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Old 02-26-2020, 11:06 AM   #1
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Bumper DRAG and BEND: OTJ Repair

I had a Bumper Drag when returning from a dip in a Forest Service Road. Going up it was clear. I made the assumption, wrong this time, that the RETURN would be a non issue.

Well, it was an issue. The angle on the 25 foot was just enough different the center of the bumper dragged... may have felt like a slight tug on the tow vehicle, but not really noticed.

When we had stopped at our OTG campsite, Nancy went to the back of the trailer to get the chocks and levelers for the front jack.

"Ray... come here. " I did. The bumper was pulled out two or three inches, like a bow. Ouch! The storage compartment was fine. The bumper was not.

This is also an issue leaving a Service Station with a drop or culvert to the road. If you see gouges... whoa there. Stop and rethink. Back up or am I at the point of no return and need leveling blocks under the tires to gain some clearance. YOU will gain experience if you travel off paved roads, and even some of those on the paved County roads can be questionable.

Yes... people may be saying or thinking unfriendly things about the situation. Grow some thick skin and go on your business. Saying 'sorry'... helps. Then get back to solving the problem.

Visible deep gouges at a dip, from previous trailers in tow... slooooooow dooooown. Be careful.

HOW I fixed the bent bumper:

There are two large phillips head screws on each side of the bumper. Remove and the bumper is loose. I have not priced a bumper for an Airstream that is not current, but it has to be an eye opener. Maybe both eyes and some cursing, as well.

We were camped west of Pioche, Nevada in the pine trees. The Genius I can be at times found a stout pine with a 'crotch'. Like a sturdy sling shot Y shape. Nancy the great camper she is helped. I did some leverage by putting one end into the crotch of this pine tree and we both began to PULL. It would straighten some.

Positioned the bumper back onto the trailer to test the fit. I needed a bit more bend. Repeated. You will usually need just a bit... past... perfect to get a near perfect fit.

It fit and was straight, BUT the bumper also had a twist from top to bottom. When we returned home I have this four foot Oil Field adjustable wrench. Weighs about 40 pounds. Opened the jaws, inserted cardboard so not to scratch the exterior surface and... Torqued it by prying downward. Since the metal would spring back some, I torqued it just beyond perfect and... it showed nothing to the worse other than some sweat equity... and a Pine Tree at the campsite volunteer.

Never assume a drainage in the road going one way will be the same returning is the lesson to be learned. Also... if it happens to you... you will also be a Bumper Genius. Very few to be found and some day you can help someone with a simlar problem.

The End.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:27 PM   #2
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Ray if you need a replacement get one from a '56 Chevy available at a junkyard or roadside hillbilly planter near you. Fits fine and looks great giving your trailer a nostalgice look.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghaynes755 View Post
Ray if you need a replacement get one from a '56 Chevy available at a junkyard or roadside hillbilly planter near you. Fits fine and looks great giving your trailer a nostalgice look.
******


Not wide enough. We would need at least 9 feet. Then could carry a keg of Moonshine on each side to take some weight off of the front end of the trailer. We then would be able to 'tow on the ball', like everyone on this Forum. Even with a 1956 Nomad.

I like the windows so our Blue Heelers can watch us pass everyone.

To cut costs, Airstream only provides a 7 foot aluminum bumper. Sad, but true.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:42 PM   #4
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Just replaced a bumper new one from Jackson Center. $435.00.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:56 PM   #5
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Just replaced a bumper new one from Jackson Center. $435.00.
*****
That would cover a chunk of whatever the 3 inch lift cost me on the 2019.

Bring the bumper out West and we can use that tree not far from Pioche, Nevada. You have Soft Pine and Yellow Pine... we have pine that will hold up to some abuse.

Now that I explained the $435 Bumper is held onto the Airstream with four easily removed screws... Someone may come up with a way to secure the bumper to prevent someone stealing it. ...and we we were worried about someone taking the entire trailer.

