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williamhenshall 05-30-2002 09:11 PM

Pictures of shell off floor replacement...
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Hi all, if you are interested go check out the on going story of our floor replacement of our 1958 Traveller. Doing it properly and all that! Pictures are at

It has been a lot of hard work but very rewarding. I look forward to going and getting it done. Good for me to unwind...

Cheers and much thanks for all the help I got from forum members when trying to figure out what to do.

Will Henshall

66TradeWind 06-08-2002 09:05 AM

Amazing project Will!

What are your plans for the new interior?

williamhenshall 06-08-2002 11:32 AM

Update and plans for the interior..
Thanks for encouragement!

I have been putting together a very detailed website cataloging the renovation which is my way of putting some knowledge back into the Airstream community. I will prominently post the URL when it is ready for viewing.

The most help and inspiration I have had is from a set of pictures from Wayne,
this is in addition to the countless helpful messages I have had from folk on this forum, the VAC and general Yahoo Airstream list.

There are a bunch of gotchas and vital tricks to know when attempting a major job like this, some unique to each project and which I have had to find out myself. as time goes on more trailer will need this to be done.

Although from the outside this little trailer will look like a perfectly preserved and polished 50s Airstream, the inside will not be like this at all...

We will initially be polishing the interior too, and will be fitting the rear with a high end restauant style booth seat and table that wraps around the whole of the interior. We want it to look like one of those high stylin LA or NY bars. Seat about 10 folk.

There will be a wet bar and fridge at the front of the trailer built into a unit that will stretch across where the dinette was.

Yep, we will be making ourselves a private portable dining room/party pod! A bit more to it than this too actually; we are artists and we will be using the trailer for art showings and other events such as Burning Man.

The frame and shell renovation has been done to a high standard so we have the option later on to use the shell for a full standard interior restoration.

Best wishes to all - we hope to be bringing her to the next VAC rally.

Will and Naomi Henshall

williamhenshall 06-17-2002 08:39 AM

Having problems getting the shell back on my 58 Traveler
Hi Airstream people...

Since I last posted a message about cutting aluminum edges cleanly I have spent 4 days finishing the new floor/new belly pan (The belly pan requires good "ab" stomach control as you have to lie on your back with a drill in one hand and a rivet gun in the other with a series of bits of wood and jacks and knees etc to hold the pieces of aluminum in place...) and yesterday spent a frustrating few hours trying to fit the shell back on.

I am pretty sure that the new floor and the u-channels are exactly the same shape and dimensions as the old floor. They were all cut out to the old floor as a template as accurately as I could.

The problem I am having is a bit like trying to put a favourite pair of pants on after a thanksgiving feast - you know that extra 6 pounds mean that the zipper has be gently coaxed into action...and when ever you get it done up it just pops down again on its own...

There are no obvious extrusions in the way, it all just seems very tight and one corner keeps popping up when the other 3 are on

One thing that is different now is that I used .040 for the replacement belly pan, as advised, and the original belly pan was more like .025 - this means that the new pan is much harder to bend as easily and obviously is thicker. It all sits and wraps snugly around the u-channel now though, although a lot of rubber mallet banging was needed. Now the neighbors 2 streets away are coming by to see what is going on :)

I undid the temporary 2x4 cross beam struts in the end, and that seems to have given me more bend in the shell generally, although the worry there is now getting the shell on true and that the door and windows are not twisted.

I was thinking of getting 2 x 40ft cargo straps and wrapping them around middle of the whole trailer over the vertical struts and ratcheting the shell down little by little until in place and I can get the rivets in...

Any ideas?

Best to you all

Will Henshall

I have been putting together the web site of the detailed story of this as mentioned in my last post, but took the time to actually to the work instead of writing about it.

williamhenshall 06-17-2002 08:43 AM

Tried to add a picture to the last post...
..but the system wouldn't let me post...

Andy R 06-17-2002 09:36 AM

Upload problem?
William, what kind of error did you get? Did you try to upload it to the photo site? What size is the photo? The forum will only allow images up to 640 x 640 pixels.

williamhenshall 06-17-2002 01:02 PM

Trying to post a pic again :)
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Here's a picture of the rear quarter that keeps popping out

thenewkid64 06-17-2002 01:59 PM


In the picture that you posted it looks like the cuts you have made allow the belly pan to overlap where the metal is folded over the floor. Is that the case or did you cut it to butt the edges together, the photo does not show the detail. The reason for my question is even if you are only using a sheet with an increase of .015, but if you have it overlapping on all of those cuts it can add up to a larger edge dimension than before you removed the shell real quick.
Quick math says 20 overlaps X .015=.3 inches. .3X4 corners is 1.2 inches. I have recently learned the rule of measure, measure, and then measure one more time to be sure. Good luck I have been following your progress and can't wait to see the finished portable lounge.:D

Would that make a Rivet lounge? Hmmmmm...

williamhenshall 06-17-2002 02:22 PM

mmm..sounds like you could be right...
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I can't remember if the original belly pan overlapped as it wrapped around the u-channel...ah I just looked and found a pic which is enclosed of the original floor and u-channel.

Yes it looks like some of the "tabs" folded over are overlapping. But as you note, the math is the math. 040 is more than .25 or whatever it was before. I am out I think about an inch. So your theory seems appropriate.

Yikes! I have to go think this through. I could go round the whole of the u-channel and re-rivet and cut and flatten out the overlaps, but I would guess that is at least a full day's work as I don't want to un-spring the belly pan again and would need to do it one bit at a time. It is so bendy that it takes a lot of clamping, holding and swearing to get each bit on.



williamhenshall 06-17-2002 02:29 PM

Another pic
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williamhenshall 06-17-2002 02:36 PM

This is the corner piece of the original...
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...belly pan. I just went and looked at the cuts. They are not feathered, that is the tabs overlapped when bent up around the u-channel. The thickness of this is significantly thinner than the 040 I used.

