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Old 02-18-2007, 11:10 AM   #1
Rivet Master
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Vintage Kin Owner
1977 31' Excella 500
Berkeley Springs , West Virginia
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Next Step Toward Monstream

Howdy All,

As some may have seen my earlier postings, I am going to build a new frame for my Excella.

I'd originally planned to get with the brother of my friend who is Plant Manager of a giant RV frame shop in Indiana to make one for me. He was going to do it at cost, and it would have been a nice one. The hitch came when we found out that my Airstream has a narrower main rail spacing than what is used in the rest of the travel trailer industry. Hence it would not fit on his production jigs and so wouldn't sequence into production. So much for that idea.

I resolved then to do it myself. I enrolled in a welding course and spent a semester of night classes at my local vo-tech learning to weld. While not yet a master, I can do half decent stick welding and oxy-fuel welding.

Since my primary interests lie with aircraft and hot rods, I wanted something I could weld 4130 tubing with, as well as heavy stuff. I looked at all sorts of welding machines.

They demo'd TIG for us and I have a friend who is an expert in it. I plan to spend the rest of the winter practicing and practicing on both stick and TIG.

I have settled upon the Lincoln Precision TIG 225. It's a TIG unit that will do everything I need to do for aircraft or hot rods, but it is also a good stick welder. It has a 100% duty cycle at 140 amps for stick, according to the good folks at Lincoln. Since I'll only need about 110 amps to weld the trailer frame, I basically can weld all day long with it. I plan to stick weld most of the frame together.

I ordered the machine on Friday and it should arrive mid week. I am super excited !

So the set back has been turned into an even better opportunity. I have designed a frame that I feel is superior to the original. Once I get it built, I'll post all manner of photos. I'm going to change slightly the way in which the shell, belly pan, and floor attach.

I'm just trying to decide where I want to put the cross members. I've got them in nearly the original locations now. But I'm considering changing the floor plan. Since I'm going "whole hog" on this thing, I want to totally optimize this job. I really like the big rear bath as it is now, but I like the idea of a permanently setup bedroom and a mid bath. I like the ones where the bath is the entire center of the coach, but I also see the value in being able to access the bedroom when somebody is in the bathroom. Still thinking on that.

Anyway, phase 1 was a bust when my buddy couldn't do it. But phase 2 was accomplished when I passed the class. Phase 3 was acquire a machine of my own, and that has come to pass. Phase 4 will be to become a truly good welder (I'll work on over the winter). Phase 5 is finalize the floor plane. Phase 6: Start burning steel!

This is gonna be cool!

I am a happy boy!
- Jim
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