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-   -   Corrosion problems with new Airstreams (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f142/corrosion-problems-with-new-airstreams-31743.html)

5cats 04-23-2007 07:23 PM

Now I have to check out the inside of my SE (shudder)!

Tim A. 04-23-2007 07:36 PM

Those of us without significant filiform corrosion (also known as underfilm corrosion) have been asked to reply. Well, our 2002 Bambi is pretty much without it. There is essentially nothing even where rocks have dinged the skin. The alloy wheels have started to have a touch of filiform, but nothing like the pictures people have posted.

What have we had? A bit of pealing at the door handle which touch-up clearcoat has stopped. There has been some non-filiform corrosion on the handle next to the door and on the refrigerator vent covers. On another thread I was thoroughly criticized for mentioning the fix for that type of corrosion, but here it is again: Gord's Polish applied with 0000 steel wool. Yes, you make sure no bits of steel wool are left hanging around afterwards to rust. Wax or Walbernize afterwards seems to help keep the problem from returning. Even if such parts were originally clearcoated, that non-filiform corrosion has removed it, so polishing is not going to do any harm where the clearcoat is gone.

lewster 04-23-2007 07:36 PM

Hadn't thought about it 'till now.......guess I'll have to do the super slueth inspection when I next polish the beast!:D

Pappy 04-24-2007 05:40 PM

CorrosionX effects on sealent
 
I called Corrosion technologies in Texas which makes the CorrosionX product. Assuming I asked the right question will their product damage
Polyurethane sealent ? I was told verbally no. Only problems they have noticed was dealing with Butyl rubber. Everyone assumes their own risk by using these type products, but since another member posted a question in this regard I thought it was worth a call. I for one was already planning on using this even before this thread was started.

I might add that painting is not necessarily the answer. In light aircraft which I know something about the corrosion can form under the paint as well. So painting an airplane is considered more to be maintenance requirement where the interval is determined by climate and your pocket book.

It is disheartning to see this start so soon. Applying this product or others like it may seep into the same openings and stop it cold in its tracks.
Of course were assuming there was an opening to start with.
At least its worth a try. A 16oz can cost about $17 and you may be able to buy it at some local airports. That can should last last you for years unless you decide to take a bath in it.

I for one am going to use it on the seams and rivets let it set for a day walbernize and head for camping.

Pappy

Silvertwinkie 04-24-2007 05:56 PM

Pappy, it's about all we can do. Worked with tech support for a few months with several weeks in between answers, and to datr have not heard back from Dave Schumann. I know for a fact that folks from the factory have seen this thread and it wouldn't shock me if Dave himself has seen this thread.

So here we all are, with our corroding Airstreams. Talk about being stuck with the check.......it's disappointing all around to say the least.

The hand made reply I've read so many times from the factory can just go only so far.......:rolleyes:

JmesDean 04-24-2007 06:17 PM

Me TOO!!
 
Corrosion on mine as well - replaced rear light bezels and it's now come back. Door handle to front door is really bad and now I'm seeing it in the wheels and all along the skin. This sucks...:neutral:

lewster 04-24-2007 06:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tim A.
Those of us without significant filiform corrosion (also known as underfilm corrosion) have been asked to reply. Well, our 2002 Bambi is pretty much without it. There is essentially nothing even where rocks have dinged the skin. The alloy wheels have started to have a touch of filiform, but nothing like the pictures people have posted.

What have we had? A bit of pealing at the door handle which touch-up clearcoat has stopped. There has been some non-filiform corrosion on the handle next to the door and on the refrigerator vent covers. On another thread I was thoroughly criticized for mentioning the fix for that type of corrosion, but here it is again: Gord's Polish applied with 0000 steel wool. Yes, you make sure no bits of steel wool are left hanging around afterwards to rust. Wax or Walbernize afterwards seems to help keep the problem from returning. Even if such parts were originally clearcoated, that non-filiform corrosion has removed it, so polishing is not going to do any harm where the clearcoat is gone.

Tim,

You can get 0000 bronze wool that will not rust. There are also a number of steel wool substitutes that are basically woven products like Scotch Brite.

