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Old 01-17-2019, 08:46 AM   #21
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1978 31' Sovereign
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More questions about underbelly and gantries

Thanks Ian for taking the time and energy to write such a long and detailed response. And to you David, for sharing your experiences. You both have been an enormous help and I am grateful.
Ian – I was intrigued with your strategy to remove only those parts of the underbelly that interfere with the removal of the shell. I suffer with vertigo, so keeping the time laying on my back under the trailer to a minimum is a high priority. The remaining underbelly parts will still have to come off. I am assuming if you use gantries, once the shell has been separated from the frame, the gantries could be used to lift the frame to provide better access to the underbelly metal and the tank covers. Is this correct? Or wishful thinking?
Other questions from your most recent reply:
1. You mention “hold down” plates in the front and rear. Are they located in the U channel or under the subfloor?
2. From your description, and my growing understanding of how this trailer is put together, I should be able to lift the shell with the entire floor intact using the strategy you suggested.
3. I’m certain that plans for gantries abound. Can you point me to one that is stout enough for a 31 foot trailer? I thought I read something the other day that a 4X4 crossbeam used on some designs sags too much, and that someone was recommending using 2X6 or 2X8 for crossbeams.
4. From everything I’ve seen on the forum so far, using gantries, a single beam spanning the interior ceiling from the front and to the rear vent openings is used in conjunction with two chain hoists to do the lifting. Using this method, it appears that the shell can be lifted off WITHOUT having to build any internal supporting infrastructure. Is this correct?
David, I believe you repaired your frame without taking the shell off. Is that correct? Or has my failing memory found its way into this thread?
Today, I am working to remove all the things that will interfere with the removal of the inner skins, window-frames, vent covers, AC metal, etc.
Bill
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:36 PM   #22
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I would recommend putting some cross bracing at the bottom of the ribs (just above the subfloor). It will help maintain the shells shape and give you a way to tie the shell down to the ground/supports. I used 1X6's, clamped to each side of the rib with a small scape pieces inside the rib channel to prevent crushing. Drill holes for a couple bolts. I only did it at the front and rear, but my shell is only 23' long. I would suggest bracing in the center for yours.

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I found some used pallet racks for sale as an alternative to building the gantries. They were 12' wide and 12' high. The 12' height gives you more clearance to roll the frame out without tilting to clear the tires/wheel house. In my case I had a use for them afterwards and the cost was less than buying wood for the gantries.

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Placing the horizontal pallet rails on the lowest setting gave me an 'anchor' to strap the shell to. Left it in place, along with the hoists. Set another pair of rails on the highest setting for a base to place the hoists on.

I don't know if you can lift from just two spots; front and back. I would defer to someone whose lifted your size or larger. I created a box beam from 2X4's for the lift. The shell isn't that heavy. For your extra length making the beam from 2X6's may give you more rigidity for the increased length.

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I pulled the door off before lifting. A few threads have mentioned the door weight made the shell tilt to the sidde, once free of the frame.

Also, expect that the lift will go semi smooth. There always seems to be a few hidden rivets that hide during disassembly. It doesn't hurt to have a few friends around to assist in case of issues, wind gusts, etc..
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:55 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wcronin4 View Post
Thanks Ian for taking the time and energy to write such a long and detailed response. And to you David, for sharing your experiences. You both have been an enormous help and I am grateful.
Ian – I was intrigued with your strategy to remove only those parts of the underbelly that interfere with the removal of the shell. I suffer with vertigo, so keeping the time laying on my back under the trailer to a minimum is a high priority. The remaining underbelly parts will still have to come off. I am assuming if you use gantries, once the shell has been separated from the frame, the gantries could be used to lift the frame to provide better access to the underbelly metal and the tank covers. Is this correct? Or wishful thinking?

CORRECT. YOU CAN USE THE GANTRIES AS A ROTISSERIE FOR THE FRAME AND REMOVE THE BELLY PAN AND TANKS AS WELL AS PAINTING ETC...


Other questions from your most recent reply:
1. You mention “hold down” plates in the front and rear. Are they located in the U channel or under the subfloor?

