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Old 06-15-2015, 10:56 PM   #1
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Major dent advice - 1984 31' Excella

Hi everyone, I'm new here and this is my first post. Quick question about an airstream I'm in the process of acquiring from a good friend (1984 31' Excella). It has some pretty major dents as you can see in the pictures.

My question is... what options do I have to deal with this dent? Can I make it look any better with a low-cost fix? What will it take to have it repaired or replaced? I'm on a very limited budget so the cost is a big concern. Please let me know what you think my options are here and what it might cost.

Thank you in advance!
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Old 06-15-2015, 11:04 PM   #2
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Nothing will make that look or work better other than a complete replacement of all of the mashed and bashed panels. Those are not dents, they are completely destroyed panels, and the interior must be damaged also.

$8,000 to $10,000 will fix it, but it is not worth it.
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Old 06-15-2015, 11:15 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick feedback! Do you think this trailer is worth getting and if so how much would be a fair market value? Everything is original and still works but it has this exterior damage.
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Old 06-15-2015, 11:15 PM   #4
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Airstream + "I can fix it cheap" = terrible idea.

Get some quotes for the repair, looks like multiple panels need to be replaced, never mind whatever water damage may lurk inside...
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Old 06-15-2015, 11:16 PM   #5
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On further looking at the photos, I see the front is also trashed. My cost guess is then too low.
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Old 06-15-2015, 11:17 PM   #6
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No, the trailer is not worth getting.
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Old 06-16-2015, 12:22 AM   #7
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I know someone in Texas who has replaced similar panels. It was not cheap. You need 'covered' area to perform repair... you need the skills for drill, Cleco's, buck riveting, etc.

Short story..
He ripped out the interior walls to gain access to the area.
When the new panel arrived, He then removed the damaged panel(s), then installed 'new' by drilling and riveting through the same holes which were on the original ribs and where they match other panels. EXTREME Care is needed as sloppy holes in metal structure is not good.

If you can get a great price... If , if, if, etc... and you have the space/time, and are willing to be patient, you may 'fix' this for less than $3000.

My bet, tho, is, not knowing the whole story, that there is water penetration which has damaged the floor... that's a whole other set of issues.

How 'cheap' will you be 'getting' this damaged AS for?
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Old 06-16-2015, 04:28 AM   #8
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Two years ago I backed into something that left a large crater dent in my left rear middle corner panel like where your damage is. I was able to use dent pullers to get out a lot of the crushed in damage making it look like crinkled foil but aluminum stretches unlike steel so I took my Airstream to highly recommended Airstream metalwork dealer (Airstream recommended them as a dealership with such knowledge). The corner panels are about $1800 each. I am not sure how they fix the other body issues.
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Old 06-16-2015, 04:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Masterlock View Post
Hi everyone, I'm new here and this is my first post. Quick question about an airstream I'm in the process of acquiring from a good friend (1984 31' Excella). It has some pretty major dents as you can see in the pictures.

My question is... what options do I have to deal with this dent? Can I make it look any better with a low-cost fix? What will it take to have it repaired or replaced? I'm on a very limited budget so the cost is a big concern. Please let me know what you think my options are here and what it might cost.

Thank you in advance!
rear and side alone is 15k plus, if there is no internal structural damage.
Free may be too expensive...
Enjoy as is or run
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:19 AM   #10
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If you took a few more detailed pictures, and emailed them to the service manager at the Airstream facility at Jackson Center, I think they would give you a ball park price, at least they did for me a couple years ago. They would need to see what specific panels need replaced, and how much internal damage was done. If you remove the interior where there is skin damage, the service folks could evaluate any rib damage, and...it would save you money, as they would not need to remove the interior, if they did the work for you.
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:41 AM   #11
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Might be better off finding a donor trailer to get parts off of. I know of one in this area but I am not sure if the guys would want to sell just those parts. I would like to get some windows off the same trailer. As far as buying new panels and fixing it that way would cost more than it is worth. That trailer is worth about $15k if it were near mint condition. You will put $10k into the structural repairs and another $10k at least to fix the rest up.

