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Old 01-07-2008, 07:45 PM   #21
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The dream team worked on the shell and made some real improvements, but they are too subtle to really show up well in a photo. In lieu of that, here's the helpers, Kip and Royce:

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Today was the beginning of puzzling out the templates for the new dome panels. I started by assuming the middle panel would be 18" wide at the top and 12" wide where it joined the window frame. The other four would be 12" wide along the shell end (the end of the panel away from the window) and 8" wide at the window. The result is in the left photo. I didn't like that very much, since the bottom panel didn't even make it to the window, so I moved the lines over a little (not very obvious in the photo, I know, but it made a big difference), which you can see in the photo on the right. (the colors are photoshoped in to make the panel edges more visible.)

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Then I went back and studied JCFerguson's work. I like his panel shapes much better. His what I am calling #6 panel really makes a difference in the "fatness" of the shell end of his panels. What I'm wrestling with right now is what the slope of the bottom edge of panel #6 ought to be--I'd like it to leave the shell at a more horizontal angle. Maybe that's not possible.

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One thing I didn't quite understand in Carlos' post was his explanation of how he matched the tar paper to the lines--I have to assume he drew the lines on the fiberglass end cap/dome, which is the light colored substrate under the tar paper in this image (this and the previous image are from his posts)?

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I'll put outlines of all my panel shapes in a later post. The #4 and higher panels are much more scimitar shaped than you would expect.

Zep
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:47 PM   #22
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Zep,

I think what Carlos did was to tear the tarpaper in small tabs to expose the lines. Maybe you can bypass this step if your pattern pieces already have the lines on them.

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Old 01-07-2008, 11:21 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malconium
...
I think what Carlos did was to tear the tarpaper in small tabs to expose the lines. Maybe you can bypass this step if your pattern pieces already have the lines on them....Malcolm
Thanks, Malcolm. What confused me is that in his post in his thread he said something that made me think he didn't have an end cap (or maybe he just didn't have ready access to his trailer at the time). It looks to me like he used his flexible straight edge to draw the lines on the end cap itself. I have to assume he riveted the plywood strips to each other and to the end cap.

I'm not going to have the luxury of an in-place end cap. I know I can drill the panels in place and use clecos, then take it outside to buck all the panels together. I'm thinking of drilling 1/8" pilot holes, then making a fixture to simulate the curve of the shell end and the window frame, then final drilling to 5/32" and bucking the whole thing on the fixture to ensure I get the curve right. I'm also thinking I'll have to put a 20 degree crimp along one long edge of each panel and maybe have to shrink that edge a little in order to get a smooth final product.

BTW, I did have the luxury of an end cap in the post above--it's the empty back bedroom in a mid-bath Ambassador. I can't wait to see how that relates to the front end cap in the Safari. Can the end caps in the 70's models really be 3' and 4', not both 3'?

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Old 01-28-2008, 11:15 AM   #24
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Fresh tank removed

The weather has warmed up for a couple of days--progress! Got the fresh tank removed, which turned out to be easier [in some ways] than I thought. Just remove the tank fill and vent lines, then about a zillion bolts to release the tank pan (looks like 16 guage galvanized steel), and lower carefully. Once down, you need to disconnect the level sensing wires.

Boy, do I dislike this tank design! First, it has a big hole in the center to allow for a steel suport shaft that comes down from some ~1.5" square frame tubes that run under the floor. Then it has a channel in the bottom from the center to one edge for the feed line. The need for this channel is a mystery, since there is an unused one on top that could serve the same purpose.

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From the looks of the fittings on the top, this tank could be reversed if the kitchen was on the curb side rather than the street side (mine was on the street side and probably will be again).

The feed line fitting is not as close to the bottom of the tank as it could be, putting the top edge of the line about 1-1/4" above the bottom of the tank. That means that in the best of circumstances, about 22% of the water in the tank cannot be drawn out by the pump. The bottom is about 3/4" off the floor, which means about 10% cannot be drained. I proved this when I finally got the tank out--it weighed a ton (maybe 80 lbs total). After I got it back to my shop where the residual water could thaw out, I could see the water level when the tank was on edge and it was right at 10% of the volume.

