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Old 05-16-2009, 08:18 AM   #911
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Originally Posted by dlb435 View Post
Wait 15 years and we can buff these babies out to a high shine.
This isn't exactly true. The new(er) trailers have different alum and will not polish to the high shine you are referring if you are comparing them to vintage. You are right however that a strip/buff and re-coat is most likely the only real fix, but I could and would gladly accept this at a 15 year interval vs 6mo to 1 year.
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:33 AM   #912
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dlb, Barb and I have discussed our expectations and other feelings about our experience with our Safari a lot. We both have high expectations and worked in professions where there was a high premium on doing things right. Others relied on our expertise and the consequences of mistakes could be severe for them. So, we tend to expect the same from others, especially when we buy what is supposed to be a premium product. We also lead busy lives, even though "retired", and don't need things to fail, screw up our plans and interrupt our lives. We are the consumers that mediocre manufacturers and retailers do not want. We know this about ourselves. We also wonder whether our expectations are too high. We try hard not to just be fault finders, but to be reasonable.

We try to buy the best because we know in the long run it saves money and grief. Airstream is promoted as a premium product that lasts and lasts. One observation of mine is that RV's in general do not have the same QC standards that autos and trucks have. We did not know this. We did know Airstream was supposed to be a quality product. I believe part of the money paid for them is for a design mostly perfected decades ago and that the factory does not have high standards for quality or for the design of the many components that make up an RV. It may be that Airstreams have fewer problems than other brands. The factory does not look particularly efficient to me, but as they are hand made and have a small market, efficiency is hard to maintain. High prices are a result.

The basic structure seems sound and does last for longer than other RV products. We did in 2002 buy a truck camper and it was a bundle of problems and we returned it. A friend bought a different brand of truck camper and it was also a bad product. But both were made by small manufacturers and that market seems to be very fractionalized and standards are very low. That's only two experiences, so we assumed it was not indicative of trailers in general and Airstreams in particular.

I am also aware that corrosion may be a problem that cannot be solved on the aluminum skin and there is no technology available that will do better (nonetheless coating the edges may help). Wheels are different—different grade of aluminum and different coating. While some wheels may have coating problems, we have never had such problems with the ones that have come on trucks we have bought. I believe there to be quality issues with the wheels on some vehicles, not on all of them.

Thor is a big company in the RV field and could put pressure on their suppliers to produce better products. More attention could be placed on bad design—for ex., the placement of the water pump on some models (difficult to reach, difficult to clean filter, noise because not mounted well, difficult to install bypass). I think the company needs some new blood because they have become too comfortable with their (previous) reputation. It appears at times, but maybe not now, Airstream has had a QC engineer on site. If it does have one now, they are not listening to that person. The corrosion issue should be acknowledged. One thing that inevitably angers customers is the feeling they are not heard. It's the professionals who appear insensitive (some doctors and lawyers are an unfortunate example) that are far more likely get sued for malpractice. If Airstream acknowledged the problem and tried to work with unhappy customers, they would lose less money doing whatever can be done than by stonewalling because stonewalling leads to lost sales and lawsuits.

In my brief experience I find that if approached correctly, many smaller issues are taken care of easily and the customer relations dep't is responsive. Others report the same is no longer true of the corrosion issue—I do not have a corrosion problem, so I can't report personally. Perhaps the higher up execs at Airstream have told consumer relations to stonewall on corrosion; they have not acted the same way on other issues, so it doesn't seem typical of consumer relations to stonewall on this.

It is unfortunately typical of corporations to stonewall when problems happen. It seems to be in the executive personality to not be able to acknowledge mistakes. It results in much more expense and sometimes company bankruptcy. As 2air said last year, PR is the best and cheapest way to make a company change. The Forum is providing that and some people at Airstream are well aware of this thread. So we are talking to them as well as ourselves. I assume they can count and see how many people have decided not to buy a new Airstream. Eventually someone will use this thread and interview some people (we are easy to reach through PM's) and an article will be published somewhere that will upset some people in JC. Maybe it will get to the NY Times or Wall St. Journal in an article about the problems in the RV industry. An article about Airstream has interest because it is an American icon and it is the type of story major publications love because people are aware of Airstream and it has an internet angle. I can see the headline: "American Icon Suffers Customer Revolt". Subhead: "Internet Brings Owners Together to Pressure Airstream". Such media attention is not 100% assured, but the chances of it appearing are large enough that if I were an Airstream exec I would lose sleep about it.

