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Old 02-02-2003, 08:38 PM   #1
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Alcoa Finish

What's the difference between the Alcoa finish and the Airstream finish?

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Carl & Cheryl
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Old 02-02-2003, 08:57 PM   #2
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Question Finish?

I'm curious where you heard the term Alcoa vs Airstream finish. Alcoa finish implies to me the factory smooth but unpolished material, while the Airstream finish may include some degree of polishing and coating of clearcoat. Perhaps if anyone has had the AS factory tour they can shed some light on this.
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Old 02-02-2003, 11:12 PM   #3
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The main difference is the Alcoa finish is applied to the panels at the Alcoa factory prior to the raw materials bing sent to Airstream. This allows for tremendous control of application and curing of the finish to make it last. This change was made to remedy the clearcoat failures that were a major quality control issue for the last 15 or so years. My understanding is that the trailers are now built and shipped. There is no clearcoat or Airstream finish applied at the Factory.
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Old 02-03-2003, 08:07 AM   #4
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I think that change to the prefinished panels occurred with either the 1999 or 2000 model year.

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Old 02-03-2003, 05:57 PM   #5
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The Alcoa aluminum sheets come with a rollcoated PPG finish that is applied in two coats , first a wash coat for cleaning and adhesion and the finish coat . This is done in a temperature controlled environment for proper curing. It is a harder finish than the typical clear coating ( sprayed on finish).
I believe strip and recoating is still performed at the factory for pre 1999 trailers. Trailers built with last six digits higher than 512600 should have new PPG finish.
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Old 02-03-2003, 06:14 PM   #6
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Cheryl,

please check your private messages.

also, from the user cp, you can change your setting so an email notification is sent to you when you have a PM.

John
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Old 02-04-2003, 07:30 AM   #7
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But how is it holding up?

For those that have experience with the "newer" Alcoa finish, how has the performance been after a couple years now? Are there any early signs of the peeling, chipping, etc. issues with the older Plasticoat?
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Old 02-04-2003, 09:03 AM   #8
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Mine is still an infant in age but it shows no signs of any deterioriation so far. Now I have to preface that statement with the fact that my Safari lives in inside storage from November through March, and I also Walbernize it prior to going into winter storage. For all intents its pretty pampered.

I did see some pictures of a 1999 Safari that was looking pretty poor, I'll try to find it. That's why I'm not sure if the Alcoa protected panels were a 1999 feature or whether 2000 was the start year.

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Old 02-04-2003, 10:52 AM   #9
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My '01 Bambi has been exposed to the elements in Arizona, Colorado and California, being stored outside with no cover. I Walbernize it about every 4 months, or three times per year. So far the finish looks great, no signs of peeling. I met a '99 Safari owner at C&G Trailer last weekend, and he complained alot about the finish on his trailer as well as the "Airstream" and "Safari" graphics peeling.
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Old 02-04-2003, 03:06 PM   #10
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The Alcoa finish transition was made in mid 1999 for the 2000 model year, so there are trailers spanning both years. Unfortunately, I was not aware of the issue when I bought my new '99 25C, which was actually "birthed" in November of 1998 as a 1999 model, in January of 2000.

I wish I had known of the Plasticoat issue as I may have waited to get the Alcoa finish. I haven't had much trouble, except for one small spot. I Walbernize, but only twice a year as I live in a historic area of Minneapolis that does not leave much room on the street and I can't get it into my drive because of the old trees lining the road and my landscaping.

The rig is stored outdoors from May to October, then into dead storage in the horse barn at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (it's really cheap).
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Old 02-05-2003, 06:56 AM   #11
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You raise a good point regarding the real age of a trailer. This sometimes can be good and bad. I remember looking at a Safari on the dealers lot in Jan 2001. It had been built in July 2000. I decided that I wanted a new build trailer and placed an order in March. My trailer was built in mid April and came in the first of May. Part of my reasoning was wanting Fantastic Fans and a spare tire carrier. I wanted these added at build time rather than retrofit by the dealer.

The bad side of my order was the fact that Airstream did an alteration and the later 2001 units did not have front lights to illuminate the ground outside the front of the trailer. I would have liked that to have had those.

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Old 02-08-2003, 08:53 AM   #12
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Here's that picture of a '99 Safari, obviously displaying the scars of a peeling finish. I wonder if the owner has talked to A/S about this. BTW the picture is courtesy of the Vintage Airstream site and was taken at a rally in Estes Park Colo.

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Old 02-23-2003, 09:30 PM   #13
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Alcoa Finish

Our Safari is a '99, so it was birthed in '98. We just bought it, so we're not sure what kind of storage life it has experienced, although it was outdoors when we first saw it. To our untrained eyes, the finish looks pretty good, although it could really use a bath right now.

What should we do as far as maintaining the finish?
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Old 02-24-2003, 07:05 AM   #14
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Wablernize it once or twice a year with the Super Seal product. It will be as slick as glass.

www.walbernize.com

Jack
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