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Old 08-01-2018, 08:18 AM   #1
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1974 29' Ambassador
Cottonwood Heights , Utah
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Bare walls, what to do.

We bought a 1974 Ambassador. The trailer came stripped, no interior wall skins. I am considering wood on the bottom half covered and aluminum on the top and ceiling. I am reading that wood could work itself out of rivets while shaking down the road. We plan to have the trailer in one location, but I want it built correctly if we sell it.
Would gluing the wood as well as riveting mitigate this? We just finished the window repair and replacement, windows wow!! Time to finally move on.
Thanks,
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Old 08-01-2018, 09:52 AM   #2
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Hi,

So what is the motivation behind having wood in the lower half and aluminum in the upper? Is it purely decorative, or do you have other motives?

There have been plenty of debates about how much the interior skin contributes to the overall strength of the structure. Some opine that it is critical and you are risking certain disaster by not having full aluminum interior skins, while others maintain that any contribution they provide is relatively small. You can google "airforums interior skins" and see many of these inconclusive debates.

Anyway, the belt-and-suspenders approach would be to do the entire interior with aluminum skins, and then if you want decorative wood, cover the aluminum with the wood where you want it.

My caution against going wood only, especially on the lower half of the walls, is that all of your cabinetry and furnishings mount to the skins, not necessarily the "studs" or ribs. Even if there is no issue with the rivets that mount the skins to the ribs wallowing out the holes, I could well imagine the screws that hold a gaucho in place working free. Maybe a riv-nut would help.

Another consideration I would think about is that if only half of your wall is covered by .25" plywood, and the other half is covered by .050 aluminum, you are going to have a "step" at the transition line that you will have to deal with at least in all of your floor-to-ceiling bulkheads, if not in other cabinetry as well. In my mind, that would be a pain.

good luck!
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Old 08-02-2018, 01:19 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. I had not thought about the transition on the wall. You are right there are lots of different ideas on the interior skins.
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Old 08-02-2018, 05:50 AM   #4
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Incooperating an organic substance into an inorganic space is difficult at best; problematic at worse, as wooden subfloors never seem to do well.

I'm with an above poster; keep everything structural as aluminum, and the wood as an aesthetic add on, if that's what you want to do.

I would also look at using aluminum sheets with what's called Reboard sandwiched in-between for rigidity and lightness for your interior gables. You can get Reboard in a variety of thicknesses; contact cement the reboard inbetween the sheets of aluminium and rivet into place.

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Old 08-02-2018, 09:54 AM   #5
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If I had taken off my interior skins, I would have used some sort of thick butyl tape on the ribs before putting the skins back on. This would have cut down on thermal transfer to the inside.

When you have a fair bit of time on your hands, you should probably read the threads on insulation. Airstreams soak up an amazing amount of heat from the sun, ignore this at your peril! FWIW, I used the Reflectix/rock wool approach when replacing sections of insulation, and that seems to have worked fairly well.

Also, make sure to use some sort of gaskets in the holes through the ribs that plumbing and electrical pass through, and leave strings along all of the major routes. This is a favor to your future self when it comes time to add wires for some new gadget that you forgot to account for.

Personally, I wouldn't glue the skins to the ribs. Airstreams flex as they go down the road, so this would just crack anyway over time. And the thermal thing that I mentioned earlier. I have used Big Stretch caulking on the seams between the bulkheads and the skins, and that's worked well so far.

I wouldn't attach anything important just to the skin- I always attach to a rib. In the attached pic, you can see some of the "wainscot" in the bedroom. The top piece is 1 1/2", with a 3/4" piece on the underside for the ply to attach to. There's factory skin under it. This made for a great place to run pipes and wires when I re-wired the trailer.
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Old 08-02-2018, 11:35 AM   #6
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You are restoring a 44 year old travel trailer which has survived this long, due in part, to its original construction characteristics. Having said that, I would go with all aluminum. I also understand your thoughts about using wood in some places, but for the reasons previously stated regarding attachment of other components, fasteners, etc., I wouldn't do it. I do wish you success and happy camping with it, regardless of how you do it.
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Old 08-02-2018, 12:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuzyHomemakr View Post
------------------snip----------------

Also, make sure to use some sort of gaskets in the holes through the ribs that plumbing and electrical pass through, and leave strings along all of the major routes. This is a favor to your future self when it comes time to add wires for some new gadget that you forgot to account for.

---------------snip---------------------
If you have room for it, consider installing the blue corrugated flexible electrical conduit (Smurf Tube) found in the electrical department in your local big box home improvement store. Run it between strategic locations with minimum bends. Use 3/4 inch if you can. Run a pull string into that, and you can very easily add wiring in the future. Use grommets where it goes through ribs as well for extra chafe protection.

Just be sure to very clearly and permanently label the ends...don't ask why I know this...this trick also works well in your house.
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Old 08-02-2018, 01:38 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the great ideas. Definitely the first thing we did was the insulation. The windows are almost finished. That was a much bigger adventure and then I had assumed.
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Old 08-20-2018, 01:49 PM   #9
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Good ideas. I am now considering all aluminum with wood veneers on the lower section of the walls. Would it be a good idea to attach/glue the veneer before riveting?
I saw Coosa board mentioned instead of plywood. Never heard of it.
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