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Old 06-02-2006, 09:38 AM   #41
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1986 25' Sovereign
Allegan , Michigan
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I have a 1975 25 foot Trade Wind which had a sagging rear. I was unaware of the problem when I bought it an used it for several years that way. One summer we were at a camp sight with a picnic table far enough below the trailer that I noticed that the seam between the side and belly pan dropped about 3/4 inch in the last 6 feet. That caused me to do the investigation that I should have done before I bought it!

Anyway, at the time I thought I had made a mistake but, at this point I'm glad I own it. I had to replace the black water tank, fabricate a crossmember and scarf in plywood floor with epoxy. Not sure if I had any pictures but I did spend some time sitting on the floor with my feet on the ground! A big job. Water (from the holding tank or another leak?) caused the floor to rot and then the body settled.

I'm now retired and will be doing some further work on it. If I can be of any help please Email

Good luck,

Whit Nash rwnash@accn.org
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Old 08-03-2006, 09:24 AM   #42
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Tail sag / separation

]I just got my 75 ’31 LY. It looks like I have separation. When I jump up and down on the bumper the frame move about 1/8 to ¼ inches from the shell. Also I see that the bottom trim is crushed a little where the frame extends to the bumper.
Is this what I am looking at?

If so can I get to the channel by removing the rear cargo door frame and not removing the lower panals? It looks like I can get to the channel on both sides by removing the door frame and the inside panel rivets. Then drill new holes from below and new bolts. Also remove the lower trim to re-rivet the outer panels to the channel.
Does this sound like a way to go?

thanks,
Garth
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Old 08-03-2006, 11:00 AM   #43
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Yes,you have rear end seperation. I don't think your route will work. Do a search for descriptions and pictures of people who have done the job and you'll see what to do.

John

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I just got my 75 ’31 LY. It looks like I have separation. When I jump up and down on the bumper the frame move about 1/8 to ¼ inches from the shell. Also I see that the bottom trim is crushed a little where the frame extends to the bumper.
Is this what I am looking at?
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Old 08-03-2006, 11:23 AM   #44
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1969 31' Sovereign
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Garth,
I had severe seperation (I could see the 3/4" plywood in the gap). A suggestion I got from a man who restores old railroad cars worked great. I took off the cover to the storage box in the bumper and removed the rivets in the decorative band that goes around the trailer just above the bumper. and bent them out so I could get to the skin of the trailer. Before this I had the rear bumper on jacks holding up the weight of the trailer to get everything back as close as possiple to original position. I took a 2" L aluminum channel and had to cut down one side to 1 1/4' (metal cutting blade on table saw) You then rivet the bottom of the ell to the bumper and the verticle side to the trailer (hopefully getting rivets into the floor channel)simple cuts in the bottom of the ell will allow it to curve around the ends. Bend the decorative band back into place and rivet it to cover the patch.
If you have questions, email : www.stagecoachbill@msn.com
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Old 08-03-2006, 11:27 AM   #45
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Got Pictures Stagecoach?...

I'm hoping you documented your repair with pictures.
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Old 08-03-2006, 11:38 AM   #46
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Sorry no pictures, camera died. But I will be at the VAC ralley and be glad to show you how it was done.
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Old 08-03-2006, 11:50 AM   #47
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I'll See You There!

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Originally Posted by stagecoachbill
Sorry no pictures, camera died. But I will be at the VAC ralley and be glad to show you how it was done.
I'll be in Site 276, and you?
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Old 08-04-2006, 08:27 PM   #48
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I'll be in 209, looking forward to showing off my new interior.
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Old 08-05-2006, 10:37 AM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stagecoachbill
I'll be in 209, looking forward to showing off my new interior.
Thanks, Bill. See ya there!
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Old 08-15-2006, 07:27 AM   #50
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1970 31' Sovereign
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Could Someone take pictures of Bill's repair?

I have a 1970 Sovereign and appear to have a 1/4" or so "separation" when standing on the rear bumper.

I'd like to see Bill's repair.

