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Old 11-16-2010, 10:43 PM   #1
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1984 34.5' Airstream 345
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Got a HUGE panel to replace...

I have a HUGE panel to replace on my 1984 345 Motorhome.
Not in any hurry, I have to collect tools, materials, and friends to help.
Looking at next spring to do this.
Damage was done by a PO, by a tree before I got it.
Its passenger side, above the waist trim.
The impact started on the forward edge of the door frame, went thru the door, Tore of the handle rearward of the door frame. It then went on below the window, getting deeper, and then comes back out.
I think one rib maybe tweaked, and the lower part of the window frame may need to be dressed back out.
Pictures...

[IMG]http://i135.photobucket.com/albums/q143/sjkeysj/Airstream/Airstream001.jpg



Then the tree caught the rear awning leg, spanking it rearward and down, doing more damage.



I will probably replace the rear lower and upper at the same time, as the both have creases and dents..



Its a huge job, I know.

I need to know bunch of stuff:
1/ Where can I get HUGE sheets of Aluminum? I think it will be close to 25' long and I am trying to get a good measurement of the depth.
2/ Need to confirm material and thickness 2024 T3 Aluclad in 0.032"?
3/ There is a trim piece(Upper one above grey band) that all of the damage is above that... I dont know if there is a skin joint there... But I am thinking that there is a perfect place to joint it either way.. Will that work?
4/ A list of tools and equipment I would need?
5/ A procedure?

Ok, Skin Gods... give it to me!
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:53 PM   #2
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keyair, Uwe at www.area63productions.com is really close to you. If you find you need more help than you can drum up give him a call.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:07 PM   #3
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Thanks, very cool stuff they do!
Where are they?
Time and friends I have... Money... not so much!
Out of work, and not looking like its gonna get better any time soon!

And yes, the other side of the M/H is near perfect, and I have already started stripping the horrible clearcoat!

For the record, I have a lot of mechanical experience, and pretty good hand skills.
I have done a fair bit of welding(Good with MIG, and learning TIG), paintwork, fiberglass, and some sheet metal.
Apart from the sheer size, I am not worried!
I have a portable compressor, that has the power to run air tools.
Several hand drills, 18V Makita, Jigsaw and Sawzall.
All the normal mechanic stuff.

My list looks like this so far.
Rivit guns.. Air and Hand.
Rivet shaver.
Power hand shear
Cleco set
Clamps
Sealer/mastic
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:39 PM   #4
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If you're in Foothill Ranch, CA he's like 20 miles from you in Orange, CA. Does fantastic work. He's a busy guy, but you might not have to hire out the whole job if you just need a little help.
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Old 11-16-2010, 11:43 PM   #5
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Both the side sheet and the rear segment can and should be overlaid with the new material at this point. The original rivets in the original skin are a structural element. Unless you are removing the interior to get at the back side of the rivets you'll need to use the repair rivets. Repair rivets are only about 30% as strong as the originals.

Prior to beginning, you will need to drive the original rivets further into the skin so that you create a flat surface for the new sheet to smoothly cover.

You can order the rear corner panel and the aluminum in coils from your local Airstream dealer.
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Old 11-17-2010, 12:14 AM   #6
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Thanks again...
I just cannot see me being able to pay for the guys time to be honest!
Times are tough and labor and expertise is not free.

Brett, Thanks for the input.
Yes, to overlaying the panels and tracing all the holes, and openings...
On my procedure list and makes sense.
So Olympic rivets are not strong enough for this?
I would prefer to do the bucked rivets, but the idea of pulling out the interior... thats like triple the work or more!
I want to do it as good as I can tho.

Due to space needed I will do this at the RV storage, as I have space there.
My plan is to spend a few days removing rivets, and everything else on my own,
then get maybe 5 bodies for the panel removal day.
I will have scafolding and a long work table ready.
Lay out the old on the new and accurately duplicate every hole, and cutout.
Then use the same bodies to lift the panel into position and secure with Clecos and slowly rivit and refinish it.

