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Old 10-15-2021, 12:02 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
 
2004 22' International CCD
Beaumont , California
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 91
2004 International CCD 22' FRAME REPAIRS

This article / thread is a description of how I modified my trailer to deal with severe frame failure issues.

I am writing and illustrating this thread as a resource to anyone interested in what may be found on the early-to-mid 2000’s International CCD 22’ trailers. There is an introduction, so you may ignore that if you aren’t interested. This is a re-post as I asked the Administrators to delete my original thread due to my problems editing it.

NOTE: “Failure” in this case means loss of original geometry and / or loss of structural integrity such as cracks or deformity.

INTRODUCTION

My wife and I bought a 2004 Airstream International CCD 22’ in January 2021. While I do have experience in purchasing and repairing used cars and trucks, we had never owned any type of RV; so Airstreams were a collection of some new-to-me technology applications.

My wife and two adult children camped for our first time in Idyllwild, California in a rented two-year-old Winnebago MiniWinnie trailer in November 2020 (this had nothing to do with the pandemic; the timing was coincidental). We all had a GREAT time and after some discussion, we all agreed to look into getting a trailer. I spent several months shopping for trailers; after a while, believing that Airstreams were not affordable for us, I pursued several Lance trailers. Unable to find what I wanted within a narrow set of parameters on the pre-owned market, I eventually started looking at Airstreams.

The prices were high for us. Our budget was originally $20,000. That would buy a nice Lance, but again, what I was looking for was rare/not available. So as I started looking at Airstreams, I had to increase our budget. It was also apparent that Airstreams hold their resale value better than other brands.

After several months of perusing ads as far away as Kansas (we are in the Los Angeles area) and finding few mid-size Airstreams for sale and also rejecting thirty-footers because my wife insisted they were much too big, I found a good model an hour-and-a-half away, for sale by owner. I made the inspection appointment and my wife and I arrived.

Again, I had no experience with Airstreams. I did spend time on the Net and forums discussing them, but never had been in one. (Here is a perfect time to harangue anyone looking for their first AS, to inspect others that you’re not very interested in just to gain the knowledge and experience of what to expect BEFORE you look at one you really want.) Nowhere had I read about many early-to-mid 2000’s CCD’s having frame problems. I should have searched “Airstream problems” or “Airstream failures”.

I inspected the trailer, saw that the underside sheet aluminum was loose from corrosion around rivets, and some other "minor” underside damage. The tires weren’t fresh, neither was the battery. The interior had been heavily modified as well: all the original Formica cabinet/closet/drawer faces had been replaced with redwood/faux ostrich skin appliques and the dinette had been removed with a redwood-framed bench/couch installed.

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At the time, none of this seemed important and my wife did not voice any opinions about the décor. So the condition wasn’t perfect but after having shopped for over six months, I was not patient enough (desperate?) to fully evaluate the situation. So we bought it.

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Being an attorney, the seller required me to sign a contract stipulating that the trailer was as-is, where-is with no warranty blah blah blah.



AS-FOUND CONDITION

The first thing I decided to do was re-install the dinette. This required removal of the bench.

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Aaannnd... this was when I found that the floor had a problem! The floor curved down at the curb side.

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Just to the rear of the side door

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Rear corner, curb side

That was the beginning of my inquiries, and also when I learned of the many cases of this model and span of years having the same issues: i.e., sagging frames, cracked frames, sagging frame outriggers, poorly-fitting cabinets, etc.

I found on mine that someone had unbolted the axles on the curb side and added steel tubing and additional steel parts to lift the curb side frame in order to visually correct the body sag on that side.

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Curb side outrigger at front of wheel well; square held firmly against frame rail

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Curb side, rear of wheel well

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Frame rail buckling

Discussion on forums about this subject incurred defensive people suggesting that since I didn’t know the service history of this particular trailer, I had no way of passing judgment on Airstream, its engineers, management, nor production team. The damage this one incurred could have been sustained from it having been dropped from a helicopter. This, notwithstanding the comments that many of the dealer-installed factory repair kits failed as well, nor the multiple cases of the same failures within a group of the same model, length, and specific period of years.

I cannot express the level of disappointment and disgust in the quality of manufacture of this trailer, in contrast to the reputation. I have found MANY other shortcomings and failures as I have made repairs over the last eight months.

VERY FORTUNATELY for me and my family, a fellow owner of this model shared his/her efforts to correct the same deficiencies. They used a trailer shop to effect repairs, using rectangular steel tube placed under the original frame to support and straighten it. I chose 4” mild steel channel instead because channel has no unexposed surfaces and can be more easily painted and inspected, and it’s cheaper by the foot.

Since I had the axles out and they appeared to be original 17-year-old assemblies, I ordered two new ones.

