Archive for January, 2009

Something is Better Than Nothing

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

My composite floor repair has been discussed both here, in my blog, and in a couple of other venues. Some Airstreamers have asked me for more information and I promised that I’d make an article available as a download. Click on this link to see it: Composite floor article

Now for a disclaimer, this floor repair is simply something I did for myself, and it is an experiment. As far as I know, no one else has used the techniques and materials as described, or at least has not published their efforts. I am not an expert or professional restorer. I am, out of necessity, an amateur Do-It-Yourself, jack-of-all-trades, but master of none. I am not providing advice on how to fix anyone else’s Airstream or travel trailer. If you choose to use my project as a guideline to make repairs, you do so at your own risk. The method described has not yet been tested by others, or endorsed by Airstream Inc. or by any other professional engineer, repair shop, or restorer.

Now, I think the above disclaimer is unnecessary. I have a right to repair my Airstream any way I choose. It’s mine. I’ll do what I want with it, and I likewise have the right to write about it. It seems obvious to me that I’m simply sharing my life, but some people feel that it should come with some kind of expert endorsement. Otherwise, they see it as being deliberately disingenuous. I think my project was somewhat daring, but honest. To my way of thinking, experimentation is the only way to come up with innovative and practical solutions, necessity being the mother of invention. Following are some reader’s comments (in quotations) and my response.

“It will not work! It’s not made for the strength needed and way too many joints.” – All I can say is that it is working for me.

“Installing Trex trim as replacement flooring is untested, but put forth … as an acceptable alternative material.” – Yes, it is untested. Time and other DIY restorers will determine if it is acceptable.

“Are the Trex trim pieces replacing the original plywood subfloor structurally sound enough to complete the trailer construction as originally designed?” – This is a trick question. Obviously, my repair does not follow Airstream’s original design and construction. Airstream does not use Trex for a sub-floor, nor has Airstream endorsed Trex for use. On the other hand, my Excella never did have a plywood subfloor. It is OSB.

“Did Mr. McClure contact the Airstream mfg. facility for feedback? I would be hesitant to install this flexible product in a trailer that moves and flexes, unless I knew it would provide enough rigidity and shear strength to the unit.” – This question seems contradictory to me. If an Airstream moves and flexes, then how necessary is it to have a rigid floor? I’m not suggesting that an Airstream is one or the other, just that the question is a contradiction. As far as contacting Airstream for feedback, I did not. Why bother? Airstream’s likely advice would be to have the repair done at an “authorized” Airstream repair facility.

“My wife and I own and have restored a vintage Airstream. During the process of our restoration, we used marine-grade plywood to replace the wood floor.” – Good for you!

If I haven’t already made this obvious, then understand that the section of floor I replaced was pretty much rotted out along the perimeter and provided little structural support to the shell or chassis in the rear of the trailer to begin with. In other words, I replaced nothing with something, and something is better than nothing, even if it doesn’t meet someone’s standard.

About the Author

Hi, my name is Forrest McClure. I've been writing for the magazine since its inception. My wife and I travel with our 1966 20' Globe Trotter or our 1986 32' Excella. So, my primary interest is vintage travel trailers.