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Old 09-05-2010, 08:09 PM   #21
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1976 31' Sovereign
Sandpoint , Idaho
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I've just about completed clearing out the interior. I just have to remove the hot water heater and the wheel well covers. I thought the subfloor was 5/8" or 3/4" thick? Now that I have everything out, there are several places where I can measure the thickness of the old floor. It is 1/2" or maybe 7/16"

If you have replaced your flooring, what thickness was your old floor and what thickness did you use?

I'll be spending more time on this project tomorrow. Might even get some of the old floor up and more of the belly wrap off.

Pete
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:58 PM   #22
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Pete the inner or yellow wheel well covers can be removed from inside but the ones below that that are a thicker black plastic are mounted with a lip under the floor. There are screws in several different spots through the wheel wells into the edge of the floor.
My floor is 3/4" thick but mine is 1973. Maybe gary splitrock will chime in and let you his floor thickness. He has a 1976 like yours.
What's your plan shell on or off?
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:27 AM   #23
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.... I thought the subfloor was 5/8" or 3/4" thick? Now that I have everything out, there are several places where I can measure the thickness of the old floor. It is 1/2" or maybe 7/16". If you have replaced your flooring, what thickness was your old floor and what thickness did you use?

Pete:

The floor of my '78 Sovereign was exactly 1/2".

I found a good replacement at the Big Box stores in that they carry a 7 ply finish plywood that is an exact match - a better grade and stronger to boot than the "standard" 1/2" plywood.

Below is a picture of the "old" floor from the '78 (top), and the "true" 1/2" 7 ply finish plywood (bottom) I used for the replacement sections.




On the question of shell off/shell on replacement - it really depends on just how much damage you have and where it is.

On the '78 My real "rot" was only at the rear of the rear bedroom, and I had the belly pan off so I could tie it in the good section with a doubler with a bottom scab patch (actually, I reinforced the entire rear bedroom area by doubling the plywood and bracing with angle iron - see this thread on the '78 rebuild '78 31' Sovereign .

If there is much damage at all along the edge give some thought to a frame off. I am sure you have read some information about "rot doctor" and the like - without a good fiber base to "bind" the epoxy you are not left with much strength. The entire frame/shell needs to flex as it is being used - a large area/thickness of epoxy only will likely crack and no longer add to the strength required at the frame/shell interface.
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:45 AM   #24
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Hi guys... thanks for the quick replies.

I am surprised by the 1/2" thickness. I was expecting, and honestly, I'd prefer a 3/4" thick floor just for a better, more solid feeling floor. I'm wondering if I can use 3/4 in place of the 1/2 but I'm sure that will be determined by the size of the 'C' channel installed by the factory.

Now that everything is out and the entire floor area is exposed, I see additional rot (to what I found along the rear) around the door area and beneath the galley area. Now that I know the floor is only 1/2", it also explains some of that "give" I could feel as I stepped on center portions of the flooring.

I am presently planning for a shell off approach to replacing the floor and repairing the frame. So far this is fun but I don't think it would be so 'fun' if I have to do it again on the same coach. I am a fan of the "do it right, once" approach.

I was going to post a bunch of pictures showing progress as I stripped the interior. But when I sat down at the computer this morning, the memory card was still here... which means it wasn't in my camera all weekend... boy, do I feel dumb! The camera is on the charger and the memory card WILL be installed today so I'll post more pics tonight.

I'd like to get the last banana wrap off today and take a stab at some of the flooring from the inside to uncover the tanks.

Side note: I haven't investigated this subject yet, but I'm betting that when I put things back together, I won't be using copper pipes for the water lines. I know they have much better options on the shelf now for water lines. But I wonder what is available for an upgrade to the gas lines?

By the way, I found the obligatory dead mice. One in the funace and one under galley. I've also found that old frying pan someone lost and a blender lid.

Here is an odd question for you... how "deep" is your counter top in the galley? Based on what I was pulling apart yesterday, it looks like this coach had some earlier renovations to the galley making the counter top much deeper. Certainly the structure below the sinks wasn't factory. It looked like it was extended 6 inches or so.

Thanks,
Pete
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:26 PM   #25
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if you have replaced your flooring, what thickness was your old floor and what thickness did you use?
1/2"
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Old 09-07-2010, 03:51 PM   #26
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Just a quick update on my weekend progress. I've got the interior ready for removing the lower panels. Well, maybe... now that I review this, it is clear I've got to do something with the vent pipes. That water heater is already out of the way.


I also removed the curbside rear banana wrap. The water damage to the floor is obvious and the frame is fairly rusted in spots but not rust-thru holes like I found on the other side's outriggers.



