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Old 01-17-2008, 12:55 PM   #295
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMEMACHINE
...others who want something to happen besides watching our prized Airstreams waste away, inck by inch...
well this might be a little overly dramatic...

still it's an understandable, but emotional response...

filiform is primarily a COSMETIC issue NOT a structural one. these units aren't wasting away.

having had an a/s more than 1/2 my life, consider this reference.

virtually EVERY surface finish a/s has used, has had issues over the years.

they've had plasti-coat nighmares and piles of angry customers to deal with...

they had adhesive issues on the rivetless units and with some of the exterior laminates....

they PAINTED nearly a full year of silver aluminum units when new because of crappy reformulations on the plasticoat.

about the LEAST trouble was the argosy line, and many still look good with original 30 year old paint....

the next most durable finish appears to be the CURRENT alcoa rolled clearcoat...

which sadly shows the filiform crud, that makes us ITCH!

painted units aren't immune from this, it's just that the filiform creep is under opaque pigments, so it's not seen...

till the unit is stripped for a fresh painting...

IF you wanna look for solutions go to the aircraft industry and learn how they deal with this issue....

and continue to deal with it, on aircraft again and again.

over the last year i've seen a/s units from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and the new ones...

with areas (or entire skins) affected by the new road salts.

and these extra corrosive salts are mostly a new degree of assault, that NO vehicle manufacture has fully overcome.

this fall i saw two near mint previously polished 60s units....

that were COVERED with a disgusting lattice of web/filiform corrosion, that was just from the last 2 years...

the owner's ONLY sin, he stores his trailers IN a barn downwind (1 mile) from a county road salt pile.

i fully agree it IS UGLY on a shiny new trailer...

but a/s is likely to blame alcoa, who will likely blame a/s and then alcoa might cut off the skin supply!

individual owners need to get the beltline trim, learn a good sealant/waxing process (not walbernize)

experiment with the anti corrosion sprays and keep after the surface issues...

and a/s needs to handle panels differently during production, develop some sort of cut edge sealant and continue to work on NEW COATINGS

but the trailers aren't wasting away, newer owners might be losing the sparkle but the twinkies roll on...

in no way am i implying not to take action (legal, cosmetic, or financial) but a historic reference point may beuseful...

or not.

cheers
2air'
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Old 01-17-2008, 01:29 PM   #296
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Joe, I can buy most of what you are saying, but my unit is in a somewhat temp and humidity controlled unit. My Safari has NEVER been exposed to salt that I am aware of since I took delivery of my Safari new, in which it traveled from Jackson Center to Piqua to Chicago.

Though I don't discount the salt comments entirely, the issue is far more widespread. Heck, I've even put a water filter on the hose to wash it thinking that might slow some of the areas by removing any residual metals, chorines, salts from the city water supply...guess what...new ones still formed.

....and what about the units built and delivered to customers, where the unit is 6 months old and the finishes are basically failing at that early stage.

Also, if you've read John's posts, Airstream is basically blowing him off saying they wont cover the finish due to it being a maint issue. IF that is true, why has Airstream, in Jackson Center, overlaid panels, added belt line trim, emblems and replaced both wheels, cast alum tail lights etc. Seems to me that a new policy may have taken place since some of our exp.

Bottom line, I am with John on this one. So far we have two folks, you want in, PM John or myself with your name, address, phone, email, month, year of production, VIN number and issues specifically to your unit that match what we've been talking about. Either John or I will figure out something to put together.

The one thing I totally agree with John about is if we do nothing, the end result is assured. Keep in mind I didn't expect my Airstream finish to last it's lifetime, nor did I think it would be perfect for 10 years, but less than 2 years and others 6 months? I don't care what the airlines do, this is unacceptable. If your Ford or my Chevy had paint blemishes start showing up after 6 months or 2 years I think we'd all have legit gripes.
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Old 01-17-2008, 05:07 PM   #297
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Go for it

I agree I would be more involved if my unit had corrosion. I am concerned about the future. After I read this thread before we bought our unit in October, I thought of not buying one, but it appeared there were fewer reports of problems in recent years, so we took the chance. At least aluminum doesn't rust.

