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Old 05-26-2012, 07:34 PM   #1
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1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
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Putting Skins back on not fun

I am starting to put skins back on my Airstream where I redid the back section last fall. The original skins are shot so I am having to start from scratch. What I am finding out is .032 6061-T6 is way to thick for the side wraps. It is fine for the flat belly skins though. I am still waffling on screws or rivets. I don't have any of the fathead rivets so that means no riveting this weekend. The main center belly skin is already attached with 1/4-20 screws. I don't have any plans to remove the wraps skins so I may bite the bullet and order some fathead rivets. When I an finished, it will last another 30yr or more but it is not a fun process.

Anyone know what size fathead rivets they used on the wrap skins?

Perry
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Old 05-27-2012, 08:03 PM   #2
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Well I got the right rear corner done. I am sure the other side won't be as big of a deal since I learned on this side. I was able to prebend the the lower curved skin so it was a little easier to get it to bend when I put it on the trailer. I used #10 stainless steel sheet metal screws with a zinc plated washers to hold the skin on. These worked well. I also insulated the floor with two sheets of 1/2" RMAX rigid insulation glued to the subfloor with plain old Liquid Nails. You have to have foam that is aluminum covered otherwise the solvent in the Liquid Nails will desolve the foam.

This week I am going to get some thinner material and make some pieces to go around the frame members where the frame exists the rear end. I am going make a continous wrap much the same as the side wraps. This will allow water to shed off the rear of the trailer instead of going into my subfloor. I am going to use a .032" 6061-T6 piece in the center of the straight area and smaller thin pieces of metal at the ends around the bumper area. I am hopeing for a relatively trouble free situation after this.

Perry
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Old 06-03-2012, 09:07 AM   #3
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1981 31' Excella II
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Ok here are some photos. I am finally close to finishing the rear of the trailer that started last fall.

Here is one of the insulation. It is 2 layers of 1/2' RMAX which has the radiation barrier made into it.




Here is one with it buttoned up. I decided not to replace the wraps any farther forward because they are attached under the holding tank flanges. The skin back there is in decent shape.




Here is one of the rear wraps that I made to eliminate the EVIL BUMPER PLATE.



Here is one showing the plate I made to plug the C-channel in the corners.



Here is a shot of one of my test plates so you can see what it looks like.



Here is the plate byitself so you can see the shape. This one was thinner material so it was easier to work with while I was figuring things out.



I have not attached the lower skin to the cross member yet. I still have one more narrow section of belly skin between the end of the belly panel and the holding tank. The belly panels are held in with 1/4-20 screws along the main beams and #10 stainless steel sheet metal screws on the cross members. The joint at the back will be caulked when I am done to make sure no water gets under there from the rear of the trailer. Water from the bumper plate area cause most of my problems with floor rot and frame corrosion. The farther forward I go from the back end the less corrosion I see.

I may put some sort of box back there in the bumper area but the main thing is that the structural danger is not there. I can live without that box much better than the back of my trailer rotting off.

Perry
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Old 06-03-2012, 09:59 AM   #4
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We used large flanaged rivets from VTS for our bellypan. Website doesn't give a size, per say, and when I trucked out to the trailer, the bags of rivets don't have info on them either. They seem to work well, and certainly went in easily for me. Chris drilled, I riveted. The flange looks to be about a 3/8 inch diameter?
So I take it you're not going to have the rear bumper storage now? Sure looks neat.

Kay
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Old 06-03-2012, 10:01 AM   #5
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I used smaller rivets with a washer the last time I put my belly pan back on. It worked great..
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Old 06-03-2012, 10:19 AM   #6
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Hey Perry,
The belly pan is always a challenge. The large flange button head rivets used on the belly pan are 3/16" diameter. I have been using these rivets for the belly pan. They are similar to what VTS sells. I think VTS is a little cheaper. I believe Byler Rivet is the cheapest of all.
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Old 06-03-2012, 10:32 AM   #7
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I had to use some rivets on the top of the side wraps since they are under the belly band. I used screws any place I thought I might want to go back to. I am not planning to remove the side wraps again unless I have a problem. The large main belly sheet is going to remain bolted and screwed because I have not insulated there yet and I want to pull it periodically and see what corrosion issues I might have. I am in the south and most of the heat and cold come in from the skins. I am not going to waste time on insulating between the frame members at the moment.

I need to do some repair work on the front skins and I will probably use the big flathead rivets there with a backing plate to cover the holes. Judging from the step compartment I don't have too many frame issues up there. I want to put off the front skin replacement for a few more years and actually use my trailer. I have some inside stuff to deal with.

I am using zinc plated washers under the screw heads to help distribute the load and help with corrosion. The aluminum I am using is 6061-T6 .032 which should not have pull through issues as bad as the original stuff and I believe it will be more corrosion resistant. It is not fun stuff to make bends with but it can be done.

The local metal supplier did not want to deal with anything thinner than .032 because the shipping pallet costs more than the metal. He said I would have to order a bunch of it. I need to look into Aircraft Spruce or something and see how much they charge. I believe the best way to ship the stuff is coiled up instead of flat.

Perry
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Old 06-03-2012, 01:43 PM   #8
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1981 31' Excella II
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Hey Top McMaster-Carr has rivets.

3/16" Dia.—For Hole Size: 0.192"-0.196" (Drill Size #11)
0.126"-0.25"0.45"0.65"0.092"31050010097447A3258.100.251"-0.375"0.575"0.65"0.092"31050010097447A1559.87
Perry
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Old 06-03-2012, 03:39 PM   #9
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I've had 5 rivets in the rear belly pan work through the holes in the pan. I used self tapping screws with big washers, all stainless, to solve it. The OEM rivets are only slightly larger than the hole in the sheet metal and work through it. And, screws allow easy access in the future.

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Old 06-03-2012, 05:50 PM   #10
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I may be able to save my front skins with either rivets with backing plates or screws with big washers. Stopping leaks is the way to save the frame area and getting the stinky pink stuff out of there.

I need a way to vent the bottom area without letting other stuff in.


Perry
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:59 AM   #11
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Thanks for the pics and explanations, Perry! I have to remove the underbelly of our 1962 28 Ambassador this Winter, and I'm sure there will be surprises. -Ross
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:25 AM   #12
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I used .032 6061 on my entire belly pan, side wraps included. I agree that it was a struggle to get them to "wrap." I tried to put a pre-curve in them be wrapping them over a piece of PVC, but I ended up getting more of a crease then a gentle curve. Finally ended up using my (mostly neglected) English Wheel to put the required curve in place. I think my original wraps were only .025, as they are considerably thinner. I used the monster rivets supplied by VTS, and they worked just fine no screws anywhere.
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Old 11-19-2012, 08:59 AM   #13
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I would be concerned that screws would vibrate loose and back out.


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Old 11-20-2012, 06:30 PM   #14
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1981 31' Excella II
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Sheet metal screws are more prone to back out than machine screws. I would rather replace a screw than rivet. Screws take minutes to remove and rivets take hours. If I see corrosion I can deal with it either with grease or paint and put the screw back in. Several months now and no issues.

Perry
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