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Old 01-03-2010, 02:40 PM   #1
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Unhappy Faulty Floor or Faulty Design?

We've purchased a 2007 19' Bambi new off the lot in early 2008. Unfortunately we've only had it out a few times in the nearly two years we've owned it. We've had a couple of minor things repaired under warranty and already had what I would considered a major item repaired last year (the wall separating the bed and from the rest of the trailer started "coming loose" from the interior wall) but that is a separate story.

We now seem to have an issue with the floor near the front of the trailer. Our unit has a dinette just inside and to the right after entering the trailer door. The table has a simple single leg that folds up to allow the table to become the second bed in the front quarter of the trailer.

After finishing our last camping trip for the 2009 season in October, as I was putting the trailer away for the winter, I noticed that the floor under the table seemed to be bubbling up from the subfloor.

Upon closer inspection it seemed that all the "fake" laminate under the table had become unglued (if in fact it was glued in the first place) to the subfloor. The whole floor surface under the dinette area also seemed to slightly lean or "tilt" towards the front of the trailer.

After some frantic calls to the dealer (located 3 hours away) the only answer was to drag the trailer up for inspection. While on the lot I looked for a similar size/design trailer to confirm that the floor under the dinette was indeed level and the floor surface firmly in place.

The first phone call back from the dealer said there was no indication water damage (my worst fear) that would cause the floor tilting or the laminate to separate and they'd have to get permission from Airstream to cut a hole in the bottom of the unit to inspect the subfloor.

A second phone call the next day from the dealer contradicted the first call, and the repair shop foreman said that Airstream told them that this was "normal" as the spare tire is located under the dinette and subfloor there is not supported in the same way as in the rest of the trailer. They called this "settling" of the floor.

After I argued that a similar trailer didn't appear to have this "normal" defect, the repair shop agreed to go back to the first strategy, exploratory floor cutting from below to see if they could rig something up once they find out what is wrong.

My question to any owners of similar trailers and any old heads out there who have an opinion:

Has anyone ever seen/heard of something like this on any Airstream floor?

Does the story regarding the settling above the spare tire sound reasonable? Is this just a bad aesthetic design, not an indicator of major structural flaw?

We told the shop to hold off on any "exploratory surgery" out of fear that the cure (whole in the floor with gerry-rigged supports) would be worse than the cause.

thanks for any advice.
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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That really stinks. If this is in the spot the leg hits the floor and there around I would wonder if some extreme weight had been on it, possibly exceeding the unreinforced area. If this contacts the floor when the bed is in use, perhaps someone jumping on the bed....
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Old 01-03-2010, 03:58 PM   #3
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Check out this thread: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...ing-50928.html

The vinyl flooring coming up in places is not unusual, though it seems to happen more often in colder climates.

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Old 01-03-2010, 04:05 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Over59 View Post
That really stinks. If this is in the spot the leg hits the floor and there around I would wonder if some extreme weight had been on it, possibly exceeding the unreinforced area. If this contacts the floor when the bed is in use, perhaps someone jumping on the bed....
the repair shop said that the airstream rep "pondered" that possibility as well. however, when the bed is down, the leg is folded up.

additionally, the entire exposed area of flooring under the table is "bubbled"/uneven, not just a spot near the table leg.
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Old 01-03-2010, 04:18 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Check out this thread: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/...ing-50928.html

The vinyl flooring coming up in places is not unusual, though it seems to happen more often in colder climates.

Gene
wow, the waves in the floor in one of the photos makes our problem seem like nitpicking. OTOH, i expect a bit more out of Airstream on something like this.

if this was just bit of the fake "plank" flooring bubbling under the table i would probably just let it go.

what disturbs me more is the subtle tilting of the floor towards front of the trailer....and the "hey lets get out the hacksaw and see what's under there" approach to fixing it.
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Old 01-03-2010, 05:24 PM   #6
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hi randf

no pictures means WE can't really imagine the issue.

did u take photos?

the armstrong VINYL flooring isn't glued OR attached except at the perimeter where staples are used.

so it can lift/bulge/roll with weather changes and in extreme cases BUCKLE UP a lot.

they are all like that in terms of attachment, but some interior bits keep the flooring DOWN in some models.

determining IF there is water damage to the SUB floor is easy.

basically REMOVE any interior bits OVER that area, and peel back the vinyl as needed.

inspecting the subfloor from OUTSIDE (via the belly pan) is not the best approach.

there is bubble foil insulation on the underside and they'd need to tear that out along with removing the belly/banana skin,

that's a lot of labor and alterations just to inspect RIGHT UNDER the vinyl.

