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Old 04-01-2017, 10:15 PM   #1
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1972 31' Sovereign
Silverton , Oregon
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Wheel Well replacment opinions

I'm looking for opinions on the replacement tandem wheel wells that places like out of doors mart sell. When I model them into my frame model, they look like they don't quite reach the frame. I know when I took out the original wheel wells they didn't quote reach either.
my original ones are pretty shredded, it looks like the old axles sagged enough that they wire through them, and deformed them as well. one is also torn.

I think I can make them work by adding a strip of aluminum on top of the frame rail to help with the gap, and sealing it all with Vulkem. Here's a picture of what I mean about the gap. What have others done?
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Old 04-02-2017, 10:01 AM   #2
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So you say your original wheel wells didn't make it to the frame (do you mean the main frame rail, or the outrigger)? Were they just supported by screwing to the plywood subfloor? If so, they lasted like that for 50 years, right? Just remember that these wheels wells are not designed to support weight from above (thus needing a frame member to keep them in place). My wheel wells are supported on the ends by the outriggers, but are only supported by the subfloor along the length. They do not overlap the main frame rails.

Are you replacing your floor as well? When I did my trailer, the outriggers that support the ends of the wheel wells were rotted away and had to be replaced. Had I needed to, I could have just moved them to where they needed to be to support the wheel well. The junctions where the sheets of plywood meet may also factor into this solution.

Or, you could check your local geography and see if there is a sheet metal fabricator who could make you a custom wheel well that fits your frame as-is. This will probably cost you 50% or double compared to the plastic ones, but it may be an option.

Anyway, I can tell by the detail of your model that you are really making an engineering project out of this. This is the slippery slope that leads to a 5 yr rennovation. I know because I have done it myself. Try not to get too bogged down by the details. No doubt, the factory didn't!

good luck!
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Old 04-03-2017, 08:19 PM   #3
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1972 31' Sovereign
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That's interesting that you say yours didn't reach the main frame rail either, they look like they should. mine landed on it for about 50% of the length, but pulled away at center. they did sit on the outriggers fore and aft.
Today I just ordered the modern replacement airstream# 200844 from the local dealer, I think I will place a strip of aluminum over the frame rail and under the plywood to weatherproof it in that area, and move on. I have to keep reminding myself that it lasted 45 years this way sitting outside, so If I keep it in the barn it ought to be a bit better. I work for a metal manufacturer, and I can't beat the price and durability of the plastic option, so I move on.

Thanks for the reply.
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Old 04-03-2017, 08:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Try not to get too bogged down by the details. No doubt, the factory didn't!

good luck!
This should be the airstream motto, genius
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Old 04-04-2017, 04:58 PM   #5
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1971 27' Overlander
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I replaced the wheelwells in my 1973 Overlander with new Airstream units. Very easy to do, the Airstream units were sized correctly with minimum adjustment/cutting to make them fit into my Overlander. I would not recommend any other aftermarket product.
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Old 01-20-2020, 01:53 PM   #6
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1972 31' Sovereign
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Hi there -- what did you decide on for your new wheel wells? I'm having my 1972 31' restored and it's painful to pay for this because of the $$$ freight shipping ... any suggestions? kind thanks
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Old 01-25-2020, 09:20 AM   #7
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I ended up buying the new Airstream wheel wells, but I bought them from a nearby Dealer. That way I didn't have to pay for shipping.The price was the same as the online suppliers.

If you are installing them in an older trailer, the opening arch on the outside above the tire is higher.

you can see it if you look at pictures of old and new trailers, I ended up adding another row of bucked rivets above the trim, with a heavier reinforcement strip than the original. it hurt to drill the extra holes, but its not actually noticeable, and now the wheel well is much better attached compared to just using the pop rivets that hold on the trim. It really stiffened up that area.


Where the wheel well doesn't reach the frame, I added a sheet of aluminum under the plywood, that went to the frame and over the next outriggers, then sealed it all to the frame with Vulkem. There are also large plug weld holes on the frame stiffener plate right next to the tires, you should seal those to the frame also, there was corrosion going on there between the layers when I had my frame sandblasted.



my inner wheel wells are still ok enough to use, they seem to be made of ABS and I've had really good luck just using ABS pipe glue to fix cracks in the vista view cover frames
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:11 PM   #8
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WOW, you are a gem, thank you for all your insights. I'm having a 1972 31' restored just like you I'm going to peruse all your previous posts for more info.

