RVs are rolling earthquakes. We drag our Airstream hundreds of miles each week on the highways and inevitably a few miles on dirt roads. It bounces, bangs, and shutters behind our Tahoe.
Screws are often rattling loose and falling to the floor. We find one or two scattered around about each time we move to a new campsite.
I have to search all around to figure out where the screw came from, and when I do, I replace it with a dab of super glue, which I hope will help keep it in place.
There are lots of little things like this that I have to do to keep the Airstream in solid shape. I’m always retightening, refastening, or reinforcing to keep things held together.
Recently though we had our first accident.
I saw cheap gas on the opposite side of the street. I braked to turn left across traffic into the gas station lot.
The pavement was short and steep at the lot entrance, scarred with gouges from many cars before me that had scraped their fenders on the asphalt.
Sure enough, my front mounted rack scraped worse that I had ever heard. My momentum kept me going, and then my trailer post behind the hitch scraped something awful.
I knew the bumper to the trailer would scrape too. By now, I had slowed down to a crawl, but I was committed.
I couldn’t back up into five lanes of oncoming traffic.
I dragged the rear bumper of the Airstream into the hill. Instead of the long scrape I heard before, the bumper caught the lip of the cement, pulled back on the car for a moment, and then let out a PANG!
I watched the whole thing go down in the driver’s side view mirror.
The bumper was bent up towards the sky.
When I investigated further, I found that the aluminum skin belly under the Airstream is fastened to the bumper, so I had also popped a couple dozen rivets holding the rear of the belly skin to the frame. Since the belly made up the floor of the compartment that holds my hoses, sewer hoses, and electrical cords, they were all hanging out and dragging on the ground.
In the gas station parking lot, I couldn’t do much, but I did get down on the ground to bend the belly pan back into place and then violently kick the bumper back into place. It’s actually pretty straight now. I removed all of the hoses and stored them in the trunk so we could finish the couple hundred miles to the campsite.
On the way, I swung into one of my favorite places, Lowe’s, for a drill, self tapping screws, and stainless steel screws.
To fix the Airstream, I had to break some rules. Most campsites prohibit RV repairs in the campsite, so late in the evening on the last night of our stay in the campground, I fired up the drill and went to work fastening the belly back to the frame and bumper. In a moment of self-proclaimed brilliance, I used our stabilizer jacks to lift up the aluminum belly and hold it in place while I worked.
The work was dirty, slow, and cramped. Lots of rust and dirt that had collected on the topside of the belly pan was showering down on me as I worked with the aluminum sheet. But after an hour or so, I had put about 20 screws through the steel frame.
All of the screws currently in are the self tapping Zinc screws, and my last step is to back them out and put in the stainless screws. Just need to find the time and interest to do it.
I feel like I got out of this accident pretty easy, but I’m sure there are more accidents and repairs to come.