Stick figures of Chloe, Andrew and Henderson with their camper parked in front of Blue Mountain beside the Susquehanna River. Playful Curiosity.

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Replacing the Floor - The Big LIFT
(October 2006)

Collage of the floor problem
With the discovery of the dreaded floor rot came an adventure even Lucy couldn't dream up.

While stripping out the cabinets we found what you find in a lot of these vintage Airstreams - the floor in the bathroom had rotted out.

The problem is the sandwich construction they used at the time. The only good way to replace the entire floor is to separate the body and the frame, remove the channel the body attaches to and replace the floor.

Some people have had varying degrees of success patching but the generally accepted best practice is the separate and replace way. It also allows access to repair/repaint the frame.

In the sketch below you can see how the plywood goes all the way under the walls and how the bellypan wraps around the floor and into the wall.

Sketch of the sandwich construction
Sketch of the wall construction.

It was about this time we had a changing of the guard. Mike, my long time friend, was going to do this project but that was before we gutted it and decided to have custom cabinets built. That was also before the floor and before we decided to replace the axle.

Mike didn't have the equipment for the custom cabinets. We needed to enlist his friend and his friend's garage for the floor and axle. So somewhere in the floor/axle project, they sat me down and told me Ren would take over the project.

This is how I met Ren - not his real name but we'll get to that in a minute. Ren can do pretty much anything build/design/paint-wise. Metal? Mechanical? Wood? All stuff he's done along the way.

Ren did the Airstream, made custom furniture for me, painted a Rixe, painted the LI175, is welding the frame for the Unholy Mating project, consulted (held my hand) all the way through the Elevated House project, he did the building plan drawings, kitchen cabinets, beam/floor straightening, deck and all the finish work on the house, he and I have a top secret but way cool new project in the works - not to mention he's a damn good friend. Basically, if I come up with a crazy notion, Ren makes it possible.

Ren - not his real name. Ren prefers to remain anonymous and let his work speak for him. A bit annoying but I'll play along. I call him Ren on to respect his wishes. Ren is short for Modern Day Renaissance Man. If you skimmed the paragraph above, read it and you'll see why I say that. I thought about shortening it to Ren Man but the obvious jokes came to mind. Mo Ren wasn't much better.

62 Chevy Impala with custom paint
Ren's 62 Chevy Impala with custom skull and crystal paint job.

Airstream in Ren's garage
Airstream in Ren's garage. Pieces of Airstream in the foreground. A Bradley GT beside it.

Stripping the Airstream.
Stripping out the last bits before the lift.

Support framing for the body.
Framing to supporting the body.

Framing to lift the body.
Framing to lift the body.

Me pointing to where the body lifted off the frame.
Hand jacked it to get the body to separate from channel. Me pointing. Hey, look a gap!

Body separated.
Body separated from the frame. That's a "helper" stick laying across the front. The body sticks and needs a little coaxing to let go of the channel.

Car lift inserted in gap.
Car lift arms inserted in the gap.

Body four feet in air.
Body off.

Rusty frame.
Looks like more than the floor needs help.

Frame painted.
Frame painted with POR-15.

Rotted floor on new wood.
Rotted floor on new marine grade plywood.

New floor installed.
Epoxied the edges. Heavy duty sealer on the wood. My friend Mike got his pony tail in the epoxy and had to cut off his hair. He's gone Mr Clean since then.

Mike's after before and after.
My friend Mike got his pony tail in the epoxy and had to cut off his hair. He's gone Mr Clean since then.

New axle on Airstream.
New axle and belly pan.