ON THE FRONT ITS BEHIND THE FRONT SKIN BETWEEN THE BATTERY BOXES. ITS A SHEET OF 1/16 STEEL PLATE THAT GOES DOWN TO THE FRAME TO HOLD THE SHELL DOWN. JUST LOOK FOR THE CRAP LOAD OF RIVETS BEHIND THE LP BOTTLES BELLOW THE FRONT WINDOW. THE BACK ONE IS MUCH SMALLER AND IS MOST IF NOT ALL THE REASON REAR END SEPARATION HAPPENS. ITS MORE OF AN ANGLE IRON SHAPE AND MOST LIKELY TOAST. FOUR BOLTS HOLD IT TO THE FRAME AND SOME HARD TO GET TO RIVETS TO THE BODY.JUST GET THE BOLTS FOR NOW.

2. From your description, and my growing understanding of how this trailer is put together, I should be able to lift the shell with the entire floor intact using the strategy you suggested.

YES, FLOOR STAYS ON TRAILER. YOU WILL WANT IT FOR THE TEMPLATE.

3. I’m certain that plans for gantries abound. Can you point me to one that is stout enough for a 31 foot trailer? I thought I read something the other day that a 4X4 crossbeam used on some designs sags too much, and that someone was recommending using 2X6 or 2X8 for crossbeams.

I USED 2@2x8 14’ SISTERED TOGETHER FOR THE CROSSBEAMS. THE SHELL IS LIGHTER THAN YOU THINK, BUT ITS GOOD TO OVER BUILD FOR THE FRAME WORK. I COULDNT SPECIFICALLY POINT YOU TO A THREAD BUT GOOGLE “GANTRIES AIRFORUMS” AND YOU FIND PLENTY OF EXAMPLES.


4. From everything I’ve seen on the forum so far, using gantries, a single beam spanning the interior ceiling from the front and to the rear vent openings is used in conjunction with two chain hoists to do the lifting. Using this method, it appears that the shell can be lifted off WITHOUT having to build any internal supporting infrastructure. Is this correct?

LIFT FROM THE FRONT AND REAR VENTS WITH CHAIN HOISTS ATTACHED TO 2x6’s. THEY DONT HAVE TO SPAN THE WHOLE LENGTH, JUST A FEW RIBS EACH.

David, I believe you repaired your frame without taking the shell off. Is that correct? Or has my failing memory found its way into this thread?
Today, I am working to remove all the things that will interfere with the removal of the inner skins, window-frames, vent covers, AC metal, etc.
Bill

Answers above,
Ian
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Old 01-17-2019, 01:57 PM   #24
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http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...s-35399-5.html

Here is pretty much everything you need to know spread out over a bunch of threads. Start with the size specific ones but do read them all, lots of great ideas and some major disappointments too...
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Old 01-17-2019, 08:03 PM   #25
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Hi from Colorado: Yes, I completed my frame repairs with the shell on the trailer. The belly pan was down in the rear up to the fresh water tank. My rear subfloor was rotted, and the rear cross member was rusted toast. My holding tanks were broken and the holding pans rusted toast.

Rear end separation is confirmed with the "bounce test" you may have read about. Here is the test. Stand on the rear bumper over either the left or right frame rail. Watch the seam between the rear body and the frame rail. Now bounce up and down like you are on a diving board. If the seam between the body and frame rail opens up while bouncing, the rear of the body is no longer attached to the frame. Do this for both frame rails. Here is a photo showing my trailer with about a 3/8" gap opening up.

I would tow my Airstream gutted and without interior skins. The interior skins don't add a lot of strength to the body, but they do add some. I would tow it over good roads and at lower speeds, e.g. 55 mph.

The steel pan holds up the fresh water tank. Remove the pan and the tank will want to drop. It might hang there on the vent pipe joint or other plumbing.

Working on your creeper under the trailer is difficult for sure. Since you are doing a shell off repair, you will be able to flip the frame over with your gantries which will help a lot. Remove the axles first to reduce weight.

David
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Old 01-18-2019, 02:28 AM   #26
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Would love to pics along the way. I'm working on a similar '75 Globetrotter. My solution to the vent pipe was a sawmill. We are changing the layout to suit us and our camping requirements.
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Old 01-18-2019, 02:47 PM   #27
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A look at the rear end damage

Here are some pics of the condition of the frame and bath floor. It will give you and idea why I am so pessimistic about the condition of the frame.

Here is the inside taken of the back wall and floor.
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Here is a pic of the back from the outside.
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Ian suggested standing on the bumper in the back to test for frame separation, the bumper fell off. Can't day for sure if I have frame separation or not. the rest of the floor in the bath area seems to be attached to the walls as it should be.