Perry
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Old 06-16-2015, 05:46 AM   #12
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The cost to repair with replacement panels will exceed the value of the trailer. This is a "Write Off" trailer IMO. What is the status of the title?
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Old 06-16-2015, 09:11 AM   #13
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Title is clean. I'm buying the trailer for $1,500. It does have the major damage plus a couple more smaller dents but honestly it doesn't bother me too much and I'd like to just make it look as decent as possible for the time being so I can use the trailer. Maybe look for a prettier solution for the future. Thanks for all the feedback so far! If anyone has any ideas about inexpensive "band-aid" solutions that would look better than it looks now please let me know. Maybe someday I'll have more of a budget to restore it better.
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Old 06-16-2015, 09:57 AM   #14
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This looks to be a mid-bath model which means accessing the inside of the skins is far easier than a rear bath model where everything needs to come out to gain access. You'll be surprised at how much better the major dent in the rear will look with some body massaging from the inside. It will still be wrinkled but the shape will be much improved.

It won't be a beauty queen but you can make it functional if you're willing to overlook cosmetics and there is no structural damage.

Best of luck,

Kevin
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Old 06-16-2015, 10:22 AM   #15
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Thanks Kevin! I appreciate everyone's feedback but I really appreciate your encouragement as my budget doesn't really allow for a costly solution right now.
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Old 06-16-2015, 10:32 AM   #16
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I'd offer $1000 and just live with it. You could probably get your money out of it by camping, spare room etc. If it is a mid cabin bath then yeah, you could take apart inside and wham it out but thats pretty smashed (would love to hear the story behind that dent).
Probably some internal structure damage as well.
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Old 06-16-2015, 10:52 AM   #17
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Dents

I had an 82 31ft rear bedroom that I used to stop a Peterbuilt!!!! He shortened it by about 16 to 20 inches at the rear. The insurance company gave me $8300.00 and let me keep the trailer. No frame damage. Removed every thing from inside bedroom, and started pushing and pounding. Replaced rear widow with lexan, and rebuilt interior. It looked uglier than h from the rear, but from the inside you could not tell if there was any damage. The wife and I put over 16,000 miles on it in the 5 years after and sold it this spring for $5000.00. That isn't to bad when you consider we only paid $5300.00 for it in 2002. If you don't mind it not looking pretty, its you that are useing it.
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:00 AM   #18
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Wink

I just replaced the rear curved panel just above the trim line. EZ to do. The new panel from Inland RV the airstream parts guy in Corona Ca. he is a very knowledgeable, a little frustrated with those who claim to know more than he has acquired in his 40 years of repairing airstreams a great guy! He had similar panels in stock, but insisted on ordering one specifically for the 1968 Excella, called "Trouble" to make sure it fit. It came pre-drilled on one edge, fit perfectly! My daughter Lauren and I installed it in under an hour, not counting removing the old dented one with a big patch over the dent, so no hope of straightening it. Did a trial fit, removed re-caulked the seams and installed. The rear bath does not have ribs beyond the straight sections of the roof and wall so the order would be to strip the damaged exterior metal and if the ribs are not bent repair from the exterior. If the rib is damaged order a new one and remove only the minimum of the damaged one and splice a new portion of new rib to the remaining old rib. It is not as difficult as some may make it appear. Remember the thing was built by unskilled labor at the factory who did not know how to do much beyond install parts and at most just at a passing level of craftsmanship. If you have listen to those who have blogged about rebuilding their coach you will know I am speaking the truth about the level of workmanship. Shaving the rivets without the expensive tool is the most difficult part of the whole process.
I will ask Lauren to post pictures of the replacement of the panel if she can find them. GET MOVING, IF I CAN DO IT YOU CAN DO IT!
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Old 06-16-2015, 11:55 AM   #19
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The clean title is a big plus. Those mid 80's are awful nice trailers. There are other areas that might need work in addition to the dent. The floor if there are leaks. I have never replaced segments but it looks like something that I could do if I had too. If you have a space to park it and some time to work on it I would go for it. I would much rather have this trailer intact with the dents that one of the many "gutted" trailers that are out there. Like they are doing you a favor by ripping it apart for you.
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Old 06-16-2015, 12:19 PM   #20
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pound it out from the inside , then put a HUGE band aid decal sticker on the outside .
Hit the road , and enjoy !
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