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Old 02-01-2010, 05:44 PM   #29
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Yes! I mean No!, Wait a minute. What was the first question?

The frame looks okay for its age. If you find areas with lots of missing metal you will want to do something about it. Otherwise, just get to it with a wire wheel and a drill, etc. I used jasco rust-convertor on my frame before priming and painting it, and it worked really well. Inspect the welds for poor workmanship as well as rust. My frame had holes blown in it by the welder at the time it was made.

Carry on, it looks like all the rest of them.

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My intent from the beginning was to refurbish it, but that didn't include doing major frame work. What I now want to know is does this look like I need to deal with frame repair? Is this much rust normal for a 30 year old Airstream?
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:01 PM   #30
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Do I need to treat the rust or just make sure no more water gets in? The reason I ask is because I would need to remove the belly pan to get at all of it. I am willing to do this if it is absolutely necessary. Just was hoping if I prevent any future rust, then the current state of the frame could be let alone. Thoughts on that?
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:03 PM   #31
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Just for reference - Our 1979 looked similar to yours at the rear when we got it last summer. A little less flaking but probably as many pits in the metal. The front sides looked better on ours but we didn't have much of a leak anywhere else except the rear.

First thing we did after polishing was to make sure that all of the leaks were fixed. The bumper leaked in a number of areas (inside the trunk, between the trunk roof and base of the camper walls, along the top edges of the frame rails, etc.). There is a good thread on that call "Inexplicable Bumper Design" that helped me find all of these spots.

After the leaks were gone, I hit the frame with a drill wired brush to get back to metal all over the exposed frame where rust appeared, hit it with a good spray primer and then paint. The rust was only at the far ends of the frame rails and the bottom next to the bellypan/wraps. I think the bumper on ours was leaking for quite some time and water didn't have a quick exit.

The worst of it (before shot). The junk in the pan was rotted pieces of wood:


The worst of the pitting is shown here. Look at the base of the top, horizontal frame rail. The pitting on the bottom of this rail extends outside to the end under the bumper:


You can see the pitting extended to the outside (right side frame rail). Again, we wire brushed and primed, then painted it here.
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:42 PM   #32
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Best thing is to remove the belly pan and get all of the rust out of there. You can't keep water out of the belly and shouldn't try to. The idea is to make your frame as rust-proof as possible. It doesn't help to put the fiberglass insulation back in when you fix this. I would go to sheet polyurethane with closed cell structure, or a radiant barrier. Just nothing that will hold water. Do use a rust convertor. Primer and paint alone do not do the same job.

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Do I need to treat the rust or just make sure no more water gets in? The reason I ask is because I would need to remove the belly pan to get at all of it. I am willing to do this if it is absolutely necessary. Just was hoping if I prevent any future rust, then the current state of the frame could be let alone. Thoughts on that?
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:23 PM   #33
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Bowmans, thanks for the post. Sanding, priming and painting seems like it would help. The only problem is that it appears there is rust where the frame meets the belly pan almost everywhere. Some of the pics I took are me looking down under the subfloor sections I have not pulled up. I may just suck it up and attempt to drop the belly pan and do this right.

On another note, Bowmans. I looked at your posts and pics and you are doing everything I want to do to mine. I may pick your brain later. Your trailer looks beautiful!
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:25 PM   #34
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Best thing is to remove the belly pan and get all of the rust out of there. You can't keep water out of the belly and shouldn't try to. The idea is to make your frame as rust-proof as possible. It doesn't help to put the fiberglass insulation back in when you fix this. I would go to sheet polyurethane with closed cell structure, or a radiant barrier. Just nothing that will hold water. Do use a rust convertor. Primer and paint alone do not do the same job.

Rich the Viking
Thanks for your advice. I agree with you on this. Pulling that belly pan off makes me nervous. I feel like I might be getting in over my head with that. Although, I'm already starting to feel that way now!
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Old 02-01-2010, 11:04 PM   #35
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It's not a question of what is "normal" but is the strength of the frame compromised?

Generally speaking surface rust does not take away strength but holes rusted through, does. But even then a few small holes will not ruin the frame if they are not in a critical area.

In your case it looks as though you can clean the rust off and paint the frame even though the edges are eaten away in a few areas.

Paint with a rust killing paint lik POR 15 or Rustoleum. If you use Rustoleum give at least 2 coats for complete protection.

It would be best if you could take off the belly pan for complete access, however I understand why you do not want to do this. Do the best you can to get complete paint coverage.
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:16 AM   #36
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From what I've seen you are fortunate - full-time occupied and slight black water seepage acids make iron vanish anywhere within 5-8 feet of the leak, trailers located near the ocean for any lengthy period of time have wind-blown salt that disappear iron everywhere, towing the trailer in the snow belt on roadways messy and wet with ice-melt chemicals make it all grow crystals for years and years afterward.

Unless there are surprises hidden by the belly pan sheet metal it looks like its good to paint.

You are wise to recognize the belly pan and wraps are getting complicated but you don't have to take them all off at once, folks have dropped half a pan sheet and repaired above it, reattached the sheet and then dropped the other half. Same thing with the wraps, if you do it the side pieces at same time as belly sheet the morale boost of seeing it go back together before continuing further is great.

The factory frame paint on my trailer was an waxy asphalt base and something akin to creosote. In the protected subfloor area in front of the axles where it was fresh and clean I covered it with two coats of aerosol flat black Rustoleum.

