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Old 05-05-2015, 07:55 PM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 74
Should I fix the leaks before I replace the floor?

Hello all,

I am headed towards a shell off floor replacement and I have a question before I move forward.

The floor is rotten due to leaks in the skin. Should I fix the leaks before I pull the shell?

I figure the shell with shift somewhat and maybe cause new leaks when it is pulled which makes me lean towards waiting.


76" Sovereign

Rear bath
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Old 05-05-2015, 08:12 PM   #2
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1999 34' Excella
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Hillsboro , Texas
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You will have lots of frame work to go... The floor goes on just before the shell goes back on.
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Old 05-10-2015, 12:22 PM   #3
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1976 31' Sovereign
Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 74
Does that mean that the frame work may "create" more leaks in the shell when it's attached to the new floor? I imagine any adjustments to the frame would require adjustments to the skin?

Should I plan on re-riveting the entire skin? I will have full access with the interior removed.
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Old 05-11-2015, 08:36 PM   #4
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1979 31' Sovereign
1950 22' Liner
Powhatan , Virginia
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I am interested in the experts answers to this also as I have been pondering the same situation. I plan to seal the leaks this summer, rebuild the frame, floor and shell swap next summer. I am hoping the shell doesn't shift much on the swap to cause drastic leaks. I will have the lower panels off during shell swap and will be removing all interior panels after so if leaks do form, I should be able to see and fix them right after swap. I definitely plan to fix and seal the windows prior to the swap since they seem to be the worst leak points but will hold off rebuilding the door until after since the fit may change and since the door requires a rebuild to fix curve issues.

I have also been considering building a pole shed with roof and no walls prior to the shell off but not sure I want to put the time into a temporary structure. We are rebuilding in the back yard and due to the fence clearance, will not park it back there once complete.

Hopefully someone who has had a good experience will post their process. Good luck with your swap.
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:43 AM   #5
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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I'll share the process I used:

Since I suspected that much of my rot was due to old cracked door and window seals, I started by replacing all of those (and rebuilding my "stack" windows). Next, I removed my entire interior, including all skins and insulation, lifted the shell, and pulled the frame out from underneath. Spent the next few weeks welding, repairing, scraping, and painting the frame. Pressure washed the interior of the shell trying to get rid of all the mouse funk. Prepared (ie, painted with poly on both sides and the edges) my new wood floor, installed it on the frame, and plopped the shell back on.

It was at this point I started my shell work. This included replacing the rear center panel, one of the front lower corner segments, rebuilding both of the front "wing" windows, removing the original air conditioner, putting a massive patch over all the rivet holes, and installing new AC. I also removed and patched the TV antenna hole, removed and patched the stove vent (since it looked like a mauled mess the PO had fabricated), and finally, since it looked like there was evidence of leakage, I removed the two roof vents and reinstalled them with a healthy does of butyl tape and vulkem. I also removed and reinstalled the refrigerator roof vent, resealed the plumbing vent stacks, and reinstalled my main awning.

After all that construction work, I reinstalled all the clearance lights, badges, and trim, and sealed all the pop rivets from the inside. I was feeling pretty confident that all my leaks should be gone now, so hosed down the exterior and looked for leaks. Sure enough, I found some, so I gooped every interior shell seam and row of rivets. When I was finally confident that I had no leaks, I went on with reinsulating and began reconstructing my interior.

My best justification for doing the shell work after the shell was back on the frame was that I suspected things may shift or change shape, plus I also figured with my luck, I might do additional damage to the shell during removal or reinstallation, and it would be especially sucky to damage a segment that I had just replaced.

It is easy to get carried away. I have heard of folks removing and reinstalling every window frame, or replacing lines of rivets "because they don't look good enough." Well, it is easy to create leaks--every rivet you drill out, you run the risk of creating an oblong hole that the new rivet may not seal completely. So I limited my work to fixing the things that were leaking and didn't reinstall anything that was water tight.

Been beating on this project for almost three years now, and still have a lot of interior to rebuild.

good luck!
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