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Old 10-31-2011, 11:13 AM   #1
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Unity , Maine
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How much rust is too much?

Hi there,

My wife and I have been looking at Airstreams for a while now. We would like to get one from the 70s , prep it up a bit and live full-time in it.

We are not really Airstream experts yet, but we try to be as diligent as possible checking out the Airstreams using the checklist from this site.

We hardly come across Airstreams without any rust on the frame/hitch area. Browsing through the posts of replacing floors/lifting shells to get the frame back in order, we get a little scared buying a "lemon"...

So to make a long story short:

How much rust is too much rust? Can you kinda guess the frame condition by the parts which are visible or is it kinda a 50/50 chance if u dig deeper?

I attached some pics of one Airstream we consider buying. Any advice or help is welcome.

Thank you

Georgie
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:20 AM   #2
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Looks like mostly surface rust, and ANYTHING can be replaced, welded, riveted, or polished, as you will soon learn in the Airstream World.
Too much rust is when you can see the Oxygen on the other side of the metal. That's too much rust.
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:42 AM   #3
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The black tank area with those long-term salts & acids should be looked at closely, plus the electric ground pad & fresh city water inlet area is another place to look, the stray grounds etc. can chew up the iron pretty fast. Another place to gauge more of the frame is the step area.

For a little more confidence - sight down the shells sidewall, the wheel well area should not have pucker out more than 1/2" or so - and sighting along the trim seams should not show more than 1/2 to 3/4" droop front to rear.

Also - often the belly sheets will corrode around the rivets even to the point of just dropping off the rivets - kind of shows the long term exposure to the elements, acid rain, snow melt chemicals etc. there.

Use every cheat you can think of to view iron, peek in through the trunk locker, go to the inspection with aluminum rivets, rivet gun and a cordless drill and explore a little if the owners are agreeable...
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:28 PM   #4
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Rust is rust.

Any amount of it can be bad, depending on where it's at.

If the metal is used for strength, then the strength is weakened by the rust.

Andy
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sendaman View Post
Hi there,

My wife and I have been looking at Airstreams for a while now. We would like to get one from the 70s , prep it up a bit and live full-time in it.
Are you going to make a trailer into a park model and set it up on a site? Or travel the highways and byways?
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:29 PM   #6
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We definitely plan on traveling in it too, so it's not gona be set up permanently in a park.
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:48 PM   #7
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Then axles will be a big deal . . . bad frame will be a HUGE deal.
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Old 10-31-2011, 06:38 PM   #8
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It does not look like anything a can of POR 15 won't cure. It is the part above the skins where there might be some surprises. I would be more concerned about leaks around the rear of the trailer. This area is prime for floor rotting leaks that lead to frame separation and sagging rears. Old age can also cause saggin rears but not in your trailer.

Perry
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