I was surprised not to find any sight of the channel along the curved edge of the floor. Expected to see aluminum rather than the edge of the 1/2" plywood flooring. I'm guessing I'll see something a littel more substantial when I remove the inner panels.



The general rot and decay was apparent under the old galley area. Do you know if that heater vent hose coming from the fresh water tank area is intended as a means of warming the tank to keep it from freezing? I can't come up with any better ideas for why there is a heating duct running below the floor.


Looks like I'll be replacing some of the belly wrap. The connection points between the belly wrap sheet and the frame were badly corroded. Makes me wonder if there is a better way to attach to the frame so there isn't a direct contact between the two types of metal. Seems dumb to do that when you just know it is going to corrode away.



If I can get permission to hide in the barn after work this week, I'll be removing lower inside panels in prep for lifting the shell.

Anyone know the minimum application temperature of that POR-15 material? It might be getting too cold to apply soon... hope I don't have to wait for warmer weather to fix up the frame.

Pete
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Old 09-07-2010, 06:40 PM   #27
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Anyone know the minimum application temperature of that POR-15 material? It might be getting too cold to apply soon... hope I don't have to wait for warmer weather to fix up the frame.
I applied my two coats afternoon and evening in October, by the time I was finished it had dropped below 40F at 1 AM and it fired up nicely. After dark I used a CFL remote ballast drop light in the left hand and a paint brush in the right and that diffuse lighting in my dark backyard made seeing wet/dry & missed spots easy and allowed a pretty professional looking job.

Avoid making bubbles in the rust pits that pop, I found rebrushing coarse areas a second time immediately helped solve that - and apply the second coat while the first coat is gelled and hardening enough a brush with your fingertips has some 'grab' friction, it's the second coat that is truly the armor.

I also thinned the POR-15 using their thinner, 3 or 5% or whatever they recommended and found although it made it a little sloppier to work with it made it brush on easier and made the top coat level out extremely nicely, plus it did stretch the paint especially after the can has been open 2 or 3 hours and is starting to set up itself and turning into a heavy cream consistency by adding a little more solvent.

The fumes of the 1st coat as it catalyzes is to be avoided or minimalized - And their solvent has that extra 2% kicker of something that amplifies burning sensation - if you splatter POR-15 on your face, etc. don't use their solvent to clean it off!

I decanted the quarts into glass jars (planters sunflower seed jars, they were handy and have a ridge to make them less likely to slip out of ones hand) and found them very good storage too - I sprayed 'canned air' computer cleaner to flood & chill the jars down with the canned air, did the same to the POR can as I opened it, and drizzled the aerosol over the paint as it was poured in and capped the containers immediately. Just don't get it on the lip of the can or jar, the one you pour OUT of is the one that gets used up immediately...
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Old 09-07-2010, 07:37 PM   #28
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1978 31' Excella 500
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Floor

Pete,
I am just finishing changing the rear floor section on my 78 Excella 500.
The original plywood was 1/2" I replaced it with 5/8".
I looked at the 7 ply 1/2" at the big box stores but I was not able to verify that it was made with exterior glue so I passed on it.
My trailer was made without a true C channel. It used the top portion of the C channel but nothing encased the plywood around the rear section. I was able to locate a C channel that does encase the plywood and installed it with the new 5/8" ply. I didn't measure but I am sure 3/4" ply would fit the C channel as well.
The straight sections forward of the curved rear are still original with just the top portion of the C channel. They sit on the topside of the floor so the thickness would not be an issue if you are replacing it all. There will be a difference in weight though.
Good luck, it is a doable job and it sounds like you have the right idea and outlook for the job.
Darrell
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Old 09-08-2010, 02:57 PM   #29
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Wabbiteer, thanks for the details on POR-15. I've got to order some soon! :-)

