Fixing a bent bumper (aluminum, Uhaul 13') - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-24-2012, 04:45 PM   #1
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Name: Lisa
Trailer: 1985 Uhaul 13' aka "Dandelion"
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Fixing a bent bumper (aluminum, Uhaul 13')

Howdy campers! First, let me apologize for not posting for so long. I finally sold my Class A so now all my time, attention and $$ can go towards The "Name still TBD." Lots of things are in the works and all thanks to the forums here, I will have many stories and photos to share, hopefully soon.

One thing I've been struggling with and hope to resolve before the first longer trek is the bent bumper. I've searched and searched the forums here on FRV.com with no luck. I'm told it's aluminum. Have spoken to dedicated bumper fixers and multiple auto body shops, but no one wants to touch it. Most said aluminum is very hard to work with, or not a material they deal with.

Any suggestions on other places to try, techniques to consider or ideas would be greatly appreciated. I've even visited some scrap yards to look for a suitable replacement but that's fairly overwhelming and so far, has been futile. Or maybe I should just get a torch and cut off the bent portion, then the other side to match

I hope the posted picture/link works...

Many thanks in advance for your insight/assistance
~ Lisa

http://photos.imageevent.com/lisabro..._Rogue1113.JPG

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Old 07-24-2012, 04:56 PM   #2
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How about checking with a local metal company that does custom work for gates etc.... or a company that rebuilds trailer frames etc
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:20 PM   #3
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There is a machine shop here in Miami that is called 'Mitchell's Welding'. He does all kind of repairs like this. I am sure you must have welding shops there that can do the same.
Look for a smaller operation that takes on these kind of projects rather than a big shop.

Probably have to be cut off at the bent end, restraightened, rewelded and ground smooth. Definitely looks repairable and should not be too costly IMHO. Good Luck!
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Old 07-24-2012, 05:41 PM   #4
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Hi Lisa and welcome to the forum. Was that type of bumper used on other Uhaul trailers? Maybe a junk yard search would yield a replacement? Or perhaps a metal fabrication shop. They might have a better idea on a repair. Good luck, Raz
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:32 PM   #5
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I'd second a fabrication shop, though a frame straightening shop should have all the right tools if they would agree to do the job.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by djtriceflt View Post
Probably have to be cut off at the bent end, restraightened, rewelded and ground smooth. Definitely looks repairable and should not be too costly IMHO. Good Luck!
Exactly what I would have said. Shops may be reluctant to touch it "as is" because it sort of implies that they're going to take it and fix it. If it doesn't work out well then they're afraid that you'll be unhappy and blame them

If you remove it and cut it at the crease line and then take the two pieces to any shop that does aluminum welding I think that they'll be much more willing to take the job on.

Good luck, Ron
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:47 PM   #7
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Aluminum of that thickness is very very hard to straighten!! If I had to attempt that job I would start out by putting it in my big hydraulic press, but wouldn't have high expectations. A non chrome steel bumper from a 50's pickup truck probably could be modified to work easier than fixing the aluminum original. Or perhaps cut off both ends and fabricate new matching ones or adapt something from a truck. Some big trucks had plastic extensions on the bumper ends. Go wander around a truck stop to get ideas. If you do cut off the end of your bumper you'll have to use a sawzall. As bad as yours is I don't believe it will ever be able to be straightened like new. A fabrication shop may be a better choice rather than a body shop.
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:25 PM   #8
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Stupidly enough, a chrome shop - as in "bumper re-chroming" might be your best bet. Many have the giant presses that can re-curve that thing back to what it once was. The bumpers on many cars of the 50's were huge, heavy steel and there are shops that can do it. If there are three that I know of here in Vancouver, I'm guessing there are more than that in Miami

Also - Idea number 2 (I'm already exceeding my quota for the entire week!) Check with a local Kenworth dealership - where do THEY get their bumpers fixed? K-W is as fussy as any high-end luxo-car outfit and they regularly have ginormous aluminum bumpers that often need fixing.
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Old 07-24-2012, 11:00 PM   #9
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Great ideas, thank you all for taking the time to reply. I will look into these options and let you know what turns up. I'll also modify my inquiry when talking to the shops so it's not as much about "straightening" the bumper as doing whatever it takes to deal with the bent portion. Cheers!
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Old 09-17-2012, 02:15 AM   #10
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Finally getting a chance to report on the outcome. Many thanks again for your ideas & suggestions. I spent about a week calling virtually every entity noted in the posts above. No one seemed to want to deal with aluminum.

Finally decided to remove the bumper so I could shop it around. On the way out of the storage lot, I encountered a guy who worked in the on-site garage at times and had a huge hydraulic press. Long story short, he spent a little over an hour bending, repositioning, rebending until he got it about 80 percent straight. And refused any payment (I finally convinced him to take $40 and a case of his favorite adult beverage, which I delivered the next day) Here's a before and after shot. Thank you all for your input!
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Old 09-17-2012, 05:33 AM   #11
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Better, much better!
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Old 09-17-2012, 06:44 AM   #12
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I was wondering what ever became of this project. Aluminum is real hard to straighten after it's bent. Sounds like you were in the right place at the right time! Paint it flat black so the remaining bend isn't obvious. I'm happy to hear you got a good result at a good price. Bob
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:03 AM   #13
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Hooray for the guy who stuck his neck out and helped you. Anyone can say, too hard, or I'm too busy.
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:52 AM   #14
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Much better!

Hip Hip Horray!
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