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Old 01-14-2004, 04:45 PM   #15
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Originally posted by Navigator
Late 50`s Chevrolets had an air ride suspension system; and i think some present day heavy trucks also have same; for ideas.
I seriously doubt the practicality of this Herculean task without mega bucks to support the project. And what about a return on your investment?.
I sincerely hope that you find meaningful employment soon.
Dick
You would be surprised what is redily available in the aftermarket that could be used for this and cheap. Next time your at the supermarket pick up any of the hot rod mags like Truckin in the magazine rack and flip through it. There is 30-40 companies out there that could sell you anything you could ever want and have it on your door step the next day. Tjhere is probably a shop in every town that has most of what you need in stock. 2600lb Firestone air bags are dirt cheap and sturdy. Most places that service Semi's will have a few on the shelf.

I have no doubt I could build a set up to kneel that camper in a weekend. It's so incredibly simple to do once you get the frame ready to handle the change in load points. Fact of the matter is your not really changing the load point. You could locate the bag at the same mounting point that the factory axle bolted on. The problem is then you need to add the pivot point where there was nothing before as well as a track bar.

If their trailer is old enough to have a full box frame rails like my 59 it's no problem. If it's a C channel then the belly pan is going to have to be dropped and a couple peices of 2x2 welded in with a cross brace for side to side. The cross brace will keep the 2x2 from rolling on the side where the open end of the c channel is. The cross brace can also be used as a mount for a track bar. The 2x2 in the frame rail will now become the suport for the airbag once the axle mounting plate is cut off. It would extend foward enough to also brace for a pivot point for the control arms.

I'll play aound with paint brush and see if I have the artistic ability to draw something out.
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Old 01-15-2004, 01:00 PM   #16
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thanks toaster! we will poke around out there and see what everything looks like.

question (probably a dumb one)
is there any way to figure out what is going on beneath the floor without taking the floor off just yet- i know that sounds dumb, but can i peek from underneath?? what is under the floor? insulation?

thanks everyone for all your help. i am starting to see the big picture and it doesn't scare me yet so thats good.

too bad everyone doesn't live in oregon. we could have a trailer lifting party. too bad because we host fabulous luaus!!!

when i have time i am going to start to put all the photos in our photo album. we want to document the whole process. i did find a thread from srgnt pepper about a floor renovation in his 1963 safari (same as ours) and i want to find out how it went-
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Old 01-15-2004, 10:25 PM   #17
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thanks toaster! we will poke around out there and see what everything looks like.

question (probably a dumb one)
is there any way to figure out what is going on beneath the floor without taking the floor off just yet- i know that sounds dumb, but can i peek from underneath?? what is under the floor? insulation?

thanks everyone for all your help. i am starting to see the big picture and it doesn't scare me yet so thats good.

too bad everyone doesn't live in oregon. we could have a trailer lifting party. too bad because we host fabulous luaus!!!

when i have time i am going to start to put all the photos in our photo album. we want to document the whole process. i did find a thread from srgnt pepper about a floor renovation in his 1963 safari (same as ours) and i want to find out how it went-
The best thing I can advise on how to look in the bottom is there is a seam down the middle of the belly pan. You can drill that row of rivets and th rivets on the floor crossmembers (spaced 24inches on center). You will also have to make a new seam front and rear. That will give you good access from below. Fair warning....it's going to be a real fight to rerivet. That belly pan was installed before the body. It was installed with the frame upside down so gavity wasn't finghting you.

From the top go around the corners and edge with a Ice pick or a awl and look for soft spots. The places where ours was rotted worst was under the bathroom JUST like Marks Front under goucho and water tanks. I had rott at all access points for water heater, Reefer service door and entry door. Also check around the wheel tubs.


It's critical that the perimiter edge be solid. The coach is frame, Deck bolted to frame, body bolted through and too deck.

I do agree...where the coach spent the majority of it's life has been a BIG help. Even if it did leak it was so dry there that it didn't stay wet long. The fact that Rich has not found anyproblems with how high of concentration of weight the wheels would place on the floor is a great sign. Might want to tarp it till you can get it sealed. Replacing a floor is no fun.

Hit the photo albums and look for William Hensel's album. He has HUNDREDS of pictures posted of rebuilding his coach.

