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Old 07-15-2013, 03:17 PM   #1
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1971 31' Sovereign
Surrey , British Columbia
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Re-using old panels on different trailer

I had hoped that my first post on the forum would be to show off the bunk beds I installed or a step repair I completed but unfortunately I backed into a tree (in my own driveway!) and now have to ask about panel repair.

The pictures show the dents pretty well, it's not going to be easily pulled out so I'm looking at replacing the two damaged panels. The trailer is a '71 Sovereign and I've been fixing it up on the cheap. I have priced two panels which would cost about half of what I have into the trailer so far and have recently found 1975 trailer in rough shape that I can use for replacement panels for a lot less than buying new. My question is: Will the holes line up? I don't want to go to the effort of taking both trailers apart just to find out that each trailer is hand drilled and nothing fits!

Has anyone done a panel swap before and has experience with this?



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Old 07-24-2013, 01:43 PM   #2
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Chances of the holes lining up are slim. However, if I had the used skins handy or they were cheap enough I would be tempted to try. If the existing holes in the used panels are covered by the overlapping sheet then just drill new holes. If the existing holes in the used panel are not covered by the overlapping panel then then you would have to flush plug every hole, doable but maybe not desirable.
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:50 PM   #3
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Sandman--your pics aren't showing up--maybe try just attaching them to a post.
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:12 PM   #4
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we replaced two curved encap panels on my dad's trailer with salvaged panels. i was told they would be stretched and wouldn't work, but i don't believe that's always the case - i wasn't for us.

the bigger concern is that each trailer was man made; the panel we replaced had a 90 degree angle cut in it for the window that did not line up exactly with our trailer. the drill holes for the rivets will certainly NOT line up. i would strongly suggest considering removing the interior end cap to buck rivet the panels on instead of olympic rivets. While airstream repair manuals instruct the techs to use them, many folks on this forum have discovered that these repairs made many years ago leak due to said olympic rivets. also, it's VERY difficult to slip this panels in and adjust without denting the panel or nearby panel trying to get these suckers in. plan on 2 people all weekend for this job.
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:06 AM   #5
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OK, I've attached the pictures to this post, hopefully they are viewable. Not a pretty sight.
Thanks everyone for the advice so far. I am still tempted to pick up the additional trailer if my wife will let me store it in the driveway for a while...
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:15 AM   #6
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Find someone who works on AIRCRAFT aluminum panels - remove the inside skins and have him/her try to gently roll out these dings. You've got a few creases that will leave some marks, but this particular damage COULD BE repairable without panel replacement.

Your damage isn't a perfect candidate for repairing the existing panels... but it also isn't a "must replace" case either. I'd expect to see a bit of scarring remain just outside of the taillight area - but on models with the two trim lines you can actually PAINT that stripe. You'll also get two small permanent lines on the side segment higher up - but hey, that's vintage, and if you polish it, it won't be that noticeable (except to you).

Side note: I dinged a bumper on my former Airstream and didn't even feel it. My new tow vehicle has a backup camera - and I'll find the money to add a backup camper to the trailer too!

Sorry for your pain, Paula
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Old 07-25-2013, 01:48 AM   #7
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SO SORRY… Must have been a heart breaker…. You can buy new panels. You’ll have to remove the inside stuff in that bathroom. You can have AS do a repair? I’m not sure that they still do that? Insurance claim I hope. Good luck
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:10 AM   #8
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panels

I truly feel your pain , a patio umbrella got one of mine two years ago. I have 3 panels to get replaced now, I have them, NOS. Now I need the $ to get them installed. John
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:53 AM   #9
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My two cents--buy two new panels at Inland or ODRM.com. With shipping they will run you close to $1000 all told. The downside of buying a donor trailer to get the panels you need is that you then have to pull the interiors out of two trailers (which is time consuming and a big PITA), plus you run the risk of damaging the donor panels during disassembly. As you have noted, you also have the issue of the donor panels rivet holes not matching the originals, in which case you will have a sloppy, Swiss-cheesey connection at best.

If you want to try rolling out the dents, this is still an option--if it doesn't meet your expectations, you can still order new panels. Having just gone through a similar exercise, I am very doubtful that you could remove the dents and leave no scars behind--but the right technician might be able to work wonders that are beyond my crude abilities.

Good luck!
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:56 AM   #10
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On a vaguely related note, either your trailer is riding kinda low, or that is one BIG cat in your picture!
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Old 07-26-2013, 02:38 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone, I will probably take the interior out and see about rolling out the damage before I look at replacing the panels now. I'm not worried about it being perfect, it is a 40 year old trailer, but it would be great to seal up my tail light again. In the meantime the weather is great in BC so I'm going camping! Repairs will wait until the fall.

While Ferocious (the cat) is pretty big I think I had the trailer up on the tongue jack to get it off my truck so the back end is sitting pretty low. And the axles are saggy from age but it still tows great so I'm just going to enjoy it for now.
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Old 07-26-2013, 07:42 PM   #12
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I would sooner replace the panels then pull out the bathroom. You're not just going to pull out bathroom you're going to pull out whatever is in front of it too. They built bathroom first then bedroom, so you'll have to pull bedroom to pull bath. You'll be doing new plumbing if you pull bath.

Replacing a panel isn't too bad. Just a lot of drilling out rivets. Slap a lot of trempro on edges when you push new panels in. You won't notice the holes not lining up bc you'll use the outside panel holes and drill new holes for panel underneath.

You'll always see the creases if you roll out that dent. They are too sharp.

Buy the donor trailer and part it out. You'll make your $$ back if you sell the rest of the parts. The panels should fit fine there.
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Old 07-26-2013, 09:13 PM   #13
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To The Sandman,
Regardless of what you decide to do replace the panels or roll out the dents. Do it right. I have had personal experience with a top front panel replaced on my 64 Safari by the PO. They did not remove the inside skins or end cap. They used Olympic (pop rivets) instead. It leaked like you can not believe.I found out by removing the inside skins and the end caps. I had to reseal the joints and buck rivet everything that was done on that repair. Not a job for the feint of heart. However no more leaks.
I like Paula's idea, then you can wear those creases like a badge of Honor.
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Old 07-26-2013, 10:04 PM   #14
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Thanks Batman, a bunch of the bathroom has to come out to fix the floor anyway so I'll take out a little more and will knock out the dent then. If it's really ugly I'll look at buying panels then. The whole thing became a moot point as the donor trailer got sold last week so I'll probably end up having to buy new panels if needed.
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