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Old 08-30-2015, 01:48 PM   #1
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1997 30' Excella
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Front panel replacement near Tacoma Wa

Does anyone know of a good Airstream body repair shop near Tacoma Wa? My 1997 30' Excella has exterior metal separation just above the lower trim line across all three front panels. I go to the Airstream dealer in Covington for an estimate Tuesday but would sure like to have an alternative repair place if possible. Thanks
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Old 09-07-2015, 01:36 PM   #2
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Does anyone know of a good Airstream body repair shop near Tacoma Wa? My 1997 30' Excella has exterior metal separation just above the lower trim line across all three front panels. I go to the Airstream dealer in Covington for an estimate Tuesday but would sure like to have an alternative repair place if possible. Thanks
Airstream NW, in Seattle does excellent metal work.

Andy
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Old 09-08-2015, 09:20 AM   #3
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Body separation

Thanks Andy, I have it at NW Airstream now for an estimate to repair. It looks like I have front body separation at the floor level. I have had the trailer since 2001 always storing under dry cover except for an average of one month on the road each year. Much of the damage was hidden under the rock guards so I was very surprised to see the extent. I have not modified anything on the trailer or taken it off road so can not understand what could have caused such structural failure??? Any ideas? Thanks. Ken
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Old 09-08-2015, 10:33 AM   #4
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AS Adv NW is a great shop!
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Old 09-08-2015, 08:08 PM   #5
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Thanks Andy, I have it at NW Airstream now for an estimate to repair. It looks like I have front body separation at the floor level. I have had the trailer since 2001 always storing under dry cover except for an average of one month on the road each year. Much of the damage was hidden under the rock guards so I was very surprised to see the extent. I have not modified anything on the trailer or taken it off road so can not understand what could have caused such structural failure??? Any ideas? Thanks. Ken
Ken.

Front end separation is caused by excess rated hitch bars and/or excess rated tow vehicle.

What exact tow vehicle do you have and what is the brand and rating of your hitch bars?

Have you added anything to the rear end suspension of your tow vehicle?

Andy
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Old 09-09-2015, 10:06 AM   #6
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Andy,
My tow vehicle is a 2007 and 1/2 GMC 2500 SLT crew cab, short box, Duramax, which I purchased new. I have not modified anything on the truck. My previous truck was a 1996 Ford F250 with the old 460 gas engine.

My hitch is a Draw Tite with 1000lb rated bars. I have always tried to adjust them so the trailer and truck are both level. When I changed trucks the ball height was very close so I did not change it.

We have had an Airstream since 1990 and have pulled many miles with no issues (my bother in law still pulls our old Airstream). I have noticed other mid 90s 30' Airstreams with similar damage in the Air Form threads. Is this a weakness during those years? My confidence in Airstream structure is questioned. Guess I'll feel better when I understand what caused this. Ken
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Old 09-09-2015, 11:02 AM   #7
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I have a friend in Bellvue who had extensive work done at a shop in Fife for a body separation issue. He was 110% pleased with the quality of the work and the capabilities of the shop. He sent me contact info:

Wescraft RV & Truck
wescraft@integrity.com
3402 12th St E
Fife, WA 98424
253-926-3443

Mark
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Old 09-09-2015, 01:36 PM   #8
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Thanks Mark, I will contact Wescraft after I hear back from Airstream NW. Sounds like I'm certainly not the first person to have body separation on a mid 90s 30'er! Appreciate you input! Ken
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Old 09-10-2015, 12:56 AM   #9
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Thanks Mark, I will contact Wescraft after I hear back from Airstream NW. Sounds like I'm certainly not the first person to have body separation on a mid 90s 30'er! Appreciate you input! Ken
Mark

Your tow vehicle is super heavy duty.

Your hitch bar rating, is a killer.

You should be using the lightest bar, not the heaviest.

Adding additional rivets to the front hold down plate would also be helpful.

Also, make sure that your running gear is also properly balanced.

