Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stepping back to move forward

I posted some photos in an earlier post of the patches made for Lu Lu's skin tear. I just was not happy with the way the curve looked. I had cut a template out by hand and it was not a true arch. The curve had a few dips to it, and I just was not willing to put my name on that. I went to the job folder and crossed out all the hours associated with creating the patches and started over.

I started by having my buddy with a CNC machine cut out the arch I needed. TJ actually cut out two patterns so I could sandwich the aluminum sheet between them. I then traced the template with a top bearing tracing bit.

The curve is now perfect and I feel much better about the way it looks.

I cut out the peaked wheel well and formed some fender edge to go around it. Now I am back where I started and feel much better about what I am putting out of the shop door. Lu Lu has been worked on by another shop. That shop has a stellar reputation and to be honest I am astounded by some of the things they did.

One of the things that astounds me is the use of these rivets to hold the belt line on. Those steel shafts just should not be there. They were such a pain to drill out and actually caused me to buy a rivet removal tool. They were 1/4" shaft too, which leaves a big hole.

The belt was stuck into place very well with big blobs of vulkem. I had to get in behind there and slowly work a knife in to cut it free

It is amazing how debris can get in behind these things. I know this belt was off not too long ago.

Then there was this head scratcher. A drywall screw and a small washer screwed into the floor right at the frame rail. I can only guess this was some sort of front end separation fix. There is one on each side. I'll back that out and replace it with stainless steel so that the iron does not react with the aluminum.

The front floor was replaced and they used self drilling screws to attach the patch to the frame. Some of the screws were a little long. these will need to be cut off flush so they do not come through the new belly pan I am fabricating. Yes, all new belly pan...

The belly is being made from the same material that new Airstreams are made from. Not sure of the alloy, but it is coated on both sides. I needed to take the roll over to my buddies shop to unroll it. I was afraid of the wind catching it as I unrolled and twisting it up. I am lucky to have good friends that help me out like this. I am lucky to know someone with that much clear floor space....

I now have more manageable sizes to work into the final shapes.

A little trick I learned from one of my friends across the pond is to cover the edge of the outrigger with edge wrap. This keeps the outrigger from sawing through. He had sent me some to try out and it was very substantial in thickness. I had been searching a local source and and found some made of neoprene.

Here is a cross section of the material.

Next up will be welding and the actual shaping of the belly pan. Things are moving along very well now. Please check in again soon.


  1. You realise Frank you're doing a much better job than Airstream did in the first place ! If you go on like this then Airstream really will be known for the quality of their work. Keep it up.


    Glad the outrigger wrap arrived, though I think your neoprene does the job just as well.

  2. Great stuff Frank. Thanks for all the info. So who is the source for this neoprene wrap? That stuff looks great and I have some work to do on both sides of my step where this will come in handy.

  3. Looks great Frank. Can't tell you how many times I have "stepped back" myself but the payoff is always worth it. Remind me sometime to tell you about a trick for making perfect acrhes without a CNC machine.