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Old 05-11-2013, 03:41 PM   #1
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1995 28' Excella
West Yellowstone , Montana
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'95 Excella body separation

When I bought my Airstream it had a bead of sealant along the belt line of the lower quarter panels. I didn't think much of it at the time, and had no idea what body separation was. 6000 miles later, I lost my roadside banana wrap on the interstate. Once back home, I surveyed the damage and noticed a gap between front lower quarter panels and the belt line. Removing the belt line revealed that the aluminum skin hade torn through it's fasteners was being pushed inside the trailer above the c channel.

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Realizing I had a major repair ahead of me, I researched the problem on Air forums and figured I take a look under the interior skin. What I saw......

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My Excella was made without a front hold down plate. The 2 aluminum beams meant to provide support to the outer skin were each fastened to the C channel with one rivet that failed.

I got a quote on a hold down plate from Inland RV at $160. It's not in stock, and price doesn't include shipping. I'd like to get started on this ASAP , and figure I can have a plate fabricated here, but I don't know what angle to bend the stock to.

I'm also looking for suggestions on repairing the connection of the vertical beams to c channel. I'm thinking of making "feet" out of angle aluminum on each side of the beams and fastening with rivets.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.
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Old 05-11-2013, 03:54 PM   #2
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Old 05-11-2013, 03:57 PM   #3
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1981 31' Excella II
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The hold down plate is between the battery boxes. Pull the pink stuff out and let us see what is there. It should look like this. You can make a hold down plate cheaper than $160.



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Old 05-11-2013, 03:59 PM   #4
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I sorta half way think that you might have had some front end damage and it was not repaired properly. They may have done a fast and dirty repair like alot of shops do.

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Old 05-11-2013, 04:31 PM   #5
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Perry, thanks for the reply. The only evidence I've seen of repairs are extra rivets under the belt line. When I look at the gap between the vertical beams and c channel, it seems obvious that all of the exterior skin damage was a result of body separation. Those first couple of photos are of the outside skin after it was pulled back out where it should be, that's why it's mashed up. Any ideas on that angle?
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Old 05-11-2013, 06:26 PM   #6
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Look and see if that center front panel that should have the hold down plate has buck rivets (solid) or pop rivets (Olympic). If it has pop rivets then the panel has been replaced and they did not put the hold down plate back. If the front hold down plate is like the one at the back it goes under the floor and the floor is between the C-channel and plate. Steve Bryant made some modifications to his trailer to reduce the likelyhood of separation. His trailer is different though since he has the horizontal tank rack up front. That design maybe more prone to problems since there is a hole where the hold down plate usually is.

There should be two 5/16 bolts through the frame, I think on the outside of the battery boxes. These have most likely pully through.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...-85517-18.html

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Old 05-12-2013, 01:45 PM   #7
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I took some shots of those rivets today.

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I also found the bolts you mentioned in your last post. From the underside of the trailer, the appear to be snug, and I'd assume they are doing their job. The plywood floor is discolored, but structurally sound.

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It seems to me that if the aluminum cross member between the 2 vertical beams was actually attached to them it might increase the rigidity of the outside skin's frame. I can't see a reason not to, but the maybe it's that way for a reason. Any advice?



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Still hoping some one will know what angle to have a hold down plate bent to. Thanks for you help, Pat.
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:48 AM   #8
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1995 28' Excella
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Yesterday I noticed a good size gap between the plywood floor and these CS and RS plates on the frame.

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Is there any reason to not put a bolt through these to snug things up?
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Old 05-13-2013, 10:59 AM   #9
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We need to see the rivets that hold that center flat panel onto the curved side sections. If that center panel has been replaced chances are they use pop rivets. I would remove the battery boxes and the curved interior panels to give you access to everything. You can add some more supports under the frame and also put some load distrubution plates in if there is room. Those battery boxes get in the way.

Here is a recent thread where Crispyboy repaired the front of this trailer and go rid of the battery boxes.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f381...avy-98728.html

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Old 05-22-2013, 08:44 PM   #10
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Perry, I finally got around to taking a photo of those rivets. I haven't seen any blind rivets in the ribs or c channel.
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I installed my plate today. I had it fabricated in Bozeman 100 miles away, so things have been moving slowly. Dimensions for my application were 15" tall, 24" wide, 1.5" foot bent to a 104 degree angle. Hopefully this can help the next DIYer.

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Still waiting for a size 21 drill bit to attach the skin to the plate.
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:53 AM   #11
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Put some extra metal on those two bolt heads that go through the frame. This will distribute the load better on the C-channel. Looks good so far.

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Old 05-14-2020, 08:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linus View Post
Perry, I finally got around to taking a photo of those rivets. I haven't seen any blind rivets in the ribs or c channel.
Attachment 186343
I installed my plate today. I had it fabricated in Bozeman 100 miles away, so things have been moving slowly. Dimensions for my application were 15" tall, 24" wide, 1.5" foot bent to a 104 degree angle. Hopefully this can help the next DIYer.

Attachment 186344

Still waiting for a size 21 drill bit to attach the skin to the plate.
Linus,
Thanks for this post and the bend angle for your hold down plate. Super helpful. I'm into a very similar, but somewhat more involved front end repair. It's been 7 years since you did this. If possible I'd very much like to see additional pictures and hear how it's held up. I certainly hope this post finds you and yours well and safe. Feel free to PM me if you wish.

