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Old 06-28-2020, 05:06 PM   #1
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1963 22' Safari
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Abita Springs , Louisiana
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Planning & Prioritizing Repairs on 1963 Safari 22'

Hello Everyone.
My girlfriend and I have embarked on the journey of renovating her 1963 Safari 22'.

Current State of the Trailer
The PO (a retired electrical engineer) had pretty much gutted it down to the floor and converted it into an all electric aluminum tent with an amazing A/C, a hot water heater, shower and toilet w/ black water tank. Some floor repairs had been made and covered with linoleum. No fresh or gray water tanks. No propane. No kitchen. No kidding.
She's made several trips (5,000+ miles) without incident. Then it sat for a few years. Then she met me. and I'm like, "hey, what's up with that AS!? Why aren't we working on that bad boy?"

The Uh Oh Moment
Living in south Louisiana, termites are a constant battle. Sadly, this AS lost that battle. Formosan termites have eaten everything made of wood or paper. Cue the sad music.

What We've Done
Step one: Join the ASF.
Step two: Tear it all out and see what we've got to build upon.
After reading a few posts, it became apparent that removing the bathroom (in tact) would be one of the more daunting tasks. SWMBO loves the original shower and demanded that it be preserved. Well...We did it without destroying the shower, toilet, or relationship. Score one for us.


We figured, "well that went well, let's keep going!" So on we went, cutting around bolt heads, trying to salvage curves to use as templates, and being slightly relieved at the shape the frame seems to be in. Lots of rust, but SEEMS like there's lots of meat left of those old bones.


We Need Help Planning & Prioritizing
Feels like we're at that point where we really need to slow down a bit, get a lot of advice from some pros, do some very close inspections, and make a game plan. We have moderate carpentry/construction skills. However, electricity is magic to us, we can't weld, and we think we can handle installing pex plumbing without drowning.

What We THINK We Should Do Next
  1. Drop the belly pan. Clean up the frame with wire wheel and ensure all is good. Probably have one or two outriggers that should be replaced. Paint with POR15(Continue believing we can do an effective body-on floor replacement?)
  2. Pull the interior panels and remove termite eaten insulation
  3. Inspect/replace axle & brakes
  4. Inspect/replace wiring in walls and ceiling (add conduit to make future additions easier/possible?)
  5. Apply spray-foam insulation instead of pink fiberglass (or the Devil's cotton candy as I call it) with delicious (according to termites) paper backing. Our thinking is that water will always get in. Pink stuff gets wet, holds moisture, collapses, etc.
  6. Install a freshwater tank
  7. Install hot water heater. Man...we are SO lost where this is concerned. Tankless SOUNDS good. But. Well. What do we know?
  8. Install a furnace. Lost here. Water heater / furnace combo? All electric? Wha!?
  9. Build out space & run wiring for batteries for future solar panel(s). We know we are still in the dreaming stage now. Don't wake us up too rudely.
  10. Install Coosa flooring. Sure it's expensive, but we know water will always win. And the samples we got are so freaking light!!
  11. backup camera (because we don't want to smash up the shower after it almost killed us getting it out.)

We would really appreciate your feedback on how to plan this out. We would like to execute the plan in a way where we can achieve "usable aluminum tent status" as quickly as possible. But without sacrificing safety, the ability to make solid, long-term repairs and future upgrades.

