Sunday, June 12, 2016

1967 Overlander 2 of...

 Two posts ago I was telling you about the 1967 Overlander in for structural repairs. I want to continue with that project in this post.

To kick things off, I feel the need to say there are a lot of aspects of these projects people never ever notice. A lot of thought and effort goes into these structural and systems repairs/ improvements. Most tend to only see the furnishings and never consider what is holding it all up. Many hours go completely unseen or even thought about.




As with most projects, there is always more than meets the eye initially. Once the the floor came up, it became painfully obvious that the pan that holds the black tank was completely shot. These were originally made of galvanized steel. More than 40% of this pan was rusted away. The closet flange and vent pipes were what was keeping the tank from crashing to the ground. The tank itself was cracked around the inlet and the vent. I wondering why this tank did not fall out on the road. The pan was easy enough to replicate out of 14 gauge aluminum. 


The tank was not as easy. I looked into replacing it but 1967 is a grey year for manufactures. The inlet location and vent locations are unique to this year so the tanks are just not available for replacement. I missed it by one year. You can see the spiral crack going 70% of the way around the 3" inlet. The vent outlet was cracked all the way around. Some threads of plastic were keeping it from falling off. My only option was to repair the tank. Here you see it after multiple bleach baths. 


After consulting with a professional plastics guy, the cracks were welded shut  and the top was reinforced with roving and epoxy. A new valve had to be installed. Above you see it sitting where it will eventually live. You also can see the grey water tank that was installed just behind the rear axle. Grey water tanks did not begin to be utilized for many years after this trailer was built. Holding back the grey water is a modern essential.


The wheel wells on this trailer were toast. The bottom inch all the way around each one was completely gone. Occasionally this damage is limited and a repair can be made, in this case new ones were fabricated using 11 gauge aluminum.


Once the frame was all straightened back out, the black tank repaired, the new grey tank installed, the new floor put down,  the wheel wells installed, an umbilical cord installed into terminal box with the brakes wired up, the new belly pan installed, then, and only then, it became time to lower the shell back onto the chassis.


My attentions next turned to making the shell sound again and water tight. There are a lot of steps to complete. My focus turned to fixing the damage to the shell. Numerous times this trailer has been hit and repaired. There is evidence that it was struck on both sides and two different end segments.  None of these repairs were executed properly. They were all done by going from the outside. 
The photo above is damage that was covered up with a flat panel. It is difficult to see but both ribs were pushed inward. 


In the rear there was this rather large hole that had been patched over. 


They used a cedar shake to keep the skin from caving back in. The  aluminum used to make the repair in this area was roofing flashing.


I installed a salvaged baggage door. The hole goes away and suddenly there is easy access to the shower p-trap. This looks 100% intentional and original.


You can see the rather wide gap between the skin and the bent rib. Please note the extensive scrapes to the skin. The entire panel had these down the side. They even went over portions of the door skin. 


These are very difficult to fix. I have to utilize hydraulic pressure to fix this stuff.


This entire side was hit or perhaps it was the trailer that was dragged against something harder than aluminum. There are creases running the entire 12 feet of this panel. Two photos ago showed these creases from the inside. This entire panel was replaced.


I won't bore you, but panel comes off. A copy is made in new alclad aluminum...


... the new panel is then riveted into place. 


This post would not be a normal one if I did not rant just a little;
Above you see one reason my shop will always be repairing rotten floor. That is an Olympic style of rivet. They are approved for Airstream body repairs. Some shops even claim they are approved for structural repairs. These rivets allowed someone to replace a good deal of aluminum without bucking a single rivet. All the work can be done from the outside. Most often the technique used is to overlay the damage with a new panel then to olympic the panel back on. These rivets get shaved down with a special tool. From 5 feet they appear to be real, bucked rivets. When done, the customer leaves loving how good it all looks. Shortly after, the center of the rivet begins to wiggle. The mandrel eventually starts to work itself out and the rivet begins leaking. Within a short time the floor starts to weaken and a shop like mine gets contacted.
We replaced every single one with a bucked rivet. There were at least 500 of these olympic style rivets removed and replaced.


Damage like this is just left in place and a new skin covers it all. From the outside it all looks fine but under neath is a damaged structure. 


A repair done correctly.


The front panel had a spare tire mount screwed to it. The dissimilar metals destroyed this panel. It too  was replaced with new alclad.


Doesn't that look a whole lot better?


Starting in 1964Airstream used these banana wraps in the front corners. On this trailer someone had filled the dents numerous times with bondo and primer to be topped with some sort of silver-ish paint. I stripped the paint and bondo, then removed all the dents using my beloved shot bag and dolly.


Dolly, hammer, shot bag, patience....



The original trim goes one once all of the shell has been riveted back to the c channel.


The cabin door has proven to be a serious challenge. For added security someone installed a pad lock hasp. Big, honking screws were used to mount it. Someone still tried to use a crow bar to enter. I think of all the jobs I have looked at or done over the years, a hasp is a guarantee of attempted entry using a crowbar. When this trailer pulled into my yard the door would not latch or stayed closed. The floor below it was completely rotted away. It now opens and closes. It even locks shut. It is far from perfect and will require a little more attention.


