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Old 12-11-2010, 05:58 PM   #1
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Fire Damage - Can it be fixed?

I have a 1998 30' Airstream Land Yacht that was next to a fire this past Thursday night. The neighbors wooden shed caught fire and burned to the ground. Our MH was parked 5' away. The heat melted a bunch of my motorhome before I was awair of the fire and able to run out and move it. The fire was at midnight, the weather was down in the teens. I noticed an orange glow and ran to investigate. Found a fire, ran outside and moved the motorhome. It had already been melted and hurt, but I saved it from burning down and blowing up with full fuel and propane tanks.

I do have pictures. There is insurance coming to look at it. I have full coverage on it.

Just from a quick look, the following areas are the problems.

1. Driver side outside wall, from mid-Motor Home, to the rear has a rough, cracked texture. It looks like a boiled egg that you crunched the shell so that it could be peeled. It also is a dark color, and the red/blue decals are black.

2. Rear end-cap has same damage on drivers side, and around to rear.

3. Driver side rear bedroom window: screen melted, tracks melted, cannot move window. Glass is in tact, but it might be torched. The inner window day/night blind is bubbly too.

4. All of the access doors on side are melted, street side fresh water, electrical access, sewer hose door, fridge access, fan vent for range fan.

5. Awning on driver side bedroom window is torched. We had awnings all around.

6. Trim strip that runs length of coach where roof and wall come together is warped, melted, and raised away from roof.

7. Trim strip that runs length of coach with rubber door guard, about waist high, is melted, pulled free, warped, and melted.

8. Metal body panel below fiberglass from sewer access door, back to rear cap is wavy and warped.

9. The interior was full of nasty black stinky smoke. Interior will need cleaning at the least.

10. Roof vents for fridge and sewer are melted. (They were brand new too.)

11. Fiberglass that makes finished panel for wheel well is bubbly and discolored.

12. New Michelin tire might be ruined. I put 7 brand new Michelin tires on the coach about two months ago.

13. I have not verified if any of the electrical or water service was hurt, which might be located behind the wall where the fire melted things.

14. I did not verify if the sewer service area was hurt either. It was right there where the main fire was at, and the outside of the coach is pretty messed up. No obvious melting though.

15. The roof is pulled away from the wall on the road side, rear section. Also, the roof is very black along that area. It could be melted and cracked too.

There could be more problems.

I have sent this email to the Airstream Service Department and asked them if they fix this kind of damage. Also, I was going to look for a price estimate.

I need to decide if should allow Insurance to total it or repair it.

Anybody been here before?
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Old 12-11-2010, 06:11 PM   #2
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Wow. What a sad thing.

Damage like that can be fixed. I think you're on the right track to talk to Jackson Center. They do fix things like that.

It's always a fight to get insurance to pay their claims when something happens. No easy answers. I would guess that they'll want to total it and pay you a pittance. Repairs? $10,000 to $30,000 would be my uninformed guess just based on the other accident threads on the forum.
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Old 12-12-2010, 12:55 AM   #3
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I'm so sorry to hear about the damage to your motorhome. I would suggest you check with your neighbor's insurance company; it's possible they might pay for the repairs. Your insurance company may already be looking into it for you.

Good luck, and I hope you & your Airstream are back on the road soon!
Sean & Sharon
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Old 12-12-2010, 05:13 AM   #4
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Sure sorry to hear about your loss. I know how attached we become to "our" motor homes. Just over a year ago, I purchased a 2004 Land Yacht. In making the search and checking out many units on the computer, I found this site to be fairly good on determing a retail price for motorhomes: Prices & Used Values for RVs, Travel Trailers & more - NADAguides By the same token, I found that the above guide was not accurate on finding a fair retail price on an Airstream trailer.

The above guide should give you a starting point to determine the retail value of similar 1998 Airstream Land Yachts. As was stated earlier, Jackson Center should be able to repair the damages, but the cost may exceed the retail value of the motor home.

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Old 12-12-2010, 07:52 AM   #5
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camper fire

just wanted to share this sad story
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:17 AM   #6
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If you're not emotionally attached to that particular rig, I'd start working on finding a replacement unit and having the insurance companies settle for that amount.

So sorry to read about your loss.

Somebody, please, point me to the road.

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Old 12-12-2010, 01:32 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by WeLoveToCamp View Post
I do have pictures. There is insurance coming to look at it.
Do you plan on sharing them here?
“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”
...John Wayne...........................
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Old 12-12-2010, 02:37 PM   #8
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Thanks for all your messages and thoughts.

We really enjoyed this motor home. We tried to keep her in the best condition possible.

We had just spent Thanksgiving week down in Orlando with the RV. She performed flawlessly.

