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Old 03-21-2007, 11:39 PM   #1
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Rear skin damaged, need thoughts

My 2005 Classic 34 was somehow damaged while at my local RV storage facility - don't know how. Aside from taking anti-depressants, what can I do?

I do have insurance and could file a claim. I would not do the work myself if the answer is to replace the panel, but have it done by someone competent - possibly at Airstream.

I guess the real question: am I looking for more trouble by having the panel replaced, or is there some other approach someone has taken previously for similar damage, or do I do nothing and just grumble every time I walk past my rear panel? Hoping the latter is not the recommendation...
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Old 03-21-2007, 11:45 PM   #2
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I have seen a couple of "Fixes", which may or may not fit your needs. Bummer it got hit with no contact info left for you.

That is an awkward location to try to hide.

There is one member who fabricated an aluminum heart and riveted it over the area. There are photos here somewhere.
Another idea I've seen is to place some sort of sticker over it. Even if you wanted to try that, I'm afraid the dent is too deep for a sticker. But then stickers are cheap and easy to try....

Good luck,
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Old 03-22-2007, 12:56 AM   #3
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The Lexus Curse

I have a 98 Lexus RX300 - and after I had it three weeks I got a ding on the front bumper. I had it repainted a month after that. A week after it was painted I walked out to the parking lot where a shopping cart had put a scrape in the newly painted bumper. I left it alone for six months and never got another ding.... broke down and had it painted.... and a month later whammed again by a driver who followed me through the drive in at Wendy's and hit me so hard I hit the truck in front of me (luckily a phone co truck with a heavy duty step bumper which took zero damage). I then had two bumpers to be repainted. The sailor who hit me had just come back from a six month cruise and hadn't driven during that time. He hit the gas instead of the brake. Oh well. Had both bumpers repainted and have gotten minor dings in both over the last six months. I'm not painting it again period.

Moral? Segment replacement is expensive, and no guarantee it won't happen again, but it does look unattractive.

Looks like that is a very deep ding. I don't know of any vacuum dent puller that could get that out, but it couldn't hurt to have it looked at by someone who does "paintless dent removal". If they could minimize it you might be able to cover it with a decal or silver reflective tape. You might want to put matching reflective tapes on both sides of the window so it looks more original.

Sorry about your booboo, I feel for you.

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Old 03-22-2007, 04:23 AM   #4
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Nilesrob,
That panel can be replaced without too much hassle. I discovered that the same panel and the one above it on my 1975 have been replaced, they did such a nice job you have to look very close to tell it was done. It was done years ago, and I have no clue if it was a dealer or Jackson Center that did the repair. IMHO I would replace it and find another storage yard...

Aaron
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Old 03-22-2007, 05:09 AM   #5
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Hi Brad; Sorry to hear about your damage and in a bad spot to boot. The problem with this sort of repair is, that once the skin is stretched there is not much you can do to shrink it back. In my past, I have done lot of aluminum TIG welding.
I have welded and patched many aluminum boats which skin is minimum of .080" but I have never tried such thin stuff as AS skin. The process I would use is as follows; I would call the manufacturer to find out what grade of material was used on that boat, and if possible I would get replacement piece of appropriate size. I would gain access to inside at the damaged area. Next step was to cut out bad spot. Forming a oversize SS backing plate to fit the shape I would spot rivet it from inside in place. Replacement piece of aluminum was cut 1/16 smaller than the cut out leaving a place for weld. Setting my Miller Synchrowawe 300 at a very low setting, I would tack weld corners letting the aluminum to cool off a bit each time. TIG rod used was of same or as close as possible to the grade of aluminum used in the boat.
From here on I would weld very short runs, allowing it to cool of some each time. When welding was finished I would drill out the rivets and weld the rivet holes. The aluminum weld will not stick to SS so with a slight tap on the edge of backing plate will shear it off. After carefully grinding the excess making sure that aluminum does not get hot while grinding, welds were leveled with DA and finish polishing was done with Scotch Brite disks, until the repair was perfect. From here on you would need to spot paint with clear in the the repaired area.
It is a time consuming repair, but I have managed to make a repairs which were not noticeable even under close inspection. It is very important to match the materials used in order to have a same shade of aluminum at welds. I wonder if there is someone who would be willing to tackle such thin material? Maybe someday when I retire and have more time, I may test my skills but not right now. You do have a tough decision to make Brad, but I am not sure what the best route is, other than panel replacement. Good luck in your unfortunate situation. "Boatdoc"
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Old 03-22-2007, 07:12 AM   #6
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Bummer!

