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lee_jachter 11-10-2002 12:29 PM

Sheet Aluminum repair
My wheelwells and the area behind them have been torn up by blowouts. Where do I start on replacing the aluminum behind the wheelwells? What Aluminum should I use? What Tools will I need.
Are there any threads on this subject? thanx in advance

74Argosy24MH 11-10-2002 12:57 PM

Can you post some close up pictures of the damage? It would be easier to see what to replace and especially what tools you will need.


davidz71 11-12-2002 09:48 AM

I had a blowout of the curbside rear wheel which tore out sheetmetal, bent the outrigger forward into the tire and dented more of the aluminum behind that wheel. I also lost insulation in the process. I went to Lowe's and bought sheet aluminum but will have to check the thickness labeled on the barcode sticker when I get home. I cut the damaged area out with sheetmetal shears and an elec. jigsaw, replaced insulation with Corning pink stuff then slipped the cut-to-fit panel (using the old sheet as a guide) under the rubrail for the rivet job.

hex 11-12-2002 02:43 PM

wheel well woes
Hey Craig, do you have any idea of how far and what speed you went before realizing you had the flat that did the damage?

regarding the outrigger;
> Was it bent at the frame?
> Can you guess at a gauge or thickness of it?
> Was it solid or fillagree (had a oval hole cut out)?
> What shape was it in rust wise?
> could you see how it attached at main-frame-rail?
(welded both sides?)

regarding wheel-well damage in general;
> Have you seen any ideas of using a "stronger" material
to lessen/eliminate the damage?

What about quarter inch alum-plate ?
or I even thought of using old flat canvas/rubber fire hose which I used to use for dock bumpers in a boathouse. real tuff stuff. But there may not be enough clearance, or enough 'frame-work to attach either to?

Of course I realize that a spinning whip of tire at speed can darn well un-do most any rigging.:mad:
Any thoughts?

davidz71 11-12-2002 04:50 PM

Good questions! I'll try to remember them the best that I can.

1. The outrigger was bent slightly at the frame but mostly the lower portion was bent upward almost parallel to the ground. I had to hit it with a hammer to bend it downward enough to remove the tire from the axle. I drive 40 miles without a tire on the axle and once I reached a tire shop, I asked for a bigger hammer to beat the outrigger down to fit the new tire. No welds were broken even after all the shaping but I will have to check when I get home this evening as to how much the outrigger hangs down to refresh my memory.

2. I can't guess the thickness of the outrigger but it was tough. The very end at the bottom had a 90 degree bend so that the new sheetmetal could be rivetted in place. I had to bend this back into shape and did so with a pair of vicegrips.

3. I don't remember any hole in the outrigger. It was a solid sheet.

4. There was no rust on the outrigger to speak of. I was surprised.

5. Attachment, I'll have to look again in a few minutes when I get home.

6. Stronger material? I don't see why Airstream doesn't make an outrigger with a slope to it and then attach alumiplate to protect the quarter panel and trailing part of the wheelwell but then why aren't car bodies made of stainless steel. Once the tire tread seperated on one end, it kept flopping around beating the outrigger forward/up in addition to the soft aluminum shell behind it. If companies make quarter/rocker panel protectors for Jeeps and off road vehicles, why not incorporate this into the Airstream design. You know, tire guards just like rock guards but sturdier. Maybe it doesn't happen often enough to justify a design change.

By the way, I was doing about 60 mph when I felt shuddering. I instantly let off the gas and looked in the driver's side mirror. I saw pieces of rubber and insulation flying in the air behind the trailer and bouncing off the roadway. I didn't hit the brakes hard but lightly applied them and coasted to the side of the roadway. What I saw made me sick. I'm quite proud that I was able to get everything back in the original shape. You can't even tell anything happened.

davidz71 11-12-2002 09:38 PM

aluminum sheeting
The aluminum was .025" thick and was purchased in a 24" X 48" sheet at Lowe's. They also had smaller sizes available.

I took a closer look at the outrigger and I could not see a weld on the front edge. It almost looks like a lip was welded from the back side now hidden by the aluminum but I can't remember what it looked like. All I can say is that whatever is holding it to the frame is rock solid where they meet. I sprayed the outrigger with Rustoleum black spray both sides before attaching the aluminum.

I didn't mention earlier that I had to take out the blue vinyl from the lower rub rail and drill out the rivets so that I could slip the new aluminum sheet underneath the above sheet. I drilled one hole and riveted the rubrail and sheet in place after rough fitting the new sheet and marking holes with a permanent black marker. I then folded the sheet under the outrigger making sure the sheet fit perfectly front and rear. I then marked these holes, drilled and riveted one hole at a time to make sure everything stayed aligned. It seemed to line up perfectly and I could not believe I was that lucky. I had to do some light trimming on the front edge of the aluminum that was parallel to the ground due to an extra 1/2" of overhang. I then used Vulkem to seal the outrigger and sheetmetal so that no water would be sprayed from the tire and work itself into the insulation. Hope this helps.

Antonb 11-22-2002 09:05 PM

rivets for replacing panels
Hi folks,
I had a little "backing up incident" and need to replace a couple of aluminum panels in the RR corner. I am planning on making my own panels, but I wouls like some advice on what kind of rivets to use that most closely match the originals, but can be used without backing up like with a bucked rivet. The standard pop rivets are ugly and leak, I have heard of "blind" pop rivets that don't leak, but wonder how they look.

Any advice appreciated.

thenewkid64 11-22-2002 09:38 PM


The rivets you mention are called Olympic rivets and can be installed with a standard pop rivet tool. The finished rivet will look very close to the original one, once it is shaved. Unless some one knows what to look for they will not be able to tell the difference. There are 2 kinds of Olympic rivet. One that is a standard all Aluminum rivet and one that has a neoprene washer. I use the non washer type and install with a bit of vulcum to seal. I have yet to buy a rivet shaver, the cost is a bit steep, and I have two friends that have one I can borrow if needed. Until I get the chance to visit a properly outfitted friend, I use a dremel tool to knock down the rivet so it is more "normal" looking.

hex 11-23-2002 08:48 AM

Related link on this forum
A related link with a few interesting pictures you may want to see also:

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