Frame condition and evaluation

We recently shared an exciting milestone in our progress, lifting the shell of our Airstream off of the frame. This week we’ll go over the condition of our frame and what needs to be done to recondition it.

We moved the trailer out of our backyard and onto our concrete driveway to give us a flat place to work and to make clean up easier (try picking rivets and screws out of grass, it’s not easy).

Here we noticed the first major problem. The street-side rear aspect of the frame is markedly sagging. Rear end sag is a common problem in early 1970’s Airstreams due to the light weight frames. Unfortunately, it can result in the need for major repairs or even a whole new frame. The sag in our case was caused by a large bend in the the street-side main rail, likely from a bad axle or a previous owner high-centering the frame on something. They had attempted to stabilize the frame by bolting a thick steel plate over the bend, but it didn’t correct the sagging corner at all.

Another major issue that we noted is that a few of the crossmembers were bent, probably from the same or similar incidents of high-centering the trailer in the past.

We also unsurprisingly had a decent amount of corrosion, a common problem in Airstreams from this time period. This gave a moth-eaten appearance to some of the outriggers, rear hold-down plate, the area around the door, and a few other places.

All of these issues can lend themselves to instability in the frame, which can prevent it from being road-worthy long term, and are a safety hazard. However, we were fairly lucky overall as many people have found themselves in a position where they have had to rebuild an entire frame, as opposed to our situation where we just need to have ours repaired, reinforced, and a few key areas replaced.

Before we have the frame repaired we still have to remove the belly pan, drill out errant rivets, and get everything down to bare steel. Originally we did have some nice timelapses of the process, but a backup snafu accidentally deleted them all. In the next week or so we should have the frame ready for the welder.

Check out our progress on the frame and a quick walk around of the shell below!

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