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Old 08-16-2015, 01:54 PM   #1
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Building and attaching partitions to skin

I am missing all the original aluminum tracks that were used to secure the partitions in my 72 Overlander and I'm wondering what methods are best to secure my new partitions when I build them?

Also, how should I be securing my cabinets so that they hold up over time?
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Old 08-16-2015, 03:05 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by justgoclimb View Post
I am missing all the original aluminum tracks that were used to secure the partitions in my 72 Overlander and I'm wondering what methods are best to secure my new partitions when I build them?

Also, how should I be securing my cabinets so that they hold up over time?
I'd suggest getting new track from Vintage Trailer supply. They don't quite match the original and can be flustrating getting them to bend without curving in the wrong axis but it can be done. I'm a proponent of letting the wall float in the track and attaching it to the floor.

If you take 3/4' ply and cut a curve similar to the wall, then create a pair a slots in the edge of the ply that the channel slips into tightly, you can curve the channel without it warping too bad.

Otherwise I'd cut hardwood chunks, attach them to the backside of the wall and screw them into the skin.

Cabinets can be attached by screwing thru interior blocks on the top and rear of the cabinet.

I just spent a couple of hours matching wood to the interior curve...it's no fun!
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Old 08-16-2015, 03:08 PM   #3
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I looked for aluminum stock and trim

HD and the others didn't have much in house. I looked online and had better luck finding trim and moldings. Found some fancy stuff $ at a 60s diner supplier .Never did find exactly what my 1973 Argosy used. I am looking for something a little beefier anyway
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Old 08-16-2015, 04:10 PM   #4
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I have a bunch of aluminum channels out of a 73 ambassador.
PM me
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Old 08-16-2015, 07:14 PM   #5
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I'm not to this point yet, but I too will cross this dilemma. I know the new ones have the wall extrusion like this:

Wall Extrusion 1/2inch Brown( Oak) Plastic 203138-04 [203138-04] - $1.49 : Out-of-Doors Mart!, More Airstream Parts on-line than anyone!

But I still dont really understand how they work... Do the walls in the new airstreams float?

My thought is that the extrusion could be fastened to the wall once its is positioned where you want the wall to go, then slide the wall into the extrusion and fasten to the floor. I suppose I'll also be fastening to the upper & lower cabinets, so it wont need to be fastened the entire length...

That said... I'm going to be building bunk beds, so I was thinking I'd be using 3/4" walls to support the weight. Perhaps that's overkill and these could work great with 1/2" bulkheads.
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Old 08-16-2015, 07:31 PM   #6
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you take 3/4' ply and cut a curve similar to the wall, then create a pair a slots in the edge of the ply that the channel slips into tightly...

I just spent a couple of hours matching wood to the interior curve...it's no fun!

I've read briefly about this method before, but I don't know if I'm fully understanding how it works. Does the slot run the full length of the curve, so that the whole strip slides into it? What is the easiest/simplest way to create the slots? I have a router, but that's about as advanced as my woodworking tools get.

I like the idea of using a thicker wood for extra support. I'll have one behind the bed that I'll want to lean up against. I've also been reading a lot on how to create a template for the curve and am not looking forward to that whole process.
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Old 08-16-2015, 07:46 PM   #7
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I know the new ones have the wall extrusion like this:

Wall Extrusion 1/2inch Brown( Oak) Plastic 203138-04 [203138-04] - $1.49 : Out-of-Doors Mart!, More Airstream Parts on-line than anyone!

But I still dont really understand how they work... Do the walls in the new airstreams float?
Yeah those don't seem like they would give much support to the walls, but maybe. I'm kind of thinking about another solution that is really simple, although it would use twice as much wood - cut two identical bulkheads from 1/4" ply, fasten some 1/2" or 3/4" wide hardwood blocks along the interior skin, and then attach the bulkheads to either side of them, creating a hollow gap between. This sounds like a waste of materials and a little extra space, but would allow me to hide wires in the gap for things like reading lights that I want to attach to the bulkhead behind my bed. I don't know, I probably won't go this route, but it's a thought. Wouldn't have to worry about seeing the blocks on the backside too.
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Old 08-16-2015, 07:55 PM   #8
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I've thought of that too. This will likely need to be the solution for hiding the plumbing vent near the bathroom for me. The only thing for me would be design so that I could use the walls/ bulkheads to support the bunk bed idea.

Ive also thought that would be cool to have a light switch in the bulkhead to the beds with the wires inside. Wires for the TV by the beds may or may not need to be hidden in wall.

For this setup, then maybe the vintage trailer supply extrusion would be the ticket since its made for 1/4" walls.
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Old 08-16-2015, 08:18 PM   #9
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When I looked at a new AS at the dealership I paid attention to this since I knew I was going to be replacing walls. They had 'L' brackets that screwed to the side of the partition and then attached to the interior skin, I think the plastic channel from OODM discussed covers the gap between the partition and skin. The brackets were plastic, I remember one being broken on brand new trailer. You could cut some aluminum angle pieces about 1/2" long and attach them that way. That's what I planned to do but then went a different route.
I too wanted thicker walls but they obviously don't fit into the original channels. So I made then fit by routing the edges in from the edge so that the edge would slide into the original channel. I used an adjustable edge dado router bit so I routed in 1/2" and adjusted the depth of the router so the edge fit snug in the channel. I routed them so that the inset was opposite the rivets on the channel so I could use cleco's to get everything plumb, (I replaced interior skins so had to make new holes). If you've got the old holes to line up the channel you could route the opposite way and hide the rivets.
The partitions can be pretty snug to the wall for about the bottom 2/3. Once they get to the heavy curve you need to start building in a gap so the partition has a gap at the top of about 1/8" or so so that when the shell flexes the partition won't punch the overhead and damage it. The heavier partitions won't flex and give as easily as the thin <1/4" original partitions.
I used 1/2" plywood for mine and love how they feel and look. Allows more support for attaching things like shelves and possibly a TV.
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Old 08-16-2015, 08:26 PM   #10
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Can we get pics of some of these methods?
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Old 08-16-2015, 08:35 PM   #11
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Will do on the pics, probably in morning, got to get pics from phone to laptop to upload. Living in temp situation so have to get it set up.