I suppose people at the company read these things, and maybe they respond with product improvements, maybe not. It seems that the response callers (or e-mailers) get from A/S depends on who they talk to rather than any company policy and indicates the company's customer relations dept. is not well organized (note, save any e-mails for possible use in legal proceedings).

Telling people corrosion is a maintenance issue is bad policy in many ways:
1. It angers your best advertisers: your previous customers,
2. If there are problems in making the product (and especially if you are aware it) no amount of maintenance makes any real difference. They ought to know that and it indicates bad judgment on the part of the executives, but many executives (and politicians) cannot admit they are wrong and that always makes it worse for them in the long run.
3. Refusing to deal with an issue, whether consciously or not, eventually leads to lawyers and that's expensive for everyone, but most of all for the company.

This thread goes back years and if company executives are aware, they have decided people will complain but can be quieted by a decal around the trailer, a replacement of a license plate holder and some other relatively cheap fixes. The accountants tell them that's the cheapest way to deal with it. That's a bad decision for them all if some serious action is taken. My guess from reading many threads is that the company needs to be shaken up because they are ignoring lots of problems and need some new management.

So, again, those of you with damage need to get together—probably contacting each other privately and exchange e-mail addresses so the company doesn't know exactly what you're doing and maybe, if the Forum permits it, starting a different thread soliciting group members, and find the products liability lawyer who will contact the company and move on this. This will require a long term commitment of time and money. I've been retired too long to know who to contact and none I used to know did this kind product. There are enough engineers on the Forum that some may be experts in metals and coatings and may be some help. They can tell you how much they would cost to investigate—it'll be a lot.

An individual has little power to fight a large corporation, so a group is the only practical way to go. So far there's Twink and Time (Joe and John?), so you've got a start. I think there were others in the past willing to challenge this, so go for it. The thing a company fears most is bad publicity and once it gets into the media, they will be really worried.

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Old 01-17-2008, 09:46 PM   #298
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene
...The thing a company fears most is bad publicity and once it gets into the media, they will be really worried...
well, FINALLY someone has suggested the potentially best approach...

ring the bell!

so what took ya all so long.... yea baby

just 2b clear, in no way am i or have i been defending a/s.

but i do want to see folks address their own units NOW, with some effective action, and it appears many have.

i'd really like to see a news reporter type get fired up or perhaps a teleperson...

or how about a you tube video of someone's really scabby trailer!

it does matter how aircraft folks handle this issue, and we could benefit from their success.

just a guess but each unit under warranty is probably handled uniquely right now....

IF the issue is at the edges (mostly) beltline trim is used...

and IF the issue is mid panel or a full skin, panel replacement is the treatment.

sure many of the leaders read here, so do the regular working folks at a/s.

the warranty DOES say corrosion and other surface issues aren't covered,

just like it says interior damage (walls, furnishings, carpet) as a result of water leaking isn't covered.

again i'm not defending them just pointing this out.

the warranty department had a wall board with 10 'hot issues' to that lead to specific customers being tagged...

as i recall the list included black mold, wheel bearing failures, corrosion, any threats to hire an attorney, demanding a replacement unit...

and some other 5 items i've forgotten, right now. it was a very interesting list.

IF anyone can get a media type involved that'd be very INTERESTING...

cheers
2air'
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Old 01-17-2008, 09:48 PM   #299
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Our choice to rehab a vintage trailer

I have been reading this thread and I have to chime in that one of the reasons we have have decided to buy a vintage trailer and gut the inside rather than purchase a new unit has been this corrosion issue. We know that there is no free lunch and we will probably have issues we have not even thought about by going this route, but we won't have this corrosion issue (a 40 year old trailer will already have corroded if it is going to.). We also know that we will not be saving any money by building a custom trailer in a vintage shell, but we hope we will be more satisfied with our trailer in the end by going this route. We thank you all for sharing your experiences so that others can make a more informed choice when deciding which Airstream is best for them. Keep up the good work and we will be reading your posts. paula
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Old 01-21-2008, 08:57 PM   #300
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Do you have corrosion? PM us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TIMEMACHINE
There are other ways to get this done, there are methods to make this a bigger problem for Airstream than it is for those with corrosion, it's only our past time, it is their livelyhood.

