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Old 11-13-2005, 05:11 PM   #1
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1967 17' Caravel
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Removing the belly pan

Hi guys,

I'm a newbie here with a 67 Caravel. It's pretty much gutted now and I'm debating on how far to go with the floor repair. The original plywood has a bit of rot, but not enough that I couldn't live with it. The frame seems to be in good shape as well. The belly pan needs to be completely replaced however.

Working on it today made me think that it might be easier in the long run to remove the shell in order to replace the pan as I can't see how to remove the pan where it is overlapped by the shell.

The rear corners weren't too bad. I used my Dremel tool and cut the pan where it bent upward. I'll be able to easily slip the new piece up under the shell. The front corners are a different story however. The skin seems much too tight to be able to slide a new piece underneath it. Not to mention that I can't figure out how to get the pan detached at the front.

The deal is, I've convinced myself that if I take the shell off then I'll go ahead and replace the whole floor. But I'm trying to talk myself out of it!

Is there something I'm missing. Some magical easy way of taking the bottom off!
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Old 11-14-2005, 12:19 PM   #2
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I removed the rear section of the pan by simply drilling out the rivets that attach it to the frame, then replacing the rivets when I was done. However mine is a '72, not sure how yours is attached.
http://www.balrgn.com/Airstream/DSC02315.jpg

As for the floor, you are this far, if it is soft, now is the time to make the repair. I have replaced whole sections with out removing the shell.
We are currently working a 31' with the front 6' removed to repair water damaged plywood.
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Old 11-14-2005, 02:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyboy
... Is there something I'm missing. Some magical easy way of taking the bottom off!
Welcome to the forums.

Your Airstream, while it is a different length than mine, was built in the same year. I would think they were built the same way.

During the course of my refurb, I have had all the belly skin rivets removed at one time or another to access the area needing attention although the belly skin has never been removed. I never ran into any issues dropping any part of the skin that were not resolved once all the obvious rivets (1/4" & 3/8") were drilled out.

I think you are missing something. Pictures would help, but try drilling out every rivet in sight, and see if you have to avoid the belly skin dropping on your face after doing so.

Tom
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Old 11-14-2005, 03:13 PM   #4
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The coaches are built upside down.


No seriously.

The floor is layed out upside down. The frame is layed on the floor upside down. The U-channel is bolted on. The floor is bolted to the frame. They put in the drains . They put on the belly pan and a hand fully of rivets around the edge to hold it in place. Then the running gear is installed.

Then the assembly is flipped over. Once its over the body is lowered on it without the lower sides. The end caps are riveted to the u-channel and then the lower skins installed. Wiring completed and inner skins installed.


To take it apart what you can do with the lower inner panel out is this. Remove the rub rail. Drill out all the rivets through the lower edge that allso pass through the belly pan where you want to drop the pan. Once they are out you can search along the edge from the inside looking fro any rivets that remain. Those are the ones that held the belly pan on till the shell was installed. You can sear then with a putty knife and a hammer or a thin sharp chisle.

Or you can remove the shell and drill them out. If you remove the shell there will be a few in the ribs that were installed before the lower exterior skin that will still need to be sheared or drilled from the back side.
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Old 11-14-2005, 03:20 PM   #5
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... To take it apart what you can do with the lower inner panel out is this. Remove the rub rail. Drill out all the rivets through the lower edge that allso pass through the belly pan where you want to drop the pan. Once they are out you can ...
I only had to remove the rivets I could see by laying on my back underneath my Overlander.

Eric - I forget the terminology; Which part is the rub rail? Isn't it on the side?

Tom
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Old 11-14-2005, 03:20 PM   #6
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Flyboy,


We took the entire belly pan off of my 1976 Argosy 24 last week.

It was not as difficult as it looked to be.

First you take off all the obvious attachments like the four stabilizer jacks. The gas lines and such are attached to the undercarriage with hangers. Once you loosen the hangers, the pipes will drop free of the belly skin.

The belly skin was one very long piece of aluminum. It slides under the banana wrap pieces which come down from the circumference of the trailer. (These are not continuations of the side body panels. They are separate pieces which overlap the body panels. The seam is hidden under the lower aluminum/vinyl insert rub rail).

You drill out ALL the rivets. You will miss a few here and there but they will become evident when you start to pull the long belly panel out.

We grabbed the long piece with a vise grip and simply pulled it out, in one piece, from the rear.

We took the rear bumper off before we did any of this.

‘Hope this helps.

Sergei
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Old 11-14-2005, 05:14 PM   #7
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Thanks guys,

I think I'll try the putty knife trick first. If I can get away without removing the shell I think I'll not do the full monty.
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Old 11-14-2005, 10:08 PM   #8
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You know you want to do the Monty....
Sometimes the belly pan has rivets into ribs under the shell. Around the wheel wells and door seem to be common areas. You are right that it's a battle getting a belly pan up under the shell in the corners. Save the old one to make a template, including the stress relief cuts. I took the shell off and think it makes the floor job alot easier. However, I replaced the shell before putting the new belly pan on. Wish I have done it the other way, From the bare frame I think the best order is floor, belly pan, shell. I think the full deal is the only for sure way to know what you have and get rid of the "trailer odor". Have you have any mice remains fall on you head yet. But the way that brown stuff in the belly pan is not mud.
Welcome to our world...
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:57 AM   #9
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You know you want to do the Monty....
I think you're probably right! Deep down inside I do!

I have not yet had a mouse fall on my head, but I did get about 20 lbs of alfalfa pellets and Sunflower seeds from the right rear corner!
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:11 PM   #10
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Now if you want to get sneaky!
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