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Old 07-06-2004, 10:33 AM   #1
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point me to a belly pan fix thread

Our belly pan was torn and got more torn on the road...we'll be fixing it soon...can you point me to a thread or in the right direction?

1967 Tradewind 24' double
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Old 07-06-2004, 10:52 AM   #2
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Welp - the right direction is you gotta put it back on

Do a search for belly pan - should be a lot there, I know the underneath of an Airstream pretty well, so ask away.

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Old 07-06-2004, 12:32 PM   #3
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Hey Ken, you have been a help on our fix for the black/grey valves. I think we got everything done to fix problem, we had to cut out the valves at several PVC pipe connections, buy new PVC and fit all back together. One new valve needed (altho we have ordered 2nd, just in case) and waiting for all parts to be received, then put all back in with rubber boots for next time (instead of glueing as PO did). Now, since you have offered above on belly pan - we had to cut a VERY large hole in back area of belly pan to reach all the PVC. When we get ready to cover all back up, I have suggested removing the rest of that section aluminum (with big jagged hole in it) and buying whole new sheet (maybe 8x4 piece). Price is thinking of just covering hole with maybe scrap aluminum. I thought if he bought new big piece, he might be able to create a good size trap door (or something) within that section so that if needed, he would have access next time. Can I have your opinion on difficulty or just whatever, on doing this?? Will it be harder than just putting up a scrap piece over hole. Any thoughts you have on repair would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
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Old 07-06-2004, 01:35 PM   #4
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If I remember, it was you that found aluminum for about $30 or so a sheet? Sounds pretty cheap to me, so yeah I would replace a large section and make it look nice -

I don't think it will be any harder fastening the larger sheet, and a trap door would be a good idea - suppose you could even rivet some sort of piano hinge or something.

Good luck

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Old 07-06-2004, 02:02 PM   #5
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Pretty thin for successful hinging

Ken's piano hinge suggestion might work in theory, but practically the hinge will probably become very corroded or at least full of dirt & road grime. This may make it very hard to open and close. Also the "trap door" will have very little support if made out of .032 aluminum and I think you will rue the results unless you do some more substantial "engineering". Of course the design possibilities are almost endless, but that is alot of work , laying on your back, working overhead, for such a small return on possible use and utility.

Why not shoot for a full width (but not full length) section that is screwed on at least all four sides to the steel under members. Somewhere on some forum I read of an owner doing the underbelly side to side instead of end to end. Don't know of the pros & cons they eventually concluded.
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Old 07-06-2004, 02:19 PM   #6
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but practically the hinge will probably become very corroded or at least full of dirt & road grime.
A stainless hinge should solve that. I agree about the skin thickness being a factor, thin aluminum makes a good skin but is not very much help structurally. Also consider the distance from the ground to the belly skin of the trailer, this will be the maximum width of the door if you want to be able to swing it up and out of the way. Will that be a large enough opening to do any good?

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Old 07-06-2004, 03:19 PM   #7
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A stainless hinge should solve that. I agree about the skin thickness being a factor, thin aluminum makes a good skin but is not very much help structurally. Also consider the distance from the ground to the belly skin of the trailer, this will be the maximum width of the door if you want to be able to swing it up and out of the way. Will that be a large enough opening to do any good?

John
SS is available. I found them, in lengths up to 7' at my local "wicked awesome" hardware store. (*not* HD ). But then I got to thinking, as john said...even the narrowest segment underneath there is 2' wide, and I don't think I've got 2 whole feet of ground clearence, so what would be the point? and also, I figure that once I get everything squared away under there (rust cleaned up and painted, grey tank retrofit, plumbing re-routed), there will seldom if ever be a reason to go back in. Ok...access panels for areas where pipe fittings, etc, may need to be serviced. but for the most part....

