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Old 10-29-2018, 08:32 AM   #1
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2005 25' Safari
1968 17' Caravel
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Frame Inspection 68 Caravel without belly skin removal

I'm just getting underway with a full resto/renovation of a '68 Caravel. The outer skins looked pretty good to me at first, but then when I started on the axles which are original and have very little travel, I noticed there is some waviness to the lower outer skin on the street side near the wheel well and on the curb side there's a vertical wear through on the curved portion of the side skin where it wraps where the outer frame piece has worn through from the back side of the skin. I have concerns that the axles have bottomed out and there's been some shock to the trailer frame/shell. I have to do some piecemeal floor repair. My question is, would it be wise to make a skill saw cut and remove about a 1 foot wide section of subfloor on both sides over the main frame rails to see if any have rusted away or separated so that they can be welded from on top to avoid pulling the belly skin. Thoughts?
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Old 10-29-2018, 09:27 AM   #2
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IMO, an inspection of the entire chassis should be done. Itís not uncommon for the end of the outrigger to punch through the banana wrap. When repairing the chassis, some tack weld a light gaged plate to the end of the outriggers to prevent punch through. Nevertheless, I would want all the visibility I could get to check the chassis and cross members. In short, I would remove the belly pan. If some of the cross members are in need of replacement, you would lose the points of attachment for the belly pan anyway. That would also give you the opportunity to reinsulate, check wiring/plumbing, and evict however many mice you have homesteading. Good luck, Bubba
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Old 10-29-2018, 04:09 PM   #3
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If a '68 Caravel is built the same as a '68GT, Then, here's what I know…


All 1968s have 4” frame… Caravel frame is 3”


1968 was the year of sprayed closed-cell foam floor insulation. The foam is generally 2” thick, but varies. No fiberglass batting in floor.


1968 has 5/8” filled-void plywood floor.


Along the outside perimeter, the plywood floor is sandwiched between a simple, true U-Channel (different than the F-C channel common to seventies trailers) and the tips of the outriggers with Elevator Bolts.


The streetside and curbside exterior skin panels are attached to the U-Channel. Then, they wrap under the trailer, and capture the bellypan.


Drill out the pop-rivets along the edge, Do not drill buck rivets. Then, the side skin will drape downward giving you excellent view of frame, floor, outriggers, foam insulation, and inside bellyskin. Nuts and nests can be easily vacuumed or blown out with air, there is no insulation in the way. The insulation is adhered to plywood.


The draping sideskin will give you access to the outrigger's elevator bolts where you might replace floor.


On my trailer, anywhere the foam adhered to the steel, the frame was in like new condition. Areas that had no foam, were light surface rust. The closed cell foam was very protective of the plywood too. No oxidation. The foam cannot wick or saturate with water. I know this because I submerged a chunk in my pond for a week, and it bobbed up, dry.


It's common for outriggers to poke through. Could be frame issues, but most likely wrapped too tightly when assembled in 1968. When the sideskin is detached and draping, you can easily adhere an inside patch at the outrigger's edge, or better


My question is, would it be wise to make a skill saw cut and remove about a 1 foot wide section of subfloor on both sides over the main frame rails to see if any have rusted away or separated so that they can be welded from on top to avoid pulling the belly skin.”


Unwise and unnecessary. You can reach much area and inspect from below. It's clean and easy, I found no deteriorated foam dust, or foam chunks… Dropping entire pan will become necessary if frame damage is suspected or found.

It's pretty strait forward on a 68GT, Caravel...?? Hopefully




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Old 10-30-2018, 06:39 AM   #4
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ALUMINUMINUM great post and great suggestions and photos. I was concerned about doing a frame off if my floor issues got to be greater than what I currently have exposed (the kitchen cabinet hasn't been removed yet) because of those wraps that extend down below and under from the side skin. I was afraid it would be hard to park the shell while working without damaging them. Your pics make it clear. Looks straight forward. Will be drilling out pop rivets this weekend. How did you get such good pics? Those are really helpful. thanks for posting. Might also be some good room for some modern upgrades sub-floor as well.
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Old 04-09-2019, 11:19 AM   #5
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piecemeal floor replacement

I have inspected all the flooring and found dry rot in a few places and acid damage where the battery was along with a section of flooring that had already been removed by the door. The frame is in great shape. I have taken a router and made a lap joint that's 1/2 the depth of the 3/4" factory marine plywood 1 1/2" wide, that overlaps the channel of the main frame. The floor is in great shape from the main frame rails inward. The space below the C-channel has sagged down in the area of the wheel wells. I suspect the zig-zag in the outer flange of the wheel well has shortened the space where the plywood had rotted and with original axles, the shell has been hammering that down as a unit with each bump in the road. I'm unable to get the shell to lift back up enough to get the 3/4" plywood repair pieces under the C-channel (resting place of the C-channel is about 1/2- 5/8"). My question to the forum is, do I need to drill out the rivets around the galvanized wheel well to the outer skin, and if I do, they won't likely line back up to buck new rivets to replace what I drilled out once the floor is in place. I haven't taken out the screws on the side skin where it wraps onto rivnuts in the belly skin. Will that allow the extra space so that with a bottle jack and some force distribution over 2 or 3 ribs, I can get the 3/4" plywood in position? I've removed only the lower inner skins at this point, and with a good frame, I don't want to do a shell off. Thoughts?
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Old 05-06-2021, 02:43 PM   #6
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1967 22' Safari
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docflyboy were you able to get the plywood in? I am facing a similar situation as this thread describes and am opening up the belly pan this weekend. I have two outriggers poking through the skin on either side of my street side wheel well. I had planned to put the new axle in today until I noticed this situation.
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Old 05-09-2021, 11:19 AM   #7
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Yes I was able to get the pieces under the C-channel, but it took some doing. I posted on the forum and thought I might have to unrivet the wheel well, but was well advised against this. I used a couple 2x6's midline on the ribs and then used some push up poles to get a little room. I was also working with mostly 2' wide pieces of plywood, that I had half lapped. I'll look for some pics to show you. Jerry
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Old 05-09-2021, 03:49 PM   #8
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Experiment- the outriggers rubbing a hole in your skin is apparently common. The side skin wraps around under the trailer and you could inspect by drilling out a few rivets. When folks do a shell off, sometimes they put a piece of galvanized steel perpendicular to the outrigger edge. Jerry
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Old 05-09-2021, 06:25 PM   #9
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Sagging skin wrinkles

docflyboy, I had the same issue with my Safari, I have not replaced the axle yet as I need to do more plywood edge replacement over the outriggers near my wheel wells. Still having a problem finding new single axle wheel wells. I really don't like the idea of buying duel axle wheel wells and then cutting them down to fit. I really hate the idea of trying to re-seal them together. I would like to ask if you could post some pics of your lap jointed plywood replacement. I was thinking along these lines and pics would help me determine what to do. I also have some aluminum panel tearing/cracks around the outside of the wheel wells where the coach has settled and been used by the previous owner with bad axle. I have as well to this a bent upward outrigger or two near the battery door. I am attempting to pull them back down into original position, although I may have to replace them altogether! Every time I think about wedging the shell and lifting it slightly from the inside of the trailer I get the heebie-jeebies about how to do this without a frame off decision. Could you share how you did yours? Photos would be very helpful. Thanks, Ed
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