I think if you use the 'L' brackets you would want to slot the side that attaches to the partition so it can slide a little bit. Probably by drilling a couple holes close together and filing to smooth it out, or oversize hole with a washer to allow some movement.
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Old 08-16-2015, 08:44 PM   #12
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The partitions can be pretty snug to the wall for about the bottom 2/3. Once they get to the heavy curve you need to start building in a gap so the partition has a gap at the top of about 1/8" or so so that when the shell flexes the partition won't punch the overhead and damage it.
Oh good to know, I never thought about that. The more I think about it, the more I like the simple aluminum L-bracket solution. Except for the wall behind my bed, which I think I'll use the double panel method on so I can hide wires for reading lights and a couple switches.
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Old 08-16-2015, 08:50 PM   #13
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I think if you use the 'L' brackets you would want to slot the side that attaches to the partition so it can slide a little bit. Probably by drilling a couple holes close together and filing to smooth it out, or oversize hole with a washer to allow some movement.
Smart. So I think I get what you're saying - create a small slot in the L bracket so that the screw used to attach it to the wood can wiggle around a bit to allow for flexing of the trailer?
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Old 08-16-2015, 08:50 PM   #14
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If you have the old partitions use them as templates to start the new walls. Just put the old ones up first to get an idea where they did and didn't fit well so you can fix the original sloppiness. Didn't do this on my first one and couldn't figure out why I was having such a hard time. Once I held the old one up it was obvious, the bottom of the original was about 2" from the wall, but not originally noticable since that area was hidden behind the gaucho. I then made a set of new templates using 1/4" luan since it is easier to work with and shape than the thicker plywood. Used a jigsaw to cut rough and used a belt sander to smooth the edges to shape. Once I had new templates that fit perfect against the wall I traced them onto thicker plywood cut and shaped. Still takes some change in shape once they slide into the channel.
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Old 08-16-2015, 08:53 PM   #15
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Smart. So I think I get what you're saying - create a small slot in the L bracket so that the screw used to attach it to the wood can wiggle around a bit to allow for flexing of the trailer?
Exactly, they need to be able to move a little or something will get ripped apart.
Original walls were so thin that the whole thing could flex quite a bit, but could still tear rivet through the edge under heavy stress.
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Old 08-16-2015, 09:00 PM   #16
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Oh good to know, I never thought about that. The more I think about it, the more I like the simple aluminum L-bracket solution. Except for the wall behind my bed, which I think I'll use the double panel method on so I can hide wires for reading lights and a couple switches.
Double walls have definitely been done before.
On the double wall consider how deep the switches will be including how far wires may stick out past the back of the switch. My new 12v switches are pretty small but with the wire connectors attached to the back barely fit between inner and outer walls. So the wall could possibly need to be 1.5" thick unless you build out trim for the switched to mount to.
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Old 08-16-2015, 09:37 PM   #17
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So for cutting the slots on the L-brackets, which direction should they go? Up and down or side to side? Or maybe just a largish hole and use a washer with the screw to allow movement in any direction?

Then for the double wall method, what would be the solution there to allow for flex? Because I was just thinking about screwing hardwood blocks to the inner skin and then screwing the panels to those, which would create a pretty rigid support system.
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Old 08-16-2015, 09:54 PM   #18
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So for cutting the slots on the L-brackets, which direction should they go? Up and down or side to side? Or maybe just a largish hole and use a washer with the screw to allow movement in any direction?

I think mostly tangent to the wall, so up down, but a little over sized width wise.


Then for the double wall method, what would be the solution there to allow for flex? Because I was just thinking about screwing hardwood blocks to the inner skin and then screwing the panels to those, which would create a pretty rigid support system.
That's a tough one, I'd think as long as you build in a gap along the top 1/3 it should allow room for flex. How to hide that outside the channel is the tough part. Will either side of the wall be mostly hidden, ie inside a closet or something similar?
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Old 08-16-2015, 10:15 PM   #19
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Will either side of the wall be mostly hidden, ie inside a closet or something similar?
We'll see, I'm not 100% on the layout yet. Probably won't be hidden though. Likely the back of that one will be in the bathroom.
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Old 08-16-2015, 11:43 PM   #20
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Building and attaching partitions to skin

My trailer only has three bulkheads, two that form the bathroom wall, and one more that forms one wall of the shower enclosure.

I attached them to the skins with corner brackets I made from 18 ga sheet metal formed to an "L" shape.

I didn't allow for any movement at all, and everything is cool over two years later.

I think that the factory uses the channel surround to make fitting the panels against the curve of the wall because it is easier than fitting each perpendicular bulkhead to an unpredictable curve?

I had saved an old bulkhead as a pattern, but it would not produce a wall anywhere that fit to my liking.

I rough cut the curve, then used a divider against the wall to get the curve closer, them sanded the edge to get the fit very close, and THEN I cut the bulkhead to the right width on the "hallway" side.

One of my bulkheads is a double wall piece made from two 1/4" pieces of plywood, with a strip of 3/4" plywood between the two pieces running around the perimeter. It made for a very light albeit strong wall.
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