Tuesday, January 27, 2015

57 Caravanner 3 of...

When I last posted, the subfloor was being glued together and bolted down. Here you see the floor with the "c" channel installed. I re made all of it except the curved, extruded parts. In the photo above you will also see all the seams in the plywood and the elevator bolt holes have been filled with epoxy filler.

From there we moved on to insulation. There are many ways people do this. I keep coming back to 2" of closed cell foam board glued and friction fit into place. I would never go the fiberglass route however. The wiring for the umbilical cord and the brake lines was done at this stage. The plumbing is rather simple in this trailer and it can almost all be done above the floor. 

The belly pan was next on the agenda. A wonderful thing about this era; 48" wide sheets were used originally. This makes for a much cleaner look. A couple years later and there would need to be a filler down the center. You may also note that PVC film I continuously recommend you buy your aluminum with. Airparts Inc  is great about supplying it to me this way.
It is hard to take photos and drop the shell back down. This shell gave me a hard time and took many hours to position correctly. It actually got so frustrating, I had to stop work and return the next day. I would get the front lined up and the back would pull out of place. I would get the back into place and the front would shift out of place. My personal advice is when frustrated, stop work immediately. Come back fresh. 

There are some critical spots so I started at the most important; the door. My template told me right where the frame was supposed to be. I started there and began attaching going counter clock wise around the trailer. 

Another important alignment is the front steel hold down plate. When the first clecko slipped into it's original hole, I knew it was all going to be perfect. I did not have to drill a single hole in the plate. I knew I had it won.

I went right down the street side...

… and around to the back. Which brought me to another issue; The rear had dropped about 3/4 of an inch.  My 3 meter level confirmed it. This is very common. It is often missed when people do shell on repairs. I simply got out a bunch of screw jacks and made sure everything was completely level and flat. All the old holes lined right up.

From here I went on to body work. Body work is my favorite aspect of this work. You might notice that serious dent in the first segment, street side. That is just one of many blemishes we are going to remove by replacing the skin. You may be saying "wow, that must cost a pile!" I would point out that often the labor and materials to replace a panel is less than polishing the original skin. You cannot get rid of a dent like that through polishing either.

Time to remove the original.

Then I go on to copying the panel. In the case of this segment it required a special roll to both edges. I took the blank over to Tom @ Metal Benders. In a couple of days he will have it back to me with a perfect match. 

In the mean time, we will be replacing the damaged panels, one ofter another till they are all done.

Stay tuned, more to come soon.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

57 Caravanner 2 of...

As stated in the last post; many repairs to the frame were made. Some, like this hole that was created when the outrigger rusted around the elevator bolt were cut out and new metal was welded in.

In the end, four out riggers were replaced. The longest, the shortest, a right, and a left. 

Overall, I am impressed with the construction of the frames in 1957. I like the use of 2x 4 tube for the frame rails and the 14 gauge channel used for the out riggers and cross members. 

I need to switch back to color for this one…
Some kind of rubberized coating was applied to the steel plate that keeps the shell from sliding forward. I have never seen this in Airstream construction before. When this trailer was built, Airstream had been in business, post war, roughly 10 years. Wally Byam was leading caravans all over the Western Hemisphere, beating the heck out the units and sending the results back to the engineers at the two factories. Ten years of time is probably long enough to see how the dissimilarity of steel and aluminum was becoming a problem and someone decided to do something about it. Why this did not continue is my biggest question. Galvanic corrosion will be an issue that haunts Airstream to this very day.

After stripping the plate all down, It was treated with POR15 and then a rubberized coating was applied to the plate where it contacts the front skin.

2 coats of POR15 were applied to all the frame parts. POR also makes a top coat that we applied to all areas that would eventually see the light of day. I have used this system on the last few jobs and tend to like the results.

Using the templates I made earlier, all five sheets were cut to size. I machined all the edges of the sheets for Lamellos(biscuits for all you who are not old school woodworkers) to give alignment and added strength to the joint.

Just to field the questions I know are to follow; 
I have used many glues. I have used yellow glue, construction adhesive, and even thickened epoxy. All of them have worked very well. This time around I used polyurethane glue. Many of you know this as Gorilla Glue by brand name. All of the above work very well. 

The plywood I use is AC 5/8"plywood. I used to use marine plywood and honestly prefer it for it's lack of voids, water proof glue, and numerous plys in the sheet. The reason for using the AC plywood is two fold. It is 1/4 the price and it is made in the USA. I am on a personal crusade to use as much 'Made in AMERICA' as possible. 

The steel is also Made in America. I had my friend Tom at Metal Benders fabricate the new channel from mild steel. Tom is a part of just about every single project I do. His computer operated shear, burning table, and break made easy work of bending such heavy stock. ,