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Old 04-01-2020, 05:06 PM   #1
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Tricks Needed - Bathtub removal

I have completely gutted my 1962 Ambassador except for the bathtub. It is firmly attached to the wall. From what I can tell it appears to be held in place with 58 year old butyl tape. The bulkhead wall that was already removed was attached with small bolts from the extruded trim piece along the top of the tub through the wall.
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The extrusion wraps around the fiberglass tab on the top of the tub. There appears to be butyl tape securing it to the fiberglass as well. Can't imagine there could be any bolts into the wall.
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Here is what I have tried; With much difficulty I did get a thin blade between the wall and the tub maybe 20 times along the wall. I then warmed the aluminum extrusion and wall with a heat gun and then upgraded to a MAP torch. Seemed like it made it easier to insert the blade, but still no movement.

I am hoping for some trick. I really don't want to break the tub. Thanks - Mark
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Old 04-01-2020, 05:25 PM   #2
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Have you unscrewed the tub drain to free the tub from the plumbing and the floor?
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Old 04-01-2020, 05:26 PM   #3
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Speaking as an old carpenter, who has had to do many weird demolition/removal jobs . . .

You seem to be on the right track. Not sure about the knife you have been using, but I would get a very long and thin chef's knife, one that can be resharpened easily. The longer the better, so that the thickness of 1/2 the handle does not force the blade much out-of-parallel with the wall. Nearly-vertical is best, so as to get down deep into that stubborn tape joint. Keep the tip very sharp.

Then start at the exposed end, using a sweeping cutting motion as if you are carving meat off the tub's back edge, get the knife down in the caulk joint as vertical as possible. No need to drive the knife vertically down into the joint. Have a very thin painter's pry bar ready to insert gently between the tub and the wall, like this one:

https://www.amazon.com/Hyde-Manufact...5783805&sr=8-2

Have some other thicker pry bars on hand to continue the process, as you make progress toward the curved corner.

Another good "tool" to have on hand would be a bunch of cedar shingle "points" about 1 1/2" wide, and 18" long. The nice thing about the cedar is that it won't scratch the wall or tub. Also you can drive these "points" down in the gap [edit -- see PS], which will be increasing hopefully, as often as you like. You might want to have ~18 points on hand, so you drive them down vertically every few inches. They will make great kindling for a fire later.

Little wedges like this have incredible power. Weren't wedges a crucial tool for building the pyramids?

Take your time and only increase the wedge power gently, and often.

Good luck,

Peter

PS -- Edit -- Reading this over, the cedar shingle points are the way to go, versus the pry bars IMO. Not sure how available they are but guessing no prob in Vermont! If you know where the wall framing "studs" are, concentrate on using the cedar shingle point wedges there primarily, so as not to deform the aluminum inner skin where there is no framing behind it.

PS2 -- Ditto to Mike about the drain.
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Old 04-01-2020, 06:05 PM   #4
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I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't screws behind that metal trim strip holding the tub to the wall. When I removed my shower room I found several screws behind the trim strip going through the fiberglass and into the wall panel. I was lucky and the trim strip was plastic and just snapped into place. It was easy to remove and get to the screws. I can't tell from your pictures how your trim strip might be removed.
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Old 04-02-2020, 05:07 AM   #5
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Thanks for the tips. I like the cedar wedge idea. Will try tonight.

Answers to your questions:

I removed the pipe from the trap below the drain, so I believe it should be free. I will get a flashlight and really see what is going on up there. Maybe there is another brace?

Regarding hidden screws, the extrusion is a U-shaped and actually secured the small bolts on the exposed wall. Obviously there would be no way to put nuts in the wall. What they might have done was just put the bolts thru clearance holes in the wall. Kind of like rebar in concrete. I believe I felt one in my probing yesterday.

Are there any solvents that will soften butyl tape ?

Thanks again - Mark
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Old 04-02-2020, 11:29 AM   #6
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Be VERY careful using a torch or even a heat gun on the aluminum skin. It can permanently warp or weaken, and then you'll have really serious issues. Heat is good for making things easier to remove, just be careful about the top end of your heat spectrum!
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Old 04-02-2020, 12:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steinVT View Post
. . .
Are there any solvents that will soften butyl tape ?
. . .
You could try some thick paint stripper IMO, applied with an artist's brush, and see what happens. Most strippers are fairly clear about what they do, and don't, work on.

There is a sub-forum here which includes stripping advice in general, although obviously it is focused more on the task of stripping AS clear coat, in preparation for getting the aluminum skin shiny. You might find something useful there:

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f441/

These search results look promising IMO:

https://www.google.com/search?q=remo...=airforums.com

Various potions and methods are mentioned in those threads, but mostly in the context of removing/installing windows.

Good luck,

Peter
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Old 04-02-2020, 03:59 PM   #8
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I had the same tub and same dilemma when I restored mine. Like you, I got everything else out. Couldn't get it loose from the wall. I was scared of breaking the tub and ended up giving up on removing it. Fortunately, my floor was solid under the tub. I refinished the tub in place and put new flooring everywhere except under the tub.
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Old 04-02-2020, 05:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steinVT View Post
Thanks for the tips. I like the cedar wedge idea. Will try tonight.

Answers to your questions:

I removed the pipe from the trap below the drain, so I believe it should be free. I will get a flashlight and really see what is going on up there. Maybe there is another brace?

Regarding hidden screws, the extrusion is a U-shaped and actually secured the small bolts on the exposed wall. Obviously there would be no way to put nuts in the wall. What they might have done was just put the bolts thru clearance holes in the wall. Kind of like rebar in concrete. I believe I felt one in my probing yesterday.

