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Old 11-09-2009, 09:20 PM   #1
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Terrified of the bellypan!

Okay, I posted this & it completely disappeared, so I'll try again. I have left the best for last on my AS project list. The Bellypan!! I have an '86 and I'm sure I have at least one outrigger that's bad. Do I have to take off the banana wrap? I've read a ton of posts & some say they didn't have to take off the banana wrap. Am I better off waiting until Spring to do this job? Will it take forever? I plan of painting w/Por 15 if I ever get the bellypan off. And putting new insulation in (not the pink stuff). Maybe the frame/bellypan ferry took my post off because she's coming to fix me up, but if not, pleeeaase give me some encouragement/advise! I bought my 2 x 12's tonight so I'm set to put the AS off the ground!
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:44 PM   #2
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Protect your self.

Hi, who knows what critters or what-have-you was in there so protect yourself while removing the belly pan. On our last trip we picked up our first hitch hiker in what I consider a relatively new trailer, that has never been damaged. I guess that doesn't mean much. I have to mouse proof my trailer because the factory didn't.
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Old 11-10-2009, 04:36 AM   #3
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You don't need to take them off completely, the top seam under the belt molding can remain.

When u drop the belly pan the banana skins will just hang in place like a curtain.
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Old 11-10-2009, 05:38 AM   #4
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Hey Becky,

The bellyskin isn't hard to remove. The toughest part is that you will be working overhead, and as such anything in the bellyskin will fall when the aluminum is removed. Wear some form of mask and or respiratory protection (medical condition dependant of course) and tyvek coveralls. I usually wear some nitrile gloves and a faceshield when doing work of this nature as well. I tape the sleeves around my gloves, and tuck a diaper around my collar to keep all the undesireable goodies at bay. The bellyskin can be the primary playground of all things disgusting. It was the primary point of entry for my latest round of mouse entry.

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Old 11-10-2009, 05:38 AM   #5
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Bellypan Removal

Hello Becky,

When you say outrigger, do you mean the BAL stabilizer jacks? If so, they are mounted to the frame cross member with three rusty bolts. They are on top, or outside of the bellypan. And they are subject to "road rash", especially the rear ones. Spray the bolts with penetrating oil, rap the bolt heads a couple of times to vibrate them loose and spray again the next day. Then try to loosen them and don't cuss too loud when they break. After they break off, get your drill bits out and have at it. Then re-tap the threads. Replace the bolts with plated ones that won't rust so badly.

I removed the rear section of my bellypan in order to clean and paint the frame, replace the stinky pink batting insulation, and replaced a badly corroded belly pan. My wife is convenienced there are scores of mice living beneath our trailer floor. And we do have "mice smell" in the trailer, so we are trying to get that solved. The whole project is just work. Maybe 30 to 40 hours for me working alone. I did not remove the bannna wraps. I did remove the clamps holding the propane line to the water heater, (more rusty bolts!). I did not drop the black water tank cover. I was uncertain exactly how one guy was going to handle that.

It was a little dicy to get the trailer up high enough to work underneath it. I used solid cement block and my heavy duty jack stands on the axles. I jacked it up with my hydraulic bottle jacks very slowly, like 4" a side at a time. I tried to keep the trailer level as I went. I jacked it up about 2 feet, which gave me room to work. Use caution here, as the trailer is very heavy and it can not come off the jack stands. I was working on a gravel driveway adding more difficulty. Other Airstreamers may have better methods.

I drilled out the rivets holding the bellypan in place. Many of them were corroded. Off came the aluminum belly pan. The fiberglass batting insulation was wet in places. And the frame members were rusty.

So wire brush the frame members, prime and paint them. POR 15 is probably best. I used foam insulation as it won't hold water. I sent for some aircraft aluminum, cut and riveted a 60 wide by 75 long sheet, and riveted it in place. I drilled all new holes as it is too time consuming to try to find the old holes. And I drilled a few drain holes in the belly pan so water won't collect there after heavy rains. I may have $400 in just this rear section. Aluminum is expensive, rivets are expensive, insulation is expensive, etc. etc. But my labor is real cheap!

I've got 24 feet of belly pan to do next summer from the axles to the A frame. I'm going to hire someone to drop the water tank covers to clean up that area and check for "while we're in here" items to fix.

Nothing like laying under your Airstream dreaming about all the great places you want to visit!

It appears like your polish job was successful. I want to do that too.