Aluminum Scrap runs between 33 cents to 45 cents. I removed the entire front of our two story building in Missouri that was attached to cover the brick to make the building look... modern in 1972. A tenant hauled it to the scrap yard and covered the following months rent.

Dead pigeons that were mummified dropped onto the sidewalk. Did it on a Sunday so no one would know what was going on. The next day a crowd gathered seeing a 1909 style brick building must have been built over night.

Yep... no doubt the source of your $435 bumper, as well.
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Old 02-27-2020, 09:21 AM   #6
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Well Ray, as one boondocker to an other 'S..t Happens' no matter how experienced you are or how carefull you are -'S..t Happens'. Needless to say it's usually the head scratcher movements that get you.
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Old 02-27-2020, 09:36 AM   #7
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Belt & suspenders

My vintage trailer revealed it had experienced the bumper drag during renovation, showing both ears bent to the point or breaking metal and attachment points damaged. My skilled welder brother and his family repaired the bumper and welded on heavy duty steel angle attachments to bolt on to the frame. But still I knew the issue demanded more than bumper work.
Since I had to replace the axle anyway, I ordered it with the 32˚downturn and the 1" lift for mounting. That alone gave 3" more clearance but to add suspenders to the belt, I had these rollers welded on the rear frame. So far, no scraped bumper.
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Old 02-27-2020, 09:49 AM   #8
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Rear Skids are for SOUND... not bumper protection

How to spot... a BUMPER DRAGGER professional.

The rear storage and bumper are secured with the extension of the frame. Each side has this 'skid'. It is welded onto the bottom of the storage compartment.

Mild drags... wears into this skid. A Moderate drag... will BEND this skid plate. This is upon paved and concrete surfaces.

Gravel and dirt roads. The bent skid plate acts as a Plow. Two furrows as if you are planting corn seed. I do not know how it would support the rear of the trailer from dragging the bumper. This is not strong enough. Our first trailer, the 23 foot, received its wear from Forest Service roads. Each skid had 50% of it worn through and they were slightly bent.

My bumper was dragged on a Forest Service road. No doubt the skids were plowing.

This is HOW I LEARNED. On concrete you can hear the grinding plowing into the asphalt or concrete. On gravel or dirt... not much, but you keep your windows down when being cautious and... listen.

Better to have the passenger get out and let the driver know if things are getting a bit... 'dicey'. You can back up, add chocks to your wheels to travel a bit higher, dig the high spot, or straddle the obstacle. We carried two 3 foot 2x12 inch boards with the 25 foot. To date with the 27 foot... we may have to carry a pair, but being very watchful. It is 3 1/2" higher, but the length is a big risk in the back country.

A bumper at $435 is a good way to 'remember' to be careful. The longer the trailer, the easier it is to drag. This is why I added the 3 inch Dexter LIFT and 16 inch Michelin tires. It gives you some flexibility.

Otherwise... keep a His and Her Shovel handy on ORTG Boondocking trips. IF YOU GET STUCK... a spoon is useless.
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Old 02-27-2020, 10:22 AM   #9
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In my case, it was the spare tire carrier that dragged on my 22 sport, right at the entrance to my unpaved drive, where I had to cross a oilfield flowline. I thought I had leveled the crossing sufficiently that I could drive across with no issues, but the hump was too narrow and the TV rear tires crossed before the AS tires began to rise over the hump. Scraaaape. Luckily, only the paint suffered damage.