19s have 2 ? pieces ? of plywood that make up the subfloor and depending on WHERE that joint is...

the edges could lift, but this is very very uncommon.

cheers
2air'

on edit, ok i get it, UP FRONT near the tongue...

what follows from hiho' is RIGHT ON...
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Old 01-03-2010, 05:33 PM   #7
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There isn't any support in that area and I bet most folks never see a problem because it's under a sofa. I noticed it on my '77 when we took out the sofa and put in recliners the floor between the recliners had a spring to it, the rest of the floor was solid. That area is the largest unsupported spot in the entire trailer.

My '34 had some bad floor and when removed, you can see the large unsupported area over the tire. The only thing there is a piece of sheet aluminum.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...oor-54952.html
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Old 01-03-2010, 06:14 PM   #8
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I'm not here to pass a judgement on OP's tilting floor issue... very difficult to do without photos, or even with photos...

Here's what I think...

Airstream's chassis (made of steel beams) are not the most rigid of all in order to keep the trailer not too heavy.

The 2 main steel beam which make up the chassis is suspended at 2 points: at tongue jack, and at the wheels.

I believe the main 2 longitudinal beams are 4 ft apart, and the support cross members are also placed 4 ft apart -- meaning many sections of 4ft square patch of floor is supported only by the tensile strength of the 5/8' plywood.

The floor of any Airstream can be truly flat throughout the entire span. Every Airstream would have somewhat of tilting floor that would be noticeable to the owners at close inspection.

When I set up my 28' trailer using a carpenter's level (you know, the one with a bubble in a tube), I aim to horizontally level both the kitchen countertop and the bathroom countertop. When I achieve something close to that as I best can, according to my carpenter's level, what happen is:

- At A-frame behind the tongue jack, it is sloping down from fore to aft.
- On the living-area floor (around front gaucho), the floor is level.
- On the hallway floor (approaching towards the mid-bath), it is sloping up from fore to aft.
- The floor becomes level, again, right around on top of axles.
- As I approach towards the stern/the rear bed room, the floor slopes down again.

It's like the suspended cables (drooping) of the Golden Gate Bridge. As any steel beam propped up at 2 separated points would be inevitably dangling/drooping/or sagging ever so slightly depending on how over-engineered the beam is.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astroboy View Post
I'm not here to pass a judgement on OP's tilting floor issue... very difficult to do without photos, or even with photos...

Here's what I think...

Airstream's chassis (made of steel beams) are not the most rigid of all in order to keep the trailer not too heavy.

The 2 main steel beam which make up the chassis is suspended at 2 points: at tongue jack, and at the wheels.

I believe the main 2 longitudinal beams are 4 ft apart, and the support cross members are also placed 4 ft apart -- meaning many sections of 4ft square patch of floor is supported only by the tensile strength of the 5/8' plywood.

The floor of any Airstream can be truly flat throughout the entire span. Every Airstream would have somewhat of tilting floor that would be noticeable to the owners at close inspection.

When I set up my 28' trailer using a carpenter's level (you know, the one with a bubble in a tube), I aim to horizontally level both the kitchen countertop and the bathroom countertop. When I achieve something close to that as I best can, according to my carpenter's level, what happen is:

- At A-frame behind the tongue jack, it is sloping down from fore to aft.
- On the living-area floor (around front gaucho), the floor is level.
- On the hallway floor (approaching towards the mid-bath), it is sloping up from fore to aft.
- The floor becomes level, again, right around on top of axles.
- As I approach towards the stern/the rear bed room, the floor slopes down again.

