So I have been MIA for the last three months. I usually leave before dawn, and arrive home after dusk, and don't have any time to work on the trailer. Besides the daylight, it has been pretty cold here. With considerably warmer weather the past few days, I took a chance to get out to the cloud and remove one of the wheel wells. I am going to have David Winick of Vintage Trailering fabricate a new set for me. As you can see from the shots I have here, they were in rough shape. To get the wheel well out I had to tear out the floor around the flange. It appears that the frame cross member to the rear of this wheel well is rotted to the point that it will need to be replaced.
As I discussed on the blog earlier, the PO had cut a nice big hole in the rear panel to install a shore power cord box. The box looked horrible, wasn't water proofed, and had no keys. From the start I had planned to install a Marinco power inlet, and wanted to at least get my patch completed over the weekend.
Box and Hole
My next question was simple. Where am I going to get my aluminum from? I haven't ordered any alclad yet, and didn't want to use something from the hardware store since it wasn't alclad. When I gutted the trailer, I had to tear out the bathroom stall since it wouldn't fit out the door, and because I planned to redo the bathroom anyhow. I grabbed the electric Milwaukee shears, and went to town getting a nice chunk of aluminum.
Mangled Bath Stall
I applied a liberal amount of paint stripper on the piece, cleaned the paint residue off with MEK, and cut it to fit the hole. I wasn't going for anything fancy (No Missouri shapes, no stars, no pointing fingers).
Holes laid out for drilling
After laying out and drilling the holes, I used clecos to hold it in place temporarily while I drilled holes in the exterior panel. I then took the clecos out, laid a liberal bead of Sikaflex around the exterior of the new patch, and riveted the patch in place with Olympic rivets. It was only holding a patch in place, and I figured no need to use buck rivets. I let the sikaflex cure overnight and went outside this morning to wipe off the excess with MEK. All I need now is a rivet shaver and to install the plug.
Yesterday I had a job interview, and wasn't able to get much work done on the FC. Today I decided to change that. I began the day with a trip to Frank's favorite store to get a few things. I have been reading that alot of people are using spring punches during rivet removal. I bought one. I also picked up a quick connector set for the air compressor, 25 feet of air hose, a pneumatic cut-off tool, a 10 pack of Milwaukee sawz-all blades, can of WD-40, quarter angle drill, and an air sprayer nozzle for the compressor. When I got home, this was what I had awaiting in a lonely front porch box. All I need now is some galvanized screen, and my windows will be finished for installation. Since I need to replace the floor, I will have to drop the belly pan. I began by removing the rivets around the wheel well that actually rivet to the galvanized well. Upon removal, I found this.
Full Wheel Well
Corrosion on the right
Corrosion on the left
Since the aluminum and galvanized steel were together, I have a fail amount of corrosion on the steel. I also think the wheel well aluminum cover was replaced before since there are extra holes in the underlying skin and wheel wells. My biggest worry is how to put humpty dumpty back together again when I am all done. Should I use olympics since the three legs will splay out? Aerowood on the Airforums suggested using a washer behind the skin so a buck rivet can fit and have something to grab on to. What material would work best since I don't want more corrosion? Will the washer be large enough to not pull through the corroded area?
I keep moving on after this, and start taking the rivets out of the belly pan. These rivets hold the skin, belly pan, and C-channel all together. Then I got to a point with HUGE popped rivets. They looked like shirt buttons they were do damned big. After removing them, this is what I was left with. Here are holes that no 5/32 cleco or rivet will fit through. In fact, I have been rilling out these rivets with a 1/8 inch bit damn near center every time, and I have many that a 5/32 cleco will not secure into. What do I do now other than replace the panel (Which I am NOT doing).
I also began to take the rear rub railing off, but most the the screws are rusted to tightly, that even spraying them for 8 times so far with WD-40, they are not budging. Speaking of rusty screws that aren't budging...here are the ones in the front that are giving me hell.
Once I broke as many drill bits as I was going to for the day, and gave myself one hell of a gash in my pointer finger, I called it quits. My 18v drill's motor was really hot from running through rivets like it was. I will look for an air drill to keep from burning out the motor on my nice cordless drill from here on out. After all the drilling, I decided to go and cleco every spot I could find that would hold with 1/8 or 5/32 fasteners.
Vertical on the panel, and across the belly pan
Front Window Clecos
Behind the wheel well curbside.