You more pic and a question
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How do you remove these types of switches without destroying them? Wait and take them off as the skin is removed?

Thanks to Harold and Rebecca for their suggestion for bracing and the cool gantry they put together.

To SAC1gga, I will include as many pics as it makes sense to upload. if you interested in something specific, let me know and if I have a pic of it I'll share it.
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Old 01-18-2019, 03:13 PM   #28
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Dissappointments

Ian - you mentioned in your response links to major rebuilds. But you also mentioned "disappointments." What are the ones that stand out in your memory?

Any that would bear on my project? What are the gotchas I need to avoid?

Bill
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Old 01-18-2019, 03:18 PM   #29
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correction

I stand corrected, David made the suggestion of standing on the bumper to test for frame separation. Sorry David.

Regardless, the frame members seem like they are in horrible condition. But again, I won't know until I can see underneath better.

bill
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Old 01-18-2019, 07:58 PM   #30
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Our 70s (body started in 69) Airstreams are infamous for a poor rear body rain water seal. The rear of the frame is usually the worse. I think the most important aspect of a Airstream rebuild project is the body, The body, (shell), is difficult and expensive to repair. The frame is easier and cheaper. Don't worry, it can be fixed and you can do it.

Here is a rusty mess I found under my Overlander. Misery loves company. I spent about $900 on frame repairs, both materials and the mobile welder cost. My frame is good now.

Those rocker switches have molded retainer "levers" behind them that expand when you push the rocker into the aluminum. Take a thin, narrow putty knife and get behind the switch and push gently while lifting and see if you can get the switch to lift away from the wall. These switches (two position) are available if one breaks. The three position switches are not as easy to find, but I don't remember one in the 70s trailers.

David
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Old 01-19-2019, 04:00 AM   #31
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The disappointments are when the thread just stops. When the OP is trucking along, doing a great job then all of a sudden... nothing. No more posts. For one reason or another folks either abandon the project or just stop posting.
Though there are the success stories too...
The thread by Minno should be required reading. There are many other great threads as well, but that one in particular stands out to me. As did SneakingUp’s.

Ian
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Old 01-19-2019, 08:00 AM   #32
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Cleco Fasteners

Ian

In my other life, I write novels. My concern will be that I post too much.

To others following the thread:

Today I'm working on removing everything that will interfere with removing the inner skins. Since most of the time I am working alone, I have been looking at these long panels and trying to figure a way that I can remove them without damage or creasing. I had thought about building a stand to hold the panels as they were being removed, and then I ran across something from another thread called a Cleco temporary fastener. I haven't learned yet how to post a link, but I googled Cleco and found them easily. Apparently, as you remove the rivets from the panel, you can use these temporary fasteners as strategic points to hold the panel in place until your ready to pull the panel loose. I also understand that they can be very useful when trying to reinstall the skins.

It sounds good. But are they practical?
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Old 01-19-2019, 08:48 AM   #33
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Clecos are a must. Super handy, you’ll never have enough.

VTS has a good starter kit:
https://www.vintagetrailersupply.com...-p/vts-821.htm

You’ll need 1/8” for the majority of what you’re doing but 5/16” and 3/8” will come in to play as well. You’ll need the pliers as well.

To post a link just copy/paste.

No one will accuse you of posting too much.

Tell me more about your books? I’m an avid reader...

Ian
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Old 01-19-2019, 05:04 PM   #34
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Still working interior