Thanks so much for letting me ramble. Felt like a therapy session. I'll stop crying and start listening now.
Yours in dust and dreams.
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Old 06-28-2020, 06:24 PM   #2
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
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Congratulations on your 63 Safari. Sounds like you have a really good start on a Ďto doí list. You are right in considering safety first. And to think ahead in installing a rough in on something you may not need now but may want later. Itís always good to prep ahead for the future. While Iím thinking about it, bayoubiker lives right down the road from you in Slidell who is pretty knowledgeable. If this is going to be your renovation thread, ask the questions and theyíll be answered. We totally renovated a 66 Safari and really like the layout. Coosa is a great choice but expensive. 2BKidFree knows the ins and outs of installing Coosa and would answer questions. There are a few tricks. Keep the posts coming and keep adding photos so people like me can get a better understanding of what youíre up against. Good luck
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Old 06-29-2020, 05:56 AM   #3
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1963 22' Safari
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Abita Springs , Louisiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubba L View Post
If this is going to be your renovation thread, ask the questions and theyíll be answered.
Hey Bubba, I really appreciate the feedback. So should we address all of these issues in this thread? Or should we break them out and post them in the other forums? Both?
I'm not sure how the forum structure works nor the best posting etiquette.
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:51 AM   #4
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1966 22' Safari
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I think renovation questions and feedback on one specific trailer should stay in one thread. One reason is for those responding, they can refer back to earlier posts in your reno thread to refresh their memory or to see earlier comments. Now, if you wanted to know what Calico cats like to eat while boondocking, then post that in the pet section. Posts are structured in various ways for different reasons. But this is my opinion to make it simple. If someone has a better option, please post. Good luck
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Old 06-29-2020, 09:31 AM   #5
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1972 27' Overlander
Heinsburg , AB
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Welcome Mrmegafoz and congratulations on your purchase. I agree with Bubba, keep all of your reno on one thread, its a good record for you and its nice for others (like me) to follow. Good luck with your refurbishing adventures.
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Old 06-29-2020, 11:42 AM   #6
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1967 17' Caravel
Oakland , California
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Been there done that.
1) source a good supplier of aluminum sheet.
2) Using your old belly pan as a template and make a new pan. Note that AS made installed the pans with the trailer frame upside down.
3) I take it you are not going to take the shell off?
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Old 06-29-2020, 02:35 PM   #7
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Good luck on the rebuild, itís not Ďrocket surgeryí and all of the issues you will run into have most likely been covered somewhere here in the forums. Search, but donít be afraid to ask. Find the trailer specific forum for a Ď63 Of your make and start a resto thread. A bunch of us will follow it.
On a personal perspective, I think an owner should avoid anything that is irreversible. Once again, thatís just my opinion. I personally put spray foam in that category. If you or the next owner need to do a panel replacement, that stuff is horrible to undo. Just my opinion and worth exactly nothing else.
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Old 06-30-2020, 06:25 AM   #8
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1963 22' Safari
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Abita Springs , Louisiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vanster View Post
Been there done that.
1) source a good supplier of aluminum sheet.
2) Using your old belly pan as a template and make a new pan. Note that AS made installed the pans with the trailer frame upside down.
3) I take it you are not going to take the shell off?
Like every other noob out there we may have started this project overly-optimistic. We don't want to remove the shell. Don't think we have space/time for a gantry. Etc.

Right now I'm just trying to wrap my head around the configuration of the belly pan, flooring, and skins. Based on the decking screws I've seen used in some scabs, I'm concerned the PO may have run some through the c channel at a previous external panel repair.

Any idea if the image attached is how the belly pan is configured? We will have to remove some exterior skin rivets and find the dreaded hidden rivets to drop the belly?
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Old 06-30-2020, 08:36 AM   #9
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From my experience your diagram is correct. Whether the belly pan is wrapped over the channel everywhere is uncertain. I don't recall mine was.

Your list is good from the general sense of things. I would think hard about spray foam though. It could make tracing leaks very difficult later on.

I used aluminum fuel line for conduit in the walls. Its lightweight and easy to bend. Just get the 5/8", the smaller sizes can make it hard to feed wire through if any bends are tight diameter. I recommend flaring the ends and remove any burrs.

https://www.speedwaymotors.com/Alumi...ku=91011441-30

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I also used pvc conduit throughout the belly pan to keep wiring off the floor and out of the walls/ceiling. Adding all the new systems, that weren't around in 63, eats up a lot of space.

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Look forward to following your progress.
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Old 06-30-2020, 10:33 AM   #10
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We found that one of the most important parts of the belly pan are the tabs and how they are cut. Don't short cut this part because of the curves in all four corners you are going to need to know exactly how it goes back together. Your drawing is correct as the tabs need to go back and over the C channel. If you don't have them already you need to invest in a few quality tools and rivets. I had to buy a brake, rivet air gun, source Olympic rivets from VTS the tool that grinds off the head of the rivet.
I used hard cell 1inch foam with 1" spacer and another layer of closed sell foam for the underside. Creatures don't like living in an area like this. Also if need be you can pull it out. I strongly advise not to use any blow in foam. For the interior wall we used Prodex. 2 layers with spacers. Not the cheapest way but it works. Don't hesitate to take out the interior panels. Our 67 had aluminum wiring and in some places it was burnt and we found a few fossils.
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Old 06-30-2020, 11:43 AM   #11
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The Sea Ranch , California
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Congratulations! Forgive me if I'm covering what others have said already. Your floor looks like ours did when we bought our 1964 Globetrotter (when looking, my foot went through the floor to the belly pan). In 18 years, I've learned one thing: 1) cure the leaks 2) do the best job you can on the floor. The belly pan isn't that hard to drop. Ours is probably similar, first you remove curving lower panels that wrap over rivet through the side panels. The belly pan is flat sheet... It's gross, who knows what has accumulated over 57 years in a belly pan, so invest in a good shop vac. We did ours 18 years ago, and have had a ball with the trailer, just completing a 3100 mile journey across the US with it.
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Old 06-30-2020, 04:18 PM   #12
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1963 22' Safari
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Abita Springs , Louisiana
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Tackling the Belly Pan

Thanks so much for the early feedback. I really appreciate it. Our reason for dropping the belly is to access the underside of the frame for inspection, cleaning, repairs, and painting.
Since this is a 1963, it's my understanding that the belly originally was designed to wrap up under the exterior skin and hook down into the c-channel. We do have a repair on one side where something nasty happened. Other than that, the pan looks like it should be in place and attached as intended.


