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Old 10-27-2004, 02:12 PM   #1
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Unhappy Questions, Questions, Questions

When I bought the AS I knew that I had had some floor rot, but it has turned out to be a lot bigger of a project than I thought. My AS is a 1975 Soveriegn 31 ft, just to clarify. I have removed the entire floor from the door to the front of the trailer. It was only rotted under the vista window areas about 18 inches out. I removed all of the floor since I read here that the proper way to replace large sections of floor is to do it with whole sections of plywood, not splicing pieces (my orig. idea).

Upon removal of the floor I found some frame rot. The forward part of the main beam is alright on the outside side of the beam. The inside side of the main beam (only about the first 5 feet is doubled like this) has large round holes in it. Was this for weight reduction? The rust has been eating at the side of the beam with the holes. The beam is 5 inches high and 2 inces wide. My idea is to reinforce the beam by welding two pieces of angle iron to it. One piece of 2x3 from bottom to top. And one piece of 2x2 from the top to join the other new piece of steel. I also need to replace one of the beams that go in-between the main rails. I am guessing from the thickness of this piece, that it's main purpose is to support the floor. Am I correct? I also plan to weld a piece of tube stock between the rails just aft of the front floor joist to help with flex. Is this warranted?

I have done a lot of reading on floor replacement here and have to admit that I am a bit confused. I am going to write what I think I have to do, If I'm wrong please advise.

1. Remove old floor.
2. Clean all rotted wood from the channel.
3. Remove lower interior panels to expose the bolts that attach the shell to the floor/outrigger.
4. Remove these bolts to allow the new plywood to fill the channel.
5. Cut and fit the new plywood.
6. Use new bolts to attach the shell to the new plywood/outrigger.
7. Use Self tapping screws to attach the plywood to the frame/floor rails.
8. Celebrate on the new floor.

Is this right?
Am I hurting the AS by towing it with out the front floor? I am only towing it about 1/2 mile every other week-end, at a modest 15-20 mph. I only get the chance to work on it every other weekend, and in our development we arn't allowed to park boats/trailers in our driveway.

I made a diagram to attach to the message but the forum says the attachment is too large. Is there any other way of attaching the diagram?

Thanks for all the help,
Lowell (a little discouraged in Dillsburg)
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Old 10-27-2004, 05:44 PM   #2
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1978 28' Argosy 28
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Am I hurting the AS by towing it with out the front floor? I am only towing it about 1/2 mile every other week-end, at a modest 15-20 mph.
Everything in your post sounds fine to me. The only concern I would have towing it without the floor in place is that the frame to floor connection will be more flexible than normal. This could lead to some stretching of the U channel, or excessive flexing of the exterior shell. If the floor is still there with the shell attached at the perimeter you have maintained some stability and would be fine. Wost case you may want to stabilize the shell and temporarily attach the stabilizing brace to the frame for the trip.
Brett G
WBCCI #5501 AIR # 49
1978 Argosy 28 foot Motorhome

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -- Plato

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Old 10-27-2004, 06:04 PM   #3
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Sounds mostly good to me.

First, don't be discouraged - there have been many of us discouraged before you Its just a state you get used to until you get the trailer the way you want it.

I'm not sure it would be necessary to put that tube stock in for flex - Airstreams are designed to flex somewhat and I'm not sure you would gain anything. The cross members (beams) support the floor and give the frame some stiffness. Secondly you are going have to figure out how to get the bolts in order to bolt the shell to the frame - which probably means you will have to drop the belly - on a 75 that should not be too tough since the belly is not part of the banana wrap. Soooo if your going to do that you should use elevator bolts rather than self tapping screws.

I have a 75 also that I had to treat the frame - I was lucky in that it was just surface rust. Those big holes allow the frame to breathe I assume - can't make it much lighter in my mind. Those holes also allowed me to treat the inside of the frame much easier.

Good luck with you project, welcome to the forums - we are here to help in any way you can.

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Old 10-27-2004, 07:31 PM   #4
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1973 31' Sovereign
Portland , Oregon
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Maybe modify the order?


I have a few suggestions about the order of things you listed. In general it looks right but here are some things to think about:

1.) Consider removing the lower interior panels as the first item on the list. It is much easier to do if you have some floor to walk on when you are doing it. Also you will find that you need to access the bolts and screws from the top side of the u-channel/c-channel when you are taking out the floor.