My AS is not yet road worthy. Just brought it home Friday - needs lots of work....
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Old 08-15-2006, 07:39 AM   #51
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I put some bolts thru the bottom of my cargo bay door down thru the steel frame that goes across the trailer under the back of my 77. In one years use it managed to hold up the bumper but tore the aluminum on the bottom of the trailer and distorted the door frame. The tail droop is actually an indicator that you have frame damage and fixing the droop is only cosmetic. You really need to drop the lower pan and look at the frame just to the rear of the rear axles on either side. If there is a crack that will require a welder to beef up the frame in that area and you should install the stiffener plate that sandwiches with the plate between the wheels. This is the factory designed and authorized fix for the problem. They also recommend putting in the elephant ears fix which installs additional bolts between the C channel at the back of the trailer and the steel frame. This is the only real way to really fix the problem. Expect to pay over $1000, if you have a pro do it.
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:05 PM   #52
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Anyone have more details on the fix dwight mentioned? Picture of elepahnt ears?
I'll be dropping the belly skin on mine this week - if i get the pole building built. No, the building isn't for the AS, but I will be making the building a bit larger to get the trailer in.
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Old 09-03-2006, 08:29 PM   #53
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Wilson , New York
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word picture....

Quote:
Originally Posted by silver suz
Andy, I'm the hub. Since we haven't yet figured out how to append a photo to one of these missives, I'll describe the problem. The lower flange of the main fore-aft "C" channel on both sides is rusty and wrinkled. This is right where the jack point is aft of the axle reinforcement plate. Top flange in tension, bottom flange in compression and wrinkled. Everything seems to sag down aft of the wheelwells and the extrusion which clasps the floor aft of the wheelwell on the driver's side is split lengthwise. I'm tempted to cut away the lower flange and up the web a couple inches on both sides, lift up the rear end until the frame is level, and weld in a piece of 2" angle to replace the flange and maybe box in the whole section to make it much stronger.
This is kinda scary......I think I understand this engineer talk! It sounds like you are on the right track, but I wouldn't be too eager to do with as little as possible of the 2" angle iron. You might want to put a 'fishplate' on the side of the frame also, on the vertical part.
As I have never gone in there, I am not sure what thickness the frame is to start with. I have welded lots over the years, and I would use stainless steel much as possible......but I am from western NY, where they dump salt on the roads like it is free....at least in the winter.
I do want to tear into my TradeWind, but I would like some input before I start. most of the bottom skin needs replacing anyways, and the big angle iron square under there is pretty rotted away. I want to replace it with stainless steel.
Sid, from near Niagara Falls
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Old 09-09-2006, 07:46 AM   #54
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Rearend "Sag" and/or Separation

Hi All…I read with interest the nine page thread regarding Sag/Separation and learned lots…but have a couple of important (to me) question I would like to clear up.

1) Has AS made changes to the frame or whatever to correct the design issue that allows/enables the sag and or separation to occur? Someone mentioned going to a larger gauge frame but did not elaborate. If changes HAVE been made WHAT YEAR were the changes made???

2) In the current world of used AS…what years and lengths are more prone to problems and are there years and lengths that do not have this potential issue?

Most of the discussion had to do with owners of AS trailers that either had or may get the problem…much discussed repair and prevention. While I enjoyed the information…my goal is to not get into that situation.

I have become more energized by the thought of renovating (maybe not restoring) an earlier (‘70s/’80s/’90s) 30’+ AS…I am sure each of you know when you get bit by the “aluminitis” bug. However, I am a bit discouraged by this major repair potential right in the main market I am looking at. I would appreciate your thoughts…and hopefully factual info…on this issue with AS trailers.

Thanks…Tom R in Two Harbors, MN…close to frost here last night…maybe some in the “low lying areas”!
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Old 09-09-2006, 03:59 PM   #55
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These are all great questions. I don't think the 60's trailers had this problem. At some point after 68, they moved the axles forward or lengthened the trailer. Can't remember which. I know I read this some place here on the forum or maybe in Airstream Life. I think the greatest problems with rear end sag were in the 70's. But if you buy a shorter, 24' or less trailer from the 70's, there shouldn't be a problem.

I know that there are others out there who have a better more precise answer. Hope they chime in.

