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Old 10-03-2003, 12:25 PM   #1
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Rust Question

Here is another question that probably comes up all the time but I'm going to ask it anyway.

I've been looking at Airstream Classic motorhomes from the mid-80's (wish I could afford a newer one). Right now I am getting pretty serious about one and I've got a question about rust. The unit seems to have very little rust visible on the undercarriage. In fact, the only rust I have seen is in the pull-out storage drawers. The drawers are the ones that the door doesn't lock on the side of the motorhome but there is a key to open the storage container once it is pulled out. I think there are three of these storage drawers and all of them have quite a bit of rust on the bottom of the storage drawer. They were not rusted through and they felt solid but this got me thinking about where else there might be "hidden" rust.

How big of an issue is rust on these older units and what should I look for?


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Old 10-03-2003, 12:48 PM   #2
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My 1984 310 MH is the same way...I think it is a condensation problem in a closed area and water runoff possibly from the sides and splashs that makes the drawers more likely to rust, they are 20 years old........

I just repainted the bottom members after cleaning and sanded and undercoated before repainting the drawers.

I have keyed locks all around so that can be corrected if you think it matters as the locks are available....

That's my personal experience and it was not a big deal for me...jem

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Old 10-03-2003, 01:09 PM   #3
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The chassis/fuel tank/holding tank supports are exposed so you should be able to see any rust there. The only other steel is the framework that Airstream built the body on (1x2" and 2x2" steel tube) and the cowl/front seat supports. One of the tubes that supports the front cage was rusted out on mine and had to be replaced. The tube under the floor was in good condition. The cowl was basically bare of paint and very rusty.

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Old 10-03-2003, 01:13 PM   #4
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Is it possible to inspect the cowl/front seat supports?
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Old 10-03-2003, 01:47 PM   #5
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Look under the dog house cover, straight up above the front wheels, pull the panel under the windshield and look at the metal there. It is all steel and part of that assembly. The arrow in the picture is the tube that rusted out on mine (one on each side). There is an aluminum channel frame that supports the skins on the front, they bolt to the steel frame built on the chassis. It rusted out about the last 6".

Also look at the propane tank.

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Old 10-04-2003, 06:44 PM   #6
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Re: Rust Question

Originally posted by drober05
the only rust I have seen is in the pull-out storage drawers -- there are three of these -- all of them have quite a bit of rust on the bottom -- They were not rusted through and they felt solid --How big of an issue is rust on these
The drawers (2 are storage and 1 is the battery compartment) rusted thru quickly (about 3 years) after the first signs were observed on ours.

Replacements are NLA, but rehab is not all that bad (in retrospect). I got a quote from a local welding/sheet metal shop for $1,200 (for all 3), but with some "sweat equity" got away with just over half of that.

I cut away the bottom and sides, leaving only the top framework and curved aluminum front panel. They supplied the sheet metal (cut and bent to size) did the MIG welding and riveting. I finished up with painting, undercoating and caulking.

My drawers (no pun intended) look as good as new. But nobody notices except me - it's kinda like washing your butt

Fortunately, most everything else Airstream (except items mentioned by other posters) is aluminum, stainless or galvanized steel. The rest is Chevrolet, and generally, readily available.

Good luck and hope to have you on board as an owner in the Motorhome Forum soon.

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Old 10-05-2003, 02:09 PM   #7
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my motorhome had run off from the water heater leaking before i owned it, and other leaks that got into the larger storage locker.
I cleaned it all with a wire brush, and scraper, then primed it with a rusroleum product and painted over that. After almpst two years some of the rust spots are back, and I will need to do some more to stop them. On the ouside the lockers look good though.

I bought a coach that was from up North in Minnesota and Ohio, yet it had little or no chassis rusting. Some surface rust under the generator box, but not too bad. I think it was garaged by the first owner, and the second I know kept it under a shed, and used it very little in the winter especially. Down here in the sunny south it should stay rust free a long time especialy with all the care I give it!

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