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Old 07-08-2004, 12:06 PM   #1
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getting to the belly pan?

We're not doing it right away, but soon we'll have to replace the belly pan of our trailer...how do you go about doing that? Is there a way to jack up the trailer to get underneath it more easily? Without tweaking the whole trailer?

Or do I just slither in on my back and start removing rivets? My husband is a big dude and can't fit under.

FYI: We also want to reinsulate the whole bottom under the frame and repair the frame if needed. We also want to entirely replace the floor, so maybe we should gut the inside first, remove the floor down to the frame so that the whole frame is exposed, from the top and bottom? Would that make the belly pan easier?

Also, what kind of aluminum...get us started...? Tools? Rivets? Stress reduction techniques?

If there's a thread that explains this step by step, send me there, but I've looked and some of it's a little confusing to me. I need information specific to my trailer and year and etc. I can take pictures and post if'n you need me to.
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Old 07-08-2004, 12:40 PM   #2
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My suggestion for getting additional clearance under the trailer is to use automotive ramps. You just pull the trailer up on them and you gain the necessary clearance When you are done for the day you can just back it off if needed.

I have no suggestions on the stress reduction on the fasteners, but I will offer this to ponder. New Aluminum with regular rivets lasted for 30+ years. so it should again. Not a lot of reasons to re-invent the wheel here IMHO.
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Old 07-08-2004, 01:20 PM   #3
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Notice the "Rhino Ramps" on the left. You can get these at Wal-Mart or Pep-Boys for around $20 USD. They are a lower profile than the steel ones and will not rust. And are very light.

Also note the red mechanic's creeper for laying on your back while you work. Much easier than scooching on the ground. Also from Wal-Mart


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Old 07-08-2004, 01:20 PM   #4
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Belly removal is just a matter of getting underneath and start drilling out rivets - belly pans are somewhat similar no matter what year - there are differences, but basically similar.

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Old 07-08-2004, 01:39 PM   #5
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Some pointers...

The ramp suggestion is a good one unless you find that you also need to replace your axles (or even just remove them to get the belly pan off). What I did that so far is working great was to jack the trailer up and set it on two jack stands. The right place to put the jack is under the edge of the metal plate that the axles are mounted to. I used a bottle jack set between the wheels on one side and then on the other side. In my case I had to jack the trailer up pretty high to compensate for a sloping driveway (9" of drop for each 8' of driveway). The back end of my 31' unit is fully 3' off of the ground. So I lifted the trailer as far as my jack would go on one side and put in the jack stand. I moved to the other side and jacked it up and put in the jack stand. I had to work back and forth 3 or 4 times until I had the elveation I needed. Because of the slope I had to make some plywood platforms to put under the jack stands so they were more or less vertical. The front of the trailer is supported with the tounge jack. I put down the stabalizers at the front to help steady the trailer (don't try to jack the trailer up with them). The jack stands conveniently have a notch in the top of them that the axle mounting plate sets right in to. I put the jack stands at the back end of the plate behind the rear axle. To help stabalize the back of the frame I bought some 3/4" galvanized pipe, and a couple of pipe flanges. I had some threaded rod top parts from some old jack stands that I put into the top of the pipe. It is considered a very good idea to support the rear of the frame if you are going to remove all of the inner skins so that the frame does not sag. I would have used a couple more jack stands back there too but I couldn't find any that would go tall enough. My pipe stands are not actually supporting much weight - they are just stabalizing things and have not been any kind of a problem so far.

As to other information about floor repair and etc. you might check out the following recent threads especially:

Shell Off vs. Shell On Summary
Frame Repair
Under Panels
Body and banana wrap on floor replacement technique

The last one mentioned was my orignal posting. I still think the technique I suggested would work but have decided not to use it myself for various reasons although I came very close to doing it. In my case I have removed only half of the belly pan (from the fresh water tanks backwards). The other part is still on and I intend to put the insulation in from the top. I intend to replace all of my insulation in the floors and walls with foil insulation. See the following thread:

What should I use to insulate the floor?

I am also considering a rather radical change to my heating system that I have outlined in the following thread:

Hot water radiant heat?

Hope this all helps,

Malcolm
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Old 07-08-2004, 05:32 PM   #6
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OK! I'm heartened. It's work, but not too complicated it sounds. Keep the advice coming. This one's a print-out-er.

If you'd like to read my post on the belly pan coming apart in the Utah Salt Flats, see:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...eferrerid=4449
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Old 07-17-2004, 06:59 PM   #7
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frame repair this way?

Hi Malconium,

In the process, that every first-time vintage airstreamer probably goes through, of realizing the extent of the work that might need doing on this baby, I'm starting to see that frame repair could be a much bigger issue than the belly pan replacement...we haven't looked yet, but it's a '67, and the frame most likely needs work. Do you think we could do necessary sandblasting/welding/repairs this way, (the way you jacked it up) if the frame isn't too bad?

Let's say it's awful. Someone also suggested having the frame galvanized (always an option if we have to take the shell off anyway), any thoughts on that?

