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Old 05-24-2020, 04:15 PM   #1
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2001 30' Excella
Cypress , Texas
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I knew better.......

Hi Guys, I looked and looked for airstream. Every time I got close to getting one, it would sell right out from under me. Finally found one last June. The owners husband had passed away a month before and she had a 30í 2001 Excella for sale. I had so many snatched out from under me, I was determined to get this one. After a little bidding war, I finally got the owner to take my offer.. I flew out to Nevada looked it over ( untrained eye ) and bought. it. I broke my own rules to make sure to get it inspected. Got it home to Houston took one trip and it developed a tear above the door. Found a reputable repair shop and took it in for the repair. They called me with some very bad news that has ended my dream of traveling during retirement in my Airstream. Seems it has a floating frame. Price to fix front and back was close to $12,000.00. My choices are to park it, repair it or sell it ( at a great financial loss to me). So, shame on me. My question is, are there sites where I can see what a floating frame is, and does it have to be taken totally apart to repair it. They pointed out the signs that the husband had tried to make repairs but of course I didnít notice them. The thick caulk around the bottom trim and the screw and washes he used on the front. I knew it had a long whiskey bump on the left hand side but it was mostly cosmetic.. I donít think the wife intentionally sold it to me knowing about the frame or at least I hope not, because she seemed to be a wonderful person. They did live in Alaska for awhile and I hear its rough on Rvís. Could a bottom out cause a frame to float? Iím so disappointed in myself for making this blunder. When I do sell it, I will disclose everything but the serviceman told me I would be taking about a 50% hit. Ouch. Not sure why pics are coming out sideways. sorry
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Old 05-24-2020, 04:27 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear about your problem, but you've come to the right place for answers. However, you should have asked the repair shop to explain exactly what they saw, in layman's terms.

Good luck.

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Old 05-24-2020, 04:30 PM   #3
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Warren , Manitoba
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I have never heard the term "floating frame" before!! I have seen the cracks above doors before and that is usually a sign of worn out axles, overinflated tires, and too heavy of torsion bars causing the trailer to shake apart. It is often a combination of all three mentioned, and is often accompanied by rivets sheered off in several locations around the trailer. Quite often interior partitions have shaken away from outer walls and rivets are missing in the interior walls and ceiling. Find another shop!! I think they are "taking you for a ride"!! There are several members of this forum from Texas and hopefully someone close by can be of help to you. Good luck and hopefully thing will work out.
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Old 05-24-2020, 04:33 PM   #4
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I would call the seller and let her know. She may give you a partial refund.
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Old 05-24-2020, 05:33 PM   #5
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Yep. Something not quite right about their diagnosis. Your Airstream is an aluminum monocoque shell mounted on a steel ladder frame.

You really need to get it looked at by someone else as I believe the folks you took it to either have no clue or are misrepresenting the damage to get at your money.
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Old 05-24-2020, 05:38 PM   #6
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Sounds like you need a second opinion. Never heard of a floating frame, except for mounting artwork and photos for display. If the trailer mostly lived in Nevada is shouldn't have much corrosion.
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Old 05-24-2020, 06:08 PM   #7
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I too have never hear of a floating frame. If they gave you a quote it should describe the problem in detail and the work to be done. What exactly would they do for 12K?
Might be able to have another local mechanic do it for a lot less.
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Old 05-24-2020, 06:31 PM   #8
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Livermore , California
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Bring your trailer to an Airstream dealership I bet you get a much different story. They have helped me out so often with just a simple phone call. Good luck.
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Old 05-24-2020, 06:51 PM   #9

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"floating frame" An obtuse way of saying the frame is SNAFU. Either cracked, rusted or both.

Airstream uses their version of a semi monocoque build where the frame and skin work together too provide rigidity. Bad frame= cracked panel.

Your photos may be too large. Are you using the attach files tab below?

Good Luck


I do see some shabby repairs on the belt moldings and some iffy rivets under the level up front...obvious skin cracks?
We need to see underneath.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:04 PM   #10
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For an honest, intelligent, and hype-free diagnosis, contact Harry Gruen at BoB Jones RV Repair in South Houston near Hobby Airport. They can tell you what's wrong and what it will take to get it right. (713) 910-2949‬
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Old 05-24-2020, 11:03 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jaybauman View Post
For an honest, intelligent, and hype-free diagnosis, contact Harry Gruen at BoB Jones RV Repair in South Houston near Hobby Airport. They can tell you what's wrong and what it will take to get it right. (713) 910-2949‬
And keep us appraised of the outcome.
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Old 05-25-2020, 01:30 AM   #12
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Welcome to the forum!

