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Old 04-04-2009, 12:17 PM   #841
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I'm not familiar with wet sanding. Is it simply keeping the sandpaper wet?

Tom
Yes. You buy wet/dry sandpaper. Any other kind will fall apart. Spray some water on the sandpaper and the surface to be sanded and go at it lightly. I think the most coarse grit is 400 and it goes up from there. I use 400 on furniture to get a smooth finish.

Gene
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:51 PM   #842
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Tom,

The water is very important, must keep the surface wet, keeps the paper from breaking down and lubricates the surface. The higher the # the finer the grit. I found when doing the battery door frames that stopping at the 1500 grit most closely matched the rest of the trailer. You can get an almost mirror finish with 3000 grit. Wet paper is available at most auto parts stores.
Be advised though it ain't fun and it is VERY labor intensive. I did not clearcoat the frames, too messy and most likely would just peal off again. Applied a good paint sealer, (Griots, mail order, Griots Garage). A little aluminum polish and re-seal was all that was needed during Spring get-ready.

Hope this helps...

B.C.
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Old 04-26-2009, 12:57 AM   #843
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Wow! This is interesting and really disappointing at the same time. I ran across this thread after just completing my enclosed storage space for our pre-retirement purchase.

We've been reading and looking for a couple of years now and had decided to purchase an Airstream. Now I'm applying the breaks. I had sold myself on the product quality and longevity making the larger expenditure worthwhile. Now I'm thinking it's time to start looking again. If they are all disposable...why pay two or three times the money?

Regards,

Bob
Back in a holding pattern.
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Old 04-26-2009, 01:20 AM   #844
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Just picked up our trailer from shop today, was there for several warranty repairs, nothing major. I had asked that my entrance handle, and the tail light housings be replaced due to this corrosion. I was told that the dealership took pictures of corrosion, and sent them to Airstream, which denied the warranty claims saying corrosion was due to "maintenance issues". Really? Maintenance issues?
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Old 04-26-2009, 08:08 AM   #845
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Bob, a very wise move on your part.....I would suggest looking at a pre-owned unit where you may have a better idea if the problem surfaces. In addition, a pre-owned unit will already have a good portion of the depreciation hit taken so even if you wind up with the issue, the cost savings could not only be put toward a stripping and re-coating, but still leave some money back in your pocket as well.

ASwifey, I feel your pain. I was one of the lucky ones back at a time when the factory did support this as non-maintenance. Yet even with the coverage under warranty, they issues have resurfaced. Truthfully, this is stated in their warranty, however, I am with you obviously that what is happening is unacceptable, and frankly as folks continue to do research on the Internet, folks like Bob will be more of a commonality than the exception as this thread is in the top 3 searches on a number of the most popular search engines.
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Old 04-26-2009, 09:12 AM   #846
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I have a question... does anyone have a trailer that is 2-6 years old that does NOT have filiform corrosion of the skin itself? See my photo below for a filiform skin corrosion example...
Well, here goes tempting fate.

After browsing the forums on my day off I came across your scary thread and skimmed through most of it.

So, after you guys freaked me out I went to check on the trailer. Inch by inch. No corrosion that I can see. Anywhere.

My 2007 19 footer was originally sold in Spokane, WA (inland and dry but cold) and resold to me by the same dealer. I live near Portland, OR (drizzly for 4 months of the year, but trailer is kept in a pole barn). I have done most of my vacationing (3 weeks or so over the past year since I bought it) by the coast.

My trailer doesn't have many bells/whistles. It has the non-heat pump AC, no solar cells, no inverter. It has regular lead-acid battery. It does have an aluminum-clad interior, which I believe IS an upgrade.

I seem to recall from my college chemistry classes that galvanic reactions do require some type of flow of electrons. This could be from ions in the air, seawater, or electrical contact. I also seem to remember that thermal gradients are involved.

Don't laugh too hard at these off the wall thoughts:

Comparing my trailer to those in the pictures with corrosion, it looks like my trailer has caulk between the panels and fittings (door handle, lights). The pictures don't show caulk for the most part.

Could it be that all of the affected trailers have a common electrical component? Inverter maybe?

Aircraft with aluminum skins develop static charges that I believe are grounded by ground wires on landing. Don't some people with pacemakers have ground straps on their cars for the same reason? Could static charge contribute?

Where I live, I don't have to winterize, so I don't drain my water or HWH. Is there a sacrificial anode in the HWH that is saving my trailer?

I have also left my trailer plugged in to grounded AC when not in use. Does this help?

Does the inner aluminum skin have anything to do with it? People in a trailer generate heat, humidity and CO2. I believe temperature gradients speed or cause galvanic reactions. CO2 dissolves in air and water to create acid. Do you all have poor trailer ventilation?
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Old 04-26-2009, 09:51 AM   #847
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This issue as best as I can tell is related to the disturbing of the exterior coating. The inside alum I believe is the same grade as the outside. The difference is that the outside is exposed allowing any number of foreign substances to get behind the coating and allow fillform to begin. In the case of the rims, tail lights, and door handles, I believe these are not effectively treated/coated at the time of manufacture. Airstream does not manufacture the rims, tail lights and door handles. They also don't manufacture the skins, but they do assemble these and in some cases my feeling is the construction process is where some of this starts.

