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Old 08-19-2004, 03:26 PM   #1
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Resuscitate a smashed Airstream or Not?

Can anyone offer advice on whether or not I should even attempt to bring my 1977 Excella 500 back to life after an accident? The accident was on the freeway, and when things came to a stop the Airstream was on it's side (roadside), jack-knifed against the rear drivers side of the tow vehicle and the rear of the tow vehicle was about a foot off the ground.....prior to the accident the Airstream was in pristine condition, barely used by my Grandparents since it was new but very well maintained and stored indoors. I'd go the extra mile on this one, but really don't know what I'm dealing with yet. I've attached some pictures of the exterior. The interior doesn't look too bad; a loose cabinet, loose countertop, cracked shower where the rear corner somehow got crunched, and of course the console in the front end is very crunched. I'm not particularly worried about the interior - just how much it could cost to restore the exterior, and what potential long term issues may surface.

Thanks for your input!

Dave
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Old 08-19-2004, 03:33 PM   #2
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You haven't seen Andy's (Inland RV - Crunch 101 ) pics of some restorations they've done there?

Check these out:
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Old 08-19-2004, 03:35 PM   #3
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More pictures

Here are a few additional pictures of the rear area; forgot to include them on the other post.
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Old 08-19-2004, 03:46 PM   #4
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Sorry to hear about the accident; hope everyone was ok!

As tempting as it would be to try and fix it up; I believe if it were me I would look for a reasonable settlement with the insurance Co. and look for another one. There is probably more damage that can't be seen with the naked eye! Perhaps someone from the A/S factory could give you an idea on repairs.

If you could keep it for almost nothing you may consider offering it for parts. I bet you would get a lot of takers.
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Old 08-19-2004, 03:48 PM   #5
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Hate to say it but it's gone. Just too much damage.

Best advice is argue up the insurance to get the best payout you can then see what the buyback is. Argue that down. Find a cheap simular model that needs some interior stuff that you can salvage and sell the rest. The aluminum will bring some cash at recycle once you sell or use major stuff like Reefer, windows that survived, cabinetry etc.

I know I'm looking for a ton of stuff that your coach may have like the Reefer and A/C. The parts would sell fast.

Sad part is your goign to be lucky to get a good pay out. Most of us are under insured on older coaches.
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Old 08-19-2004, 03:51 PM   #6
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It's a shame to see that. So sorry. You should consider calling Andy at Inland RV and Airstream for some professional opinions.

IMHO - Thats looks like a lot of work to try and bring back. You may be better off settling on insurance, buying back the scrap to part out and end up with the money you need to buy another. Keep one or two components of the old and install them in the new to preserve the heritage and memories.
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Old 08-19-2004, 04:30 PM   #7
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I have a saying, that fits here:

There is nothing wrong with it that money won't fix.
Unfortunately, it looks like it will take a couple of buckets of money to get your coach back into shape. It would probably be best to find a unit with a good skin, axles, etc. and transfer your interior parts into it. Coaches with no interiors go pretty cheap, there is one in the classified area of the forums right now. I don't remember anything about it, other than the ad said the shell was good, and the interior had been gutted.
Something I don't think anyone else has asked, is everyone all right?
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Old 08-19-2004, 05:23 PM   #8
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Smash

By the grace of God, there were no serious injuries to the driver or passenger in the tow vehicle, which is what truly matters....though I believe I'm in a serious grieving mode regarding the Airstream.
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Old 08-19-2004, 05:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidp
By the grace of God, there were no serious injuries to the driver or passenger in the tow vehicle, which is what truly matters....though I believe I'm in a serious grieving mode regarding the Airstream.
Glad to hear you and passenger are in one piece.

Normally, I would say fix it if it looked like one part, but I'd have to agree with 59Toaster, there is just damage everywhere. Outside of the frame that appears bent, depending on cost, you might opt to live with some dents. The simple answer is yes it can be fixed, however my guess (and it's only a guess) would be that it would cost you dozens of time over what another coach of that year would cost, taking into account rehabbing whatever you'd find out there in that year. Compared to new, I'd guess to fix it would cost at least half what a new coach would cost (non Classic, midgrade Safari type). Again, that's just an educated guess. Andy from Inland would be able to say better than I would.

Sorry about the loss.
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Old 08-19-2004, 11:43 PM   #10
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First let me say that I am happy that you and your passenger were okay. Looked like it was an awlful affair.

Going the extra mile and repairing it is only going to be worth it in sentimental value. The cost for restoring the trailer back to its prior condition will be extremly high. If you look around you can probably find another year and model that is identical and one that may not be in bad condition for less than it would cost you to restore only the shell on yours.

