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Old 09-11-2011, 01:07 PM   #1
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1981 31' Excella II
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New Trailer and unfortunately new floor.

Well I bought my first air stream a 31ft, 1981 Excella II. Well I thought I had me a good one till I started pulling the carpet under the beds in the rear. I guess I am lucky I don't have a rear bath model. The rest of the floor looks good in the trailer accept a little around the door area. I will post some photos soon. Looks like the damage is from the rear hatch doors on back. The bumper seal looks to be the culprit. The frame has not separated. I pulled back some of the skin and I can see where it looks like there are 1/4" bolts up under the bumper flange. I may cut them out or leave them and notch the plywood so it will go under the lip. I will then add some stainless steel screws to further tie the body back to the frame.

Would you guys recommend POR15 to seal all the rust. The rust is mainly superficial at this point. I guess I will put 1/2" marine plywood back in there if you can even get it that thin. I am debating whether to pull the whole section back to the first seam or just cut it back to where the rots stops which is about 1ft short of the seam. I don't want to have to pull the side skins in the back if I can help it.

Pop Rivets, where do I get the all aluminum ones? The ones at Lowe's etc are aluminum with a steel center pin. Can I just use sheet metal screws to put the inner skin back on?

I am also trying to avoid pulling the bottom skins. That opens up a whole mess with taking off the exterior trim and all the rivets to deal with etc. I am trying to get this finished by third week in October.

Perry
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Old 09-11-2011, 02:06 PM   #2
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Here are the photos. I think I am going to have to pull at least the rear banana skins so I can put bolts through the floor into the bottom flange of the skin.

Anybody know the thickness of the plywood floor. It is not very thick. I guess I can find an intact piece and measure it.

Index of /AS-Temp/81-ExcellaII-31ft/Floor-Repairs

Perry
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Old 09-11-2011, 02:35 PM   #3
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Perry...I'd use one of the 'rust converters' available usually at paint stores... Eastwood Rust Converter - Convert Rust in One Step

I've used rust converter in the past and it works great...acts like a primer, that can be painted for a permanent repair...
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Old 09-11-2011, 02:36 PM   #4
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Ouch!

I feel your pain.....been there and got the T-shirt. Welcome to the floor rot club. Here is my repair thread http://www.airforums.com/forums/f205...ses-73362.html
Maybe you can find some answers you are looking for here.
Im sitting in our AS right now thinking back to when I was facing what you are right now.
Hope the thread helps, good luck.
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Old 09-11-2011, 04:01 PM   #5
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I know you pain...

Greetings,

I know what this is like too. I have a 79 Excella 500 and it had rot in the same place as yours! I just finished the repairs this spring. (Actually for the 2nd time b/c I had foolishly used PT plywood the first time).

Based on my experience and reading of the forum you want those bolts to go through your new floor to tie the body, floor, and frame together. Notches would defeat that purpose. (I did that the first time too).

I'm not sure you can really do the repair completely or easily w/o removing the bottom panels of the interior skin, pulling the blue rub rail, and also getting the bottom banana wraps off. This gave me room to slide in a new piece so that it it fit in the c channel at the very back. I replaced the whole rear panel of the floor. Having the skins off let me get bolts through where I needed to at the back etc. so I could tighten them all up. I feel better having a combination of the bolts and self tapping screws securing the floor to the frame. Removing the rub rail also allowed me to make sure things were sealed well at the back.

No doubt, this job is a pain the neck -- especially when you want to be out camping. But it only took a few weeks to get things in order.

Good luck with it.

Abe
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Old 09-11-2011, 04:15 PM   #6
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Thanks Abe. So why not pressure treated plywood, Corrosion? The notches were just to get the plywood past the existing bolts. I am going to put more in there to tie everything to the frame at the rear. So what is the thickness of the stock plywood? The main structural tie point is at the rear that ties the shell to the frame. The tie points at the corners support the floor.

Perry
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Old 09-11-2011, 08:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsmith84 View Post
I feel your pain.....been there and got the T-shirt. Welcome to the floor rot club. Here is my repair thread http://www.airforums.com/forums/f205...ses-73362.html
Maybe you can find some answers you are looking for here.
Im sitting in our AS right now thinking back to when I was facing what you are right now.
Hope the thread helps, good luck.
Wait, who is handing out T-shirts? My floor was rotted! I want one!

