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Old 08-07-2020, 10:05 PM   #1
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Should I pay to have my subfloor installed?

hey everyone, I am renovating a 76 argosy 24ft, and the trailer is gutted. I have a quote from a local restoration company that quoted me $5500 to take the shell off and install the subfloor and a moisture barrier. Install the bolts and new c channel if needed. Do you think that is worth the cost? I'm having a hard time seeing how I can do it with the shell on and be comfortable that it's attached right, but for 5k...

Which way should I go?
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Old 08-08-2020, 04:26 AM   #2
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There are a number of variables to consider. Having done a “shell off” myself, I can attest to the effort, time and expense involved. In my opinion removing the shell to replace the subfloor on a forty plus year old Airstream or Argosy is the proper way to do it, however there are other considerations besides those you have stated:
—does the frame have damage that needs repair, and is that part of the scope of the firm doing the work?
—do any outriggers need replacing, and can/will they do that?
—what about insulation below the floor?
—what, if anything, will be done about the water tanks, and the pans supporting them, as part of this operation?
—has this firm done all of that work before and do they have references?
—is reattaching the shell part of the scope—that, too, is a daunting task? It would seem that reattachment would need to be part of their job, otherwise how else do you get that accomplished?
Others may have additional issues to consider, such as re-engineering the rear end shell to frame connection to avoid future water penetration, and what you do about the belly pan. The price you quoted may be quite reasonable depending on the extent of the work to be performed.
It is not my intention to discourage or deter you, rather to ensure that you go in with your eyes open fully and, to the extent possible, be aware of what may be coming. You will have plenty of surprises along the path of this journey, trust me, however the experience can be very satisfying, to be sure. Best of luck with how you proceed—this is a great forum for getting useful input.
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Old 08-08-2020, 06:00 AM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback. Its a reputable company here in Atlanta. They will put the shell back on and attach it correctly. Also, the original subfloor has been removed and any frame issues have been addressed already, so I think it's good to go there. So it is really a matter of deciding whether the work is difficult enough to be worth hiring out, and if that is a solid price.
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Old 08-08-2020, 06:24 AM   #4
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When I did my shell of on my 31' Land Yacht Airstream I did not have that much money tied up in my work. I put in two new gray water tanks, fresh water and black tanks, frame was repaired, cleaned and painted with Rust Bullet paint. Installed 2" insulation board under my 3/4" BC plywood that was sealed with epoxy sealer on both sides. This included all of my screws bolts and brackets I needed. There was a my labor involved but I know what I have under my floor and got a lot of knowledge doing it myself. Good luck with your project.
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:15 AM   #5
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Hi

You don't want to go this "deep" into the trailer any time soon. Better to do it right and be sure that everything is ok. As mentioned above, figure out any tank issues *before* this goes any further ....

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Old 08-08-2020, 09:21 AM   #6
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Go the extra mile and use coosa board instead of plywood...its forever even with leaks.
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryk View Post
Go the extra mile and use coosa board instead of plywood...its forever even with leaks.
Seems like every company just uses plywood with some kind of epoxy. Coosa board would increase the cost i am sure.
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Old 08-08-2020, 10:10 AM   #8
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So, lifting the shell and doing a floor replacement might seem like a daunting task, but it isn't rocket science, nor does it take a ton of expensive facilities or a huge amount of space. I spent a couple hundred dollars on the wood to build gantry frames, plus a couple of cheap chain hoists, and did my shell-off in my (tiny) backyard and driveway.

But if you aren't interested in doing that kind of heavy lifting, then $5k is probably on par with what others would charge. I met a fellow Airstreamer a year or two back who was paying $10k just to get the rear most subfloor replaced and rear-end separation fixed. I assume that cost included the tear-out and reinstallation of whatever interior furnishings that needed to be pulled as well, though.

good luck!
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Old 08-08-2020, 10:36 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by orangekayak View Post
Seems like every company just uses plywood with some kind of epoxy. Coosa board would increase the cost i am sure.


If you’re going to spend either the money or your own time doing a shell off, then seriously think about not using plywood for the subfloor. Any leaks you have now or in the future could make this floor repair effort worthless if the subfloor rots out again.

AS is now putting composite subfloors in their new builds.

I gather you’re in the Atlanta area? If so, you can get Coosa Bluewater 26 over in Birmingham from Advances Plastics. 5/8” thickness cost me right at $225 per sheet earlier this year.

