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Old 03-05-2012, 07:32 AM   #1
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2004 31' Classic
McHenry , Maryland
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 9
Soon to be 'Streamers'

We put our 40' motorhome up for sale last night. Why? Well, returning from Florida last week we had to stop at an RV center for a repair (another one!) - the dealer turned out to have Airstream trailers, so we decided to take a gander at these alien transports. We were very surprised to say the least! We had always bypassed the Airstreams in favor of big, luxurious, over-stuffed money pits (after two 40 footers, we know!). So soon we will be owners of a "space ship".

I am retired and my wife will be soon (very soon) and we plan on traveling 4 to 6 months of the year. After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of repair and fuel bills ($4.25/Gal for diesel!) we decided to simplify. Sure there will be maintenance on an Airstream, but with diligence and these forums to help, how bad can it be? When we consider that our 7 year bumper-to-bumper extended service agreement cost $5,000 and it has paid out almost $20,000 in 4 years, and faced with it's expiration in 2 1/2 years, it was a no-brainer. Only one engine (TV), no slideouts, simple plumbing, tires that don't cost $720 each, and on and on. We really liked what we saw, so now we are educating ourselves, and look forward to our first Airstream.

We have a ton of questions, but we'll start with the dealer, then search the forums, but I'm sure we'll need to ask for advice here.

Well, I do have one question which so far I've not found an answer to:

The dealer, when asked about maintenance issues with the aluminum exterior, said that Airstream is now using an aluminum which is "impregnated" with a sealer instead of just being a coating on the finished panel. His implication was that other than cleaning and waxing, the shiny finish is permanent and would never dull. Alcoa doesn't seem to acknowledge this and I can't find details here or on other sites I've queried. Any thoughts/answers? Or is the dealer blowing smoke?

Thanks much for the welcome,

Chuck & Carol

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Old 03-05-2012, 08:04 AM   #2
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The newer Airstream exterior now comes with a clear coat that is baked on by Alcola. The interior skin has the same coating. Eariler trailers had something similar called Plasticoat.

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Old 03-05-2012, 08:10 AM   #3
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
St. Cloud , Minnesota
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Hello Chuck & Carol - welcome to the forum!

Boaters & flyers are accustomed to the "hole in the water/air into which you throw money" saying. I'm sure it's been applied to RVers too. But we have such a simpler fascination, eh?

Sounds like your salesperson is being a bit general on facts. Current airstreams have a very lightly milled aluminum surface onto which a two-part plastic clearcoat has been applied by Alcoa. Cleaning and care follows what you would do to a modern auto finish - mild soap and a good wax or poly finish.

That being said, no, this surface is not bulletproof. Gravel will ding it. Branches on trees and bushes as you back into campsites may scratch it. I'll want to see proof over time on whether it can stand up to UV radiation 24/7 after years and years parked outside. The most annoying issue can vary randomly between units - filiform corrosion mining between the clearcoat and underlying metal. This tends to be seen emanating from some sheet edges or rivet penetrations. I see hints that Alcoa & Airstream have tried to get their minds around this but there is not a lot of public acknowledgement. I'm certain they're trying their best and making any incremental improvements they can.

A word about our search function -- you will get a huge number of search hits to cull through if you use more than one search word. Just enter 'filiform' in our search field on the overhead toolbar and you'll get plenty of reading. We tend to baby our Safari -- stored under cover and wash it well after any salt exposure. We don't have any filiform on the Alcoa surfaces but do have some under plasticoat on cast surfaces (door handle, taillights, wheels).

When you read about it, ignore the walbernize treatment on modern Airstreams - that was intended for the older bare or plasticoated coaches. Many many threads discuss care of clearcoated Airstreams. Here are a couple:
Let us know what you decide.

5 meter Langford Nahanni

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Old 03-05-2012, 08:13 AM   #4
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2011 31' Classic
Nellysford , Virginia
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Chuck & Carol,
YAY for you! Welcome to the family. Many will help you here. From what I've learned here in less than a year as an AS owner, the exterior topcoat is pre-bonded to the aluminum. Our 1999 has been a dream to care for and looks brand new.
Linda Heuer. President Shen. Valley Unit
Greg Heuer, 2nd VP Shen. Valley Unit
2011 31' Classic Ltd. - The Silver Otter III
2013 GMC Denali 2500HD 6.6 DuraMax - Sierra Blanca
TAC VA-18 | WBAC 1927 - Shen. Valley Unit 149 | AIR 53869
with Corey, the Norwegian Forest Cat
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:27 AM   #5
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2010 25' FB International
Mobile , Alabama
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Chuck and Carol,
Welcome to the Airstream family. We are all so proud of our AS whether it is a vintage from the 60s or a brand new one fresh off the assembly line. I'm sure you will enjoy yours as well! Hope to have the opportunity to meet you somewhere down the road!
Bettye & Harry
WBCCI #10360
Member Southeastern Camping Unit
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