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This tank has a hairline crack as shown in the next photo. I'm going to attempt a weld and if that doesn't work, then some Scotch Weld glue (the Scotch Weld seems to have worked on the Sovereign black tank). The fittings on this tank appear to have been glued in place, not rotation (friction) welded.

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As noted in an earlier post, in order to get to the the drain on this tank you have to remove the square steel plate that is bolted to the support arm in the center. This means you have to crawl under the belly pan--you cannot reach this "feature" without being underneath. Considering that you're probably draining the tank because the weather is getting (and inclement), this is a total pain.

It seems to me that these large, flat tanks need a small sump (maybe 4"x8" by about 3" deep) to fix both the drain issue and the feed issue. If the welding experiment above goes well, I may consider putting a sump along the back edge of the tank (which is near the axle, for protection) and off to one side (I have this conviction that if a downward projecting bump is near a wheel, it has less chance of getting bashed--I've gone done a few rutted dirt roads where the center was a little high...)

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Old 01-28-2008, 11:24 AM   #25
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Another thing that really bugs me about the tank installation is the heated air tube than went into the pan cavity. Once I got the tank down, I could see the framing above the tank had insulation in the spaces between the square tubes, which means the tank was insulated from the floor. So, we insulate the tank from the living area, then we blow hot air down into the tank area... this sounds like conspiracy between the oil companies and the low mileage car companies.

I'm not sure about the square tube framing above the tank--maybe this was a design compromise as a result of the decision to use only 1/2" plywood in the floor.

By the way, this tank was not rotation molded--it has a top half and bottom half welded (or glued) together.

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Old 01-28-2008, 01:02 PM   #26
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Man Zep you are not having a good time with the tanks in that beast. How's the fwd floorboard coming? I got most of that 11" long skin shot on my GT Sat.
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:48 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerowood
Man Zep you are not having a good time with the tanks in that beast. How's the fwd floorboard coming? I got most of that 11" long skin shot on my GT Sat.
Floor? Coming? Crap! I found one more big bolt up in front yesterday and got it out, thinking, now the shell will move a little. Not only does it not move, but I put a jack under the edge of the shell up front to see if it was just stuck by sealer or something and it lifted the whole trailer. I've been over every joint like a blind man feeling brail and I cannot figure out where the shell is attached. I may have to take out the twin battery boxes to see if they are hiding a fastener...

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Old 01-28-2008, 10:22 PM   #28
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Wally's Second Coming?

Soon, I hope. Pardon me while I vent (women and children, avert your gaze...)

Wally, please come back and give me a little relief. All I ask for is the public disembowelment of the tech who installed my Safari's grey water tank. First, at a capacity of 11 gallons, it is a joke. Second, why did he leave all the unused volume around it? Third, did he have to glue both sides of the dump valve(s) (yes, black tank, too) into the plumbing so that they can't be repaired? Fourth, and best, why did he install it from above before the floor was installed and the shower pan above the floor, turning the hose clamps so that they could not be loosened from below and you have to use a sawzall to get the *($&%(#&#(&%&%(%)$ tank out?

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If you're opposed to public disembowelments, Wally, how about eunuch-fication? Oh, and I'd like to be within earshot to hear the lamentations of his women and children...

Does Airstream know how to spell maintenance? How about we do a Dick and Jane reader for Airstream? It might go something like this:

See vintage owner. See vintage owner do refurbishment work. See vintage owner bust knuckles and still have to break the Airstream. See vintage owner get nasty weapon, get in car and head for Jackson Center. See very bad thing happen. See vintage owner smile broadly.

Thank you for reading,
Zep




note to litigators--this is a joke. J-O-K-E. Get it? A sour joke, but still a joke.
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Old 01-28-2008, 10:53 PM   #29
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Whoa, I feel better!

OK, started work on the back end tanks. First step was to avoid being crushed. Since the gray dump valve had been broken in the closed position, I knew they was some water (now ice) remaining in it. So I employed the leveling jacks as safeties. Worked great (both here and yesterday when I took the fresh tank down).

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The rear tank pan is bolted around three sides and rests on the bumper along it's back edge. My first hint to others, if the tank pan looks like it will hinge down once the bolts are out, you are only partly right. The pan is tightly notched for the main 3" drain pipe, so it doesn't slide forward on the street side very much--you can't get it down unless you remember that the bumper is removable! Four simple rusty screws and voila, the pan is down! Note the plastic bumper insert, which makes a nice bumper locker. Also note that even with the bumper off and bumper locker removed, you still wouldn't be able to do much work on the dump valves, even if they were installed in a way that you could do something with them.

