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Al and Missy 09-21-2019 09:33 PM

Jackknife Damage Repair Ideas
Some time ago I jackknifed my 30 Classic and damaged the area of the rock guard/segment protector when the taillight of the truck pushed in on the protector. The vertical rib (stud?) at the curbside end of the front window was pushed in between 1/4" and 1/2" creating a noticeable deflection in the panels attached to the rib and the protector hinge.

I cant see any way to attach anything to pull it out. I happen to have the sofa out while replacing it with a recliner loveseat. I'm considering trying to beat it out from the inside by putting a 2x4 on the rib and hitting it with a small sledge. I'm hoping this will push it out and diminish the deflection visible from the outside.

There are also a couple of small dents where the top edge of the protector contacted the skin panel. I'm thinking of trying one of the hot glue pullers to straighten them.

I'm more of an electrical guy so I'm looking for suggestions as to whether these are viable techniques or better ideas.



wulfraat 09-21-2019 09:52 PM

If you pushed in the rib itself I donít think itís a simple repair like a dent in the skin. The ribs are structural...

OTRA15 09-22-2019 05:07 AM


Originally Posted by Al and Missy (Post 2291196)
. . .
. . . I'm considering trying to beat it out from the inside by putting a 2x4 on the rib and hitting it with a small sledge. I'm hoping this will push it out and diminish the deflection visible from the outside.
. . .

IMO that will not budge the rib the way you want. If you can find a place to rest [wedge] the far end of a 4x4 [~8' to 10' long?], You night be able to push [with a hydraulic bottle jack] the rib closer to its original position IMO.

A momentary blow with even a large sledge won't substitute for the sustained hydraulic pressure of the bottle jack, if you can find a place to put the end of the 4x4.

Some photos might help, in terms of the internal geometry of the trailer, and where the bent rib is. Can you "kick" [proper rigging term?] the end of the 4x4 against the far wall where it meets the floor? Maybe you could have another 4x4 lying on the floor on that opposite wall, to keep the diagonal one from sliding around? Easier to sketch out in person. :blink:

Good luck,


PS -- If things are water-tight, I would consider leaving it as-is and chalk it up to experience.
PS2 -- Any chance of insurance covering a proper [expensive?] repair, at least in part?
PS3 -- The hardest part of the 4x4 jacking operation will be keeping the entire assembly in a straight line. Rigging for this will be time-consuming and challenging. There may be some commercial scaffolding components that would also work, like a long screw-jack leg they use to hold up one corner of the scaffolding on sloped sites.

heslinhotel 09-22-2019 06:51 AM

Might be best to new skin over section.

Bill M. 09-22-2019 07:33 AM

One downside from pushing or beating on a rib from the inside is that it stretches the interior skin and makes the rib seem to stick out. The push block either leans or deforms but it does not just push on the rib. It gets the skin around it also. So only try it in an area where something covers up the interior skin. I have a reminder where I pushed on a roof rib using a bottle jack and I thought a well shaped push block.

Al and Missy 09-22-2019 08:34 AM

Thanks all. I was thinking this might not be too hard to restore since the part of the truck that did the damage was the tail light. It broke the lens but there was no other damage to the truck. The damage is right at the hinge for the segment protector. Iíll take a couple pictures today.

I like the idea of the bottle jack and longer 2x4, but Iíll have to see if there is any way to kick it. The damage is about 6Ē below the bottom of the front window, so the kick end would have to be 2-3 feet off of the floor.


rchawkins 09-22-2019 04:23 PM

Agree with Peter. If it doesnít leak leave it

OTRA15 09-22-2019 04:50 PM


Originally Posted by Al and Missy (Post 2291270)
. . .
. . . I’ll take a couple pictures today.
. . .

Sounds good. Are there any leaks, especially ones that maybe get trapped inside the wall, and might produce evidence down on the floor at the base of the wall? Leaks like this would damage your subfloor rather quickly, and should be made watertight, even if you don't repair the bent rib etc. IMO.

IIABDFI ??? [If it ain't broke . . . ]


guskmg 09-23-2019 01:10 AM

A bottle jack and 2 X 4s is the right idea. However, I did the same type of push out repair with a Port-a-power which is a body shop kit that you can either borrow or rent from a tool rental company. This kit has a portable ram with all kinds of extensions and fittings. Here are the steps to take:
1. Find a flat area opposite the damage, maybe 10' away, the wider the better, I.e., counter top or floor if that's all that is available.
2. Use as long as possible 2 X or 4 X as a backstop for the Port-a-power.
3. Place the ram close to the damage and use the extensions to reach the backstop.
4. As you push the damage area out you may need to drill out some rivets to let the ribs move back into place. Have someone watch to tell you when the surface outside is flush. Then relax the ram and let the damaged area return to a neutral position. Measure this distance of change. Re-apply ram pressure adding that measurement to go beyond the flush surface point. then relax the ram.
5. Now here's the tricky part, depending on the damage. As you push out the wall you may need someone the help the dents and creases to flex out. Use a padded rubber mallet on the ends of dents and alternately work toward the middle in the opposite direction they were formed. With the advent of paintless dent repair technology, I would consider having one of those techs help with the dents as you push out with the Port-a-power.
6. While doing this you need to keep an eye on the rivet holes you may have drilled out, Watch to see when they start to line up. When that occurs use a couple of awls and line them up, then Clecoes or screws to get the holes and sheet metal lined up again. Then is Olympic rivets. Be patient.

