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soldiermedic 11-04-2006 06:24 PM

Question on partial floor replacement
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Got the rig home last night and proceeded to tear out the old vinyl tiles. There was rot at the front door (no doubt due to the door gasket being original, and mostly dry rotted off), in the very rear of the bath (due to no gasket on the rear hatch), and in the streetside front endcap by the water pump (The pump leaked and the PO never looked into the problem).

I do not have the space or capability to remove the shell and fix the flooring directly on the trailer. Since much of this rot goes to the edge, should I just cut pieces to fit that will slide up under the shell around the edge? I also would rather attach the new subfloor with self tapping screws instead of the old way of bolting through the frame and bending the bolts over.

I also plan to replace the sewer vent gaskets to remove leakage opportunities.

Will post a pic of that water pump destroyed area later.

Suggestions? Comments Ideas?

AlbertF 11-04-2006 06:45 PM

I have never fixed the floor in an Airstream (yet). However, my service manual shows a recommended floor repair method. It involves cutting out the old sections, using them as a pattern for the pieces to be fitted in, and using another strip of plywood about 4" wide to overlap the existing and the new on the underside. Numerous wood screws are recommended to tie everything together. Removing the shell is not part of the instructions. It sounds like what you are proposing is acceptable. I'm sure it will be challenging.

If you are going to use self-drilling/self tapping screws, use reasonably large ones and remember that the frame sections are not nearly as thick as a nut. You should use more screws than you would use bolts. I can appreciate you wanting to avoid removing large sections of belly pan. This raises another question, however. Shouldn't you at least check the frame sections beneath the rotted floor areas to see how badly they're corroded? Or are you doing this anyway?

Stefrobrts 11-04-2006 06:53 PM

I did a partial floor replacement. I did have to do a bit of repair to broken welds in the frame while the floor was up. I did not remove the bellypan at all. I put it back together using TEK self tapping screws with a wood-type head. So far so good. We've been camping in it for two seasons since the repairs were done. Here's a link to the thread.

soldiermedic 11-04-2006 06:55 PM

Those other pics I promised
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Here they are.

soldiermedic 11-05-2006 09:00 AM

More pics of a destroyed floor.
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Looks like I didn't get a steal on this trailer after all.

LI Pets 11-05-2006 11:11 AM

Ok, so what's the question you know you need to cut out the rotten sections.

Try to cut to the center of a frame, if your not sure cut a hole big enough for your arm and feel where they are, take a tape measure under the ply and transfer the measurement on top cut it, if you miss it by a little no big deal.

Set your saw depth to 1/2" so you don't hit the steel.

If you need to wreck the old ply to get it out, so you don't have a template just make one out of cardboard to fit.

Relax it's a hobby:lol:

soldiermedic 11-05-2006 02:21 PM

I think my biggest question is about where the shell lies on top of the floor. If I cut the rotted ply out, and place a new piece down, is there a sealant I need to use on the edge of the plywood that fits under the shell? If not I am sure water would have a chance to get back in and ruin my newly fixed floor.

LI Pets 11-05-2006 02:30 PM

In mine the outer skin was overlapping the ply floor.
Water can not run down the sides into the ply floor.

You can seal the edge with something like wood sealer or fiberglass resin if you're concerned.

soldiermedic 11-05-2006 03:02 PM could if it was coming from a window or the door right?

LI Pets 11-05-2006 03:20 PM

Sure or a broken water pipe.

You're addressing many of the same issues I had 2 months ago when I started my restoration.

I decided after going thru all this work I was never going to do it again.

What I did to insure against doing it again, is I took 6 oz fiberglass cloth and resin and did the whole floor took about 3 hours and cost about $150.

I also removed all the pink insulation under the floor

It is now bullet proof.

Chuck 11-05-2006 03:30 PM

I think the most sensible approach I've seen advocated is to use the marine epoxy/wood preservative stuff around the outer edges, and about 4" in from there. then, just don't put any finish floor down for a while, and watch. you may have the inner lower skins off anyway, so you'll be able to spot water coming down from above. fix the leaks, and you won't have any problems...right? :D

take a good close look at the lower trim mouldings where the belly pan/banana wraps meet the exterior skins; some of us have found that the factory installed sections of the wraps so that they sit on the OUTside of the skins, rather than be tucked in behind. So they act as great big water scoops, channeling water right to the plywood floor. if thats the case with your trailer, you want to make sure you seal up that seam but good...and the top edge of the moulding, too, so water can't get in there. I found a wet spot on my floor up front early this spring...further investigation revealed a gap in that lower trim moulding. a little push against the skin just above the molding revealed the gaps that weren't sealed. After a bead of parbond, the floor dried up and hasn't been a problem since.

this whole thing is also a good argument for vinyl floor right up to and maybe even under the c-channel, with no sealant there at all. any water that gets in will make a puddle on the floor that won't damage the vinyl, but you WILL notice right away. or if not, at least much sooner than if it were able to slip under a floating finish floor, slowly eating away at the invisible sub floor like a cancer...