My unit is stored indoors and sees maybe 15-20 days of outside time per year. It is washed and Walbernized 2x a year and when in storage, does not sit directly on concrete and is in a climate controlled garage, where humidity and temperature are managed/maintained. My wheels and tail lights were replaced, both have returned. The skin at the point where it was riveted and where the skin was either cut or routed out has signs of corrosion. My back wall in the galley area which is also exposed alum on the inside has zero signs of corrosion in any place including the riveted areas. If there was some sort of dissimilar metal issue or other issue, this would effect both the inside and outside. Clearly environmental activities mated with the disturbed areas is yielding these results.

Mind you I am not an engineer, I am a customer and have been follwing this for several years now. These are my observations, shared, accurate or otherwise.
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:55 AM   #848
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I have been a boater for 35 years. As mentioned you have a real need for a few zink plates.to be added to your units. Somewhere in the rig there is a small amount of curent getting to the frame and skin. Either add zink plates or find the short...
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:56 AM   #849
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I don't know what causes the problem. I've seen aluminum corrode before, I worked for a aircraft restoration shop while going to college....must have set about a million rivets in those years. I replaced corrosion damaged skin on many airplanes and always assumed it was caused by years of exposure to weather due to use and outside storage.

I went with a buddy to look at an Airstream about ten years ago and that's when I became interested in owning one. I'd seen many rv's but when I looked at that first Airstream I was so impressed thinking "Gee, this thing is built like an airplane."

Several of my co-workers have spent over 250k on diesel pusher motor homes and we had come to the conclusion that spending half that on an Airstream and a new F250 would be a smart buy considering what you were getting.

I never thought the outside skin on an Airstream would be maintenance free. I did hope that enclosed storage and treating the skin a few times a year would preserve our trailer. One of the reasons we decided on Airstream was that hoped that our daughter and her family would be able to make use of it after our traveling and my competition shooting years are done.

Now we are kind of back to square one. We we will continue to look at Airstreams and read the forums. We are also going to be looking at used models and other brands. I sincerely hope that the company takes the interest to find a solution to this problem. We want an Airstream but don't want to have to buy after market kits or replace skin and other parts. It looks to us to be buying troubles we don't need.

Thanks for the information, it is really appreciated.

Bob
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Old 04-26-2009, 05:28 PM   #850
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Since Airstream reads this thread, could someone from airstream just jump in and acknowledge us? Since their position is clearly related to a "Maintenance issue" at the responsibility of the owner, a simple acknowledgement by the manufacture would be appropriate.

How many folks that are on the fence with ownership are going to walk away after seeing 850 posts and no acknowledgement from the manufacture. If you dont want to jump into this tread as there may be no way disconnect once contact is made, then simply make a statement on your website in an FAQ section. Something like "We understand that some late production models may have been affected by outside influences causing less than desireable consequences to the exterior finish. While this is not warrantable, Airstream is working hard with the supplier and other outside vendors to help reduce continued corrosion."

Just throw us a bone.. let us THINK that you actually care so we can move on to a fun topic... like how much we actually love our airstreams..

Just a thought. Talk you your legal team.. see what they say and let us know that you are listening...

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Old 04-26-2009, 10:19 PM   #851
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Make it simple.

Hi, Airstream; Please make it simple for the owners of corroding trailers. If you claim it is a maintainence issue, [not warranty] Please explain to them what maintainence will stop or prevent these concerns from happening. If you are unable to do this, then maybe you need another explaination/excuse for something that is incureable by any form of maintainence performed by anyone.
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:25 PM   #852
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This not corrosion, but certainly a QC and design issue—when we turn the sink faucet on, water spurts out of the sprayer. It looks like it's cracked. Maybe water was in there over the winter and froze, but how can you drain it? Poor design! On our trip, something else goes wrong every day. Would I buy another Airstream? Doubtful.

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Old 04-26-2009, 10:45 PM   #853
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This not corrosion, but certainly a QC and design issue—when we turn the sink faucet on, water spurts out of the sprayer. It looks like it's cracked. Maybe water was in there over the winter and froze, but how can you drain it? Poor design! On our trip, something else goes wrong every day. Would I buy another Airstream? Doubtful.

Gene
In addition to being way off-topic, this does not sound like a QC issue...

The standard winterizing procedure is to:

- blow out lines with air, or
- run RV antifreeze through the system

If the trailer was not winterized properly the problem is not Airstream's responsibility.
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Old 04-26-2009, 11:00 PM   #854
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Oh boys and girls, if it were only that easy. The inmates have taken over the asylum and as such, if anyone sees a public comment from Airstream (formally) on this subject, I would be entirely blown away beyond belief. In the meantime, I'll hold my breath and wax the heck out of my Safari and pray my $40k corrosion bucket never winds up like some in this thread (see post #685)....

..and no I don't believe this is a QC or maintenance issue FWIW...as one wiser than I pointed out here....there are acres of denial at Jackson Center......
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