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Old 07-26-2021, 03:03 PM   #1
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Broke bolt

I broke two elevator bolts out getting my stabilizers off on my 83 excella. I wanted to know what exactly are they attached to? angle iron? Is the hole a blind hole or through hole? The reason I ask is my belly pan is in great condition. So I donít want to remove it to take a look. Also I would like to just run a self tapping screw through the angle iron on the stabilizer through the hopefully angle iron frame. Am I right about any of this? Recommendations appreciated.
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Old 07-26-2021, 03:17 PM   #2
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Iím not that familiar with an Airstream newer than 1970, but. What would happen if you took a magnate and traced out your steel framing above the belly pan in that area and marked it with painterís tape. Then you could support the stabilizer against the belly pan with a 2x4. You could drill thru the old holes with a larger bore and tap the framing for, letís say a 1/4Ēx20 SS bolt and use locktite. Just a thought. Good luck
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Old 07-26-2021, 07:37 PM   #3
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I am willing to bet that the screws you broke are not elevator bolts, nor are they even a nut-and-bolt combination. Rather, they are probably a sheet metal screw or self-tapping screw that only goes through the belly-pan and a cross member, and there is no nut on the inside. If you look closely at the remnants of what you broke off, there may be enough threads on it to tell you for sure whether it is a bolt or a screw (though self-tapping screws do look like they could be bolts).

If you look at the way that belly pan is assembled, it may be evident, that it would be a lot of trouble to install those stabilizers with a bolt and nut combination (ie., how do you get to the back-side), vs., just screwing in a screw or self-tapping bolt. Looking at your pics, I would conclude that your original screws are screwed into a cross-member, not going through the cross member and into a nut.

Remember also, that these screw should only need to support the weight of the stabilizer (a few pounds). Unless you try to drive away with the stabilizers down, the fasteners will never see much tension/shear force.

Your only difficult will be in dealing with the broken screws. If you can just shift the whole assembly over an inch and drill a new hole, then it is easy-peasy. If you have to have it in the exact same position , then you are going to have to extract or drill out the old screws, and that will be a pain as the cross members are less than 1/8" thick, and your drill bit will likely walk right off of that hardened screw.

good luck!
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Old 07-27-2021, 10:43 AM   #4
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Reply to Broke Bolt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubba L View Post
Iím not that familiar with an Airstream newer than 1970, but. What would happen if you took a magnate and traced out your steel framing above the belly pan in that area and marked it with painterís tape. Then you could support the stabilizer against the belly pan with a 2x4. You could drill thru the old holes with a larger bore and tap the framing for, letís say a 1/4Ēx20 SS bolt and use locktite. Just a thought. Good luck
I have looked at that. I will have to get a bigger magnet than the one I have. Sounds like a good idea. I appreciate your input. I tend to overthink sometimes. Thank you very much
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Old 07-27-2021, 10:49 AM   #5
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Broke bolt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
I am willing to bet that the screws you broke are not elevator bolts, nor are they even a nut-and-bolt combination. Rather, they are probably a sheet metal screw or self-tapping screw that only goes through the belly-pan and a cross member, and there is no nut on the inside. If you look closely at the remnants of what you broke off, there may be enough threads on it to tell you for sure whether it is a bolt or a screw (though self-tapping screws do look like they could be bolts).

If you look at the way that belly pan is assembled, it may be evident, that it would be a lot of trouble to install those stabilizers with a bolt and nut combination (ie., how do you get to the back-side), vs., just screwing in a screw or self-tapping bolt. Looking at your pics, I would conclude that your original screws are screwed into a cross-member, not going through the cross member and into a nut.

Remember also, that these screw should only need to support the weight of the stabilizer (a few pounds). Unless you try to drive away with the stabilizers down, the fasteners will never see much tension/shear force.

Your only difficult will be in dealing with the broken screws. If you can just shift the whole assembly over an inch and drill a new hole, then it is easy-peasy. If you have to have it in the exact same position , then you are going to have to extract or drill out the old screws, and that will be a pain as the cross members are less than 1/8" thick, and your drill bit will likely walk right off of that hardened screw.

good luck!
My thinking also. The stabilizer is not that heavy. I also did leave partially retracted years ago and broke the arm. Hense the repair years later. My initial thinking was self tapping screw into the same area it came out of maybe move over a 1/2Ē I like bubbas idea with the 2x4 to hold it up while I drill it. I was just curious how thick the cross member was and if the bolt I broke was going into a through hole or blind hole. Here is a picture of the bolt I didnít break. I believe its a N7 now if I had a bolt chart for that I could figure more out.
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Old 07-27-2021, 12:59 PM   #6
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Hard to tell what sort of bolt that was, but the fact that it sheared and the remnant is "stuck" in the cross member suggests to me that there is no nut on the backside. I it hard to believe that AS would have put the bolt in a tapped hole, plus put a nut on it. Did your bolts shear in the pulling out with stabilizers down incident, or when you tried to remove the fasteners?