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I built two stands at 24” high and jacked up the trailer, placing them on the downhill end of my driveway under the tongue A-frame, and then supported the frame at the rear using two heavier-duty adjustable jackstands, just outside the body to allow access for installing the new rails. Higher stands would have given more room to work, but also would have made the overhead reach more fatiguing.

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I built a steel frame to support the axle assemblies during removal and installation, utilizing my hydraulic floor jack.

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I then removed all the sheet aluminum and old insulation (and nuts and mouse droppings) underneath, excepting in the front over the spare tire, and all three tank covers. The fresh water tank is supported by external straps, so it had to be supported temporarily with steel straps.

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The gray and black water tanks’ support brackets were also removed and the tanks supported with plastic crates and wooden blocks.

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Fresh water tank, road side cover end cut off

All the old frame was cleaned and painted where the new frame parts would be mounted.

The propane gas piping was removed for clearance.

The new 20-foot+ frame rails were brought home and first the curbside one was created. The rear was cut and welded to make a taper to reduce weight a little and also for aesthetics.

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The road side was more problematic: while the sagging on this side was less (possibly due to the kitchen cabinetry adding stiffness and support to the body), I felt the support should be as equal to the curb side as practicable. But with the existing gray and black water tanks’ drain pipes in the way, full-length support would be very difficult to achieve. Maintaining the ability to drop the tanks without cutting the frame seemed crucial.

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The extension to the rear over the tank drains was narrowed but was also strengthened by adding ¾" cold-rolled steel bar to the outside. This view makes the extension look excessively long, but it is only about 30”.

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Old 10-15-2021, 12:29 PM   #2
2 Rivet Member
 
2004 22' International CCD
Beaumont , California
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 91
CONTINUED

As can be seen, the amount of bend of the main rail on the curb side, over the axles, was considerable. While this looks bad enough, consider that in this view, the whole trailer is currently being supported by the jack stands at the extreme ends, so it is sagging down, reducing the amount of actual sag when supported by the axles. The gap seen here was over 1 ½".

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Curb side, as seen from near the tongue

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Curb side looking forward from the rear corner

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The old frame was dawn down to the new rail and welded. Welding methods were by MIG process and stick arc welding using 7018 rod.

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The leading (front) corners got slightly tapered bottom corners; the front cross piece was 3” channel, and eventually (due to the tongue having an upward bend), additional channel and steel bar bracing was added to the A-frame. The bracing was welded to the main rails first with a gap at the tongue, then the tongue was clamped down to the braces and welded in an effort to level it out.

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To keep the new frame rails square, 2” channel cross-braces were welded in.

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To add strength to the new frame rails over the axles, ¼" x 7” steel plates which the axles bolt onto were welded onto the channels. They were also tapered to reduce weight and to lend a bit of aesthetic relief.

The outriggers were cut near the rails to allow bending, and a whole side of the trailer body was jacked up at once and then angle braces welded-on to create the support they lacked. The cuts were then welded closed.

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Outriggers cut to allow straightening

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Lifting the body edge up; steel channel spreaders used between jacks and outriggers

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Angle braces added, curb side

OTHER REPAIRS

While the frame repairs were being made, additional work was accomplished.

All of the aluminum sheet metal removed was replaced with 24 gauge galvanized steel. Steel was used because the aluminum sheet, as installed at the factory, was riveted to the steel frame without isolation. This dissimilar metal contact caused galvanic action, resulting in corrosion at every rivet. All the new sheets were screwed on and joints sealed with SikaFlex. If the screws start falling out, they will be replaced with steel or stainless-steel pop rivets.

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Pattern for new sheet metal panels, underneath

I replaced the cheap fiberglass-like insulation with Corning closed-cell insulation panels, screwed to the subfloor. This is less accommodating to rodents than fiberglass insulation, and does not hold moisture like fiberglass. It also has a higher R-value.

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Note new galvanized sheet cover, closed-cell insulation, and axle support bracket during installation

A new stainless steel cover was created for the fresh water tank.

The existing galvanized steel covers for the two waste tanks were modified to fit within the new frame, and new pieces were created for the drain ends. All three covers had 1/8” holes drilled to allow drainage in case of leaks, which also allows immediate identification of a problem.

The propane pipe/tube was re-routed and shortened, no longer crossing the frame from the curb side to the road side; and two pieces of damaged smaller tubing were replaced.

The body stabilizers were mounted to new ¼" steel plates, which were bolted to the new frame.

The tubular mild steel spare tire carrier was rotten (as is common with tubular steel because it can’t be painted inside), and I replaced it with a new stainless steel square tube assembly; also, a piece of stainless sheet steel was added for the tire to rest on, providing flying debris protection as well as making the sliding of a tire onto and off of the carrier easier.