Any chance I can email or call you and pick your brain a wee bit? The outside is finally done and we're just now starting on the interior, eg cabling, wiring, plumbing, etc. I'm trying to research electrical panels, water pumps, toilet, etc.

I'm not doing the actual work (I'm a nurse, lol) but I want to understand everything my brilliant friend is doing. And I'm in charge of selecting and paying for the upgrades, lol.
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Old 01-31-2020, 07:01 PM   #9
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Old 03-19-2020, 04:42 PM   #10
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After reading about how much damage a blow-out can wreak on a wheel well, I took my old corroded galvanized wheel wells from my '66 Tradewind to a metal fabrication shop and had them duplicate them in nice new stainless steel. They are a bit on the heavy side, but they sure are sturdy.
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Old 03-19-2020, 08:00 PM   #11
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After reading about how much damage a blow-out can wreak on a wheel well, I took my old corroded galvanized wheel wells from my '66 Tradewind to a metal fabrication shop and had them duplicate them in nice new stainless steel. They are a bit on the heavy side, but they sure are sturdy.
and china st tire ready.
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:18 PM   #12
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To avoid the disassembly necessary to replace the wheel wells on my 71 I got a couple of orange barrels cut them to shape and used pop rivets and adhesive caulk to repurpose them. Been there more than 10 years.
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Old 08-25-2020, 04:32 PM   #13
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The wheel wells on my ‘72 sovereign 31’ reach from outrigger to outrigger but needed a piece of sheet aluminum screwed to it to reach the main frame rail. The wells were slipped under the subfloor when I dismantled everything but now that it’s getting close to time to put it back together, this doesn’t make complete sense. With the condition the plywood was in it was impossible to tell but I doubt the floor was routed out 1/8” to sit over the wheel well and lay flat on the outrigger/frame. Is this how I should reinstall things in that area?
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Old 09-23-2020, 02:58 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WnP View Post
The wheel wells on my ‘72 sovereign 31’ reach from outrigger to outrigger but needed a piece of sheet aluminum screwed to it to reach the main frame rail. The wells were slipped under the subfloor when I dismantled everything but now that it’s getting close to time to put it back together, this doesn’t make complete sense. With the condition the plywood was in it was impossible to tell but I doubt the floor was routed out 1/8” to sit over the wheel well and lay flat on the outrigger/frame. Is this how I should reinstall things in that area?
Hoping someone has some insight for you. I am coming up on this step and I am having trouble remembering how they were on mine when I took it apart.
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Old 03-18-2022, 01:51 PM   #15
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Hi Jeremy J what did you end up doing? I am in the same situation.
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Old 03-19-2022, 09:47 AM   #16
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on my 67 the wheel wells are sandwiched between the subfloor & the outriggers/frame.
i tossed the broken plastic covers that were over them & built new covers for the wheel wells out of diamond plate.
good luck with the project
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Old 03-19-2022, 10:25 AM   #17
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Wondering what fasteners folks have used for attaching their wheel wells to the frame and have you put anything between the wells and frame for any reason? Thank you in advance.
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Old 03-19-2022, 11:13 AM   #18
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i used elevator bolts thru the outriggers. also put a layer of Butyl tape between the wheel well and the outriggers.
keeps dust & water outside.
the floor was not routed out for the wheel wells. Click image for larger version

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Old 03-20-2022, 09:48 AM   #19
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Thanks for the update Dingo girl, and nice fab work!

I was wondering after looking at the photo. Did you do without the floor c/u channel around your fabricated wheel well?
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Old 03-20-2022, 11:25 AM   #20
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Thanks for the update Dingo girl, and nice fab work!

I was wondering after looking at the photo. Did you do without the floor c/u channel around your fabricated wheel well?
thanks!
there was not a single piece of channel that looked like the one you posted in my trailer.
i put it back together as it was.
this is not a great picture of the covers i made for the wheel wells.
they will offer much more protection than the paper thin plastic covers it came with. Click image for larger version

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