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Old 07-11-2011, 06:53 PM   #1
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1973 25' Tradewind
Prince George , British Columbia
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Dent removal along beltline

Hi - I would like to remove a dent from the PO that straddles the beltline in my 1973 Tradewind. It's a shallow dent in the upper and lower segments about the size of a dinner plate. You can see the shape of the buck rivets under the beltline trim, so kind of looks like it was rubbed. My questions is, what exactly is between the skins along the beltline? Is it a structural rib, or just some connective material? I bought a pneumatic suction cup dent puller, but before I pull the beltline off, I was just checking to see if this is the right way to attack it. If there is a structural member under there that is bent, I suppose it will be more than a suction cup job. I tried to see where it would be in 'interior gutted" type photos on the forum here, but can't see anything conclusive.

Also, while I'm at it I should ask this...is the beltline trim just attached with 1/8 pop rivets? Mine are definitely pop rivets, but just wondering about size...and if that is correct or the work of the PO.

Thanks!!
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Old 07-20-2011, 11:34 PM   #2
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I removed all the rivets in the area of the dent and tried the pneumatic dent puller. It would pull it out, but it wanted to return back to the original position somewhat. I'm thinking I will have to pull the panel off from the inside. How would you do it? A roller? Shim out, or create some sort of internal brace to keep it pushed out? Or will I just have to live with it?

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Old 07-21-2011, 12:35 AM   #3
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Jonny,
Yes that is all that is holding the belt line on is the 1/8 rivets. The Airstream part number for those rivets, which are blue, is 330012. The bottom panel is tucked under the top panel. Once the belt line trim is out of the way and you drill all the rivets that are holding the two panels together about a foot on either side. Then you will need to use a putty knife (hammer/chisel grade) and cut the gray sealer that is holding them together. I would cut about a foot on either side of the dent. Then when you pull the panels out and the will stay. Once you reattach them they may push back in but if you rivet them in the right way you may be able to get support from each other to keep them out. I have seen this done about 7 to 10 times and one of those times it looked very good, and you could hardley tell the dents were there. All the rest of them you could tell and some times it looked worse. If you do try it and it looks good, you run the risk of the belt line not meeting the other pieces on the trailer. The Belt line is NLA and the panels of that composition is NLA. You can get the newer style panels but they look very differant.
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Old 07-21-2011, 12:51 AM   #4
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Inland RV is showing they have those panels for 69-83 and are a little under $400 each.
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Old 07-22-2011, 06:46 AM   #5
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panel

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Originally Posted by Wsmith View Post
Inland RV is showing they have those panels for 69-83 and are a little under $400 each.
Yes they have the panel (as all Airstream dealers have access too)which is the new metal composition not the composition of what is on there now. It is darker and stronger
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Old 07-22-2011, 07:40 AM   #6
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In autobody work to remove a dent like that, while pulling or pushing on the dent, tap around the outside edges of the dent with a hammer. Cover the panel with tape first, so as not to mark the aluminum with the hammer.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:17 AM   #7
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I think you can go to just about any Pharmacy and they have this 'handicap Handle' that suction cups to any smooth surface. Cost about 25.00 dollars and if it supports the weight of a human - then you know it will pop a dent out, as we have used ours for. It's white and usually is around the walking cane area.
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Old 07-22-2011, 10:21 AM   #8
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1973 25' Tradewind
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Great advice here, thanks! That suction cup would be handy to have in the arsenal, but I did attempt to use the pneumatic suction cup (which also works great, but returned to the store) but the dents did not stay out. Too many forces in play along the seam I s'pose. Dan and Ventport, I will try some of these advanced techniques next. Once I work up the nerve. I'm not sure about using new panels if they don't blend in perfectly. I don't want it to look more obvious. Some days you can hardly see it and I think I should leave it alone, then the sun comes out, and it looks like it's been hit by a car! Not sure my OCD will let me leave it alone

Dan, where do you get these hammer/chisel grade putty knives?
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