I found your thread link on Crispyboy's 2012 repair thread.

Here's a link to mine.
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f38...ml#post2359682
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Old 05-18-2020, 09:35 AM   #13
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Hello Pete, I checked out your thread, you’ve got a project on your hands. I looked for more photos of my separation repair and couldn’t find any. I wouldn’t worry much about cutting your aluminum. For straight cuts I scored a few times with a razor knife and folded. I cut the curves with tin snips and had really good results. I used Olympic rivets to secure the hold down plate to the aluminum between battery boxes, they failed after a couple of years and I went back in with buck rivets. The buck rivets have held up really well. Our trailer is in storage for now, but next time I get over that way I’ll snap a few photos of the exterior. Good luck!
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Old 05-21-2020, 04:18 PM   #14
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Linus,
Thanks for the reply and the update. It's all very helpful at this point.

I really appreciate that you went to the trouble to figure out the angle for the bend in the hop-down plate, and then made sure to share it. Kudos! Speaking of the hold-down plate, I do intend to buck rivet everything since it's open and accessible.

And Yes, I definitely have a project on my hands, and I thank the stars for the help I get from my fellow Alumiholics and other good folk.

Stay safe,
Pete
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:27 AM   #15
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Pete,

Here’s a couple of photos of the repairs. I kept my battery boxes even though I don’t use them. I like your idea of eliminating them entirely. Good luck!
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:37 PM   #16
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Linus,*
Great pics! *I couldn't help but notice the repairs you made on your quarter panels. *I don't remember you going into much detail about this and it's the first pics I've seen. *These repairs look similar to what I'm planning. *In my case, the major damage it's that the rivet holes have been extremely wallowed out so I want to cut back to strong metal and rivet on new metal to rivet to the floor channel. *It's been suggested that I slide the new aluminum beneath / behind the existing so the effect would be a lap over of the old over the new to help prevent leakage. Similar to siding and shingles. *Your way is how I initially envisioned doing my qp repairs. * So, I'm wondering, how you sealed your qp repairs and if you've experienced leakage and if so what have you done to seal them?*
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Old 05-23-2020, 08:29 AM   #17
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That quarter panel repair is commonly called elephant ears. I cut the new aluminum and pre drilled the rivet holes, then drilled holes in quarter panel skin using the ear as a template. Clecos help here. Next I applied a liberal coat of Vulkem before riveting together. You’ll want to have a cloth soaked in mineral spirits to clean up the vulkem that comes oozing out as the rivets clamp the repair to the panel. Our repair has been structurally sound and waterproof.
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Old 05-23-2020, 11:21 PM   #18
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Quote:
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That quarter panel repair is commonly called elephant ears. I cut the new aluminum and pre drilled the rivet holes, then drilled holes in quarter panel skin using the ear as a template. Clecos help here. Next I applied a liberal coat of Vulkem before riveting together. You’ll want to have a cloth soaked in mineral spirits to clean up the vulkem that comes oozing out as the rivets clamp the repair to the panel. Our repair has been structurally sound and waterproof.
Linus,
Thanks, for this new information. *

I'm not sure I understand how you knew what dimensions to make the "ears" to begin with. *I've discovered that even though they look straight, there is a curve to the bottom edge of the quarter panels as the are a compound curve. *Before finding your thread I'd begun making a template using craft paper. *Did you make a template for the ears? *I know you mention using the ears as a template to drill your holes, which makes total sense, but it seems like you'd have needed a template to make the ears. *

*Also, did you cut back any of the aluminum on the bottom edge of the quarter panels where they fastened to the C channels (floor channels)? *This is currently my plan, but maybe there's another way I haven't considered. *

What are the threads you found most helpful when making your repairs?

Sorry to have some many questions, but as mentioned this is exactly what I'm preparing to repair. *Here is a link to my thread:. I posted lots of pictures to illustrate what I'm repairing and how I'm trying to do it.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=208399
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Old 05-25-2020, 09:39 PM   #19
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I totally understand, it’s a daunting project at first. Crispyboy’s thread was super helpful and we corresponded a bit before I dug into my repair.

I didn’t use a template. I don’t remember the exact dimensions of the aluminum I used to cover the separation, let’s say 8”x 20” with a rounded corner. The curve happened organically as the aluminum was “bent” around the quarter panel. If there was some overhang below the belt line, I trimmed I’d before drilling and riveting.

My quarter panels looked just like yours do. I didn’t cut out any of the existing skin, I just made sure there weren’t any creases or lumps before covering. My repair was made with the shell on which I think would make it easier to fit everything.
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Old 05-26-2020, 10:18 AM   #20
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Linus

I just want you to know that I really appreciate all of the time you're taking to go over all of this with me. I'm aware that I ask a lot of questions, unfortunately it's part of my process.

I'm following everything you said. As I understand it, no template to make your patches, and you trimmed off any over hang around the bottom edge before riveting. So it appears you ended up with a double thickness at the bottom of each qp around the floor channel.

Did this present any special problems when you riveted the new aluminum through the existing to the floor channel? Did you have to be careful to miss the prior holes in the old aluminum, or did that even matter?

BTW, since I can I'm going to install a hold down plate at the rest as well. Why not, right.
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