The PO seemed pretty good about keeping everything buttoned up, and most of the panels appear to be fairly intact. Assuming I don't destroy them in the removal, can they be reused?
Here's a view from the middle of the axle facing forward:

Here's a view from the axle facing the rear:

And in the rear, there has been some patchwork and access to plumbing:


Where to Start and What to Avoid?
Any advice on where to start and common mistakes to avoid? We've wondered out loud if we could leave the body panels in place, cut the belly pans off, then scab it all back together. But even typing that feels like a really bad idea.
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Old 06-30-2020, 04:25 PM   #13
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1963 22' Safari
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Abita Springs , Louisiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 57Vintage View Post
Your list is good from the general sense of things. I would think hard about spray foam though. It could make tracing leaks very difficult later on.

I used aluminum fuel line for conduit in the walls. Its lightweight and easy to bend. Just get the 5/8", the smaller sizes can make it hard to feed wire through if any bends are tight diameter. I recommend flaring the ends and remove any burrs.

I also used pvc conduit throughout the belly pan to keep wiring off the floor and out of the walls/ceiling. Adding all the new systems, that weren't around in 63, eats up a lot of space.
Will definitely follow your advice on spray foam. I was having a moment of weakness. Reading up, there seem to be several other options that I'll hate less doing future repairs. Thanks for bringing me to my senses.

The aluminium fuel line for conduit in the walls sounds like a smart move. And your belly pan conduit work is impressive! Thank you for sharing.
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Old 06-30-2020, 05:01 PM   #14
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1963 22' Safari
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Abita Springs , Louisiana
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Evaluating the Axle

After wading through a few posts and check out this Inland RV page I'm wondering about the shape of the axle. The trailer has been gutted with nothing in her other than the interior panels and the AC.

The top of the wheel well is about 27" from the ground.


It appears that the torsion arms are at pretty much a "0" angle.

Here's the curb side with front to rear view:


Thoughts?
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Old 06-30-2020, 05:16 PM   #15
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I donít know how deep you want to go into the renovation. But skipping a few important steps may bite you in the butt later. Many have repaired the floor without removing the belly pan successfully. I donít know just how much repairs you can do without detaching the shell from the chassis. As Harold said, his belly pan may not have been crimped in the C-channel. I know that some were and some werenít. That may have been an Ohio versus California thing. Yours may not be crimped. Iím not sure you can do an adequate job on the subfloor replacement without addressing the C-channel when you run the new plywood under it. As far as reusing the belly pan material, many do. Others just get new aluminum and use the old as a pattern if itís too beat up. On our 55 the belly pan did wrap the C-channel. I replaced all of that and replicated the crimp over the channel. I did design the underneath a little differently from original. Since I placed tanks underneath, I wanted access in the future in the event they sprung a leak. I installed the perimeter belly wrap with about a 2í strip. Then a 4í section down the middle. That way I can drop the center section if needed without messing with the crimp and banana wrap. The material is not 2023 T3. So the material is much cheaper. I guess yíall have to make some decisions. Lifting the shell or removing the lower section of interior skin is not that bad. Good luck on whichever direction you decide to go.
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Old 06-30-2020, 09:09 PM   #16
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Perhaps the best thing to do is more investigation before deciding on how or if to deal with the belly pan. As Bubba mentioned removing the lower section of the interior walls is not that bad, just tedious. With that removed, the question of the belly pan being wrapped can be answered.

If it is then decisions on how to remove it can be sorted out.

I believe removing the belly pan is essential to evaluate the frame condition. Removing the subfloor allows you to assess the top face of the frame rails, crossmembers and outriggers, You won't know the condition of the bottom face until the belly pan is out of the way.

Here's my argument for it: The contact between the frame and subfloor allows water to be trapped, potentially causing damage to both. Contact between the frame and belly pan also allows water to be trapped and is more likely to happen as the belly pan is not sealed that well and tends to get more abuse. Also consider that the contact between steel and aluminum will create galvanic damage. That was the majority of damage to my belly pan and my trailer had set in a driveway for 20+ years never moved when I bought it.

Another thought to keep in mind. As your planning the rebuild and deciding what tanks to be installed (fresh water, grey, black). If any are being mounted inside the frame, will you have to move crossmembers to make them fit?

The beginning is the hardest. Trying to figure out deconstruction. What to look for in damage. Planning the reconstruction. This point in time can be overwhelming. We're attempting to give you insight on what we faced, so you can make informed decisions and hopefully not have to back track. I couldn't give you an accurate count of how many changes on the fly I made. Never admitted to all of them . The only one I talked about in my thread was the waste water plumbing. I built it on my bench 3 times before I was satisfied. Wasted a lot of ABS fittings before it was done.

