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Old 08-04-2016, 02:28 PM   #1
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Is it clear coat or clear film?

We are out on our summer camping trip and, having some idle time, I decided to stop at local Airstream repair place to ask questions about peeling clearcoat and filigree corrosion. The answers I got surprised me. I thought I would fact check with all you guys.

First. The "expert" said it was not a clearcoat like what we have on automobiles. Instead, he said it as thin film applied at the factory to the aluminum sheet. As such, it needs "special care"

Second. I asked about the corrosion. He calls it Aluminum "Cancer". He claimed nothing could be done about it except panel replacement which he said was very expensive. At least he had no remedy that he said is recommended by Airstream.

Third. The only treatment for the skin is to Walbernize. He claimed only that product is approved by Airstream and that it somehow penetrates the film to keep it supple and attached to the skin. I checked my manual, found no mention of Walbernize, and thought that Airstream said in there that a good polish/wax would help. He shook his head when I asked even about WD-40 on the skin.

I was just looking for some new "technique" for skin maintenance. He apparently felt that the Airstream HQ would not allow him to recommend any approach.

Now my trailer is a 2002 model, but do you know is there such a think as a film applied on skins instead of automotive type clearcoat?
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Old 08-05-2016, 06:45 AM   #2
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Clearcoat....done at the Alcoa Factory, before the build.

Alcoa and Airstream Travel Trailers

They are legendary American icons - traveling silver bullets jetting around highways across the land in search of a carefree adventure. The instantly recognizable Airstream Trailer has been a favorite among trailer owners since the 1930s, and thousands continue to be drawn to the classic aluminum design.
So when Airstream needed an environmentally-friendly way to treat the aluminum bodies of its trailers ensuring durability and enhancing the sheen, Airstream turned to Alcoa - the largest aluminum maker in the world.
Airstream had been applying its own see-through protection to enhance the trademark aluminum finish of the trailer, but new environmental regulations restricted the company's use of paints and lacquers because of the chemicals that are typically released.
Alcoa engineers had already patented a product for automotive trim parts that could be adapted to meet Airstream's needs for appearance, durability and environmental compliance. Using the Alcoa Business System principles, Alcoa engineers, research and development staff, and technicians crossed organizational boundaries and leveraged their knowledge to develop a system to apply clear coating to mill-finished aluminum sheet that met the Airstream standards.
Test after test, the system withstood every possible element. Alcoa had developed a solution that would save the day for Airstream - aluminum sheet packaged in coils and pre-painted with a clear coating that was thermally cured so the sun's ultraviolet rays could not degrade the polymer. No fading. No peeling. No cracking. Environmentally sound. And environmentally safe.
To prove the durability of Alcoa's solution, we set out our treated aluminum to bake under the sun in South Florida. Today - many years later - our coated aluminum continues to look as beautiful as the day it was set out in the salty, hot air of South Florida, enabling Airstream to continue to maintain the image of quality and design that it has for the past 70 years.
MOMA --NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Alcoa (NYSE:AA), a supplier of aluminum for Airstream trailers for nearly 50 years, today joined in honoring its customer as a 1963 Airstream Bambi has been selected as part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Alcoa has been supplying aluminum sheet to Thor Industries for its flagship brand Airstream recreation vehicles since the 1960s from its Lancaster, Pa., plant. And, Airstream trailers have been sporting Alcoa aluminum forged wheels for as long as they have been commercially available, starting in the 1970s.
“The Airstream trailer is one of the most recognized products in the world, characterized by its gleaming aluminum body design. We attribute our long standing business relationship with Airstream and Thor Industries to teamwork, quality service, and understanding the customer’s brand,” said Helmut Wieser, Alcoa Executive Vice President and Group President, Global Rolled Products and Hard Alloy Extrusions.

Filiform Corrosion

It can be controlled


Lots of folks use the Walberize and like it, IMHO... there are newer more effective options that last longer. (even sold the Airstream Store)

I use the sealing/wax products from Griot's Garage... I've found all their car care products to be first rate with great customer service.

Bob
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Old 08-06-2016, 12:05 PM   #3
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I want to "polish wax shine" my 2016 Flying Claoud. Can you give me names of products that are all about the same, non-sbrasive, that are used on the new finishes?
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Old 08-06-2016, 12:48 PM   #4
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We Airstreamers are a lot more creative than the dealers who sell them. Search filiform corrosion to understand the problem, and CorrosionX and Boeshield T9 to know the best corrosion prevention.

Wax/polish will not protect the shell panel edges and rivet holes from filiform, these are the part of the coated panels that have been compromised for fitting and assembly. I applied a thin line of clear acrylic felt tip pen to the exposed panel edges and treat the rivet holes with CorrosionX regularly by dabbing and wiping the rivets with it. Any nicks or scratches get a treatment of CorrosionX and clear acrylic touchup pen. Never had any corrosion anywhere since new to repair.
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Old 08-06-2016, 02:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trailer View Post
I want to "polish wax shine" my 2016 Flying Claoud. Can you give me names of products that are all about the same, non-sbrasive, that are used on the new finishes?
I've used Griots Paint Sealant until three Seasons ago, changed to the One Step after getting some minor "Rose Bush" scratches,(very very fine abrasive, no harm to the AS), it lasts & looks just as good.
Both sealants are very easy to apply & remove either by hand of with an orbital.

Oh...and don't laugh at the Spray-on Wax, I did until I tried it on the old Ford. Great for touch-up's on the AS.