add to that, what someone else posted about the availability of rolled alluminum belly pan material...it comes in 48" sheets. well, that ain't wide enough to put back a single sheet of belly pan, so it would have to be done in sections, going across the frame. works out perfectly, as the x-members are 24" apart on center. so, several 2' sections. if one should ever have to come out, it won't be so unwieldy as the humungoid sheet that the factory put in there.

a forum member used 1x2 pressure treated furring strips, fit inside the main frame rails, and then secured to the steel x members along their bottom edges to make slats so that there'd be more area to screw pan sections.
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Old 07-06-2004, 03:53 PM   #8
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Yeah - I was thinking some sort of alum or ss hinge. The hinge would tend to stiffen the aluminum and you could add some sort of stiffening around the opening. Having said that, just take a section of sheeting and put a 4 foot section in the back using stainless steel screws rather than rivets, that way it would be very easy to take down.

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Old 07-06-2004, 03:55 PM   #9
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add to that, what someone else posted about the availability of rolled alluminum belly pan material...it comes in 48" sheets. well, that ain't wide enough to put back a single sheet of belly pan, so it would have to be done in sections, going across the frame. works out perfectly, as the x-members are 24" apart on center. so, several 2' sections. if one should ever have to come out, it won't be so unwieldy as the humungoid sheet that the factory put in there.
Figure which sheet(s) might ever need to come off, over valves or waste tanks mainly. This sheet should be on top of the adjacent ones. Put 3 or 4 pop rivets along the edge of the sheets beneath, you can pull the cover sheet and the others will stay in place.

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Old 07-06-2004, 04:14 PM   #10
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Extrusions along the edge?

I was wondering how it would work if I could find some of the same kind of moulding that is along the sides of the interior ceiling panel and install it along the sides of the belly pan. Theoretically this should make it easier to remove the belly pan since it would not be necessary to remove the rivits for the banana wrap first to get the belly pan off.

I also wondered how it would work if I were to install the banana wrap first with a spacer under it that was a little thicker than the belly pan material. The space would be held back from the edge enough to allow the belly pan to be inserted next to it. I would then insert the edges of the belly pan under the banana wrap and would only need to secure the belly pan in the middle. The belly pan would be under the banana wrap but not attached with the banana wrap.

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Old 07-06-2004, 04:21 PM   #11
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61.5 inch wide aluminum?

I still do not know where to get belly pan aluminum that is 61.5 inches wide. That is what my 1973 31' Sovereign has. If I have trouble finding it I thought I would go for 48" wide material and install the belly pan in overlapping 48" strips from side to side. I would start at the back and overlap the next piece closer to the front. It occurred to me that I might also want to install some sort of spacer at the joints that would let the belly pan drain. I thought I might investigate some of the new building products that are designed to put at the bottom of a wall of wood siding to let it breathe. As I recall they are something like a corrugated plastic strip that can be sandwiched between the siding and sub-sheathing. The holes for the corrugation would allow water to drain out from the piece of belly pan in front of the strip.

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Old 07-06-2004, 04:31 PM   #12
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My first Globe Trotter had a "frame" similar to what you are referring to Malcolm. It worked well, provided great access to plumbing.

Yes I would think you would want to lay sheets starting from the back crossways - that is what my plan is for the 58. Is your spacing between frame rails 5' - never have measured my 75 - that seems wide to me unless you are figuring banana wrap also - I would do the banana wrap seperate - take a long sheet along the side so you don't see the seams.

I thought of a little trick over the weekend - on my 58, I'm going to get a sheet metal shop to make me some trim like what is on the front and back of the trailer - I will attach to sides and it will hide the additional rivets I'm going to use to put new belly on. Originally I was going to drill out all the existing rivets and put the banana wrap on, but I think this will work real well.

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Old 07-06-2004, 04:48 PM   #13
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I installed 2" diameter air vents in the center of the belly skin. One in between each set of cross beams. I screwed them in place so they won't come out. Before I put them in, I put a piece of screen in each one to prevent small critters from finding their way in. They are used in soffits for "breathing" and made of aluminum! I think 6 of them was about $4.
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