A buddy of mine made me laugh...
He looked at the damage... and then started looking around and over his shoulder nervously..
I asked what was up...
He grinned at me, and replied that the last time he heard about something this long getting a dent like that.... There was an ICEBERG close at hand!
ROFL!
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Old 11-17-2010, 11:20 AM   #7
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Inland RV has the panels I will need, I am sure. Looks like $350 or so a piece, and it would be foolish not to replace them at the same time!

Found another pic of the damage at the rear top... looks like I might be doing 3 wrap panels!
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Old 11-17-2010, 04:33 PM   #8
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At his suggestion, I called Andy from Inland RV...
They have the panels AND the HUGE sheet of aluminum in stock!
Andy also thought that "if" I am careful, the Aluminum I cut out from the window maybe big enough for the door reskin!

Thanks Andy, for taking the time to talk, and advise me!
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Old 11-26-2010, 03:07 PM   #9
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Well, I got my ladder out and spent some time looking at whats involved...
Here is the roof dent in glorious close up!





I spoke to Andy, and he assuures me that he has panels 56" tall, which I cannot find anywhere else(all others are only 48").

I could not measure the length of the panel, cos I was alone, and nobody to hold the end of the tape, but I checked the height.
First thing I spotted is that the bodyside panel seems to underlap the roof sheet by 1 1/2"... much more than I expected.



Now, from what I see, if I reduce the underlap to 3/4"....


I can use the 56" sheet, and it gives me the coverage as follows, and gets the lower joint under the moulding.
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Old 11-26-2010, 03:23 PM   #10
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Another thing that looked odd to me...
The center rear panel overlaps the upper side as I expected, but it looks like it has been replaced(Olympic rivets, and unshaved too), but what puzzled me was the gap... looks like there is another sheet thickness under it..


Closeup shot, but you cant see the sheet between the skins..


Is that normal?
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Old 11-26-2010, 07:30 PM   #11
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That coach has had body "repair" done before, by p.o. or non-a.s. types. Good luck, keep us informed.
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Old 11-30-2010, 02:54 PM   #12
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Thanks Mike.
I guess I dont get it... I assume that each "Upper panel" overlaps the lower, and each forward panel overlaps a rearward panel. This makes perfect sense for gravitational and motional water tightness.
I looked on the other side of the center upper wrap and its a tight fit, with no real gap, yet on the pass side there is a constant gap and in some places you can see a metal thickness in there....
WTH did they do????
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:39 PM   #13
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Hello fellow Bakersfield Airstreamer

Quote:
Originally Posted by newroswell View Post
keyair, Uwe at www.area63productions.com is really close to you. If you find you need more help than you can drum up give him a call.

Born and raised in Bakersfield. Lived there until I went to flight school in Pensacola FL. Met a good gal who couldn't take the earthquakes so we moved here to CT in 1965. I have a 1988 25" Excella.
Regards Joe nm1oqrz
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keyair View Post
Thanks Mike.
I guess I dont get it... I assume that each "Upper panel" overlaps the lower, and each forward panel overlaps a rearward panel. This makes perfect sense for gravitational and motional water tightness.
I looked on the other side of the center upper wrap and its a tight fit, with no real gap, yet on the pass side there is a constant gap and in some places you can see a metal thickness in there....
WTH did they do????
Your motorhome has 3 each 56 1/2 wide panels on it.

The roof and both window sheets.

That's how it was made.

There is no need to measure any holes, when you simply duplicate them, by placing the good side of the new sheet down, and then placing the original good side of the old sheet down on top of the new sheet, but have removed the stretched sections.

Keep the 2 sheets together with some "Cleco's" or some # 8 sheetmetal screws.

The only place that you might have to measure holes, is where the metal was stretched. In that case, make super sure that you do not even try to use the old holes. Move the new holes a half inch away, or so.

Andy
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