If you are really worried about having something on the backside, you could install a Riv-nut, the downside of this being that you have to make an even bigger hole in order to do this.

good luck!
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Old 07-27-2021, 01:17 PM   #7
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It is just a self tapping bolt replacement (there is no nut) with a larger diameter size or merely move the stabilizer mount outboard or inboard an inch along the same rib under the skin. Do not attempt to move the stabilizer forward or aft as the rib is not very wide. The rib material is a few sixteenths thick.

The screw merely needs to hold the stabilizer as you drive and it should never be under great pressure when placed in the down position.
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Old 07-27-2021, 01:44 PM   #8
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Trilobular screw

In my 2006 AS they are trilobular screws and they go into an aluminum cross member in the back of the trailer. Rotate it between your fingers and you can feel the 3 lobes that are for self tapping.

In the front of the trailer they go into the A frame. All of them are difficult to get out and snap off. They are also difficult to drill out and forget about an easy out or reverse drill bit. Try some penetrating oil for a few days, that helps. Even so, if you can get them out without breaking them off the cross member's hole will be stripped.

A similar device is the Type F Machine Screw, slotted hex washer head. I tried some of those but quite often the aluminum cross member would strip out.

I was able to replace a few but I also used rivet nuts. Those are pretty solid but a pain to put in unless you have the tool. I was able to put some in just using a couple of bolts on them, then tightening until it flattened the rivet.

I got the rivet nuts off Amazon, other bolts from Bolt Depot https://www.boltdepot.com/
There's a video on YouTube about installing rivet nuts without a tool
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Old 07-27-2021, 04:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Hard to tell what sort of bolt that was, but the fact that it sheared and the remnant is "stuck" in the cross member suggests to me that there is no nut on the backside. I it hard to believe that AS would have put the bolt in a tapped hole, plus put a nut on it. Did your bolts shear in the pulling out with stabilizers down incident, or when you tried to remove the fasteners?

If you are really worried about having something on the backside, you could install a Riv-nut, the downside of this being that you have to make an even bigger hole in order to do this.

good luck!
They sheared removing them. I knew they would. I could tell after I soaked them in pentertrating oil and worked them backwards and forth many times. Squeaking the whole time. I had to get it down in order to facilitate the repair on the stabilizer. I found out what I wanted to get me started you guys are a big help. I now know the cross member is thin. I am curious though why they put a bolt that size in a .187 thick crossmember? No I never believed there was a nut on the other side of it just wasnít sure if it went up into a blind whole or what was there.
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Old 07-27-2021, 05:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Okiegent View Post
<<snip>> I am curious though why they put a bolt that size in a .187 thick crossmember? <<snip>>
It is thinner than that. It is 14 ga steel .0747".
The cross member linked below is sold at ODM for 1970s through the 1990's trailers. The drawing gives the metal specs.

https://odmrv.com/catalog/index.php?...0fp4un9d2vtah0

I have used 5/16" self tapping drill point teks (because that's what I had on hand) and I also have used a 5/16" thread clearing machine bolt into a predrilled ~1/4" hole, both with fine thread. Both worked fine and held for years without issue.
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Old 07-28-2021, 12:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeeMore View Post
It is just a self tapping bolt replacement (there is no nut) with a larger diameter size or merely move the stabilizer mount outboard or inboard an inch along the same rib under the skin. Do not attempt to move the stabilizer forward or aft as the rib is not very wide. The rib material is a few sixteenths thick.

The screw merely needs to hold the stabilizer as you drive and it should never be under great pressure when placed in the down position.
I believe that is how I am going to tackle it. I am on the road this week so it will have to wait. I am leaning towards the rivet nuts though dent the thickness of the cross member. A 5/16th screw does not seem like much stability on such a thin cross member. The one that came out was twice that size.
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Old 07-28-2021, 12:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richw46 View Post
In my 2006 AS they are trilobular screws and they go into an aluminum cross member in the back of the trailer. Rotate it between your fingers and you can feel the 3 lobes that are for self tapping.

In the front of the trailer they go into the A frame. All of them are difficult to get out and snap off. They are also difficult to drill out and forget about an easy out or reverse drill bit. Try some penetrating oil for a few days, that helps. Even so, if you can get them out without breaking them off the cross member's hole will be stripped.

A similar device is the Type F Machine Screw, slotted hex washer head. I tried some of those but quite often the aluminum cross member would strip out.

