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Old 06-17-2012, 11:05 AM   #101
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I'd be satisfied with BS1088A...marine grade PW.

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Old 06-17-2012, 11:31 AM   #102
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Gene, the floor planks you use. You mention they expand and contract. How do you keep dust and dirt from falling into the cracks and them sticking to the glue? Is there a top floating lip that covers this joint?
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:54 PM   #103
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Do airplanes have leaky rivets? If not, why can't Airstream?

Can rivets be avoided? I know they are part of the tradition, but can bolts be used that seal tighter and look like rivets on the outside?

Many roof penetrations can be avoided with 2 sided tape. The good stuff is really strong.

Better seals everywhere.

And, make it easy to replace seals when their lifetime has expired.

It doesn't have to leak until it is a generation old.

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Old 06-17-2012, 07:28 PM   #104
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...and yet, vinyl in sheet form or tiles has been used in AS and other makes of trailers for years and years. Is there any documentation that this habit has caused problems?
I'm glad that Avion used sheet vinyl in my C-11 camper. It sat in my back yard for 25-30 years and it had been at least 15 years or so since I had been in it when I discovered the back vent lid had deteriorated and almost disappeared. During rain storms, the floor was wet and some of the cabinet wood was ruined, but the floor and structural wood was saved by the sheet vinyl. The minimal cabinet wood that need to be replaced was easy to do. Replacing the structural wood is not something that I really would want to do.

Notice the ugly, discolored floor. It may be ugly, but it appears to have protected the structural wood under it.

The originl vinyl floor is being replaced by Armstrong sheet vinyl with a 20 year warranty.
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Old 06-18-2012, 07:37 AM   #105
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Another problem with the Airstream Floor

As mentioned before, and I agree wholeheartedly, it is important to try and prevent water from getting to the floor. The design of the floor in my 1980 Caravelle is problematic since it relies on a sealant on top of the bottom belt line. The curved banana skin is outside of the banana wraps so any water inside the trailer goes into the belly pan and any failure of the belt line sealant results in direct entry to the floor and belly pan area. Here is a sketch of the original design in my Caravelle and one possible solution. If a Z shaped flashing was attached to the floor and the banana wrap attached on the inside of that, it seems like there would be less water intrusion. I could also put some small holes in the outside bottom of the U channel to direct water from between the skins to out past the banana wrap. It looks like some of the older Airstreams have the outer skin outside of the banana wrap which seems like a good idea, but I see how that could make construction harder.
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:23 AM   #106
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Tim, your proposed design is much better and akin to the way new houses are now sealed.

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Old 06-18-2012, 12:06 PM   #107
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Tim, your proposed design is much better and akin to the way new houses are now sealed.

Gene
There is just one minor problem of figuring out how to bend that channel around the curves!! It is really easy to draw, though.
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Old 06-18-2012, 12:44 PM   #108
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European Airstreams come with an aluminum honey-comb sandwich floor and a galvanized chassis. Over five years ago I asked Airstream why this specification was not used in the USA. You can read the communications here:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f206...sit-31208.html

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Old 06-18-2012, 01:02 PM   #109
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Tim, great drawings. Will you put the inner skin in the drawing, too. I think you would want to have it inboard of the u-channel but outboard of the inner leg of the z-flash. Apparently many leaks track down the inner surface of the inner skins? If you could trap this water with the Z and take it out over the z to outside that would be great.

I hope you do not mind, I took the liberty of suggesting a few additional details on your drawing by marking on it and scanning it.

Yes, difficult to make curved z-flash out of aluminum, but not impossible.

What about notch bending two pieces of aluminum angle (see image) and using flex wrap (like used to flash window sills in houses) to tie them together on the corners?

How about sealing the z-flash at the floor surface on the interior as well. This way, any water coming in on top of the floor (leaky skylights, vents, beer, etc. would be prevented from getting to the edges and underneath the floor material?

I think putting perforations in the U-channel to let water out at the outboard angle is a great idea, too.

No reason you couldn't still put the beltline back on is there? (just for decoration)

If there is a was a good way to vent the belly pan to keep it dry that would be great. It is a little like a crawlspace in a house with constant moisture from below. Maybe if there were some vents front and rear/side of the belly pan, air would actively move through there while under tow?
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Old 06-18-2012, 02:45 PM   #110
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I also remember behind the sheds we had vats of creosote and they soaked virtually everything that went into a boat in this solution. ...Dan
Wouldn't EPA h ave a tizzy fit?
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Old 06-18-2012, 04:34 PM   #111
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Tim, great drawings. Will you put the inner skin in the drawing, too. I think you would want to have it inboard of the u-channel but outboard of the inner leg of the z-flash. Apparently many leaks track down the inner surface of the inner skins? If you could trap this water with the Z and take it out over the z to outside that would be great.

