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Old 08-19-2011, 08:57 PM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania
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C Channel 1976 Sovereign

Hello all,

I am in the process of removing some rotter subfloor but I can't seem to figure out the C Channel. I have removed the wall panels but it isn't as sell explanatory as I imagined. Is the plywood sandwiched in or bolted? It looks like the sheets should slide in but I also noticed some long rusty and bent bolts.

Any ideas?

Thanks!

Mikal
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Old 08-19-2011, 09:52 PM   #2
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1975 31' Sovereign
Brownsville , Texas
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Since my 75 needs the floor replaced in the bathroom, I'm waiting to see if you get any replies. I posted to see If I can keep this bumped up the list.
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Old 08-19-2011, 10:08 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gronlampa View Post
Hello all,

I am in the process of removing some rotter subfloor but I can't seem to figure out the C Channel. I have removed the wall panels but it isn't as sell explanatory as I imagined. Is the plywood sandwiched in or bolted? It looks like the sheets should slide in but I also noticed some long rusty and bent bolts.

Any ideas?

Thanks!

Mikal
To answer your question it's both sandwiched in and bolted down. For the end caps of the trailer the C channel is sitting on top of the floor and bolted down through the floor into the outriggers along the sides of the end caps. Across the front section of the front end cap there are two large bolts through the c channel, floor and into the main frame rails. Along the rear of the rear end cap ther are two more large bolts through the c channel, floor and into the main frame rails.

Along the sides of the trailer the c channel is actually a double c. One c is vertical and the shell and the interior skins(walls) are riveted to that part. The second c is horizontal and the floor sheets are inserted into that part and then bolted down through both parts of the c channel, floor and into the outriggers for the frame.
I've attached a couple of pictures of a small piece of the double c channel.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:56 AM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Double C channels

Wasagachris,

So if a guy was trying to replace his entire floor without removing the shell completely, is it feasible to slide the full width floor sections into the double C channels along the sides without splitting them down the middle? Also, I was surprised to see that my floor thickness (1973 Globetrotter) seems to be 3/4" from the factory. I was under the impression I should expect it to be 5/8"
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Old 08-23-2011, 11:07 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Wasagachris,

So if a guy was trying to replace his entire floor without removing the shell completely, is it feasible to slide the full width floor sections into the double C channels along the sides without splitting them down the middle? Also, I was surprised to see that my floor thickness (1973 Globetrotter) seems to be 3/4" from the factory. I was under the impression I should expect it to be 5/8"
No it is not. The fit is quite tight into the channel it wouldn't slide in at all. Also you can't cut the sheets of floor in half down the middle as there will be no support under the seam. It would need to be cut so that the seam is on top of the main frame rails and I would offset the cuts. IE: first sheet curbside, next sheet roadside etc.
How many sheets for flooring is in your GT? The front and back sheets actually have the shell sitting on top of the floor and don't have the double c channel.
I have seen where someone spread the shell apart and used a full sheet of flooring but he needed to build a turnbuckle clamp system to pull the shell back into the double c channel. He almost had a bad mishap where the shell almost fell down over the frame when it slipped off the outriggers.
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Old 08-23-2011, 11:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wasagachris View Post
I have seen where someone spread the shell apart and used a full sheet of flooring but he needed to build a turnbuckle clamp system to pull the shell back into the double c channel. He almost had a bad mishap where the shell almost fell down over the frame when it slipped off the outriggers.
Someone? That was me. I didn't really think of it as a bad mishap (it slipped off just one outrigger, but the plywood was already holding the shell up). It was just something to watch for and be more careful of. At the risk of opening a religious discussion, we did a shell on total floor replacement, and I say it can be done. It all comes down to your comfort level. You certainly have to be more careful doing a shell on floor replacement. If we had it to do over again, we might do a shell off. But, I don't think we'll ever be a position to find out, at least not until we get this one on the road!

There are many threads where people have done a shell off, including Wasaga Chris' thread. There are fewer threads of people doing a shell on, but I know of at least two (one of them is our 72' Sovereign Little Girl Refurb thread).

Btw - the turnbuckle clamp thing is available to anyone that wants it. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it now.

