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Old 02-11-2018, 01:53 PM   #1
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1968 24' Tradewind
Oakland , California
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Advice re: dent in skin/rib

The good news: We got our 20 year old palm tree trimmed.
The bad news: The trimmer dented our airstream right on a seam.

The trimmer is going to pay for the fix, and proposed -
Solution A: Have a car dent repair pro (a friend of his who works at a high end car auto body shop) repair it by using a small roller by cutting a hole in interior cabinet and rolling out the dent from the interior. Not even sure if thatís possible with the dents being on a seam. That would cost around $1,000.

Solution B: We take our trailer to a pro. An airstream repair shop I talked to on the phone said there are ribs in that part of the trailer that would need to be repaired (rivets removed from 3 seams so 2 panels could fully replaced w new panels) for $4,000.

One question: In your experience, are there ribs in that part of my trailer that are under the seams?

Question 2: Do you think it would be possible for solution A (auto body pro rolling dents out) to work?

The tree trimmer did mess up, but is an incredible hard working guy and we are looking for the best solution. He doesnít want to go through his insurance and willing to pay out of pocket.

Really appreciate any insight on this situation, thanks.
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Old 02-11-2018, 02:29 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by algebrotha View Post
The good news: We got our 20 year old palm tree trimmed.
The bad news: The trimmer dented our airstream right on a seam.

The trimmer is going to pay for the fix, and proposed -
Solution A: Have a car dent repair pro (a friend of his who works at a high end car auto body shop) repair it by using a small roller by cutting a hole in interior cabinet and rolling out the dent from the interior. Not even sure if thatís possible with the dents being on a seam. That would cost around $1,000.

Solution B: We take our trailer to a pro. An airstream repair shop I talked to on the phone said there are ribs in that part of the trailer that would need to be repaired (rivets removed from 3 seams so 2 panels could fully replaced w new panels) for $4,000.

One question: In your experience, are there ribs in that part of my trailer that are under the seams?

Question 2: Do you think it would be possible for solution A (auto body pro rolling dents out) to work?

The tree trimmer did mess up, but is an incredible hard working guy and we are looking for the best solution. He doesnít want to go through his insurance and willing to pay out of pocket.

Really appreciate any insight on this situation, thanks.
Newer Airstreams don't have ribs in the end segments. Yours? I just don't know. I would be very wary of having anyone who has only repaired steel bodied vehicles get near aluminum... they "over muscle" things mercilessly and replace dents with stretched metal. Talk to this person, and if you have a damaged banana wrap ask him to practice/demo his work on it.

If done with care, the original rivets could be fine... perhaps a bit of seam sealer plus a drop of Capt. Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure on the edge of each rivet.
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Old 02-11-2018, 03:23 PM   #3
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Basred on what I am looking at in your pic, you will need to have your panels replaced if you want the as before condition. A professional dent removal person would NOT be able to make is to look as before the damage. Over time, every time you look at it, your eyes will drift towards it and you will see it and ask yourself, why didn't I get it fixed correctly.

Sorry,
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Old 02-11-2018, 03:32 PM   #4
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We had a big dent on end cap and it was pulled out and looks fine. I am no expert but replacing panels seems like over kill.
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Old 02-11-2018, 03:33 PM   #5
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I'd be weary of that Airstream repair shop that says there are ribs in the end caps, unless you didn't explain it properly or I am totally wrong and they had them in that year...

If it were me, I'd settle for a $4000 tree trimming credit and fix the dent myself using one of the many methods on this forum. The inner tube/plywood trick would work well on your dent I should think.

I wouldn't want any panel replacements without removing the interior and bucking the rivets. There was a panel repair on my Sovereign that Jackson Center did many years ago when someone else owned it, they used Olympic rivets and every single one leaked and rotted out the sub floor there. and the outriggers.

Just my personal opinion based on my experience.

Ian
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Old 02-11-2018, 06:54 PM   #6
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Those dents are saddening. 1968 Tradewind is one of the finest trailers EVER. For me, it would be important, on a historical level, and emotionally, that the repair is near flawless. That might not happen with an inner-tube or the local dealer or nearby bodyshop. I don't think there is a “lucky” fix, but faith in luck sometimes works. You're already lucky it's on the front, and you're lucky someone else did it...


The inner-tube/shopvac method should pull the dent out a little, but I think I see some serious stretch/crease in that dent/s. It would take a very experienced aluminum panel worker to massage that out with a “dent roller”. There's a lot of tar and insulation adhered to the inside of outer endcap segment skin. If, in conversation, the word “anneal” isn't mentioned, you're not talking to aluminum experience. those stretch formed segments are soft, unlike the Alclad side panels. Better to remove the interior end-cap than saw a hole in it. I can already hear “We're going to need a bigger hole”.