I hope you do not mind, I took the liberty of suggesting a few additional details on your drawing by marking on it and scanning it.
Leaks track down the outer surface of the inner skins, between the layers.

.pdf attachemnt does not show on mobile version?
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Old 06-18-2012, 04:38 PM   #112
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I'm glad that Avion used sheet vinyl in my C-11 camper. It sat in my back yard for 25-30 years and it had been at least 15 years or so since I had been in it when I discovered the back vent lid had deteriorated and almost disappeared. During rain storms, the floor was wet and some of the cabinet wood was ruined, but the floor and structural wood was saved by the sheet vinyl. The minimal cabinet wood that need to be replaced was easy to do. Replacing the structural wood is not something that I really would want to do.

Notice the ugly, discolored floor. It may be ugly, but it appears to have protected the structural wood under it.

The originl vinyl floor is being replaced by Armstrong sheet vinyl with a 20 year warranty.
Please post some more photos when you remove the old vinyl. It will be very surprising if the plywood below does not show signs of water damage. Just in this photo there are at two perforations in the flooring and plywood. The water had to go somewhere. I doubt it sat on the floor and then evaporated away back up through the skylight.
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:42 PM   #113
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Aluminum sheet floor.

I called a local company called MetalWest and got a quote on the 5052 aluminum sheet I will use for the bellypan and floor. It will cost about $650 for 0.032" sheet for the front 2/3 of the bellypan, 0.060" for under the grey tank (the back 1/3 of the bellypan), and 0.125" for the floor. They only stock 4'x10' sheets so for my 17' x7' long floor I will need 4 sheets of the 1/8" at about $130 per sheet. I know it is more than plywood and will take more work to install, but I really believe that it will last as long as the trailer especially if maintained well. Even in the worst corroded places in my trailer the deepest pitting was less than 1/32" even in the rear which was constantly wet due to the bad bumper design.
Here are a couple of views of what I am planning.
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I will insulate the empty spaces with 3" solid foam which will also add to the stability and use thin 3" aluminum channel to help support the floor and provide a more torsion box like system.
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:51 PM   #114
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Tim, did you decide not to go with the z-flash. That was a great idea. If you seal the bottom of the inner skin to the U channel and provide drainage out of the U that would be almost as good.
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:14 PM   #115
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I was planning on using a thin bead of Vulkem to seal the inner skin to the U and seal the bottom angle to the floor. I agree that drainholes on the outside of the U channel would direct most of the water outside of the bellypan.
I still really like the Z flashing idea, but I think it might be too hard to fabricate with my skills. If I went with a plywood floor, I think it would be worth the effort, but with the Al subfloor, I don't think it will be necessary.
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Old 06-19-2012, 08:42 PM   #116
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Once water arrives in a confined space it has to drain or dry out. Airflow will dry it out, weep holes will let it drain. Any wall/floor system should be built with that in mind.

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Old 06-21-2012, 10:44 AM   #117
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I just bought an aluminum floor!

I pulled the trigger yesterday and bought 1/8" 5052 aluminum sheet for the subfloor of my 20' Caravelle. My neighbor and I are going to pick it up today. With the bellypan (.032" in front and 0.063 under the grey tank), it should weigh about 280 pounds. The rigid foam and thin aluminum C will add a bit more. I will use stainless bolts with locktite to attach to the steel frame around the perimeter and aluminum rivets (countersunk buck rivets where I can reach and countersunk pop rivets where I can't) everywhere else. I am betting that the interior rivets will not see much water and the outer ones hopefully will be able to drain through the weepholes in the C channel. The walking portion of the floor will be covered with vinyl or cork or something, but I want it to be flat to avoid the limitations caused by raised rivets in the Minuets. I still haven't figured out how I will cut the 1/8" sheet. I may cut it close with the jigsaw and finish with a router bit designed for aluminum and a template. I'm going to attach the floor first and then do the bellypan last so that I can use buck rivets whenever possible to attach the floor. I also bought a flush rivet set and nice microstop countersink with a 1/8" pilot. It is annoying but the pop rivets are 120 degrees and the buck rivets are 100 degrees so I had to buy two different countersink bits for the microstop.
My credit card is burning!
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Old 06-21-2012, 10:47 PM   #118
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timzog & the Caravelle test tube!

I've just made some 4-foot cuts in .040 sheet - the cheap air tools balked at anything precision, so I rough cut then did a close 1/8" waste cut by hand on a band saw & dressed the slight wobble with a sander/file. Not good enough to be joined invisibly with a factory edge but great alone as an end cut.

