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Old 06-22-2012, 03:27 PM   #141
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More of an Airstream/Aerospace Marriage and Hey! Everyone's Happy!

Still pushing the airplane equivilent here. The big difference is the fact the aircraft manufacturers and their service technicians are light years ahead of the travel-trailer world. I know travel trailers aren't meant to fly in a pressurized airspace, but surely some of the durability aspects embraced by the aerospace industry could be considered by Airstream.

Condensation/corrosion is also a major concern with airplanes. I've been pestering my poor friend about some of this. He's gone from +20 to -56 back to +35 in a flight. He's seen the water pouring off the plane in the tropics when they land; very cold metal hitting a hot, humid environment.

Floor corrosion in areas such as the pax cabin/galley/lavatory area is something the aerospace designers have tackled aggressively:
Corroded galley floor beams from older Boeing-747.



These extremely light-weight and structurally sound honeycomb floor panels have since been developed; they might be the ultimate answer for Airstream.
FibrelamŽ Honeycomb Sandwich Panels for Aerospace

Airstream and its dealers like to play the "owner maintenance card." But what do they do to insure their customers are preventative maintenance? The only thing I was warned about during my walk-through at the dealership was this: make sure you have the fan going when you take a shower because too much condensation is bad. Everything else was learned on this forum!

Airplanes wouldn't last long without the proper maintenance either. The manufacturers are always issuing directives to its customers about preventative/corrective maintenance. I know any failure in a trailer isn't going to cause a massive loss of life, but if there was more of a maintenance connection between Airstream and that one customer - that would make a planeload of difference!

I like what Boeing says below. I have inserted "Airstream" in italics. Now, wouldn't it be great if that was on page one of the Airstream Owner's Manual? The marriage of a well-designed trailer with owners who are well-informed about preventive/follow-up maintenance.

"Boeing (Airstream) designs airplanes (trailers) to resist corrosion through selection of the proper materials and finishes and the use of drainage, sealants, and corrosion inhibitors. These designs are based on knowledge of what causes corrosion and the types of corrosion that occur in airplane (trailer) structure. In addition, following a corrosion control program is necessary throughout the service life of the airplane (trailer). These activities are essential for controlling corrosion to a predictable, manageable level that does not degrade structure or jeopardize the ability of the airplane (trailer) to carry its intended design loads."
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Old 06-22-2012, 07:55 PM   #142
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Originally Posted by Fly at Night View Post
...The only thing I was warned about during my walk-through at the dealership was this: make sure you have the fan going when you take a shower because too much condensation is bad. Everything else was learned on this forum!
Interesting... after an exhaustive orientation by the dealership, complete with checklists, notes, photographs, and an overnight stay in the Airstream before we signed the papers, keeping the fan on while showering wasn't mentioned. Realizing that not all dealerships are created equal, I feel fortunate to have one that excelled in their thoroughness.

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Originally Posted by Fly at Night View Post
I know any failure in a trailer isn't going to cause a massive loss of life, but if there was more of a maintenance connection between Airstream and that one customer - that would make a planeload of difference!
"Boeing (Airstream) designs airplanes (trailers) to resist corrosion through selection of the proper materials and finishes and the use of drainage, sealants, and corrosion inhibitors. These designs are based on knowledge of what causes corrosion and the types of corrosion that occur in airplane (trailer) structure. In addition, following a corrosion control program is necessary throughout the service life of the airplane (trailer). These activities are essential for controlling corrosion to a predictable, manageable level that does not degrade structure or jeopardize the ability of the airplane (trailer) to carry its intended design loads." [/QUOTE]

The constant, and perplexing, analogy between Airstreams and airplanes notwithstanding...
I totally agree that a corrosion control program is necessary to maintain the appearance of any Airstream. But, after faithfully following all of the AS recommended maintenance procedures, and the corrosion appears in less than one year of purchase, and then reappears on the same replacement parts that were supplied to the dealership by Airstream in less than a year, there needs to be some accountability from the manufacturer.

And, in another analogy which may be more relevant to this discussion (the comparison of vintage and current models)... I have a 44 year old Airstream that has lived outside for its entire existence that has no trace of this type (filiform)of corrosion, or leaks in the skin. Go figure. This leads me to believe Airstream should get back to sound manufacturing processes, and to quit trying to cut costs. As always, I could be wrong.


