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Old 11-21-2009, 09:03 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the responses everyone. I know that when looking at 1970's Airstreams that the body won't be perfect, but it would be nice not to have any major dents or impressions. One thing I hadn't thought about if a panel was replaced, is that it would stand out compared to the other panels unless the whole thing was polished.

As far as the stripe going all the way around, from what I have seen I believe only the Excella models during the 70's have a stripe that goes the entire length. This model is a 1978s and looks like the other 78's I have seen, with the exception that it has a window in the door. The window in the door seemed like a nice feature, but I imagine that could be added later to a trailer without one if desired.

I guess I will hold off on this one since it may need the panel replaced, and since the new panel would stand out terribly compared to the others. Ordinarily I have been overlooking Airstreams with dents larger than a baseball, but this one caught my eye because of the door with the window. However, I guess I'd rather have to deal with adding a window than deal with a dented panel. Also, there seem to be quite a few older 31-foot Airstreams for sale within a 1/2 to full days drive from me. The problem is finding one with the right layout (and price)--bath in the middle instead of the rear. I am using CraigsHelper, which has saved A LOT of time. Thanks again for all the feedback and suggestions!
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Old 11-21-2009, 09:58 AM   #16
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Thanks for all the responses everyone. I know that when looking at 1970's Airstreams that the body won't be perfect, but it would be nice not to have any major dents or impressions. One thing I hadn't thought about if a panel was replaced, is that it would stand out compared to the other panels unless the whole thing was polished.

As far as the stripe going all the way around, from what I have seen I believe only the Excella models during the 70's have a stripe that goes the entire length. This model is a 1978s and looks like the other 78's I have seen, with the exception that it has a window in the door. The window in the door seemed like a nice feature, but I imagine that could be added later to a trailer without one if desired.

I guess I will hold off on this one since it may need the panel replaced, and since the new panel would stand out terribly compared to the others. Ordinarily I have been overlooking Airstreams with dents larger than a baseball, but this one caught my eye because of the door with the window. However, I guess I'd rather have to deal with adding a window than deal with a dented panel. Also, there seem to be quite a few older 31-foot Airstreams for sale within a 1/2 to full days drive from me. The problem is finding one with the right layout (and price)--bath in the middle instead of the rear. I am using CraigsHelper, which has saved A LOT of time. Thanks again for all the feedback and suggestions!
New panels, contrary to opinion, "do not" stand out from the rest of the trailer.

The aluminum is the same.

But, what does make a huge difference in appearance, is the clearcoat or plasticote as it's called.

The clear paint, takes on an satin appearance, in time. Therefore placing a new panel next to the trailer, makes one think, "wow" what a difference.

However, if the old dead clearcoat was removed, then the owner would quickly see, that there in fact is no difference, in the metal.

Simply put, what you see, "IS NOT" what you got.

This issue has been around Airstream for over 40 years.

Plasticotes life is about 5 years, and then begins to flake off the metal, especially in areas that are stressed. During that life span, the plasticote slowly, but surely, takes on an opaque appearance.

Replacing segments is not a difficult task, but one must know how to do it and have the proper tools.

The basic instructions are to lengthy to post here, but are reasonably outlined in the service manuals.

The most difficult part, is shearing the "blind" rivets, that most owners don't believe even exists, but they are there, and are on every Airstream ever built.

Andy
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:01 AM   #17
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My two cents: If I had been the one who made the dent, then it would bother me immensely, as it would have been me doing something stupid and living with the reminder. However since it was not, I would accept it as a beauty spot and would not have any problem being the benefactor or having the price substantially reduced (over having a non-dented one). Provided there is no leak.

But I note that what looks like the sewer connection is on the curb (patio) side of the trailer. If that is the case then I would not want the trailer.

Pat
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:06 AM   #18
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My two cents: If I had been the one who made the dent, then it would bother me immensely, as it would have been me doing something stupid and living with the reminder. However since it was not, I would accept it as a beauty spot and would not have any problem being the benefactor or having the price substantially reduced (over having a non-dented one). Provided there is no leak.

But I note that what looks like the sewer connection is on the curb (patio) side of the trailer. If that is the case then I would not want the trailer.

Pat
Pat.

That cap, is on the end of a "sewer hose carrier," that's on many Airstreams.

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Old 11-22-2009, 08:25 AM   #19
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Just curious...what do the panels look like once the clearcoat is removed? Sounds like they look good.... I am just trying to figure out why the clearcoat is put on the panels to start with, especially if it starts to wear off in about 5 years?

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However, if the old dead clearcoat was removed, then the owner would quickly see, that there in fact is no difference, in the metal.
Andy
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Old 11-22-2009, 08:49 AM   #20
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Body Buddy Vacu-Dent Pneumatic Dent Puller

This tool does wonders for dent removal. I tried it on a dent like the one in the picture. We used a body hammer and tapped around the edge as we pulled and the dent was nearly invisable. It took about 5 minutes to do.
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Old 11-22-2009, 08:57 AM   #21
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Several thoughts..

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Originally Posted by transy416 View Post
Just curious...what do the panels look like once the clearcoat is removed? Sounds like they look good.... I am just trying to figure out why the clearcoat is put on the panels to start with, especially if it starts to wear off in about 5 years?
Good question~
It was, I believe, an attempt to keep the Airstream trailer looking nice long after the original purchased.
At one time, I saw where the cost was less than 100$ to do a clear coating job at the factory. This was before the EPA got into the act and, made it tough for the factory to complied with their crazy standards, regulations, etc.
Given that the cost was minimum, it wasn't that big of a deal to have it re-applied when needed.
Of course today, It's not that cost effective and, the main reason most owners will either forgo the process or will opt to polish.
On to the question of replacement of the panels cost.
Andy is right, as usual.
I think you'll find the total cost to be higher for that over all job.
Is it worth that much to you? There has to be any number of other units out there that are better choices for your dollars. Trust me, they do exist~
I would let someone else deal with this problem and continue my search.
How long ago was this damaged and, has water been coming in the patch, etc..
There could be all kinds of other issues that you would exposed to fixing.
Just my 2 cents..
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Old 11-22-2009, 09:13 AM   #22
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That's impressive. I'll have to remember that for the future. Hopefully I won't ever need it, but good to know...

