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Old 01-24-2009, 11:35 AM   #1
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1975 25' Tradewind
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Poor Wheel Well Design story and solution

I recently bought a 1992 25' Excella off Craigslist. Honey, check it out, exactly what we have been looking for. Everything we want.

I know "Buyer Beware". I have to take responsibility for making a poor decision. Should have looked it over more closely. The only place I didn't inspect, the storage space under the rear twin beds. There were no indicators a major problem lurked beneath.

When I got it home and began to clean it as a proud new owner does, I discovered the result of a POOR design and even worse, POOR Quality Control. My airstream bubble has popped, or at least deflated. Good thing I am handy and can fix most of my own mistakes...

HERE IS THE PROBLEM: The wheel well, the black plastic outer well is glued and screwed down ON TOP of the frame. The pressed wood floor is secured directly to the frame. With road grime, water, sand and grit being blasted at 70 miles per hour, mile after mile directly at the seam, the seal was DOOMED from the time it left the factory. [IMG]file:///C:/Users/simplepleasures/Pictures/PC280868.JPG[/IMG]

Poor quality control allowed the wheel well to be installed just off far enough that NONE of the rear part of the well actually overlapped the frame to the rear (the most critical area). I suppose they thought that was Okay because it had twice as much overlap to the front. An open door to the elements. When I lifted up the mattress I found rotten disintegrating moldy muck.

Oh one more thing, it was a brilliant idea to cover the entire floor with plastic, I am sure it was to protect the carpet at the show room and intended to be removed by the new owner. It wasn't. Perfect seal a meal for the mold and fungus who lived there.

Honey, Ummm you know that trip we were planning? I don't really want to go any more. I'd rather stay home with the kids and work on the trailer we just got. I think it would be great for the boy and I to build something together. I know, I know, I could have bought a lesser brand trailer, sparkling new for the same money. I know. But we will have something to be really proud of when we are done, besides this is ours now. I know this doesn't look good and it is going to cost time and money to make it better. But it will all be okay, you'll see. You will like it.

I have a SOLUTION, which will be pretty cool. Attach a 1 1/2" angle iron to the frame for the wheel well to rest on. Seal it up, then sprey on white bed liner to the wheel well to creat a durable water tight, exterior skin.

So far so good. We did some things extra to make it a better trailer. First removed all the old carpet. All of it, everywhere, even under cabinets where you can't see.

Sub floor went in well. I took the extra time and chipped out all the old flooring out of the u frame, cut and shaped the new sub floor to fit in and around all the mounting bolts. Was a tight fit, took several adjustments to get it right. But worth it. Went with a vynil floor, which went in smoothly.

It is a work in progress. Time now to get back to it.

Too many words to tell a such a short story.
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Old 01-24-2009, 11:46 AM   #2
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Really nice work!!
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Old 01-24-2009, 12:40 PM   #3
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A great bonding story and I don't mean sealing the well. The time spent with your boy is SO valuable. BUT you owe your wife BIG time .
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Old 01-24-2009, 01:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pepsi View Post

...Good thing I am handy and can fix most of my own mistakes...

It is a work in progress. Time now to get back to it.
Aren't they all a "Work in Progress"?!!
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Old 01-24-2009, 01:35 PM   #5
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Now this is fun! Your AS looks really great. The work on the frame looks like you were thorough, the new plywood and new floor are sweet. To me the best part is the bonding with your son. I have many memories of the same with my kids, it is time well spent.
Good Luck
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Old 01-25-2009, 11:26 AM   #6
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It will truly be a memory to share. My hope is to get the word out for other owners to check their wheel wells and the floor surrounding them. If there is any sign of water, seal the seam quick and keep an eye on it. I am spraying the bed liner in it so I don't have to re visit this problem again.
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Old 01-25-2009, 01:57 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info. I will definitely give mine a thorough inspection when the weather warms a little.
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Old 01-31-2009, 07:13 PM   #8
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Pepsi, that work looks great!

A curious question - were you able to replace the floor and access the elevator bolts (around the edges of the floor) without removing the interior side walls of the trailer?

Just want to know in case I wind up doing a subfloor some day too....

Thanks
Tom
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:58 PM   #9
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Great story.. Thanks for sharing. Cool pics too.

Vinni
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:34 AM   #10
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Very good looking job you have done. My hat is off to you and the way you did it right.

All trailers have one or more items that fall short of expectations. It is a matter of making a checklist and one by one eliminating them.

Again, it looks like you have done a beautiful job.
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Old 02-01-2009, 06:05 AM   #11
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The wheel well design is not the best and the quality control is always suspect, but it is not like you are dealing with a 2009 trailer. I would say any trailer of that age would exhibit some problems. I don't believe your inspection process was flawed especially if this is the first Airstream you have dealt with.

Your repair and solutions to prevent a reoccurrence are excellent and first rate. You may want to do a pressure test on the unit to reveal any other potential leak problems. Airstreams are great trailers but they do flex and the sealing compound ages and cracks. You will have to do some work on a 92 trailer to bring it up to the standards which you demand but that is what a 17 year old trailer requires.

Best of Luck
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:37 AM   #12
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Question

This is very interesting, nice work by the way!!! I just posted yesterday under "Big Disapointment - Water Damage" with my 1991 Excella 25ft trailer, bought it from the PO back in Aug last year and have leaks/water damage I am trying to figure out and may be headed down the same road as you, wish I was more handy like yourself, this may be where I start to learn!

Question for you - did you remove all of the interior cabinetry/bathroom/kitchen-galley or just the flooring in the back of the trailer? Did you remove the fridge to get at the flooring underneath it? It looks like you may have left the interior skins on which I hope will be the case for me. If you have any additional pictures, etc. I would love to see them. We are just now trying to figure out where to start, like yourself, the trailer is ours now and we mean to keep it.
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Old 02-08-2009, 10:09 AM   #13
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1975 25' Tradewind
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Wink

Quote:
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The wheel well design is not the best and the quality control is always suspect, but it is not like you are dealing with a 2009 trailer. I would say any trailer of that age would exhibit some problems.
Let me ponder just how to respond to your message. Well now Jim, I mean no disrespect. I mean you are a 5 rivet member and all. But we seem to have differing mindsets.

Time is the test of quality craftsmanship. Hence "time will tell." The Airstream reputation would be our point of contention... Just how disposable is an Airstream trailer? What is the life span of an Airstream? I was first drawn to them because of their timeless beauty and quality craftsmanship.

My point re: quality control is simple. It would be easier to maintain the airstream reputation than to rebuild it. Airstream should hold their product to a higher standard. They certainly hold their customers to a higher price.

Let me post a new thread and put it to the forum... See who people agree with most.
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Old 02-08-2009, 04:18 PM   #14
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Is there any merit in caulking up the wheel well seams from the outside? Proactive type thing.
Tom
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