"I spent half the year pulling apart my trailer and replacing the rotten floor and all I got was this T-shirt"
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Old 09-12-2011, 07:29 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by worldinchaos

Wait, who is handing out T-shirts? My floor was rotted! I want one!

"I spent half the year pulling apart my trailer and replacing the rotten floor and all I got was this T-shirt"
Lol....I'm going to look at having that made!
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Old 09-12-2011, 10:32 AM   #9
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Get you a personal tag "ROTTEN TWINKE"

Perry
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Old 09-13-2011, 06:27 AM   #10
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Hi Perry,

Yes, I read that the PT corrodes the aluminum and decided to pull it out. I can remember the exact thickness of plywood I used but it matched up almost perfectly with the existing floor -- maybe a little shy b/c I chose to leave out the insulation. There was a lot of junk in the belly pan and it would also hold water that got in there through the bumper area.

The rear plate on my trailer had room for 5 or 6 small bolts that I could get to through the rear bumper area -- so the bolts go through the rear c channel and the plywood. Again, I had to get to those by removing the inner skins. I did cut out and replace the bigger bolts at the back corners too so that I didn't have to notch the plywood. I figured that those really heavy bolts had a structural purpose and I wanted to make sure that everything was tied tightly together.

So far so good, I don't think it is leaking in the back. Oh -- I also waterproofed my plywood with two coats of two part epoxy before I put it in.
I used high quality plywood with very few voids/gaps -- my builder supply couldn't get me a piece of marine grade in the time frame that I needed it (plus it was a lot more money).

Best of luck!

Abe
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Old 09-13-2011, 08:24 AM   #11
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I was able to find some 1/2" Marine Plywood Locally. Lowes had the best price which was $60 a sheet. They had to order it. I had quotes of close to $100 a sheet. I think I am going to go ahead and cut the bolts you are talking about so they won't be in the way. Also if I am lucky I can slide and uncut sheet of plywood in there and trace around the body outline to give me the right contour. I also thought of using the aluminum belly band as a spline since it is already the shape that I am shooting for. I have some stainless steel bolts I can use to bolt it all back together.

I think I am going to seal the end grain with polyurathane wood finish and I may even coat both sides of the plywood with it. It may be better to leave most of the top surface uncoated so water can evaporate. I would think it would be hard for water to get into the wood if all sides and the edges were coated. I don't plan on covering the wood under the beds and cabinets. I want to be able to see problems not cover them up.

I have thought of using bleach solution to clean the existing sub floor so I can paint over it. It is pretty nasty after 30 yrs of being covered with carpet. I am concerned that the bleach may cause corrosion problems though. We are going to go to the beach in it 3rd week of October so I may not have time to cover the floors before we go and I don't want to sleep on that nasty subfloor.

Perry
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Old 09-14-2011, 12:44 AM   #12
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I was able to find some 1/2" Marine Plywood Locally. Lowes had the best price which was $60 a sheet. They had to order it. I had quotes of close to $100 a sheet. I think I am going to go ahead and cut the bolts you are talking about so they won't be in the way. Also if I am lucky I can slide and uncut sheet of plywood in there and trace around the body outline to give me the right contour. I also thought of using the aluminum belly band as a spline since it is already the shape that I am shooting for. I have some stainless steel bolts I can use to bolt it all back together.

I think I am going to seal the end grain with polyurathane wood finish and I may even coat both sides of the plywood with it. It may be better to leave most of the top surface uncoated so water can evaporate. I would think it would be hard for water to get into the wood if all sides and the edges were coated. I don't plan on covering the wood under the beds and cabinets. I want to be able to see problems not cover them up.

I have thought of using bleach solution to clean the existing sub floor so I can paint over it. It is pretty nasty after 30 yrs of being covered with carpet. I am concerned that the bleach may cause corrosion problems though. We are going to go to the beach in it 3rd week of October so I may not have time to cover the floors before we go and I don't want to sleep on that nasty subfloor.

Perry
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:42 PM   #13
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I am making progress on my deconstruction of the Excella. I got two of the three lower interior panels off tonight. You just got to love those hidden rivets. I found a good way to handle them with a real sharp wood chisel and a hammer. It cuts the heads right off with little or no damage to the panel.