PeterH-350LE 06-17-2002 04:13 PM

Use a grinder or belt sander on the overlaps?
Aluminum is soft.

thenewkid64 06-17-2002 04:41 PM


My thought exactly. I was mulling it over on the drive home from work. What to do that would not require the removal of the rivets but allow the shell to be reinstalled?


You may want to add a few additional rivets prior to attempting this just in case you sand/grind one off. Sproing!

williamhenshall 06-25-2002 05:41 PM

The latest pics are up on floor replacement project...
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I just spent a few minutes updating the pictures. Andy (webmaster) has been kind enough to donate extra server space for this. Thanks Andy. Judging by the number of hits this is getting it seems folk are interested in seeing how it's going.

Quick update:- I have now hit a real tricky point in this project. The shell won't go back on properly. The new floor, which is *exactly* the same size as the old floor, now in combination with the new slightly thicker aluminum belly pan folded over the u-channel is now too "fat" for the shell to drop down.

We are having a 2 week break and the current thought is to rework the u-channel position and shave about 3/8s of an ich of the floor at the rear of the trailer....

If anyone has any ideas speak up!!



74Argosy24MH 06-26-2002 07:23 AM

I replaced the floor on an Argosy motor home. When I did this, I left the channel on the body. From your pictures it appears that the motor homes and trailers use a different channel, yours is flat and sits on the plywood, the motor homes have a track the plywood slides into, this then sits on the metal framework. My reason for leaving the channel on the body was to leave as much strength in the bottom of the body as possible, plus saving removing a couple of hundred rivets. The channels set the shape of the body, must be the first pieces to go on the floor during assembly. Have you tried putting these back in (at least in the corners) to see how much distortion there has been from pulling the body? Aluminum is very soft and stretches easily, the bodies are relatively strong when assembled, but need all their components for this strength.

Do the channels fit the shape of your new floor as cut? If so the distortion is probably in the body. I may not be very popular for saying this here, but the quality of my motor home body was terrible. It is #217 and I would have thought any startup problems would have been history. I had ribs that sat on top of (instead of inside) the bottom channel, skins that were obviously distorted, dimensions that did not match, supporting channels that did not reach what they should support. Have you checked for these type of assembly problems? You can assemble it out of alignment, but as soon as something like a body off job is started, and the bottom channel is removed, the pressures introduced from an improper assembly will cause distortion.

I now have a question for those who have done a floor replacement. Why do you pull the body off the channel? It seems it would be much easier to set the flat channel back on the floor than to try and fit the body back over the channel, sort of a 16 ft. long slip fit.

williamhenshall 08-03-2002 08:22 AM

Well I got the shell back on at last - pics for your interest
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Hi time right now for alot of details as I am off out of the door to get the inner skins back on. Some pictures linked above.

It took a GREAT deal of time and fiddling to get the shell back on.

Main mistake made - I was advised to use .040 aluminum for the new belly pan. Ah. Well the original was that meant the floor perimeter was about an inch longer.

Result = the shell wouldn't fit the new floor when dropped back down.

I had to pull all the u-channel off the rear, remove the belly pan, cut off about half an inch all the way round the wood, re fit it all together and then hope I had cut off the right amount...

Manhandling the shell is like a big floppy wobble board that is very delicate, everytime I tried to lower it there was a big risk of a dent or a panel twist.

The best feeling in the world was getting the last rivet in and having her in one piece again.

WHAT A to tell you, if you ever are thinking about a new floor shell off restoration, think about it very carefully.


Will Henshall

BobbyW 08-03-2002 12:29 PM

Congratulations Will !!

I sure am glad it was not me that said use the .040. Back when this first popped up, I went back and looked to make sure I had not advise anything that would have caused this. Whew!!

Now, Onward thru the Fog!!


williamhenshall 08-03-2002 01:27 PM

My bad advice...not from anyone on here....
Thanks B

Heh, no, my bad advice re which belly pan thickness to use came from someone who used to work at a well known Airstream restoration shop.

He doesn't work there now, so no need to go this any more. Pleasant enough guy, but didn't know what he was talking about obviously.

So, I am today cracking on with fitting the trim, the inner skin replacement and then what ever else is next.

I am actually in my 345 right now parked next to the trailer and using the MotoSat 2 way internet system...damn, technology rocks eh?

See you


BobbyW 08-03-2002 08:21 PM

Why is the floor silver? Painted or covered?


williamhenshall 08-05-2002 09:26 AM

Floor painted...
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...with a latex floor paint - reason is due to all the pushing, shoving, kicking, stressing, walking, rolling, and all...

the top layer of the abx ply was beginning to get very damaged in a few places. Actually coming off down to the next layer...

the last thing i wanted was to have to replace a section or two...AAARGGGGGGGHHHH

so I asked around and found that the latex paint is designed exactly for this purpose.

I put 2 thick coats down, and there has been no more wear at all. I am going to seal all gaps with silicon, around the wheel arches for instance and then do a final coat when I have done all the inner skin and after preparing and paint spraying the inner skin. I will post more pictures later. I got the inner skin back on in a couple of places over the weekend. Again, this is not as easy as it looks. None of the old holes line up any more. This is obvious if you think about it, as even a 1/4" difference on the shell sitting back down again will very subtley alter the shape of the whole structure.

It's getting there though.


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