I was out there today on a ladder, checking out the damage. The drivers side rear corner where the sidewall, rear end cap, and roof come together looks to be the worst area. This joint is all warped and pulled apart. Even the rear air conditioner cover melted. After I finished looking it all over, I put a large tarp over the whole rig and roped it down. I don't want critters or water to get inside during the bad weather we are getting ready to have.

If the insurance totals this unit, we will take the money, put some more with it and go get another trailer. We have had AS trailers in the past, and enjoyed them too.

We bought this motor home new in 2000 from Turner's Airstream in PA. It was a leftover 1998. I was actually at Turners that day to buy myself a new AS trailer. I had picked it out and was sitting in it on the couch, just enjoying it while they worked on the paperwork inside the office. My wife was walking around the dealership. She came back to the trailer I had decided on, and told me that I would not be buying this trailer, and to follow her to see our new RV. I couldn't argue, so we bought a new RV, then a toad, and then all the gear to tow it with. We went Blue Ox all the way.

We ended up having our first child after trying to have one for 15 years. His name is David. When we had him, we decided to sell the motor home. We would not be using it for awhile. and didn't want it to just sit. We had also just retired from the military. Our plan was to travel around in the RV and take it easy. After David showed up, we changed our plans. in 2002, We bought a house, and sold the motor home to the closing attorney we worked with on buying our house. He bought the whole package, motor home, toad, tow gear, everything. He didn't do much with the RV except let it sit in his RV port. He had replaced the toad with a little Honda SUV.

We ended up buying the motor home back from him this past April. We also had to spend a mint on it to bring it back it's original wonderful condition. Sitting is real rough on an RV. We put new Michelin tires all around, replaced the entire brake system which included master cylinder, hydro boost, rotors, calipers, pads, and fluid. We also had the linkage from brake pedal to master cylinder removed, cleaned, re-lubed, and put back in correctly so that it would not bind. I think the brakes worked better after all that was done than when it was new. We also had the shop service the engine, gen, trans, and diff. They put in a new U-Joint too. We had every piece of rubber hose and all the clamps replaced too. On the roof we had new covers put on all of the items and a new ladder put on. The old ladder had cracks where the bolts go through, and it was a little bent. Doug must have backed it into something and bent the ladder just a tiny bit, but, it was still bent. Inside we installed a new fridge, new toilet, upgraded the antenna to be digital, carpet done, and complete motor home resealed properly. Then it was rubbed out with a compound and re-polished to a very high shine. I'd polish it again after each trip we took. It looked great. It still looks great, except for the damage on the left/rear.

We even have a Pro-Sine 2500 inverter in the motor home, but have not ever had a need to use it. It lives in the large belly compartment up front by the drivers door. It is the size of a regular suit case.

People always commented on how nice it looked, and often thought that it was new. It drove nice and got good fuel mileage. It was very comfortable to be in too. That being said, I don't think that I would go out and buy another motor home. I don't want an old used one and Airstream doesn't currently make a motor home that I'd buy. I'm sure that there are many nice used ones out there, but I wouldn't be happy unless it was new. I'm very picky on how things are kept too and good maintenance is super high on my list of must-do's. All of my vehicles are kept in tip-top shape. I use Mobile 1 synthetics in the engines, transmissions, and differentials. I have put all new tires on three of my vehicles in the past two months.

If this motor home goes away, it will be replaced with a trailer. I especially like the 30' with the slide out dinette. I even know where there are a couple leftovers still for sale.

We'll see. It might end up getting repaired back at Jackson Center. My worry is that it will not be the same after they repair it.

I wonder if I would still have people coming up to me and asking if it is for sale, after it gets repaired. Seems like every time we went out in it, somebody came up and wanted to know if it was for sale.

Thanks for everything.


I will post pictures after I get them off from my wife's camera. I have to connect it to my computer and download them still.
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:54 PM   #9
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My best guess is that the Ins. co will total, if the insurance co will even consider it's value after your upgrades. sometimes you can get it from them for salvage value. If you transferred all the parts you put on this one to another less than perfect you might be ahead. But in any case you are tallking a lot of time for shopping for the right unit. I just shopped tires and found Michelin to be 3000 for set, so after first of year I will order U.S. made Continentals for half that amount. You might be able to sell tires and other parts on ebay. Good Luck.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:17 PM   #10
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What I read from your posts is that most of the damage is exterior and cosmetic. You still have a highly maintained MH with all of the internals in excellent condition. I’ll bet it can be, and should be fixed.

