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Old 08-15-2013, 12:49 PM   #1
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1977 31' Sovereign
Indianapolis , Indiana
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step repair

One side of my step is "soft". There's about a 1/4" of movement from the top-right corner, when someone steps on it. The separating part is directly below the door's threshold (handle side). I removed of the skin/rivets to get a better look and take a couple photos. The photos should be attached. I can see the threading from a bolt, but the head is hidden (must be under the aluminum threshold). My guess: the bolt is broken. Any other ideas?

What's my best solution? Can I unscrew the broken bolt and try use a new bolt/lag screw from the bottom? ...maybe add a few additional?

Thanks

Jason
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Old 08-15-2013, 02:56 PM   #2
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More info: The service manual states the part is called an Outrigger, RH (part # 400054). The front, closest to step, drops down about a 1/4" when a person uses the step. It springs back up into the correct position when the weight's removed. The manual doesn't show the bolt pictured above.
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Old 08-15-2013, 03:39 PM   #3
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The outrigger will have a single bolt in the outside end that attaches it to the body of the trailer. Now here's the bad news. If this bolt is broken off, you won't be able to get at the upper end of it without removing the inner skin near the door, as this bolt goes through the U channel, then through the subfloor, then through the hole in the outrigger. You could try drilling several pilot holes along the length of the outrigger, and then screwing it into the subfloor with deck screws or small lags, but I have my doubts that this would hold up for very long. You might consider if there is an option to get some sort of expansion nut up through the hole--this might be your best bet short of getting into the wall from above.

You should also have a good look at the outrigger to see if the weld at the frame rail is broken, or if it is disintegrating from rust. It might be time to replace the whole outrigger while you are down there.

Good luck!
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Old 08-15-2013, 03:44 PM   #4
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Usually the bolts that attach the outriggers to the body are fed from underneath, meaning you only see the head of the bolt from the bottom. When you step on the stair, do you see what appears to be a broken bolt (in your picture) move with the outrigger, or does it stay stationary? If it stays stationary, it could be that this particular bolt was fed from the top on your trailer. It might just be missing the nut. You might try putting a nut on it from underneath and tightening it up (you will have to keep the bolt from turning with some vice-grips).
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:20 PM   #5
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I don't believe the bolt is broken or missing the nut.
On my trailer this bolt was just thru the plywood. Over the years the plywood had softened. Therefore whenever weight is placed on the step the head of the bolt sinks in to the plywood.
I installed a 1/2"x2" piece of aluminum bar stock across the threshold. Then installed new bolts to support the outriggers for the step assembly.
It was a bit of a challenge, but much easier than tearing everything out to gain access to the old bolt.
The steps are solid now.
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:28 PM   #6
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The bolt pictured moves with the outrigger. If its just soft wood, I should be able to tighten it with vice grips. Ill try. If not, will drill it out and use a grade 8 lag back up into the hole.

What about running a bolt through the top and all way through the the outrigger?
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:07 PM   #7
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Once you get it solid enough, get a pair of these Stabil-Step Jack - 8" - 14" - Stromberg Carlson JSS-7 - Steps - Camping World
I purchased an 8" and a 14" and use them every time I deploy my steps. I think they really reduce wear and tear on a fairly flimsy step system.
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:36 PM   #8
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Once you get it solid enough, get a pair of these Stabil-Step Jack - 8" - 14" - Stromberg Carlson JSS-7 - Steps - Camping World
I purchased an 8" and a 14" and use them every time I deploy my steps. I think they really reduce wear and tear on a fairly flimsy step system.
The Airstream step is unique and does not operate as other steps on most SOB's. In my opinion they are designed to operate without any type of support as mentioned above because of the way they fold for storage. Here is what I have seen happen when a support is used on the lower lower step. If the trailer moves up or down sometimes even just a little from some stepping on the lower or upper step the mechanism that holds the step in place can release so to speak and the entire step collapses downward. I know it is hard to picture but I have seen it happen and have also had it happen to me on my 1976 Sovereign. You may never have a problem with these type of supports but then again it could happen and you have only one place to fall, hard on the ground. Use caution.
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Old 08-15-2013, 06:11 PM   #9
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Having gotten home, and looked at my trailer, I'll retract my blather above. I have confirmed that in the case of the outrigger steps, the bolt does not go through the U channel (as was pointed out above), and only through the wood. So, one thing I would recommend is that you probe around in the wood near the door and make sure your new found motion isn't due to the wood rotting at the door threshold.
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Old 08-15-2013, 06:33 PM   #10
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Thank you for all the responses. Ill investigate a bit more tomorrow and keep you posted.

