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Axles and tires and bubbles

Posted 08-30-2012 at 01:11 AM by DKB_SATX
Tags axles, leaks, tires

Note: As I was writing this, it got a bit long, so I'm going to break it into 2 posts, one describing the condition of my Argosy before these upgrades, and another detailing the work itself.

So, while I was installing my new BAL stabilizers a few months ago, I lifted the trailer up and could no longer live in denial of the need for new axles for il Carriaggio. It was clear that the axles barely moved at all when I took the load off them, which I had kinda suspected from watching them go across speed bumps, dips, etc. as well as the number of interior rivets I've replaced.

I don't have a good place to work on the trailer for serious stuff. My storage space has a crushed stone surface, so it's tough to do any work under the trailer. At home, the driveway is narrow and the gate is actually not quite the full width of the driveway, the space between the garage and the gate is pretty tight, and I'd be violating city code with the Argosy there anyway (need a permit for more than 6' fence, but need a 10' fence to hide the Argosy from the street, etc.) So, I had the perfect excuse to pay for someone else's experience and get the work done much faster than I'd probably manage in a DIY situation.

Fellow AIRForums member Top (Lance) is also a fellow member of my WBCCI unit and a friend, and after talking with him about the work I decided to palm the sweaty work off to Lance. His shop is about 140 miles from my house, but these things are relatively portable so I wasn't worried too much about that part. As it happened, I dropped off the trailer on the way home from Port Aransas on 5 August, where several of us including Lance & Co. camped by the beach for the weekend.

Here Lance has pulled it out of the shop after I dropped it off, to wash the road scum off before leak testing. (The commercial building is for sale, not Top's Texas Vintage Campers.)

Reviewing the various options, I made some interesting and heretical choices and I wonder how much lively discussion on those topics may ensue in the next installment where I detail all that... but you'll need to read on for more! I learned that Lance was going to have a Sealtech 430r while il Carriaggio was in for surgery, so I decided to spring for some leak detection and elimination in the process. When he sent me some photos of the test, Lance jokingly suggested I call the trailer Bubbles instead!

Oh, and on the topic of photos... Lance makes a practice of photographing his work on a trailer and providing the photos to the customer on an ongoing basis. I find this to be an excellent idea, as it kept me abreast of how the work was going, just exactly what he was finding with and doing to the trailer and it allowed me to make better decisions when unplanned items came up. All of the photos in this post were taken by Lance in the process of the work, and he shared many more with me than I'll use here.

Anyway, back to the bubbles. I was most concerned about the leaks around the front window frames (where the frames meet the skin, not where the windows seal to the frame) and the rub rail all around at the height of the floor, where the side panels butt against the wrap. Typical for a '70s Airstream, there's some subfloor work in my future but it hasn't totally disintegrated yet, so that headache is still in my future. For now, the damage won't be getting any worse because water won't be getting in to feed the rot process!

Here's evidence of a leak between the front pano and the front window:

Here you can see the leaks around front lap seams and around the fresh water fill.

And here you see where the A-frame and rub rail may leak at the nose.

My wheel wells reminded me a bit of a sieve. Lots of hidden opportunities for leaks right around the tires kicking up water from the road when driving in wet conditions... fun stuff!

The water heater was probably leaking as much water as it was heating.

Even the belt line trim had a few potential links.

OK, that's lots of text and photos about what was wrong with il Carriaggio, it's creeping me out just thinking about it! I'll write the next post soon about how much better the Argosy is now than it was in at the beginning of August 2012.

Click here to go to the post about the leak fixes.
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