Originally Posted by Janetsmith54 View Post
. . .
. . . Got it home to Houston took one trip and it developed a tear above the door.
. . .
Is the photo in this 2019 thread Post #18 the same tear above the door?

Did you try the fix, or have a repair shop look at it?

No expert here at all on problems like this, but FWIW [for what it's worth] your 2001 31' Excella may have "front end separation" which apparently was a problem back then. The following links are FYI to do further research. I would suggest that you Quote specific posts in those threads, and try to get folks there to help. You could also send a PM [private message] to them. I see some user names of folks who are still active here.

Sorry for the unfinished "homework," but if you read each post in those threads, you might find some helpful clues to follow up on IMO. There are also photos to check in the threads, plus in the "Images" sub-set of the Google search results:

Good luck,


PS -- Your repair shop's "floating frame" moniker may not have been that far off the mark IMO. Although the fundamental structural problem may have been Airstream's "bad," apparently towing with an incorrect setup can cause that problem to manifest itself quickly. [high tire pressure, bad weight distribution setup, rough roads, etc.]

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Old 05-25-2020, 07:30 AM   #13
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I do not know what a floating frame is either. I do know that trailers that age can have separation of the shell and the frame at the front and the rear. I have seen that situation repaired or at least patched fairly easily. It involved jacking up the frame with a jack and adding some rivets. They did it in a parking lot while we were on a caravan. The crack over the door is not uncommon in that model and is fairly easily dealt with. That crack in itself does not mean that the frame is bad.

All in all you have some worrying and shopping around to do but I bet you can get it back on the road for a couple $1000. Now might be a good time to go ahead get the Airstream inspector that you wish you had contacted before the purchase. You need to know what really are the problems.
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Old 05-25-2020, 01:07 PM   #14
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I think I'm finally beginning to understand a bit about what's going on here. First, don't be too hard on yourself. Most 2001 Airstreams are going to have issues. This forum is well populated by folks who bought problems and were unaware of them until after purchase. I doubt the issue is as big as the repair shop made it sound. It may be as big a repair but not that big money wise. Pretty much anything on an Airstream can be repaired by a competent crafts person willing to do a little research. If you've wanted a rig for this long and it's one that suited your needs and desires then it's worth fixing. And when it's fixed it will be done right and there won't be any unexpected surprises. Get it to your home base and try to find some local Airstream nut who's done some renovations to take a look. There are a lot of folks who like working on these things as much as traveling in them. Find one local and get an opinion. I know if you were anywhere around me I'd take a look just for entertainment and education and I'm sure there are others as well. Good luck.
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Old 05-27-2020, 03:57 PM   #15
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2001 30' Excella
Cypress , Texas
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Wow...Yíall are so nice...

Someone asked if this was the same tear I posted in 2019. Yes it was and Yíall suggested a very good repair shop. They are the ones who quoted me and I called them yesterday to see if he still had the notes from our meeting last fall.
He only had some basic notes, he confirmed it was a frame seperation in front and back but also said that the quote included the damage from the previous owner side swiping someone or something at a truck stop. I did not realize that this repair was in that verbal quote. I think I was in shell shock that several more thousands of dollars were needed to get her road worthy. They are a reputable repair shop and I donít want to mention their name because I donít want them to get a bad review when some of it may have been a miscommunication. We agreed I would bring her back over and we would do a written quote on the frame seperation. I know its not going to be pretty but, we are pretty bad DIYers, not from lack of trying, and Iím going to have to find someone who has done this before. The idea of getting it inspected was very good, I will do that and thank you for the idea. One gentleman talked about the tire inflation but we kept on top of that on our trip. He also said maybe the load distribution . I assume he is talking about the load distribution bars. We watched lots of videos and thought we were hooking her up correctly but I will have the guys at the repair shop watch us and make sure we are doing it correctly. Thank you for sending so much information to check out. After I started reading this forum, I realized that a lot of Airstreams do have this problem and that I need to do a lot of homework. Hopefully I will find just the right person,close by, to help me out with this. There is so much to learn...wonder what people did before the internet? Itís so helpful. Thank you all.

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