I think we should start with you and me, thats two to start, the next step is gathering others who want something to happen besides watching our prized Airstreams waste away, inch by inch. Maybe there is only one more who believes that we can solve the problem, or maybe there are 10, or maybe 50, I guess we will find out. Once we have a group, then we can discuss ideas as to the best approach, have a meeting of the minds, create a plan, and then execute.

Then again maybe someone of authority at Airstream will see this thread and decide that a group of customers who have enough financial strength to buy the most expensive travel trailer made may just be smart enough to persuade the right people to do the right thing.

There is only one thing worse than to make me mad, and that is to make me think.

John
Responding to 2air,

Just in case you missed it, some of us have already considered developing a resolution to the corrosion issue by exposing the situation in such a manner as to cause Airstream Corporate to rethink it's current policy.

Also, I don't believe that my comment about "watching our prized Airstreams waste away, inch by inch" is dramatic. My "surface" corrosion is extensive and if allowed to continue will result in problems beyond cosmetic.

If I owned a $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 Airstream that was 20, 30, 40 or 50 years old that had corrosion, I would not complain, at least not to the manufacturer. I own a $50,000 Airstream that is less than 2 years old, and I am going to complain. When Airstream started touting their product with the "best in the world" advertising and continued to sell their products at prices multiple of their competitors, they also exposed themselves to respective expectations.

Enough said,

Those interested in working together to have their Airstream's corrosion issues solved, please PM me or Silvertwinkie as suggested in his post.

John
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Old 01-21-2008, 11:56 PM   #301
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TimeMachine,

Sorry to hear of your problems. Have you put up any pictures of your Safari? I'd be interested in how the filiform corrosion looks.

My own 2001 Bambi, for which I've posted corrosion pictures several years ago, has not had the filiform corrosion progress further since 2006.

I believe 2air's comments about the cosmetic nature of the problem are well founded. The filiform corrosion on Airstreams can look bad and is a big disappointment on mine, to say the least, but I think it is generally accepted in the metallurgical engineering community that, for the thicknesses of the aluminum used on the Airstream skins, it cannot lead to structural failure of the sheet. I would therefore completely agree that it is only a cosmetic material issue.

Of course, presence of filiform corrosion can and should affect the valuation of a trailer. It becomes a financial issue at sale time. I'd choose a trailer without it if I had the chance... but I'm not getting rid of mine because it does have it. I see no need to.

Presence of filiform corrosion is not an accurate reflection of the owners' diligent maintenance. Rather it is a common issue with any coated aluminum (and some other metals) when exposed to moisture and chlorides.

Most types of coated aluminum are susceptible to filiform corrosion from environmental salts. The magnesium and calcium chloride used in de-icing road surfaces, and which persist along roadways long after the freezing season pass, are very agressive in promoting filiform corrosion. These are unavoidable facts of life for our trailers.

This is not a new, dramatic problem in the materials industry. The process of filiform corrosion formation is well known and extensively studied, especially for aircraft and architectural uses. It is known to occur with all aluminum alloys and organic coatings when exposed to moisture and chlorides. Some inorganic coatings- which would not provide the classic aluminum finish Airstream is known for- are more effective than clear organic coatings in delaying the progression of filiform corrosion, but apparently no coating is known which is completely effective at blocking filiform corrosion.

Simply do a google search with a phrase such as "research on filiform corrosion" to see some of the academic and commercial research.

From my research on the matter and discussions with people having experience in materials, metalforming and maintenance of coated surfaces, I concluded that filiform corrosion was likely to form on my trailer no matter how carefully Alcoa and Airstream prepared and manufactured the product.

I also concluded that it is also up to me to take reasonable steps to understand the process and to minimize the chance of formation and the growth of exisxting filiform corrosion. These are what I would call my ownership maintenance responsibilities.

I found a product used in the aircraft industry (ACF-50, which has been discussed on this and other threads) that has worked to control the growth and formation of more corrosion on my trailer for the past three years. There are other, similar products and these have also been debated in this forum.

