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Old 06-22-2018, 11:30 AM   #1
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Removing "Belly Cover" on Micro Lite

I am about to lower the belly cover on my 25BDS to run some heavy duty 12V wiring. It's fastened with "Nails" driven into the steel frame. What methods have those who've lowered this cover used when they did so?

Break off the nail heads with hammer and cold chisel?

Grind off with hand held grinder?

Grip with Vise Grip and twist out?

Just break the plastic cover loose around the nail head then use a TEK screw and fender washer to re-secure when done, moving screw location away from the old "nail" fastener and filling old hole in plastic with Silicone sealer, etc.

Haven't tackled this yet but will in the next couple of days so I thought I'd ask what others have done when they did this.

Also, what other things did you end up doing while in the belly area before putting the cover back up.
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Old 06-22-2018, 03:10 PM   #2
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I don't think you can nail into steel and expect it to stay. My guess is you have screws in there too.

My camper has nails into wood slats. However, those slats are screwed into the metal frame. You may have trim.that needs to be pulled away first before you can see the screws.
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Old 06-22-2018, 03:15 PM   #3
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Don't have a "belly cover" on my Micro-Lite. But if I did and I were to tear into it I'd fill the FW tank and take a good hard look at the supports...

My .02
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Old 06-22-2018, 03:31 PM   #4
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On a trip to Florida, the front half of my underbelly ripped loose. We pulled into a campground to check in. As I walked back to the trailer, I could see that I had a problem - the head ducts in front were dragging on the ground - easy to spot that silver tubing.

Anyway - I was able to remove most of the fasteners by first using a nail puller or pair of angle cutters to bend down the sides of the washers that were around the fastener. Then I was able to get the claw of a hammer under the washer and yank them out. The very front and back have a solid metal strip that the fasteners go thru. I was unable to get the back one off, so I just pulled the under belly out of it. All told, it took me about a half hour to drop the remainder of the under belly and secure all the loose wire and duct work. Lucky, I had parked on some smooth asphalt, so was able to scoot around fairly easily, glad I wasn't on gravel.

I found a few things once the underbelly was off.

1. Lots of loose, marginally secured wire. I have tightened up and added wire ties and wire loom to neaten up the job. If you do wire loom, plan on 3/4 and 1" size.

2. The screws holding one of the vents were digging a hole into my front grey tank. I put a piece of eternabond over the weakened spot.

3. The heat ducts are the thinnest possible flex ducting. To efficiently carry the heated air, they are supposed to be stretched taut. Mine were at least 50% longer than they needed to be. I replaced 99% of it with rigid ducting. After testing, I have much better air flow. If you do a search on my posts, there are a few pictures of the result.

4. I found many spots that were invitations for critters to enter the trailer, I did what I could to close them up.


Still debating on whether to have FR or my dealer put the underbelly back on... It's still under warranty.


Good luck.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 007matman View Post
I don't think you can nail into steel and expect it to stay. My guess is you have screws in there too.
You can nail into steel and believe me, they will stay.

Not just with an ordinary nail but a tempered nail that is driven into place using an explosive charge. The gun that drives them uses a small blank cartridge that is just like a miniature .22 caliber cartridge.

The tempered steel nail enters the steel so fast it stretches the steel to make the hole and the steel than shrinks back around the nail which can have little serrations on it to help grip.

In construction it's a neat tool to fasten things to girders and heavy sheet steel you don't expect to remove. For a belly cover on a trailer its just used to benefit the factory. Using TEK screws would also get the job done but make it easier for later service (electrical, reinforce water tank support, etc).

After making my initial post I crawled under the trailer and tried to remove a couple with a sturdy vise grip. I found that if you get a good grip on the head a couple of twists will free it up. Took me 15 minutes to remove two.

Found that the ones on mine have a 1/4" hex head on them. Tomorrow I'm running my super long air line out and hitting them with my 1/4 drive impact wrench (what a neat tool for all kinds of projects). If they won't come out while turning I'll just help them along with my flat prybar under the washer. I think I'll just drop one side and let it rest on top of the axles so I can run the wires I want to. I'll also address any shortcomings in the factory install. Working with one side down looks a lot easier when it comes time to reinstall.

I'll be using Tek screws. Even if the hole size isn't quite right it can drill it out with it's own drill tip.
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