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Old 12-13-2010, 11:11 AM   #15
Full Timers/Diesel power.
 
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By the looks of your pics, I'd say you lucked-out.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:17 AM   #16
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From what I can determine in the photos the fiberglass looks to be OK; just that the paint has blistered. Could probably just be sanded and re-painted. The A/C, vent and other covers can just be replaced.

As to the tire, they are "cured" at the factory in the mold at a relatively high temperature during the vulcanization process and have to endure the high road temperatures plus the rolling/flexing friction which adds to the road temperature. I drove through Nevada with ambient temperatures at 117 degrees and I would hazard a guess that the tires on the black asphalt where probably running at 150+ degrees while I was going 70+ mph.

Clean the sidewall of the tire and see if the rubber is charred or cracked; that would be a bad sign. If the rubber is still soft, like the tire on the opposite side, then your probably OK.
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:59 AM   #17
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WeLoveToCamp,
Keep in mind that all States have their own laws on how a total loss is determined.
In Florida it's when the cost of repairs equals 75% of the value of the vehicle, it must be considered a total loss.
Two things you need to know when at the beginning of the process.
1. A good idea of the replacement value of the coach before the fire. (Include the tag & title costs, dealer fees, and refurbishing costs of the replacement coach.) This information will determine the Insurance Companies action as well as your own.
2. Where you want yours repaired. (Not al repair facilities are equal in talent or resources)
Remember they (The Insurance Co.) have a contractural obligation to repair or replace
the insured vehicle. Also they insured it as a stock Airstream, modifications don't add to their obligation. Their intention is to do whichever is cheaper for them and ends the claim without having a bunch of supplemental bills that keep arriving as the damage is uncovered as repairs progress. Often when it's close to the 75% they'll want to total it to avoid a continuing money pit.
Good Luck. Keep in mind, not all Insurance people or compaines are out to cheat you and they would like to bring the claim to an end as much as you do.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:34 PM   #18
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I would insist on a new tire if there was damage in or around the wheel well. Even if it shows no visible heat damage.
When I was sideswiped in my Jeep... the tire had a scuff mark and the wheel was scraped too. They didnt argue, but they did use the "Betterment Clause" to ding me for the wear. I think they said the tire was 20% worn, so they paid 80%.
Its such a safety issue, they should not argue.

Its not easy to see how deep the damage is in the pics.... Is it just the paint that is blistered, or is the Gel coat toast?
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:27 AM   #19
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damage is deeper than paint.

The cracks actually go into the fibers. If you pick one of the flakes away, you expose fibers from the glass. If they sanded it down, I assume they would go clear into glass fiber. I'm not sure if they can build it back up with gel coat or not.

I don't think that there is paint on the white part. It is white gel coat and then polished to a high shine.
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:47 AM   #20
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I worked for Egg Harbor Yacht for many years and saw a lot of fiberglass repairs. I know of a 48 foot hull that was badly damaged in a fire and was obtained from the ins. co. The new owner actually lengthened it to 55 feet. Perhaps with the poor economy there would be an out of work boatbuilder in your area that would be able to do your repair. Sal.
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Old 12-15-2010, 12:30 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by WeLoveToCamp View Post
The cracks actually go into the fibers. If you pick one of the flakes away, you expose fibers from the glass. If they sanded it down, I assume they would go clear into glass fiber. I'm not sure if they can build it back up with gel coat or not.

I don't think that there is paint on the white part. It is white gel coat and then polished to a high shine.
I have worked with fiberglass and epoxy resin (building an airplane). You can probably sand down to good epoxy, even if you go through the glass layers, and then "lay-up" new glass/elpoxy over the area to strengthen it back to OEM.

If the damage is too severe, then the damaged area can be cut out and a sheet of OEM fiberglass inserted and "taped" into place with fiber glass strips and epoxy.

In either case you would then sand and smooth over with bondo just as drywall junctions are taped smooth.
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Old 12-15-2010, 01:34 PM   #22
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If you're not emotionally attached to that particular rig, I'd start working on finding a replacement unit and having the insurance companies settle for that amount.

So sorry to read about your loss.

Pat
I'd be thinking along those lines too.


Many years ago we had a small UK-designed 20' travel trailer that we really had become attached to.

It was of very light weight design - which was probably why a freak mini-tornado was able to pick it up from its storage spot one fine day and dump it on its side!

