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Old 06-25-2006, 08:57 PM   #1
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1962 16' Bambi
1960 22' Safari
New York , New York
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Rust Rot in the Rear Frame Bumper Area

First of all is Aluminitus totally terminal or might I one day be cured?

Some of you may be familiar with the fact that I'm doing a shell off restoration of my 1962 Bambi. Well, since I figured out that this is going to be a looong process and I want to hit the road and do some rallying and meet some of you good folks face to face, I've now aquired a second vintage airstream that "doesn't need any work". Which is to say that it's totally intact and original, appears to be in really good condition, was obviously well cared for, and as far as I can tell has NO FLOOR ROT. Which was what I found my Bambi suffered from in spades despite all the other criteria being fairly robust.

There is however one thing I've noticed in my "new" 1960 22' Safari. The rear frame members are quite rusty where they emerge from the belly pan in the rear. I also have noted that several interior rivets around the curved endcap in the rear of the trailer are broken or missing which leads me to believe there is some flexing going on in the rear of the trailer. Every exterior rivet is intact, there is no noticeable sag behind the axle, and as I said I find absolutely no evidence anywhere in the interior of the trailer of floor rot or leaks.

I therefore have two questions.

1. Based on what I've described does it sound like the frame rot is isolated to the very rear portion of the frame. And is this somewhat common given that these members are exposed to the elements and not protected by the belly pan?

2. Is it possible to repair and strengthen rear frame members whithout taking the shell off. ie. Can one simply open the belly in the rear and weld in new frame steel as needed without affecting the rest of the trailer or is this a pipe dream?

As I said the exterior rivets are all good and all the interior rivets are good except for the ones along that one seam of the upper edge of the rear interior end cap.

One additional question. My belly pan on the Bambi wraps around the interior C channel making it impossible to pull away without removing the shell. Is it possible (and I assume this has been covered somewhere in the forums so perhaps you can direct me to the thread) to drop just a section of the belly pan to do the needed frame work behind the wheels? Maybe just by cutting it away and then reriveting or something?

Thanks again all. Pictures of the new Safari to come soon!

Steve H.
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Old 06-25-2006, 11:28 PM   #2
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1960 24' Tradewind
santa barbara , California
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Hello steve H ,

Yes you can replace the frame members after removing the belly pan .I removed the wrap around rub rail and cut right below the shell line to lower the belly pan ,you can rerivit it back as the rub rail will cover the repair .Make sure though before you cut that it will be covered when done .You will also find possibly that the rear crossmember that runs across the rear will be rusted also ,so that can be done as well .i replaced about 15" of frame rail on my 60 tradewind ,same exact problem ,but the rest of the whole frame is
in excellent shape as I have done other repairs allowing me to examine the frame in many different areas ,plumbing ,entry way floor section .i could see the whole frame up to the tongue area ,real nice!! Anyway I would support the new frame rails up againts the floor from underneath so you have those new pieces supporting the floor ,when welding up the rails .The rear frame rails or open at the bumper so dirt water and such can get in and rust the steel ,that is what happened to mine as they were full of dirt ,I might venture to say from the caravan in mexico it went on in 1960 as i have information
about my trailer .and it went to baja and beyond .you can't get to the top of the frame to weld it ,no matter, just fish plate the frame rail on each side.
Thats a piece of steel welde front to rear across the two welded sections
Plenty strong.

good luck and i believe this is common on these trailers.

Scott
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Old 06-26-2006, 12:22 AM   #3
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1963 16' Bambi
Yreka , California
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No cure...

Quote:
Originally Posted by HamiBambi
First of all is Aluminitus totally terminal or might I one day be cured?

Some of you may be familiar with the fact that I'm doing a shell off restoration of my 1962 Bambi. Well, since I figured out that this is going to be a looong process and I want to hit the road and do some rallying and meet some of you good folks face to face, I've now aquired a second vintage airstream that "doesn't need any work". Which is to say that it's totally intact and original, appears to be in really good condition, was obviously well cared for, and as far as I can tell has NO FLOOR ROT. Which was what I found my Bambi suffered from in spades despite all the other criteria being fairly robust.

There is however one thing I've noticed in my "new" 1960 22' Safari. The rear frame members are quite rusty where they emerge from the belly pan in the rear. I also have noted that several interior rivets around the curved endcap in the rear of the trailer are broken or missing which leads me to believe there is some flexing going on in the rear of the trailer. Every exterior rivet is intact, there is no noticeable sag behind the axle, and as I said I find absolutely no evidence anywhere in the interior of the trailer of floor rot or leaks.

I therefore have two questions.

1. Based on what I've described does it sound like the frame rot is isolated to the very rear portion of the frame. And is this somewhat common given that these members are exposed to the elements and not protected by the belly pan?