David
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Old 11-10-2009, 06:13 AM   #6
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When I say "outriggers", I mean the piece that's attached to the outer side of the main frame & juts into the banana wrap. I know I have at least one that needs to be replaced because we had part of the floor removed when we fixed the rotted spots. It was pretty much gone due to rust. When I go around & bang on the banana wrap, I can hear junk rattling around in there (either rust pieces or major mouse droppings, but probably both). If I leave the banana wrap on, can one get in there to weld on new outriggers? My son is a welder, so if it's a bit ackward, he'll be able to deal with it. If impossible, I want to make it possible!

Bob, when you say "the top seam under the belt molding can remain", do you mean you have to take the belt molding off? Isn't that what's holding the banana wrap on?

I just bought 2" x 12" boards to raise it up. I only bought enough to raise it up 6". Is that too few? I want to ride it up on there & not jack it up.

Also, if I do start taking things apart now, would it be a problem if I don't get it put back together before the snow starts flying?

And, if I just loosen the propane lines, is there enough play in them to just let them down, or do I have to remove them completely?

I know, I have lots of questions. I hate suprises. I'm stressing about removing the banana wrap because I have recently Vulkemed the entire top of the beltline rail & I'm sure it would be a bugger to get it off. We also Silkafixed the entire bottom of the bellypan when we first got the trailer. It's gonna be a bugger!

Thanks for all your answers so far!
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Old 11-10-2009, 06:57 AM   #7
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The belly wrap is riveted behind (under) the side wall, the belt molding is then riveted on top of the seam they create.
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdwell57 View Post
The belly wrap is riveted behind (under) the side wall, the belt molding is then riveted on top of the seam they create.
It doesn't look like the belly pan and the banana wrap are one piece on my trailer. Is this the same for an '86?
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:55 PM   #9
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I towed Brutis around to the backyard & put him up on the 2" x 12" boards so he's 6 more inches off the ground. I'm pretty confident I can crawl under the trailer with that much space. I'm going to have my hubby check it out first to see if I have it secure enough before doing much under there. I may even wait until Spring. I took some pictures of the underside while I was out there. It looks like you can take the center of the bellypan off without taking the banana wrap off. I'm not sure about fixing outriggers with them on though. The boxes over the tanks definitely look like a real PITA to remove. I would gladly trade someone polishing time for bellypan/frame time! Here's the pix;
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Old 11-10-2009, 01:20 PM   #10
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question

The belly pan looks to be in great shape....as does the rest of your Airstream. What makes you think an outrigger is bad? You are not falling into a trap of "thread hype" on rust/corrosion problems....I hope.
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Old 11-10-2009, 04:22 PM   #11
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My husband spent a lot of time putting aluminum strips across the bellypan to hold it up tightly. We had some of the floor removed due to rot when we first got the trailer. I could see that one of the outriggers was completely rusted through. My husband actually made an "outrigger" made of marine lumber & wedged it in the curve of the banana wrap. This was in an area at the front of the trailer where there is no foot traffic, but I know it's a jerry rigged way of doing things. When I beat on the banana wrap, it rattles with rust or mouse droppings (or both as stated before), so I feel there is more rust that should be dealt with. I really DON'T want to do this. I've spent a ton of time on this trailer & have this last thing to do that will satisfy my mind that it should last another 30 years. I'd like to ignore it & hope it goes away!
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Old 11-10-2009, 05:46 PM   #12
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Call Mike Rowe with "Dirty Jobs" TV show and see if he'll take it off for you! Actually it was a pain for my husband to take off the belly pan. We didn't take off the banana wraps, just unriveted them from underneath the trailer, and they're hanging down. You really should fix that bad outrigger, and check the others, so I'd bite the bullet and do it right. I'm sure you can survive it - wear eye protection (preferably a face shield), respirator, and old clothes that cover as much of your body as possible. You'll feel better when you're done and you KNOW what's under there!

Kay
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:46 PM   #13
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I think when I get after it, I'll leave the banana wrap on & see how it goes. My 1984 service manual (they didn't make one for 1986) says to use snips for the bellypan and to put it back on by overlapping 2" and reriveting. I think I'll remove the rivets, though. I does say if you need to remove the banana wrap you have to remove the beltline...like everyone else said. Does anyone think it would be bad if I started removing it & had to stop due to cold & leave it open for the winter? Would it be alright? I would think it would be....
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Old 11-11-2009, 07:41 AM   #14
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Looks like your on the right path

The reason I asked about the "need" to pull the pan....is mine is obviously so much worse. No question here.
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