This is my first Airstream and I consider myself 'moderately' handy, but by no means professionally trained. Interior work is going well as I removed the credenza to build a booth / dinette and the street side closet to build bunk beds for our young family.
My father and I are trying to repair damage from an accident he had with an apple tree on their property.
The tree won as you can see from the photos. He did cut down the tree, so I suppose dad won in the end, but we still have repairs to do on the Airstream. The top rear curved segment, next segment down (curbside), and segment above the right rear taillights are needing replacement.
We have drilled out all of the rivets and used putty knives to break free apparently all of the caulking between the panels. We are having a hard time removing the window frame (so that I can completely re-seal it) and the panels themselves. I tugged on the top segment pretty hard and I think I saw that it is riveted to the frame / rib with rivets that are hidden by the very long top aluminum piece. I stopped because I thought I could see that I was starting to bend the rib / frame piece itself. Yikes!
My questions are:
1. How can I remove the segments without damaging the ribs and other segments? How can I get to the other rivets? We tried removing some of the interior skin (big, curved piece in back) only to find it is also riveted to the rib... No wonder the Airstreams are so rigid!
2. I've seen another thread here about NOT using the same rivet holes - can someone explain why this is beneficial in a few short sentences?
3. What other challenges should I be aware of as we put on the new segments (which I do have from Inland RV and are pre-drilled on some edges).
4. Am I out of my league on this exterior work? Should I just hire someone to do it "right" who has more experience?