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Old 06-03-2020, 04:09 PM   #1
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1992 29' Excella
Virginia Beach , Virginia
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Shell is on frame, so Yay! But I'm worried.

Here's a link to some pictures time lapse, and videos on Google photos. https://photos.app.goo.gl/sZpkhrEPxWUXt4Uw5

So, finally yesterday we got the shell and frame back together. The problem is, kind of like a lot of relationships that try a trail separation I think they got use to living apart.

We (Phyllis and I) and 5 family and friends helpers we spent closed to 4 hours (including 45 minutes to an hour for lunch) getting shell reunited on the frame. It was a struggle to put it mildly. Raising the shell and getting the frame situated went pretty well. Getting the shell to fit over the channel, front back and sides that was tricky and frustrating.

We lowered the shell so it hovered just above the frame. We had to get one end into place at a time and so we'd get the back end in place and then the front would not fit if we reversed front would fit but not the back. Finally remembering a trick some one told me about I jacked up the rear a bit once we had the shell on the back end. That made it easier to get the front on, but with out removing the Jack stands at the rear we had to use the tongue Jack to raise the front to get the shell lined up there. When we tried lowering either end the shell would skip off one end or the other.

So for now, that's how it sits. With bother front and rear end slightly raised. The front more than the rear. I'm worried that if I rivet the shell to the channel in this position it will put to much stress on the rivet points when I lower the front and back of the frame. On the other hand maybe it will relax into place, if that's even a thing, I have no idea. Does anyone have any personal experience and, been there done that advice, with this problem?
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1992 29' Excella Classic
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Old 06-03-2020, 04:32 PM   #2
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1969 18' Caravel
Greenville , whereEverIroam
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I can only offer encouragement.

The shell looks great! Yes, this is a pain, but everything worthwhile is. Epic, riveting campfire stories are not born of lazy routine. It is in horrific struggle we find our character, test our strength and forge legendary tales, or at least figure out how to really do it next time

One thought: could cooler morning temps contract the shell enough to make a difference?
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Old 06-03-2020, 04:36 PM   #3
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
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I think getting the shell to wrap around the channel and subfloor is one of the more frustrating phases. Because the chassis has so much flexion, we jacked up the front and back to a little bit above level on both ends. When lowering the shell on the chassis, we used some thin (1/8Ē) slats and placed vertically between the shell and outer edge of the chassis. Kinda like using a shoe spoon to put on a tight pair of new shoes. We pulled out the slats as the shell cleared the outer channel. We positioned the shell for height and placed a cleco periodically around the outer perimeter to keep that section in position. We repeated that all the way around. Once we felt comfortable with the amount of clecos, we removed the jacks. In a semi-monocoque design, the shell plays a big part in supporting the chassis. Hoping some of this helps, good luck.
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Old 06-04-2020, 07:56 AM   #4
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1992 29' Excella
Virginia Beach , Virginia
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Skyguyscott and Bubba L,

Thank you. I really appreciate your encouragement and advice.

We used a box full of shoe horns! . Two inch put knives to be exact. I've got a box full of clecos also, but really didn't ever think of them for some reason. I guess because we installed all new floor channel so there are no holes to matter up to.

It's a real good suggestion and probably would have come in handy if I'd thought to ask for advice PRIOR to resetting the shell!

it also didn't occur to me to mention that I'm going to add 36" wide x 8.5" tall hold-down-plates fore and aft centered inside the bow channels on the front and rear cross members. My local fellow rebuilder ArgosyJeff reminded me of this when I told him of my concerns.

It really helps knuckleheads like me to have level headed friends.

Yeah, when I began the project I noticed serious damage to both the front aluminum quarter panels where they were riveted to the floor channel. I later learned it had a name, "front end separation". A phenomenon that began occurring when Airstream stopped installing the front hold-down-plate.

Jeff also installed one in the rear of his rear bath Argosy and we decided it would be prudent to do the same in my Excella since by adding the one in the front would probably create extra torque in the rear.
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Old 06-04-2020, 07:21 PM   #5
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1966 24' Tradewind
1995 34' Excella
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Great work Pete and Phyllis! I just watched all your videos and photos.

I also read your thread about front end separation. It has me real concerned that I may need to install a plate in our 95 34í. What do you think.

I talked to you about installing a minisplit heat pump instead of a regular RV A/C unit. The more I learn, the more I am convinced this is the best way to go. By the time you are ready I will have installed one in our 95 34í and one in our sonís 78 Caravanner.

Dan
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Old 06-04-2020, 08:17 PM   #6
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1992 29' Excella
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TouringDan View Post
Great work Pete and Phyllis! I just watched all your videos and photos.

I also read your thread about front end separation. It has me real concerned that I may need to install a plate in our 95 34í. What do you think.

I talked to you about installing a minisplit heat pump instead of a regular RV A/C unit. The more I learn, the more I am convinced this is the best way to go. By the time you are ready I will have installed one in our 95 34í and one in our sonís 78 Caravanner.

Dan
Dan, if you do have FES on the 95 Excella the evidence will be there. If necessary you can remove your front bottom trim. It's not hard and won't disturb a thing, but it will give you a good look at the rivet to channel situation and the condition of the front quarter panels (corners). wallowed holes around the rivet heads or cracks in the aluminum are definite signs. Missing rivets or evidence of replaced rivets (Olympic instead of buck rivets) anywhere in the front seams or along the channel, etc. Also, check your "hold backs" for the "protective wraps" if you have any cracking in the aluminum where they are attached or if there's evidence of stress where the wraps are attached on the front panel to quarter panel seams I would also consider that an indication. My understanding is that the 34' was very suseptable to FES. I will note, and certainly I'm no expert, that all of the cases I've read about, A) did not have hold-down-plates (AS discontinued these in the 80's is my understanding) and B) had front end center panel penetrations, such as battery boxes, and front end compartments as in Rich Luhr's 2006.

I don't know that I'll be able to do a split system as I've made no provisions for it, but I'll keep an open mind and try to hold out for a while while you get yours done. From the info you've sent me if the 120V mini-split works it could be fantastic. From a solar and lithium battery stand point especially it could be a real game changer since it has such a low amp draw. If one has hopes of boondocking and still having some AC this would make so much sense. Get it done, go some place hot and muggy and give us a full report.

I bought the steel I need today and with the help of a friend, ArgosyJeff, along with some useful feedback I got from Colin Hyde, we're going to add hold-down-plates on both the front and back center panels. Once completed I'll provide much more detail and pictures.
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