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Old 04-13-2010, 01:04 AM   #1
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1969 31' Sovereign
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Welding a spine from front to back

Hey Guys, I am in the process of removing the sub floor from my 31' Sovereign, shell on mind you. Question, why can't I weld a spine straight down the middle of my trailer, so that way I can cut my new ply sub floor down the middle and with the spine in place, piece it in and have plenty of "structurally sound area for bolts" I wouldn't be compromising any structural integrity would I? Adding weight maybe. Please forgive me if I am repeating a question that has been ask before, but I have been going round and round with this!
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Old 04-13-2010, 04:54 AM   #2
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I am not knowledegable on your trailer.
Something to keep in mind is welds are not flexable. With vibration and stress they will break or break the metal around it. This may not be a concern in the short term, long term, when you are on the road it may come into play.
Is there a way to blot a piece across the area in question and remove it upon completion. The bolt holes could be easiley filled with anadized bolts or counter sunk screws.
If a support piece was spot welded for the duration of the repairs and then removed upon completion, could be an option.
As I said, I am unfamilure with your work area, so if none of this is pertenent please disregard.
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Old 04-13-2010, 05:29 AM   #3
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Are you talking about removing all the plywood and running it with the long side of the plywood parallel to the sides of the trailer (2 pieces side by side to cover the width of the trailer)? If so, sounds reasonable because the more floor 'joists' you catch with each piece of plywood, the stronger the structure would be. Instead of welding steel in as a spline, could you not simply glue and screw a plywood spline to the underside of the center joint between each joist? Staggering your short side of the plywood joints would help with strength, too.
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlefield View Post
Hey Guys, I am in the process of removing the sub floor from my 31' Sovereign, shell on mind you. Question, why can't I weld a spine straight down the middle of my trailer, so that way I can cut my new ply sub floor down the middle and with the spine in place, piece it in and have plenty of "structurally sound area for bolts" I wouldn't be compromising any structural integrity would I? Adding weight maybe. Please forgive me if I am repeating a question that has been ask before, but I have been going round and round with this!
The one piece, side to side flooring, is a part of the "monocoque construction".

Cutting the flooring in half, will weaken that construction, no matter how many "spines" you may add.

As with other things, replacing the floor with the shell on, is a short cut that offers nothing positive except saving time, but compromises the overall strength when the floor is cut into pieces and spliced.

Andy
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:54 AM   #5
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Not that I have any business saying Andy is right... but Andy is right.

When a floor rots, the structure of the trailer is weakened. I could see visual evidence of this in our '67 Overlander. With the rear end separation, rear bath floor rot, the coach flexed. This "punched" a dent in the ceiling where a vertical wooden support was located.

In the Overlander, we have a new subfloor of 5/8" ply attached while the shell was off. I need a really good surface for our planned cork tiles, so I'm adding a layer of 5mm hardwood (marine mahogany?) ply. I plan to glue the sheets of 5mm overlapping the seams in the 5/8". This will give me a subfloor slightly thicker than 3/4" but with better overall "stiffness" because of the reduced flex at the seams.

It's a theory, anyway.
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Old 04-13-2010, 06:57 PM   #6
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Thanks guys! Back to the drawing board!
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:09 PM   #7
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Andy, or anyone of you fine Airstreamers, I don't want to weaken the construction by any means, but I am limited to space, is it possible to do partial shell on/off floor replacement? I.E. jack her up in sections, replace floor in sections and continue down in that manner? Or am I just loosing my mind? I wasn't kidding when I said I was going round and round on this.
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:50 AM   #8
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Andy, or anyone of you fine Airstreamers, I don't want to weaken the construction by any means, but I am limited to space, is it possible to do partial shell on/off floor replacement? I.E. jack her up in sections, replace floor in sections and continue down in that manner? Or am I just loosing my mind? I wasn't kidding when I said I was going round and round on this.
If your going to lift the shell in sections, then the bottom line is that the entire shell at some point, will be lifted, but not without a bunch of headaches.

The complete shell can be lifted a couple of inches, very easily.

Have a few small horses along the side of the trailer, lift up the shell and hold it in place using some 2 x 4's that are on top of the horses.

But remember to support the chassis before you remove the shell, as the chassis will sag if you don't, giving you more headaches.

Andy
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:31 AM   #9
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I was in the same situation. I didn't have the space (or the technology) to get the shell off so I jobbed out the frame renvoation and floor replacement. There are a number of good threads on how guys have done "shell on" floor replacements. The notion of "jacking up" a shell makes me a little nervous. I think the approach I've seen most often is to lift the frame. Now... could a guy gently lift one end to sneak in the floor? I'll defer to the renovation gurus.
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:00 AM   #10
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I did a partial floor replacement, shell on. I found there was very little flex in the shell that would have allowed me to jack up portions at a time. I think if you're talking about lifting the shell, just lift the whole thing at once and get it over with. If you are doing a full floor replacement, most of the work is in removing the interior and the lower interior wall panels. At that point you might as well disconnect the shell and lift it out of the way, remove the old wood, repair any broken welds, and put new wood down.