Darrell, that is good information... where did you manage to find C channel to use? Salvage? Hard to imagine you can still buy it. I'm less worried about the weight difference and more concerned about structural matters. Had you said the height difference would cause problems, I'd have done something from below to help make a more rigid floor... the thoughts crossed my mind when I was working on it the other night.
Thanks, Pete
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Old 09-08-2010, 03:49 PM   #30
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Pete C channel is still available from any A/S dealer like Inalnd RV or Out OF Doors Mart. They only carry the C channel that goes along the sides of the trailer. It is the double C channel for lack of a better term. If you need to replace the channel that goes around the curved front or back you have to cut off the section that wraps around the floor sheeting. Some people have made their own also.
Do some measurements and see what difference 1/4" floor thickness would make to shell alignment. the front and rear c channels would have to be changed from their current location on the shell to match the side channels and sit on the new thicker floor.
For your vent pipes you can either cut them in half at a location that would be hidden and use a rubber coupler to reattach or remove the vent covers on the roof and slide the pipes up to remove them from the tank flanges. I cut mine.
How are you coming with the shell off plan?
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:44 AM   #31
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1978 31' Excella 500
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Pete,
I bought the C channel from a local RV repair shop that is an authorized A/S repair shop. The original part number listed in the manual had been changed but he was able to find the replacement number.
I only replaced the curved section in the rear, the straight sections forward of that were okay.
On my trailer the straight sections are not the double C section, they do not enclose the plywood but just sit on top. The original rear curved section was not the double C section either.
They show no sign of being modified so I assume it was original.
The owner of the repair shop said he never knows what to expect when tearing apart the older rigs because of so many differences from rig to rig.
Darrell
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Old 09-09-2010, 12:55 PM   #32
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Hey Guys,
This is my first time posting. I really enjoyed reading your articles. Great information. I have a 1972 31' that I am just starting. I think I will go with the 3/4" as well. Seems like the best bet.
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:19 PM   #33
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Its been a week or so since my last update. Things slowed down a bit. Had to get the gardens in and finish cutting, splitting and stacking firewood for the winter. But... I have been able to get an hour or so every other night to hack away at the project. I've got the lower panesl off of the the rear end and just have to pull a few from the front.


One of my front lower windows looks like trouble. There seems to be an excess of chalking or something similar along the bottom of the frame. Looks to me like someone at the factory was trying to cover an error.





Guess I'll worry about that when I get the frame and floor fixed up.

Thinking about the next big step of removing the shell. Maybe someone can confirm this for me... I need to cut off all of those 'elevator' bolts off, below the flooring before I can try to lift the shell. I don't want to remove any of the revits that join the skin to the channel that runs along the bottom of the frame... right?

Been wondering how I'll actually lift the shell once I have it free of the frame and floor. Since I have this in the barn, and the rafters are about 14 feet above the floor, I imagine I can rig 6 2x6 boards standing next to the shell in pairs on either side of the shell, vertically between the rafters and the floor. Maybe about 12 inches away from the shell. Then I think I can tie the top end to the rafter with two bolts just to keep them from moving at all. Then, I can evantually run another beam between each set of vertical 2x6 boards to support the shell off of the frame. I'm sure a short piece of 2x6 running from the floor up about 36 inches to support the cross member that is beneath the shell, will hold the weight at that one point. I'm looking for something that will be firm and can remain in place for up to 6 months. It will likely be that long before I'm ready to reattach the shell to the floor/frame.

Does any of that make sense? See any fatal error in my logic?

I'll dig around the forum tonight to see if I can find any discussion describing details of actually lifting the shell off of the frame.

I've been working late at night to keep my assistent out of the insulation dust... its bad enough on me and my dust mask.



More updates once I make any significant progress.
Pete
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:35 PM   #34
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By the way, those side, lower panels of alum. were hard to work with because they were so long. The port side lower panel was 24 feet long!! I rolled them up into rolls about 36 inches in diameter and tied them up to keep them that way, just to handle them alone. Must have taken 4 men just to put them into position at the factory.

Talked my brother the other night about the alum. material. He said it was standard aircraft alum. just like he used to work with in the Air Force as an airframe mechanic. He even knows how to buck rivets! Too bad he lives on the east coast...
Pete
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:36 PM   #35
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Shell Removal

Pete to remove the shell from the frame/floor combo you do have to remove all the elevator bolts holding the shell to the floor. There are also two larger bolts in front and two bolts in rear that are through the floor/C channel into the main frame rails.
There are two hold down plates one front and one rear. they are L shaped with the long edge riveted to the shell which must be drilled out to release the shell. Look for two rows of rivets in the front about a foot up from the floor and the back rivets are into the C channel.
Ther are actually two types of channel. The C channel that is curved aroune the front and back end caps sit on top of the floor and can be removed with the shell.
The C channel along the sides of the trailer is different. It is a double C channel, one horizontal and one vertical and it is a one piece channel. The vertical C has the inner panels and the outer skins riveted to it. The horizontal C is wraped around the edge of the floor sheets. This channel can not be removed with the shell. You will have to drill out all the rivets holding the exterior skins to it and inside you will have to drill out the rivets holding the ribs to the channel as well. This channel can only be removed once the shell is out of the way and the channel can be removed horizontally from the floor sheets.
I have attached a picture of a small section of this double channel so you can understand what I am talking about.
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Old 09-15-2010, 07:58 PM   #36
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Hi,

