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Old 08-18-2007, 11:11 PM   #1
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1960 28' Ambassador
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Bellypan installation

Today I decided to tackle the last couple of feet of bellypan I had to remove when I got the frame and floor fixed.

When I cut the old pan off I left enough edge to rivet replacement skin back so I didn't have to mess with pulling to much apart.

It went back pretty well. I noticed that originally AS did not seem to drill into the main frame rails to rivet the pan on. They only riveted it to other belly skin and the cross members.

I have a couple of places that would be tightened up nicely if I drilled into the frame rail and put a rivet in it. I know these frames are made of some pretty thin metal. Is that why its not a good idea? Don't want to comprimse the frame any thats for sure.
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Old 08-18-2007, 11:28 PM   #2
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My 71 has holes in the frame rails for the belly pan about a foot apart if I remember correctly and I plan on using them again
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Old 08-19-2007, 07:20 AM   #3
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Hi Tim,

I removed the entire belly pan on my '67 Ambassador in two pieces by drilling out all the rivets, and having my wife pull the pan out the front end while I was underneath guiding the pieces out. There were a number of rivets into the main frame rails. My problem was that many of the small rivet heads had worn through the soft aluminum belly pan material. I've bought a couple bags of the large head rivets from VTS for the reinstall.

To answer your question... I certainly don't think adding a few rivet holes through the bottom flange of the main frame rails will adversely affect it's strength. From what I've seen on my frame, these members are much more likely to yield in bending than in shear, so you may want to keep the holes at least 6" away from where the frame bears on the rear axle.

One other thing that comes to mind... drill carefully so that you don't catch any wiring running along the frame rails.

I wish I could say that I'm as far along as you are... but I'm happy that you've forged the way for many of the rest of us and have generously documented the process.

Good luck, on your last little bits.
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Old 08-19-2007, 08:27 AM   #4
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The early 60's use a "c" frame rather than a box frame - I would be reluctant to drill too many holes - can't you tighten it up by more rivets in the skin?

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Old 08-19-2007, 10:52 AM   #5
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Thanks guys.

There just happens to be a couple of places were the pan puzzle peices :-) land at the frame rails. The peice that I used to cover the grey water tank is one. Poor planning. I could have easily cut it a little longer.

The other is the area that runs past the rear most cross member then up the back side a few inches. That is attached the cross member, but the 17" or so that runs along the frame rail sags a little and could use a rivet or two.

I've been using those large flange aluminum rivets as well. Real nice.

My '60 Ambassador has a boxed in frame on the main rails. I don't know if its just because of its lengh or what, but thats how it is.

Thanks for the input!
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Old 08-19-2007, 12:02 PM   #6
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Aren't there many 1/4" holes in the top of the frame where the plywood floor is bolted to the frame. What harm would a few 1/8" holes in the bottom of the frame cause?

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Old 08-19-2007, 12:20 PM   #7
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The floor is only bolted to cross members as well.
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Old 08-19-2007, 01:24 PM   #8
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I believe we are going to have the same problem but need to know if the underbelly panels can be replaced wihout removing all of the pieces. I have a 1956 Silver Streak and the only piece that need to be replaced is the middle, It is completely missing. Any suggestions will be appreciated. Also has anyone put the aluminum on an english wheel to get the curve?
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Old 08-19-2007, 01:25 PM   #9
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opps forgot to sign, sorry...

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Old 08-19-2007, 04:13 PM   #10
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It seems to me that it would make more sense for Airstream to SCREW the belly pan on to allow for easier access-using rivets here seems to be madness.
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Old 08-19-2007, 04:18 PM   #11
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John - I've used both - rivets are easy to drill out if you need to - On the 59 that I had, I used self drilling screws with big washers.

Rosie - I'm not sure you need an english wheel for the belly curve - when you say you have to replace the belly - is it just the bell or the curved piece too - got pictures??

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Old 08-19-2007, 06:01 PM   #12
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underbelly

Mostly it is just the middle flat piece but on the SS the next rivets up are on the side so if we end up replacing the front or back end behind the wheel the aluminum will have to be cut away or replaced in that case it have to be formed. Any Suggestions? I do have pictures but I am just learning how to navigate and I am not to savvy on to incorperate the pictures yet.

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Old 08-19-2007, 06:47 PM   #13
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What I did - if my explaination can make sense - is cut the aluminum underneath the belly wrap and then rivet along there. If its the flat section, you should be able to splice it in.

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Old 08-19-2007, 07:45 PM   #14
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fred Lieb

In general on the edges where it is rivited sheet to sheet you can not
get back up washers so in these places use "Olympic" rivits avialable
from VTS. They are expensive but really hold. We reciently had a wheel come loose and did a bunch of damage but the Olympics held!!
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