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Old 08-14-2014, 06:18 PM   #1
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Yes, another Filaform thread

My new to me 2006 Safari has the dreaded filaform curse. Mainly it is on the the rear light housings. I have just spent the better part of an hour attempting to clean 1 sq inch. On the recommendation of the local Airstream dealership I used fine sandpaper, very fine steel wool and metal polish. Got most of the filaform off and somewhat polished. There has got to be a better way. There are literally thousands of post on this subject. Information overload. Does anyone have any helpful tricks to make this a bit easier job?
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:32 PM   #2
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I don't have any first hand experience with a tail light housing but I'd skip the steel wool. All you'll end up with is tiny bits of steel embedded in the housing which unsurprisingly will promote corrosion.
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Old 08-14-2014, 08:55 PM   #3
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Your tail light bezels need to be removed from the trailer, stripped and professionally polished on a wheel using bar based polishing compounds in ever finer grits. I did this to my then new '06 19CCD and they came out like chrome. Only needed a bit of polishing touch-up every now and then. Did the same to the rear bumper. The filliform showed up other places though, and remedial action was necessary there also, but you can't remove a skin panel to do what I did to the bezels.
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Old 08-14-2014, 09:07 PM   #4
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In addition to corrosion, the imbedded pieces of steel wool will rust. As a minimum, go to a marine store and get some bronze wool. And +1 for what Lewster says. You will never get them really clean unless you can get to the edges and you risk scratching the trailer finish unless you pull them. You can get a polishing wheel for one side of a two wheel grinder and the red and white polish compound bars will do a nice job. I've not done aluminum, but I did the stainless spokes of a boat steering wheel and they turned out great.

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Old 08-14-2014, 09:54 PM   #5
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I misspoke I actually used bronze wool left over from my boating days.
Lewster, I was hoping I would be able get by without pulling the housing. Guess that is what I will have to do to do the job right.
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:30 PM   #6
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Polishing aluminum is a lot like polishing silver. Having also been a custom goldsmith for the past 38 years, I have done a bit of wheel polishing.

My go to compounds after sanding to 2000 grit are brown tripoli followed by blue rouge. For aluminum, I use a middle buff of black rouge.

The sanding is done with 3M Trizact micro finish papers. Works wonders!


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Old 08-14-2014, 11:36 PM   #7
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I am afraid I always have to chuckle about steel wool imbedding itself into aluminum. Maybe I have no idea what people do with the stuff, but I have used steel wool on every surface imaginable, including lots of aluminum, and never had the supposed "imbedding" problem. Of course you wipe the item down after using steel wool and if you are really nervous, use a magnet to get the last possible crumbs. Sealing with wax or something similar afterwards is also a good idea, not because of rust, but because the aluminum can quickly oxidize under the wrong conditions.

If you use steel wool for polishing, the best is 0000 of a high quality like that from Liberon.

Of course, Lewster is right that the best is solution is a buffing wheel with the right compound(s).

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Old 08-16-2014, 09:03 AM   #8
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Did a little searching on the internet. I found several recipes for filaform removal. Most recommended vinegar and lemon juice. No lemons in the house so applied straight vinegar with a rag. It actually worked. Because the filaform is under the clear coat it lifts the clear coat and corrosion from the surface. It does not appear to effect non corroded sections. With a bit less effort it is easier to remove the corrosion. Next step is to begin polishing and touch up the clear coat. If it turns out bad I may still have to resort to removing the housings. Life is one big experiment. Some times we get it right and sometimes we have return to step one and try it again.
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Old 08-16-2014, 02:50 PM   #9
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Get some Nyalic! That is a plastic spray "clear coat"
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Old 08-16-2014, 03:09 PM   #10
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This whole discussion is pathetic. I'm sorry, but haven't we heard of documented cases where Thor replaced these items under warranty; They have de facto admitted fault for producing a defective product. Time we all put away the grinding wheels and polishers, toxic chemicals and join together to demand a fix for this crap. Sorry, but I'm sick and tired of those owners making excuses for a manufacturer's crappy product and proposing self fixes. Enough is enough. Would never recommend this product to ANYONE who wants to enjoy leisure travel. Its no fun "maintaining" a product that is self destructing.

So happy I have opted for a nice Class-B with a modicum of quality on par with high end automotive products. I'd like to think my Safari will still provide years of enjoyment for the younger members of my family, but they shouldn't have to put up with this crap either. Sure there is some maintenance on my Roadtrek, but nothing like what Airstream owners are putting up with. Lets start a thread about joining together to sue or at least advertise the fact that thor makes a defective product. If nothing else, maybe future owners will benefit.
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Old 08-16-2014, 03:12 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by cwf View Post
Get some Nyalic! That is a plastic spray "clear coat"
Why the heck does thor not treat the edges with this product prior to shipping?!
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Old 08-16-2014, 05:36 PM   #12
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Lets start a thread about joining together to sue or at least advertise the fact that thor makes a defective product. If nothing else, maybe future owners will benefit.
Rumor has it that there may have been confidential settlements with strict non-disclosures designed to protect the brand.
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Old 08-16-2014, 06:11 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Tomzstream View Post
This whole discussion is pathetic. I'm sorry, but haven't we heard of documented cases where Thor replaced these items under warranty; They have de facto admitted fault for producing a defective product. Time we all put away the grinding wheels and polishers, toxic chemicals and join together to demand a fix for this crap. Sorry, but I'm sick and tired of those owners making excuses for a manufacturer's crappy product and proposing self fixes. Enough is enough. Would never recommend this product to ANYONE who wants to enjoy leisure travel. Its no fun "maintaining" a product that is self destructing.

So happy I have opted for a nice Class-B with a modicum of quality on par with high end automotive products. I'd like to think my Safari will still provide years of enjoyment for the younger members of my family, but they shouldn't have to put up with this crap either. Sure there is some maintenance on my Roadtrek, but nothing like what Airstream owners are putting up with. Lets start a thread about joining together to sue or at least advertise the fact that thor makes a defective product. If nothing else, maybe future owners will benefit.
I did not start this thread as a platform to bash Airstream or to discuss law suits. But to get practical answers to my problem. Please feel free to start another thread if you wish.
Thank you,
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Old 08-16-2014, 06:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by cwf View Post
Get some Nyalic! That is a plastic spray "clear coat"
Thank you, I will check into that.
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