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Old 09-11-2018, 07:34 PM   #1
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Londonderry , New Hampshire
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 124
Stupid, stupid, stupid continued.

Some of you might remember my accident recounted here;
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f311...id-174582.html

Well, I have been trying to figure the best way to fix the dent. After
much thought I figured I would try glue tabs. These seem to be quite
effective on many dents on steel bodied cars.

Here is one smaller dent that I was going to work on first. I have marked
the ends of the dent so I can measure any progress.

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Here I have attached a bunch of glue tabs. The black paint is because I
found that the tabs stick better to a painted surface rather than the
original aluminum.
Click image for larger version

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I tied a short string to each tab and hooked a bungee cord to each one.
I tied a rope to a tree and used a block and tackle to pull everything
taught. While taught I worked the dent around the edge with a soft
plastic faced hammer in an attempt to roll it out. Sometimes the tabs
would pop off the surface and I would have to glue them down again.

Click image for larger version

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I did make progress but am not entirely happy with the results.
Click image for larger version

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The ends of the dent have moved in 2 to 3 inches. I could not get rid
of the center grove of the dent. The area that I did bring up is not
completely flat.

The dent in the center is much larger and the reverse camera is pushed
in. It is much larger job. I am thinking that I may have to remove
the inner shell and work the dent from the inside. I had hoped to avoid
that.

Has anyone removed their inner shell? My shell has no cracks. Can
I remove it without having it crack up.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Pete.
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Old 09-11-2018, 08:58 PM   #2
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1991 34' Excella
2009 34' Panamerica
Telluride , Colorado
Join Date: May 2012
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Wow!
A dent is one thing, a crease is another. Aluminum is unforgiving as it stretches and never goes back.

Let me understand... Did you pull on all the glue tabs at once, ir did you start say in the center of the damage and work out?
I suspect you're going to need to remove the inner skin or whatever us there and massage out. You are aware of the basketball and softball rolling technique?
In my experience sometimes oppositional force works best.
Whatever you do, don't stretch the metal, especially on a hydroformed curve. It will never go back. Touch might just have to live with a slight crease on either side of the oops....
Best of luck!
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Old 09-11-2018, 09:30 PM   #3
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Londonderry , New Hampshire
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomicNo13 View Post
Wow!

Let me understand... Did you pull on all the glue tabs at once, ir did you start say in the center of the damage and work out?
I suspect you're going to need to remove the inner skin or whatever us there and massage out. You are aware of the basketball and softball rolling technique?
I pulled on all the tabs at the same time. I wanted to put maximum
force on the aluminum. I started from one side of the dent and worked
toward the center.

I have heard of the basketball trick. If I remove the inner shell I
will try that.

On youtube they say that the glue tabs work well on steel using a
slapper. On aluminum panels they say the slapper does not work and
that has been my experience.

On steel the slapper will break the glue and give the metal a snap.
This seems to be the key with steel. With aluminum the metal does
not snap in the same way and the dent does not pop out as it does
with steel.

My thought was to distribute a large steady pull over an area. That
does seem to work, sorta!

I also tried a lift device that was included in the kit. It is sort of like
a gear puller with plier handles. That also worked somewhat but it
only worked with one tab at a time. I made a small amount of
progress with that.

Pete.
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Old 09-11-2018, 11:57 PM   #4
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2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 8,915
Not sure why you started a new thread. Confusing IMO to go back and forth to get the background and other ideas.

The only way to get rid of the remaining center groove is to replace the panel IMO.

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Old 09-12-2018, 12:05 AM   #5
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1936 20' Clipper
1947 22' Liner
Curtis Wright
1989 37' Airstream 370
marshfield , Massachusetts
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 758
Pete,

I don't know the exact configuration of your interior, but I'm assuming that you have a couple of overhead compartments with roll up doors as I have on my 1989 370, so understand that my comments are based on what I can see in my own coach. I've attached a couple of pics of what mine looks like.

The rear wall of those compartments is made of a flat sheet of aluminum. In the street side compartment, there is panel (about 4"x 8") that I've unscrewed to expose the wiring connection to the back up camera, as well as a fairly stout backing plate to which the camera is mounted. This access hole may not be a stock feature, and might well have been cut in by a past owner.

You could easily cut out even larger sections of the back walls of the cabinets to gain access to the outer skin. This would allow you pushing points, and no one would ever be the wiser. If you don't have these cabinets, this is a moot point.

However, given the significant weight of the camera and housing, it's a safe bet that you have a similar backing plate to support it.
Have you tried attaching to the exterior camera mounting bracket, and using it as a pulling point??? I wouldn't suggest chaining it to a tree and hitting the gas, but I guarantee you will be able to apply a lot more force to this than the little stick-on tabs.
Based on your earlier pictures, this seems to have been the focal point of much of the energy that caused the dent in the first place, so it might be the perfect place to start.
I hope this is of some help. I realize it's a daunting project, and there's nothing that stings more than self inflicted damage, but at this point I don't think you have much to lose. I'm about 30 minutes south of Boston if you need a hand or moral support.

Some day I hope to understand why the pics load sideways.