IMHO - I would get the highest amount possible from the insurance company and then try to settle for that amount as long as you can keep the coach yourself. Then you can find another one and use parts off the wrecked one as needed. Once you have salvaged all that you can from the wrecked coach you can start selling parts off it. I know that I would be interested in the refrigerator myself as I have one to replace in my Sovereign.

It is ashame that you are forced into this position, but you may even come out far ahead once all the dust settles. Parting one out will bring you a lot more than you might think.

If you decide to go the part out route please PM me and I will be glad to call you and discuss the sale of some of it. Also let us know and many of us on the forum will keep an eye open for a replacement AS.
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Old 08-20-2004, 09:06 AM   #11
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say Dave, real bummer to lose a cherished family airstream. glad everyone is ok. anything the folks on the forum can learn by your misfortune, traffic conditions , weather conditions, towing methods?
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Old 08-20-2004, 09:09 AM   #12
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Dave,sorry to here of your loss. I'm sure if you speak with Andy at Inland Rv, he would provide you valuable info, not only regarding repairs, but based on your photos, I hate to be negitive, you may have been pulling without any weight distribution hitch,( unless you have already removed the frame brackets) and he'll question you regarding the vacuum disc brakes, with a proper brake controller.Good luck with what ever you choose, there are many of us, that would be interested in parts. Jeff
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Old 08-20-2004, 09:24 AM   #13
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but based on your photos, I hate to be negitive, you may have been pulling without any weight distribution hitch,( unless you have already removed the frame brackets) and he'll question you regarding the vacuum disc brakes, with a proper brake controller. Jeff
Actually, I was using the Reese hitch and bars that had been used with this trailer since 1982, and had hitched it the same way I always have so I don't think that contributed to the problem.

As far as brakes, I had an RV dealer (which was certified for Airstream repair up until 2 years ago, and was the same dealer and employees that my grandparents used) update the brakes to electronic brakes. The controller I use is a Tekonsha Prodigy. Last month I travelled from Minnesota to Georgia through the mountains of Tennissee, etc. with this setup and it worked beautifully - though the Prodigy can be annoying at low speeds if not adjusted. I tow the Airstream with a 2003 Chevy Silverado, 5.3 with offroad and towing package, and was completely satisfied with the Chevy as a towing vehicle. (the 5.9 Dodge Ram that I owned prior to the Silverado was incapable of properly towing anything.....sad to say)

I really appreciate peoples' ideas - keep 'em coming! I would love to try to restore this unit, even if it is a bit impractical - but if it's outright foolishness then I like the alternative idea of saving it for parts to refurbish a similar trailer (so please let me know if you are aware of any good candidates).

Dave
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Old 08-20-2004, 10:41 AM   #14
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Well anything can be fixed if you throw enough money at it. I have a rough ideal what you looking at for RAW material. I have done some work that required me to buy some sheet.

The flat sheet is going to set you back $12-14 a FOOT for raw material.
The end caps you might get lucky and salvage but most in the junk yards look like what you have. From Airstream they say to figure $1200 a pannel. Thats proably installed so lets say 800 for just the sheet. From what I can tell every pannel is damaged. On the conservative end I see $7,225 In just material. That's not counting labor. Your proably goign to need a few ribs and I have no ide how to price that. There is a pretty good chance of frame damage that will have to be repaired once the body and floor have been removed .


Andy could give you a pretty acurate cost of rapair including labor. He wrote Airstreams book on estimating the cost of repair. I would guess it's approching $20k on the conservative side.

You MIGHT get $6k out of the insurance company and keep the coach. If you get any more I will be surprised. Honestly with $6k you could pick up a reasonable coach that you could get in good condition with interrior componets salvaged from yours. With sweat equity be close to break even money wise.

I understand the sentimental value thing but I'm guessing $10,000 on the conservative side in just skin repairs. Is it worth that and possibly more?

My wife and I are in the middle of restoring her Fathers Airstream and it was not wrecked where any body pannels need replacement. I already have $2k just in floor repairs and repairing damaged belly. I fully expect to sink $8k by the time we have it where we dream of having it and remember we inherited it so thats above and beyond the initial purchace price. It is a labor of love but we will be able to get a reasonable amount out of it if we ever did sell. I'm a sucker for a hard case but even with sentimental value I see that as too much and never will be right again.


Where is the coach now?

It needs to be covered or mildew and water will quickly ruin the salavagable interior components.
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