It's like the suspended cables (drooping) of the Golden Gate Bridge. As any steel beam propped up at 2 separated points would be inevitably dangling/drooping/or sagging ever so slightly depending on how over-engineered the beam is.
i don't have a fancy carpenter's level with me out in the woods; i put a bottle of scotch on the dinette table for such precise measurements!

i do understand the principle of your Golden Gate Bridge analogy. and if difference in floor feel were gentle from front to back i'd be less worried.

but when i place my foot just abeam the leg of the table, i can feel a distinct beginning of the tilting of the floor towards the tongue. that "floor feel" is what led me to get down on my hands and knees for a closer inspection and how i found the floor surface bubbling up.

i've got a few photos i'll try to upload. it doesn't reveal anything about the floor feel, but it does show something about the floor in the area in question. the floor under the table seems to have a subtle discoloration or "undercast" to it, which is why i thought there was water damage initially. it is more obvious in the photos than i originally thought.
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Old 01-04-2010, 08:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randf View Post
i don't have a fancy carpenter's level with me out in the woods; i put a bottle of scotch on the dinette table for such precise measurements!

i do understand the principle of your Golden Gate Bridge analogy. and if difference in floor feel were gentle from front to back i'd be less worried.

but when i place my foot just abeam the leg of the table, i can feel a distinct beginning of the tilting of the floor towards the tongue. that "floor feel" is what led me to get down on my hands and knees for a closer inspection and how i found the floor surface bubbling up.

i've got a few photos i'll try to upload. it doesn't reveal anything about the floor feel, but it does show something about the floor in the area in question. the floor under the table seems to have a subtle discoloration or "undercast" to it, which is why i thought there was water damage initially. it is more obvious in the photos than i originally thought.
here are a few photos with the discoloration highlighted.
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Old 01-04-2010, 09:05 PM   #11
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Discoloration + weak ply subflooring= water damage.

You may have had water sitting on the floor there long enough to soak in/ evaporate, and never seen a puddle.
Just a thought.

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Old 01-04-2010, 10:55 PM   #12
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photos VERY helpful...

yep, looks like a water line and vinyl discoloration toward the wall.

not as bad as this one, but some process...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f353...rot-58494.html

and again it is VERY easy to inspect the subfloor.

vinyl is attached ONLY at the edges and peels back easily to reveal the condition of the wood sub.

best of luck with that randf...

cheers
2air'
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:38 AM   #13
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The affected area seems to be a square section bordered by the beams and the cross members of the chassis. This leads me to believe...

There's water accumulating in between the subfloor and the Reflectix vapor barrier/insulation.

I know this because I had a similar looking damage under my rear bed with distinct discoloration. When I lifted the vinyl, the plywood was all black and mushy, and when I poked a hole in the vapor barrier, a few GALLONS of trapped water streamed out, as if I turned on the faucet.

In my case, 2/3 of the queen bed's subfloor was soaked. An area about the size of a pillow, coincidently located under my headboard was totally rotted, so soft I can dig with my fingers.

This happened to me to my brand-new trailer, AFTER ONLY 1 YEAR -- all while I was fulltiming, of course watching out, and taking care of any arising issues. I had thought I had many issues, which I mostly DIYed in taking care. But upon discovering this, everything was minor and paled in comparison to this.

In my case, the water was coming from the rear bumper:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f456...ybe-56674.html

Jackson Center took care of mine professionally. They took out the closets and the bed, rolled back the vinyl, cut and replaced the plywood up to the cross member, and applied sealant everywhere.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:49 AM   #14
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Photos of my damage:
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:04 AM   #15
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and more...
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:00 AM   #16
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Good photos in the last few posts. Wow!

The factory explanation about the spare tire is a lot of huzzanga. From taking my '74 Argosy apart I can say there is a broad area of unsupported floor at the front. In this pic from my Argosy, the angled members continue forward and become the A-frame.