Are there any solvents that will soften butyl tape ?

Thanks again - Mark
You say you removed the pipe from the trap. Did you also remove the chrome drain piece that goes down through the inside of the tub and attaches to the drain pipe below? On my shower room there was a plastic mat under the shower pan that was screwed to the subfloor. There is a threaded pipe under the plastic mat that the chrome drain piece inside the shower screws into. The shower pan and the plastic mat below are held tightly together by the drain piece and because the mat is screwed to the subfloor the shower would not budge until I remove that drain. Once I removed the drain piece from above and the screws in the sidewall the shower pan came right out. If you haven't done so already, I would say try removing the drain piece inside the tub.
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Old 04-03-2020, 07:07 AM   #10
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Here's a link explaining how to remove the drain flange that is holding the tub to the floor:
https://www.plumbingsupply.com/how-t...in-flange.html
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Old 04-03-2020, 05:30 PM   #11
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I WIN ! The tub is out

It was touch and go for a while, but in the end I prevailed. Thanks for the responses, I really did end up using your adice.
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Thalweg - Thanks for posting and letting me know I wasn't just crazy or incompetent. Now if you need to get yours out, you will know what you are up against.

kidjedi - I agree, heating aluminum is scary. I learned my lesson the first time I tried to anneal a piece and melted a corner off. I kept the MAP torch moving very quickly.

DremStremer & mikextr - I had removed the pipe leading from the trap, but after closer examination, it wasn't nearly enough. I thought it would be like the blank tank valve with a lot of clearance. Not so, exactly the same size and the trap had a large shoulder that locked the tub to the floor. And that was the only part of the trailer floor that wasn't rotten. With 58 years of corrosion, the drain wasn't going to move either.

I first drilled around the drain from below and then used a chisel to free it from the floor. I got it loose, but not enough. I then used a 4" angle grinder to remove the ring from the top. Three minutes grinding, a little tap and the trap was free. The tub could come a little off the floor now, but otherwise wouldn't move.
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I needed to figure out what could be hold this so tight. I drilled out all of the rivets holding the wall panel. After removing the insulation I could see the back end of pop rivets, a lot of them.

OTRA15 - So out come the wedges. Instead of cedar, I found two fairly aggressive hardwood wedges. So starting at the back of the trailer, I used a screw driver to make enough room for the wedge. Then drive it in until you hear the rivet pop. Then just leap frog my way around the whole tub, one fricking rivet at a time.
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An check out the spacing.
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I have been trying to figure out how it was built originally. I am thinking the wall panels were put up. Then the extrusion was riveted to the wall with butyl tape. More tape was applied on the top of the tube and then the tub edge was worked into the extrusion all at the same time. Then the drain was drilled and installed. Not engineered for repairs, that's for sure.

Bottom line is the tub is out without damage. A little file work will clean up the extrusion, and tomorrow I take down the inner skins and insulation.

Thanks again - Mark
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Old 04-03-2020, 05:49 PM   #12
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Thanks for the riveting update.

I guess they had to force that trim piece to marry the curve? Yikes . . . so many rivets!

Good job . . . glad it worked out . . . wedges are amazingly powerful tools. The hardwood was probably better than cedar would have been . . . good move.

Peter
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Old 04-03-2020, 07:23 PM   #13
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Wow, I'm impressed! I had mine completely loose from the floor, with the drain removed, and I couldn't figure out how to get it loose from the wall. From your pictures, they riveted the bejeebers out of that thing. Those are the first pictures I've seen of one of those tubs actually removed. I was scared of breaking it because I knew there was no way I'd be able to replace it.

Good job.
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Old 04-03-2020, 08:33 PM   #14
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Congratulations steinVT. It's not always easy reverse engineering these old Airstreams. I've learned a couple of things from taking mine apart. One is how strong pop rivets are, even after 50 years of shaking down the road. The other is, if something doesn't move there's a hidden rivet somewhere.
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Old 04-04-2020, 11:08 AM   #15
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Nice work, SteinVT! That was tough job. Removing the tub in my 67 Overlander was easy by comparison.
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Old 04-06-2020, 05:35 AM   #16
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Another Option

Quote:
Originally Posted by 66Overlander View Post
All you had to do to remove the tub was to bend the trim flange up from inside the tub to access the rivet heads. Pretty easy. I would have been happy to provide this detail and photos from my disassembly of the tub in my '62 Safari had I seen your plea/other thread.
This came Joe, the Wally Byam Caravan Club International Historian on my Restoration Thread. Thought I would add it here for posterity. - Mark
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Old 04-06-2020, 08:57 AM   #17
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For posterity, the tub trim was definitely slid over the tub edge before it was installed in the trailer with the inner flange bent up so that that fasteners could be installed thru the edge of the fiberglass tub in addition to the back flange of the aluminum trim. The front edge of the trim was then bent down after the fasteners were installed. Rivets were used to attach the tub to the inner skin and screws to the bedroom wall in my 1962 Safari (likely the closet wall in your larger Ambassador).

I do not have great photos showing the tub trim pried up to expose the fasteners, but I am attaching one that shows the trim to the bedroom wall pried up after I removed the screws in which you can see the holes thru the fiberglass. I am also attaching one showing the tub and trim after removal. The trim was easily pried up with a putty knife and it bent back down OK after the tub was reinstalled.
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Old 04-11-2020, 02:39 AM   #18
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This came [from] Joe, the Wally Byam Caravan Club International Historian on my Restoration Thread. Thought I would add it here for posterity. - Mark
Thanks for the added details from the other thread. Simple, it turns out. Good lesson learned here.



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