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Old 12-04-2019, 08:28 AM   #1
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Unhappy Moving Forward with Airstream Exterior Damage - Advice?

Hi All,

My husband and I are faced with a dilemma and I'm asking for advice/what would you do?

We are the original owners of a 2005 30' Airstream Bunkhouse. We were considering selling this Airstream and buying replacement. Over the years we took very good care of our Airstream, stored it inside, did regular maintenance, a few minor flaws on the outside and a dated interior, but overall our Airstream was babied throughout its life. In the shape it was in 18 months ago it would have sold for a very decent price.

18 months ago I lent my Airstream to my brother. He needed a place to live while he did renovations to his home. I warned him that the skin on the Airstream is fragile and if he damaged the skin most likely it would not be "fixable." That the only fix was to replace the skin and that was very, very expensive.

Well...in the course of the 18 months while the Airstream was in his possession he clearly drove the Airstream through trees (probably several times) and has badly scratched up the outside shell of the Airstream (multiple scratches, high and low, from one end of the Airstream to the other -- including some of the end caps). I've had it looked at by two Airstream dealers and they are basically saying that the scratches are too deep to buff out, and if I want to repair it, assuming I can make an insurance claim, the insurance company is going to total the unit.

So...that leaves my DH and I with a dilemma.

Choice #1) If we were to undertake the expense of reskinning the Airstream do you think that JC would be the least expensive place to have this done? We thought about removing all the interior furniture to save on the expense of the labor to do that by someone else. We've already been told that the repair will require buck rivets because this is a major, major repair.

Upside: we could also deal with upgrading the interior once the exterior is completed and we could evaluate other hidden issues and fix those too. If we did this option we would obviously keep our Airstream due the expense.

Choice #2) Clean the Airstream up as best we can on the exterior. Fix minor issues on the inside. Clean everything up as best we can and put it out there for sale as is. I assume with the rarity of these old bunkhouses there would still be a market even with the scratched up skin. Thoughts on the hit to depreciation due to the damage?

Choice #3) Let the Insurance company total the Airstream and move on with my life.

Thoughts?
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Old 12-04-2019, 09:01 AM   #2
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I would say clean and polish as much as you can and sell it as is. Lending anything like that is a crap shoot. A reskin would cost more than the trailer. I would never lend anything to your brother again.



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Old 12-04-2019, 09:03 AM   #3
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Sorry to hear of this. There are many threads here around the question of whether one would lend their Airstream to someone. Your horror story is the reason why 95% of the responses to that type of question are a resounding “never in a million years.” Complicating matters exponentially is the loan was to a family member. That person should be offering to do whatever it takes to make you whole without you needing to involve insurance or anyone else. In answer to your questions of “what would you/(I) do”:

1) I would send photos to Jackson Center to get a quote

2) I would share the estimate with my relative and ask how and when he’s planning on funding the repairs (whether self-funding directly or his filing a claim with his carrier). If there’s a satisfactory answer there I would receive the funds and schedule the repair at Jackson Center

3) If there’s nothing forthcoming from that channel, I would most likely file a claim with my own carrier (who would likely subrogate against the other family member’s carrier anyway) and evaluate the offer. Sadly with the age of the trailer, it’s likely a total and I may or may not want to proceed with repairs at that point. That would take me to your option 2.


Tough position to be in. So sorry to hear it. I hope your brother comes through and does the right thing for you. If not - I wish you the best at dealing with the hand you have now....good luck!
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Old 12-04-2019, 09:14 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
I would say clean and polish as much as you can and sell it as is. Lending anything like that is a crap shoot. A reskin would cost more than the trailer. I would never lend anything to your brother again.

Perry
A heartbreaking situation to say the least. I just got the Airstream back from him a few days ago, and I'm honestly in the state of shock right now. Just stunned at the damage.

Just a baby sister trying to help out her big brother. No good deed goes unpunished, right?
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Old 12-04-2019, 09:15 AM   #5
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Without photos its hard to gauge damage. I think the decision rests with what do you want.

Do you have the time, finances and skills to redo the interior and have the skins replaced?

Is there enough personal attachment to make keeping the trailer worthwhile?

The tone of your questions hints to me that you can't see keeping the trailer as is on the exterior. Perhaps contact with JC and see if they can give you an estimate by providing them with photos. How much will you really save by pulling the interior. Perhaps letting JC remove just the necessary interior and not reinstalling suits you better.

