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Old 06-06-2007, 09:56 PM   #1
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1962 22' Safari
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What to do about my rotten floor???

I just bought a 1968 30' Airstream. I tore out the carpet and found an area that is completely rotten. I am replacing the front window and roof vent, though I think this area got so bad because the door was left open. Not sure.

I've spent some time reading through past threads and it appears the "right thing to do" is tear everything apart and rebuild my trailer. Unfortunately I don't have the time or money to do this. (In addition to the relatively small rotten area inside the door, I have a bad case of tail sagging under the rear of the trailer).

What are some options besides completely tearing things apart and rebuilding? Believe me, I'd love to do that, but I just can't.

I am a full time Airstreamer living in a 1973 Airstream. In the '73 trailer somebody added a second subfloor at some point. The 73 has no sag and the floors work great for me. I also put many miles on this trailer.

The '68 trailer will either be resold or lent or leased to a friend to live in. If my friend lives in it on her farm it will be getting no miles other than the ten mile trip to her property from where it's parked now.

Look forward to hearing suggestions on how to shore up this floor without opening a serious can of worms.

Regards,

Jim Breitinger
From my base through the end of July near Mansfield, Ohio
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Old 06-09-2007, 10:17 PM   #2
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Have a carpenter friend looking at in next week. Hoping there isn't too much corrosion below and we can reattach a new piece of plywood ok.
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Old 06-09-2007, 11:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by utahredrock
Look forward to hearing suggestions on how to shore up this floor without opening a serious can of worms.
if you find out the answer, bottle it and sell it, you'll have plenty of takers on this site.
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Old 06-10-2007, 07:31 AM   #4
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Rot fix

On that era Airstream, like mine, the leak at the front edge of the door caused most of the entry rot. The front rot is under the tank. Cause???leak at the window, leak in the tank or filler and tank condensation. I used Git Rot, purchased at West Marine, and it really solidified the problem areas. It won't fill holes...not meant to. A plywood surface cover is just delaying a big problem. If your friend is a carpenter....the real fix is not that hard...look to the Forems here for pics and guidance.
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Old 06-10-2007, 07:49 AM   #5
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Git rot

I may be using that too.

Tomorrow I am going to start tearing out the rotted area to see what's under there. I know it won't be pretty.

I think the rot was caused by one or more things:

The front window was broken. The guy I bought it from had it patched up so water was definitely not flooding it, but certainly more than enough got in over time. He also said the door itself may have been left open . . .

The rot is just to the right of the door in the front area. I am attaching a photo . . . it's ugly.
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Old 06-11-2007, 03:42 PM   #6
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Looks like the rot under our front window. We also hired a carpenter after my husband fell through the floor. We did tear out all the rot and the guy was able to fix it. Before he went to work I went ahead and painted the frame I could see with por paint. We tried to re-place the floor but could never get the curve right so it was time to call a pro in. Be sure to check under the front window, another spot that tends to rot.
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Old 06-11-2007, 03:47 PM   #7
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Strangely it's not rotted under the front window, despite the fact that the front window is broken out. The guy I bought it from had it sealed, more or less, with a combo of plexi-glass and visqueen (a plastic sheet) duct-taped on.

It also doesn't look like the leak is from the fresh water tank, which is right there.

I think the door or window was left open at some point, but don't really know.

I tore out the worst today, that which I could get by hand and with a hammer helping with some demolition.

I am going to start a different threat once I get pics of that.

Have a hard time sorting through all of the threads on here, though I know many people have done this before.
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Old 06-11-2007, 03:52 PM   #8
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Git Rot or Rot Doctor will help. After you apply it, you can even pour fiberglass resin over the area to firm it up. No guarantees, but it is an option to tearing everything apart.
If you want to replace the wood, you can cut the bad stuff out, put in a hunk of 1x6 under the edge of the "good" part, screwing it to the "good" part, then laying a piece of 1/2" plywood where the bad stuff was, and screwing it to the 1x6's. Add some resin to the edges to firm it up, and you may be able to use the trailer for many more years.
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Old 06-11-2007, 06:37 PM   #9
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Thanks for that tip. I love the common sense easy things I never think of.
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Old 06-12-2007, 03:51 PM   #10
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The plywood on this trailer is 3/4"

From reading these forums I thought someone said 5/8 was std for Airstreams.