Other then when they used Tube pole frame these coaches are all built in a simular manner. Any of the information and pictures you find of the coaches apart are going to be the same thing you find in yours. Some did have box main rails (like Mine and Mark's ) and some had C channel main rails (like Greg's). That is the only difference.

As far as what to do to get rid of the smell. If you find that floor is solid then seal it. www.westmarine.com has a epoxy Resin that I used and I am happy with it. That should get most of the smell sealed out. Then use a sheet flooring.

Now you will notice I at no time mentioned removing that tile. There is a reason.......it's aspestos. Sealing it with the epoxy will prevent it from putting any fibers into the air. The sheet flooring will make it safe.

In a home with aspsetos tile the approved methode of dealing with it is to put a underlayment down and a sheet flooring over. Weight is your enemy so the underlayment should be avoided if possible. You could pull the cabinets and appliances if you feel real industrious and run the sheet flooring to the walls. It would look better taking the time to do that but a LOT of work to do it. The wheel tubs are inner and outer. you can remove the inner without any problems of breaking the seal. They are cosmetic and hide a peice of fiberglass insulation.

I lifted the body off by myself. The heaviest thing I lifted was the 70Lb floor jack into the door. It's not hard getting it off. Just a LOT of rivets to drill. Getting it back on took a little while but not as bad as you would think.


Here is the new floor in our Coach before we put the top on.
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Old 01-16-2004, 09:29 AM   #18
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I know you are set on an air suspension but I'm not convinced it will be all that easy or effective. The wheel wells will limit the drop even if you went all out and made new spindles with a dropped mount. Before you get into this measure from the top of the tire to the inside of the wheel well, that is the maximum drop without new wheel wells. One other real problem I have with this is failure. What happens in the event you loose air pressure? It needs a bottom stop, and that is going to raise the lower limit.

I still think a lift in place of the step well would be a whole lot easier, quicker, and cheaper. One area of the frame to reinforce and all motion would be vertical; make 2 stops, one flush with the existing floor and one at it's current location, and it can drop to the ground. Design the moving assembly to bolt in and installation would be easy. With some planning cylinders and guides could be concealed in cabinetry.

If you do go with the air suspension you need to do a lot of planning right now. From what I have read you are doing a total redesign of the interior. All the plumbing (tanks and drains) and gas line routing must work with the suspension link locations. The longer the links the more vertical the motion of the tire in relation to the frame/body. If it is too short the tire is going to rotate into the wheel well before it reaches full drop. Granted vertical loading will be at the same location, but all the other forces have been transferred to new locations at the end of the links. Brakes generate a huge amount of energy in a panic stop. I would be reluctant to use the frame as it is without serious reinforcing.

IMO to do this you need to have a bare frame and very precisely layout all mounts. Flipped would be a definite plus. A couple of degrees is a lot in suspension geometry; if both tires are toed in or out tire wear will be excessive. If the tires are off parallel to each other (one toe in, one toe out) it will not track true to the tow vehicle and you will have excessive wear. Camber and caster will probably not affect handling as much other than the smaller tread print and excessive wear.

There is adjustment in the rod ends, but everything should be square to start. It is very easy with a little here and a little there to run out of adjustment. Rod ends, links, and mounts will all loose strength off the centerline. Besides there is a lot of welding to do and it is a lot easier (and much more accurate) from the top than laying on your back with only a few inches of clearance.

John
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Old 01-23-2004, 11:32 AM   #19
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Hi there,

I haven't taken the time to do a search for similar topics, I just thought I'd throw out this idea. Hopefully I'm not rehashing something already thought of.

I'm against the airbag concept, and the heavy motorized lift system. I think both will be super-expensive and heavy to drag around, and in the latter will make one side hundreds of pounds heavier than the other. You could call it the leaning trailer of Pisa, though.

I think there's an easier, quicker and less costly way to facilitate easy entrance/egress to your Safari. I'm thinking of two simple designs: the medieval drawbridge, and the extendable aluminum ladder.