LI Pets 11-05-2006 03:44 PM

Chuck the resin will protect the same way, right?

The idea of fixing what's known now and wait is right on point, I found two more leaks after I thought I fixed everthing, now after three weeks and a few good rain storms I'm satisfied.

65overlander 11-05-2006 03:50 PM

hey doc, am going through the same issues now with my 65 overlander. originally i had hoped to grub out the rotted areas and just patch up to the "c" channel as best i could. when i originally did this, i noticed the heads of the bolts in the floor running in straight lines and just assumed they were bolted to the center of the underlying beams. took my circular saw and set blade depth to between 1/2 and 5/8 of an inch depth, took a plunge cut and then ripped along a straight edge i had tacked down. i parsed out the area above my black water tank to the curbside wall at the "c" channel. left the area underneath the hot water heater alone. at the time i just felt it was beyond me to get into getting the rot out from under the "c" channel and was going to just hope for the best. luckily for me (i think), i had to let the project go for quite some time and am now just getting back into it. i have decided to remove the lower skins and replace the total floor without removing the shell. there are a number of discussions regarding how to go about this on the forum. i certainly think i will feel better about the end result than if i spent a whole lot of time doing a patchwork job only to have things fail down the road. i have some discussion and a couple of pics of my current reno project under the overlander subforum if you are interested. good luck whichever way you go. regards, dave

Chuck 11-05-2006 04:03 PM


Originally Posted by Lipets
Chuck the resin will protect the same way, right?

I'm no expert on wood preservation, so I don't really know. I've seen some say that fiberglassing won't allow the wood to "breath". When my turn comes to do this (and it will...), I'll consult a boat person. they know about protecting wood from water.

soldiermedic 11-05-2006 05:05 PM

I started tearing out the rot today. Seems like only the edges of the safari have damage. Streetside was almost undoubtably caused by their (Rigged) plumbing setup. There were lines in the front that didnt connect to anything. Some water came out when I removed some of the pipes. The area in the center of the trailer in the front and throughout the rest of the trailer are in fine and stable shape until you get to the rear where no weather stripping on the hatch caused rot.

guess I can replace both sides, and then wait for a good long rain to see if I have water issues.

soldiermedic 11-11-2006 04:14 PM

Welcome To My Nightmare!
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So I hear about this Airstream vintage 68 that is supposed to be in pretty good shape. THe guy wants $3500 and is 3 hours away. I get up there ASAP to make sure I get it. On walk through everything looks fine. I then remove the dinette, and vinyl tiles to find the pictures above and the floor rotting. I have started removing all the rot I can find, and now feel that I am in big trouble. From the pics below you can see signigicant frame damage. The third pic is all the way forward in the endcap and I think it is the final crossmember on the frame. I feel now that I SIGNIFICANTLY overpaid for this trailer. I know nothing about welding, and wouldn't know what to ask a welder to use to fix anything that I am seeing. If this is only the front area, should I gut the entire trailer, figure out a place to drop the shell (Not like I have the time, tools, or area to do that), and create a whole new floor?

LI Pets 11-11-2006 04:22 PM

THe first two pic's don't look too bad they can get done up by any welding shop.

THe third pic isn't clear enough to see???

You can save money if you bring it to a shop instead of having someone come there.

As far as paying too much.... maybe, maybe not, time will tell.

Don't get mad about it, all part of the game with any restoration.

soldiermedic 11-11-2006 04:28 PM


Would you remove the rest of the trailer's floor to ensure the rest of the frame isnt like this?

LI Pets 11-11-2006 04:49 PM

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No, you can ascertain quicker, easier, cheaper, by dropping the belly pans and remove the rotten insulation, paint all good steel with POR 15, remember you only need to get of the scaling rust, you don't take it down to shiny metal.

You should get that done time wise..........

Drill out rivets to drop pans and only the bottom of the banana skins don't remove the molding to get to the top of the banana's rivets.

two hours at most.

Scrape and paint frame (in your case after welding repairs) 3-4 hours.

When you are looking at the plywood from the bottom the good wood is easier to see than the stained interior, after you do it you'll see what I mean.

Mine was like new ply where it was good and real dark weathered where bad.

Ken J 11-11-2006 04:57 PM

All Airstreams leak or will leak - whats the rest of the trailer like - if all it needs is a new floor - I still think you got a good deal -

If there is a lot of rot though, I would suggest an entire new floor - we can walk you through it - its not that difficult of a job, more time consuming than anything...

Ken J

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