I also got the bumper off. The plate that holds the lid to the bumper compartment goes right under the body and does a wonderful job of funneling water into the rear sub floor. Are all Airstreams made like this? I am going to remove that plate and pull the belly skin up under the frame and pop rivet it. I will make another panel to close out the back of the compartment. There will be a gap between the two plates so water can run down the body to the ground instead of running under the subfloor. I will also close out the bottom of the box as well. I have thought of just putting some heavy duty screen on the bottom instead of sheet metal. Anyway, that frigging plate is going away. If you have that funnel plate on the back of your AS it WILL LEAK at some point and it probably aready leaking. I am just glad I don't have a rear bath.

I will take pics when I get a chance.

Perry
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Old 09-16-2011, 05:27 PM   #14
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Old 09-16-2011, 05:32 PM   #15
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Well it would not let me add text after inserting the images. But here is what I am dealing with. This was the first step. I have already done most of the demolition. It looks like this thing has been leaking for a long time based on the rust I am seeing. I found a factor boo boo. They put the beam that the rear end hooks to about an inch too far forward and they had to put the bolts at the inner edge of the C-channel. I may or may not try to fix this problem I am pondering the options right now. I don't like the bolts being that close to the edge.

Perry
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:49 PM   #16
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Well I think I am done with the POR15. Great stuff but what a mess. I wonder how long it will take for this stuff to come off my skin. I think I am going to have to segment the rear floor into three parts. Each corner is going to need a piece and then one big piece in the center. I know your nor suppose to segment the floor but I won't be able to get it under the body and into the channels on the side and the rear unless I do. I am going to add some supports so all the panels will have their own set of elevator bolts. AS put a row of bolts at the seam which is pretty much useless.

Perry
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:55 AM   #17
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Rear Floor Segment Repair

Perry:

If you have to segment the repair make sure you put a scab patch under all of the seams. Overlap each side of the seam by at least 4". Saturate both sides of the mating surface with glue - it will wick up into the plywood. While the glue is still wet install enough screws to facilitate a tight 5 spot pattern on both sides of the repair. This will bond everything together and make the repair stronger than the original.

I found an almost perfect match for the floor on the '78 at Home Depot - see posts #20 and #27 of my Sovereign rebuild. It was an 8 ply finish plywood with exactly 1/2" thickness. I would think that the 8 ply is much stronger than the most 1/2" 3 ply commonly found today.

Make sure all of the frame welding and repair is accomplished prior to repairing the floor. While you are under there, please strongly think about adding a 20 amp electrical service. I use the second service for the second AC, an additional electric heater in the winter, and with both the electric element and burner going in the water heater I have almost unlimited hot water. None of the above uses were seriously contemplated when I did the rear floor repair - I was still going to flip the trailer at that time.

While you are in the back bumper storage area, you may consider installing a new electric cable. I have been in a couple of instances where I was measuring low voltage in a park environment. #10 wire gets marginal when a total length of 100 feet is approached with even a 20 amp load. I have witnessed 95 volts in the interior of the trailer with a 200' 10 guage feed length. I carry 75' of #6 umbilical line for the primary electric feed and 50' of #10 cable for the secondary feed. Just the electric cables fill up the rear storage area. Try to minimize the number of electrical connections in the circuit. Each connection, whether permanent or plug in, adds to the overall voltage loss.
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Old 09-19-2011, 03:41 PM   #18
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I am considering upgrading the electrical. I will need to get the floor back in before I go too far with that. I only took out about the last 4 ft so I will see how hard it is to fish new wire through there. I have thought of making the trailer capable of 120 or 220V operation. How do you connect the addition 20AMP? You connect your 30A and plug a 20A into the regular outlet? 200Ft is way too long of a run. You should be within 25ft at most camp grounds.

I plan on having metal under all my seams. I added some outriggers next to the existing ones so the plywood will have a place to sit. There was no support there originally. I also put some 2x2 angle on the sides of the main beams so the center piece of plywood can have its own set of bolts. I know some try to make a seam in the middle. I am using three sections. One for each corner 4ft forward to the old plywood and then a center peice that is about 4x4ft. It will be stronger than what it was.

I am trying to get this thing road worthy to take to the beach third week of October.

Perry
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:58 PM   #19
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Here are a couple of pics of the frame mods. You can see the added pieces I made for the plywood to rest on. I will thread the supports and put elevator bolts in. I also made some load distributors at the back and in the corners to help distribute the load better. The frame is an inch too short so the Airstream yahoos had to put the bolts at the very outside edge of the C-Channel. You can see the notches they made and my tabs sticking out. I will POR15 the welds and the C-Channel stiffeners.

Perry

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Old 09-20-2011, 06:59 PM   #20
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Opps
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