It's not as bad as it sounds, pulling out the interior and putting it back in is the part that takes all the time.
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:16 AM   #11
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I keep hearing that it's HARD and IMPOSSIBLE to replace the floor with the shell on. I guess I had better pull mine back out, and do it the "right way"

RIGHT!!!!!
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts View Post
I did a partial floor replacement, shell on. I found there was very little flex in the shell that would have allowed me to jack up portions at a time. I think if you're talking about lifting the shell, just lift the whole thing at once and get it over with. If you are doing a full floor replacement, most of the work is in removing the interior and the lower interior wall panels. At that point you might as well disconnect the shell and lift it out of the way, remove the old wood, repair any broken welds, and put new wood down.

It's not as bad as it sounds, pulling out the interior and putting it back in is the part that takes all the time.
I would think the shorter the trailer the less it will 'flex'.
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:25 AM   #13
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It's not as bad as it sounds, pulling out the interior and putting it back in is the part that takes all the time.
Can you "guesstimate" how much time that part took you, Steph..?
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:49 AM   #14
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I would think the shorter the trailer the less it will 'flex'.
I would expect that to be true. My trailer had pretty much zero flex but only half of the shell was disconnected. Still, I was expecting to be able to lift it a little to make fitting the floor easier and it wouldn't budge. I ended up going with a seam down the middle, which has not been a problem so far.

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Can you "guesstimate" how much time that part took you, Steph..?
I can't, I'm really lazy I only worked on it a couple hours at a time, spread out over about four months (the whole project). There were all sorts of annoyances, stripped screws, rivets that wouldn't drill out easily. Nothing hard, just dirty and tedious work.
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:05 PM   #15
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Hampstead, I did hear of someone with a 30' AS who dropped the rear of the frame loose from the shell and slid his flooring in from the back. I don't know that it would work on a shorter trailer. It's not the shell flexing, it's the frame sagging that made it possible.

Rich the Viking

P.S. A lot of people don't have the space or tools or situation to remove the shell from the frame, like a pro shop would do. There ARE many of us who have done shell-on floors. Some are harder than others, but all are possible with a little thought.
BTW my Safari has a welded spline down the center of the floor, from the factory.


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I was in the same situation. I didn't have the space (or the technology) to get the shell off so I jobbed out the frame renvoation and floor replacement. There are a number of good threads on how guys have done "shell on" floor replacements. The notion of "jacking up" a shell makes me a little nervous. I think the approach I've seen most often is to lift the frame. Now... could a guy gently lift one end to sneak in the floor? I'll defer to the renovation gurus.
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:50 PM   #16
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If your going to lift the shell in sections, then the bottom line is that the entire shell at some point, will be lifted, but not without a bunch of headaches.

The complete shell can be lifted a couple of inches, very easily.

Have a few small horses along the side of the trailer, lift up the shell and hold it in place using some 2 x 4's that are on top of the horses.

But remember to support the chassis before you remove the shell, as the chassis will sag if you don't, giving you more headaches.

Andy
This is not that hard. Raised the whole shell. Alot easier to work on the frame, floor and replace the belly pan. Did it by myself on the 59 overlander. The trick is to find the hidden rivets that hold the shell on and cut them with a tap of a hard putty blade. The real hard part was getting the end caps back in if you take them out with the shell off. Like Andy said, things move.
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Old 04-15-2010, 12:36 AM   #17
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Thanks guys! After months of reading the pros and cons of floor replacement with the shell on or off scenario I have made my decision......Drum roll please!....... Andy wins! Shell off, if I only truly have to lift it a few inches, the allowance of space I do have, its doable! Thanks Andy! God don't let me screw this up!............. to be continued.......
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Old 04-15-2010, 07:47 AM   #18
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Thanks guys! After months of reading the pros and cons of floor replacement with the shell on or off scenario I have made my decision......Drum roll please!....... Andy wins! Shell off, if I only truly have to lift it a few inches, the allowance of space I do have, its doable! Thanks Andy! God don't let me screw this up!............. to be continued.......
Screw ups happen, when questions are not asked, before the fact.

This site has answers to most everything anyone would ever want to know about an Airstream, usually.

But answers must always be weighed, you know, like from some financial advisors.

Andy
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Old 04-15-2010, 08:46 AM   #19
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Recession = VACANT business parks

Dear people - Virtually every town in America has three or four franchised self storage businesses. Many of these have BIG spaces for rent.. and there are many small business warehouse/office parks and buildings that are sitting 75% empty with landlords sweating the load.

In "normal times" they want a 3-5 year lease, but right now, if you know someone or know someone who knows someone, you can get a 90 day deal on vacant space - often a zero paperwork sublease from a business that anticipated growth and now has 2000 sq ft of empty to fill.

If you think you don't have room - or you're going to have to work in the back yard and risk a wind storm getting hold of your shell while it's off the shell, start looking around. I know half a dozen people who'd give me space if I'd pay half of the electric bill for 3 months.

Just a thought. And if you want to git 'er dun, having a warehouse that keeps the weather off and has space for you to store the interior pieces and all of your tools... well not having to work in a cramped garage could move the process forward rapidly, could it not?

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