Certainly I wish this would not happen. But I know now that it is not reasonable to expect that filiform corrosion will never happen on the coated aluminum surface of my 2001 Bambi.

Consequently, I don't hold Airstream or Alcoa responsible for the filiform corrosion that I have- it simply comes with ownership of the product- whether or not I knew it at the time. To many Airstream owners such as myself, this has been my first personal experience with such corrosion. I now know that I could have found that out if I had done the research before purchase. Not likely that I would have looked, but the information was certainly out there. So in my case, 'caveat emptor.'
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Old 01-22-2008, 12:47 AM   #302
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Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by mswartz
TimeMachine,

I also concluded that it is also up to me to take reasonable steps to understand the process and to minimize the chance of formation and the growth of exisxting filiform corrosion. These are what I would call my ownership maintenance responsibilities.

.'
mswartz,

Thank you for your input, however, I respectfully disagree with your perspective as to responsibility. I have posted pictures in the past, as well as others, and the corrosion on my AS has continued to grow rapidly. I understand the technical issues and the alternatives reviewed to resolve the problem.

I feel confident that if you examined my specific unit you may in fact change your opinion. Also, if you knew me, you would know that I am not one to neglect responsible maintenance of anything (I wash and wax the AS just as the factory recommends)......this has nothing to do with maintenance. This is about a manufacturing/assembly process that is damaging the protective coating of the AS skin allowing caustic intrusion and accelerated corrosion.

Do you really think it is an owner's responsibility to repair corrosion on an aluminum panel on an Airstream that is less than two years old?
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Old 01-22-2008, 09:24 AM   #303
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TimeMachine,

Sorry that I have not seen your pictures, but I am sure they show a serious problem.

The fact that my, your and others trailers have filiform corrosion is not something for which I blame Airstream or Alcoa.

We can disagree on this point, but I think that it is probable Airstream and Alcoa are exercising reasonable diligence in the handling, preparation and fabrication of the coated aluminum, consistent with industry practice.

The challenge to Airstream, to me and to others is to ask 'what should be done differently to avoid filiform corrosion?'

Your last post says "this is about a manufacturing/assembly process that is damaging the protective coating of the AS skin allowing caustic intrusion and accelerated corrosion."

What evidence is there that Airstream is not properly handling the materials? The mere presence of corrosion is not, by itself, evidence of a defective process. One would have to show that a better process and/or material exists and that Airstream has not used that process or material.

The fabrication and forming process makes numerous breaks in the coated surface from rivet holes and panel cuts to create many ingress points for moisture. There will always be such entry points. Has anyone found information on how to treat such points prior to asssembly to seal them? I've searched, but have not found any.

I've looked sporadically for several years but I cannot find another vendor of coated aluminum, another manufacturer of trailers using similar materials, or published literature or research which shows a way to avoid filiform corrosion.

Please, if someone has this information, get it out onto the forum.

If Airstream has explicitly disclaimed corrosion damage as a warranty item, and I signed that purchase order with that disclamer, then repair of that corrosion damage is up to me.

I am not an attorney, so the following is purely speculation. Possibly a legal case can be made against Airstream and/or Alcoa if either intentionally misled customers, provided false information, or did not exercise reasonable diligence in their processes as should be expected of any ongoing experienced business.

My personal experience with Airstream is that they have been open, honest and willing to discuss my problems with me. From what I have experienced, visiting the factory, discussing the issue with their personnel, I believe that they are likely doing what any reasonable manufacturer using this material would do in fabrication and assembly.
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Old 01-22-2008, 09:50 AM   #304
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reading these posts makes me feel as if the filiform is inevitable if your trailer is on the coast. Has anyone had success in a coastal area, just applying walbernizer every couple of months? or do we need to go through a desalination rinse (read this from previous posts) as well as walbernize and the ac-50 stuff. any success stories? I have a new 2008 and now I'm bummed that this might be our plight.
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Old 01-22-2008, 01:27 PM   #305
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I don't suggest my maintenance practices have any bearing on the corrosion, but seeing I have very little (two rivets with less than 1/4 inch filiform), and you asked-