As for us, we aren't going to sell the Safari before corrosion appears. We are tired of traveling via motels and eating in bad restaurants, sleeping on bad beds, wondering if the place is clean when we see mold on the shower grout, carting food in and out of motels to make the majority of meals ourselves, and paying a lot for this experience. We try to adjust. We trade on set of problems for another. I bring lots of tools and can fix most things myself. I don't want to fix things though. dlb, I admire your acceptance of problems and we are trying to be the same way, but it doesn't come easily for us. Maybe we should spend some time in Louisiana and let the good times roll.

Gene
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Old 05-17-2009, 07:49 AM   #913
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Corrosion

Gene, you are on target and reasonable with your expectations but we may be old school.

There are three element of most products or projects. Quality, service and price. Pick two of the three...rarely do you get all three. If you want quality and good service, the price is higher. If you want low price, plan on sacrificing quality or service. It is how it works for the consumer.

AS thinks incorrectly they can maintain a high price even though the quality and service is on the slide. Wrong! Eventually the momentum of a bad reputation takes hold and goes beyond the point of no return. AS foolishly assumes their good reputation of the past will give them enough influence to work through the future. But keep in mind, the past lacked the power of the internet. It is a different world we play in.

Another law of the jungle is the strong survive. This past week the auto industry experienced this law of wrath in a very painful way. A good number of dealers were cut lose from the mother ships of GM and Chrysler. Some of the criteria for the severance was quality, customer complaints/satisfaction and sales. Some dealers were seen on the network news whining and quoted saying "why me?" The answer, because your lousy methods of operation finally caught up with you and now the American consumer has the ultimate say. They got what they deserved.

Take heed Airstream! We trailer owners may take a hit with a corrosion problem, but Thor, you will lose the whole operation when you swirl down the drain and in to the great reservoir of crappy companies that chose not to provide quality and service. It's the law!
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:26 AM   #914
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Not to add sensationalism to the recent posts, but have you noticed some dealers that either carried Airstream exclusively or as a line disappearing or cutting their Airstream line lately? Seems I've heard rumblings of 1 or 2 dealer consolidations, dropping the Airstream line, and/or just a few outright closures of entire combined operations (Airstream and SOB dealers).

Was talking with a buddy a bit ago who has a great relationship with an Airstream and SOB dealer. The low cost SOB units and service is what is keeping the dealership afloat, not so much the new Airstream trailer segment of the business-- not even the Airstream sport or entry level units either. This can be somewhat verified based on the comments earlier on this thread where Airstream has shed a number of positions-- probably due to lack of demand.

I think personally this economy has accelerated the effects of what IMHO would have been the eventual end result-- lower volume of sales due to unhappy customers of QC and of course corrosion. Add the current state of the economy and you have "the perfect storm" type situation. Many folks (read not all) will be a bit more frugal when it comes to discretionary spending as has been very correctly pointed out earlier. Many folks are doing a lot of homework on forums like this and on the web in general.

Think what Gene has written a few post prior to this one really has hit the mark exceptionally well.
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Old 05-18-2009, 08:26 PM   #915
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Meanwhile there are some innovative competitors in the wings. I've been following this thread for a year hoping to see a resolution because we just fell in love with the Airstream. It will be our first RV though, and at our age and financial situation, possibly our last, so it's got to be right. I've scoured the internet and the shows for something fairly light with great design and great quality - like Airstreams! The new Trailmanor Elkmont is a good step in the right direction, but it sure doesn't generate the excitement of an Airstream design. Then today, I came across a new company, Earthbound RV. Folks, they're small and just starting out, but if many companies start producing the trailers like they show on their website, Airstream better watch out. The whole focus in their 44 page Introduction and Construction download is quality, hi-tech lightweight construction, innovation and more quality. And yes, they're aluminum. Like I said, they are just starting out, but if this is any indication of where the industry will go on the other side of the recession, it is exciting. To us, one of Airstream's biggest selling points is the community of Airstreamers, and no other brand will compete with that for a long, long time. Quality is equally important though, and surviving competitors as well as the new ones are going to be all over that subject to build/rebuild market share.
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Old 05-18-2009, 08:52 PM   #916
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I have to say, the RV has merit.....
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Old 05-19-2009, 08:35 AM   #917
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I think it may be time to start a new "Custom Airstreams" thread similar to the one from a year ago:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f353...ale-39559.html