Still, NO RUST!:D

flyfisher 04-24-2007 07:00 PM

I've had about 40 other issues with my 2004 Classic, but not this one yet.

The guys at the factory scratched the bejesus out of the aluminum during its manufacture, the plastic coating on my rub rail came off in a couple places last year, and several rivets slightly missed the hole when they were originally put in leaving gaps to let a bit of rain or sunshine in, I suppose, :cool: , but so far not this one. I feel somehow left out!:(

Oh, my trailer almost burned up last year due to loose wiring in my generator switch box (did the heat from the melting switch seal my plasticoat?), and I did have one "solid brass" towel rod rust completely through, if that counts? I only paid a few extra thousand dollars for this "brass" luxury item as part of the Limited option though. Do these count?

I store my trailer inside about 8 months of the year, and take it to MT and the NW US for the summer and fall. I'm a fanatic about keeping my trailer cleaned and waxed, and generally use either Mcguires or an aircraft product called Wash Wax (and sware at, not by, that wax stuff most Airstreamers seem to use).

Why other units and not mine?

John

Silvertwinkie 04-25-2007 07:47 AM

I've got to make a list at this point, now with 8 pages of posts, but I think we are now near 20 units responding that they in fact have some level of corrosion on their 1999-present Airstream. So far, on average, with around 20 units, say with an average price of $45k (knowing some are more, some are less), we have identified close to about $1,000,000.00 in hardware that has various levels of this issue. What'd be interesting is how this all plays out in lost value.

Keep 'em coming......

Valhalla2Go 04-25-2007 10:18 AM

Should have stuck with our vintage?
 
We just placed an order for a 2008 Safari to keep our 68' company. Our vintage unit of course has skin issues with the clearcoat mostly gone, white worms here and there, and a pitted door handle. All quite acceptable being it is older than my beautfiul bride. However, to think that I need to stock up on preventive maintenance supplies, finger nail polish, aircraft sprays, and a couple of extra bezels, handles, license plate frames, and rims before I take delivery is very alarming and expletive unacceptable.

Unfortunately, travel trailers and the RV industry in general do not fall under the same lemon laws and other government regulations that apply to automobiles. Trailers are considered manufactured homes on wheels and as such you are responsible for keeping your own house in order - I have read many many SOB magazine and RV journal articles about QC being sucky industry wide and many baby boomers looking forward to a retirement life of on-the-road leisure after sinking their life savings (and prior homes equity) into a $500,000+ Prevost Country Western Singer Tour bus only to find they are mostly travelling back and forth to the dealership and factory for major defects and unsafe QC problems. So much for visiting the grand kids.

I think we need to separate the issue into 2 areas (that both fall under Airstreams diligence and responsibility)
1. Parts manufactured by outside vendors - aka wheels, light bezels, door handles, etc and
2. The actual skin of the trailer and the way it is handled, drilled and rivetted.

I ordered the CCD rims vs the Safari version in the hope that the aluminim would not pose the problems I am seeing - I have never had these problems with any wheels or lighting trim on any automobile before and dont understand why AS cant get the vendors to step up on this problem
(that they are fully aware of).

Regarding the skin issues - I am afraid to go and watch my unit being asembled after Air2's post-factory comments - I have already seen missed rivets, doubled up rivets, scratches, etc right on the showroom floor on both the exterior and interior aluminum (not too mention every single drain valve instruction plate being attached with 2 rivets when there are 4 holes on the corners) For all the marketing pizazz and coffee table book folklore this company spins behind its products, the resulting output looks far more Elkhart than Jackson Center to me. Wally would not be pleased in any way.

Bottom Line - Would any of us accept these issues if we were buying a new 2008 F-250 Super Duty for $50,000? No freakin way. Many AIR folks are hands on retired or semi-retired engineer types with shops and garages that NASA would envy (and a great source for answers) so some of this is considered a challenge to be resolved through experiment and intelligent research. That is great when dealing with a sagging bottom on a 69' but none of these fix-it postings should be necessary when we are talking about new or almost new units. If I had to go through the machinations posted here to keep my 05' F150 looking and running sharp, I would have never bought it.