Just used some of the Poly Wax on the DW's M-B, VERY impressed...will give it a try on the AS next spring.

POI....a little of these products goes a long way. Applying with an orbital on a red foam pad, three/four nickel sized spots will do a 5'x5' panel. I use blue painters tape to keep track of the boundaries.

Just my experience....Most all our filiform occurred in the first 3-4 years. Removed and sealed when discovered. Treated areas have not progressed.
Stone chips and scratches addressed as discovered, hopefully... before corrosion starts.
I do not "treat" any unaffected areas, no walber, CoroX, or BoeS, (Lazy I guess.)

TETO

Just the above products since the AS was new.



Bob
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Old 08-07-2016, 04:14 PM   #6
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Walbernize is all that goes on my trailer. It is fast & easy to use, protects the windows and the plastic parts. RCross - Thanks for the very detailed explanation of the history of the coatings on Airstreams - that is both interesting and helpful.
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Old 08-07-2016, 04:41 PM   #7
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Your 2002 has a baked on clear coat applied via Alcoa. I've seen a description of the material and process somewhere, but can not quote for you. Your trailer, like all new ones, is a AL alloy and does not have that thin coat of pure aluminum like the older models. That pure AL skin alloy is called AlClad and is what you see today on airplanes. Your Airstream skin is grey. If bare, It will shine if polished but will look grey, not silver. So, the modern day Alcoa clear coat contains a pigment that gives our modern trailers that golden/silver glow. That coating, if scratched or damaged will allow filiform corrosion to form underneath. The massive thread on Corrosion (trailers, corrosion of new Airstreams) will give you a number of prevention, repair and polishing ideas. Most all good, most all work.
Posters here: Robert, Doug and myself have a good bit of experience with this. Best advice: corrosion X, touch up missing clearcoat, good quality polish once a year and or Bioshield on difficult to reach places/wheel rims, etc.
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Old 08-07-2016, 10:51 PM   #8
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If you get a sheet of Alcoa aluminum from Airstream it does have a film on it that protects the sheet's clear coat until it is installed, then it it is peeled off. I to have used Walbernize since my Classic was new. I try to get it polished two times a year, but probably average once a year. All I do is fill up a HD spray bottle and spray it on a small area and polish it off with fiber fill rags from Costco and wash them in the washing machine when I am done. I pay especial attention to cut edges and rivets to make sure they get plenty wax. So far, 11 years later no corrosion. On the non aluminum parts prone to corrosion and rust, Lew put me on to Corrosion Block and it does a great job keeping thing like new. it really gets rid of corrosion quickly. I put some on some dry cell battery contacts that had turned green and it cleaned them right up. However the original plating had already been eaten away.
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Old 08-07-2016, 11:00 PM   #9
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Where do you find the clear acrylic felt tip pen? Sounds like a great idea!
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Old 08-07-2016, 11:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
I've used Griots Paint Sealant until three Seasons ago, changed to the One Step after getting some minor "Rose Bush" scratches,(very very fine abrasive, no harm to the AS), it lasts & looks just as good.
Both sealants are very easy to apply & remove either by hand of with an orbital.

Oh...and don't laugh at the Spray-on Wax, I did until I tried it on the old Ford. Great for touch-up's on the AS.

Just used some of the Poly Wax on the DW's M-B, VERY impressed...will give it a try on the AS next spring.

POI....a little of these products goes a long way. Applying with an orbital on a red foam pad, three/four nickel sized spots will do a 5'x5' panel. I use blue painters tape to keep track of the boundaries.

Just my experience....Most all our filiform occurred in the first 3-4 years. Removed and sealed when discovered. Treated areas have not progressed.
Stone chips and scratches addressed as discovered, hopefully... before corrosion starts.
I do not "treat" any unaffected areas, no walber, CoroX, or BoeS, (Lazy I guess.)

TETO

Just the above products since the AS was new.



Bob
Bob, what are you using to remove small filiform corrosion and what to seal it?

Thanks!
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Old 08-08-2016, 09:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gecko View Post
Where do you find the clear acrylic felt tip pen? Sounds like a great idea!

Order from Airstream.


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Old 08-08-2016, 09:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gecko View Post
Bob, what are you using to remove small filiform corrosion and what to seal it?



Thanks!

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Not speaking for Bob, but I will show you what you will have if you remove spots of filiform. The aluminum alloy under the clear coat is grey. So, be prepared to touch back up with a silver paint. It can be done where the repair is only slightly noticeable, but takes some work. (There are several posts I've placed in the big corrosion thread if you want more detail)
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Small areas of the corrosion best left alone, treated with CorrosionX, and re-sealed with a clear coat. I think Bob has had luck with silver paint touch up also, but any repair to Alcoa's clear coat will show to some degree.



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Old 08-08-2016, 10:19 AM   #13
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I've used a product called Protect All for many years with great success. Prior to the Airstream EB, I had a SOB 5th wheel with the gelcoat fiberglass exterior and nose cone, ProtectAll kep the oxidation typical of gelcoat surfaces away, as well as keeping the large nose cone in great shape. Bugs are easier to remove, too.

I like this product as its great for all surfaces: glass, aluminum, stainless steel, rubber, vinyl, etc.

https://www.protectall.com/
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Old 08-08-2016, 02:38 PM   #14
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there is more than one kind of Walbernize

There is the original that can be used on older AS with no clear coat (it states on the label "Not Recommended for Clear Coat Finishes"". Then there is the the kind that is recommended for clear coat. Make sure to use the one right for your trailer.
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