In closing, I must say I am learning a lot of good information. I can safely say that the factory DID screw up from time to time. Take a look below at one of numerous double holes that had one rivet installed over both. No wonder this thing had a ton of leaks.
On the ponder list for next week is to use vulkem/sikaflex on the panels or rivets when reinstalling them (while bucking, or afterwards). I hope all three of you enjoyed this latest entry.
Sometimes I really hate the previous owners of these trailers. Take mine for instance. Wall paper inside on the walls over 4-5 layers of paint, unnecessary extra screws to hold in curtain valances, and this first....bondo on the exterior that was painted silver. It started small, but eventually came off in a few big chunks. The problem I have, is that the dents that the bondo was covering, were not that bad. They were not nearly as bad as the dent I pushed out in my rear panels by hand. Regardless, this panel is set for replacement now that I have my rivet gun, but I won't replace it until I have the new floor installed. I have been rather unmotivated as of late, and managed to take the LP tank rack off the A-frame, and took the front rub rail off. The issue I have now are the 20 plus huge screws that were holding the skin to the c channel. Many of these go into the front vertical steel plate welded to the frame. I currently cannot see the plate, because the PO placed a piece of alclad over it, and SILICONED it in place. I have resulted to grinding on the heads, but I am getting nowhere fast.
Today I received my new 3x Rivet gun with 5/32 rivet set and bucking bar. I got all this for $70 shipped from toolsez. They have an ebay store, but were offering huge aircraft sets. This is all I need for my Airstream, and they made me a deal. It's nice that it arrived today, because last night I purchased this monster 6 HP 33 Gallon upright air compressor off craigslist for $200. So for $270, I have everything I need to buck rivets on the Airstream. The rivets are going to arriver tomorrow from Aircraft Spruce. Then another Vintage Trailer Supply shipment is due by Monday.
Tired of applying stripping agent over the last week, today I wanted to work on some windows. All of the windows in the trailer need new gaskets and new screens. Steve at Vintage Trailer Supply stated that my windows should probably be reworked due to the extent of my renovation. I agreed completely.
I first removed the street side bedroom window. I took the drip cap off, and then drilled out all the bucked rivets holding the frame in up top. After this, I had to remove the rivets holding the frame inside the opening. These rivets are not pop rivets, and not braizer head bucked rivets. They are near impossible to get out because getting the drill into the area is tough with the cross bar there. I have had to use some force in getting these rivets out, and I pray that I don't have to drill new holes when I reinstall the window. I have circled the rivets in the picture. If you can think of an easier way, I am all ears.
I took the window out and disassembled it by removing the pan headed screws and cross bar. I wire brushed the gunk off of the frame backs, and cleaned the glass off with MEK. I have decided to use new screws in reassembly, so I will have to wait for my next VTS supply order.
The kitchen window was damaged more than I thought and is missing a crossbar and window operator. This is most unfortunate because it is near impossible to find parts for these old Hehr standard windows. If anyone knows where some extra parts are, or knows a person who can fabricate parts I am all ears.
I also removed the small window out of the bathroom. This window has some screen left on it, but I moved it do drill those damned rivets out.
Now on to things I need help on. In order to replace the screens on this window, you have to remove the piece on the crossbar that the operator arm slides through. It looks to be mounted very tight, and there is no rivet or screw holding it in. I don't want to wreck it since they don't make replacements for them.
The next item I am on the look out for would be whatever I can use to replace what connected the window operator arm to the front window pane.
So this morning I wanted to try and take care of a few things since I was waiting on Amy to come home before I messed with the ceiling piece. One thing that has bugged me since I brought the Flying Cloud home was the fact that there was a dent in the rear 13 panels that was not disclosed to me. Since the inner panels were off, I figured I could give it a try on removing it from the inside. The dent was over a seam, so suction cups are of no use getting it out. I went inside and gently pressed my fist against the interior of the dent and with a thunderous clang, the dent popped out. Thankfully it was a small dent.
After the dent was popped, I didn't feel like stopping. I was going to wait until Amy got home to try and remove the ceiling, but thought I might try to remove it myself the way that Shacksman on the Airforums told me about. He removed his by forming it into a "U" shape, and walking out the door at an angle. It was tough, but I was able to get it out myself.