2. Is it possible to repair and strengthen rear frame members whithout taking the shell off. ie. Can one simply open the belly in the rear and weld in new frame steel as needed without affecting the rest of the trailer or is this a pipe dream?

As I said the exterior rivets are all good and all the interior rivets are good except for the ones along that one seam of the upper edge of the rear interior end cap.

One additional question. My belly pan on the Bambi wraps around the interior C channel making it impossible to pull away without removing the shell. Is it possible (and I assume this has been covered somewhere in the forums so perhaps you can direct me to the thread) to drop just a section of the belly pan to do the needed frame work behind the wheels? Maybe just by cutting it away and then reriveting or something?

Thanks again all. Pictures of the new Safari to come soon!

Steve H.
Hami,

Sorry no cure at all! I tried to find some alumacillin, but to no avail... I think you have it forever...

Hey, we want pics of BOTH your Airstreams! Wow! Brave guy.

Mrs. NorCal Bambi
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Old 06-26-2006, 01:01 AM   #4
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Got the same on my '60

I have the same problem. Rusted clean through.

The first picture shows the frame at the bumper. The second one shows the frame under the access panel for the dump valve. So the damage goes back a ways.

I was hoping I could take it to a local welder who would weld some supports to it?
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:05 PM   #5
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1960 24' Tradewind
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Hey Safari Tim ,

they can be replaced as i posted and just have the welder replace as much as is needed .He can add side plates across the weld seems for strength .

Scott
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:12 PM   #6
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Cool. I'll just remove as much of the belly pan as I can first to give him access.

Thanks!


Quote:
Originally Posted by scottanlily
Hey Safari Tim ,

they can be replaced as i posted and just have the welder replace as much as is needed .He can add side plates across the weld seems for strength .

Scott
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:28 PM   #7
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Hey Safari Tim,

I am going to try to get the dump adapter photo on here,Sorry as it is the wrong thread ,wow where was I on the valve deal ?
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:31 PM   #8
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Well that didn't work ,I will retry .
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Old 06-27-2006, 07:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari Tim
I have the same problem. Rusted clean through.

The first picture shows the frame at the bumper. The second one shows the frame under the access panel for the dump valve. So the damage goes back a ways.

I was hoping I could take it to a local welder who would weld some supports to it?
Tim, while your at it check for front end separation. Try to lift the body at the front, if it bounces up and down on the frame you could need to replace the crossmember that holds the front down to the frame. Mine is totally gone there.
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Old 06-27-2006, 09:07 AM   #10
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OK Doug,

Thanks for the tip.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Shacksman
Tim, while your at it check for front end separation. Try to lift the body at the front, if it bounces up and down on the frame you could need to replace the crossmember that holds the front down to the frame. Mine is totally gone there.
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Old 09-16-2006, 09:26 PM   #11
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1964 24' Tradewind
1954 29' Liner
Woodstock , Georgia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari Tim
I was hoping I could take it to a local welder who would weld some supports to it?
i think this trade wind i am getting has a similar problem.. most likely on both ends, though. i look forward to seeing what your welder ends up doing... and charging...

jp
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Old 09-16-2006, 10:58 PM   #12
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JP.

After three weeks I finally got the trailer back from the welder.

I did keep adding work for him so it's my fault as well

For $675 I got the following:
  • Last couple of feet of frame rail replaced w/new ( I provided metal)
  • Step outriggers repaired (patched) not great but works
  • Plating added to A frame where it was thining
  • Angle iron added to A frame as it entered below the trailer
  • Cut and move a cross member below to add room for a grey tank
  • Re-weld coupler as needed
Here is a photo of the before and after on the frame:


You can see pictures of the other repairs on theVAP's website. We talked all about this in Episode 27.



Quote:
Originally Posted by A-Merry-Can
i think this trade wind i am getting has a similar problem.. most likely on both ends, though. i look forward to seeing what your welder ends up doing... and charging...

jp
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1960 International Ambassador 28'
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Old 09-19-2006, 02:06 AM   #13
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hey tim,

i just listened to the latest episode, in fact. sounds like our trailers have the same issues. the rust in the frame was bad enough for me to leave the trailer in knoxville, but i told the guy if it's still available when we get back from england, we'd get it at the end of october. after seeing yours, this trade wind doesn't seem too un-doable. the belly pan on it is shot anyway, so i was already planning on replacing that part.

thanks for all the tips and info!

jp
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Old 09-19-2006, 02:40 AM   #14
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Nothing that money, time, money, pateince, and money won't fix ;-)

I'm glad that part is over that's for sure. Good luck with what ever you decide!

Thanks for the comments about the show.
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