Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Very Full House (you dent em, we fix em)

Currently, FTW is crushed with work. The yard is completely full of trailers waiting their turn at being fixed. Fortunately I have additional storage not too far away. A few of these trailers will also be heading out in the very near future. One that should be heading out soon is this 1954 Cruiser.

The 1954 Airstreams all have a serious design issue; short tongue syndrome. This causes one to dent the lower panels up front when jacking it too tight into a space. When these were towed by cars of the time, the issue was even worse due to the gigantic bumpers of the period. Sometimes the skin gets ripped also.

This Cruiser got it on both sides. She turned the other cheek and got a slap there too.

The only way this repair can be done properly is by removing the interior skins in that area. The original panel was removed and copied onto new Alclad. Just a little note of caution; if you measure the panel from seam to seam it is exactly 12 foot long. This would lead most, with sticker shock over Alclad prices, to order the minimum length of 12 foot. However the panel is longer due to the fact that it goes behind the side panels. A 13 foot piece is needed. A professional knows these things.

It is also worth the $2 extra per foot to have it wrapped in film. Though it does not guarantee a scratch free finished surface, it sure helps to minimize it.

One also needs a large number of cleckos to hold the panel before riveting. I own 750 1/8th" and 1000 5/32" cleckos. Every 5/32" was used today and a few more could have been handy. Next order to Air Parts Inc will include a request for 500 more.

The finished results are stunning.


  1. Very nice work. Someday maybe I'll have my 56 bubble worked on.

  2. Glad to see that business is going good for you, Frank! My '58 was also a victim of the excessive bumper size syndrome though much less so than that '54.

  3. You make it look so easy Frank - great professional work.

    Liking your workshop backlot - lets hope Google Earth updates its images when it has a full compliment of aluminum (or aluminium for us Brits) - it'll make a great view from space.