Andy
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Old 09-10-2015, 09:47 AM   #10
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OK Andy, I will see if a lighter weight hitch bar is recommended for my rig. I had used the same hitch rating on my previous 25' Airstream for eleven years with no problems. Guess I was lucky. Thanks. Ken
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Old 09-10-2015, 01:25 PM   #11
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OK Andy, I will see if a lighter weight hitch bar is recommended for my rig. I had used the same hitch rating on my previous 25' Airstream for eleven years with no problems. Guess I was lucky. Thanks. Ken
Ken

Think of it this way.

If you used 1500 pound bars, road shock will travel thru those bars, because they will not bend.

Preventing road shock, demands a bar rating that will flex.

Try this out.

Stand on the coupler when your rig is ready for the road. Jump up and down, and see how much of the tongue moves vertically. It should move a couple of inches. If not, then the rigitity is much to great.

Back then, our research showed that for a large Airstream, (tongue weight), a car should use a 1000 pound bar, a 1/2 ton truck used a 750 pound bar, and a 3/4 ton truck used a 600 pound bar, and hope for the best.

Since an Airstream MUST HAVE a soft ride, that is kicked to the curb when excessive rated hitch bars and/or tow vehicles are employed.

Sway controls that have a brain, add a great amount of safety to towing an Airstream.

Flat fronted travel trailers, offer great wind resistance, which acts some what like a sway control. But, Airstreams do not offer that same effect because thy are dynamically pretty clean.

With the same tow vehicle, I could not tow an empty U-haul box trailer over 85 mph.

Yet, with a loaded 31 foot Airstream, I towed it 115 mph. This was all documented on film for Caravanner Insurance, what was the insurance division of Airstream.

Safe towing is not that difficult to achieve, but simple Physics must be a large part of the setup.

The cost of safe towing, is next to nothing, when you consider the cost of the trailer, the tow vehicle, and personal injury and/or loss of life.

Please make a post should you make a change.

Bigger, is not always better.

Andy
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Old 09-11-2015, 10:50 AM   #12
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Wow, I will definitely change hitch bars!!! Guess I always thought that if the ball height was what the book said and both rigs sat level when connected, I would be ok, obviously not!!! Thanks again Andy for all the info! I'm a bit ashamed that I didn't know this as I've been pulling trailers since the 70s.

NW Airstream's estimate to repair my rig is about $12,000. They say if repaired the blue book is $9500 although mine is worth significantly more due to it's overall condition. Not sure if I'm going to repair or sell/trade as is. I have submitted an insurance claim but that is still pending. If I could find a newer lightly used 30' nearby I would be tempted. We always take a month or so fall trip but this year it looks like no trailer - bummer!! Ken
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Old 10-17-2015, 01:10 PM   #13
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Great information on this bar. I haven't bought one yet for my new tow vehicle. Click image for larger version

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Old 10-17-2015, 03:10 PM   #14
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Body separation, 1997 30 ft Airstream

Interesting posts, I am new to Air Forum.
On Body separation-- I have a 1996, 30 foot that has damage on the front bottom of the skin. From the damage of the lower trim piece and the lower edge of the body aluminum skin I estimate that the body is flexing off the frame up as high as two inches.
The cost estimate is over $6,000 from an Airstream dealer. I will have a professional do the repairs, but need to decide to go with the Airstream dealer, or another shop I have had worked with. This shop looked at it and immediately knew the problem. They have 4 guys on the team and are meticulous in their work. ( As a hobby, they build racing airboats, with helicopter turbine engines) I have confidence they could do the work with some technical background information from the factory or others.
The Airstream factory service department gave me some detailed instructions with pictures on the repair of the skin. I am also
asking for complete plans and schematics with parts lists showing how the Body, the floor, and etc. are fastened to the frame.
I would like the repair people to understand the problem, so they can reengineer, rebuild, brace up the fasteners and supporting framework to insure that this problem doe not come back.
I think the problem was caused by my heavy 2500 dodge, with camper
(1300lb), extra spring leaf, and Curts 1000 lb. distribution bars stiffly adjusted. Is there a better brand tow bar that would be softer and not transfer shock back to the trailer?
Any body have any input on my problem
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