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Old 07-09-2012, 05:53 PM   #141
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Itís been two months and two days since Iíve posted an update to this thread. I have more pictures than Iíve posted today and more stories to tell, but Iím trying to keep you good folks posted to some degree here. Ralph and I have made a lot of progress in the meantime. We typically work a portion of two days per week and I work some extra time each weekÖ probably about 25 man hours per week.

This post will be an overview of before and after pictures with brief explanations on strengthening the rear frame and monocoque structure. Iíll go into more detail on the aluminum skin a little later. This post mainly deals with the prevention of rear end separation. I had a local welder, Steve Cordero, make some rear frame outriggers that reach out into the radiused sections of the corners to spread the area of attachment between the frame and the corner sections of the aluminum shell.

Before (exterior from rear)


After (exterior from rear) Note: we've straightened the exterior corner sheet metal and strengthened the corners with .040" doublers and about three times as many rivets connecting the U channel portion of the lower extrusion to the lower body skin. All connecting rivets were removed and the doubler was slipped in between the skin and the U channel.


Before (side view)


After (side view)



Before (interior overview)


After (interior overview)


Notice in each of the after photos that you can see corresponding skin straightening and reinforcement. I plan to add three or four 1/4Ē-20 bolts with load distribution plates on top of the aluminum U Chanel portion of the bottom extrusion for extra strengthening. All rivets for doublers and elsewhere are being driven ďwetĒ using TremPro 635.
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Old 07-09-2012, 05:56 PM   #142
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Here is a detail of the curb side corner outrigger/bracket from the top. Note: I had Steve weld the top portion of all cross members and outriggers that were accessible from the top as Airstream had only tack welded one corner and then ran a bead along the vertical seam. These rear brackets have a little surface rust as Steve made them from serviceable 3/16Ē scraps that he had left over from other projects.
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Old 07-09-2012, 05:58 PM   #143
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Here is a detail of an outrigger/bracket from the rear. The brackets are sort of like a quarter of a circle viewed from the top with a 2Ē wide steel tire/cuff running around the circumference from the rear (looks flat here, but itís just a 2 D picture). Note how the outrigger is an extension of the plane of the top surface of the cross member.
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:01 PM   #144
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Then the front view of the bracket shows that it is basically a triangular gusset thatís 3.5Ē tall on the inboard side and tapers to 2Ē tall where it meets the tire/cuff. All seams are welded full length.


I will do something similar at the front, but Steve hasnít finished those brackets yet. Iíll show before and after pictures when they are installed.
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:28 PM   #145
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Steve,
The rivet spacing shows a level of detail in your work that defines a really nice job from a hack. The full length welds are another nice touch.

Finish it up and go camping!!!!

It was HOT in Kansas the week before last when we came through...
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:57 AM   #146
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Vernon,
Thanks for the compliment on the rivet spacing and the workmanship. Ralph is a retired aeronautical engineer and he gets the credit for laying out the rivet spacing. When you have two retired engineers working on a project it tends to be a slow, methodical approach rather than fast and furious. Also, the heat you mentioned limits how late we work after lunch.

I am more than ready to go camping. My hope is to do some short trips in the fall once things cool off. Then next spring and thereafter we will venture farther afield. We have tentatively planned several extended trips over the next ten years: New England and the maritime provinces of eastern Canada, Pennsylvania, D.C. Area, NC/SC/GA coastal region, AL/MS/LA, Grand Canyon/Brice Canyon Regions, Pacific NW and British Columbia. We're also considering setting up a permanent pad for the trailer with hookups on the farm where my wife grew up and our son and daughter in law live in Cleveland, TN. That way, we'll have a base of operations there.
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Old 07-10-2012, 11:40 AM   #147
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Steve consider making some load spreaders on the main frame attachment bolts to distributed the load over a longer section of C-channel. I used 1"x1'x1/8" steel angle as long as would fit in the curved section. I think they were like 6 inches long. All those rivets are not going to do much if the thin C-channel bends and tries to pull through. Your corner bracket is a nice touch and should help distribute the load from the bottom but I would add something on top. If you wanted you could cut a piece from some sheet steel that would fit in that curved area and would cover all three bolt locations.



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Old 07-10-2012, 05:05 PM   #148
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Perry,
Thanks for the advice. Yes, I'm planning to use some 1/4" aluminum plate that I've had for years. I'll saw it up into rectangles or curved segments on my band saw. I'm also going to increase the size of the original gussets and add more pop rivets to hold in the interior skin so that the interior skin will carry some load.

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Old 07-11-2012, 10:16 AM   #149
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Steve I am curious as to how the rear end of your trailer got damaged unless it was bottomed out or jacked from the rear and it pushed the frame into the body. Usually when the rear end separates the frame drops.

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Old 07-12-2012, 08:56 AM   #150
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
Steve I am curious as to how the rear end of your trailer got damaged unless it was bottomed out or jacked from the rear and it pushed the frame into the body. Usually when the rear end separates the frame drops.

Perry
You're not the only one who is curious about this!!!

I'd love to know what happened in the previous life. When I bought the trailer (2002), it was in Tucson, AZ. Joe Pershing of Oasis RV was acting as a broker and the trailer was property being sold to satisfy a divorce settlement. I was never able to talk to the original owner.