In the interest of using the existing elements of the Airstream, I'd bet you could have a new hinge custom fabricated that would attach at the bottom, allowing the door to lower like a drawbridge. The door knob and locks may have to be doubled up on the other side, so both sides would be secure. You're thinking, "The door can't take the weight of a fully grown man and a wheelchair - not what it was designed for at all!" Here's why you wouldn't need special struts or re-engineering of the door:

Once opened, the door would be lying on the ground, exposing your ramp. Here comes the ladder concept: the ramp would be in two pieces (the full width of the door) that would be attached to the frame through the floor just inside the door. If both pieces of ramp were the full height of the door, I'm guessing you could get about 10 foot long ramp. I don't know what the percent grade is for a 2-foot rise over 10 feet, but I'm imagining it being pretty reasonable.

Two drawbacks:
First, you'd obviously have to have a lot of extra streetside, flat real estate before you picked your camping site.

Secondly, the door would be inoperable when the ramp is extended, and therefore you'd need another way to keep out mosquitos, rain, etc. Perhaps a mesh screen on a windowshade concept. Haven't thought that far ahead.

Hope something here sparks an idea that will be a solution for you. It's a wonderful plan on your part, and I know it'll work out.
Brad
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Old 01-23-2004, 12:04 PM   #20
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Brad,

You have me thinking and I wonder why the door could not be de skinned, additional bracing welded in and reskinnned. This would make it more rigid. Then you just add the necessary runners to the door itself. You may want to add a section of thicker aluminum to the top of the door so while it is on the ground the thin skin does not get damaged.

Or you mount the "ramp" on a hinge to the bottom of the door, have the ramp fold just below the top of the door. The ramp would have legs that sit on the ground when folded out. Taking much of the stress off the door. This could all fold up into the door opening hook on the door, and the door could still be closed. Using the original screen while the door is closed is not a problem on a 63 because it has a door within a door.

There are magnetic screen doors that are available that could be mounted inside so the bugs cannot get in while the ramp is deployed. I think I saw one in one of those Airline shopping mags.
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Old 01-23-2004, 01:33 PM   #21
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I'm against the airbag concept, and the heavy motorized lift system. I think both will be super-expensive and heavy to drag around, and in the latter will make one side hundreds of pounds heavier than the other.
Go pneumatic, forget the heavy motors (although a high speed gear reduction motor isn't very heavy; the jack screw would probably weigh more than the motor but a mechanical system would require more maintenance). I have a couple of Bimba cylinders I am using for another lift project, 2 1/2" bore, 24" stroke that will lift 1000 lbs. with 100 lbs of air. They are 8 lbs each with mounts. A 12v Thomas compressor and a 3 gallon air tank, another 15 lbs. If you use steel for the lift and bracing that will probably add another 20 lbs over the weight you remove when you pull the old step well. Control switches, plumbing, wiring and valves another 5 lbs. The compressor, valves, and tank can be on the street side, what you end up with curb side would be like a spare tire laying in front of the door.

I paid $150 each for the cylinders (over kill for the weight and stroke needed plus these have stainless rods, what is needed would be closer to $100), compressor $100, air tank $35, 1 valve (gravity will take it down) $50, flow controls/mufflers, tube, fittings, wiring, switches solenoid, etc. $75, steel $50.

About $500 and 75 lbs.

John
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Old 01-23-2004, 02:08 PM   #22
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hey guys! thanks for the reply! rich will be on the computer later and will probably post back to your comments, but the coincidental thing is that we were talking about the "medieval bridge" idea last night with friends over dinner. we were calling it the "spaceship door"! we were thinking of those sci-fi spaceship doors from those tv shows from the 60's. it seems like it is going to be raining here for the next 2 weeks in oregon so we will have time to draw some ideas up. he is way more technical than me and has been dealing with all sorts of ramps for about 11 years, so he will have a good grasp of these concepts.
thanks
cheryl
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Old 01-23-2004, 07:09 PM   #23
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I used 2 hinges like this on the panel across the front of my mh. When the pins are out it is a hinge, squeeze the handles together and it separates. A couple of sets of these large enough and the door could swing normally or down for a ramp.

John
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Old 01-23-2004, 07:22 PM   #24
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I'm against the airbag concept, and the heavy motorized lift system. I think both will be super-expensive and heavy to drag around, and in the latter will make one side hundreds of pounds heavier than the other. You could call it the leaning trailer of Pisa, though.
I agree that the weght of a lift is to much. I doubt the air suspension will ad 100lb to the coach.