Ironically, I'm at the Airplanes and Airstream Rally. Weather permitting, when the planes start to land tomorrow, I promise to take a real careful look.
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Old 06-22-2012, 11:24 PM   #143
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I have a friend who works for Alaska Air as an aviation mechanic. The scheduled maintenance on a plane is as described by Fly dictated by the factory. In this case Boeing. Alaska flies Boeing exclusively, except maybe on some small commuters. The planes DO leak, some like the older 737's leak badly. These leaks present problems as the water freezes at 35,000 ft and adds weight to the plane. The maintenance on this fleet is intentional and constant. I've seen some of the maintenance checklists and they are comprehensive, model specific and sometimes even specific to a particular plane.

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Old 06-23-2012, 01:50 AM   #144
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Lightbulb

The next time I'm cruising along with my Bambi at 35,000 ft., I will be certain to test for leaks before the journey.

Woodalls Open Roads Forum: Truck Campers: Finding Leaks In Your Camper At Home


Why drop a buck and a half twice a year on some fancy RV pressure test when all I need is a leaf blower and some duct tape? I'm retired and live in the woods, so I have a leaf blower, and plenty of tape and time. Maybe, by using my gas powered leaf blower, I can get this thing to create positive cabin pressure while at altitude.
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Old 06-23-2012, 02:01 AM   #145
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A leaf blower would work great.... You don't need much pressure, less that ilb. I'm thinkng of the leaf blower and applying the Dawn (for bubbles) with a pump pestecide sprayer. This is a good testing application. And you can do it at ground level. If you do it take a lumber crayon with you to mark the leaks or you'll forget exactly they are.

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Old 06-23-2012, 02:25 AM   #146
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Alternate marking devices: "China marking pencils" and "grease pencils", both available at office supply, art supply and hobby stores.
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Old 06-23-2012, 07:48 AM   #147
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Does anyone have a remedy for this: The caulking between the bath counter and wall is caulked - from the factory. This caulking breaks loose from travel (heat, too, perhaps) and separates from the wall - which is very unattractive. Have had it recaulked but doesn't last. Any thoughts of a way to cover this gap other than caulk?

Also, as a quality control concern, we have an 06 Classic Ltd. Bath sink faucet is gold, shower door frame is gold, shower head is gold, shower valve/handle is CHROME. Not even funny.
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Old 06-23-2012, 08:08 AM   #148
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenturnr
Does anyone have a remedy for this: The caulking between the bath counter and wall is caulked - from the factory. This caulking breaks loose from travel (heat, too, perhaps) and separates from the wall - which is very unattractive. Have had it recaulked but doesn't last. Any thoughts of a way to cover this gap other than caulk?

Also, as a quality control concern, we have an 06 Classic Ltd. Bath sink faucet is gold, shower door frame is gold, shower head is gold, shower valve/handle is CHROME. Not even funny.
I should have said the GAP between the bath counter and wall is caulked......
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Old 06-23-2012, 08:10 AM   #149
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Cornerflex.com has a really nice peel & stick caulk, although in limited colors. (I haven't figured out how to copy and paste on the iPad.)

We recently used this after painting the walls in our kitchen at home. It looks more like very narrow trim than caulk.



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Old 06-23-2012, 08:26 AM   #150
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The comparison between airplanes and Airstreams is inevitable. The design of the trailer was inspired by an airplane. Some of the materials are similar. We can learn from airplanes and adopt the things that will work for a trailer.

As for the bathroom counter, I have re-caulked the space between the wall and the counter twice and it keeps coming apart. Perhaps the wall should be bolted to the wall just below the countertop. It is obvious the wall moves differently than the cabinet. I think the movement is at least partially caused by the expansion/contraction cycle during the winter.

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Old 06-23-2012, 09:13 AM   #151
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I would like to see Airstream do what some of the small aircraft manufacturers do, sell the trailer in a kit form. In the aircraft industry, they are considered experimental, non certified. It would be nice to be able to purchase the outer shell in one piece. If you wanted to buy their frame you could, but I would make my own. There is a lot of talent on this forum and it is more work to take down an old trailer and do a shell off restoration than it is to build a new one.
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Old 06-23-2012, 11:04 AM   #152
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Interesting... after an exhaustive orientation by the dealership, complete with checklists, notes, photographs, and an overnight stay in the Airstream before we signed the papers, keeping the fan on while showering wasn't mentioned. Realizing that not all dealerships are created equal, I feel fortunate to have one that excelled in their thoroughness.
Silver Ranger, I meant they did not elaborate the corrosion/condensation issue. My dealer also put me through an extensive walk-through -- they actually did it twice because I was pathetic.


