How to Fix a Hole in the Side of a Trailerby Don Kress
Repairing a hole in the side of your trailer may be easy or difficult -- depending on the size of the hole. If it's a relatively small hole, say about the size of a basketball, the repair will be quick and simple. If, on the other hand, the hole is the size of a small car, then chances are that the repair is going to exceed the actual cost of the trailer, and you should probably just let insurance take care of it.
Bend any ragged areas of the hole straight using the hammer. This will prevent cuts when you're inside the cargo trailer. You can wait to do this until the patch is in place, but it's usually best to get it out of the way quickly.
Cut the sheet metal so that it is slightly larger than the size of the hole using the sheet metal shears. Do not attempt to match the patch to the shape of the hole. A plain square or rectangular patch is more attractive and professional looking.
Apply a heavy bead of silicone sealant around the outside perimeter of the repair patch using the caulking gun loaded with a tube of silicone. Then apply another bead of silicone around the outside of the hole. Press the patch panel firmly against the outside of the trailer over the hole so that the silicone sealant seeps out of the sides of the patch panel.
Drill holes around the outside perimeter of the patch panel, and inside where you applied the silicone sealant. The holes you drill should be the same diameter as the rivets you are using, and should be no more than 1-inch from one another.
Insert the rivets into the holes you drilled. Then use the rivet gun to secure rivets into position, pressing as hard as you can on the patch panel to ensure a tight fit between the trailer wall and the patch panel.
Spray the patch panel both inside and out with automotive spray paint that matches the color of your cargo trailer, and then allow the paint to dry for at least 12 hours before using the trailer or touching the repair panel.
- Use self-priming automotive paint to minimize the cost and complexity of the repair.
Items you will need
- Sheet metal
- Sheet metal shears
- Rivet gun
- Aluminum rivets
- Spray paint
- "The Complete Trailer Handbook"; Richard Newton; 2008
- "Automotive Bodywork & Rust Repair"; Matt Joseph; 2009
- "RV Repair and Maintenance Manual: Updated and Expanded"; Bob Livingston; 2002
- Andy Reynolds/Lifesize/Getty Images