January 18, 2018
This is the second day of interior preparations for interior skin removal. Worked about 6 hours removing outlets (DC and AC) wheel well outer covers, wing window trim, and a lot of miscellaneous things attached to the wall, like window shade hardware, lights that light up the compartments. Also, removed the remaining water pipes, AC fuse panel and entrance 30 Amp cable. There was more stuff attached to that wall that had to be removed than I anticipated.
Everywhere where cabinets were attached to the wall there were burrs or remnants of drilled out rivets protruding from the wall. Since I wanted to scrub all the interior skins before they were removed – most were covered in grease, mold and only God knows what else – these burrs had to be chiseled off with a sharp chisel to smooth out the wall and remove things that would snag a sponge. So everywhere something had been riveted to the wall, there was clean up to be done.
As with most other things in this trailer, the wheel well outer covers were brittle and cracking, and the wing window trim covers were also brittle and cracking. As I was taking off the wing window trim, I noticed that both wing windows have two vertical cracks in them. Ugh - $$$$$.
There was this thing that looked like a light on the back driver corner that I couldn’t figure out what it was. When I was removing outlets I notice a junction box and inside was, what I suppose is, a light to indicate whether there is AC power. See pics below. A nice feature when you’re plugging in to shore power, a confirmation that the AC power is on.
In the bummer category, I went to disconnect the fresh water filler tube from the filler cap, and the plastic crumbled away. Same with the breather tube. Pics below. Anyone know whether you can replace this plastic piece? The exterior metal part is great, but the plastic behind it is toast.
So far the continued removal of the interior is progressing without major issues. Nothing that I have done so far in this project required anything more than basic skill. It is like a big puzzle that you have to take you time with and not get aggressive. I am taking plenty of pictures and taking plenty of notes. I have made my own diagram of where all the wires go and where they are used. And I have tried to preserve everything, not knowing whether I will use it, or whether it can be repaired. I’ll make those decisions later.
One of the things that I have found most helpful is making lists. There are so many things that have to be done it is easy to get distracted and waste time. So in the morning, I survey what needs to be done, make a list as I go, prioritize that list, then work the list in order. I don’t think about the next task until the one in front of it is completed. These lists will be important, because they will provide general tasks to be done to reinstall everything. I got a spiral notebook, and keep all my notes, questions, and lists in one place. So far it seems to be making me more productive. The other thing it does is reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed. If I keep my eye on the list instead of all the things left to do, I don’t let it overwhelm me.
Tomorrow, I give all the skins (they are disgusting) a thorough scrubbing, finish removing the charger/converter, and if time permits, try to number all the interior panels and try to figure out what order they will need to be removed. To be continued . . .
Pics
Wheel well cover in trailer and removed. Note splitting
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The outlets used in this camper are a AMP product and are a quick connect variety. Never seen them before
Here is pic of how they are opened
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With the outlet opened
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Here is the light to indicate AC is on
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Old 01-19-2019, 05:10 PM   #35
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Novels

Ian - for you or anyone else who may be interested, you can find my books at Amazon.com. You can search for my name Bill Cronin, or my name with any of the titles below:

Jack McNamara Series (Family Mystery)

The Song of the Mockingbird
Ruby's Story
Letting Go
Joe and the Governor

The Jed McCain Series (Police Crime)

Night Fire
Playing with Fire

Stand Alone Novels

Dial Tone
The Tainted Lady
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Old 01-19-2019, 07:53 PM   #36
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Gee, I've never met an author before. Congratulations and thanks for the list of your works. I'll have to try one of your novels.

Cracked wheel well "covers" are very common. This part doesn't have much to do except hold in the insulation over the real wheel "house". I just did a little adhesive repair on the cracks and added some fastener to hold them down and against the wall.

The "AC" light you mention I believe is the wrong polarity indicator. Airstream installed these for years and years as 3 prong plugs were not that prevalent back then. If the light is on, there is a polarity problem that needs addressed. I still remember an old wringer washer we had. We plugged it in and then were getting a little shock off the sheet metal around the tub. Since I am highly confident that my 30 amp power cord and new AC power connect to the trailer are wired correctly with the neutral wire and ground wire. You can buy a little "circuit tester" at the hardware store that plugs into any outlet and tells you if you have any "hot" voltage leaking to neutral or to ground. Don't need a polarity indicator any more.

Clecos are very handy "sheet clamps". You are wise to spend for some, especially when it comes time to reassemble the interior skins.

I use a sharpie and label the parts on their backside as they come off the trailer. It helps when it is time to reassemble them. I also sometimes indicate which way was up, or left and right as appropriate.

David
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:29 AM   #37
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What to do with the bath?

Still cleaning the interior skins before removal, but looking ahead toward whether to reinstall the old bath or start from scratch. We are concerned about the durability of the old Fiberglas given that everything else has been so brittle from heat.

The thought is, if we paint and reinstall and the tub cracks, or epoxy paint doesn’t adhere as it should after everything is redone, then you have a lot of tearing out to do.

Would love to hear feedback on this.

