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Old 12-14-2014, 12:37 PM   #1
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Fort Worth , Texas
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Used AS Purchase with Filiform Corrosion

We are looking at a used Airstream that has filiform along some of the riveted seams, around the lights, and spots here and there. I've read about as much as I can about filiform treatment and prevention. What we are not clear about is how does this corrosion affect the the seal between riveted panels? I'm okay with treating existing surface corrosion, but if the corrosion can compromise the seal between panels, then I'm very hesitate about going forward. Thanks in advance for guidance.

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Old 12-14-2014, 12:56 PM   #2
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You'll find posts galore and more than a couple of threads on filaform.

Bottom line, the stuff is cosmetic, and can be arrested.

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Old 12-14-2014, 01:19 PM   #3
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I would wonder what's going on where the riveted panels overlap in severe cases of this, and if could be entirely stopped under that overlap. Personally I would look for one that is clean.

The other persistent problem that should be a high priority before used purchase is wood rot in the plywood subfloor. It is near impossible to see because of the vinyl finish floor covering, but can be found by probing through the vinyl with a Moisture Test Meter. If the subfloor is wet there is a high probability it's rotted, even models a few years old.

If the seller tells you it has no leaks he most probably is not aware of it one way or the other, or is telling a fib.
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Old 12-14-2014, 01:34 PM   #4
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I've read a great many of the posts on this forum about filiform - and as many others, have a trailer with examples!

But I don't recall anyone expressing concerns that it is causing leakage at seams, general it is considered a cosmetic issue.

Most people treat it by carefully scraping away flaking clearcoat and the whitish corrosion with a small craft knife or similar and then carefully clear coating the area with a clear coat touch up pen You can also apply anti-corrosion products such as Boeshield or Corrosion X or other.

I'm not sure if you can apply clear coat touch up after having applied these products
though - I wouldn't think so, I would guess you just re-apply from time to time, I have nt tried them.

I have so far not found a way to make an invisible repair. I have tried various touch up silver or aluminum paints but never found a good match - I now just scrape to good aluminum and then clear coat. At least it stops things from getting worse.

I don't think you would need worry about the filiform causing seam leaks but if there were any they should be easily remedied with "wicking" products such as
"Capt. Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure" or "Acryl-R"

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Old 12-20-2014, 10:05 PM   #5
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I can attest that it is mostly cosmetic. I have one with filiform. Just yesterday I was noticing new spots especially around the teardrop running lights. I will also share that I looked at new ones with filiform starting at the Tampa Supershow. I have looked at where my unit has it and deduced that it is spots where moisture sits or has access to the edges of the aluminum- even around some rivets.

It is a surface issue where moisture has gotten underneath the coating on the aluminum. It does not cause holes or crack seals. It just doesn't look nice. In most cases I believe that those who live in humid climates or in salt air, get to see this with more abundance.

The issue that dkottum mentions, the floor, is of greater concern.
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Old 12-21-2014, 04:56 AM   #6
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Cosmetic only, try to get reduced price on purchase. Jim
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Old 12-21-2014, 05:34 AM   #7

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Welcome Aboard!

My understanding is....the coating has to be compromised and the surface exposed to air and moisture. Little chance of that if the seam has not separated.
How bad it could get if left untreated is hard to say, treat and seal it.


My experience has been....

AS's come from the factory with the coating compromised, some worse than others.
Filiform will appear at those areas, once treated and maintained the only new formations will be at new areas of clear coat damage, (scratches, chips,seam peeling). Those areas can be taken care of with a good maintenance routine.

On our Classic new occurrences have slowed dramatically after the initial outbreak.
Almost nothing in the last 5 years.

Good Luck

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Old 12-26-2014, 09:20 AM   #8
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My friend buy one with this problem ... filiform corrosion...

you can only try to stop it but nothing you can do to fixe it

this is only consmetic

He own it for few year now but nothing happend ... its the same but he wash it and clean it often ... for sure

good luck
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Old 12-29-2014, 06:57 AM   #9
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Used AS Purchase with Filiform Corrosion

I went over to see the AS again yesterday thinking about this thread. In my relatively short time of ownership, I have noticed all kinds of cosmetic "issues" after returning from trips. Example, a few trips back, I was in a wooded area- nice spot. I remember the bird sound nearing dusk like a jungle. The trees above were apparently a favored roosting spot. When I got home a week later, I had bird droppings all over my AS. Some actually left a slight discoloration. Last trip a squirrel was teasing my cat romping across the awning and running across the roof. It jumped to a nearby tree. The crazy thing did this several times. Later I found scratches on the side just under the roof rail where it was jumping that I thought was so funny at the time.

The point is that I have really only started using this camper these past few years and firsthand see how simple things cause minor damage, things that would put me over the edge if I worried about scratches,etc. That is similar to how I view this filiform issue- like paint fade on a car. I don't like it but as I have shared even with pictures of new ones with filiform, I have come to consider it part of the character of use.

As to your decision, look it over. Mine was frightening looking when I bought it. I posted picks of the filiform and some forum members were freaked out. The good thing though is that it was mostly concentrated at the belt line and I was able to heavily seal it then add belt line trim. I would warn others though that I now understand why Airstream adds the trim now and I guarantee it is not sealed comparatively speaking. My sales guy said to me after getting past the rhetoric and I started looking at other models, "I would really consider that Safari because if nothing else, you can enjoy camping for "less in" and sell it for about what you paid in a few years. It is solid in spite of some rough edges." Now after about $3000 in maintenance and $7000 in upgrades (most things I would want even in a new trailer) It is a nice coach even with some travel scars!

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