One issue I see with an insurance claim is you don't have only one 'accident' to be dealt with. That could mean multiple deductibles.

If you are avid campers and want to get out as soon as the weather permits, selling this unit and buying another may suit you better. Having the repairs done and/or redoing the interior could mean losing a lot of opportunity to camp next season. As most will tell you it always takes longer and costs more than you think it will.

Good luck with sorting this out.
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Old 12-04-2019, 09:18 AM   #6
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In addition to the good advice above, I would ask brother how HE is going to pay for it, not you.
If you make an insurance claim, your insurance company might go after him to recoup their loss. And, your insurance cost will be higher for years.
If he was towing the trailer when it was damaged, his vehicle insurance might cover it.
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:17 AM   #7
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There is lots of YouTube videos on polishing Airstreams .. also there are companies that can strip the coating off and recoat the Airstream. Make sure your Brother pays for it - I have hear it's somewhere betweem $100 > $150 a foot. Google Search is you friend.
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:42 AM   #8
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Given its age and now its new 'current state,' this is what I would do: I would clean it up and sell it, like this:
* Make it spotless inside i.e. make up the beds so they're 'pretty' with comforters sellers would want to sleep under.
* Empty everything out of the trailer. i.e. dishes, linens, towels, tools, everything that you've put in it over the years. Make it a blank slate for the next owner and it will look more spacious. Scrub all the spaces down including the fronts of all cabinets, frig, stove - make it all spotlessly clean.
Just thoroughly cleaning will make it smell pleasant and inviting to prospective buyers.
Take lots of good photos, set the price a little on the high side, post it for sale on AirForums and be patient. Interest will pick up in the spring.
Damaged or not, wash the exterior, wax it. Just the fact that it is a fairly rare bunk Airstream (and it's an Airstream!), will go a long way.
Take proceeds from the sale and save for another Airstream, 2017 model year or later. The advances that have been made since 2005 are ones I think you would love. Good luck.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:14 AM   #9
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We had a bunkhouse SOB that we used and loved with our kids. It was a 1998 and we used it extensively for 10 years. Then our kids got older, went to college and suddenly there wasn't time, or sufficient interest to go camping anymore. We are lucky enough to have a lake house as well as the camper so we still had plenty of quality time with them, just not in our camper. So the bunkhouse sat for 10 years until we decided to sell it and get an Airstream the two of us would enjoy, more than towing a heavy bunkhouse we didn't need.

Essentially, letting the trailer sit for 10 years didn't do it any favors and when we sold it we made out all right, but not as well as we would have 10 years earlier.

The point of this long preamble is, sell your unit and buy something that fits your life style better. Being its a 2005, I suspect your kids, being 14 years older now may not be camping with you as much if at all. A two person unit is pretty nice in comparison. Plus given the amount of damage, you are probably going to be sad whenever you use it in the future.

Just my opinion of course. Good luck.
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Old 12-04-2019, 11:33 AM   #10
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I would think your best plan is what PatLee said ...clean it up sell it ....possibly get a quote on what the value would have been if the skins where in normal shape for the age of the trailer .....then and ask your brother for the difference that you lost on the sale.... From the sounds of what he did you probably dont have a brother who will step up to the plate!!!....but you never know.

Re skinning would be a very expensive option.

Make sure he see's everyones comments on this forum !!
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Old 12-04-2019, 12:15 PM   #11
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Hi

On a number of levels this is a really bad thing to be in the middle of. Sorry for your "luck".

Depending on just how your insurance policies are written, damage when on a long term "loan" to another person may or may not be covered. A lawyer could look at how they are written and give you an opinion. Next layer would be the amount your insurance company thinks your trailer is worth. The "standard" prices on older RV's are generally very low.

The whole issue of relations within your family is none of any of our business, and I'll leave that out.

On a 15 year old trailer, re-skinning the beast will cost a ton of money. Getting that money back as part of a future sale is not at all likely. You may want estimates of the repair for various reasons. I would not suggest that redoing it is a good idea.

Is the damage enough to keep the trailer from being water tight? That may not be an easy thing to answer. If it still is water tight then somebody *can* use it to camp in. That makes it a trailer you can still sell. You will not get as much for it as you would one in perfect shape.

Do you try to deal with the damage before selling? I would certainly clean things up. I'm not sure I would do a whole lot of buffing repair past that. It is what it is. In a lot of cases buffing just highlights the issues.