The insurance company was going to write it off and basically we would have recouped everything we had invested in it.

Because we liked the trailer so much however, we found a local RV dealer who had been an agent for this particular make who claimed to be able to repair it, and we went with that option.

In that case, it turned out to be a mistake - it was usable, but i was just never happy with it again and always wished after I had just accepted the insurance company's offer to write it off!

Mind you, we did keep it for perhaps another ten years and eventually sold it for what we initially paid for it, so I guess in that sene it worked out not too badly!

Brian
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Old 12-15-2010, 02:08 PM   #23
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Damage

Probably should be a write off.
Research, and document what you want to replace it with, and get all records of maintenance etc. before sitting down with Insurance adjuster.
Looks like the gelcoat is beyond repair in places, and the structural strength will never be the same with a patch.
If you are lucky enough to find a similar unit, find out who gets to scrap yours and you will have a good source for parts.
Keep us informed as to the progress on the claim.

Dave
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Old 12-15-2010, 02:55 PM   #24
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So sorry for the loss. Glad nobody was hurt -- other than emotionally. I hope you get a good resolution.
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Old 12-16-2010, 12:31 AM   #25
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Patch

My thoughts:

When you patch the sidewall with a vertical patch and seam you loose any structural strength at that point. If the unit had a sideswipe and a 2' section was replaced horizontally the full length of the unit, I would accept that repair, but not a vertical seam over the axle that is the main stress area of the unit.

Hope I am never in that "hard to win spot" you are in, through no fault of you own.

Good luck
Dave
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Old 12-16-2010, 12:51 AM   #26
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My thoughts:

When you patch the sidewall with a vertical patch and seam you loose any structural strength at that point. If the unit had a sideswipe and a 2' section was replaced horizontally the full length of the unit, I would accept that repair, but not a vertical seam over the axle that is the main stress area of the unit.

Hope I am never in that "hard to win spot" you are in, through no fault of you own.

Good luck
Dave
Done correctly "bi-directional" fiberglass "tapes" connecting the patch to undamaged fiberglass WILL BE at LEAST as strong as OEM. Have someone familiar with fiberglass repair look at the damage.
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Old 12-16-2010, 07:08 AM   #27
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Thanks for all your help and thoughts.

I've been in contact with Airstream at Jackson Center, and they have been in contact with the folks that created their sidewalls for this unit. Everyone along the chain is saying that because of where the damage is, and the extent it is, that it is unrepairable. They could not get a lasting repair nor structural integrity back by sanding and fixing or patching. Also, they do not have these walls or the equipment to deal with them anymore. Carrera, a fiberglass shop that has done many things for Airstream said that they could recreate the wall, but that alone would take close to a year, and the cost would be at least $45,000. Then there would be all the other issues.

When the adjuster was visiting yesterday, he noticed a spot where the outer wall had actually pulled away from the oak cabinetry found in the rear next to the damaged area. I had noticed the same problem along the wall where the outer wall and bedroom/bathroom wall come together too. I found an area where the floor meets the wall that was pulling away too. Looking up from under the coach, I could see daylight through the seam.

So far, everybody that has seen it has a gut feeling that it will cost many more dollars to fix it than it is worth.

This might be an opportunity to move on. We'll see.

I did notice that Airstream has the 25 year anniversary edition of the 34' classic trailer out. They are only making 25 of these trailers this year. Here is what my wife and I have talked about. It is our 25th wedding anniversary this year, this particular Airstream trailer is having it's 25th anniversary, it is silver in color, the traditional color of gift given on a 25th anniversary, and we love everything Airstream. My wife said she would run out and get one, but deciding on the tow vehicle would be a rough decision. I wish they still made a 1-ton diesel Suburban. That would be worth looking at.

I'll keep everybody post on the outcome.

Cheers!
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:59 AM   #28
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Done correctly "bi-directional" fiberglass "tapes" connecting the patch to undamaged fiberglass WILL BE at LEAST as strong as OEM. Have someone familiar with fiberglass repair look at the damage.
I'm not an expert, just a little f/g work around boat, if you can open the backside of the damaged area and apply a layer over a large enough area it might give it the structural strength it needs. I would feel confident in calm seas, but having it travel over bumpy roads every trip, it would be a constant reminder to check with no recourse to recover from insurance at a later date.
If you have enough storage area at your place, it would probably be worth your while to part it out, at least one neighbor can't complain
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