I was so very impressed with the fact that there in the arid desert environment, the trailer did not have any rust or corrosion and there were few signs of wear or use (interior or exterior). I suspect that the trailer had little use during the previous eleven years prior to my owning it and that it may have even been stored indoors. But during that time the trailer had been scraped on some object along the lower left side skin and the PO had it re-skinned in a quick and dirty way that involved pop rivets under the belt line molding. Also, there's evidence of some other damage underneath the rear bedroom...a couple of outriggers are bent slightly on the bottom and the belly skin has been patched.

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Old 07-12-2012, 09:15 AM   #151
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Something had to of pushed that frame upward. Is there any metal ground off the frame in the back. I bottomed mine out leaving a gas station and took about 1/4" off the tip of the skid rail. There was no other damage.

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Old 07-19-2012, 02:36 PM   #152
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Weíve removed the interior panels from the front end along with the pink insulation and some of the sealant goop that Airstream liberally spreads on everything. Thereís lots of evidence of long standing leaks in the front wall area from improper initial construction. The front two feet of floor have some rot and thatís now removed.

Before


Cabinet & Storage Compartment Removed (Electric Jack Controls on Left Side of front compartment door)


Propane Cover Removed (note rot around left and right jacks)


Interior Panels Removed


Front Left (Road Side) Portion to be Removed


Front with Floor and Jacks Removed Showing Frame, etc.


Top View of Frame
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Old 07-19-2012, 02:44 PM   #153
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Hereís a technique that I used to remove some wires from a panel where my tin snip cuts wonít show and allow me to replace the wires and re-use the plastic grommet during interior reassembly


Note, the newly appeared red spot is where I actually shed blood (not the first) because I cut my finger on the sharp edge of the aluminum panel.


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Old 07-19-2012, 02:46 PM   #154
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Hereís a picture of how I was initially supporting the trailer when I removed the electric jacks. Youíll see that Iím dealing with a driveway that runs uphill. I have chocks on all six wheels, 2 4,000 pound capacity jack stands under the frame, and concrete blocks under the Hensley Hitch. Ralphís leg is sticking out from propane bottle area of A frame. Heís getting the abundant goop that Airstream lathers on every seam off with a putty knife and heat gun. This arrangement was an intermediate step to get the jacks out of the floor until I could relocate one in the standard place to be able to lower the frame away from the monocoque shell. I want to call the aluminum shell a fuselage because Iíve been in the aircraft industry for so long.


Once I removed the two front leveling jacks from the interior, I transferred one of them to the existing standard front jack location. I owe a debt of gratitude to Vernon (AKA HiHoAgRV) for this idea (see http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...tml#post736978).






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Old 07-19-2012, 02:47 PM   #155
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Lowering the frame away from the aluminum shell gives me the vertical space to install frame extensions for the front corners in a similar fashion to what Iíve done in the rear and spread the C channel portion of the lower extrusion to better accept plywood. Iíve already worked on some of the mashed together C channel in this photo.
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:39 PM   #156
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Steve I have never seen one with two leveling jacks on the inside. What is that big box in the center with the boat rollers and some sort of rail system?

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Old 07-19-2012, 07:43 PM   #157
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"What is that big box in the center with the boat rollers and some sort of rail system?"

Those are for the propane bottles which lay down instead of stand up. This configuration is found only on the Limited.

Great work with these posts, Steve! I hope the heat lets up for you soon, so working won't be so dangerous.

Philip
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Old 07-19-2012, 10:27 PM   #158
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Phillip, you are right sir! The propane bottles are horizontal and are stored in the center front area, half in and half out. The batteries are under the forward dinette seat also, instead of up front as is true on the Excella.

Perry, here are some pictures of the trailer when I went to look at it before purchase (bottle cover missing) and with the newly replaced bottle cover and Hensley hitch.




Ten years of outside storage has really done a number on the exterior finish of the trailer. When I finish with all of this present work, I am going to consider paying additional rent to get covered storage. I suspect that the trailer was in covered storage from the time it was new in 1991 until I bought it in 2002.

In 2013 or 2014, I plan to do exterior cosmetic refurbishment. But I really want to do some serious camping before I do any more major work.
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:10 AM   #159
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That is really cool. I am not sure why they went to that much trouble. The arrangment that AS has been using for years seems to work fine. You going to get rid of the two jack system up front? Where are the batteries kept? Are there jacks in the rear as well?

Leaving trailers in the sun really ages them. Probably 90% of aging inside and outside is sun related. Constant heat cycles, UV on the caulk and plastic components. The heat makes the inside of the trailer rot. The plastic turns yellow and outgasses. Curtins fall apart etc. etc. Then there is the constant water exposure issue.

Perry
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Old 07-20-2012, 02:10 PM   #160
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Perry,
I plan to leave the configuration of the propane bottles and the batteries right where they are now. I do plan to rework the front cover for the propane bottles because of the Hensley Hitch. I'm really looking forward to doing some projects that are more fun on the trailer and using it for camping and traveling.

I've been blessed by two things on this project...really more than two, but I won't diverge that much now. One is that my wife, Carolyn, is being supportive and the other is that my good friend Ralph is willingly helping me and we're having fun doing the rework and learning new things. Another great blessing is AirForums. I've learned so much from others here and you folks encourage me too!!! I'm a lucky man!
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