If we started from scratch the most challenging part is to make a shower pan. I’ve searched forums for a how-to but didn’t find one. Anyone seen a post on this?
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Old 01-21-2019, 08:05 AM   #38
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Your doing a great job .
I’m in the progress of doing my bath and I’m kind of worried also but onward thru the fog . I’ve research it and will be soon in the next two weeks if the weather stays warm enough . You can keep up with this progress on my tread .
Good luck , Blue
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Old 01-21-2019, 04:04 PM   #39
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Cleaning skins and Antenna Issue

Jan 21, 2018
Spent nearly the entire day cleaning interior skins. When completed I had the opportunity to tackle some other things that had to be removed to allow the skins to be removed.
The pic below shows the interior handle to lift and turn antenna. The handle inside was frozen, or so it seemed. But it certainly wasn’t operating properly.
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The next pic shows the antenna. You can tell by its design that it was something out of the black and white era. It looked normal enough until I started moving it around.
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When I found a way to get it loose, it was just flopping around in its hole. When I pulled it out, it was apparent why the mechanism wasn’t working, the center part of the plate was destroyed. There is no way this couldn’t have been the source of an enormous leak.
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Questions:
1. Can you get up on the roof? A permanent repair to the hole in the antenna plate will require me to be able to access it from the top. It seems where there is a support beam, it seems strong enough to support some weight. But 210 lbs? Yes or no????
2. Ian/David - Thinking ahead to lifting the body. There are three vents in the roof, not counting where the air conditioner sits. The two furthest vents sit very close to the end caps about 20-21 feet apart. When lifting through these vents with gantries, must there be one continuous beam that runs between these vents? Or can two shorter beams be used? Anyone have any idea what a 31 foot shell weighs? How much interior framing/support is needed? I think I saw a video of someone pulling a long AS off a frame without any.
3. Spinning rivets. It seems like half or more of the rivets I try to drill out spin on me. I tried to put tape over them as one video suggested but that didn’t help. Is there a secret here short of chiseling them out?

The preparation to remove the inner skins, and then the end caps, has taken much longer than I thought. I believe I have about 70 hours or more invested so far to this point. Don’t know whether that’s good or bad.
David and Ian – I notice that you both have “rivets” under your name that signifies something. What is it?
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Old 01-21-2019, 08:59 PM   #40
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My TV antennae doesn't know it yet, but it is coming down. I did take the one off my wife's 86 many years ago. Yes, you can get on a roof of an Airstream VERY CAREFULLY. And you must not put any weight on the "end caps" front or rear. So what I did was place a 4x4 behind the Zip-Dee awning roll. Then I place a sheet of 5/8" plywood on top of that and resting on top of the roof and extending beyond the "crown" of the roof, or centerline if you will. I screwed the plywood to the 4x4 so it wouldn't slip on me. The plywood was supported on either side by the body "formers", or the hoops that form the body shape. This is where the strength is. I also had a piece of old carpet under the plywood to reduce scuffing. I used this to remove and replace the air conditioner as well as the TV antennae. I did not dent the roof at all. I worked on all fours, I didn't stand up very much at all. The idea is to distribute our body weight over two or three of the "beams" or formers. You can not just step on an Airstream roof.

You can remove the antennae and cut a patch for the roof hole. Make it well sealed and well riveted in place of course.

There are several bracing considerations before lifting the body off the frame. I bet the body weighs over 1000 pounds considering the windows and doors installed. I suspect I would use one long beam inside so all the weight of the body is on the beam being lifted with two hoists. You have to brace the side walls so they don't collapse in when you lift. I just read kristof's thread where he lifted the body off the frame with jacks. You might like to review it.

Bathroom plastics: Very good question. In my 1966 Trade Wind project, I pitched the plastics and built a vanity and shower stall. Cabinet making ain't my specialty. In my 1975 Overlander project, I reused the plastics after I painted them. They were about 3/16" thick and not too cracked up, but some cracks around rivet holes and the like. The tub had been repaired once but it held water with no leaks. Attached are "done" photos of each. Minno in his thread built a whole new bath, but his hobby is cabinet making I think.

Hey, you might really complicate things by building a "mid bath" layout in your trailer since you are starting fresh. A rear bedroom makes more sense to me. I would much prefer this layout. My wife's Airstream is that way so I'm used to it. You can have a vanity and toilet on one side of the aisle, and a shower room on the other. Just a thought.

Spinning rivets are one of the many pleasures of the vintage Airstream hobby. Sometimes I can crack the heads off with a larger 5/32 drill, and then use my center punch to drive the rivet mandrel through the hole. Sometimes I just use my thin chisel and shear them under the head. Sometimes I just come back later in hopes the elves got it overnight.

David
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