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A second man from work, hired to help, made this entire job manageable both in time and effort.



RESULTS

First, the floor is now nearly flat! The gaps we see are from the laminate floor being warped.

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Front of wheel well at door, curb side

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In front of desk; curb side

Second, with the body no longer sagging on the curb side, the plastic window/wall divider next to the master bed no longer rubs the ceiling at the top left corner.

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Third, the body and tongue now sit 4” higher.

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Before frame additions

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After frame additions. I need to add 4” of hitch lift on my truck.

Fourth, the door step is now higher, making it a bit tough for my 5’ 1” wife to get in and out of the trailer.

Fifth, the trailer now weighs 5640 lbs with the full fresh water tank and gear and supplies for a two-night campout. The advertised dry weight (base, no options, and no gear nor fluids) was 4,043 lbs with a GVW of 5,600 lbs. Note that I bought 3500-lb rated axles, so my axles are rated for 7,000 lbs. I believe I added approximately 350 pounds of steel, including the sheet steel and etc.

I have taken it on a thorough on-pavement test trip; with a full fresh water tank and at steps of 5 mph starting from 50 mph and ending at 75 mph, I swerved left and right a couple times per step and experienced no instabilities. No fishtailing, no other handling problems. I also drove about ten miles up a mountain road and returned. I do not use an equalizing hitch nor an anti-sway system; just the ball hitch and safety chains. The towing vehicle is a 2012 RAM ½ ton 2-wheel-drive 4-door shortbed truck with factory tow package, Hemi engine and auto trans with body-levelling rear airbags. The truck has no performance mods.

I believe the modifications and repairs will provide reliable service for a considerable time; we may elect to give this trailer to our children in the future. With a planned trip to Death Valley this December, the effectiveness and durability of my work will be tested more thoroughly and a full inspection thereafter should reveal any deficiencies.

It is planned to take this trailer to Banff, BC Canada and then to Skagway, AK and back to southern California in late summer 2022.
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Old 10-15-2021, 12:47 PM   #3
2 Rivet Member
 
2004 22' International CCD
Beaumont , California
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 91
FURTHER WORK

The 12-volt dc electrical equipment at the front, under the bed, was poorly protected; and there was NO protection from fire under the bed!

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Factory protection? Hope not!!! ...but probably

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The equipment illustrated has no protection from metal objects falling into them, realistically causing a short circuit resulting in sparks and/or overheating components, in turn causing a fire.

My solution was to create a metal box to enclose all of it. It is screwed to the floor for easy removal to facilitate access to the circuit parts, such as the battery isolation relay, fuses, and etc.

I added some additional ¾" x 3” framing to the bedstead for better support while I was in there working.

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I also made 2/3 of the bedstead liftable to allow for MUCH easier access to this storage area. Two hinges was all it took!

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I’ve replaced the LED light over the sewage tank drain and installed a switch under the kitchen sink for that; replaced the 1 ¼" fresh water fill tube which was cracked (what a b*tch that was, with how the factory workers installed the hot and cold water tubing around it); sanded and painted the refrigerator and water heater vent covers (silver, not gray); re-installed the dinette and electrical panel.

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Electrical panel being re-installed into the rear bench

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The dinette table was missing all the hardware; the kit I bought did not fit exactly as it was made 1 ½" wider than the existing wall brackets and holes in the bottom of the table. I just bent the swing rod to fit.

I built a bunkbed using aluminum structural shapes, stainless bolts, and acorn nuts which can be assembled or disassembled in about 3 minutes; we store the parts between the rear bench and the desk. We utilized the cushion from the wooden bench that had been removed, and we clamp the frame to the dinette benches for increased stability.

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I also replaced the missing sliding ceiling locker doors with sand-blasted plexiglass.

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Clear vs blasted; I prefer to not see the clutter within!

The warped wood veneer ceiling locker shelves I replaced with aluminum.

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The new shelves are drop-in / removable and also sealed at the corners to contain any spilled liquids.

I repainted the three large covers on the road side as well.
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I prefer the snazzy silver paint over the gray...

There are a number of small maintenance items to complete, and I would like to polish the rear bumper some day.

Next year or sooner, all of the redwood cabinet faces will be replaced with laminate. Annoyingly, the original black wood pattern material used at next to the master bed is not available; so the question is whether to use something kinda close and be dissatisfied with the finished product, use or something altogether different and stand-alone.

Finally, I have cut the towing safety chains and added threaded quick links so they may be removed when in storage; I have seen videos of demonstration that thieves can easily steal a trailer by simply connecting the safety chains crossed and lowering the tongue down onto them and driving away. A hitch lock makes no difference in this case.

