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Old 12-15-2011, 08:55 PM   #1
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1999 25' Safari
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Door Handle Peeling

The exterior door handle on my '76 Tradewind is peeling. I am not certain what the handle is made of, but it appears that it was painted or plated and it is now peeling off. Any suggestions on what I should use to repaint it? (sorry but I was not able to post my picture.)
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Old 12-16-2011, 02:58 PM   #2
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It's a pot-metal, or die-cast zinc alloy that might also contain traces of tin, magnesium, aluminum and other metals.

Since its a quick, low grade & cheap process the cast surfaces tend to be full of flaws and pits that will eventually ruin any plating applied to it.

Internal corrosion then undercuts the plating pretty quickly as we all see. It's especially susceptible to acids - and once it starts nothing can stop it completely. Then there's the hidden mechanical functions that could be weakening from die-cast construction, and if it's ain't broke don't fix it seems a really valid view on something old and fragile.

If one could remove the part, abrade away the oxidation crystals and metal whiskers, remove the borders of metal plating to expose fresh base metal, etch out the pits of corrosion, neutralize and rinse, oven bake 99.98% of the moisture trapped in it, then recoat or replate it...

I don't know but a couple of coats of POR-15 after careful preparation might extend its life a long time, filling and sanding then painting it a silver color and it may even be forgettable, but I do a good job of ignoring it already.
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Old 12-16-2011, 06:23 PM   #3
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Wabbiteer,
Thanks for your thorough response. I think I will just learn to live with it until it breaks.
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Old 12-16-2011, 07:24 PM   #4
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What I first thought to say got overlooked - there are no spare parts made or available except buying a wrecked trailer just for the door lock... So be gentle with it, tell your friends and family to be gentle with it, give it a boshield or other anti-corrosion treat like they do for the filliform shell corrosion and hope for the best....
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Old 12-16-2011, 08:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wabbiteer View Post
What I first thought to say got overlooked - there are no spare parts made or available except buying a wrecked trailer just for the door lock... So be gentle with it, tell your friends and family to be gentle with it, give it a boshield or other anti-corrosion treat like they do for the filliform shell corrosion and hope for the best....
There are currently plenty of parts, and even entire lock assemblies available at many Airstream dealers. The parts are not that expensive, but the cost of a new lock will knock your socks off.
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:53 AM   #6
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Were lock assemblies changed between my '72 and '73 by the 1976 Model Year?

How many times have I read Andy saying no parts are available and the entire assembly requires a retrofit with an after-thought, err... after-market kit?
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:24 AM   #7
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When we bought our trailer, the locking cylinder was missing and the entire handle quite corroded; the internal lock didn't work, either.

I've since then removed the lock from the door and freed up the mechanism and machined a new inside handle so we can lock the trailer door. The previous owner had added a crude galvanized outside hasp to allow him to lock the door (and prevent disaster on the freeway; the door shows signs of having opened en-route before). I've replaced that hasp with a small stainless marine one, but I still want to do something about this assembly when I'm done working on the more critical stuff.

My first inclination was to grab a big chuck of 6061 T6 and start whittling with the Bridgeport mill and replace the existing zinc casting with something machined from solid. On the other hand, the locking mechanism isn't that great, so perhaps another approach would work better... plenty of time to consider the alternatives.

- Bart
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