Hoosier Back yard
After I removed the ceiling, I took the shop vac out and gave the interior a good cleaning. I also started to remove decking screws that someone used to do a partial floor replacement with. Something I definitely need to have everyone BE ON THE LOOK OUT for is a new door knob and yale deadbolt. The ones on my door are pretty much toast, and need to be replaced. Due to the door flying open in transit who knows how long ago, I will have to rebuild part of if not all of the entire door.
Side view of handle and deadbolt
Front view of handle and deadbolt
I am at the point now where I need to get started with the frame and floor. I have seen it done several ways both shell on and shell off. I need to figure out what my next step from here is. Tear out the floor with belly pan on? Take belly pan off first? Take screws out of the channel first? Please sound off on whatever you have tried, or plan to do. I know that my belly pan, side skin, and channel all rivet together at the belt line. My main concern is having a template for the new rounded floor pieces on the ends. The areas that are straight are not a big deal since I am not worried about the curves.
I have been waiting for this post. The post in which I question just what the hell I am doing with this Airstream. Today was my neighbors day off, and last night he asked me what I was doing on Thursday. I told him I had no plans and that I planned to watch Collin and if time permitted, do some Airstream work. The thing is, my neighbor is the manager of a local full service Meineke shop, and he knew I needed to learn to weld for when I work on the trailer frame. We found a sitter for Collin last night, and I was set to go this morning. My neighbor took me up to his work and had his best welder show me the ropes of welding. He explained the process, and showed me a few tricks of the trade before sending me off to practice. While I only welded three things, he told me all were acceptable welds, and with a little grinding would all be sent out to customers. My neighbor's shop is closed on Sunday's and he offered to take the welder home on the Saturday night before I begin welding on the frame. Below are some shots of the work. Be nice...I'm a newbie.
My First Attempt.
My second pipe was MUCH better.
Needs a little grinding but it wil do.
I took my friend to lunch for his kindness and we went home. After I dropped him off, I visited Harbor Freight to buy as many 1/8 drill bits I could find. They had packages of 10 Carbide tipped bits for $1.89 on sale. I bought six packages of them knowing I was going to be drilling out a bunch of rivets on the exterior.
With Collin at the sitters, I decided to spend all the time I could on the trailer that I could stand. This is the part where I try to figure out what I have done. I finished removing the lower interior panels within about 30 minutes. I am glad I decided to rewire this thing. No junction boxes, splices everywhere, it's amazing these things didn't catch on fire. The area where the floor was replaced on the curbside has a huge snake of silicone along the edge of the skin and the wood. The person who replaced it cur the new floor too short, and the channel wasn't fully supported.
Really safe wiring.
Curbside silicone snake
More silicone. Pink insulation added when flooring was replaced.
The last interior lower panels are out.
Unsatisfied, I decided to move on to try to get the rear end cap out. After careful review, I realized the ceiling had to come out. I know the ceiling is comprised of three separate pieces of aluminum that are buck riveted together. When taken down, it is supposed to roll into a really long tube. To start with, I had to take down the interior control panel for the 50 year old AC unit. After getting that down, I started removing my clecos to lower the ceiling. I was able to get the sheet down by myself (Pretty scary when it dropped), but that is all I can do with it for now. The rear end cap had some rivets holding it in, and I drilled those out. Pretty difficult to get it out of there with the ceiling skin still in it, but it's one less thing to deal with now.
Ceiling on the floor.
Now you see it.
Now you don't.
Rear end cap resting on the lawn awaiting stripping.
I tried my damnedest, but I just couldn't get the ceiling rolled into a tube. Rob Baker tells me I need several people to do it, but please feel free to chime in on the subject. I also need to take the front window out of the trailer so I can remove the ceiling once rolled. Since the floor is getting replaced, I will just take the window out and rebuild it and not put in back in till I am ready. No need to worry about that wonderful solid floor in the trailer.
The last thing I will post about is what I found under the old pieces of rubber the PO had installed like rock guards on the front. It seems that there was a dent and it was filled with Bondo, and painted. When that looked like crap, they applied the rubber mats over the parts. Since I won a new pair of Milwaukee metal shears, and recently purchased some tools for riveting, I will look to replace this front panel with new aluminum. A shame since that was not something I planned to do for a cost saving measure. Here are some pictures of the damage.
I guess a shipment from VTS is a good thing on a day like today.