Framed!How we restored our Frame WITHOUT doing the Full Monte
It’s all about the Frame, bout the Frame
You don’t know what you don’t know. At least we didn’t when we first pulled her home. We had seen the rust on the bottom, inspected the axle, and knew there were a few issues. But we can’t see the top of the frame of course since there is a Airstream Argosy on top of it.
How to repair the Frame without doing the Full Monte.
Absolutely buy some cans of WD40
The first thing to do is to take the lower inner panels or skins off. You will see that the sub-floor is bolted in between the C-channel and the Frame. Obviously to get to the frame, you going to have to take the sub-floor out. This is a step WE did NOT do first. It would have made life so much easier had we taken the lower panels off first. TIP: make sure you have a clean dry place to put your inner panels once you have removed them.
Next, remove the banana wraps. This will give you access to the bolts that have the sub-floor screwed in. You will probably have to un-rivet the lower beltline (goes around the Airstream) which is the divider between the banana wraps and the camper itself to take the banana wraps off.
Our Argosy came with a wheel well cover over the wheel well. You will have to remove them also. They are usually just screwed in.
Now the fun part. Start removing the sub-floor. (see “removing the sub-floor”) If you have taken your banana wraps off, you will be able to see the under bolt that both the camper (Airstream) and your sub-floor is attached to. We have to cut ours off. They will be a rusted piece of junk and probably won’t come out willingly.
After you have found curse words that you never though you knew, and the sub-floor is finally out. It’s time for some Frame love.
If you have corroded rust holes in your Frame, you are going to have to address this. You can buy outriggers and a welder for little money. Frame welding is NOT that hard and it’s better to be safe than sorry. This step will take the longest. IF you have no corroded rust holes, than consider yourself very lucky.
Your next step is to start removing rust, and corrosion on the frame itself. We used a Wagner PaintEater Disc attached to our Drill. It worked great. You do NOT have to sand it down to the metal. You are just removing loose rust and making the frame clean. The other parts of the top frame will and can be difficult to get to. You will have to “hand sand” the outriggers. In our case, there was some major rust happening and some “pitting”. The worse the rust, the more you grind down. Once you have completely sanded the top of the frame, including outriggers, you are ready for the bottom.
Find a way to “jack up” your Airstream. We lifted her one side at a time and placed concrete blocks with wood planks on them to lift her 3 feet higher. . We also used 4 Floor Jacks for additional support and fail safe. Make sure you have removed the wheels also. You are going to have to grind behind them and both wheel well outriggers.
You are going to have to remove the Belly Pan. (see belly pan) Once successfully removed, you can start grinding the bottom of the frame. (which by the way in need of a lot more love)
Once the frame has been completely grinded down. It’s time to protect it. We used POR 15 Prep, and POR 15 Rust Protectant. This will be a long process also because of the dry time between coats and washing the frame after you have prepped it. We used a paint brush to apply it.
You can do 95% of the frame without removing the camper off. The photo to the right shows the entire top frame done. We took the Belly Pan off next to do the bottom of the frame. Hope this helps a little or at least gives you starting place. The total project of the frame took 1 month once the inner skins were out.