You'll will get there, the fact you bought and started tear down takes more courage than most have.
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Old 07-01-2020, 08:35 AM   #17
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1963 22' Safari
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Abita Springs , Louisiana
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Interior Skin + Belly Pan Removal Goals

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bubba L View Post
I donít know how deep you want to go into the renovation. But skipping a few important steps may bite you in the butt later. Many have repaired the floor without removing the belly pan successfully. I donít know just how much repairs you can do without detaching the shell from the chassis.
Great advice. We fully intend to remove all of the interior skin so we can:
  1. Remove any trace of pink insulation and paper. We don't want to leave (or introduce) anything that will attract future termites. They KILLED this poor trailer.
  2. Inspect the config of & repair C channel. Remove old frame bolts (to be replaced with new ones.)
  3. Seal all seams from the inside with grey vulkem?
  4. Run tubing in the walls for electrical per 57Vintage's advice.
  5. Insulate with something other than pink or spray foam. (See? We're learning! )
  6. Have access to bolt down new Coosa panels through the c channel instead of notching around the bolts like we've seen else where.
Does this sound doable without removing the shell?
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Old 07-01-2020, 08:56 AM   #18
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Removing Belly Pan + Interior Skin to Clean, Repair, and Paint

Quote:
Originally Posted by 57Vintage View Post
I believe removing the belly pan is essential to evaluate the frame condition. Removing the subfloor allows you to assess the top face of the frame rails, crossmembers and outriggers, You won't know the condition of the bottom face until the belly pan is out of the way.

Here's my argument for it: The contact between the frame and subfloor allows water to be trapped, potentially causing damage to both. Contact between the frame and belly pan also allows water to be trapped and is more likely to happen as the belly pan is not sealed that well and tends to get more abuse. Also consider that the contact between steel and aluminum will create galvanic damage. That was the majority of damage to my belly pan and my trailer had set in a driveway for 20+ years never moved when I bought it.

Another thought to keep in mind. As your planning the rebuild and deciding what tanks to be installed (fresh water, grey, black). If any are being mounted inside the frame, will you have to move crossmembers to make them fit?
Absolutely! We already know we have one or two outriggers that most like need replacement. Fortunately, we have lined-up an out of work welder who is eager to get to work. We want to make sure he can safely access the out rigger(s) with the shell on for the replacement.

We want to give everything a good once-over to know exactly what shape our frame is in. Then have our skilled helper get to grinding down, patching, and painting the frame with POR-15. We see that oxidation is what caused the belly pan to lose contact with the center frame. If we go back aluminium to steel, we're going to be right back in that same position very quickly.

We're thinking about reconstructing the floor in sections. Starting in the bathroom, and moving forward. She's big on the idea of a composting toilet (whatever. I'm done trying to have that fight.) So we're going to need fresh and grey water tanks. I'm starting to research where to buy and where to place them. Would appreciate any advice on that as well.

A final thought. Because we live in South Louisiana, we call this Safari our "Escape Pod." If we can knock this out in a month, that would be great. The way 2020 has gone so far, why wouldn't we expect a huge category 5 storm or two? We also want to keep the shell on so a hurricane doesn't blow it into the neighbor's house.

Thanks so much for helping us think this through.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:07 AM   #19
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1963 26' Overlander
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One heads-up on replacing the axles, the original frame flange isn't long enough to get bolts thru on newer axles. Welding is almost required to remedy.



https://www.airforums.com/forums/f10...ml#post1441335


As far as not removing the shell, you could split the bellypan just inside the frame rails to gain access to most of the C channel bolts. Just let it flop down. Getting behind the banana wraps will be a challenge but there aren't many bolts there anyway.



One lesson learned, before you start taking things apart and doing a floor replacement, put some plywood across the door opening to hold it the original width. Pulling, prying and twisting the shell usually results in the door opening becoming a different dimension and causing headaches later.


Ive done 3 x shell off rebuilds and I believe its faster and easier to just pull the shell. As bad as I hate working upside down, I'd probably pull the shell even if it wasn't faster!
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Old 07-01-2020, 10:14 AM   #20
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I agree with pulling the shell. It's like pulling an engine out of car if you are doing a major restoration. Pain at first but you will be glad you did it. Our Caravel is much shorter but I think the shell only weighed about 300lbs at best. It took 4 of us to pull it off and set it on saw horses. Now I could tackle the frame and everything else with ease. I replaced the wheel wells with new stainless, moved the water and grey tank to the center. Cleaned the frame from top to bottom, replaced a few out riggers. Bolted on a new floor with elevator bolts.
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