Somehow we need to collectively stick Thor's nose in this and get them to remedy the problem. I dont think my 08' will looks as nice as my 68' when I turn 80! Been dreaming of a new AS for 11 years and this thread has dampened my spirits and my rivets.

Midamrail 04-25-2007 10:31 AM

Valhalla2go, you are right on with your post, and we're about two steps behind you. As vintage owners, we're lusting after a new 25' FB, but we're thankful Silvertwinkie raised the issue before we plunked down several times the amount of money we have in our vintage unit for a new one. Like you, we expect "issues" with our vintage units, and one of the most appealing aspects of a new trailer is not having "issues," at least not for a while. Guess that's not the case after all.

Why, after nearly a half century of applying clearcoats to Airstreams, is this still such a problem? After having clearcoated and polished vintage Airstreams and painted Argosy trailers, I'm beginning to think the Argosy units and the polished vintage units are the way to go. And they're a whole lot cheaper than the new ones and don't have the inherent risk of a watching a $45K+ trailer plummet in value when the corrosion rears its ugly head...

5cats 04-25-2007 03:23 PM

so now what?
 
OK. So HOW do we get this issue in Airstream, Inc.'s sights?

Valhalla2Go and Midamrail (among all the rest) have nicely captured the issues and concerns. For myself, I'm nervous about this big investment. I adore my Safari! ...but I'm nervous about how long I will adore it.

How do we elevate the discussion beyond this thread, to where it makes a difference?

I believe I've photographically captured the corrosion "start" on my near-new unit well enough; folks with a clue about pursuing this are welcome to use any of my posted photos -- and for what it's worth I have much higher resolution versions available for the asking.

I'm a firm believer of giving the business the opportunity to Make Things Right -- they can't help you out if they don't know you've got a problem. Is it possible Airstream, Inc. doesn't know there's more than one or two of us?

I'm with Sivertwinkie in thinking this problem is much more widespread than the small group reporting here so far. How do we get more input from the folks on this forum?

Once we have "enough" evidence, how do be best present this to Airstream, Inc., conducive to getting the fix done, and done right?
  • Do we initiate a letter-writing campaign? (I am SO not a writer!)
  • Do we setup a separate web site to best convey the issue, pics and all?
  • Do we call the local TV station investigative reporter?
I think folks here are willing and able to provide energy and time to the issue; I wonder if Things might work out better if our efforts are cohesive and orchestrated, rather than though an ad hoc "same here" bunch of e-mails to...where ever.

Cheers,
-jd, looking for a leader...

2airishuman 04-25-2007 06:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 5cats
I'm a firm believer of giving the business the opportunity to Make Things Right -- they can't help you out if they don't know you've got a problem.

hi 5cats

have you tried any of the following yet?

1. contact your selling dealer
2. contact the closest dealer/service department?
3. contact a/s tech/service support for advice on which dealer to visit?

don't confuse someone else's problem or agenda with yours.

if you've got a new unit, a warranty and a service need...

follow the normal path to resolution.
decide what you want to happen for YOUR purchase.
make a reasonable attempt to document the issue and process.
take more action as needed...

owners are far more likely to quickly solve their issues individually and case by case...

than expecting 'a class action' event that works for everyone or happens soon.

you aren't in the same situation as twink. his warranty has apparently expired.

this media is a great way for us to share info and issues and solutions...

but keep in mind who purchased the trailer...

for example there are several owners with CRACKING in the skin on their specific model trailers.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f292...lub-29241.html

those folk are all/mostly having repairs done at the dealer service centers or the factory.

while not all following the path of any one customer...

so decide WHO to make aware of your concerns and WHAT is needed under the terms of your warranty.

cheers
2air'

Silvertwinkie 04-26-2007 12:15 AM

Keep in mind that Airstream has typically stood behind the units during they warranty period.

However, that said, I will caution everyone here that any fixes that have been done to my limited knowledge have been:

- Overlay a new sheet of alum over the existing corroded sheet
- Place trim and other pieces over the effected areas
- Replace components where possible (rims, cast lights, etc)

Though clearly the replacement of components is the quickest, easiest fix, it has not solved the problem in my situaion. I think DMac had sheets overlayed on his unit and from the looks of it, the problem has also returned.

