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Old 11-14-2019, 10:50 AM   #1
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Question for anyone experienced or seen AS hail damage

So looking at cars here and around Colorado that have experienced hail damage, it seems like it is just the roofs, hood, and trunk lids (as you would expect).

We are going to be doing some camping this coming year during months with potential for hail, and I was going to look into some kind of protection (padding or other approaches) that could be used in case of hail warnings. This would be a lot simpler if I was just concerned about the top and not any vertical surfaces.

I did discover some full amenity campgrounds actually offer covered sites, which would work in a couple of areas we are going to.

Yes I know insurance covers it, and some folks just live with it.

So is there normally much potential for damage to the sides or not?

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Old 11-14-2019, 10:58 AM   #2
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I would not and have not let the possibility of hail factor into where we travel. If your Airstream is insured for it's value, it can be replaced.



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Old 11-14-2019, 11:01 AM   #3
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Unfortunately there are a lot of variables. Are you sitting or traveling when the hail hits? Hail when you are going 60 mph down the road will damage more than just the roof. How much wind is there with the hail? If you are getting into 60+ MPH wind, indeed some of the vertical surfaces will be vulnerable.

Since wind is a very common element to see along with hail, whatever you come up with for cover needs to stand up to the wind as well. Tents do not do well in high winds (I have a lot of data on this .....). Indeed light weight "tin garage" structures do get blown around.

If you go for a cover that contacts the trailer, consider that any dirt between the cover and the trailer can act as sand paper. Having it dig through the clear coat is a problem. It also would need to be thick enough / substantial enough to stop the hail. A simple tarp or cloth cover laying on the roof will do no good.

Simple answer - this is one of the reasons we store our trailer "indoors".

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Old 11-14-2019, 11:59 AM   #4
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Anytime there are thunderstorms you have the potential of Hail. So always store under cover and for gods sake don’t ever bring it out.
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Old 11-14-2019, 12:35 PM   #5
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The times I have encountered hail there was just no chance to cover or move or do anything but stand there and take it, as Lyndon Johnson said. Except for when it is in storage or parked between trips I do not think you can protect the trailer.
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Old 11-14-2019, 12:40 PM   #6
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From what I remember my experience with hail in Colorado seemed to be in the Denver area while camped on the eastern side of the mountains. None caused damage to my trailer but after spending almost a week in a campground near Golden those afternoon storms with hail seemed to be almost as common as the afternoon thunderstorm that occur in Florida in the summer. Here's a little of what I churned from the Internet.

If you have lived ANYWHERE in Colorado for an extended period of time, you know that Colorado is part of what’s known as “Hail Alley.” What you might not know is, nowhere in the US gets more severe hail storms than the Front Range.

The experts say this:

There’s something in the air. “Colorado’s mix of high altitude and dry air is hail heaven. For those icy stones to form, strong, dry winds have to carry water up and up to the higher, colder parts of the atmosphere and hold them there.” – (Colorado Public Radio), former state climatologist Nolan Doesken interview.
Strong vibes. “Just like the Colorado Rockies, the Coors Field park, home runs go further, hail’s going to hit the ground a lot faster when it hits the ground in Denver versus when it hits the ground at sea level. It’s based on a calculation of kinetic energy resulting in Colorado hail being about 8 percent more damaging.” – National Weather Service Meteorologist Paul Schlatter, 9 News.
Baby, it’s cold outside. “The freezing levels (the area of the atmosphere at 32 degrees or less) in the high plains are much closer to the ground than they are at sea level, where hail has plenty of time to melt before reaching the ground.” – National Severe Storms Laboratory
Big hail babies? “Hailstones don’t form or grow very big without massive amounts of air billowing up from below. These updrafts keep the embryonic stone aloft long enough to gather up water into an ice ball, and the stronger the updraft, the bigger the stones can grow. Hailstones can spend a half hour forming in clouds, with the absolute largest in the strongest updrafts taking close to an hour. Mountainous areas — such as Colorado’s Rockies — promote these updrafts by acting as elevated heat sources that pump warm air from the ground high up into the atmosphere.” – Andrew Heymsfield, a hail expert and colleague of Knight’s at NCAR, Denver Post.
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Old 11-14-2019, 12:56 PM   #7
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You are not likely to get hail damage to the sides of the AS, but you can get damage on the front and rear caps, which are fairly visible and the most expensive panels to get repaired/replaced.