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The trapezoidal area in the middle is where a spare would have gone. My Argo never had a spare tire but this area is always prepped as if a spare might be added later as an option. AFAIK the factory has built this area the same whether equipping the unit with a spare or not.

[on edit: in the lower part of the pic at the edge of the plywood, note half of the crosswise beam exposed. This beam occurs at the first full rib at the junction of the end cap and the start of the parallel trailer sides. The front plywood section rests solidly on and is screwed to this beam.]
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:13 AM   #17
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Randf: I like the old saying, "If you hear hoof beats look for horses, not zebras!"......so,
If you ask me, I'm going with water damage. My theory is that it happened while it sat on the lot for several months.....(the door was left open in the rain, and water accumulated towards the front....must have been sitting a little nose-low)....by the time they cleaned it up the damage was done. And, one more thing: "I feel your pain" ....I've had several issues with my present trailer that I attribute to abuse from the time period when it sat at the dealership.....I won't bore you with the details; hopefully Airstream will take care of this for you. And finally, I don't buy the "spare tire" explanation.....Makes me call into question whether the factory was actually consulted.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:35 AM   #18
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...In my case, 2/3 of the queen bed's subfloor was soaked...

...This happened to me to my brand-new trailer, AFTER ONLY 1 YEAR...
hole-y mole-y astro ! and WOW!

this is worthy of entire thread on just THIS issue in your unit.

maybe something like....

"my bed was swallowed by swamp aliens" or "the OH! in my trip to ohio"

that is some impressive wet spot n rot, really.

got more pics of the repairs?

what'd they do 2 the seam/outer panel bumper to prevent this happening again?

did they add a life preserver to the bed room gear just in case?

thanks for sharing, wow.

cheers
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:49 AM   #19
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Astro', that is scary! I'd like to know how it happened too. Owning a recent model Airstream is a frightening experience waiting for something to happen that I saw on the Forum.

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Old 05-11-2011, 10:51 AM   #20
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i can't believe it has been over a year since the original posts, so i suppose i owe everyone a followup on my dealings with airstream and the repair shop (original sales shop). i can't say i'm completley happy with either of these two organizations, just haven't had time to follow up post "repair".

cue time-travel music and imagine it's january of 2010 again....

so after getting alot of good opinions, i insisted that the repair shop contact airstream for better instructions that just getting out the hacksaw and seeing what they can find.

also a bad streak of cold weather turned out to be very helpful. the shop foreman went out after a week or so of straight 15 degree temperatures and admitted that he heard ice crunching under his feet as he walked around the front of the trailer.

the airstream rep made several calls to me and was very patient in listening to my concerns and finally gave the repair facility instructions to "exploratory surgery" from the inside out.

the dealer took out the dinette, the water tank, and pealed back the front of the laminate floor and found substantial evidence of water (now ice) damage. they said that the laminate was marine grade quality (not subject to deteriation having water on/in it) so dried it out and put a anti-mold/mildew substance on it and rolled the floor back out.

then they put the trailer thru some pressure testing and discovered that the seals around the panaromic front window were leaking pretty badly. the water was staying in between the inner and outer shell and running down to the floor where i guess it was leaching into the flooring.

so they repaired the leaks and handed me back the trailer.

i wasn't completely happy with the repair b/c the floor still has that "tilting feeling towards the front" and the table still slopes towards the back of the trailer "significantly". also the laminate still has the subtle dark undercast. and if you look really close, you can see little bubbles in the laminate as some of the crumbly floor bits in astroboy's pictures above were left on the surface of the flooring when the laminate was rolled back down.

the airstream rep said to send pictures (i did) and to call him to discuss resolution.

that was the state of things last summer. i did not have a chance to follow up as i went on a no-notice deployment mid summer and then another in the winter, just barely getting a chance to winterize before leaving.

now that it is travel season again, we've been out on our first trip of the year and i am still unhappy with the look of the floor and tilt of the table. so i suppose i will be calling the rep to see if he remembers me and if airstream will be willing to do anything for these "cosmetic" problems. i am still unsure about the integrity of the wood after getting ahold of the photos the dealer took when they peeled back the floor.
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