I thought the floor was either 5/8 or 3/4.
When or should I ask why did AS use 1/2" plywood??
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:11 PM   #37
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Shell support

Pete your plans to support the shell sound good.
You will have to build support or cribbing inside the shell to support and strenghten the shell once it is off the floor/frame. I used 8 pieces of 2x6 from side to side attached to the ribs. Here are the locations.
1) Forward edge of rear end cap
2) Just in front of bedroom windows
3) at the rear of the wheel wells
4) in the middle of the wheel wells
5) at the front of the wheel wells
6) at the rear of the entry door and the rear of the roadside living room windows
7) at the front of the entry door and in the middle of the roadside windows
8) rearward of the front end cap
This bracing is also attached together front to back mimicking the main frame rails. it is also attached at the end caps with a vertical 2x6 on an angle from the center of the bracing to above the windows attached to the ribs.
One problem I had is the outer skins around the end caps extend below the C channel so any horizontal supports meant to hold the shell in place had to be shimmed to keep the suppots from touching the skins. I used 4x4's as horizontal supports and a small piece of 2x4 as a shim placed between the 4x4's and the C channel.
I used 4 4x4's as supports, 2 of them at the end caps and 2 spaced equally between them. Well almost equally. The horizontals are attached at cribbing points 1/3/5/8.
Points 3 and 5 are attached with a small piece of 2x6's from the cribbing down to the 4x4's. The outer skins just float free at these points.
Points 1 and 8 are also attached this way and also have the 2x4 sitting on the C channel.
A little tip mark the location of your floor/frame on the floor of the barn so that when you are ready to put the shell back on you can line it up exactly. If you block the frame to the ground you can use bottle jacks betwwen the floor of the trailer and the cribbing to lift the shell up. Lift it front to back a few inches at a time until it is high enough to put yuor horizontals under the shell. make sure you leave enough room for the wheel wells to clear when you roll out the frame/floor.
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:18 PM   #38
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Greg my 73 was 3/4" and petes 76 was 1/2" or 5/8" so some time between 73 and 76 they changed. Probably to save weight and cut production costs. Today they use OSB ( oriented strand board) also known as chipboard. If it gets wet and it will it just swells up and falls apart. There was a post a while back showing what happened to a piece of plywood left out in the rain. It curled up and all the laminated strips seperated. I used marine grade plywood and some of my cut outs were left out in the rain and showed no sign of deformation or swelling and seperation. IMHO marine ply is worth the money. I also used a special paint on my floor to totally seal the wood. This paint is used to make aquariums and is guaranteed to be 100% waterproof. It actually is liquid rubber. My floor will never rot again.
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:11 PM   #39
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Wasagachris,

Thanks for the info on the cribbing. I'm surprised to learn 2x6 lumber was necessary for the internal bracing. I was expecting to get away with just 1x2s. But, much better safe than sorry.

That photo of the double C channel was exactly what I was picturing from your written description. But I'm glad you shared.

I actually made what felt like good progress tonight. I have removed all of the remaining lower panels on the inside. I also bagged up all of the insulation behind all of those panels. Tomorrow after work I'll clean out the work area again and get start on finding all of those bolts you described.

I saw the steel piece along the rear inside. Looks like pain to work with. I also noticed that it looks like the rear light fixtures were leaking. I can see water marks on the inside.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow, after I clean things up and locate the bolts.

Oh, I was thinking about this earlier as I was bagging that insulation. What is the best tool to cut off those bolts? I'm guessing I'll want to do so from beneath.
Thanks,
Pete
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:41 PM   #40
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Actually Pete I just clamped on to them with vise grips from above and bent them back and forth until they snapped off. I tried a grinder but that took a long time and sent sparks flying everywhere. I had to grind off the large bolts to the main frame rails they were too large to snap. You will also find several small screws securing the channel to the floor. If they are in good shape they should turn out or just grind off the heads. I'll try to get you good pics of the cribbing in the morning. I won't be doing much as we are expecting a heavy rain. I was planning on applying the metal etch to the new frame and painting with POR-15 on Friday. More Delays.
If you pull out one of the taillight cans you can see that the can itself is what seals the opening to the taillight housing. A/S then installs the inner plastic housing and seals it up with Vulkem and hopes all the water that leaks past the cans will leak back out. Piss poor design. BTW the taillight housings are riveted from the inside with pop rivets. They are hard to find behind all that vulkem.
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