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Old 05-14-2008, 10:48 AM   #1
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Source for new belly material

Hey Gang-

It belly pan dropping time for me to assess my frame. Its a 1966 Safari Twin Iím working on, and have opened up the belly a couple of times before. This time I am thinking about replacing the metals as its pretty far gone, and was wondering about sources for belly pan replacement sheet metal that those of you who have been down this path might suggest.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions at all!

Alex & Charon Kensington
(now appearing at the Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire Wentzville. MO Weekends thru June 8th)
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:35 AM   #2
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I used .040 5052-H34, but most sane people use .025 or .032. I bought mine locally from an surplas aluminum supplier.
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Old 05-14-2008, 05:02 PM   #3
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I need to replace most of the belly skin on my rig. So that project is looming in the future. Thanks Alex and Charon for asking this question. So I'm taking Kip's suggestion and will begin looking around for salvage aluminum in my area. Kip, why did you insanely choose to use the .40 5052-h-34? Surely you had some rational reasons as well?!
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:40 PM   #4
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Airparts Inc. Homepage... They are great folks that give top notch service. Three days max to either coast in shipping.
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Old 05-14-2008, 08:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 62overlander
Airparts Inc. Homepage... They are great folks that give top notch service. Three days max to either coast in shipping.
Thanks for the link, I need to get belly skin in the next few weeks for the '56.
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Old 05-15-2008, 04:09 AM   #6
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Diane usually answers when I call, she is super nice and can answer any question you have. I like doing business with small family businesses like them. Is your belly split down the center? Is the sheet 4' wide? My old belly skin was 51" wide for each half so I had to create a double seam down the middle to be able to use the 48" sheets. I also used .025 5052 instead .032 2024. I could have gotten wider had I used 2024, but then it would have gone out truck instead of UPS and the price was more than double. Hope that didn't confuse you. If so, they will straighten you out, just let them know what you are doing and they know what's up. I think they now deal with a lot of us Airstreamers.

Oh, one more thing, my first attempt at a new belly pan resulted in failure. We tried to force it. I found you need to kind of massage it into place, gently and slowly. The skin is bending in two directions in the front and in the back, so it takes a bit of fuddling to make that work. Clecos were very helpful in acting as extra hands. I do not recommend you do this solo, it requires a lot of hands. You might want to look at my blog. I think I did this in January or February. I hope you have a friend like Monty to help, he was a total asset not only in his abilities mechanically, but in his positive attitude.
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Old 05-15-2008, 10:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 62overlander
Diane usually answers when I call, she is super nice and can answer any question you have. I like doing business with small family businesses like them. Is your belly split down the center? Is the sheet 4' wide? My old belly skin was 51" wide for each half so I had to create a double seam down the middle to be able to use the 48" sheets. I also used .025 5052 instead .032 2024. I could have gotten wider had I used 2024, but then it would have gone out truck instead of UPS and the price was more than double. Hope that didn't confuse you. If so, they will straighten you out, just let them know what you are doing and they know what's up. I think they now deal with a lot of us Airstreamers.

Oh, one more thing, my first attempt at a new belly pan resulted in failure. We tried to force it. I found you need to kind of massage it into place, gently and slowly. The skin is bending in two directions in the front and in the back, so it takes a bit of fuddling to make that work. Clecos were very helpful in acting as extra hands. I do not recommend you do this solo, it requires a lot of hands. You might want to look at my blog. I think I did this in January or February. I hope you have a friend like Monty to help, he was a total asset not only in his abilities mechanically, but in his positive attitude.
62O,