Kathleen
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Old 09-09-2006, 05:14 PM   #56
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Thanks Kathleen...I have generated a fair amount of enthusiasm to find an "older" 30'+ AS and renovate...(vs restore)...to like new as far a "trailering" issues. ie...tires/axels/brakes/TV etc would have to be A-1 shape. I have also figured out that interior items can be repaired/replaced as your time and budget dictate. I am concerned about this sag/separation issue as a problem I do not want to deal with.

I have a "lead" on a '78 31' Sovereign (rear bath!) that appears to be reasonably well maintained original...original owner. He claims no leaks ever and no rear sag or separation. It ahs not been on the road for 10 years and I am confirdent the 80+ year old gentleman that owns it has little idea about rear sag/separation and I doubt he had it "properly" balanced during the prior years when he took it to Arizona on an annual basis.

I hope we get some more conclusions on the now well discussed issue...if you have not read the nine page thread...you don't know what you are missing!

I am willing to spend more $$$$s if I need to and move up a few model years if it means this issue has been "solved" by the AS designers. Thus I need to know from you high "rivet" members...what is the summary conclusion learned about this issue and how it affect various model years and lengths...Tom R in Two Harbors
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Old 09-09-2006, 05:49 PM   #57
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Tom,
I don't know if Airstream ever completely addressed the issue. I have a 1975 rear bath Sovereign, it has sag and seperation. The axles are okay, but will need replacing eventually. The biggest problem with it was hidden damage at the main frame attachment point at the front A-frame. A water leak had rotted the floor out under the C-channel and caused the main hold down bolts to fail. I missed this one on the intial inspection. It caused quite a bit of interior mayhem that I attributed to bad balance and axles. I have a 1980 31' Excella, no signs of sag, but the rear floor is rotted out along with some floor and a frame outrigger at the front right side just forward of the door. It was caused by an unrepaired leak. And the axles are toast and will have to be replaced before it gets towed very far. Neither one of my units received the best of care over the years, whether from ingnorance or lack of caring, I don't know but they are still quality units that can and will be rebuilt. Your best bet might be to either plan on the repairs or buy a already repaired unit. Hopefully one that has been repaired by someone that knew what they were doing. I would run down some posts by StingrayL82, he had his 70's Vintage unit completely rebuilt. It was a bit pricey but a whole lot less than a brand new unit. And he was very happy with the end result.

Aaron
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Old 09-09-2006, 07:39 PM   #58
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We had rearend sag on our 1967 31 foot unit. It is fixed now.

silver 67
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Old 09-09-2006, 08:07 PM   #59
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Tom,

Aaron is right. In my opinion, there are two types of older Airstreams (especially 70s)..... those with rear floor separation issues and those whose issues have been addressed.

It is a real job, even if you know what you're doing (i.e. - done it before).

After hearing what L82Stingray paid for his, I was tempted to leave the pizza business (but then I recounted the hours involved on mine and thought better of it).

I personally would not purchase a used Airstream without drilling out a few rivets and inspecting underneath the bellypan just to see for myself. (Bring some replacement rivets so the seller doesn't get too upset.)

Or....don't pay more than $2-3K and you can afford to put 300+ hours into it!

Good luck!
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Old 09-09-2006, 08:08 PM   #60
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Tom,

To answer your questions:

1) Yes, Airstream increased the depth of their main frame rails from 4" to 5". That solved it once and for all.

2) This is open to some debate, but essentially, any trailer with a 4" frame rail section that is over about 25' in length would be succeptible.

If you want to be sure you're not going to have it, measure the depth of the frame rails of the coach you're looking at. If it's 4", then you need to look further. If it's got the 5" deep frame, you're gold.

The 5" deep frame is about double the stiffness of the 4" frame, and that makes all the difference. It's all about the stiffness.

My '77 has the 4" frame and it exhibits sag and separation. Not badly, but they're there. I looked at a '77 Avion a month or two back, and it had a 6" deep frame. No problems with sag whatsoever. The 6" frame is about 4-5 times stiffer than the 4" job.

Bottom line, if you get a 5" frame you'll have no problems. With a 4" frame, you'll need to be vigilant.

I thought the official switchover was 1985, but several forum members have told me their older coaches had the deeper frame. So, I'm not sure when the change was made or if some were made with a 4" frame and others with a 5".

Just take your tape measure with you when you go to look at them. Measure it where the tongue rails come out from the shell.

Cheers,
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