Just thinking about the noise a router would make gives me a migraine, if I had a couple to do I think a workbench jig with a chunk of your aluminum channel as a straight edge clamped down and a circular hand saw would be less pain, or... find a metal shop that will shear them for you for the truly painless cuts. The rounded cuts at the ends should/will be hidden so a 24t or finer sabre-jig saw and a little bastard or flat file action and you should be famous.

If you haven't already met let me introduce you: ALUMIPREP NO. 33, & ALODINE 1001. Anything aircraft by someone who cares always gets these treatments and it sounds like you want no trouble for the longest time possible just like the aviation industry. Those hidden areas that can get condensation and road-spray up into them will thank you for hosing it down with the prep chemicals.

I saw your drawings but still suspect some floor will rest on iron, know there are no square ledges on the stamped spars and outriggers, and good luck on the heights differences once the precision of aluminum plate replaces the crush of woodgrain averaging things out.

What I'd like to see is a spreader plate between the floor supports and floor sheet, to keep narrow pinch points from becoming the fulcrum that amplify warping the floor into waves over time from the peening of people and material across it - even with a resilient flooring installed given enough time.

Maybe no one there wears spike high-heels put tons of force down at every step but even the heel and toe normal walking slams down a lot from a broad shoe heel - for the spreader plates, maybe a 2" strip of the 0.125" epoxied to the floor sheet that would reduce the spanned 12" areas by 15~% and give irregularities in the frame something to chew on.

Did you know most airstreams have no floor fasteners into the main ladder frame rails? All the bolting occurs in spars or outriggers. That sure may be a flag to how sensitive the light-gauge frame is to being weakened by drilling/bolting. The only non-welded attachment to my main frame rails are where they pinned the aluminum bumper on an inch from the end.

Anyhow, the floor is 99% of the diagonal bracing of the frame - in a hidden area of the frame I'd be adding larger diameter stud-bolts with oversize washer-clamping plates - say inside the C-channel where you'll be bolting it anyway - just to lock down every sheet in two/three places with something stronger than rivets and the usual C-channel bolts. Just imagine fifty miles of washboard road, sunburn, Montezuma's revenge and other unusual senses of urgency that would lead you or yours to say 'fifty mph should smooth it out'... and build accordingly
I know I've forgotten something else I though of, from all the times I read your threads updates, but I can't remember it/them now...

GOOD SHOW - KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM!!
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Old 06-22-2012, 11:35 AM   #119
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timzog & the Caravelle test tube!

I've just made some 4-foot cuts in .040 sheet - the cheap air tools balked at anything precision, so I rough cut then did a close 1/8" waste cut by hand on a band saw & dressed the slight wobble with a sander/file. Not good enough to be joined invisibly with a factory edge but great alone as an end cut.

Just thinking about the noise a router would make gives me a migraine, if I had a couple to do I think a workbench jig with a chunk of your aluminum channel as a straight edge clamped down and a circular hand saw would be less pain, or... find a metal shop that will shear them for you for the truly painless cuts. The rounded cuts at the ends should/will be hidden so a 24t or finer sabre-jig saw and a little bastard or flat file action and you should be famous.

If you haven't already met let me introduce you: ALUMIPREP NO. 33, & ALODINE 1001. Anything aircraft by someone who cares always gets these treatments and it sounds like you want no trouble for the longest time possible just like the aviation industry. Those hidden areas that can get condensation and road-spray up into them will thank you for hosing it down with the prep chemicals.

I saw your drawings but still suspect some floor will rest on iron, know there are no square ledges on the stamped spars and outriggers, and good luck on the heights differences once the precision of aluminum plate replaces the crush of woodgrain averaging things out.

What I'd like to see is a spreader plate between the floor supports and floor sheet, to keep narrow pinch points from becoming the fulcrum that amplify warping the floor into waves over time from the peening of people and material across it - even with a resilient flooring installed given enough time.

Maybe no one there wears spike high-heels put tons of force down at every step but even the heel and toe normal walking slams down a lot from a broad shoe heel - for the spreader plates, maybe a 2" strip of the 0.125" epoxied to the floor sheet that would reduce the spanned 12" areas by 15~% and give irregularities in the frame something to chew on.

Did you know most airstreams have no floor fasteners into the main ladder frame rails? All the bolting occurs in spars or outriggers. That sure may be a flag to how sensitive the light-gauge frame is to being weakened by drilling/bolting. The only non-welded attachment to my main frame rails are where they pinned the aluminum bumper on an inch from the end.