Either way, I'm surfing shell-off frame repair threads and preparing my brain for this issue. I'm looking at some of the other threads you recommended.
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Old 07-17-2004, 08:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkflamingoes
Let's say it's awful. Someone also suggested having the frame galvanized (always an option if we have to take the shell off anyway), any thoughts on that?
Ingrid,
I would reccomend POR-15. Galvanizing something the size of a trailer frame requires a large tank. What we do at work is to buy galvanized metal, then spray the welds after we are done. I am not saying it couldn't be done, but check on the cost. Also once the frame is repainted with something like POR-15 it should be good to go for another 40+ years We also use POR-15 when we restore old cars for the chassis and components. I plan on using it on my frame where necessary. Several other members on this forum have used it with good results.

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Old 07-17-2004, 11:00 PM   #9
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Thanks, and ideas on belly pan material?

POR 15 it will be then!

And in 40 years when we're finally done with our trailer and can use it, we'll just put on another coat.

thanks.

Husband is thinking of some other metal besides aluminum for the belly pan. Some kind of galvanized metal.

I already don't like the idea because I can't see that anyone else has done it, and everyone on this forum thinks of just about everything at one point or another. But I'm keeping my mouth shut until I get some opinions.

Please inform me why this is a bad idea, if so, so I can, in turn, tell him why.

i.
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Old 07-17-2004, 11:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkflamingoes
Husband is thinking of some other metal besides aluminum for the belly pan. Some kind of galvanized metal.

I already don't like the idea because I can't see that anyone else has done it, and everyone on this forum thinks of just about everything at one point or another. But I'm keeping my mouth shut until I get some opinions.

Please inform me why this is a bad idea, if so, so I can, in turn, tell him why.

i.
Bad idea. The steel will not get along with the aluminum in a bad way. Just look at the steel screws that attach your current aluminum belly pan and you will see what I mean. There will be corrosion around them were they reacted to the aluminum. Imagine that happening all the way around the bottom of your lower panels. Tell Mr. Flamingo to quit trying to reinvent the wheel .

And don't throw the pan away right away!!! Use it for the pattern to make the new one and thats only if it needs replaced. It probably is just fine unless it has corroded or has unpatchable holes in it.
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Old 07-17-2004, 11:54 PM   #11
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Two things bad about using the galvanized metal for the belly pan.

1) It is going to weigh more than the aluminum.
2) Where you drill it to attach it with the screws to the bottom is where you will have removed the galvanized coating. The result will be that it will slowly over time rust out. Galvanized metal will rust from the inside out and by the time you see the bubble that will eventually appear it will be too late as the area will contain a lot of rust.

The better choice would be to repair the belly pan you now have unless it is really gone. (Torn area, ripped open, etc.)

If you have ever looked out on the wing of an aircraft you will notice that there are often many small patches. (Something you may want to take note of the next time you take a flight) This is the same thing that you may need to do to your belly pan. Placing a patch in this are is so simple too. Just get some marine pop rivets and cut the patch to size. Drill the holes and pop rivet them as you go, and then seal the outer edges of the patch. You can also seal the rivets if you want to. Marine pop rivets are made differently from regular pop rivets and will not leak through the stem hole.
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Old 07-17-2004, 11:58 PM   #12
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BobbyW is absolutely correct about the effects of the two dis-similar metals being in contact, and the effects.
Working with Aluminum is so much easier than Galvanized metal...
btw, BobbyW, you're doing some nice work there on your unit..
I like the way you have it lifted off the ground.. Safe and secure~No question about it..
ciao
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Old 07-18-2004, 07:39 AM   #13
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Ingrid

Something I have learned over the years is to take these projects one step at a time and not try to change too much all at once. My method is to do as much repair as needed (vs doing everything that is needed all at once), then enjoy it for a while, then do the rest of the repairs as I'm enjoying the trailer. I have found that way I don't get burned out on a project and it is an overall enjoyable experience.

I know that some big teardowns are unavoidable - I'm involved in one right now with my 58 - getting real tired of tearing things apart - really looking forward to start putting things back together. But even with this, my plan is to get it to a point where I can start using it - even though there will be many things not quite done yet - like plumbing/gas lines/appliances - but those are things I can do once my basic structure is finished.

I appologise if this sounds like I'm preaching, just thought I would give you one persons experience on this restoration stuff.

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Old 07-18-2004, 11:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken J
Ingrid
I appologise if this sounds like I'm preaching, just thought I would give you one persons experience on this restoration stuff.
Ken
Got it. Aluminum good. Galvanized bad. Belly pan will be kept until new one is in place or repaired.

Ken; no apology needed. You are absolutely right. The idea was to get the trailer and work on it as we can, and...uh...oh yeah, HAVE A FUN PROJECT. It's not going anywhere. We had a minor blowout over pulling off the panels inside the trailer, and we don't normally have those, even when we're doing remodel work together...I'm trying to get hubby to take this approach without shooting down his excitement about it. We are lucky to have room to store it, it's off the street. We also lost a perfectly nice repairable bathroom that we could have at least sold for rivet money, because I couldn't get him to slow down, bless his overly enthusiastic heart.

About the belly pan; we do have to pretty much remove it to fix the frame, am I right?

Also, we have just been told about this "great old guy" that lives in our town that does amazing aluminum welding work...for very cheap. Do we weld the belly pan pieces together or is that not worth it? Just the marine rivets?

I know I post a lot, and ask all kinds of questions...I'm learning...we're not doing anything until we fix floor/frame/belly pan.

We bought some jackstands and will be purchasing ramps to get it up high; any suggestions on dealing with two axles and keeping it safe in addition to what has been posted here? BTW this is earthquake country.

i
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