Things haven't improved with the upgrade to a 23 FC. I still wince every time I have to cross dips, humps, or transitions. Some of those taller speed bumps get mighty close to low-hanging stuff at the front of a trailer, as well.
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Old 02-27-2020, 10:39 AM   #10
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When I replaced my axles, I got the 32 degree offset/lift plus added the 3" lift kit on my 31'. Haven't dragged since.
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Old 02-27-2020, 10:50 AM   #11
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Never thought the day would come when I read a forum about someone bending a bumper using their "crotch". All good...
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Old 02-27-2020, 10:52 AM   #12
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This is a bumper in name only. I found out the hard way my bumper was only attached with one bolt on each end. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Hooked it on a turn at a gas station and the bumper was swinging like a barn door. Ripped out the bolt hole but I was able to have it welded by someone who knew how to weld aluminum. Saved further damage, now I keep it that way.
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Old 02-27-2020, 11:07 AM   #13
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Lessons are sometimes one Drag away

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trowbridge View Post
Never thought the day would come when I read a forum about someone bending a bumper using their "crotch". All good...
*****

To date and with our third Airstream... I AM THE FAMILY DRAG KING.

The 23 foot was the learning curve for perfecting the... drag.

The 25 foot used my experiences with the 23 foot to .. drag less often.

The 27 foot with the 3 inch lift kit, Michelin 16 inch tires and my experience dragging around the country side wearing a Cowboy Hat... I hope to have this all figured out.

If a time comes when you notice drag marks leaving an Off The Grid Campsite in the Rocky Mountains and laughing out loud... It was probably YOU on your way in.
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Old 02-27-2020, 11:15 AM   #14
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Just replaced a bumper new one from Jackson Center. $435.00.
Yup, $500.00 here at Spokane Airstream, including installation.
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Old 02-27-2020, 11:18 AM   #15
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Fresh Water Drain: Easier to cure before Dragging

Since I learn everything by... doing... here is ONE good tip for all of you potential Drag Kings and Queens.

The plastic drain plug for the fresh water tank can easily be broken off flush when traveling over gravel roads. The gravel from traveling over the road causes gravel and stones to scatter... like when the hose comes loose on the Septic Tank vehicle, just before your going to work and wondering how it works.

These errant stones had broken off this stem and drained our fresh water tank in 2007 on our 2006 23 foot Safari. I looked in the mirror and could see the line in the dry road. I purchased some small corks at a hardware store, plugged the leaking hole, and used a string to keep it from falling out. The string was secured between the screw on each side of the drain

Airstream in Jackson Center, Ohio replaced the unit when we had warranty work done.

Airstreams have less clearances than ALL other RV's and Trailers. A perfected Dragger, to say the least. Keep this in mind, if you have room.

I asked Airstream Jackson Center, Ohio if they could add some sheet metal in the forward position, like the the piece below. They did. I never had this POOR lack of protection, since. Doing it myself on later Airstreams.

Now, I take a piece of metal, bend it at a 90 degree angle and secure it to protect my plastic drain plug. Since doing it on the 25 foot and the current 27... using previous GRIEF to solve future GRIEF works.

So... if you think Bumper Drag is for the 'other guy', you ARE the Other Guy. Same with the drain plug. Take a look. Take some sheet metal, cut to size, bend and somehow secure it to protect this cheap piece of... innovation. Now... you have something to cure with little effort.
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Old 02-27-2020, 11:54 AM   #16
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Yep. Dropped IN to a river side boondock spot in Idaho last summer, no problem. Pulling out...right side of bumper started plowing dirt. Tried backing up...bumper started pushing in to the dirt. Didn't have the best spotter. Wound up having to dig it out, then used a combo of Anderson levelers and 2x6 scraps to get out of the jam, back up, and come up the small hill at a different angle. Bumper was pushed in pretty good and storage cover was a bit 'jacked' when not secured.