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Originally Posted by Shacksman View Post
Body Buddy Vacu-Dent Pneumatic Dent Puller

This tool does wonders for dent removal. I tried it on a dent like the one in the picture. We used a body hammer and tapped around the edge as we pulled and the dent was nearly invisable. It took about 5 minutes to do.
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Old 11-22-2009, 09:17 AM   #23
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Thanks for the history lesson on the panels. Sounds like the way to go is to forego the clearcoat altogether to avoid the mess.

I agree...there are a number of units out there, so I will just wait for something better.

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Good question~
It was, I believe, an attempt to keep the Airstream trailer looking nice long after the original purchased.
At one time, I saw where the cost was less than 100$ to do a clear coating job at the factory. This was before the EPA got into the act and, made it tough for the factory to complied with their crazy standards, regulations, etc.
Given that the cost was minimum, it wasn't that big of a deal to have it re-applied when needed.
Of course today, It's not that cost effective and, the main reason most owners will either forgo the process or will opt to polish.
On to the question of replacement of the panels cost.
Andy is right, as usual.
I think you'll find the total cost to be higher for that over all job.
Is it worth that much to you? There has to be any number of other units out there that are better choices for your dollars. Trust me, they do exist~
I would let someone else deal with this problem and continue my search.
How long ago was this damaged and, has water been coming in the patch, etc..
There could be all kinds of other issues that you would exposed to fixing.
Just my 2 cents..
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Old 11-22-2009, 10:18 AM   #24
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Just curious...what do the panels look like once the clearcoat is removed? Sounds like they look good....
They can look good - I've seen several trailers that were stripped but never polished that look great! However, one thing that can happen with failing clearcoat that has been failing for twenty years or so is that the exposed aluminum will oxidize - at different rates. This will give a splotchy look to the aluminum - that which failed first will be more oxidized than that that failed more recently. Striping the clearcoat does not alleviate this problem - polishing does. If you happen to find one that the clearcoat has just begun to fail - but is still somewhat intact, stripping it without polishing can look great! Our '64 had failed clearcoat (which cost $19 as an option when new) and the oxidized effect remained once stripped - I think the splotchy oxidized aluminum kinda looked cool...with the lighting "just right"...



Before stripping:



Spray on stripper:



Wipe off stripper:



After stripping:



After polishing:


...Although it looks much better now that it's been polished. Another option is to polish it once and then allow it to oxidize evenly over time ~

Shari
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:05 AM   #25
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Just curious...what do the panels look like once the clearcoat is removed? Sounds like they look good.... I am just trying to figure out why the clearcoat is put on the panels to start with, especially if it starts to wear off in about 5 years?
When the clearcoat is removed, the metal almost looks as good as the day the trailer was built.

The clearcoat is a protective coating, so that the metal does not oxidize. However, the paint itself, does not wear off, but when aged out, it flakes off, which starts typically in 5 to 6 years.

The clearcoat does not have a UV guard in the formula. If it did, the clearcoat would not be clear. The UV guard, would prolong the clearcoats life.

Automotive clear is great stuff. But, it can only be applied to a paint. If a person applied it on their Airstream, in a couple of months you could peel it off, like a sheet of plastic, since it's not designed to adhere to metal.

Refinishing an Airstream today, using the older clearcoat, costs about $100.00 per foot, or more, depending on details. Not cheap, like the good ole days.

The newest clearcoat, seems to be holding it's own, in terms of life.

The newest clearcoat, "cannot" be applied in the field. Airstream, in fact, cannot apply it, even at the factory.

Andy
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:13 AM   #26
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When the clearcoat is removed, the metal almost looks as good as the day the trailer was built.
Sorry Andy, I have to disagree with you on this with vintage trailers. When the clearcoat fails, the aluminum oxidizes, the longer the unprotected aluminum is exposed to the elements, the more it oxidizes. It does not "look as good as the day the trailer was built" unless you take the clearcoat off before the surface of it is compromised and the layered oxidation begins. Yes, the milkiness of old clearcoat is removed, but the splotchy oxidation that may have occurred will remain.

Shari
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:16 AM   #27
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Sorry Andy, I have to disagree with you on this with vintage trailers. When the clearcoat fails, the aluminum oxidizes, the longer the unprotected aluminum is exposed to the elements, the more it oxidizes. It does not "look as good as the day the trailer was built" unless you take the clearcoat off before the surface of it is compromised and the layered oxidation begins. Yes, the milkiness of old clearcoat is removed, but the splotchy oxidation that may have occurred will remain.

Shari
Shari.

Your correct.

I should have added that the metal looks great, "unless" part of the clearcoat has fallen off, and exposed the raw metal to the atmosphere, which then, slow but sure, oxidation sets in, which will discolor the metal.

Andy
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:34 PM   #28
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Thanks for including those pics and the link to stripping/polishing, Shari. The trailer looks great, especially after polishing. I'm also surprised at how much of a difference just stripping alone has.

Also, thanks Shari and Andy for the information about the clearcoat and oxidation. I guess when getting a 70's model there isn't much likelihood of finding one that has experienced oxidation at similar rates, but I am sure some will be better than others. Again, thanks for the help.
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