2.) On my '73 the only place that there were bolts holding the body to the frame were at the ends of the AS. The only connections along the sides were screws down into the plywood. There wern't any bolts to the outriggers. I was really surprised about this at first but concluded that as long as the plywood is in good shape and fastened securly to the frame and that the channel is screwed to the plywood properly that the body is not really free to go anywhere. The c-channel prevents it from lifting up, the plywood prevents it from pushing inward, and the screws prevent it from moving outward. Also there are a couple of special conditions relative to bolts at the front. I don't know if your '75 is the same as my '73 but it could be. There are two bolts (maybe 1/2" in diameter) that connect from the frame near where the A-frame part passes under the body. I did not see any way to get the bolts out and thought it would be hard to replace them if I cut them off. So I notched the plywood floor around them. The other bolts along the front are welded to the frame on the bottom end. I ended up cutting them off and drilling new holes for new bolts near the old ones. I added lock wasers and nuts on the bottom side rather than welding them in. On my unit these bolts are exposed because of the spare tire well under the front. The back bolts all are inside of the belly pan.

3.) I think you really do need to add something for supporting and securing the body while you take out the floor. There are a couple of reason for this.

A. With all the plywood out and the bolts and screws removed there will be nothing really holding the body in place. It could easily spread out a little and fall off the ends of the outriggers. Even if it doesn't do something as drastic as fall off it might at least move out of position. In my '73 the body on the curbside was about 1" further out than it should be because the floor in that area was rotted and not holding it in place all that well.

B. The c-channel part of the channel at the bottom of the wall is a little flexible with no plywood inside of it and could get slightly crushed making it harder to get the new plywood in place.

I highly recommend the approach that I decided to take for locating and supporting the body while taking the plywood out and putting it back in. It requires a very minimal amount of materials and seems to work just fine. You may have already read about it if you have been looking at the posts but you can find it in the following locations:

Shell Off vs Shell On several notes especially #74

HELP!!! On a tight schedule, need to replace... my post #26

Shell-on, frame repair/floor replacement all at once?? #13

There are some photos in my photo area showing the framework.

4.) Some people insist that elevator bolts are the only way to hold the new floor to the frame. Others feel that self-taping screws are fine - maybe closer together than the bolts. On my unit a previous owner evidently replaced some of the floor and used self-taping screws. They were really holding on tight and I had to cut all of them off. It is my opinion that self taping screws will work. I used the Tapcon variety that I found at Home Depot. I also only removed half of my belly pan so for the other half I would have had to use screws rather than bolts. While I think it would be possible to remove and replace all the floor without removing the belly pan I did find it somewhat easier to work on the part where the belly pan was removed. I found it was easier to stand on the ground rather than always having to make sure I had something to stand or kneel on above the floor.

5.) If the floor is too rotted to be able to use it to make a good template for the curved ends you might want to make one out of cardboard or poster board. Even with the front floor out you could make a template from the body as long as you feel it is pretty much in the correct location.

6.) I made a little map of all the holes and notches in my floor and wrote down the dimensions before I took the old floor out. I also took some carefull measurements to decide just how far apart the body should be from side to side before I took it apart. I used a tie-down strap to pull the body into the right location later. All the middle pieces of plywood have straight sides by the way. It is only the curved ends that are not cleanly rectangular.

I don't think you really need to do anything more to the frame than repair any part that seems to have rusted too much. I also think that towing the trailer with the front part of the floor out should be OK. It is my observation that it is the back part of the trailer that is subject to the most flex. Also it sounds like you are able to take it nice and easy anyway.

I would be happy to answer any questions about my experiences with floor replacement on my 1972 31'.

I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion.

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Old 10-27-2004, 07:37 PM   #5
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Some more notes...


It suddenly occurred to me that you might be needing to replace just the front part of your floor. If that is true then what I said about the bracing and supports is probably not necessary.

One other trick that you might like to know about is that it is possible to get the curved end sheet to fit in cross-wise like the original by first setting it down diagonally and then rotating it into place.

To get a diagram to attach you have to reduce its resolution. You need to get it down so its largest dimension if only about 600 pixels across. What format is it in now? Can you save it to a lower resolution?

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Old 10-28-2004, 07:23 PM   #6
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Not so Discouraged Now

Thanks for all the great information Gentlemen, I'm in great debt to you.

Malcom your posts on floor repair are great. I did read them, after I already tore out the old floor. I'm not too worried about that though, since you guys think that towing it the short distance at slow speed is OK. Once I grind off all of the old fasteners that held the floor down, I'll throw a piece of ply down so I can work on removing the interior panels. Then I'll follow the directions that you all have given me. Again, I'm very grateful.
Before the AS I had a 1996 SOB, it was too small, and too plain. I only owned that a year before selling it to buy an AS. Before the SOB I has a 1969 Winnebago D-24 that I remodled/rebuilt. When I bought it it had no plumbing, hot water heater, interior cushions, non-working furnace, leaky waste tank, etc..... I thought the AS would be an easier fix untill I saw the extent of the damage. I like the saying that I saw somewhere in the forum: "Don't look, because after you do, your hooked.", or something of that nature. Well I'm hooked, and look forward to the fruits of my labor. Keep on truckin'.

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