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Old 12-16-2006, 08:40 AM   #1
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1957 30' Sovereign of the Road
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How to Remove 57 SOTR Funky Belly Skin?

Rosie has a funky belly.

It is TWO (yes, just 2) big-@ss long sheets of aluminum, running front to back that make up her belly skin. Seeing as she is a 30' trailer, that makes each piece, what, twenty-six feet?

We have already pulled out all of the plumbing and gas lines (this is a full trailer-gutting project, remember?).

To add insult to injury, this funky belly skin does an odd 'half-curve' up over the outriggers (where a modern banana wrap would be), and the outriggers have worn through the metal.

The floor is shot, the frame needs repair (but apparently NOT replacement). We are NOT doing a shell off.

The question is: Where do we cut to get the belly skin off? Because it needs to go to the frame guy for work.


Bridget
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Old 12-16-2006, 05:47 PM   #2
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Not feeling the love here guys, no advice from any of the old pros on how I should go about cutting the belly off? Got a set of air-shears at Harbor Freight last weekend (they're on sale thru the 26th BTW)...
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Old 12-16-2006, 06:08 PM   #3
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Bridget,

Do you plan to repair, patch, or otherwise re-use part of the funky bellyskin? Or are you going for total replacement.

If you are re-using, the bellyskin material came off a 50" coil, so two pieces can span the bottom with a seam in the middle.

If you plan to replace, you will be limited to 48" width. If that is the case, I would need to use a three piece system, with separate sheets that extend from each side seam, around the outriggers, and about 4" inside the frame rails. If you use three pieces, you can use a single 48" wide piece in the center, with about 1" overlap of the side pieces to make a lap joint.
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Old 12-16-2006, 08:31 PM   #4
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Sean/Bridget, I just PM'ed you about the belly pan.

Jim
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Old 12-18-2006, 09:45 AM   #5
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Hi, Bridget,

As a relative newcomer to the AS Forums, I want to welcome you, also. I have learned that the old-timers with all the great advice can be like the trolls under the bridge -- you have to pay the toll. The toll is doing extensive searching on the forums before asking a question. Chances are, many other people will have the same question and it will have been answered several times in different ways.

Here's one example, just a few days before your post:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...tml#post305279

And, here's one of my favorite sites, with pictures, of a rehab project that was extensive without being shell-off:

1972 27

I found this site by Google, searching on the terms (no quotes) "vintage airstream belly skin." The photos are really good, even includes one with the shears in use.

1956 Flying Cloud - Belly Skin

I have learned that once you do the homework, the sages of the forums will go out of their way, give you tons of advice, and you will feel the love.

I am working on the research now for repairing tears in the outer skin. I am building a file of instructions, photos, tools, and suppliers from this forum. The file is pretty thick. So far, I don't have enough info to start asking questions. When my friend with the aircraft repair tools gets with me soon, I think I will have lots of detailed questions about things I haven't even thought of yet. (He is working on a tow plane for his glider, frame off, shears, rivet tools and techniques, Fun!

Good luck,

Anne
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Old 12-18-2006, 08:53 PM   #6
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when you do get around to dropping the belly, post lots of pics of progress and questions. a lot of times others experience on different trailers and years might be applicable if we can all see what's going on.

you going to have that thing ready to tow to hiawassee in april?



jp
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Old 12-18-2006, 09:17 PM   #7
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Ha the belly pan, This my friend is one of those things that look like it should take no more then a weekend or two to do, WRONG. The corners are are a pain the rest is a breeze. When I replaced my pan it took two me two times to get two cornres done without have them buckle, as I said the rest was easy. If you plan to cut it off, cut right at the bend , or as close to the body as you can get, carefully drop the pan, after you have drill out the rivets on the frame rails. Keep all pieces for a pattern,and make sure you keep the corners. Next buy a few extra pieces of material then what you think you will need, because you might end up using it all by the time your done. A I said the corners are what can drive you crazy. In the end my pan came out nice, but it took twice as much time and two extra sheets of material then what I expected. GOOD LUCK!
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Old 12-19-2006, 07:22 AM   #8
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same here. i did my front corners twice... then, i forgot to leave enough material on teh sides for the wheel wells, and had to add that later as well (one of the disadvantages of a shell off is you don't know where the wheel well aches line up!)

i would defintiely buy extra metal. you don't need to spend the big bucks for alclad 2024 T3 unless you just want to. i go tmy belly skins from a place in south atlanta called Wrisco Industries. i want to say a 4X10 sheet was only $30 or so. i would also recommend using .024. it's a lot more bendable than the .032, and certainly .040 thicknesses. you need all the workability you can get.

one more thing, don't overlook those relief cuts in the pan. one of the reasons i ended up redoing mine was i made those cuts too short, and the metal wouldn't relieve enough to mend up like i needed it to.

Wrisco Industries, Inc.
1116 Fleetwood Dr., S.E.
Atlanta, GA 30316
Phone: 404-622-1066

jp
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Old 12-20-2006, 06:49 AM   #9
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Everyone:

We fired up the pneumatic metal shears and CUT the bellypan off underneath the rivet line. Then we THREW it AWAY!

What I think everyone here was missing from our posts was the concept that we had 2 pieces of 20+ foot, corroded aluminum that had been cut through all along the sides by the outriggers. It was UNSALVAGEABLE.

All we wanted to do was cut it off so we could take Rosie to the welder for frame repair and wanted to know if anyone else had done so. We had already searched the forums and found nothing pertaining to this.

We knew, because they were two single sheets, and Rosie is a 1957, that the bellypan would be completely bent over the "C" channel and would require a complete de-riveting of the body.... that was NOT something that would be possible to do where we live, and certainly not possible given we then needed to tow her to a frame repair shop.

It's done now, we'll have our estimate for the frame repair this afternoon.

Sean and Bridget
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Old 12-20-2006, 06:54 AM   #10
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jp -

Thanks for the info on the metal, we're going to be needing it!

S & B
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Old 12-20-2006, 08:57 AM   #11
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you don't necessarily have to remove the whole body to replace the belly sides you're talking about. to do the job right, though it would be better to remove the interior lower walls, so you can buck in solid rivets. on my trade wind, my lower belly sides is really abused, loads of dents, and tears like you mention. i'm planning on cutting back the belly as far as i can, and sliding a thin piece of .024 over it, then re-rivetting it together. i'll essentially end up with 2 pieces f aluminum on teh very edges, but overall much easier than removing he whole deal and folding the metal. the only problem i see with this is i won't be able to do the rear corners. not a horrible compromise for new belly sides, though. the sides are far more visible.

jp
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