NR,

Sorry to hear about your mishap. I had one, though not quite as big or deep, done in storage on the other side. No message or identity of the person who did it either.

It is way too big for vacuum pulling, and the skin is creased so the paintless dent removal method won't work either.

It actually IS in a spot where you could either add a large reflector or perhaps another tail light (LED style) and wiire it into the existing light. Then add another on the other side to match and it will be almost impossible to tell that there is a dent there.....and it will look like you planned it for the additional lights.

Hope it works out for you!
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Old 03-22-2007, 07:17 AM   #7
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Replace the panel - $$$ - Be thankful you have insurance. Anything less and you won't be happy. Of Course you could order a new one - $$$$$ -
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Old 03-22-2007, 08:02 AM   #8
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Brad,

I can get my service guy to give you an estimate on replacing the panel...you don't have to do it here but he could give you and idea on cost...we do panel replacements all the time.

Gene
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Old 03-22-2007, 09:07 AM   #9
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hi nilesrob...

bummer.

panel replacement is common.

all surface/finish damage on new units is repaired with new panels.

first i would place a decal that looks like a big bullet hole, or a golf ball...

you will feel better temporarily....

i'm partial to flowers... click pic for bigger view.

the clearcoat finish is likely breached so it's gonna peel/corrode there eventually...

and will need a more permanent fix.

the artsy aluminum patches look good on vintage units, but not so nice on newer ones...

lewsters idea of a surface light kit is good!

the factory service center is gonna charge 1200-2 grand. that's just my guess.

on some panels instead of removing the damaged section,

a new panel is placed over the existing one...

the new panel is beveled on the edges and slipped into the same space and all the rivets replaced...

with bigger dents a hole is cut in the damaged panel but most of it remains in place...

no one can tell that the section is 2 skins thick...

currently you've got buck rivets. unless the interior is removed, olympic rivets are the replacement...

opting for buck rivets would increase the costs and fewer places do this work.

i've seen some of the panel replacements done at gene's shop....

they are very very good. it takes an experienced eye to distinguish rivet type.

fire off a photo and email to the factory service center at j/c...

they can give you an estimate AND correct my mistaken information...

cheers
2air'
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Old 03-22-2007, 09:58 AM   #10
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The three options are as I see it:

1) Doing nothing (not my fav)
2) Having a panel placed over the bad panel (Airstream's fav)
3) Replacing the panel

I'd lean toward #3, but **might** be convinced that #2 is also a way to go.

I have seen first hand the work done by Jackson Center and it's really top notch, but the issue is getting it there, particularly if you are far away.

The thing is with Airstreams, they are not like cars...if I had to compare an Airstream to a car, I'd compare it to a Ferrari. Sexy, sleek, etc, but can be a maint nightmare, particularly when it comes to body work. It's not like you can simply take it to the nearest body shop to do shell work.
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Old 03-22-2007, 12:36 PM   #11
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You know, this is why I love this forum: people willing to help - and with great ideas. Thank you all.

I think I will go ahead and call my insurance company to make a claim. I tend to think if I do a short term solution I am going to be reminded of it every time I get out our A/S.

I must say, though, that the golf ball sticker was kind of cool!

And actually I liked the idea of a "second skin" - since if it is made to look original and overlays the original skin, eliminates one of my concerns of damaging the integrity of the overall skin and not getting things put back together properly on the inside (I presume of pulling the skin that there is work done inside - maybe not).

Gene (gmorris), I may reach out to you.

