Thursday, April 3, 2014

Belly Pan Installation

Aluminum for the belly pan was ordered from AirParts Inc.  They can supply various types and sizes of aluminum for Airstreams and other RVs.  I ordered a piece of 2024T3 (aluminum Alclad) 27 feet by 4 feet and .32 inches thick.  It was delivered rolled up in a tight coil and layered with protective paper in a cardboard box.  I can highly recommend AirParts Inc. for its great service and quick delivery.

The belly pan aluminum covers the entire bottom side of the trailer.  It also wraps up the sides of the trailer to meet the shell.  This curved area is called the "banana wrap."  I will use the 2024T3 aluminum for the perimeter of the belly pan. The banana wrap is visible and therefore, it will be polished much like the shell at a later date.

The aluminum piece delivered from AirParts Inc. was taken to my local metal shop to be cut into manageable pieces.  The shop has a ten foot metal shear.  I needed 3 pieces that were 4 feet by 9 feet.  One of the 4 foot by 9 foot pieces will be used for the front of the trailer near the "A frame."  The two other pieces needed to be cut into 2 foot by 9 foot pieces.  These 2 foot pieces will be fitted around the perimeter for the banana wrap.


The center belly pan area between the frame rails will not be visible.  I purchased a construction grade aluminum (not normally polished) of the same thickness to cover the individual cavities. This way the plumbing and grey tanks will remain accessible should the need arise.  The aluminum for the center cavities was obtained from the metal shop and was cut to order on site.  "Fabulous."


There are countless products available for insulation as well as installation techniques.  I have formed my own opinion based upon common practice and  by listening to "The VAP" podcast (The Vintage Airstream Podcast).  "The VAP" is my favorite podcast, and I highly recommend it for the "Vintage Airstream" enthusiast.

I used "Prodex" for a thermal barrier installed next to the bottom of the wooden floor. 
It is a 1/4 inch form of "bubble wrap" foil faced on both sides. 
The barrier was held in place by just a few staples placed into the wooden floor. 

Next, I installed "Certainteed-Saint-Gobain" 3 1/2 inch, R-11 fiberglass insulation.  

Now for the Aluminum.  Measuring, cutting, shaping, and forming are necessary skills here.

.32 inch aluminum is hard to bend by hand.  This long piece required considerable muscle.

Use all of your tools.

I used aluminum pop rivets of different lengths to secure the aluminum to the frame members 
 and "C" channel.
Large head pop rivets from "Vintage Trailer Supply" were a big help.

The sewage spigot area was a real challenge.  The complex curves and angles proved difficult.
A small door incorporating the dump valve will be fabricated for this area at a later date. 

Good progress here with most of the banana wraps done.

1 comment:

  1. HI there! I am working on the belly pan and have some questions. Could I email you? Thanks!