One of the downsides of owning an AS. I store ours inside a quonset when we are using it and constantly monitor the weather when we are on the road. On a couple of occasions we have hastily packed up and hit the road in the opposite direction of dark looming clouds and storms.
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Old 11-14-2019, 01:07 PM   #8
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As rain drop are uplifted into colder air by updrafts they then fall into warmer air collect more liquid an are carried again to relatively colder air and this process is repeated until the atmosphere can no longer support its weight and it falls to the ground.
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Old 11-14-2019, 01:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by SYC2Vette View Post
So is there normally much potential for damage to the sides or not?
Yes, the few trailers I have seen are affected on the the sides too - not just the top.

However, we've lived in CO our entire Airstreaming life (20+ years) and always parked our trailers outside. We have never had hail damage to any of our trailers. Texas actually has had more reported hail storms than Colorado.
"National Hail Statistics - According to a August 2019 NICB Hail Report, Colorado had the second highest number of hail claims in the US from 2016-2018 (395,025), second only to Texas (811,381).

Texas was the top state in hail loss claims from 2016 through 2018 with 811,381 hail claims."
- quoted from NICB website
Yes, we've had hail both at home & traveling, but:
  1. it usually is not large enough to cause damage - it's rock salt size and soft = no damage
  2. it's typically more in the eastern part of the state - in the farm country & on the plains, not in the mountains and foothills where most summer tourism occurs (2018 Colo Sprgs was an exception)
  3. we are very active members of the 200+ trailer WBCCI Unit here, rarely have any of the local members shown up with hail pock-marked trailers (I can only think of two or three that have been hit - in 20 years) Can it happen? Sure - but if it was a "big problem", you would think there would be more evidence or "talk" at rallies amongst our friends. As previously mentioned, there are lots of variables depending on the direction it was parked (or moving), the wind direction and what else is around the trailer.
  4. when it does "make the news" and "cause damage", it's in "pockets" around the state - not everywhere. The chances of your trailer being caught in a hail storm while visiting when one hits are pretty slim
  5. when hail storms hit, there usually is not enough time or predictability to them to "cover your trailer" before it hits - you would have to have an inflatable bubble around it - not to mention the wind that accompanies the storm
I think there would be more chance of damage to yourself &/or your trailer trying to scramble around trying to protect from hail.

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Old 11-14-2019, 01:44 PM   #10
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We won't let the threat of hail stop our camping plans, just that if something I can do even with some effort that would help I am willing to try it. It is encouraging to hear that folks have been through the more common hail storms without damage.

One of my trucks is parked outside (The AS is in covered storage when not in use), and whenever there is hail predicted I take it to a public parking garage a few blocks away. This past 12 months we have had almost no hail at all, despite many warnings of "damaging hail" yet towns less than 20 miles away have apparently had baseball size hail on a couple of occasions. Walking through a parking lot around here seems like one in four (older) cars has visible hail damage on hoods and decklids.
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Old 11-14-2019, 08:10 PM   #11
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When my brother asked me to watch their house and dog while they flew off to Paris, we started our 7-month trip early. The first thing I looked at was the chance of large hail in Dallas, Texas. In October, the chance for hail is almost zero, but we told my brother we needed cover for our trailer. We ended up at a Uhaul that was no more than a large building with no sides, just a roof.

Perfect for the time of the year when there is no hail, until the first week!! We had a tornado go through the area, and although it did not produce hail at our location, it did several miles away and at 1 3/4" size!

