Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trial and Error and Success

You may have notice that I am bloging pretty regularly lately. You might think that it's because I am making lots of progress and wish to document it here. The true reason is that I am trying to make up for all of the other Airstream restoration blogs that I enjoy reading. I am blogging about actual Airstream restoration here to counter-act all those other blogs that like to document boat rides, farm animals, and auctions. Anyway, on with the blog...

This post is intended to help those who will be doing a shell on floor replacement on the front half of their trailer. One of the problems I encountered last year was that once I drilled out all of the rivets holding the exterior skin to the old j-channel, the door would no longer close. In fact, the only way I could make it close was by pulling on the grab handle on the outside of the trailer, hard, while simultaneously pushing the door towards the back of he trailer, hard. I solved the problem with a piece of string to keep the door semi-closed for the past 8 months or so.
The first thing I did was to install the new j-channel just to the rear of the door. This part of the trailer did not move much when I drilled out the rivets last year since it's only about 3 or 4 feet away from some good solid rivets. I positioned the j-channel, screwed it down, then klecko'd the skin the the j-channel. So far, so good.

A peek inside the trailer to see where we're at.

Next I repeated the process on the side forward of the door. Again, I screwed the j-channel in place, then I pulled on the door frame to get clearance for the door to close, drilled through the j-channel from the outside, and klecko'd everything solid. I stepped out of the trailer, closed the door, and THUNK. The door still was no where close to being able to close. I was a good 3/8 of an inch off. Great. OK. Time to try something different.
All I had to do was unscrew the j-channel from the floor while leaving it klecko'd into place. Then I shut the door from the inside (I had to kind of push and shove and shift the skin to get it to the point where it would close) and, with a little more pushing and shoving and shifting to get things into position, I screwed the j-channel to the floor. I finished putting the rest of the screws into the j-channel to hold it solid, and I opened the door to test the fit.

Success! One fingered door closing sweetness! What was actually a pretty simple process took about 2 frustrating hours. I hope when some of you guys finally get around to making the front end of your trailers as solid as the back end (I'm talking to you, Marcus and Whiskers), you'll remember this post.

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