1. Not been exposed to salted roads- I store trailer outdoors 15 miles from ocean.
2. A few nights at the immediate coast, but not weeks.
3. Washed in clear water no detergent.
4. Occasional Use of Meguiars Quick Detail. No Walbernize.
5. I keep the trailer and roof clean-wash it monthly.
6. ACF 50 or Boeshield on the 2 filiform areas.
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Old 01-22-2008, 05:29 PM   #306
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I think Marshall states very well the argument A/S's lawyers may use in litigation. I don't know whether experts in the field would agree with him and expect some would, and some would not. If there are those kind of metals and coatings experts, they apparently haven't bought an Airstream or haven't found the Forum, or we'd know more. That's why the A/S owners who want to pursue this have to find the right people. I think Marshall's post is very informative for a certain point of view.

I have noticed that a lot of those with corrosion live in areas with there is a lot of salt, either on the roads or from the ocean. This is not always the case, however, and some live in the desert or elsewhere. I think ocean salt blows far from the coast and the salts used on roads persist for a long, long time after winter is over. I believe the company has the units towed from Ohio to the dealers, picking up road salt even if you live in Phoenix. Washing with tap water adds chlorine which bonds with pure salt to create table salt which is washed into the seams. I have no idea how much all this matters, but someone has to figure out how much it does—and more importantly, how much should the company have known about the problem.

If there is no better way to coat the trailer and have it look like aluminum, that doesn't mean Airstream is off the hook. They could have warned people. They could offer a trailer without clear coat and simply wax it—maybe that would work better. There seem to be fewer problems before A/S changed the coating around 1999 or so, so there's a fact question there. They could paint them, but maybe no one would buy them. Maybe, as has been suggested, bright colors would attract new buyers. There are so many unanswered questions and so much conjecture that we are beating this to death until we get expert analysis.

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Old 01-22-2008, 06:55 PM   #307
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tpi,
Thanks for the info. Do you not like the Walbernize product? Roman would like to leave (which every time hie suggests it I point to this thread with a squinched face) our Airstream in Encinitas for MONTHS at a time because he would get free parking at a friends. Rather park it somewhere in Tahoe or Carson City (dryer climates). So, I am trying to prepare in case I lose the battle.
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Old 01-22-2008, 08:12 PM   #308
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hi gene

i agree mshwarz has put it well and agree with his excellent summary.

most of what u are posting is reasonable too...

but...

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene
...There seem to be fewer problems before A/S changed the coating around 1999 or so, so there's a fact question there. ...
sorry this isn't correct.

from a % of production basis we don't have a clue about few or many...

and ALL of the prior finishes have had issues (paint the least)

i've posted these other problems (peeling, cracking, corrosion) and so have many others...

but you'll need to read the many other threads on surface/finish issues to get a basic appreciation of this...

or visit with folks who've owned plasti-coated units when new or as they aged.

i've now seen MANY older trailers in the snow/ice belt with NEW surface corrosion issues...

it's my view now that virtually every aluminum trailer ever produced is a risk from the new road salts....

with one form of corrosion or another...

a/s has changed aluminum panel compositions over the years so the problems vary by panel...

and again a/s has been dealing with surface issues (and us owners) for decades.

but we owners weren't able to 'connect' with each other (except camping, at rallies and in the club) as we now can...

the finishes prior to the alcoa surface (excluding paint) were virtually guaranteed to peel in 5-7 years on some units.

this problem got worse as a/s reformulated the plasticoat for environmental reasons...

and the a/s factory application suffered from seasonal variations and 'craftsman' issues, resulting in much LESS uniformity.

what IS different NOW is that the older finish could be reapplied by select vendors and still can be.

the alcoa finish cannot be reapplied to panels...


...livingtahoe....

there is an ENTIRE subforum on cleaning, waxing and polishing, check it out.

and LOOK in your owners manual, which suggests ANY quality auto wax will work.

i consider the walbern' to be an inferior product, some here like it.

use whatever YOU (or your waxer man) like to apply on cars/trucks...

but i too like tpi's approach and product selection.


cheers
2air'
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