As for reliability........How many 60,000 lb trucks do you see dragging their bumpers on the ground? They almost all have air suspension these days as do most caddies, high end SUV's. Air Bags are very reliable now. Compressor fails or power issue...$10 bicycle pump can inflate them no problem.

The coach may well already have a air supply. My 59 does. It's the Air over water potable water system that all the older vintage units had. I think 63 had it as well. One two way valve and a 12v swtich mounted just inside the door will make it operable.

Drop axle was standard on airstreams till right around 63. This coach may be more ready for bags then you think if it's still a leafe spring model like ours is. I just put one of these oaches together. You can get the tires a good way up into the wheel wells. Smaller diameter tire is what would be needed at worst if it as close.

Rubber bumpstops are no big deal for a unexpeded failure of the air system. It would also be no big deal to add a simple warning system to give notice of a loss of air pressure. Nice bright $5 red light from auto zone in the front window hooked to a 30psi low pressure switch that goes for about $10 and you got it.

Like I said, I wish you were closer. I'd build it just for the fun of it.

My idea is to make it look as factory as possible. None of the modifications noticable. Everything within Rich's means to operate. Only thing I don't have worked out is how to get the top of the ramp up the last couple inches to meet with the floor hight. Pulling it out is no biggie but it will be 5 inches below floor hight. Getting the top of the ramp that last coule inches with minimal effort is all I haven't had a idea on. Bet Rich does though.

I seriously think this could be done for around $600 or less in materials and the labor. If it already has the leaf spring suspension then under $400.
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Old 01-23-2004, 09:01 PM   #25
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Ramp system

What does everyone think about the type of ramp moving trucks have? You could remove the flip down step, and have a ramp slide out from the well. The ramp could be almost 8 feet long. It could either be under the frame or maybe even through the frame to be totally concealed.
With the frame reinforced, the ramp could slide into slots cut into the frame. Inside the belly pan. All you would see is the end of the ramp under the door. An aluminum ramp would be very light. With it mounted on rollers it could be pulled out with one hand. It would be about 2'' below the floor when extended. So a little flip down ramp on the door threshold would bridge the gap. Just a thought. I might make a sketch to explain the engineering a little.
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Old 01-24-2004, 01:51 PM   #26
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exciting

Hey all……

This is starting to be a creative and exciting post for us..

I have added a picture in this post and one on the next of the axel on out AS….as we can see there is not a lot of space as we see it…we are looking into possibly creating a channel in belly of the trailer so the axel can fit up into the belly for maximum travel….don’t know if this is possible but solution….

Onto the ramp-door…..this is funny because we were having a roundtable discussion on alternative ramp entrances and the ramp-door was our final decision for the trailer…we are looking at a pulley system that can lower the door with it hinged at the bottom….as for the ramp, as the door is lowered the ramp would slide-out/deploy giving maximum length…but we have some issues-
-the door is curved…so when using a straight ramp, when the door is closed the ramp will be intruding into the space….aesthetically ugly…
-pulley system…how can we hide it in the structure of the AS..
-re-enforcement of the door
-strength of hinge

thanks for the exciting replies….we know this is a big task but if we aren’t creative about it who will..

rich
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Old 01-24-2004, 01:52 PM   #27
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Old 01-24-2004, 10:34 PM   #28
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Re: exciting

Quote:
Originally posted by nevisstudio
we have some issues-
-the door is curved…so when using a straight ramp, when the door is closed the ramp will be intruding into the space….aesthetically ugly…
-pulley system…how can we hide it in the structure of the AS..
-re-enforcement of the door
-strength of hinge
Hey Rich!

I haven't thought about all the items on your list, but here's a possible solution to the first one: aesthetics.

Using a U-channel type ramp, you'd create a 2-piece ramp. One half would be attached to the inside of the door, while the second would fold out from the top of the door. Both would be slightly bowed, creating the gentle "S" curve when opened in the second sketch. I think the use of a U-channel ramp (with minimum cross-bracing) may not only be very lightweight and non-offensive aesthetically, but also leave enough space open in the middle to still allow use of the screen door-within-a-door - for those nice evening breezes once you've closed up for the night!

Here are a couple quickly sketched, crude closed and open drawings...



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