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The pan had one nice feature--the "insulation" is sculpted to slope the bottom of the tank very slightly towards the drain.

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First thing to note is that the tank is tiny--very thin, only about 2-3/4" thick. The area above the tank is basically 7" high--what gives? There's lots of room above it and around the curb end. I computer it holds about 2600 cubic inches, or 11 gallons. The space available is about 6800 cubic inches, or about 29 gallons, and that would allow for a foot of room on the street end of the tank to allow for better plumbing and maybe an installation that can be maintained in the future. Next step, find vendor for custom tank. BTW, the tank does not taper as it appears in this photo. This is an artifact of the wide angle lens.

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I call your attention to the styrofoam brace in the above photo. There was also one styrofoam block on top of the tank and another that had escaped forward into the vacant belly pan area. Not much mechanical support. The tank supposedly rested on the pan. However, once I got the pan down, the nearly full tank was supported by the vent line at one end and two drains--shower and kitchen sink--on the other! No way to tell if the tank had been hanging on the PVC or had actaully been resting on the pan.

I did get one good idea out of the tank itself. Put in a cleanout fitting so you can put a high pressure hose to it and really wash out the inside if you happen to get chunks inside that will jam the dump valve.

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This last photo shows how the bottom of the black tank has a sump that protrudes down through the floor. Nice. Plus the tank is up in the living space and should have less of a freezing problem (not zero, just reduced).

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Take note on one feature. The long "U-shaped" drain line is from the shower. It looped over the top of the gray tank and entered the top near the back edge. Why? I assume this was to prevent hydraulic surge filling the shower pan with gray water in the event of moderate to hard braking. It is a bit of overkill, but it's a hint that it would be a really good idea to put the fittings for the shower drain line as near the back edge of the tank as possible. I don't think it makes any difference whether it's up high or not, except as a precaution. Hydraulically it makes no difference.

Last photo? Just kidding. Here's a pic of the fresh water tank pan. Note the steel reinforced access hole in the middle. See previous post for discussion. Ick and patooey on this design.

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Old 01-29-2008, 10:00 AM   #30
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I'm going to submit a custom design to All Rite manufacturing. I think I've seen some posts on other custom tank outfits. If anyone has their names, please post. thanks.

All-Rite Custom Manufacturing

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Old 01-29-2008, 06:22 PM   #32
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Lfting the shell...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium
Floor? Coming? Crap! I found one more big bolt up in front yesterday and got it out, thinking, now the shell will move a little. Not only does it not move, but I put a jack under the edge of the shell up front to see if it was just stuck by sealer or something and it lifted the whole trailer. I've been over every joint like a blind man feeling brail and I cannot figure out where the shell is attached. I may have to take out the twin battery boxes to see if they are hiding a fastener...

Zep
Did you remove all of the plywood floor before trying to lift the shell. Don't forget that on a '77 unit there is a c-channel on the bottom of the u-channel that the plywood slides into. If there is any plywood still in place it could be keeping the body from lifting.

On my '73 I also found two rather substantial bolts up at the front end that held the body to the frame. They are close to the spots where the frame comes into the front of the belly pan from the hitch. I vaguely recall that they are welded to the frame on the bottom end. Since I was not lifting the body I cut notches in my new subfloor to fit around these bolts. I think that the nut should be visible from above in the front area.

Malcolm
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Old 01-29-2008, 06:43 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malconium
Did you remove all of the plywood floor before trying to lift the shell. Don't forget that on a '77 unit there is a c-channel on the bottom of the u-channel that the plywood slides into. If there is any plywood still in place it could be keeping the body from lifting.

On my '73 I also found two rather substantial bolts up at the front end...
Yes, I found the two bolts. One was pretty obvious, but I didn't find the othe one until day before yesterday. I was convinced that would do the trick, but no. Aerowood took a look at the first bolt that I found and agreed that it was very curious--different from the ones that are in the outriggers. When I only found one, I was perplexed that the bolt was a loner and obviously asymetrical. Now that I've found the other one, it makes some sense.