After digging out the worst of the rot this will be a relatively easy patch. Need to find some of that git rot too.
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Old 06-14-2007, 07:49 PM   #11
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Somewhere between the late 60's and the early 70's there seems to have been a transition from 5/8" plywood to 3/4". My 1973 has 3/4" as well.

The idea of cutting out the bad part and patching in a new piece is actually a recommended approach in the service manuals of that era. I would suggest using plywood for the strips rather than 1 x 6 though just because the 1 x 6 could split out when you put the screws into it and the plywood would not. If you cut the bad part out all the way to good wood you might be able to get away without any git rot type of product.

I would suggest self-drilling-self-taping screws for reattaching the the plywood to the frame. I am attaching a photo of the type that I used. I found them in stock at Home Depot. For the screws through the plywood into the plywood strips I suggest decking screws. I used the shorter ones most everywhere. The longer ones were mostly needed along the edeges of the wheel wells where the plywood is not directly sitting on the frame. Of course the longer ones would work but are more expensive.

You can use a circular saw with the blade depth set to just short of the thickness of the plywood to cut a nice clean line around the patch area. I suggest cutting your patch first and tracing its shape onto the floor before you do the final cut. That should give you a nice fit for the patch. If you have trouble getting the screws or bolts out of the piece you are cutting out consider using a hole saw of 1' diameter or so to cut the plywood around the screw. Once the major part of the plywood is out of the way you can use a hack saw to get the bolt or screw out.

Malcolm
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Old 06-16-2007, 10:07 AM   #12
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All Done!

That wasn't so bad.

Of course having a very talented carpenter help made it that much easier.

Here's the patched section. It's screwed in with screws from Vintage Trailer Supply, no doubt available locally for less (see photo above).
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Old 06-16-2007, 10:25 AM   #13
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PS--Malcolm, Thanks for your reply. This is exactly what my carpenter buddy did! Good instructions. Thx.
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Old 06-17-2007, 02:44 PM   #14
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It looks like it came out just fine. Most of the tasks on Airstream remodeling that I have encountered sofar on mine are relatively simple in their own right. Its just that there can be a lot of little steps and doing them in the right order can make all the difference.

Malcolm
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:33 AM   #15
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It looks like it came out just fine. Most of the tasks on Airstream remodeling that I have encountered sofar on mine are relatively simple in their own right. Its just that there can be a lot of little steps and doing them in the right order can make all the difference.

Malcolm
Hi again Malcolm; I have been away and am about to get back in to it (rotten floor at rear bath). I do not need to replace the whole sheet of plywood, but saving the about 3' or so on the curb side seems like it might potentially weaken the curbside rear corner. Also, the "butt plate" spline support I would then need would be over the black water tank and would prefer not to take that out as it seems in tact. Any ideas or suggestions???

Thanks
Richard (& Della)
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:38 PM   #16
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Hi again Malcolm; I have been away and am about to get back in to it (rotten floor at rear bath). I do not need to replace the whole sheet of plywood, but saving the about 3' or so on the curb side seems like it might potentially weaken the curbside rear corner. Also, the "butt plate" spline support I would then need would be over the black water tank and would prefer not to take that out as it seems in tact. Any ideas or suggestions???

Thanks
Richard (& Della)
Richard,

This seems like an old thread but the information is still relevant to what you are wanting to do.

In general patching in a piece of new plywood to just replace the rotten part seems to be an OK approach and does not substantially weaken anything else if the new joints are either over frame members or there is some sort of spline at the joint. Do you have any space between the top of the black water tank and the bottom of the sub-floor to add a spline? If necessary I think you could use a thin spline. Maybe 1/4" plywood or perhaps even 1/8" metal strip. The key of course would be to not drill into the top of the black water tank. If there is absolutely no room you could route a groove in the edges of the new and old plywood pieces and slip in a wood or metal spline into the two grooves. It would be best to have a router to do that though. The basic idea here is to make sure that the new and old plywood are attached to each other. Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss more details.

Malcolm
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