As I indicated earlier, this corrosion problem is giving me pause but now that I have done more research and see what some companies are doing rebuilding and restoring vintage and even newer Airstreams, it is quite amazing (see the links in the earlier thread). Given this new information, I am leaning much more towards buying a pre-2000 unit (and possibly much older) and having one of those companies rebuild it per my specs. My understanding is that a vintage rebuild (as opposed to restoration) will be about the same as a new unit (assuming you don't go wild in what you want). This way you get a much more unique AS and no clearcoat! Sound like a win win. At least until I find out that that they are much more expensive than I first thought
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Old 05-19-2009, 05:46 PM   #918
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Two new sales lost in the last 3 posts. This is accelerating.

Gene
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Old 05-19-2009, 10:21 PM   #919
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie View Post
I have to say, the RV has merit.....
Yes it does. Since this corrosion issue came up, we've been re-thinking, more like ruling out buying a new Airstream. This unit really looks interesting and we are plan to take a look at one before buying.

Regards,

Bob
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Old 05-21-2009, 05:37 PM   #920
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Any one thought of mounting one of these on their trailer?
Car and Automobile EMF Protection - Vehicle Ground Strap
I'm an engineer in the aerospace industry & all aircraft use whats called a static dischager on the trailing edges of the wings, elevators & rudder. Since the airstream is more like an aircraft than a boat it seems to make since to use some sort of grounding or static discharger rather than a zinc anode that's used in the marine industry.
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Old 05-21-2009, 05:59 PM   #921
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Originally Posted by G_Lariviere View Post
Any one thought of mounting one of these on their trailer?
Car and Automobile EMF Protection - Vehicle Ground Strap
I'm an engineer in the aerospace industry & all aircraft use whats called a static dischager on the trailing edges of the wings, elevators & rudder. Since the airstream is more like an aircraft than a boat it seems to make since to use some sort of grounding or static discharger rather than a zinc anode that's used in the marine industry.
Different purposes though... ground straps and static wicks on airplanes are designed to dissapate static to reduce radio noise - no effect on corrosion. A boat sacraficial anode is designed to corrode in water to prevent corrosion of the boat or engine. An Airstream is neither flying at high speeds while relying on radio signals for navigation and communication, nor immersed in salt water. The device referenced above merely attempts to prevent shocks when you touch the car.
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Old 05-21-2009, 06:34 PM   #922
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Got to Wonder

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmac View Post
Different purposes though... ground straps and static wicks on airplanes are designed to dissapate static to reduce radio noise - no effect on corrosion. A boat sacraficial anode is designed to corrode in water to prevent corrosion of the boat or engine. An Airstream is neither flying at high speeds while relying on radio signals for navigation and communication, nor immersed in salt water. The device referenced above merely attempts to prevent shocks when you touch the car.
dmac:

You could be on to something.

Using a zinc anode, similar to what is used to protect aluminum boats, sounds interesting, and cathodic systems to protect aluminum boats certainly exist, but they are intended to mostly stop galvanic corrosion.

Is filiform corrosion a form of galvanic corrosion?

Some of the Airstreams with filiform corrosion are located near salt water, but they are obviously not in the water, and not the only ones experiencing the problem

Having said that it sure makes you wonder if a cathodic system exist or could be designed to help prevent filiform corrosion in Airstreams.

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Old 05-21-2009, 07:45 PM   #923
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You could use a anode with positive effects only when your Airstream is submerged. Water is necessary for anodes to work, and rain is not enough. These are used on boats, underwater pipes, oil rigs, etc.
I wish they did work that way. I have a lot of stuff rusting away in my yard, and I'd love to just slap a anode on it all. Damn!

Rich
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Old 05-22-2009, 04:45 PM   #924
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Boeshield T-9 seems to have an excellant penetrability with its capillary effect in filiform type of corrosion.
http://www.boeshield.com/index.htm
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