Quote:
I have a friend who works for Alaska Air as an aviation mechanic. The scheduled maintenance on a plane is as described by Fly dictated by the factory. In this case Boeing. Alaska flies Boeing exclusively, except maybe on some small commuters. The planes DO leak, some like the older 737's leak badly. These leaks present problems as the water freezes at 35,000 ft and adds weight to the plane. The maintenance on this fleet is intentional and constant. I've seen some of the maintenance checklists and they are comprehensive, model specific and sometimes even specific to a particular plane.
Dan, WestJet is the same. They only fly the Boeing-737. However, they got rid of all their older planes and replaced them with the 737NG series. This improved series will save the airline money on fuel and maintenance in the long run - plus they have an increased passenger capacity. I believe the series is not model specific in regards to maintenance. I know my friend can fly the 600/700/800 models w/o having to be typed for each.


Quote:
The comparison between airplanes and Airstreams is inevitable. The design of the trailer was inspired by an airplane. Some of the materials are similar. We can learn from airplanes and adopt the things that will work for a trailer.
Gene, that's exactly what I was trying to say. How many times have you heard "Made from material developed for NASA?" It could even be something like a frying pan. Anything made for aerospace is "top of the world" - pun intended. If it works for aerospace and is cost effective- it would more than work on a trailer!

Quote:
I would like to see Airstream do what some of the small aircraft manufacturers do, sell the trailer in a kit form. In the aircraft industry, they are considered experimental, non certified.
M2HB, umm....I have seen a few of those "non-certified" homebuilt airplanes. Thank cripes Transport Canada has a rule - it has to be written on the side of the airplane.

Whoever gets into one of those has a lot of guts! The "inventiveness" of the builders often makes me laugh, i.e. a plastic garden chair with the legs cut off became the pilot seat. (Well, it is light weight).
These "non-certifiable" airplanes often get donated to the vintage-aviation club I am associated with (or sometimes just the kit) by these wannabee Lindberghs: "My wife told me if I get into this, she's leaving."

Sorry for going off course (again). I can't help myself. A kit for Airstreams might work - although I would never attempt it.
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Old 06-23-2012, 12:51 PM   #153
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One of the last jobs I did was a seismic upgrade and line addition to the Boeing 4-20 building in Renton. This was done to upgrade the building which sits on the shore of Lake Washington and predates WW-2. All of this work was done so Boeing could begin production on the 737 Posidon. It was a difficult job.

My point being....... I worked all over the building for more than two years. I was able to observe assembly and finish work from start to finish. The amount of manual labor put into one of these jets is considerable. These planes are largely hand built, much like your AS. The jigs, work stations, assembly points, riveting etc. are mostly done with 10 fingers. Lots of the assembly equipment has been around for years and is still in use. Not much rocket science here, just a well paid, well trained workforce that is dedicated to quality and a serious QC program that works in conjunction with engineering and production to insure the build is perfect. This kind of culture has made airline safety and quality a given.

What does this say about the argument of hand built quality vs mass production? And don't tell me that airplanes NEED to be safer. I want my AS to be safe as well when I'm flying down the road at 70mph.

Hand built does not mean you need to expect flaws or poor construction. Your and my expectations and money largely dictate the kind of product we get. I'm very satisfied so far but.......wary, and I shouldn't have to be.

I'm done for now, but I will be back.

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Old 06-23-2012, 12:52 PM   #154
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I believe at one time Airstream would sell shells with frames for those who wanted to outfit them. I think it would have to have a subfloor too to make it last through shipping. I don't think they do that anymore. I think if they did, their lawyers would have comprehensive waivers of liability stapled to the subfloor. Electrical would be installed because wires go between the skins. Whether it came with windows is another question—they strengthen the shell.

If you had the shell, frame and subfloor, would you then remove the inner skin and upgrade insulation, seals, subfloor?

A better kit would be the skins and maybe the frame and ribs unassembled for you to build.

Since you could not get the appliances, water tanks, etc., at the cost Airstream can get them at, your expenses might be too high even if you build your own cabinets and partitions. But some people would do it including restoration companies wanting to build specially appointed Airstreams. Large companies such as Ford, Chrysler, GM and others supply partially built trucks for Class and A and C MH's, and make money at it. The modifications done by people who buy kits could be useful for Airstream to generate ideas for Airstream built trailers. Research for modifications would be done by these individuals and companies at no cost to Airstream except for Airstream to follow the process and adopt what makes sense.

Schu is at the WBCCI International Rally and is reading the thread, but is understandably busy and can't reply.

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