Many folks doing a restoration figure that the incremental cost of using composite subfloor Inc is not that much more by the time everything else is done.
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Old 08-08-2020, 11:00 AM   #10
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You can replace the floor with the shell on, if you're looking for an easier way to do it yourself. I did it that way on our '74 Sovereign and was quite happy with the results and process. To me the main advantage of taking the shell off is the ability to then flip the frame upside down to weld (if needed) and to install tanks, belly pan, etc. Personally I would not have thought it worthwhile to pay someone else to do it, but there are many variables involved so I understand why different options are chosen by different people.
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Old 08-08-2020, 11:21 AM   #11
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"I am restoring..." can mean a myriad of things. Are you doing the work yourself, or are you having someone else do the work? If you are "handy," then you can probably do this yourself. It sounds much harder than it actually is. Building a gantry is the "hard" part, but it's just a couple of 10' high frames (you could also buy salvaged pallet shelving), and then you buy two chain hoists from Harbor Freight to lift the shell. You say the frame has already been restored, but you may find a few more things to help with longevity once the shell is off, plus you could do the belly pan and wraps, water/waste tanks, LP lines, and insulation while the frame is separated from the shell. $5,000 is probably a fair price for all the materials and labor, as long as you *know* that the company will do a good job. I've heard so many stories of people spending thousands of dollars for work that *all* had to be redone, so checking references and past work from the company is probably the most important part of your decision.
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Old 08-08-2020, 01:03 PM   #12
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Can I ask who you are using in Atlanta? I have only found one place that ever returned my calls, but were (I thought) super expensive.
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Old 08-08-2020, 10:05 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by orangekayak View Post
Seems like every company just uses plywood with some kind of epoxy. Coosa board would increase the cost i am sure.
Yes it increases the cost. By a bit. I would know. I will never have to worry about it in my lifetime again though. Leaks or no leaks.
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Old 08-09-2020, 09:19 AM   #14
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when I did mine in 2014 i did use plywood but I designed a better reseal/flashing at the rear bumper joint. Mind you I only had about 10-12" of rot across the back for about 3 ft. Keep in mind that at that point the trailer was 46years old and still was being used by the previous owner with no real issue (he thought) with a simple cover patch in the rear hatch area. I think that my job worked out good and I will be about 112 if it only lasts 46 years again. I didnt remove the shell and in total replaced the floor from the axles back with 3 new tanks. Good luck .... $5500 doesn't seem unreasonable .
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Old 08-10-2020, 06:42 AM   #15
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My number one concern is doing this part right. Thats why I got quotes from a few different companies. There are three in Atlanta I got quotes from: airdream restorations, Nuabode, and RV Atlanta. All were varying levels of expensive. I'm in no rush; I just want to make sure I do it right. If it's fraught with peril, then I don't mind paying. But I don't want to be taken for a ride either!
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Old 08-12-2020, 10:40 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orangekayak View Post
hey everyone, I am renovating a 76 argosy 24ft, and the trailer is gutted. I have a quote from a local restoration company that quoted me $5500 to take the shell off and install the subfloor and a moisture barrier. Install the bolts and new c channel if needed. Do you think that is worth the cost? I'm having a hard time seeing how I can do it with the shell on and be comfortable that it's attached right, but for 5k...

Which way should I go?

That’s actually so cheap!! Can you tell me which company you’re looking at?? I’m trying to get the same thing done but have yet to get a reasonable quote from someone.
Thanks!
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Old 08-12-2020, 12:32 PM   #17
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How bad is the floor? I painted mine with koolseal to protect the wood if it gets wet. Taking the whole thing off seems like overkill. If it isn't broke don't fix it. I replaced any bad boards with aluminum. Put foam insulation wherever I could.
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Old 08-12-2020, 02:12 PM   #18
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Suggest you look at using JM Huber "Advantech" subflooring material instead of any plywood material for your floor.

Much better than any plywood material and much cheaper than Coosa board with equivalent results.
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Old 08-12-2020, 03:06 PM   #19
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I would also encourage using a more suitable sub floor material than plywood.

Search the forums here. No one doubts the superiority of Coosa Board, it's the cost they take issue with, but then, when you factor into it the labor/time/hassle, you really only want to do this once.

Airstream is starting now, finally, to use a composite floor called Transcore, made in Ohio by a company that supplies it to semi-trailers. It can accept screws directly. They lay it down in one piece, no seams. Don't know if it is available after-market in small quantities.

Plywood tends to last about 10 years or so on average. Composite is just as strong and easy to work with, but lighter weight, virtually water and mold and bug and varmet proof.
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Old 08-12-2020, 05:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
So, lifting the shell and doing a floor replacement might seem like a daunting task, but it isn't rocket science, nor does it take a ton of expensive facilities or a huge amount of space. I spent a couple hundred dollars on the wood to build gantry frames, plus a couple of cheap chain hoists, and did my shell-off in my (tiny) backyard and driveway.

good luck!
Do you have any pictures of the set up you made and of lifting the shell off?
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