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Old 10-14-2012, 07:02 PM   #1
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1977 27' Overlander
Portsmouth , New Hampshire
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Restoring / repairing Wheel wells

I would like to Replace/restore my rusted wheel wells on my 77' Overland. Has anyone has any experience with this? If so what do you reccomend and if I have someone (body shop?) do the work what can I expect to pay? Thanks
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Old 10-14-2012, 07:53 PM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Hmmmm. I don't have immediate experience with your year and model, but if it is built like my '73 GT, then this is a non-trivial operation. The issue is that the wheel wells have a flange that is sandwiched between the frame and the plywood subfloor, which is sandwiched between the shell and the frame. My guess is that the only way to do a replacement without lifting the shell off of the frame would be to remove the interior wheel well covers, and the insulation, then cut out the "external" wheel wells, and then have the replacements custome made in such a way that they could be inserted without lifting the shell and plywood off the frame. Maybe you could have the new wells made so that they bolt down to the plywood subfloor from inside, and just extend down to overlap the plywood and attach to the solid outriggers.

I'm surprised to hear your wheel wells are made of metal. I thought they were made of plastic in those years. You can still order the "original" style plastic wells from places like Out of Doors Mart and Inland--you might check their sites for pricing. As for who to have do the job, I would go with an RV repair place that has some experience with Airstreams.

Good Luck!
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Old 10-15-2012, 05:39 AM   #3
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1977 27' Overlander
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Thank you....you have been a great help...
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Old 10-15-2012, 08:48 AM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Are your wheel wells merely rusty, or have they rusted/worn through? If they are only rusty, then the simple solution would be to get them cleaned up, and then give them a good dose of POR-15, or perhaps spray-in pickup truck bed liner. If they have holes in them, it may make sense to have someone with some sheet metal skills pop rivet in some patches so that you aren't removing/replacing the entire unit.

I recently priced having custom wheel wells built for my single axle trailer, and the standard quote came to about $300 for the pair. I'm not sure hom much this would increase for a double axle trailer. Doubt if it would be quite double. Again, it is more the complexities of the installation that would be the the expensive part of this project.

Have a good look at how your current wells are installed--you can probably see how they go together from looking up inside the wheel well from the outside. You may not even need to remove the wheels. If they are made of metal, then I would suspect that a previous owner has already replaced the originals. Maybe the design of your current wells already takes into consideration the difficulties involved with the installation, and they bolt in from the inside as suggested above.

The next question is what condition are your axles in? If they are the original axles, then they may be in need of replacement as well. If you intend to replace them, then the perfect time to work on the wheel wells would be during the axle replacement, in between removing the old axles and installing the new ones.

good luck!
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Old 10-15-2012, 09:28 AM   #5
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1968 24' Tradewind
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If you need new metal, find a local sheet metal shop the does HVAC duct work. They make custom shaped duct work every day and making new wheel wells would be a easy job for a good sheet metal shop. Call the guy who fixes your HVAC equipment and ask him which shop he uses. I was luck when I was working on my Trade Wind, my HVAC guy has a big sheet metal shop. I had several things made and used his shear several times to cut things and he did not even charge me ( I have bought 2 expensive AC units from him in the past couple of years)
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Old 10-16-2012, 08:54 AM   #6
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1977 27' Overlander
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Do you hve a ballpark on what I can expect to pay for new axles and installation? I just bought this unit and think its something I would like to keep for a long time..I just have to weight the cost of repairs against the value of the unit.
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Old 10-16-2012, 11:09 AM   #7
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1973 21' Globetrotter
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Step one would be to evaluate whether your axles need replacement. Do a search on the forums for "axle replacement," and you will probably find many conversations describing how to decide if they have lost their elasticity. My personal best practice is to jack up the trailer on the axle mounting plate and evaluate how much motion there is in the axle as you take the weight completely off. As I recall, there should be about 3-4 inches of travel, if you only get an inch or two, then the rubber rods have taken a permanent set, and the axles probably should be replaced. If you know you have the original, 40 year old axles, then they almost certainly need to be replaced.

Colin Hyde (Forum member) is a distributor for Axis axles, and you can probably get one of the better prices by ordering through him. I did a single axle about a year ago, and as I recall, the cost of the axle with shipping was around $750-$800. Installation is pretty easy except for the weight and awkwardness of the axles. I did mine myself as part of a major reconstruction project. If you had them done at a repair shop, I would hope they wouldn't charge more than an hour's labor or so for each axle.

Good luck!
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:41 PM   #8
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1966 17' Caravel
College Station , Texas
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We are attempting to restore a Caravel 66'. The wheel wells are very thin plastic and both need replacing. We already replaced axle (someone did for us.)
I just want to buy ones pre made. Fabrication is always more expensive it seems.
Not sure the airstream ones are for vintage models.
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