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Old 05-27-2012, 07:47 PM   #1
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CMSmith's Avatar
1975 25' Tradewind
Florence , South Carolina
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 175
Frame repair and floor replacement

Everyone here seems to be big DIYers, and I completely respect that and wish I had the time to be one. But I am currently on my first trip withy 1975 Trade Wind and am finding that it is going to have a good bit of work to be done. There are several leaks, including the fresh water into the commode as well as the shower and gray water fittings. In finding this, I am seeing that there may be some frame rust to be taken care of. The floor is not rotted, I can see that and feel that by inspecting in the cabinets and such.
What kind of basic/generic number expense is frame work, assuming a fair amount of work needs to be done? We have an Airstream place down the highway from us and I plan on getting our TW there sometime this week to have them do a complete checkup on it. Just wanting to try and get my mind (read wallet) in the right place.


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Old 05-31-2012, 06:23 AM   #2
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1975 25' Tradewind
Florence , South Carolina
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 175
Bump? Just looking for a little insight.

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Old 05-31-2012, 07:52 AM   #3
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1974 31' Excella 500
Charleston , South Carolina
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Because no one has yet offered a reply... My total experience is with 1 trailer, a 74 31 foot Excella.

From the looks of it the chassis is made out of a pretty thin steel, also filled with holes to reduce weight. It seemed to me that once the rust gets a hold of it it is pretty well compromised. The moisture can come from anywhere, it doesn't necessarily have to come from above.

In my case, as a point of reference, the weak spot was in the middle and the chassis bent there. You can see on the pic where it buckled.

I had a couple of guys that fabricated a new chassis (after I had removed the shell) for $2,300 labor and materials.

They used 4 inch C channel 6.7 lbs per foot. They said it took 2,000 lbs of steel. Steel is cheap.

In order to get a good look at the chassis you will probably need to remove the underside aluminum sheets.

I think normally it is the outriggers that usually have problems first. As you can see on the pic of my old chassis I was missing a lot of outriggers. I guess they fell of sometime in the past.

Short answer is that messing with the chassis is a fairly involved process. The cost will be almost all labor.

It's good to have it checked out, but if you aren't seeing anything that looks like it might be a problem related to the chassis (bending or twisting of shell) then it is likely that your chassis is ok. For now.
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As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.
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Old 05-31-2012, 08:28 AM   #4
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1968 28' Ambassador
Cedaredge , Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,542
To really know what you are dealing with you will need to pull the belly pan off so you can see the frame. This sounds easy but it takes time. And if you want it off in one peace and out of the way you need to take the axels off or bend the belly pan to fit around the axels. I cut mine in between the axels as I am putting an extra grey tank between them. They you have the insulation to deal with. Pink stuff will get all over you laying on your back. I have spray in foam which you have to chip out.. But I'm pulling my shell so I can deal with that after...

Once you have done this you can now see your frame. Hopefully it will just be surface rust, but that depends on where you live and how the AS was stored. Wire brushes, by hand or in the drill and paint. easy, peasy right..

May you have at least one sunny day, and a soft chair to sit in..

2008 5.7 L V8 Sequoia
AIR # 31243
WBCCI # 6987
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Old 05-31-2012, 11:02 AM   #5
3 Rivet Member
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1975 31' Sovereign
Pierre , South Dakota
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 133
Most Airstream dealers will not work on the older Airstreams. They are there for the new sells and service of the new, newer models. Think about it for a moment, A lot of the Airstreams are older than the techs. Thats one reason most on here are DIYER'S.
The real truth is you don't know what you have in a Airstream until you pull the belly pan and inspect the frame. After all if you don't have a GOOD frame you don't have anything to work with.
Don't be afraid to crawl under the trailer and drill out those pop rivets.
I've been involved in aviation over 40 years and I am still amused at the reverence pilots pay to airplanes, some how they think a gob of aluminum was put in a hanger and one night the airplane Fairy came by, waived her magic wand and all the aluminum was converted into an airplane.
These trailers were made by normal folks with everyday skill sets. A few skills may have to be learned along the way but its all over the internet for starters.
I am one month into a rebuild, Shell is off and steel will be picked up tomorrow. Could do the same work in a week, now that I have done my homework and learned a few how to's.
After you have gone thru your trailer from stem to stern you will know how each system works, if you have a problem out in the boondocks you'll know how to fix it. After inspection of the frame you can pull it down the road without worry of the frame breaking into two separate pieces.
If your not the DIY type, thats why they sell new airstreams at the Airstream dealerships with a warranty.
Good Luck,
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Old 06-10-2012, 01:41 PM   #6
2 Rivet Member
Salem , South Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 20
I am also looking for a wood free floor substitute for marine ply. Here are two links for composite panels that I have found. I came across these searching by searching for marine applications (search using RV flooring options returned only forum posts here lol) Aluminum Corrugated Panel, Nanocore Panel, Aluminum Honeycomb Core

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