Cutting into Alice’s Subfloor

We are finally to subfloor demo!!! This should be the last step before we get to actually start building and renovating and not just demoing!

To say that we are excited is an understatement.

I am very aware that our mouse count will most likely double if not triple as we pull up the floors and reveal what is lurking underneath, but even the looming discovery of mice carcasses cannot dampen my excitement.  I still refuse to look into a dark corner or reach my hand into pink insulation without Tim first doing a mouse check, but I think that is perfectly reasonable.

We decided to start with the smallest section of subfloor and as it happens, it is also the only section without any cutouts so we figured it would be an easy place to start. In this photo, Tim is standing on the section of floor that we chose to remove first. It is the last section of subfloor before the rear end curve.

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Here is another angle to give you a better idea of what we were working on. Unlike most other sections of the floor, it is not a full 4×8 sheet of plywood.

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The demo started off pretty promising. This bolt was so rusted out that Tim was able to snap it off with his hands.

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Same went for the bolt in this photo. This is area of the floor is probably the 2nd or 3rd worst area of water damage. If you stood on that area of the floor your foot would probably go right through.

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Things were moving along so smoothly that we set up the GoPro to document our progress.

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Next Tim started taking out the screws.

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After that one screw came out fairly easy progress halted. The screws that were in the subfloor were not coming out. Tim declared he needed a new tool, specifically a screw extractor set, to get the remaining screws out. I think setting up the GoPro jinxed our progress.

While I Googled screw extractor set, Tim attacked the floors from a new angle.

He first cut a little hole so he could peek in and see what he was working with and to also make sure that the saw was set at the right depth. Then he cut a line going parallel to the other long cut and tried to pry the cut section up. That didn’t work so he cut down the middle and he was able to lift up the pieces.
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They were not pretty cuts but they did the job and we finally got a look at what was under the subfloors. It ends up there was mice nested insulation, more acorns and lots of mice poop. Everything was just as we expected.

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Both Tim and I were excited about the condition of the belly pan and the steel frame. Everything, besides the mice dwelling wreckage, looked great (so far)!

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Next Tim worked on getting the other cut out section free. He was able to get the screws out. One screw was unreachable so Tim used a set of pliers to bend back the C-channel a bit in order to get at it.

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In the end he wasn’t able to get all the bolts and screws out under that access door so they will have to be cut out from underneath.
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Also, even though this bolt and nut are now free it didn’t want to fall through to the floor.

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In an effort to keep momentum going, Tim switched to the curb side and repeated the same steps as above but this time he cut closer to the outside skin.

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And just like before he cut the cut out in half.

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That brought us to this point. In order to keep insulation inhalation to a minimum we masked up and Tim bagged up all the reachable pink stuff.

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It was at this point that the first below subfloor mouse carcass was discovered. At that moment I declared that from now on, all dead mice must be bagged in their own little plastic bag because I did not want to throw something away and have a pile of dead mice staring up at me.

And because Tim is an incredible husband and because he loves me, he obliged. If there ever was photo proof of how much Tim loves me, here it is. Tim bagged that mouse. Double knotted the bag and threw it away all while I stood as far away as possible. I married a good man.

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After the de-mousing and de-pink insulationing, Elise showed up and reminded us that it was time to feed the kids again. Is it just me or do kids need to be fed a ridiculous amount of times every day? Always with the eating!

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Because it was feeding time that was all we were able to get done on Saturday.

Sunday morning we applauded the kids as they sang their Christmas songs for the Church Christmas Pageant.

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Then we celebrated their Best Christmas Pageant Ever by eating way too many pancakes at IHOP, and with full bellies we headed to Home Depot to buy a screw extractor kit. By the time we finally made it out to Alice it was late afternoon and the sun was setting so I had to spotlight Tim while he tried to extract screws.

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The screw extractor kit was not as helpful as we hoped. In fact we made zero progress in the 45 minutes we were out there. It was a disheartening afternoon in Alice but with pancakes still filling our bellies and songs about donkeys and shepherds in our heads, it was hard to be mad. We decided to call it a weekend.

It wasn’t the super productive weekend we were hoping for, but we finally saw what was underneath the subfloor. The bellypan and steel frame look good so far, and with knowing that we are one dead mouse closer to having a mouse free Airstream, we are feeling pretty good.

Anyone out there have a tip for removing those stubborn screws? How did subfloor demo go for you? Did you have to cut it out one section at a time to or were the bolts and screws more cooperative for you? If you have links to your subfloor demo, please share them in the comments!

Cutting into subfloor

 

9 thoughts on “Cutting into Alice’s Subfloor

    1. Meg Post author

      Thank you! It is very kind of you to express concern. We are very safe. We wear masks and spray all mice areas in bleach (only way to kill the virus) we even wrote a post about it here!

      Reply
  1. jane Shriver

    So glad I found your sight. We purchased a 1976 Airstream Sovereign out of a farm field in April 2015. We are just getting to the subfloor this month and I have been also working on the screen door this week. It is good to see someone going through the same things we are and you are a step or so ahead of us so it is helpful. Have it gutted ( about a dozen dead petrified mice ) and since the owner had many dogs, and dog food outside for mice to hoard, literally thousands of pieces of dog food came showering down along with mouse droppings when we took off the upper walls in the airstream, glad to have that behind us. Thanks for all the great information!

    Reply
    1. Meg Post author

      Ug… the mice are the worst. Alice was parked right next to a corn field so it housed a lot of field mice too. Thanks for the comment, keep in touch!

      Reply
  2. Tracy Fillion

    HI, I stumbled upon this as I’m researching how to remove and replace the sub floor in my ’68 Overlander.
    I can’t find the follow up after this post, did you replace the floor while keeping the shell on? Any info would be greatly appreciated, feeling overwhelmed about this!
    Thank you
    Tracy

    Reply
    1. Chad Reynolds

      We are also at the point of removing the subfloor (and feeling a little overwhelmed!) in our 66 Overlander. I had an idea and have been thinking a lot about this idea and trying to research, but can’t find anyone who has tried it. Here’s my idea and I would love to hear you and Tim’s (and anyone else reading this) thoughts about this. I’ve been in thinking about trying to remove the subfloor, but leave the wood that looks good in the C channel. The wood is definitely rotten in the C channel in a couple places and I will replace that, but most of it seems to still be in good shape, so why replace it? I’ll just cut about an inch or so shy of the C channel, remove the subfloor, and screw down the new subfloor directly to the frame. In your experience removing the subfloor in Alice, do you see a problem with this idea?

      By the way, great website – very informative. I just discovered you the other day, so I haven’t been able to read everything yet.
      Thanks!
      Chad

      Reply
      1. Tim

        If you leave the wood in the C-Channel I expect you’re compromising the integrity of the trailer at that point. The C-channel connects the floor to the shell, but it only connects to the base steel frame in a few places. By having separate pieces of wood between the c-channel and the rest of the frame, you lose a lot of structural integrity that one piece of wood adds by binding it all together to the steel frame, and not just the sides of the frame but the middle too. As you remove your floor you’ll feel that tension release (sometimes violently) as you remove each screw from the middle of the floor boards.

        Reply

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