So, contacting the factory, they do know about the issue, but the fixes don't seem all that long term.

I myself contacted the factory and spent nearly a month or so going round and round. I PM'd a factory employee I knew and I also sent an email to Dave Schumann. I know for a fact that Airstream employees in the service areas have seen and/or been on this thread....and Airstream has attempted to fix my units problems at the time that were listed earlier and the factory has attempted to fix a few people's Airstreams as well.

So, clearly, the factory does know about this issue in general and I have called, emailed, PM'd and really basically been told so far to use clear nail polish on my $40k+ Airstream.

The purpose of this thread is to first find how many others are having the same corrosion issue. After a period of time, then perhaps one of us can complie this data and make yet another attempt to get the factory to address this in a more acceptable longer term fashion, if in fact the factory truely does practice what they preach.

So far, I have yet to hear from Dave Schumann or anyone from Alcoa, which basically leaves me with about 20 of us all having the same issue and having nothing else to say or do about it at this point, except to say buyer beware. If nearly 20 units have the issue, over such a wide model year range, odds are that it could (read not will) happen to you. If you ask me, that is one heck of an expensive gamble, and don't even think about it if you are out of warranty, as you can see, I have had next to zero luck getting any real solution. :rolleyes:

Valhalla2Go 04-27-2007 02:31 PM

I agree and disagree with 2air
 
I think that if my Ford truck had inherent factory defects I would intially pursue communication with the local dealer where the vehicle was purchased. They of course would approach the factory for direction and if warranted a recall would result or a blanket guide to corrective actions at the dealership.

Unfortunately i think the dealer to factory relationship regarding new airstreams is far from the model employed in the automobile industry. From all the QC/PDI threads I have read on AIR over the last year it appears that this relationship between manufacturer and seller is far more disfunctional than in the auto world.

It appears that dealers thrive on the QC foul ups from the factory. If savvy AIR member's purchase a trailer and do the overnight/parking lot full systems check and inspection, the dealership gets to bill back all kinds of corrective actions required before delivery or under warranty.

If a non-educated buyer drives off the lot without arming themselves with AIR warnings and tips, they drive around for 2 years, stumble onto numerous problems and chock up healthy tabs back at the dealership on out-of-warranty work. Either way the dealership wins - my young sales guy in Wisconsin said he sold 12 units in March so they are obviously still moving product off the shelf and collecting commissions quality control or not.

Fact is a majority of new AS owners are not as techincially gifted or as obsessed with the inner workings of the product as 2air, I or anyone else on this thread for that matter. Many dont attend dozens of WBCCI rallys or consider a trek to a distant dealership a fun filled adventure etc. A family friend just bought a new unit in 2006 and was oblivious to any of these issues. Heck many of us could run circles around the dealership sales people because we have aluminitis and many have vintage rigs that make us afficianado's of the world of Wally. Therefore I dont think the dealers are going to be bowled over with customer feedback and go running to Thor demanding an answer to this problem.

Look what happened when Andy of Inland asked 18,000 AIR members for issues to bring to the factory - he didnt really want to deliver word of any true product threatening problems and we saw his remarkably unremarkable responses from JC - 3-5 words is not a response.

I have now read about leaking showers, visible stapled flooring, rivet errors galore, metal shavings, interior nicks dings and scrapes, non-rot resistant non-euro flooring, non-galvanized prone to rust framing, crappo upholstery, flimsy cheescloth drapes, pre-rusted screws, water filled light fixures, always on fridge fan, retina burning exterior lighting, filli-form corrosion on everything in sight, peeling or sharp edged veneer, non CDC shakey hand routed sloppy cabinetry, unattachd handles, buried chip bags, and leaking seams/windows/you name it.

How much of this gets back to Thor and gets reviewd by someone and corrected - special kits you can buy from fellow AIR members to fix problems on 3 month old units - got to be kidding me. Heck 2air told me that when he witnessed the manufacture of his new classic, the factory QC guy had checked off every inspection question about the carpet - but he did not have any carpet installed!! Thank goodness the Japanese have not introduced a silver bullet.