As stated, the door closes less than stellar. Here you see some of that damage I mentioned earlier. Once aluminum is creased it becomes very difficult to bend it back.


Here you can see how a previous owner adjusted for the door not working properly. I see so much of this stuff.


This is something that cannot be so easily fixed. New lights were added. Someone thought a wire wheel to be the perfect solution  for getting off the old sealant. Unfortunately those scratches can never be polished out. The hole was not in the right place so a dremel was used to widen the hole. Thankfully the marker lights cover most of this. Unfortunately, it does not cover all of it. I always hope they thought they were doing the right thing.


Someone also thought they were doing the right thing by making rain gutters. They too were fabricated using flashing aluminum. It is a shame they could not keep the gutters in a straight line. They slope down hill toward the front. An awning rail could cover this nicely if it were not for the fact it would visually accentuate the down hill run. Rain gutters are not really needed "IF' the windows are maintained.


Rain gutters were a Plan D, maybe even Plan E. They were put on to correct the inherently leaky 1966-68 windows. The windows need continuous diligence in making sure the window seals stay completely fresh. After just a few years they compress down and stop sealing. Instead of replacing the gasket a tube of sealant is pulled out and injected into the corners. It helps widen the gap, in turn increasing the leak. Over and over the attempt is made to fix the seal but never the correct way. 

Work continues on towards completing a water tight shell. There are a vast number of holes to take care of. All of that will go unseen and be completely out of thought once the draperies go up. 




Saturday, April 30, 2016

84 Out the Door...


I posted about the 1984 Avion in for a renovation a while back.


I thought I would snap a few shots of her before she rolled out the door.





Please look past the sofa, that upholstery work is going to take place in the future...



Rear bedroom office...


Lighted closets...






Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Carlisle Spring Meet.



I probably should have posted this here. 
It was published on my Anna Lumanum Blog instead. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

1967 Overlander






I have launched right into a major structural restoration. This old Overlander is in need of a serious tune up. 


At this stage of the project, I knew all the floor need to be replaced. I did not know how badly. If you own a 1966-1968 Airstream, you too have all of these same issues. It is not your fault. It is Airstream's fault. They did not intend to build something that would leak so badly, the times were changing and so was the attention to quality all across America. I guess it really is their fault.


Just about every corner has very soft or completely rotten floor. You can never see many of these spots due to the bathroom module. 



The galvanized wheel tubs seem to always give out in this location, allowing water to rot the plywood edges.


The refrigerator vent always leaks allowing in rain water. A replacement hatch done improperly just adds to the leak effect.


The water tank and gaucho hide what is going on up here.


Plumbing stacks, hatches, windows, roof vents... they all were serious culprits in this era. They all leak badly in this era.





Big honking screws used to attach various things that should not have,  allow water in. These are actually the biggest I have extracted yet. 



Holes, holes holes. Not one of those you see is supposed to be there.



This is caused by steel and aluminum making contact for years. The aluminum atoms do not like being near the steel molecules. The aluminum atoms do everything in their power to get away from the steel molecules.  You can put your finger right through the skin here.


This is also a major bane of my existence. The dreaded Olympic rivet. The Olympic is Airstream approved, for panel replacement.  By doing the repair from the outside, they substitute the solid rivet. This technique  provides a speed and ease for panel replacement. They are complete garbage. They leak like crazy and over time the mandrel in the center begins to move outward. 


When the plywood subfloor comes off it never looks pretty. Sometimes it looks very scary. BTW, this entire frame is 1/8" formed steel. My steel working friend is shocked by this. To quote him, "thats all it is? Seriously? how do these Airstreams even last so long?"


Honestly, I was kind of surprised how much metal had completely rotted away.


Remember that leaking plumbing stack I mentioned.


It did not look so bad with the floor still on.


Unfortunately that leak ate up the entire out rigger and part of the main frame rail.


Remember that patch of floor missing by the door? That leak was from the bad door seals, leaking access hatch, and refrigerator vent all letting water in...


This area is really bad. 6 outriggers are toast, two of which are stair slotted. The main frame rail is also completely compromised here. The entire frame sags 1 1/4" in this location. 


All is not lost. I have the means to repair it all. 


I simply cut all the bad metal out. Yes, it really is that simple. This pile is just the beginning. It would grow three times this.



I will caution you however that once you start cutting, things will begin to move. It is imperative that you keep them where they belong. Sometimes you even will need to persuade them back to where they used to be.


I simply cut the cancer out and replaced it all with new metal.


New metal was formed to the exact same shapes and dimensions as the originals. Piece by piece the parts are mended back together.


New outrigger. Yeah, I just make them myself.



And the slotted stair units I make those too.  I use a laser to make the perfect slot.


The stair units are currently unavailable though various suppliers. I was told that the consistency of the slot has been an issue for years. People were buying a left to find it different from a right hand one. Because of this problem, my main supplier of frame parts has stopped stocking them entirely. FTW has solved this issue by now selling them as a pair. Soon, very soon, you will be able to buy these directly from me. Made in the USA, from American steel, fabricated by American craftsmen.

As the frame goes into it's next stage I will be sure to post more photos. Feel free to post any questions below in the comments section.


Did I mention that this guy loves to weld?