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Old 07-03-2018, 06:29 PM   #1
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Angry Minor crack in aluminum- best way to fix it? Photos attached!

Hi guys,

We did a thorough look at the airstream we just purchased and it looks like there is a minor crack in the aluminum, where the rock guard attaches. Is there a more cost effective easy way to fix this (without replacing the panel)? We were thinking maybe silicon?

Please let me know your thoughts! Advice is welcomed and much appreciated.
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Old 07-03-2018, 06:36 PM   #2
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Don't use silicone caulk anywhere on your trailer. If you do it will make future repairs more difficult (nothing adheres to silicone)

A photo would help
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Old 07-03-2018, 06:48 PM   #3
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Hi there,

I thought I did post a photo- weird. Still adjusting to the forum. My apologies.Click image for larger version

Name:	8FAFA270-0F2E-4780-BBE0-BDECBAF72E57.jpg
Views:	86
Size:	246.4 KB
ID:	315868
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:08 PM   #4
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Well thats pretty minor but still of concern, lets see if any metal gurus show up here but if it is indeed a crack then drilling a very small hole in the end of it to stop the progression and then using some sikaflex or vulkem to seal it may be in order.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:19 PM   #5
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I'm definitely not a metal guru.

My opinion:
I think that crack was caused by something hitting hard, not a stress crack.
I would drill a very small hole at each end of the crack and caulk it then keep an eye on it. Silver Parrbond or gray urethane caulk will would be my choice.

If the crack starts to extend, my choice would be to add a patch over it.
Use the search function for decorative patch if that might work for you.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:19 PM   #6
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I would remove the bracket and plate,or patch, over the cracked area with new material. Sealing between the new plate and skin with Vulkem. Re-install the bracket on the plate.

Regards,

JD
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:19 PM   #7
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Hi

The first question is why did it crack? The bracket should be riveted into something more sturdy than the skin. If it's simply (miss)mounted to the skin, further flexing will occur and the skin will degrade further.

Patching with an aluminum compatible epoxy is probably the most easy approach. It may not be the best looking ....

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Old 07-03-2018, 07:32 PM   #8
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That appears to be a tear rather than a crack. I would remove the bracket, drill the crack ends, and apply an oversized patch. Then reinstall the bracket.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:53 PM   #9
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Crack fix

Back in the day, going through airframe repair school in the Air Force, I think, as previously mentioned, it was called stop drilling. Drilling a tiny hole on each end to stem any further progression of the crack, hopefully. And then proceed to seal it with a sealant that works well on an Airstream, which I am not familiar with, but learning from some of replies to your dilemma.
Any visible damage to the rock guard in that area that could have caused the crack? I know that this was also previously mentioned, but at least it may provide the why.
My concern would be doing more than what may be needed to address the problem. And monitor the site as suggested.
Just the beginning of the bumps to come, but we enjoy our unit.
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Old 07-03-2018, 09:26 PM   #10
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I have an identical tear curbside.
I'm using a clear non sliicone gutter sealant.
It's forever flexible, and the stickiest caulk I have used..
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Old 07-03-2018, 09:28 PM   #11
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Stop drill it. It removes the stress at the end of the crack that would otherwise cause the crack to grow.
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Old 07-04-2018, 10:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StreamingB View Post
Hi there,

I thought I did post a photo- weird. Still adjusting to the forum. My apologies.Attachment 315868
Hard to tell from photo but is the bracket cracked also?
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Old 07-04-2018, 10:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steverino View Post
Stop drill it. It removes the stress at the end of the crack that would otherwise cause the crack to grow.

Stop drilling is standard practice for cracks and tears that may continue to grow. It isn't at all difficult. A small drill bit is all that is needed, like 1/8" or even smaller. After drilling use a slightly larger drill bit held in your hand to deburr the newly drilled hole. It would be ideal to deburr both sides of the hole but in most cases this is not possible.
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Old 07-04-2018, 11:06 AM   #14
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Fixing Aluminum Cracks

Quote:
Originally Posted by lyleapgmc View Post
Stop drilling is standard practice for cracks and tears that may continue to grow. It isn't at all difficult. A small drill bit is all that is needed, like 1/8" or even smaller. After drilling use a slightly larger drill bit held in your hand to deburr the newly drilled hole. It would be ideal to deburr both sides of the hole but in most cases this is not possible.
Other people here will have better answers than me on the best sealant.

On the other hand, stopping a crack properly requires stop drilling. Look at the width of the crack and then select a drill bit that is SLIGHTLY bigger in diameter than the width of the crack (it does look like a 1/8" or close would work for that crack). Drill in at both ends and be sure to control depth so that you don't push through the thickness of the skin more than one diameter of the drill bit (the point is that you want to get a true diameter round hole but not drill through to and damage what is behind the skin you are repairing). Deburr the outside of the holes you drill at each end of the crack using the next largest size drill bit twisted with finger pressure only, not a drill). The drilling needs to be done so that the closest edge of the drilled hole to the crack actually cuts into the end of the crack and the center of the hole is beyond the end of where the crack ended. To see what I mean, draw a line on a piece of paper, then draw a circle where the tip of the line just barely penetrates the edge of the circle on the line side of it (kind of looks like a lollipop on it's side).

I agree with one of the other responders that you need to figure out what caused the crack. More support like removing the bracket and adding a support plate behind it sealed/bonded to the damaged skin sounds like it might be a good idea (only after you do the stop drilling to the existing crack). You will need to make it larger than the base of the bracket or it will not add support (actually adds stress to the area in my opinion if not sized properly. Good luck.
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