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Old 02-02-2010, 08:31 AM   #1
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Fabricating New Panels ???

I have a 1968 Caravel that has a creased dent in one of the rear side end panels. It's not anything serious and I can live with it as it is if necessary but I'd like to take on the challenge of trying to repair the damage to the best of my ability and also learn something at the same time.

I am going to attempt to do this and I understand that the only way to make it perfect is to replace the panel itself.

I wonder what is involved in fabricating new exterior shell panels from flat Alclad aluminum sheet stock. I would imagine that the true challenge would be the curved end cap panels.

Has anyone here had any success doing this? Any advice, tips or suggestions are gratefully received.

Thanks,

MisterMike
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:23 AM   #2
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Panel Replacement

Mike-

We replaced a flat panel on our Caravel. It wasn't difficult, as long as you have the right tools in advance -- including a ton of clecos. See post 20 of this thread:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f145...vel-45046.html

I'm not sure about the end panel though and I'm not sure from your description which panel you'd replace. On ours, the lower end panel wraps all the way around the front or rear of the trailer and has cut-outs for the window. The curves complicate matters significantly.

With the old panel as a pattern, I'm sure it's doable. Once you see it on, you're committed to polish the rest to match. With a rough cut on the rest of the trailer and 2 years to age, the panel fits in pretty well now.

Good luck with it.

John
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Old 02-02-2010, 11:21 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistermike View Post
I have a 1968 Caravel that has a creased dent in one of the rear side end panels. It's not anything serious and I can live with it as it is if necessary but I'd like to take on the challenge of trying to repair the damage to the best of my ability and also learn something at the same time.

I am going to attempt to do this and I understand that the only way to make it perfect is to replace the panel itself.

I wonder what is involved in fabricating new exterior shell panels from flat Alclad aluminum sheet stock. I would imagine that the true challenge would be the curved end cap panels.

Has anyone here had any success doing this? Any advice, tips or suggestions are gratefully received.

Thanks,

MisterMike
Alclad "cannot" be stretch formed to make segments. It will rip and tear quicker than you think.

Segments are made from a much softer aluminum, that is "stretch formed".

No forming of any kind is required for any of the side sheets, not even for the underbelly wrap.

Andy
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:55 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Alclad "cannot" be stretch formed to make segments. It will rip and tear quicker than you think. Segments are made from a much softer aluminum, that is "stretch formed".
Andy:

Thank you for your valuable input. What kind of aluminum was used to make the curved end cap panels in my 1968 Caravel? I was under the impression that all the exterior shell panels made at that time were fabricated from .032" 2024 T3 Alclad Aluminum.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:15 PM   #5
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I'm not sure what alloy the segments are but they are softer then the 2024-T3. These panels could be made with an English Wheel but would require an incredible skill set to do so. Stretch forming is basically out of the picture for the hobby industry, as to the extremely expensive tooling required to do so. One could however replace the entire end cap assembly with a 13 panel assembly like the early 50s trailers, but again it would require a check on your skill sets.

End cap segments are still available through various suppliers such as Inland RV. This route my be least expensive in the long run. The end cap segments are also a little more difficult then the lower side sheets to replace.

Kip
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Old 02-02-2010, 05:41 PM   #6
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It appears to be quite easy

Quote:
Originally Posted by mistermike View Post
... I wonder what is involved in fabricating new exterior shell panels from flat Alclad aluminum sheet stock. I would imagine that the true challenge would be the curved end cap panels.

Has anyone here had any success doing this? Any advice, tips or suggestions are gratefully received...
Fortunately, I have not needed to replicate the curved end cap panels. At least not yet.

But, if/when I need to, member markdoane graciously shared a do-it-yourself way of doing it in post #4 of this thread.

I bookmarked the thread after Inland Andy appeared to like the approach.

Tom
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TomW View Post
But, if/when I need to, member markdoane graciously shared a do-it-yourself way of doing it in post #4 of this thread.
I would dare say that acquiring the PETN would attract the attention of the BATF and the Department of Homeland Security. Isn't that the same stuff the Christmas Bomber used to burn hid wee-wee to a crisp? Still, explosive formimg is a legitimate technique and it may be worthy of some consideration.

http://www.metalwebnews.com/howto/ex...e-forming.html

Hmmmmmmm.......
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Old 02-02-2010, 08:01 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Aerowood View Post
I'm not sure what alloy the segments are but they are softer then the 2024-T3. These panels could be made with an English Wheel but would require an incredible skill set to do so. Stretch forming is basically out of the picture for the hobby industry, as to the extremely expensive tooling required to do so. One could however replace the entire end cap assembly with a 13 panel assembly like the early 50s trailers, but again it would require a check on your skill sets.

