Iâ€™ve removed the moldy sub-floor and uncovered a previous attempt by someone to reinforce the rotted floor. I can only call it a patch job at best, because to me itâ€™s like putting a Band-Aid on skin cancer. The goal, I suppose, was to shore up the sagging floor by putting another floor below it. The â€œrepairâ€ used corner braces and two pieces of scrap plywood. Of course the mold spread to it too.
A patch job.
I love my digital camera. I dropped it through a small hole and took a snap shot of the chassis below the patch job but above the pan. It clearly shows what was done.
Angle iron and scrap plywood are a Band Aid, not a repair.
All of this has been removed. It has been an ugly dirty job, but the area has now been wire brushed, the chassis sprayed with a Rustoleum Rust Reformer (a rust conversion formula), and I am now in the process of installing a new floor. Along the way Iâ€™ve made other minor rivet repairs and rerouted some wiring for a more efficient layout.
Iâ€™m replacing the floor without dropping the pan, yet Iâ€™ll be able to assemble the floor using elevator bolts. Iâ€™m doing this by not going with sheet plywood or OSB. Instead, Iâ€™m being adventurous. Iâ€™m using Trex decking lumber â€“ or more precisely Trex deck trim board. Initially, I did consider plywood. I donâ€™t know how it is in your area of the country, but here in the Denver area neither plywood nor OSB can be had in true 5/8â€ thickness. Instead, both Lowes and Home Depot display 23/32â€ as being the equivalent.
The original flooring in the Excella is 5/8â€ though, and that is what the perimeter aluminum floor channel is sized for. 23/32â€ will not go into a 5/8â€ space! I would say â€œDuh,â€ but I had to find out the hard way by trying in vain to do it.
The deck trim board though is exactly 5/8â€. It slides into the floor channel perfectly â€“ not loosely, but snug. Trex is a composite product made of wood and plastic fibers. Trex gets its plastic and wood fibers from reclaimed or recycled resources, including sawdust and used pallets from woodworking operations, and recycled plastic grocery bags. According to the Trex web site, 5/8â€ can be obtained in 4â€™ wide panels ranging in length from 4â€™ to 12â€™. A panel would make this rehab more difficult and involved though. But panels would work well for any frame-off restoration or new trailer assembly at the Airstream factory (hint, hint).
There are at least a couple of negatives to using this material though. One, it is pricy; about $33 for a 12â€™ x 9.05â€ x 5/8â€ board. Two, it is considerably heavier than either of the other wood products. But I feel the positives outweigh the negatives. Trex does not splinter, warp, delaminate, rot, or swell. It is impervious to water and insects. It has excellent crush resistance. It does not require painting, staining or priming. It cuts as easily as wood and is much more flexible.
Its flexibility I initially thought of as a negative, but it makes the rehab installation much easier. To keep the floor from feeling soft though I do have to reinforce some areas to give it more support. The boards also use more fasteners and other hardware to install it. But I have most of that already left over from previous projects. The boards also will have a small gap between each to allow for expansion. But since Trex is to be the sub-floor Iâ€™m not too concerned about that. Most of the bedroom floor area is storage and Iâ€™ll recover those areas with the aluminum diamond plate that Airstream installed. The living area of the bedroom floor will get Tomâ€™s floating floor back. All of this will cover the gaps.
The end result will be a floor that might outlast the rest of the trailer â€“ of course we may have to wait anywhere from 20 to 40 years to find that out! Still, this is an experiment, so wish me luck!