I used POR-15 to spot the rusted bottom edges, anywhere aluminum would contact the iron, and POR-15 everywhere outside the ladder frame and behind the axles... I would not consider using anything else, just have the prep work done, brush on two coats, three where it looks rough, and it is armor plated for another 30 years. Honestly POR-15 is " paint over rust fifteen " - get rid of the top rust scale, wipe it down to get the rust dust off and paint. The only glitch with it is the waxy original frame paint will not allow it to bond well but then spot treating rust spots with POR-15 and over coating with Rustoleum is an easy fix...
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:22 PM   #37
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S

I used POR-15 to spot the rusted bottom edges, anywhere aluminum would contact the iron, and POR-15 everywhere outside the ladder frame and behind the axles... I would not consider using anything else, just have the prep work done, brush on two coats, three where it looks rough, and it is armor plated for another 30 years. Honestly POR-15 is " paint over rust fifteen " - get rid of the top rust scale, wipe it down to get the rust dust off and paint. The only glitch with it is the waxy original frame paint will not allow it to bond well but then spot treating rust spots with POR-15 and over coating with Rustoleum is an easy fix...

Interesting idea about dropping just parts of the belly pan at a time. If that makes the job easier, I am all for it. I think I will try a section to see how successful I am. I'm curious about your suggestion to use POR-15. Will Rustoleum alone not do the trick? Rustoleum is actually what the local Airstream shop (North Dallas RV) recommended.
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Old 02-02-2010, 03:48 PM   #38
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Rustoleum isn't as durable as POR-15, but I went with it anyway. At about 1/4 the cost, and locally available, it's a tough choice The most important thing is to get a rust convertor applied before you prime & paint. There are several kinds out there. I used Jasco convertor and rustoluem primer and paint. It comes in Fire Engine Red!


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Interesting idea about dropping just parts of the belly pan at a time. If that makes the job easier, I am all for it. I think I will try a section to see how successful I am. I'm curious about your suggestion to use POR-15. Will Rustoleum alone not do the trick? Rustoleum is actually what the local Airstream shop (North Dallas RV) recommended.
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Old 02-02-2010, 04:06 PM   #39
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The technology behind POR-15 is similar to what structural steel for highway overpasses and bridges are coated with; Aluthane is another good product along the same lines for about 1/3 less money. Either one you can't go wrong.

Hopefully without sounding like an advertisement... POR-15 is not undercut by rust, no filigree creep under the paint radiating outward from a chip or abrasion, no tree ear scallops of paint lifted and harboring moisture that make the neat little rust growth rings as the metal goes south, it simply welds itself into the metal pores and just sits there nearly inert. Great stuff. (Edit: I just looked out in the snow at my frame and am impressed still.)

Other folks think time is better spent using other products since the trailer will be sold off anyway or some other reasoning but I hope to have this airstream another thirty years. This summer will be 3 years and I have yet to see any flaw with the paint - just my application where I missed a air bubble in a pit or failed to wet down a crusty patch on an outrigger or a weld...

Beware the brand choice of 'rust converter' if you decide to go that way, at least one brand contains a plastic coating that can and will trap water underneath it and allow the coatings to fail by being undercut from any puncture to the film. There are places on my F-150 rear differential cover that are tin-foil thin from using the local speed shops converter product, I literally peeled off a dinner plate section of rust off it after coating it once it saw the first Minnesota winter...
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:12 PM   #40
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Frame Rust

I think AS made a mistake in not ventilating the area between the belly pan and the interior floor. Since virtually everything above the belly pan is metal it is subject to the thing called CONDENSATION. Which occurs virtually every time the temperature is at DEW POINT. You see this when your cars windshield is covered with ice or is wet from the morning dew. That same condensation forms on virtually every metal surface whether it is internal or not. The black water you see exiting the tail pipe on your vehicle is the condensation that forms inside the exhaust system and engine. It's not so much the exterior moisture that destroys the exhaust system as it is the interior moisture. When you don't run your vehicle long enough to dry down the exhaust system you get premature failure of the system because the acidic component of the moisture eats it away from the inside. This is what happens inside the belly of the beast so to speak. All be it a slower process on the trailer. WE vent the attic and crawl space on our homes to prevent this condensation build up even on wood surfaces. I have seen ice an inch and a half thick on the underside of a home roof that is made from wood, because of poor ventilation. There is a lot of moisture inside your home and if not ventilated especially in cold climates can destroy the structure. It's not just exterior leaks that cause wood to dry rot, it's the condesation forming on the metal surfaces that are in contact with the wood. Wood framed travel trailers are very susceptible to this action. That's my 2 cents worth.
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:32 PM   #41
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I've commented before on subfloor dew cycles - there is a limiting factor of a finite amount of water vapor available if the wrap/ band seam & the bumper trim is caulked correctly. Although the non-vented space may hold a higher humidity during some parts of the day, at other times being 'static air space' arrests the cavities from gaining more humidity that would condense out into live moisture.

As an example the vapor pressure of damp earth holding the morning and evening dew cycles at just the right height to be drawn into a vented subfloor section. Here in Minnesota anytime the ground is not frozen that humidity boost rusts my disc brake rotors overnight and generally wreaks havoc with any metal implements not kept in a controlled air space.
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Old 02-07-2010, 05:46 PM   #42
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Adwriter,
I am with you on not wanting to drop the bellypan. I may need to eventually but it seemed in great shape for 30 years old and really didn't need all of that just yet on ours. If you go that route, let us know how it went.

Thanks for the compliments on our trailer. Any questions you have on what we have done, feel free to ask. I took tons of photos and am just waiting on the snow to go away to try and finish the interior. The snow isn't cooperating much this year though...
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