Do you think the threshold and u-channel line up? If so, I think I can counter sink a bolt through to a new hole in the outrigger?
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Old 08-16-2013, 07:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adonh View Post
The Airstream step is unique and does not operate as other steps on most SOB's. In my opinion they are designed to operate without any type of support as mentioned above because of the way they fold for storage. Here is what I have seen happen when a support is used on the lower lower step. If the trailer moves up or down sometimes even just a little from some stepping on the lower or upper step the mechanism that holds the step in place can release so to speak and the entire step collapses downward. I know it is hard to picture but I have seen it happen and have also had it happen to me on my 1976 Sovereign. You may never have a problem with these type of supports but then again it could happen and you have only one place to fall, hard on the ground. Use caution.
Interesting. The reason I started using the braces is because we camp occasionally with a person or two who are pretty large. I read the steps are only rated at 250lbs. So far I've been very pleased with the set up. But, if it did collapse as you say, what harm would be done to the step? I can see a collapsed step as a safety issue if not taken care of immediately.
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Old 08-16-2013, 08:16 AM   #12
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I have a 1973 Argosy 20'

I don't know if mine ever had steps, but I don't now. I have fixed some steps on peoples SOBs, have heard many stories about broken steps from non forum members, and have seen all kinds make shift alternatives, and supplemental supports. My conclusion is...I don't care if I don't have built in steps. My thoughts are that they are an accident waiting to happen, and a costly repair down the road. I see the steps has a crowbar with a mechanical advantage, that I don't want to have a 250 pound person jumping down on. But I do see them as more convenient than carrying around something a little safer. IMHO
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Old 08-16-2013, 08:44 AM   #13
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If the trailer is parked with the stabilizers in place, I would think there would be no vertical movement in the door opening from people entering and leaving. Thus the movement in the steps would be from the leverage of the person stepping onto the step and lifting themselves up. If the jack stands captioned above were in place under the steps, I would think the downward motion from load would be stopped and the steps would not become unlatched and collapse.

Our new 27FB Classic on order will have this vintage step design and am wondering if I should acquire these braces to head of the potential problems of wear on the step hinges and supports in the trailer floor etc?
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Old 08-16-2013, 09:25 AM   #14
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On newer models, only the Classics have the unique Airstream steps. The Internationals and the Flying Clouds (and earlier Safaris) have the standard SOB 1 or 2 step folders. This is definitely one area where I like the cheaper version. I'm a big woman and the steel SOB steps are definitely sturdier than the aluminum ones.

They are also a heck of a lot cheaper to replace - and if something breaks like a screw or rivet it's an easy and inexpensive thing to repair.

I've seen a few Classics where the owner has changed over to SOB steps simply because they are no fuss.

Happy Trails, Paula
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Old 08-16-2013, 09:45 AM   #15
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lag

The plywood floor is solid and the Outrigger is good shape. I tried to tighten the bolt end, but it just unscrewed from the Outrigger. The head was broken off. I drilled through the the bolt head and inserted a lag (see photo). For now, it works great. I'm going to close it up and see how it works. If it fails, I'll drill all the way through the aluminum threshold and counter sink a bolt in the thick metal.

Thanks for all the help and advise. I'll post future details on this repair in case others have a similar problem.
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Old 08-16-2013, 10:06 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
On newer models, only the Classics have the unique Airstream steps. The Internationals and the Flying Clouds (and earlier Safaris) have the standard SOB 1 or 2 step folders. This is definitely one area where I like the cheaper version. I'm a big woman and the steel SOB steps are definitely sturdier than the aluminum ones.

They are also a heck of a lot cheaper to replace - and if something breaks like a screw or rivet it's an easy and inexpensive thing to repair.

I've seen a few Classics where the owner has changed over to SOB steps simply because they are no fuss.

Happy Trails, Paula
Having had the classic step on every AS I have owned (that is too many) and now the new step system on my 2014 FC 20', I very much agree with you Paula, the new one is superior. Ugly, but superior as a step. I am quite happy to put up with the ugly for the much stronger step system
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Old 08-16-2013, 10:33 AM   #17
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To "tighten" up the wood in the area try "GitRot" from a Marine supply place. I have used with great success.
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Old 08-31-2013, 04:27 PM   #18
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step repair

Is there a printable manufacturer's parts manual available online for the Classic step? Perhaps a removal and re-installation guide for rebuilding?

I have a 23 year old 34' 1990 Excella and one of the "straight" swing arms broke at the top bolt (although it was the arm hole area that broke on the straight arm) - next to, outside, the "offset" arm under the entry.

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It looks like you must remove one side of the primary step to get the male/female screw/bolt part out of that primary step which hides part of the large thru bolt head.

It also looks like I may have to remove the skin to get the whole assembly out. Reading the other messages maybe also the threshold, as I see threads coming from the threshold into the assembly "box".

I am thinking that I should get all new nuts/bolts while I'm at it and maybe all new arms and basically just reuse the two steps. Just as well try to do it right.

Would it be easier, or imperative, to remove the step assembly completely from the trailer to do this? It looks very tight to get to the nuts covered by the skin so an inspection plate could be made to cover any skin removed to do the work

I have an appointment at the factory in December but would do this myself to save the charges; just don't want to tear the skin and inside apart to do the job unless necessary. Maybe they could remove and reinstall after I rebuild it, while there, if I don't get it done before.

I expect they would just suggest a new step altogether and throw away the old one.

Anyone's thoughts?
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