Thanks again to all!
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Old 03-22-2007, 01:30 PM   #12
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IMHO the second skin option is the worst repair that can be done. If you have to remove the rivets to install the second you might as well remove the old skin and do it right. The chances of getting moisture trapped between the two skins is very high and is only asking for long term corrosion issues.
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Old 03-22-2007, 01:39 PM   #13
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One thing about contacting insurance....get a written estimate first outlining the repair as you'd want it done. Most insurance companies will insure an Airstream, but have little to no knowledge on proper repair costs for them. Having the info in hand provides you with better info in the even they, as they mostly do, try to low ball you. You can actually contact the factory and simply supply picutures and they can give you a fairly close estimate, which IMHO will be better than if you let the insurance company first come up with their own number, which historically has been fairly low from what I've read from folks here on the form that have dealt with insurance carriers for total or partial losses.
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Old 03-22-2007, 01:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerowood
IMHO the second skin option is the worst repair that can be done. If you have to remove the rivets to install the second you might as well remove the old skin and do it right. The chances of getting moisture trapped between the two skins is very high and is only asking for long term corrosion issues.
I'm not sure I agree. I -layed a 2nd skin over a damaged spot and it worked out pretty well. I did leave about 1/16th inch gap on the bottom of the replacement panel so the skin can breath. The overlay is on top of the old panel clear coat so I'm not sure where the corrosion problem you speak of occurs I did not remove any orignal rivets. It's not perfect but fits in well on this 17 year old coach and I kept my $4k for repair. Now, having said all that, I acknoledge you are an expert that works aircraft sheetmetal for a living.
I do agree that replacing the skin on this new unit is the only way to really fix it.
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Old 03-22-2007, 06:51 PM   #15
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Thumbs up Here's what..

Quote:
Originally Posted by nilesrob
My 2005 Classic 34 was somehow damaged while at my local RV storage facility - don't know how. Aside from taking anti-depressants, what can I do?

I do have insurance and could file a claim. I would not do the work myself if the answer is to replace the panel, but have it done by someone competent - possibly at Airstream.

I guess the real question: am I looking for more trouble by having the panel replaced, or is there some other approach someone has taken previously for similar damage, or do I do nothing and just grumble every time I walk past my rear panel? Hoping the latter is not the recommendation...
It can be done and, when finis look just as good as new.
That panel involves impacts removing the following:
The rear window.(breaking the rivet seal)
The awnings brackets on both the rear and side window.
The mid rib section being moved
The rear taillight..(just 50-50% maybe)
Nothing has to be touched or removed inside of the unit.
Most it would take, depending on the shop, should be a day or, two at the most. Of course, your deep wallet or insurances coverage.
Figure on spending anywhere from 1700$ to 2000$.
I agree with a few of the other's suggestion..Jackson Center would be my first choice. Second choice would be..
PARKVIEW AUTO & TRAILER SALES.
5511 Dupont Parkway
Smyrna
DE, 19977
UNITED STATES
Telephone: (800)433-1348
Website: www.parkviewrv.com
Sales, Service, & Parts
These guys are top notch..
You could, of course, find a dealer closer to you..
ciao 53FC
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:05 PM   #16
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Brad,
I am very sorry to hear about the damage to your Airstream. Who ever hit your trailer knew they hit it and did nothing. If it was me I would try to find out who did it and make them pay. Have you talked to the owners of the RV storage area? Most places have video recordings that might have captured the event. The damage to your trailer has a unique signature to it, I would be looking for that signature on the back of someones RV. I would also get the records of who was in and out of the area during the time frame that the event happened. If the storage yard does not want to help, I would find a new place to store my trailer.
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Old 03-23-2007, 11:00 AM   #17
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Looks like a perfectly good spot to mount an antenna - a square plate added over top as patch and mounting bracket...
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Old 03-23-2007, 11:28 AM   #18
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Brad,

sorry to see the damage to your trailer, how frustrating! I'll watch this thread with interest, as the same thing happened to our 19'bambi this winter. The problem I have run into is that there is noone that will consider fixing it here in town or anywhere near us in Calgary.

Not to hijack this thread, but also in lieu of starting a new one, how good is the Spokane airstream dealer with skin repairs? Any experience there?

Otherwise, 2Air's flower power idea is a good one!

thanks,
brad.
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Old 03-23-2007, 11:48 AM   #19
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Many times a small louvered vent plate can be installed over a dent that's not too large.

Only you know that it's not a vent.

Smaller dings can be hidden with reflectors. Install a matching one on the other side of the coach.

Andy
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Old 03-23-2007, 11:53 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradk
Brad,
Not to hijack this thread, but also in lieu of starting a new one, how good is the Spokane airstream dealer with skin repairs? Any experience there?
I've heard good things about the dealer in Eugene, OR FWIW....
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