OTRA15 09-23-2019 04:13 AM

You're hired!

Great post.


boblind 09-23-2019 07:37 AM

Fixing dents, I was partially successful with suction
I used a shower safety handle I bought at Home Depot for my shower that uses suction to pull out a dent on the rear right corner of my AS. Itís isnít perfect, but itís not bad.

Al and Missy 09-27-2019 07:29 PM

2 Attachment(s)
guskmg - thanks! That is about what I was planning on trying after reading all the above. The only difference is I was going to use a bottle jack instead of a ram. I would pump it a couple of times - go look outisde - rinse and repeat.

Here are the pictures I promised -

Attachment 353077 Attachment 353079

While cleaning up my wiring for my sofa install, I noticed a light leak under the battery box. It appears the battery box has been separated from the skin behind the molding around the battery box door. I have to figure out how to seal that up.


Alumaholic 09-27-2019 07:57 PM

Just replace the "segment protector"
They are intended to be "sacrificial."
P.S. The "rock guard" protects your front windows.

OTRA15 09-27-2019 08:24 PM

Thanks for the recent photos, Al. Not sure which rib you had anticipated pushing on with the jack/ram, but you might want to consider that you could make matters worse. The worst crimp in the skin is next to, not on, a rib IMO. Messing with the rib that includes the piano hinge for the segment protector, might open up a new can of worms?

To these eyes, it ain't broken enough to mess with.

Yes, make it watertight, but that leak you found may have its own history unrelated to the jackknife event IMO.

Good luck,


Al and Missy 09-27-2019 08:34 PM


The pictures don't show it well but the rib at the end of the window is pushed in right at the top of the segment protector. I straightened the segment protector as best I could, but looking at it from the top, the top half inch or so of the hinge is bent. The steel hinge is the strongest thing in the vicinity. My plan was to try to restore the bend in the rib and if that didn't straighten the skin I was going to try one of the hot glue tab straighteners to pop the dent out.

On a related subject, the light leak (and probably water leak) is at the junction of the bottom of the battery box, the skin opening, the belt molding, and the molding around the battery box door. I'd really like to pull the door molding so I can see how to seal it all up but I don's see how it is attached. Any ideas?

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions and comments.


cwf 09-27-2019 10:21 PM

Al.. with all the loads on a SO, I would not go quick fix.

Here is a link to rebuild of 'Stella"... there is a picture of the battery box from inside.. look carefully...

and look here.. you will see more of a closeup.. which doesn't appear on the link above..

I think you need to get on the inside and will find studs from the outside trim are secured from the inside, sandwiching the outer panel.. but can't be sure..

ROBERTSUNRUS 09-28-2019 01:36 AM

:) Hi, might be costly, but in late 2005 Airstream made taller segment protectors.

OTRA15 09-28-2019 02:44 AM


Originally Posted by Al and Missy (Post 2293320)
. . .
My plan was to try to restore the bend in the rib and if that didn't straighten the skin I was going to try one of the hot glue tab straighteners to pop the dent out.
. . .

Sounds good -- done slowly [as you said before]. Not sure where you plan to "kick" the far end of the jack/ram assembly, but you don't want to do any damage there, if the rib being jacked is ornery to the push.

Good luck,


Al and Missy 09-28-2019 07:53 AM

I plan to use the galley cabinet which is on the other side of the entry door. The magazine rack is just about the right height. I’ll use it to support a horizontal 2x4 that will span the width of the cabinet to spread the load. I’ll monitor it to make sure it doesn’t move or distort under load.


OTRA15 09-28-2019 12:46 PM

Sounds good . . . among the many other projects you have going on, like installing the recliners! [I just saw that thread.]


Heal up . . . and have a great trip!


Voltair 09-29-2019 03:33 PM

I havn't managed to dent mine yet, only Luck so far ,but you got me to thinking....
If I knew definitely that the Rib was compromised ie pushed in somewhat, and was very noticeable, well I'd consider drilling out the Rivits along the dent to relive further stresses on the sheets and with access from inside put long set screws ie long thin bolts through, a wood chocked Steel Beam with same hole spacing's then nuts on inside, then with a spanner start n tighten.
Hopefully someone or anyone could tell If this folly or not? Done slowly with a good shock every so often from a ball pein to help set itself .
Duno just Duno???

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