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Old 07-15-2010, 02:43 PM   #1
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Repairing Hail damage on Bambi 2004

Just had 19,000 dollars of hail damage on my 2004 Bambi. Insurance will not pay for all the damage so I decided to take what they give me and fix it myself. I don't care if the repairs are 100% perfect and don't know absolutely anything about repairing an airstream. I feel am pretty handy so hopefully I'll be successful.

Here are the 4 options I was thinking off to do this job.

Option 1. Drill the rivets and pull the panels out. Once once the panels are removed straightening the bumps by pushing from the inside. Replace the panels to original position.

Option 2. Not sure this can be done but it would be my favorite. Remove cabinetry from the inside. Drill rivets of inside panels, remove the panel and push from the inside to straighten the bumps (don't know if insulation will prevent me from doing this but I would feel more comfortable as I wouldn't have to worry with sealing the outside panels and cutting the sealant which seems a good way to scratch the panels).

Option 3. Buy new panels and replace them. I am not sure I want to spend that money and then worry for the next hail storm or tree branch.

Option 4. Pull panels with hot glue car suction method. I pulled one big bump in the front but the drawback is that I couldn't clean the hot glue spot were it attached to the panel.

Here are the photos of the damage. I have mostly big round bumps. Only a few per panel but most of the panels have been hit.


Any suggestions? How hard is it to do this?
Thank you much!
Paolo
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Old 07-15-2010, 02:48 PM   #2
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Don't screw with it at all. You are planning things that will get you way in over your head. Take the money and enjoy your Bambi as it is...war wounds and all.
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Old 07-15-2010, 02:52 PM   #3
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I have had success on a car with Dry Ice. I am not sure if it would work on an Airstream, but on a hotter than heck day you apply dry ice to the dented area. The rapid cooling to the already expanded metal makes the dent pop back.

Would be worth a try during the middle of summer and it would be a heck of a lot easier than your other 4 options.

I think for $5 in dry ice you would know if it would work. Maybe someone else has expirence with this.

ginder75
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Old 07-15-2010, 03:16 PM   #4
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Dry ice what you can and live with what you have. At least you dont have to worry whenever a storm appears now.
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Old 07-15-2010, 03:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ginder75 View Post
I have had success on a car with Dry Ice. I am not sure if it would work on an Airstream, but on a hotter than heck day you apply dry ice to the dented area. The rapid cooling to the already expanded metal makes the dent pop back.

Would be worth a try during the middle of summer and it would be a heck of a lot easier than your other 4 options.

I think for $5 in dry ice you would know if it would work. Maybe someone else has expirence with this.

ginder75
Dry ice, "will not" shrink stretched aluminum.

The severity of the dents as seen in the photo's, require metal replacement.

Andy
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Old 07-15-2010, 03:38 PM   #6
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there is nothing about those divots that "requires panel replacement"

option 5...just leave it as is...

((can u SEE of the dents from INSIDE the stream?))

option 6...or ADD MORE DIVOTS...

in some creative pattern...

that is what makes golf balls sail so fast and far...

while they might affect RESALE value they sure don't impact utility...

and a crappy repair job could alter resale, looks, leaks, usage and da'wallet.

cheers
2air'
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Old 07-15-2010, 03:51 PM   #7
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metal replacement.

Paolo.

Metal replacement is not difficult, for a shop that has been there and done that.

When metal replacement is properly done, the only way you can tell is by closely looking at the rivets, to see that they are Olympic rivets.

There are a few shops in the USA, that do tons of Airstream metal replacement and accordingly, have an outstanding reputation for doing so.

The hardest part you would have, is to find that top rated shop. Scratch non Airstream shops off the list.

Andy
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Old 07-15-2010, 04:11 PM   #8
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I had success with taking a suction cup and connecting it to a vacuum pump. Not perfect but it did a reasonable job. The only problem is the vacuum pump. You will need an industrial grade pump to do the job. See if you can borrow one or find a used one.
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Old 07-15-2010, 04:15 PM   #9
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Clean the hot melt off by heating it with an electric hot air blower they use for paint stripping or electrical shrink wrap. Then absorb it into a towel. Be careful not to get it so hot it wrecks the clear coat. Work slowly and you can get it. Some hot melts are also softened with charcoal lighter fluid but do not let it set on the clearcoat too long. The hot melt puller will not be able to pull out some of the greatly stretched dimples in the picture but can take out the bending of the aluminum. Otherwise it usually about $1,800 per panel.
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Old 07-15-2010, 04:20 PM   #10
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I agree with myself on this one. Leave it as it is, and give it a suitable name. If you can't live with the damage, your best bet is to sell or trade it for whatever you can and get another unit for yourself. It really is a $19,000.00 repair job, any way you slice it.

Hoping it all works out,
Rich the Viking
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Old 07-15-2010, 05:47 PM   #11
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Character.

There was a mini rally going on in the vicinity of BTCampers a while back, and there was a early Bambi that looked like a golf ball. We were told the owner wouldn't trade or repair it for the world.

Having been down to a panel on ours, I can tell you it would not be hard to fix, but it would take a LONG time doing it yourself, and I doubt "working" the dent out would look much better. I think if you HAVE to have the new panel look, you have to have new panels. If you don't have to have the new panel look...

Character. don't do squat. smile, raise a toast to her when you tell the story.
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Old 07-15-2010, 05:53 PM   #12
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I cower at on coming hailstorms and have yet to be hit (save for pea sized hail) which does not seem to dent like the bigger ones. But I really DO cower at hail. I would like to add that the other day I was sitting in a Pharmacy getting some supplies, and looked over and noticed this 25 dollar 'handle' that featured suction cups- made for handicapped assist anywhere slick, one day I will get one as a dent puller/popper. I tell you now --that whoever is out there that can invent an ingenious method for removing hail dents will be a billionaire!
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Old 07-15-2010, 05:55 PM   #13
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For 19k you can buy a nice used AS and sell the Bambi.
Just a thought.
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Old 07-15-2010, 07:40 PM   #14
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Dry ice just isn't enough concentrated cold to do miracles, the aluminum pulls the heat and cold away fast - I've done the heat gun and dry ice trick (several pounds worth) and it will ease slight ripples and perhaps pull some of the hurt out of the hail strikes but is just slightly better than doing nothing. Dry ice is also somewhat abrasive and will strip clear coat where it has been stretched and then severely dull the aluminum to a flat cardboard looking gray.
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