I genuinely think plopping $55,000 into David Winick's hands and having him trick out a frame up 68 in teak, stainless, LEDs and ostrich leather may have been a better route.

If we really love this product, its history, its lifestyle, and its future, we should do something collectively and in a positive manner. Short of rallying a group of passionate owner investor's to buy the division away from Thor (aka Harley from AMF) we need to put together the proper forum and bring these very fixable issue forward and help the company address each of them in a partnerhsip vs opponent fashion.

We are their customer base, their advocates, and travelling salespeople. Every time we post an article, drive down the road, organize a rally, polish our rig or show off to a curious campground neighbor we are playing Airstream marketing director. I would like to see everyones ideas on how we can make the best impact between now and delivery of my new unit.

jcanavera 04-27-2007 04:16 PM

While we all would like a resolution, I think Eric brought about a very good point in that what is the fix? In year two of my warranty I found a very small spot on my trailer where the clear coat had popped off. I went back to my dealership and we talked long and hard about it. The reality is you either replace the aluminum, overlay it, or have the area on the panel stripped and clear coated. That's all that can be done from a warranty standpoint.

So do you:

1. Pull out the affected aluminum panels. This means breaking the original seal compound and in some cases some big panels. For example my problem would necessitate pulling a panel that stretches from the front end cap over the top of the slideout to the rear end cap. That's almost the entire length of a 31' trailer.

2. Overlay the affected aluminum panels. This still means drilling out the rivets and again potentially breaking some of the sealed compound. Again a very large section of aluminum on my trailer.

3. Refinish the area. This means an attempt to remove the Alcoa finish and then blend a clear coat into the undisturbed Alcoa finish. A tough job and maybe impossible to guarantee that it will look good.

So your choices are possibly causing a future leak, or getting something that doesn't look good. Personally in my case that spot that is less than half the size of a dime doesn't look as bad as what the proposed solution could be.

What I decided to do was to report the problem officially to the dealer so it's in the records, and then I bought a small bottle of automotive clear coat, touched up the spot. It's high on the street side of the trailer well above the eyeline and almost invisible to most folks (I only found it because I was up on the ladder doing my biannual Walbernize work).

Now almost 3 seasons later, the clear coat I brushed on is still intact, the spot shows no evidence of further corrosion or deterioration. And that's the key. If you can stop it dead in it's tracks then maybe there is some hope. I'll need to go back to my unit and look in other places to see if I see what you all have seen on yours. Maybe the clear coat touch up might be the best way, assuming it will hold as well as it has on mine.

In my line of thinking and for my initial problem, I felt the cure had too many risks.

Jack

Silvertwinkie 04-27-2007 07:21 PM

I'm taking the Airstream Issue site down after tonight for a week. If you'd like to grab some views or pics, feel free. Next few hours the site will come down, then come back up. If I'm feeling up to it, I may take more new pics of my issues and post for all to see.

Devoman 04-27-2007 07:32 PM

Same here
 
My 19 footer did this and my 25 footer does this also.It already had it when I got it from the dealer.Even though I live on the beach I park it in town about 10 to 15 miles inland.It has been there for the last few months.
My rims have got it bad also.It is spider webbing all over the place.

Silvertwinkie 04-27-2007 07:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Devoman
My 19 footer did this and my 25 footer does this also.It already had it when I got it from the dealer.Even though I live on the beach I park it in town about 10 to 15 miles inland.It has been there for the last few months.
My rims have got it bad also.It is spider webbing all over the place.

I feel your pain Devoman. I will have to tally it up, but I think we've now got around 21 units with yours....

I would implore everyone to check your units and let us know if you too have the issue!

Westfalia 04-30-2007 10:40 AM

After a full day of washing, waxing and maintenance, I noticed several spots of filiform corrosion. Fortunately, most were very small. One was up above the front clearance light, one above on of the rear clearance lights, and down along the lower belt line. I have the usual corrosion on the door hinges, handle and rear taillight bezels.

Sounds like its time to pull out the nail polish clear coat. :(


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