Chris
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Old 08-23-2011, 11:58 AM   #7
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Hey MC I did say ALMOST.
With a GT being that it is so small you probably could do a half and half floor replacement like TOP did for his Sovereign. Replace the rear two or three sheets then move up front and replace the other two sheets.
I just think that it's not that hard to pull the shell and once off it makes the rest of the work easier to do.
I was hesitatnt as heck to do the shell off but once I got into it it was fairly easy. I was quite surprised how well the shell dropped back down on the new frame/floor combo.
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Old 08-23-2011, 01:55 PM   #8
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So to do a shell off floor replacement on these '70s era trailers with the double C channels, would you drill out the rivets holding the shell to the double C channels, lift the shell, then remove the channels from the plywood, replace the plywood, replace the channels, and then drop the shell, re-rivet, and re-bolt?
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Old 08-23-2011, 02:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
So to do a shell off floor replacement on these '70s era trailers with the double C channels, would you drill out the rivets holding the shell to the double C channels, lift the shell, then remove the channels from the plywood, replace the plywood, replace the channels, and then drop the shell, re-rivet, and re-bolt?
Got it in one. The single channel around the end caps can stay attached to the shell but that's exactly how to take them apart. First the lower beltline trim that is attached with pop rivets needs to come off. Then the side wraps and banana wraps for the belly pan come off. Then it's just like you described. I took all the belly pan out first but you can take out the flat section after the shell is off. You need all the belly off to replace the floor for access to the elevator bolts during the install of the new floor.
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Old 08-23-2011, 03:47 PM   #10
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I'm wondering the same thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
So to do a shell off floor replacement on these '70s era trailers with the double C channels, would you drill out the rivets holding the shell to the double C channels, lift the shell, then remove the channels from the plywood, replace the plywood, replace the channels, and then drop the shell, re-rivet, and re-bolt?
Thanks for asking, because I was wondering the same thing. I haven't removed my interior skins (1974 Overlander) yet to actually see the infamous "C" channel.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:27 PM   #11
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wasagachris View Post
Got it in one. The single channel around the end caps can stay attached to the shell but that's exactly how to take them apart. First the lower beltline trim that is attached with pop rivets needs to come off. Then the side wraps and banana wraps for the belly pan come off. Then it's just like you described. I took all the belly pan out first but you can take out the flat section after the shell is off. You need all the belly off to replace the floor for access to the elevator bolts during the install of the new floor.
If I already need to fix a good many leaks and I will also be removing the interior skin, what stops me from breaking down the Airstream outer skin, rebuilding the floor and frame, then re-riveting the entire thing?
I plan to replace all wiring etc. as well.

Is lifting the shell an reasonable task? I would need to do the work in my field so I am concerned about wind etc.

Is there a Hanyne's style book for Airstream?

Thanks!

Mikal
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Old 08-24-2011, 02:27 AM   #12
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Mikal The first question that I would ask you is why do you want to `break down the outer skin`. The shell can be removed without removing any of the outer panels. Actually the strength of the shell is from having the inner skins and outer panels attached to the ribs, if both the inner skins and the outer panels were removed the shell structure would be subject to twisting and bending.
Lifting the shell is quite easy to do. Most of the pros have built a gantry setup to lift the shell from above through the roof vents. I lifted it using two small bottle jacks placed on the floor of the trailer, lifting against the cribbing I attached to the shell to keep it straight while off the chassis. The cribbing was made with 2x6 attached between the ribs of the shell.
Yes of course wind is a concern. You will need to secure the shell to the ground to keep it from lifting up or toppling over after it has been removed from the chassis.
Here you can see the cribbing and also if you look in the lower left of the shot you can see one of the bottle jacks I used.
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Airstream sells service manuals as well as owners manuals for your year of trailer.
https://store.airstream.com/product_...products_id=96

https://store.airstream.com/product_...roducts_id=384
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Old 08-24-2011, 07:24 PM   #13
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1976 31' Sovereign
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To answer your question, I don't want to dismantle the shell but I figured since I have to remove so many panels, repair windows, replace fans, and replace y air conditioner that I might not be far from doing so.

Not sure what a gantry is but I image it is similar to a engine hoist?

If I did decide to life it, how long could I leave it off without running the risk of damaging it?

How long did it take you to repair your frame and replace your subfloor? Could it be a weekend project?

Should I replace the axles at the same time?

Is there a suggested path to restoration (i.e. Frame then subfloor then wiring?

I want to make sure I am repairing things in the proper order so I don't end up doing the same job twice.

Thanks!

Mikal
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Old 08-24-2011, 07:40 PM   #14
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Mikal as long as the shell is properly supported it can remain off the chassis for quite some time.

It took me ten weeks to lift the shell, build the frame, attach the new floor and axles etc and get the shell back on. I tried to work on it every day but sometimes work and the weather got in the way. I don't think you can do it in a weekend. It all depends how much frame /floor repair you need to do. Right now I'm about half way through the polishing stage then I will be installing awnings, sat dish and solar panels. then the shell gets sealed and I move on to the inside.

Yes I would replace the axles at the same time it's much easier to do then.
If I had it to do over again I would fix the shell, leaks, seals, panel replacement first before pulling the shell. That way once you do the frame and floor and the shell goes back on it's sealed up and you don't risk damaging the new floor from any leaks. Once the shell is back on and the belly is insulated and installed then move inside to insulation, wiring, plumbing, reinstall the inner skins. Then the bulkheads and furniture, appliances can be installed. Some things will overlap like part of the plumbing and wiring must be done along with shell and belly replacement and some of it won't be finished until the furniture, bulkheads and appliances go back in.
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Old 08-24-2011, 09:19 PM   #15
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wasagachris
Mikal as long as the shell is properly supported it can remain off the chassis for quite some time.