Good luck!
Charly
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Old 09-12-2018, 06:36 AM   #6
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1968 24' Tradewind
Oxford, , Mississippi
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,514
I had a bad crease in the rear above the window in my 68. The best way I found to work the bottom of the crease out was with body hammers and dollies. It is some skill and takes time but work slowly and you can make it look better. Aluminum does not work like sheet metal on cars but with light taps and dolly on the outside I think I got it about as good as it is going to get (most folks never notice it). I had my son stand on the bumper with the dolly outside and we coordinated our work. I used light taps and worked along the crease. You can tell by the sound and feel if you are not hitting where the dolly is. I used a body hammer kit from Harbor Freight. Take your time and use light hammer blows with the body hammers.
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Old 09-12-2018, 06:37 AM   #7
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Londonderry , New Hampshire
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 124
I do have the roll up doors but there is no cutout.


I had thought about pulling on the camera mount. It would take
a considerable force to pull it out. I would worry about breaking
the windows.


I have looked at how the shell is held in place. Across the top it looks
like a row of pop rivets. I could not see anything around the bottom
edge. I would want to do it on a warm day so the plastic would
not be so brittle.


My strategy if I get the shell out is to use a heat gun on the aluminum.
I have researched how they straighten alloy wheels. When aluminum
is heated to 350F it becomes more bendable. I could not do this with
the shell in place and I could not use the pull tabs.


On embedding pictures, use the icon that looks like a paper clip. You
have already uploaded your pictures so they should appear as a list
in the paper clip pull down. It took me a long time to figure that one
out.


Pete.
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Old 09-12-2018, 06:38 AM   #8
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2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 8,915
Quote:
Originally Posted by 68 TWind View Post
I had a bad crease in the rear above the window in my 68. The best way I found to work the bottom of the crease out was with body hammers and dollies. . . .
Did you have access to the back side of the exterior skin for this work? In other words, was the inner skin removed?

If your son was "outside" where were you?



The OP's situation may be different IMO.

Good luck,

Peter
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:57 AM   #9
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Pine River , California
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Posts: 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Air345Fly View Post
Some of you might remember my accident recounted here;
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f311...id-174582.html

Well, I have been trying to figure the best way to fix the dent. After
much thought I figured I would try glue tabs. These seem to be quite
effective on many dents on steel bodied cars.

Here is one smaller dent that I was going to work on first. I have marked
the ends of the dent so I can measure any progress.

Attachment 322231


Here I have attached a bunch of glue tabs. The black paint is because I
found that the tabs stick better to a painted surface rather than the
original aluminum.
Attachment 322232


I tied a short string to each tab and hooked a bungee cord to each one.
I tied a rope to a tree and used a block and tackle to pull everything
taught. While taught I worked the dent around the edge with a soft
plastic faced hammer in an attempt to roll it out. Sometimes the tabs
would pop off the surface and I would have to glue them down again.

Attachment 322233

I did make progress but am not entirely happy with the results.
Attachment 322234


The ends of the dent have moved in 2 to 3 inches. I could not get rid
of the center grove of the dent. The area that I did bring up is not
completely flat.

The dent in the center is much larger and the reverse camera is pushed
in. It is much larger job. I am thinking that I may have to remove
the inner shell and work the dent from the inside. I had hoped to avoid
that.

Has anyone removed their inner shell? My shell has no cracks. Can
I remove it without having it crack up.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Pete.


These things happen so do not beat yourself up. This is like straightening a crumpled beer can-itís not going to happen. Take it to Jackson Center and have them replace the damaged panels. They will do the job correctly which will keep your trailer value where it belongs.
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:30 AM   #10
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1976 31' Excella 500
Chappell Hill , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2017
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DO NOT HEAT THAT THIN ALUMINUM! THATS FOR THICK ALUMINUM WHEELS ONLY. Work it at ambient temperature.
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Old 09-12-2018, 11:43 AM   #11
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Londonderry , New Hampshire
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbashin View Post
DO NOT HEAT THAT THIN ALUMINUM! THATS FOR THICK ALUMINUM WHEELS ONLY. Work it at ambient temperature.

I did not know that. Is there anything that can make the job easier?


Pete.
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Old 09-12-2018, 12:01 PM   #12
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2003 25' Safari
North Augusta , South Carolina
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 10
Stupid, stupid...

It may be sacrilege here, but I saw a guy with an Airstream at one of our South Carolina beaches. He had a fine painting of a beach scene and flamingo on the rear upper corner of his trailer.

I asked him about it and he told me that he wasn't going to spring for the panel repair at Jackson Center, so he beat it out as best he could, Bondoed the result and painted the scene.

Just sayin...
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Old 09-12-2018, 01:40 PM   #13
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2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 8,915
Good one, Barry! I had pictured the dent as part of a WW II fighter plane, and could envision some "battlefield art" labeling the source of the damage, and perhaps a nicely hand-written "Stupid, stupid, stupid" scrawled thereupon!

As long as it did not leak, that "solution" would have worked just fine IMO.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Peter

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Old 09-12-2018, 02:53 PM   #14
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2006 34' Classic S/O
Fort Worth , Texas
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Posts: 756
If it makes you feel any better, after a similar goof up, I called my insurance company and told them I had done a stupid thing. The claims adjuster very nicely said, "We insure for stupidity as well as casualty." That made me feel much better, especially after they paid the claim.
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