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Old 11-12-2006, 12:00 PM   #1
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Installation of the new belly skin, pitfalls? etc.

Hello, to all in the airstream community. Yes I am a newbie here a prospective owner as it were. I am presently looking at a 1983 32 foot Excella to buy. The owner has informed me that the belly skin is completely gone. He trailered it up from Florida about two years ago. It has set in a parking lot ever since. I have seen pictures on the outside it looks in very good shape. He will send me pictures of the Interior or later today. Says it is in excellent condition but does not know if the heater or air conditioning works as he has not tried it, "he says". Although I can see the belly skin is not in existence. Wondering from your expertise on the forum just how difficult and expensive it would be to replace this? I would like to do this myself if possible. In your opinion for a newbie am I just dreaming or with your help is it a possibility. I probably have all the tools necessary including an air powered pop rivet gun and compressor I also have an electric metal cutter handheld. I have not seen his trailer except in pictures and only the outside it that. I am planning to go see it next weekend what should I look for? Would there be inherent problems from not having had belly pan onfor an extended period of time? Thank you in advance for any and all help any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

I have included a picture of below of the airstream in question.

SaabLover

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Old 11-12-2006, 12:17 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaabLover
...Would there be inherent problems from not having had belly pan on for an extended period of time? ...
If the Airstream has just sat in one place, then probably not.

I would start with nailing down why the belly skin is not there. While there are many possibilities, for some reason I wondered if the owner removed it to address an issue or if the skin removed itself while going down the road due to it's steel attachment points rusting away.

It sounds like you have both the tools & right frame of mind to install a belly skin. Your biggest problem will be settling on the right replacement, and locating a reasonably price source for it.

Oh, and welcome to the forum.

Tom
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Old 11-12-2006, 12:47 PM   #3
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The present owner has said he trailered it up from Florida about two years ago and parked it. So I am surmising that because it was in Florida most of its life Road salt is probably not an issue. There are so many question marks with this thing but the price is very reasonable. The owner is playing dumb about most issues, don't know whether to believe him or not. He lives about a two-hour drive from me. So I guess it's worth the effort to go take a look see. You never know about people hopefully he is being straightforward with me. I see that the belly skin aluminum can be had for approximately $19 are running foot, is that true?
Thanks again, SaabLover.
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Old 11-12-2006, 12:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaabLover
The present owner has said he trailered it up from Florida about two years ago and parked it. So I am surmising that because it was in Florida most of its life Road salt is probably not an issue...
Yes, road salt is not an issue, but the ocean's salt spray is. If the Airstream has lived within a few miles of the ocean, there is a good possibility of corrosion.

Hopefully, some of Florida's forum members can add (or take away ) from what I just said.

Tom
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Old 11-12-2006, 12:57 PM   #5
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I'm a little uneasy

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaabLover
... but the price is very reasonable. The owner is playing dumb about most issues...
Does this strike anyone else as a warning bell?

Tom
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Old 11-15-2006, 10:25 AM   #6
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The owner may not be playing. If the trailer has sat for the two years since he brought it up from Florida, he may not know of the condition of some of the systems, i.e: plumbing, propane, etc. He should know about its roadworthyness including braking system and exterior lights though since it was towed.

Brad
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Old 11-15-2006, 10:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
He trailered it up from Florida about two years ago. It has set in a parking lot ever since.
Does this mean he towed it up from Florida, or he had it trailered, as in on a flatbed/lowboy? This would make a difference to me in how much confidence he has in it's condition to be towed.
Dave
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Old 11-15-2006, 09:15 PM   #8
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He said that he towed it himself. Showed it to his wife and the wife did not like it. Said that it was too big and wanted a newer smaller model. Go figger?

By the way he hasn't been able to take any additional pics of this. He can't figger out how to work the wife's digi.

SL
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Old 11-15-2006, 10:16 PM   #9
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We can steer you on belly skin installation but soft bells are still going off. Is 100% of the belly skin missing? This would make the trailer unusable in weather until it was reinstalled. Removal of belly skin takes some doing. For reasons of preventing any LP leakage from collecting in an enclosed space the propane piping is below the belly skin out in the open air, with tees going upward to each appliance supplied. You would face all of this piping in the way if you wished to reinstall the belly skin. This is not a simple job solved in a few days of DIY.

Smaller used Airstreams are in high demand. Longer units like this seem to stay around on the market. You should be able to find a much more road ready unit if you'd be willing to monitor various websites that can be suggested, etc.
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Old 11-16-2006, 12:18 AM   #10
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Welcome to the forums. The picture you posted looks very nice... I would use caution about the belly skin missing. When you look at the trailer, ask him to go through all the appliances ~ see if they work or no. See if the holding tank will hold water, see if the toilet will flush. Are there propane tanks and will the stove light? If you are going to travel 2 hours make it a whole day event! Somewhere is a checklist of things to review. Maybe someone has the link and will post. My biggest concern on putting new belly skin back on... you will be laying down on the ground with your arms over your head with a rivet gun for a looooooooooooooong time! You might check a thread or two about the process for putting the belly pan back on a trailer of the vintage you are looking at. I would also be sure the floor is solid ~ everywhere! Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!

Mrs. NorCal Bambi (traveling in S Tardis)
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Old 11-16-2006, 01:01 AM   #11
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Here'ssome ideas on a Buyer's Checklist

I'd be concerned about the missing banana wraps (where the belly curves up to meet the sides)...at least the belly pan itself is flat. They can probably be gotten for a trailer this new, but at what cost?

Unless the price is right, the interior's intact, the system functionality is 100% and you can justify the time & money needed to get this one's belly back in shape, I'd keep looking. And I would definately save yourself the day trip if the seller can't provide more pictures, both inside & out.

Shari
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Old 11-16-2006, 01:51 PM   #12
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Missing belly pan is not all bad...

One big thing on the plus side is that with the belly pan off you can much more easily inspect everything under the floor including the subfloor itself. I would suggest you consider taking along something to lay on under the trailer so you can check it out. Take along an ice pick that you can poke at the subfloor with to see if it is solid. Don't forget to take a flashlight.

One possibility that occurs to me is that the trailer may have been soaked on the bottom side by storm flood water. Someone may have taken the bottom apart to dry it out and/or repair things from underneath.

The outside of the rig looks to be in very good shape except for what is missing of course. It sounds like you have what is needed in the way of tools to replace the belly pan and the forums here can certainly help with the details. How perfect the rest of the trailer needs to be for you to buy it is ultimately going to depend on how much work and expense you are willing to take on balanced against how much you have to pay for the unit.

Malcolm
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Old 11-16-2006, 02:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malconium
One possibility that occurs to me is that the trailer may have been soaked on the bottom side by storm flood water. Someone may have taken the bottom apart to dry it out and/or repair things from underneath.
Or else they turned it too tight around a boulder and wrecked some banana wrap & belly pan. This may have seemed the easiest way to avoid that costly repair. I'm with Shari -- at what cost?

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Old 01-14-2007, 09:58 AM   #14
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I have personally seen/inspected that trailer. I think it would need to be trailered. The inside shows the dampness. If youare a professional welder and have lots of steel around go take a look at it.

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