The most basic question is one only you can answer - can you absorb the loss? This is likely into the > $10K range, no matter what you do. The unfortunate "other solution" is to continue and use the trailer as is ....

Really no "good" answers in any of this. It's simply a matter of picking between a number of bad solutions. Sorry about that !!!

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Old 12-04-2019, 12:53 PM   #12
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Are they scratches or creases? If only scratches, you trailer may be a fine candidate for a professional polish job.
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Old 12-04-2019, 02:45 PM   #13
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So when’s the funeral?
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:25 PM   #14
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If these are creases I'm curious if a paintless dent repair shop could address these. They need to access the back of the panel through the interior. I've seen these guys perform miracles on hail damaged cars, aluminum I would think is softer and easier to work.
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Old 12-04-2019, 05:22 PM   #15
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Many thanks for all your replies. DH and I decided were we would start is to have the exterior of the Airstream detailed and have the scratches buffed out. A person at an Airstream dealer passed on the name of a person that works at the dealership that has experience working on scratches and was willing to take this on as a side job. Cost will be approximately $400. I thought that seemed reasonable, so we decided to go ahead and leave it. This person was pretty optimistic, but yes the indentations/creases obviously won't come out. Do you think $400 is too much on the detailing?

As for my brother... he and I spoke today. He does feel terrible about the mess, and he said he is willing to try and make this "right" so I'm just sorting through how to feel somewhat whole in this mess. I'm not sure I'll every be completely "whole." I'm taking this one step at a time. Honestly, I feel like he just didn't understand the fragile nature of an Airstream and that damage like this isn't easily fixed.

I'll have to figure out a way to post some before and after pictures. Not my strength I'm afraid when it comes to pictures and posting. But, I'll try to get something posted after I get the Airstream back.
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Old 12-04-2019, 05:36 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by drbrick View Post
There is lots of YouTube videos on polishing Airstreams .. also there are companies that can strip the coating off and recoat the Airstream. Make sure your Brother pays for it - I have hear it's somewhere betweem $100 > $150 a foot. Google Search is you friend.
My understanding is that the skin on my Airstream (2005) can't have the finish stripped off and recoated. I had a conversation with an Airstream shop that specializes in late model Airstream restorations/repairs and he indicated that if the scratches are "light" they may buff out, but if they are deep, and you really want to get rid of them the only solution is a replacement of the panel.

Anyone care to share their knowledge on stripping off the clear coat?
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Old 12-04-2019, 05:39 PM   #17
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Are they scratches or creases? If only scratches, you trailer may be a fine candidate for a professional polish job.
Both. Some of the scratches made by the tree branches also made light creases in the skin. I will say the creases are slight, but to me, noticeable.

We decided to start sorting through this process of the damage by getting the trailer professionally buffed. Once buffed we will reassess how the skin looks.
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Old 12-04-2019, 06:37 PM   #18
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Posts 8 & 10 are the the most likely to succeed with a minimum of wear and tear on your life. I hope that you will be able to get on the road again soon. Others in the community have overcome setbacks and are once again enjoying them selves. Hopefully you will come out the other side a happy camper. Jim
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Old 12-04-2019, 07:51 PM   #19
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I've seen entire Airstreams painted silver. Done well, you can hardly tell.

Rumor has it some came from the factory that way when they had some early clear coat peeling issues in the mid 90s (the rumored problem was clear coat that peeled even before delivery to a dealer). I cannot confirm that rumor though.

A complete repaint is likely less expensive than replacing the majority of panels on the trailer. The interior does not need to be removed, and there should be no risk of creating new leaks in the shell.
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Old Yesterday, 04:19 AM   #20
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I've seen entire Airstreams painted silver. Done well, you can hardly tell.

Rumor has it some came from the factory that way when they had some early clear coat peeling issues in the mid 90s (the rumored problem was clear coat that peeled even before delivery to a dealer). I cannot confirm that rumor though.

A complete repaint is likely less expensive than replacing the majority of panels on the trailer. The interior does not need to be removed, and there should be no risk of creating new leaks in the shell.
Funny you should say this... DH and I were talking about the potential to paint the Airstream. As you know, Argosy's were painted when they were manufactured, and I do know that if you search on the internet you can find custom painted Airstreams, so yes it is a possibility. I guess on the upside it would be unique and on the down side you would just have other issues to deal with if/when there is damage.
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