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Old 05-25-2017, 10:08 AM   #1
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Body damage repair advice needed

A few weeks ago, we were camping in the back country of Carrizo Plain. Overnight rain turned the soft dusty dirt roads into squishy slippery mud roads. I lost traction on a banked part and slid sideways into a big bush. The branches damaged the sheet metal on the driver's side of the van.

The metal is only dented, but the body shop says they would want to heat and cool the metal to shrink it back to shape. They wouldn't feel comfortable doing that unless that part of the interior was removed which turns this into a whole different kind of job. It is an EB-50 layout, but taking out that cabinet probably means removing much more.

Here are my options as I see it. What is your opinion?

1) Take the van to SMB West, let them remove/replace the interior and have a body shop in Fresno do the repair. Pro: Interior removal done right. Con: Big bucks and long time without the van.
2) Remove/replace the interior myself or find someplace in So Cal to do it. Pro: Don't need to drive to Fresno. May save some money. Con: Can I trust anyone other than SMB to do the job?
3) Live with the dent. It looks a little better now that the mud is washed off. Pro: Costs nothing. Con: Reduces resale value. Evidence of my poor off-road driving skills for all to see.
4) Buy a driver's side Aluminess ladder. Pro: Cheaper than repairing the damage. Sort of hides my shame. Con: Doesn't address the damage. Don't really need another ladder.

Any other options I haven't considered?




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Old 05-25-2017, 10:18 AM   #2
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Talk to a paintless dent removal tech.

They can get some ugly dents out without using heat like that body shop is talking about.

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Old 05-25-2017, 10:18 AM   #3
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Seems like a body shop could pull the dent out and complete the body work all from the outside. They weld pull pins on the exterior and us a slide hammer to pull the dents out.
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Old 05-25-2017, 10:36 AM   #4
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Yes, find a good dentless guy.. or find someone who will pull the dent from the outside (weld on stick slide hammer tool thingamajob), throw a little bondo on it and spray it. My guy up here would fix that for $300 or so.
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Old 05-25-2017, 11:15 AM   #5
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Chick's love battle scars...
The hold stories too

I say let it be and use the $ for more adventures!
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Old 05-25-2017, 11:17 AM   #6
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Bones heal but chicks dig scars, is how I remember the saying!
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Old 05-25-2017, 11:33 AM   #7
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Get a second or third estimate. It does sound like the shop is being extra cautious, maybe they've burned up a few interiors...
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Old 05-25-2017, 12:11 PM   #8
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I tried paintless dent repair on mine, but for some reason they couldn't do work in that spot. I live with the dent. Not quite as bad as yours, but real close to same spot on opposite side. I'll be interested to see if you can find someone willing to try it. My guy said he was sorry but placement didn't allow him the accesses needed. I'll never understand, but his work was outstanding on our tl.

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Old 05-25-2017, 12:39 PM   #9
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W have a 2003 SMB and had one of the original BFG "D" rated tires on the left rear shred most of its tread. Tire stayed inflated but the left rear quarter panel was crumpled and the bushwhacker flair went flying. We got the same advice as you regarding the repair. I.E. the cabinets had to be removed. The reason given was the inability to rust proof the inside of the repair. Ours was bad enough that a new panel had to be installed requiring welding. A slide hammer/bondo repair would most likely work for you but you would still have some bare metal on the inside. Luckily for us our insurance company agreed with letting us have the cabinets removed and replaced as part of the repair, and when the inspector looked at our install he recommended that we take it to SMB Fresno and have the body work done near them. SMB recommended a body shop nearby that did a fantastic job so it now looks as good as new.

If you want to repair your ding I recommend talking to your insurance company as we did. The only issue we had after the repair was a plastic water line that rubbed on some jagged metal created by the repair. I was able to reroute the affected line and it's been good since.

After that incident we went to the "E" rated BGF's. Three of them were so out of round that they wouldn't balance and had to be replaced. While this should be part of a different thread, I know of several other SMB's that had tire failures with the BFGs with similar results to our incident. I now use Toyo All Terrain tires and they balance perfectly and wear very well.

Best of luck with your repair... or scar..
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Old 05-25-2017, 12:52 PM   #10
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Oh man Steve, that sucks. What ever you can live with. How about having a large thin aluminum plate made to hold a couple of Maxtrac's? Pulling out the interior can open the door to rebuilding with a bit more quality than SMB or even if at one time you wanted to redesign... ever want a window there?


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Bones heal but chicks dig scars, is how I remember the saying!
but the question is if the wife likes it
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