I was at Jackson Center in about 2003 for some warranty work. In one of the bays was a 34 foot trailer which looked like someone had taken a sledge hammer to the front, top and all down one side. I talked to the woman who owned it and she advised that she had been in Ft. Worth, Texas, during a hail storm and although the trailer was close to being totaled it was repairable. Jackson Center was going to remove the interior walls adjacent to the damaged panels so that the damaged exterior skin could be replaced as per OEM.

I’ll bet Jackson Center can repair your MH. I’ve done fiberglass work and the fiberglass sections can probably be cut out and replaced. I’ll bet insurance will cover it. Then you’ll not feel like your maintenance and care efforts have been wasted.
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Old 12-13-2010, 10:42 AM   #11
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I went out and took a closer look at the interior today. Not too bad. The smell of that burnt plastic was strong and burned my nose. The one shade is messed up, and the window is fine, but the frame and tracks are not. Replacing the window, shade, and clean the interior, then fixing all the exterior, and it should be as-good-as new.

I took the new ladder off and stored it in my garage. I'd hate to have to go through getting another one custom made to match original specs. It was a pain to do it for this one. They tried to get it right, but I still had to have some trimming done to mount it.

I've tried uploading my pictures of the exterior damage. Haven't quite got it figured out yet. I'm still searching for instructions.
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Old 12-13-2010, 10:58 AM   #12
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Here are 10 pictures for the damage.

First group of pictures. More to come.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:00 AM   #13
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More pictures of damage.

This should be the last group of pictures.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:02 AM   #14
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I was wondering if there is a way to see if the outter rear tire that was next to the fire, is injured in any way. It's brand new. I'd hate to have it blow on the hiway because of a weakness from the fire.

Any ideas?
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:11 AM   #15
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By the looks of your pics, I'd say you lucked-out.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:17 AM   #16
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From what I can determine in the photos the fiberglass looks to be OK; just that the paint has blistered. Could probably just be sanded and re-painted. The A/C, vent and other covers can just be replaced.

As to the tire, they are "cured" at the factory in the mold at a relatively high temperature during the vulcanization process and have to endure the high road temperatures plus the rolling/flexing friction which adds to the road temperature. I drove through Nevada with ambient temperatures at 117 degrees and I would hazard a guess that the tires on the black asphalt where probably running at 150+ degrees while I was going 70+ mph.

Clean the sidewall of the tire and see if the rubber is charred or cracked; that would be a bad sign. If the rubber is still soft, like the tire on the opposite side, then your probably OK.
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:59 AM   #17
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Keep in mind that all States have their own laws on how a total loss is determined.
In Florida it's when the cost of repairs equals 75% of the value of the vehicle, it must be considered a total loss.
Two things you need to know when at the beginning of the process.
1. A good idea of the replacement value of the coach before the fire. (Include the tag & title costs, dealer fees, and refurbishing costs of the replacement coach.) This information will determine the Insurance Companies action as well as your own.
2. Where you want yours repaired. (Not al repair facilities are equal in talent or resources)
Remember they (The Insurance Co.) have a contractural obligation to repair or replace
the insured vehicle. Also they insured it as a stock Airstream, modifications don't add to their obligation. Their intention is to do whichever is cheaper for them and ends the claim without having a bunch of supplemental bills that keep arriving as the damage is uncovered as repairs progress. Often when it's close to the 75% they'll want to total it to avoid a continuing money pit.
Good Luck. Keep in mind, not all Insurance people or compaines are out to cheat you and they would like to bring the claim to an end as much as you do.
"The Roadhouse" our Land Yachts name
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:34 PM   #18
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I would insist on a new tire if there was damage in or around the wheel well. Even if it shows no visible heat damage.
When I was sideswiped in my Jeep... the tire had a scuff mark and the wheel was scraped too. They didnt argue, but they did use the "Betterment Clause" to ding me for the wear. I think they said the tire was 20% worn, so they paid 80%.
Its such a safety issue, they should not argue.

Its not easy to see how deep the damage is in the pics.... Is it just the paint that is blistered, or is the Gel coat toast?
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:27 AM   #19
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damage is deeper than paint.

The cracks actually go into the fibers. If you pick one of the flakes away, you expose fibers from the glass. If they sanded it down, I assume they would go clear into glass fiber. I'm not sure if they can build it back up with gel coat or not.

I don't think that there is paint on the white part. It is white gel coat and then polished to a high shine.
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:47 AM   #20
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I worked for Egg Harbor Yacht for many years and saw a lot of fiberglass repairs. I know of a 48 foot hull that was badly damaged in a fire and was obtained from the ins. co. The new owner actually lengthened it to 55 feet. Perhaps with the poor economy there would be an out of work boatbuilder in your area that would be able to do your repair. Sal.
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