Anyhow, the floor is 99% of the diagonal bracing of the frame - in a hidden area of the frame I'd be adding larger diameter stud-bolts with oversize washer-clamping plates - say inside the C-channel where you'll be bolting it anyway - just to lock down every sheet in two/three places with something stronger than rivets and the usual C-channel bolts. Just imagine fifty miles of washboard road, sunburn, Montezuma's revenge and other unusual senses of urgency that would lead you or yours to say 'fifty mph should smooth it out'... and build accordingly
I know I've forgotten something else I though of, from all the times I read your threads updates, but I can't remember it/them now...

GOOD SHOW - KEEP UP THE MOMENTUM!!
Thanks for all the information. I am not looking forward to cutting the 1/8" sheet. I have a feeling that this will be one of the toughest parts of this approach. My jig saw has variable speed and a variable attack setting for different materials so I am hoping it will do the trick. I'll let you know how the router does for trimming off the excess. It has a very low speed and lots of power so with a down fluted bit it may be OK. I do have big ear muffs since I really don't want a migraine
Do you need the alumiprep on new material or only on old material proir to applying the Alodine. Should you apply this before or after you drill holes in the material?

I did some work with the grinder and with sheet metal vise grips to level out the frame, but there is easily a 1/16" play in the surface. The floor will rest on iron everywhere where a wood floor would. I was going to put Vulkem on top of the frame before applying the floor and hope that will take up a bit of the gaps at least (but not the ridges).

I tried to put a few small bolts into the main C channel of the frame when installing my grey tank and that is some tough stuff. My guess is that there are no fasteners there because it is too much work to drill through there although it may also be an integrity issue. If you saw the holes that were cut in the frame for the tank drain and other penetrations you might think it was more about ease of installation than structural integrity. I think your idea about adding a few heavy duty fasteners in hidden places is a good one and I'll try to add a few of those too. I bought both 1/4 and 3/8 stainless steel bolts, nuts and fender washers plus Loktite designed for stainless and will try to find lots of good places to put those in.
Thanks again for your thoughtful comments and suggestions especially the Caravelle test tube

BTW, I put a piece of 1/8" sheet on the frame and stood on top of the biggest gap in the frame and the deflection was very minimal. With an additional channel and fasteners, I think it will be very robust.
Tim
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Old 06-23-2012, 08:07 AM   #120
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"stood on top of the biggest gap" <--- repeat 100 times and check it with a straight edge? What about in 1000 cycles or 3000 cycles? Sorry, not an active saboteur to try and make your life difficult but I've seen dished down metal floors before. Murphy's Law predicts an oil-can lid effect somewhere between a toy cricket noisemaker and a Caribbean calypso steel band bass Ping Pong pan instrument.

I just clicked through my links and see I linked the heavy-duty prep, the METAL PREP NO. 79 is for new metals - and dilute even a little past their recommendations. Nice catch, all I see in my minds' eye is the 40-year-old C-Channel and shark-skin clear coat of my trailer...

One of the things the prep does before the clear alodine (the other type turns metal goldish) is it reduces the alloy metal smears on the rolled sheet surfaces so those other-metal nodules don't provide easy paths through the phosphated aluminum and aluminum oxide barriers.

Once you're done fitting and ready to install then last step is the treatments and yes, it'd probably be uncomfortable to fit/fasten a floor section and then remove it to treat it and catch all the scratches and machined areas like it'd be done for aviation. I'm using 6061 1/4" bar stock for the clamping plates, those will get treated before being bolted down. All new aluminum patches get treated. Blah blah, blah.

Catching 98% of the surface you're ahead of the game, some people would consider it simply prep for paint and that's still a possibility but if you've invested the time and effort to get this far its a small premium on cost to help defeat acid rain and road-salt or fertilizer run off, or worst case seeping plumbing or BW tank allowing uric acids and salts to romp unfettered for a summer (neglect killed my trailer).

There are better assembly caulks for a structural seam like that, vulkem type is really a weatherproofing agent. I haven't used the new formulation but I suspect it would shrink, or yield if not allowed a very long cure time to leave voids, or simply sag away since it tries to self-level.

Look at The 3M 5000-Series Marine products, I used 3M 5200 adhesive sealant and am impressed by its workability and sheer inert tough stuff lay, for about 2 or 3x the price of Tremco. Be sure to rough up any POR-15 painted surfaces lightly with 400-600 grit paper, its brittle to the paper and allows grab instead of universal peel off.

I bought twelve tubes of 5200 last November for $72 end-of-season on eBay and have three left over that are yours for shipping, March 2011 date code and stored here in root cellar at 55F... its either use them or lose them about now and they might have started to harden at the tube piston, anyhow yours if you want them.
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