You are absolutely correct in your above statements, except you forgot to add one thing: Re-hanging belly skin is just about the worst job to do on an Airstream. I did my '74 a year ago and it was tuff. On my '56 they were made a little differently than the '70s in that the belly skin runs cross-ways under the trailer. This allows you to use the 4 x 8 sheets like the factory did.
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Old 05-15-2008, 10:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monocoque
Kip, why did you insanely choose to use the .40 5052-h-34? Surely you had some rational reasons as well?!
MONEY, I was able to pick it up for 45 bucks for 4X8 sheets, and believe it or not I find it easier to work with when working by myself as it does not sag and go floppy when I'm under the trailer.
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Old 05-15-2008, 11:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerowood
MONEY, I was able to pick it up for 45 bucks for 4X8 sheets, and believe it or not I find it easier to work with when working by myself as it does not sag and go floppy when I'm under the trailer.
I want to say that Aerowood is one of the finest craftsman out there. He helped guide me in the right direction on so many aspects of my belly pan replacement. I was clueless and he broke it all down for me. He steered me right with the proper size and type rivets, the best gun to buy for solid rivets, and the right grade of aluminum. I owe him a great deal of praise. Thank you, I hope someday I can repay my debt to you.
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Old 05-16-2008, 12:47 PM   #10
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Hey drag'nwagon try this place. The sign company I work for, we buy all of our aluminum from this place as they are in Kalamazoo. Not sure if they have ALCLAD, they do have everything else, including plastic now. Shipping might be less, or it can be picked up. I could also pick it up for you.

Schupan & Sons, Inc.

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Old 05-17-2008, 03:12 AM   #11
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Not sure if this is any help to you or not, but when you get to fitting your new belly pan, you may want to consider doing the sides this way. It ended up making the panels smaller and more manageable for me to fit. The sheets were cut to 2' x 8' ( 600 mm x 2400 mm ), and then rolled to a template that I fabricated off an outrigger. The pic shows the sheet ends curled more tightly than the middle of the sheet which matches the template curve, this is due to the distortion in the middle of the actual rollers when working the sheet. However, because the ends are more acute, they ease out to the desired curve once fitted. They were really easy to fit and give good cover, it also meant I could get the shell back on and riveted which I.... well, thats another story which I won't go into here, but I can still get to fit tanks and infloor services as the middle portion of the underbelly remains bare for now. Also it made the end cap corners of the underbelly, have smaller panels to work with, I just stopped the sides in line with where the end caps begin, so for one or two more seams, which are actually fun to make for me, it felt like an easier way to go, although you have more pieces to deal with.
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Old 05-17-2008, 04:43 AM   #12
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Pete, You really impress me. I think it is great that someone is taking it to the level you are literally as far a way from the mothership as one can go. Your craftsmanship is spectacular. Wally would be proud of you I think. I talked to two professionals about the flaw.... neither had ever heard or experienced such a thing. One of them actually laughed. I do not know, but maybe it is true.
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Old 12-08-2008, 02:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerowood View Post
I was able to pick it up for 45 bucks for 4X8 sheets, and believe it or not I find it easier to work with when working by myself as it does not sag and go floppy when I'm under the trailer.
Okay, I have read through practically every thread on belly pan replacement and I am still confused. My belly pan is basically 60-1/2" wide and the main piece (12' long) is fabricated (OEM?) from 48" wide sheets (running crosswise) which were butt seamed together.

I have located .032" & .040" 48"x144" sheets which would work cut in half (72") but since the crossmembers are 24" o/c they are not wide enough to lap each other. I was planning on lapping them from the rear working forward like you would do roofing but I can't figure out how to do the splices. Do I need to find some shop that can make those butt seams and form one continuous piece like the original? Does anyone have any suggestions?

I also have considered running the sheets lengthwise with the trailer and having a lapped splice down the middle but that would sure waste a lot of material and allow water to enter the belly easier.

5 ft. wide sheets are difficult to find and I feel that most of you have use the 4 ft. width and it is probable that I am just missing something. Help me out guys (no not out that door!).
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Old 12-08-2008, 04:40 PM   #14
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I bent up some aluminum angle (1" x 2",I think) and installed it on the rib where the sheets intersected so that they overlap on the new angle not the cross member but my GT is alot shorter then yours so I only had to do it on one cross member. I did not take any pictures of this.
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