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?