End cap segments are still available through various suppliers such as Inland RV. This route my be least expensive in the long run. The end cap segments are also a little more difficult then the lower side sheets to replace.

Kip
Kip.

Many years ago, about 16 years or so, Airstream decided to reduced and/or eliminate much of their inventory of parts and some molds, for 1968 and older models.

Those parts were acquired by Inland RV Center.

Some of those parts were segments.

Segments for the 1969 and newer models, are available from a few dealers, that strive to have a large parts department.

The problem is that some dealers have no idea of what special sheet metal parts were used on 30 to 40 year old trailers. They don't have the old catalogs, or employees that were around back then.

Andy
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:32 PM   #9
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Call North Dallas RV (972) 242-0404 and talk to Patrick Moore, the owner. They purchased a considerable amount of the old segments from Airstream many years ago.

From their website:
Quote:
In the early 90s, North Dallas RV purchased all the curved panel inventory from Airstream, Inc. in Jackson Center. We have factory replacement curved panels for for 1962 to 1982 Airstream Trailers and Motorhomes.
Tell him you heard about this on AIR Forums.
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Old 02-02-2010, 11:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistermike View Post
I have a 1968 Caravel that has a creased dent in one of the rear side end panels. It's not anything serious and I can live with it as it is if necessary but I'd like to take on the challenge of trying to repair the damage to the best of my ability and also learn something at the same time.

I am going to attempt to do this and I understand that the only way to make it perfect is to replace the panel itself.

I wonder what is involved in fabricating new exterior shell panels from flat Alclad aluminum sheet stock. I would imagine that the true challenge would be the curved end cap panels.

Has anyone here had any success doing this? Any advice, tips or suggestions are gratefully received.

Thanks,

MisterMike
It sounds to me like many helpful people might be steering the original post off-course a bit.

MisterMike, could you please clarify what you mean when you say the crease is in one of the "rear side end panels?" It seems that many are interpreting your question as one that is asking how to replace the domed end-cap segments, but I'm not so sure that is correct. Because later you state, "I would imagine that the true challenge would be the curved end cap panels." This is the statement I think most are responding to and, sure enough, that is indeed a great challenge.

But it seems from your initial description that your crease is actually in one of the lower panels, not in the endcap dome. If it is one of the lower panels, these do not need to be formed in the same way that the domed endcap segments need, and this is a kind of panel replacement that has actually been performed, and documented, numerous times here on the Airforums.

If you took a look at the post that 65CV linked and referenced above, that might help answer your question. His panel replacement was on one of the "flat" lower panels, but the process is the same in replacing one of the lower panels that curves around the front or back of the coach. Basically, you pull the old panel, and use it as a pattern for the new panel. All are made from rolls of 2024-T3 Alclad as you originally mentioned.

If you truly are talking about replacing one of the lower exterior panels, and not one of the domed endcap segments, then there are all kinds of threads that discuss this and show pictures. Here are a few:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f91/...-31084-17.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...t-17197-7.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f142...-11687-12.html

If I've misunderstood and you really do need to replace a segment of the domed endcap, well, then please re-read all comments and ominous warnings above...

Good luck!
-Marcus
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:16 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by utee94 View Post
MisterMike, could you please clarify what you mean when you say the crease is in one of the "rear side end panels?" ...............If I've misunderstood and you really do need to replace a segment of the domed endcap, well, then please re-read all comments and ominous warnings above...
It is one of the domed end cap segnents that is affected. It is segment Number 10 if you are familiar with the Airstream segment numbering system. Here's the chart for the 1964-1968 models:



A flat panel or with a one-dimensional curve would be a piece of cake to replace. I do not feel that I have to necessarily replace the segment and I have no desire to go to any great expense to do this. I am pretty sure that I can improve the situation greatly and it will be a learning experience for me as well. I can obtain the aluminum stock fairly inexpensively and so view this as an exercise. Airstream trailers, like anything else, are made to be used and enjoyed and in the course of this re bound to acquire some "battle scars". Nothing is perfect if you look hard enough. Only obsessive-compulsives really worry about minor imperfection. I know, I married one;~)!
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Old 02-03-2010, 05:31 AM   #12
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Mike, just leave it alone if you can live with it. That is my advice to you...

How about a photo of said crease....
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