Unless you find someone's secret stash, there are no new segments being sold for pre-1969 Airstreams. You might have to remove those two segments and find an experienced fabricator with English Wheel to planish them smooth. It'll probably stretch a little, but being near the seam, could actually be favorable and easier to conceal the repair.


It's kind of you to consider the hard working landscaper. Involving insurance company might be the deep pocket you'll need for a truly professional repair.


Alternately, pretty much anyone can suck, pull and push on it until it looks sorta OK, but subsequently, the “worked” metal could be a bit harder for a pro to repair properly. My auto-body buddy gets a good rant on when someone brings a home-fixed dent to him to “finish up” that “Looks like a sack of walnuts”.


Send pictures to Colin Hyde. If anyone knows the best way, it'll be him. He is an experienced specialist.


It can be repaired, and as it is, won't keep you from camping.


Good Luck
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Old 02-11-2018, 06:59 PM   #7
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Wise words from one of the best named users/members on this site.
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Old 02-11-2018, 07:33 PM   #8
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Oops....2 panels need to be replaced......
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Old 02-12-2018, 09:33 AM   #9
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The metal has been stretched and will not go back to its original shape. Have the panel replaced for a proper repair.
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Old 02-12-2018, 09:45 AM   #10
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this is my 68 Sovereign .It doesn't have any ribs

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Old 02-12-2018, 09:59 AM   #11
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The segments will never look like they did before the damage..The body man will be able to remove the major dents, but there will be some damage still visible.. I would go with the insurance claim, which is why he has insurance..This is not a cheap repair...and he wants to do it on the cheap....Bite the bullet and do it right....
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Old 02-12-2018, 10:57 AM   #12
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1. There is not a rib in the location of your dent
2. Curved panels for pre 1969 trailers are only available as pieces pulled from a salvaged trailer and are difficult find to right now. There are no reproductions or old stock available
3. I had to fix a dent much worse than that on the roadside front panel of my trailer. The skins and endcaps were removed from my trailer at the time so I was able to push it out easily with one hand. The metal is stretched and there is a visible outline of the dent but at least the dent is gone and the original panel and buck rivets are intact. Looks OK but far from perfect Despite all of the great improvements during my renovation some fool always has to point out the dent like I didn't know it was there
4. Since you don't have access from inside, the old toilet plunger or suction cup trick might work just fine on your dent. Maybe try the shop vac beach ball method. I would check with a paintless dent repair expert and get an opinion. Some of those guys are magicians.
5. Don't ever call or visit the shop again that said a rib is involved and that they could do the repair by replacing panels.
6. Good luck. You can do this
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Old 02-12-2018, 11:15 AM   #13
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The most EXPENSIVE INSURANCE you can ever buy.... is the insurance you protect from claims by your own action. Why would you pay someone good money for years.... NOT to assume the cost of repairs from an accident?

This is one of the most puzzling/common attitudes of people I've ever encountered.
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Old 02-12-2018, 12:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikextr View Post
1. There is not a rib in the location of your dent
2. Curved panels for pre 1969 trailers are only available as pieces pulled from a salvaged trailer and are difficult find to right now. There are no reproductions or old stock available
3. I had to fix a dent much worse than that on the roadside front panel of my trailer. The skins and endcaps were removed from my trailer at the time so I was able to push it out easily with one hand. The metal is stretched and there is a visible outline of the dent but at least the dent is gone and the original panel and buck rivets are intact. Looks OK but far from perfect Despite all of the great improvements during my renovation some fool always has to point out the dent like I didn't know it was there
4. Since you don't have access from inside, the old toilet plunger or suction cup trick might work just fine on your dent. Maybe try the shop vac beach ball method. I would check with a paintless dent repair expert and get an opinion. Some of those guys are magicians.
5. Don't ever call or visit the shop again that said a rib is involved and that they could do the repair by replacing panels.
6. Good luck. You can do this
Mike

I am not an expert on vintage but I do remember that very early trailers were made of alclad (aircraft aluminum) that would be on all the 13 panel AIrstreams. At some point they switched to an alloy that is no longer made... in the 7 panel years, but not all of them. Replacements with new aluminum can be made but won't match... so sucking out the dents and living with the scar might be the best alternative. Of course there is always the chance to find a salvage panel but the
Rivet holes won't match. Or a flat side panel can be used but putting a curve in one is very advanced work.

Anyone who makes a barn find of a 50 foot roll of the Unobtainium will probably fun her child's first year of college... what was that alloy called, darn it? Something like 1012? Brainfart...
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