I was able to replace a few but I also used rivet nuts. Those are pretty solid but a pain to put in unless you have the tool. I was able to put some in just using a couple of bolts on them, then tightening until it flattened the rivet.

I got the rivet nuts off Amazon, other bolts from Bolt Depot https://www.boltdepot.com/
There's a video on YouTube about installing rivet nuts without a tool
Great information this is more the way I am leaning right now.One of the boys has the tool and is dying to help me out with it. Turn them loose as they say. That screw looks almost identical to mine. Hard to believe they just drove it up through such a thin cross member.
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Old 07-28-2021, 12:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A W Warn View Post
It is thinner than that. It is 14 ga steel .0747".
The cross member linked below is sold at ODM for 1970s through the 1990's trailers. The drawing gives the metal specs.

https://odmrv.com/catalog/index.php?...0fp4un9d2vtah0

I have used 5/16" self tapping drill point teks (because that's what I had on hand) and I also have used a 5/16" thread clearing machine bolt into a predrilled ~1/4" hole, both with fine thread. Both worked fine and held for years without issue.
AW thank you for the advice. You give me hope man. If my boy messes it up I might give that a try. Right now he wants to try a 1/4 20 rivet nut.
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Old 07-28-2021, 12:34 PM   #14
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I agree, a head scratcher on that bolt. The rivnut I feel is a better solution. I wasn't able to drill into the A frame in front so I did my best to just put some threads in there and use grade 8 bolts
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Old 07-28-2021, 02:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Okiegent View Post
AW thank you for the advice. You give me hope man. If my boy messes it up I might give that a try. Right now he wants to try a 1/4 20 rivet nut.
If you use the Rivnut, the hole required is larger diameter than the original bold diameter, so there will be no going back to original.

And, with a Rivnut there will will be less width of metal left in the bottom flange of the crossmember. This is creating a weaker point at the bolt hole where the flange is in tension under load. May never be a problem, but something to consider when choosing.
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Old 08-05-2021, 10:07 AM   #16
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Quote:
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I believe that is how I am going to tackle it. I am on the road this week so it will have to wait. I am leaning towards the rivet nuts though dent the thickness of the cross member. A 5/16th screw does not seem like much stability on such a thin cross member. The one that came out was twice that size.
To clarify your description of bolt placement are you saying donít move the new bolt toward street side or curb side. Choose a new location only to towards the front say an inch or backwards an inch?
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Old 08-05-2021, 10:33 AM   #17
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Maybe your 83 model is different, but I didn't have a choice about the bolt placement. The bolts go into a cross member near the center and into the edge near the sides. If I tried to move the bolt holes I would have to make some sort of modification to the stabilizer bracket.

My stabilizers are pre-drilled through that thick steel and there is no room for a larger bolt. That's why I used the rivnuts. Some of the bolt holes were still good, had grip to them, so mine are a mix. All they have to do is keep the stabilizer from falling off during travel. When deployed they are just supposed to be snug under the belly to dampen movement inside the AS.
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Old 08-06-2021, 05:46 AM   #18
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Quote:
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Maybe your 83 model is different, but I didn't have a choice about the bolt placement. The bolts go into a cross member near the center and into the edge near the sides. If I tried to move the bolt holes I would have to make some sort of modification to the stabilizer bracket.

My stabilizers are pre-drilled through that thick steel and there is no room for a larger bolt. That's why I used the rivnuts. Some of the bolt holes were still good, had grip to them, so mine are a mix. All they have to do is keep the stabilizer from falling off during travel. When deployed they are just supposed to be snug under the belly to dampen movement inside the AS.
Yes Rich that is my concern as well. That one bolt on the end looks like if I moved over a inch I would be ok on the two bolt side of stabilizer but off the cross member on the one bolt end. I was thinking of drilling another hole in the one bolt end and calling it good to mount.
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Old 08-06-2021, 07:38 AM   #19
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On mine, the bracket end and bolt that go amidships/center have the possibility of 3 holes in the bracket for that one bolt. In the rear the bracket had the bolt in the center. In the front the bolt was in a forward hole. You have a little room to play on that bolt, but not a lot. I don't see where you could move the bracket more center or more towards the side. You could probably drill a new hole in the bracket, below the current center hole. It still doesn't give you much room. You could also drill out the existing holes slightly larger and using a self-tapping bolt bigger than the 5/16". I was thinking about doing that. You wouldn't have to drill out the cross member.

I had a heck of a time getting them mounted again, worse than taking them off, particularly the two forward stabilizers because they were tapped into the A frame. I burned up and broke off bits, reverse bits and easy outs. It was truly nasty. Even tapping the holes again I didn't get a good feel for tightness, so I used Loktite thread locker, semi-permanent, on most of them. Only the rivnuts were really solid.
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