
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Old 08-06-2012, 05:12 PM   #7
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I almost hate to say this, but... I use .040 5052 T38 for the belly. It polishes easy and the thickness gives me less ripples. It was the thinner .025 and .032 that caused me so many do overs. I had to indeed figure it out.
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Old 08-06-2012, 05:27 PM   #8
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Just purchased 3/16 large head aluminum rivets. They use these on busses. Then reinstall the old pan. It's the bottom and will get destroyed away.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:26 AM   #9
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I boondock more than not, (no rhyme intended) I also raised the trailer when I replaced the axel and use 15" instead of 14" tires. Like I said, the .040 has its advantages, and I made it work the first and only time, a major plus!
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Old 05-01-2013, 07:25 PM   #10
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Same issue

DH is stuck on the belly skin at this point on Easy. He has 5052 .025 material and it is causing him issues on trying to get it to not fold and buckle on the corners. He is taking a break and going back to it this weekend. Any other ideas appreciated on tips for the belly skin.
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Old 09-26-2014, 10:39 PM   #11
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Help!!!

I inherited a 1984 Sovereign 31'. It's perfect on the inside but is really rusted underneath. Does anyone know where I can find maintenance manual?
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Old 09-26-2014, 11:02 PM   #12
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I inherited a 1984 Sovereign 31'. It's perfect on the inside but is really rusted underneath. Does anyone know where I can find maintenance manual?
Welcome to Airstream ownership and the forum!

I don't know how to do the link thing, but you generally have two options:
1) go to the trailer-specific sections here, click on your year/length, and repeat your request. Someone will probably volunteer to copy theirs and send it, or
2) go to the A/S corp website, they can send you a copy for a price--$30 or so?

Someone correct me on this, please!

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Old 09-27-2014, 05:24 AM   #13
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I bought the service manual for my '74 Sov from Airstream...

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Old 09-27-2014, 06:51 AM   #14
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I inherited a 1984 Sovereign 31'. It's perfect on the inside but is really rusted underneath. Does anyone know where I can find maintenance manual?
Congrats on the Airstream! You said the belly is 'rusted' Aluminum does not rust. Is it oxidized or do you actually see rust?
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