C channel? I have noticed along the sides (not in the curved areas, eg, forward of the door) there is an L bracket the hangs down over the edge of the plywood, but I haven't seen any sign of a C channel wrapped around the edge. I'll take a closer look, since the skin hangs down and might be fooling me about that. Thanks.

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Old 01-30-2008, 01:01 PM   #34
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On my '73 the c-channel part does not continue around the corners at the ends. It starts just about where the curve straightens out.

Malcolm
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:14 AM   #35
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With the crazy thought that I ought to do a little fixing admidst all this tearing apart, I decided to weld the crack in the fresh tank. I used the Harbor Freight hot air welder ($30) and it seems to have worked like a champ. I grooved a "V" along the crack about half the depth of the tank skin and modified a 1/4" LDPE rod per the diagram. I think good welding is promoted by preparing the faces of the joint so you don't have to melt the entire skin depth in order to get good melting and mixing. The squiggly [Photoshopped] line shows the approximate location of the the crack.


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This weld took all of 10 minutes to prepare and 2 minutes to execute (and 4 months of stewing over the right process and materials).

I liked this weld enough to be motivated to see if I could weld two flat surfaces together without any surface preparation. You can see the tab here is half-welded to the tank. I've pried the tab up almost 90 degress and haven't seen any tendency to separate the joint. The real purpose here was to see if I dared fabricate a small sump and weld it to the tank. I think the answer is yes. The only caution is that this tab was very thin, about 3/32", and it was thinnner towards the welded end--a thicker sheet will be a lot more difficult to weld.

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For those interested, here's the INCA Plastics data I found on the tank.

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Old 01-31-2008, 12:21 PM   #36
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Wow Zep, you are GOOD. That tank repair looks strong and very solid.

I know often I get thinking about something that needs doing and in my mind make it more of an issue than it turns out to be when I finally get down to doing it. Then I shake my head and wonder what all the mental stress was all about. Of course that doesn't stop me from doing it all over again on the next project, but at least I know in th end I'll just get to it and it will be done.

Am enjoying the thread. Thanks for sharing in such detail.

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Old 02-09-2008, 08:17 PM   #37
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It's warmed up a bit this weekend, so I'm back at it.

First and most important, I got the bad piece of flooring out and the shell loose. Sure enough, it was one, repeat, one, screw holding the shell down. My Safari has two battery boxes with access doors in the front just over the tongue. The standard steel plate sticks up between them, with lots of rivets through the shell to hold the front end of the shell and the frame together. However, there are also two narrow straps of steel outboard of the battery boxes. These narrow straps were almost completely covered by the white goop sealer. A screw that had rusted and had the head twisted off [by me, or I would have never figured it out] was the culprit.

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The only other major progress was the wheel well. I decided to take a look inside and I'm glad I did. There was only the one piece of insulation, sorta lying across the top of the inner liner. I don't know why the factory took the trouble to put it in at all--pretty worthless.

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Old 02-09-2008, 09:05 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium
I'm going to submit a custom design to All Rite manufacturing. I think I've seen some posts on other custom tank outfits. If anyone has their names, please post. thanks.

All-Rite Custom Manufacturing

Zep
Zep,

I had som eproblems with All-Rite. I spent a mint with them, and their serive after the sale is poor.
Had to get my grey tank fixed twice so far. They won't warranty their stuff at all. Just a heads up.
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Old 02-10-2008, 05:39 AM   #39
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Quote:
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...I had som eproblems with All-Rite. I spent a mint with them, and their serive after the sale is poor...They won't warranty their stuff at all. Just a heads up.
Thanks, Uwe. A lot of members have had excellent luck with them, but I asked for a simple modification from their usual (more on this later--it has to do with keeping the tank from freezing) and they absolutely couldn't consider it.

I'm thinking of welding up my own tank. A full sheet of poly is about $100, but I haven't checked the prices on the fittings yet, which might be substantial.

Your input helps me make the decision.

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Old 02-11-2008, 05:56 PM   #40
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Zep,

I would be very interested to hear how it works out if you do make your own tank. I would be willing to consider doing that myself too given enough basic information on how to do it. So please keep us posted. From what I have seen I don't think that the fittings should be all that expensive.

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