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Old 07-07-2016, 01:36 PM   #1
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1963 22' Safari
Hillsville , Virginia
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How to replace the curved front panel on my 1963 Airstream

A freak windstorm sent a tarp structure into my airstream and bent the curved panels on the roof in the front. Not deep enought to bend theinside walls but still unsightly. Does it leak? I dont think so but who can fix this damage. anybody got ideas. do it yourselfers?

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Old 07-08-2016, 09:21 AM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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I assume you are talking about the three dimensionally curved aluminum just above the front window (this section is known as an "end-cap"). If so, these are refered to as "segments" and are formed/stretched/shaped over a die (rather than just being a flat sheet that is bent around a curve). The difficulty here is that you can't just buy new segments for a 60's vintage trailer. Your choices are 1) repair your existing segments 2) find some used/salvage ones that are in better condition and replace yours, and 3) have some brand new ones manufactured by some kind of artist with an English wheel.

Of the three options above, #1 is your best bet. #2 will require an exhaustive search for end cap segments that are in better condition than yours, expensive shipping, and you still have the challenge of riveting segments into place on your trailer when both sheets already have rivet holes in them, and they aren't going to match up. #3 is probably the most expensive and the most difficult to execute. People just don't master the English Wheel like they did in 1800's.

For #1, start out by exhausting any "paintless" dent removal technique you can find. In other words, do everything you can to "pull" the dents out without removing the segments from the trailer. If the repair can not be achieved to your satisfaction, the next step could be to remove the interior on the back side of your dents and try to beat them out with a rubber mallet, using a sand bag on the outside as an "anvil," or to get a "dent roller" and try to work them out from the inside without creating any additional damage. If this doesn't work to your satisfaction, then the next thing to do would be to remove the segments, find someone with an English Wheel and even just a little bit of talent, and have the dents worked out of your segments.

You can do a google search from outside the Forums with search terms like "airforums dent paintless" to see some threads showing what some of us have tried to remove dents. If you end up having to do serious deconstruction/segment replacement, then you can do the work yourself, depending on how brave/handy you are, but get ready to invest some money in tools, and some time in the activity. There are plenty of Airstream rennovation businesses, and probably dealers who could do the work as well. Rough estimate I have heard for costs are upwards of $1000 per segment, very ballpark.

good luck!

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Old 07-08-2016, 11:19 AM   #3
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How to replace the curved front panel on my 1963 Airstream

Depending on the extent of the damage you might try the method I used. I was successful in removing a beach ball size dent from the front end cap of my Argosy. Look for my thread posted just a week or so ago.
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Old 07-08-2016, 11:20 AM   #4
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I would contact Colin Hyde in Plattsburgh, NY. He has a lot of experience with the "English Wheel" to restore end caps and also has a source for material as well as the templates to make new ones for just about any Airstream. Know that the cost of the panel is relatively small compared to the cost of replacing it as a proper job requires having access to the back side of the panel you are replacing which involves some partial disassembly of the interior. Colin's web site is:

You can get his phone # and email off the web site.

Good luck!
Bob Martel
WBCCI# 5766
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Old 07-09-2016, 12:53 PM   #5
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1959 18' "Footer"
san francisco , California
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Sorry to hear that.
Either way you go it will be a big pain in the ass and cost you time and money.

I'm doing the same thing on my 59 front and rear, sides, 8 panels total.
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Old 07-12-2016, 11:03 AM   #6
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1969 23' Safari
Palmer Lake , Colorado
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we had an incident in which a slow flying duck hit the front of our trailer during towing. We saw and heard it happen - poor duck was really struggling. Well it made quite a prominent dent in the curb side front panel. We left it as it was for several years then my Dad got the panel replaced at a restoration shop in the Tucson area maybe 10 years ago. Ours is a 69 model and the part was readily available a few years ago, maybe not so much today. I don't know the cost but it's probably about the cost of the part times 2 for the installed cost. The rivets are buck rivets of course and would require removal of the inside panel(s) of the trailer which means a DIY job would be out of the question for me but perhaps for others it would be a breeze.
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Old 07-12-2016, 11:23 AM   #7
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I had dents in the rear end cap of my trailer. I bought one of the air powered dent pullers from Harbor Freight. (about $55). Has a slide hammer and a suction cup that the air makes suction for. It got most of the 2 dents out. I was very happy with the results. Took about 5 min.

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