It took me ten weeks to lift the shell, build the frame, attach the new floor and axles etc and get the shell back on. I tried to work on it every day but sometimes work and the weather got in the way. I don't think you can do it in a weekend. It all depends how much frame /floor repair you need to do. Right now I'm about half way through the polishing stage then I will be installing awnings, sat dish and solar panels. then the shell gets sealed and I move on to the inside.

Yes I would replace the axles at the same time it's much easier to do then.
If I had it to do over again I would fix the shell, leaks, seals, panel replacement first before pulling the shell. That way once you do the frame and floor and the shell goes back on it's sealed up and you don't risk damaging the new floor from any leaks. Once the shell is back on and the belly is insulated and installed then move inside to insulation, wiring, plumbing, reinstall the inner skins. Then the bulkheads and furniture, appliances can be installed. Some things will overlap like part of the plumbing and wiring must be done along with shell and belly replacement and some of it won't be finished until the furniture, bulkheads and appliances go back in.
Thanks for the list and advice. I need to put some thought into timing since we are heading into the cold time.

I am happy to hear that I should fix the windows and seal up the beast prior to pulling the frame, at least I can work those tasks on warmer winter days.

Would I be able to reposition my rear bath to the center when I pull everything or would I need to by new tanks etc?

It seems that the center bath is preferred by most on the forum and I can see why it would make a more attractive "master bedroom".

Do center baths have the " sag " that everyone notes with the rear bath?

Thanks!

Mikal
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Old 08-25-2011, 01:40 AM   #16
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Mikal the idea of repositioning the bath from rear to center has been thought of before. There are a lot of issues besides moving the tanks. Vent pipe locations running up through the roof, window locations, water heater locationa and the interior rear end cap is different. Your water heater location in the rear gets in the way of any bed that you would want to put in the rear. The two windows in the mid bedroom get in the way of a relocated mid bath. You would need to patch the current holes in th errof where the vent pipes exit and cut new holes for new vent pipes. The waste tanks would need to be relocated and new mounting pans & brackets built. A new belly pan would need to be made to cover the new location of waste tanks. Then you would need to make a new interior end cap and also your new rear bedroom would have only one window at thr rear of the trailer.

Yes center baths do suffer from the same sag just not as much. The same issue exists on all airstreams and that is the bumper cover directing water back against the shell causing it to leak into that connection point, rotting the floor and corroding the rear holddown plate and the frame. It's just that rear baths with the weight farther back put more stress on that point than center baths.
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Old 08-25-2011, 07:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wasagachris
Mikal the idea of repositioning the bath from rear to center has been thought of before. There are a lot of issues besides moving the tanks. Vent pipe locations running up through the roof, window locations, water heater locationa and the interior rear end cap is different. Your water heater location in the rear gets in the way of any bed that you would want to put in the rear. The two windows in the mid bedroom get in the way of a relocated mid bath. You would need to patch the current holes in th errof where the vent pipes exit and cut new holes for new vent pipes. The waste tanks would need to be relocated and new mounting pans & brackets built. A new belly pan would need to be made to cover the new location of waste tanks. Then you would need to make a new interior end cap and also your new rear bedroom would have only one window at thr rear of the trailer.

Yes center baths do suffer from the same sag just not as much. The same issue exists on all airstreams and that is the bumper cover directing water back against the shell causing it to leak into that connection point, rotting the floor and corroding the rear holddown plate and the frame. It's just that rear baths with the weight farther back put more stress on that point than center baths.
I am glad to get answers to these questions now rather than half way through an ill-fated rehab.

Thanks again!

Mikal
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Old 08-26-2011, 05:21 PM   #18
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We were planning to change ours from a rear bath to a mid bath but gave up the idea because we couldn't get the storage we wanted with a mid bath due to the windows and because most of our hatches would have been rendered unusable. I didn't want to cover or relocate windows and we didn't want to lose the hatch storage. It is doable but as WC pointed out, it's a lot more work than leaving the bath in the original location. We spent some quality time with blue painters tape and some mock ups of appliances and cupboards, bathtub, etc made out of cardboard boxes to get a general idea of how much room we needed for areas, walkways, etc. It helped a lot to do that, and when we had what we thought we wanted we outlined areas with the tape as we worked on things. The tape is gone now (and I miss it) since we put the new floors in and are starting the building process. I may put new tape down since the floor is covered with rosin paper!

Kay
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:05 AM   #19
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I split mine in the middle with a 45* saw cut, then glued screwed and used a piece of plywood for backing on the joint, just notched it out where it would interfere with cross members.

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Old 08-28-2011, 08:49 AM   #20
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Wasagachris,

I looked over your thread where you pulled your shell, and had a couple of questions: If you disconnect the shell from the C-channel, it seems that the bottom edge of the shell would have very little meat for it to rest on when supported by the sawhorses. I'm guessing that it was resting on the cribbing, but wanted to confirm. This leads to the next question: How was the cribbing attached to the ribs? Did you drill a bunch of holes to make this happen?
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