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NOT how I wanted to spend all my free time this last summer!
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Old 10-15-2021, 01:15 PM   #4
2 Rivet Member
 
2004 22' International CCD
Beaumont , California
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 91
SO.....

Here we are using our Airstream for the first time since all the major repairs. We stayed two nights in Idyllwild, southern California in September 2021.

It set up and took down quickly, everything worked, and the layout was fine. A bit cramped for four adults, but that was expected.

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Illustrating the two adults in the dinette and bunk bed.

All the girls told me later that they had a great time and were looking forward to doing it again.

I performed a thorough underside inspection later, and did not find any repair failures.

I'm planning a three-night trip to Death Valley this December just before Christmas; some light(?) off-roading will be happen, and so an additional inspection will be made.

In retrospect, while I was forced to spend so much time and effort on this utility vehicle, I feel the value will prove itself over the years. We may consider gifting this Airstream to our children, and I expect they will be able to use it successfully for years after. The repairs effected should also help with its value retention.

As well as it handles on the road and highway, and with all of its accessories, I am anticipating using it several times a year. I especially want to spend time at the Pacific coast.

You may be discouraged by what I've reported; keep in mind that RV-owning is a condition requiring maintenance not only of a home, but of a vehicle as well. No matter what brand/make of trailer you buy, a used one will require work, and a new one will as well, after some time. The point of this thread was informational in nature to help anyone else who buys the same age and model Airstream that I did, in determining IF they are acquiring one with the same issues, how I addressed those issues, and if that person wants to commit to spending the resources to do the same.

I am happy to reply to any inquiries, but don't bother castigating my opinions about my expectations of quality for this brand via PM. I've been in heavy industry since my 'teens, I have thousands of hours of experience in maintenance, and with all of that, there is no chance of changing my opinions given here. The original frame on my trailer is weak, under-sized, and of low quality. That being said, I salvaged it and am using it.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 10-16-2021, 12:40 PM   #5
Refugee from Napa, CA
 
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2015 25' Flying Cloud
Currently Looking...
Formerly Napa , On the road
Join Date: Apr 2014
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Excellent job and atypically, an excellent write up. No criticism here…
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Old 10-17-2021, 06:16 AM   #6
3 Rivet Member
 
2005 25' Safari
palm beach gardens , Florida
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 212
Wow, great job, enjoy your NEW trailer!
My only comment would be that you might want to consider anti sway and/or weight distribution. Sure, you may not need it, but it usually always improves the towing experience
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Old 10-17-2021, 11:04 PM   #7
2 Rivet Member
 
2004 22' International CCD
Beaumont , California
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 91
Thank you, both!

I hope this helps others!

...and I have considered using anti-sway for improved handling, but I haven’t decided which equipment that I would be satisfied with.

Best Wishes
-Ken
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Old 11-09-2021, 11:33 PM   #8
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1994 30' Excella
alexandria , Kentucky
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 2,096
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Extremely impressed with your skills and how you took a bad situation and made it workable. Enjoy all your hard earned sweat equity!
__________________
Steve, Christy, Anna and Phoebe (Border Collie)
1994 Classic 30'11" Excella - rear twin
2009 Dodge 2500, 6 Speed Auto, CTD, Quad Cab, Short Bed
Hensley Arrow hitch with adjustable stinger
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Old 11-10-2021, 10:35 AM   #9
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2004 22' International CCD
Beaumont , California
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 91
Thank you very kindly! I am READY to relax and enjoy this pretty baby
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Old 11-12-2021, 12:17 PM   #10
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Girdwood , Alaska
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 10
I had been wondering if you had gone ahead with the proposed repair/rebuild. Today I discovered your entry in my mailbox on the forum. Great job on the rebuild and the description of the build and process!
My similarly modified 22’ 2205 International now has over 20k miles on it and it all seems good.
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Old 11-13-2021, 07:58 AM   #11
2 Rivet Member
 
2004 22' International CCD
Beaumont , California
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 91
Thanks! Your time and shared info inspired me to just “git ‘er done”

20,000!!! Be lucky if I get 10,000 in the next ten years ha ha

Thanks again!!
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Old 11-13-2021, 10:35 AM   #12
1 Rivet Member
 
Girdwood , Alaska
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 10
I recently discovered your outstanding description of your 2004 International frame repair/rebuild, great job on both. I’m pleased to report my 2005 with a similar frame rebuild has proved to be a great solution and overall improvement to this incredibly poorly engineered model.
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Old 11-14-2021, 08:25 AM   #13
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2004 22' International CCD
Beaumont , California
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 91
Thank you sir!

Happy to hear your trailer is doing great now!
Ndcctrucks is offline   Reply With Quote
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