You can't predict these things. Just make sure your insurance policy covers this kind of damage. It is not that common and small hail is not a problem. I have never seen hail larger than 1/2" in my lifetime.
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Old 11-15-2019, 11:24 AM   #12
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During a hail storm just outside Woodland Park last year we experienced hail damage on every side ,corner, as well as top. Swirling wind I guess. Hail went through skylight ending up on floor inside, broke all vent covers as well as outside trailer lights. On the highway so we had to just take it for close to 15 to 20 minutes, complete whiteout. Could have paid more attention to weather forecast.
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Old 11-15-2019, 11:45 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by SYC2Vette View Post
some folks just live with it.
Like lots of folks reading this, I've owned lots of trailers. Years ago I bought a '56 Spartan 8 x 50 from a fine gent from Texas. I spotted a pattern of dings on the roof up front covering a few square feet. "Well," he drawled. "There's trailers that're hail-damaged, and there're trailers that aren't hail-damaged yet.

I've seen pix online of inflated air mattresses tied all around a really nice car in an effort to protect it from hail. And on an AF base in Denver, I saw hundreds of brand new pickup truck positively destroyed by tennis ball size hail. Sure my little vintage aluminum airframe trailer is insured, but it's the kind of insurance (like my long term care insurance) I never want to need to use.

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Old 11-15-2019, 11:52 AM   #14
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This past June we were on the road to Devils Tower going through the Black Hills in SD. Sunny dry day but then out of nowhere the sky turned black and heavy rain started. Then the rain started solidifying. We got hammered. Nowhere to park under a bridge or trees. Fortunately the damage was covered by insurance, but still was quite costly because aluminum dents cannot be repaired and had to be replaced. Next trip we will be much more aware of looming storms and seek cover early if avaialble. Also add a few prayers!
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Old 11-15-2019, 01:50 PM   #15
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Repairing hail dents ?

Originally Posted by brundom View Post
... because aluminum dents cannot be repaired and had to be replaced.
I imagine if you have dozens and dozens of dents, panel replacement is to be considered, but otherwise has anybody repaired (pulled out) dents in their Airstream with any success?
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Old 11-15-2019, 02:17 PM   #16
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Local PDR told me aluminum stretch prevents acceptable dent repair as you can with a vehicle
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Old 11-16-2019, 01:35 AM   #17
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Hail happens in Colorado, and it’s somewhat unpredictable. That said, and perhaps I’ve been lucky, but you don’t need to worry about it all the time.

I did have a car totaled by a hailstorm a few years ago in the Golden area. Damage was 70% top, 30% sides.
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Old 11-16-2019, 06:30 AM   #18
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Driving along out in Montana and Wyoming this summer, pretty much every car dealer we passed had giant signs out " trade in your hail damaged car now !!! ". Generally there was a sign talking about trucks a bit further down the road. Eventually you passed one that talked about repairs.

If that's the topic of *all* the local advertising, you are in an area that gets damaging hail pretty often.

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Old 11-16-2019, 10:04 PM   #19
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We have incurred hail damage twice. Most recently last spring in San Antonio.
As we were on a long trip in the hot SW most of the dings popped out on their own by the time we returned home a couple mo. later.
The other time was in our own yard just two weeks after purchasing the Airstream. Lots of dents on front cap and one side. Covered by insurance, no problem. Enjoy camping.
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:20 AM   #20
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Hail damage

South of Calgary is a similar hail belt as Colorado; over a 17 year period I had to replace shingles four times. As for my Airstream, one ping pong ball hail event didn't do much damage at all, just broke the plastic covers on the bathroom and shower vents. A year later had thumbnail sized hail and that one did A LOT of damage, the upper aluminum especially on the corners has hundreds of dents; I think the corners due to the 3D bending are either softer aluminum alloy or else thinner. I also, surprisingly, had damage on three of the lower panels as well. The roof wasn't too bad, I hadn't yet replaced the bathroom and shower vent covers so no loss there; for once laziness paid off! Had a three month fight with the insurance company which I finally one. My final settlement was about three times there initial (and totally unreasonable) offer. Don't ever underestimate how devious and resolute they can be.
The cost of replacing that many panels is prohibitive, at least up in Canada. I feel that a total repair will never pay for itself and it's only cosmetic damage anyway (any other damage I fix).
best of luck!

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