While visiting GMFL in early December for my lift, we hitched trailer to my truck; pulled his 3/4 ton Denali behind my trailer to be a good heavy anchor, then hooked a come-a-along to his truck and my bumper. Got it straightened out...errrr....well, let's say straightened out 'enough.' It was a 'precision' operation :-)

Wish I had the lift kit when I was on that river in Idaho...
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:52 PM   #17
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One thing you can try is to put the bumper on the ground or on blocks under your coupler area and then let the tongue down on it like a press. If your weight is enough it is easier to control than flexing in a tree. You can also break sidewalls loose from your rim if needed to patch or swap a tire out.
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Old 02-27-2020, 05:59 PM   #18
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One thing you can try is to put the bumper on the ground or on blocks under your coupler area and then let the tongue down on it like a press. If your weight is enough it is easier to control than flexing in a tree. You can also break sidewalls loose from your rim if needed to patch or swap a tire out.
******

Great Suggestion. If all else fails, this is another.

If someone has a bent rear bumper to test this out... finding that tree is eliminated. Like... finding a tree in West Texas, outside Odessa.
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Old 02-27-2020, 06:17 PM   #19
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I looked over an idea some insist is the cure to Bumper and Frame Drag by adding 'rollers', rather than the skid plates that we currently have on our later model trailers. At least Post year 2005 models.

Where we travel, these rollers would become plows and missing as road trash on Route BB7653A Hot Springs County, Wyoming. Put the weight onto these two rollers, that FOUR Tires are supporting the entire AIRSTREAM?

Knock, knock, who's there??? Anyone home?

These 'rollers' may work on a paved exit from a Service Station in Flagstaff, Arizona... where you can find MANY service stations in town that will not only test your skids... may even take your bumper and damage your frame, as well. This Experience would be a permanent LIFT KIT for the back of your Airstream... permanently curved like a Turkey's tail feathers in Heat.

As some said, you could damage your frame and your aluminum panels in these areas. Could? Maybe you had only minor weight on this area. You get the weight of your Airstream on them, maybe rent a Crane to get your posterior and trailer out of this wedgie, kind of thing.

Much like the Yahoos at a tire business in Rawlins, Wyoming. When my Marathon 14 inch, Load Range C tires were failing on our first year, they sold me Hi Run tires. That was the only ST trailer tire in 14 inch they sold. If I thought Marathon 14 inch tires were bad, these went from Rawlins, Wyoming to a Rest Stop. I noticed the center tread compressing and coming off by Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Bought Tow Max or Tow Master tires in Salt Lake City and these 14 inch tires provided years of service. (OK. Now the Rest of the Story.)

These 'professionals' came out with the hydraulic jack, after I told them I would show them where to put the jack. They wanted to put the jack under the AXLE. Not the area that says "Jack Here" plate.

(IF you choose to use the JACK HERE locations... PLEASE take a deep breath and do this one thing. Remove your Tow Vehicle and hitch from the Airstream. Otherwise your weight distribution will be adding forces that only a Junk Yard can fix. The pressure would be beyond our capacity to understand.)

Women READ the Instruction Manual that comes with your Airstream. Men, like myself... look at the pictures. It is true... men need to admit it. I did.

So... if you are having a wheel removed... be aware that Yahoos work everywhere and want to do the 'under the axle or frame anywhere' mentality. The locations to place a jack are riveted underneath your Airstream behind the rear wheels.

Now... for those who are 'above average intelligence' and there are many on the Forum. I need not point them out, although they will most likely agree with... me.

Use your leveling blocks on a Double Axle and do one wheel at a time. Sure, it is time consuming, but taking your wrecked Airstream to Jackson Center will be a long trip and expensive for doing what' Stupid and Cousin Ignorant' do to the average trailer at a Service Station. Otherwise YOU need to lead the horse to water, kind of thing. (Recall Midnight Cowboy in the Restroom shooting a horse?)

Much like wanting to jack your trailer up, using the rear bumper... If someone has tried that... maybe someone will have the courage to make comment.
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Old 02-27-2020, 08:34 PM   #20
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Help me here. To change your tires, you first unhitch and then jack the trailer? I done the single tire replacement by driving up on blocks for the dual axil. But a shop isnít likely to do a single tire at a time. I need to replace my tire and this issue is delaying me getting it done.
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