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Old 07-20-2006, 09:30 PM   #1
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1998 30' Excella 1000
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Frame rust

I am about to purchase my first Airstream, a 1999 30' from a dealer in Michigan. They have sent me several photos and it all looked great until I saw the frame rust. I live in Texas and our only real wory about rust is from the beach buy in northern climants the winter road salt seems be expecially tough on the exposed metal. I would like to forward some of these photos to more experienced RV'S for other opinions. I may not have anything to worry about but would like to be a little safe than a lot sorry. Please let me know if you can help. Thanks, Paul
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Old 07-20-2006, 09:41 PM   #2
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Welcome the forum, Paul. Post some of the photos here, if possible. We love to see pics of other peoples' toys. Seriously, somebody can probably help. Many of us have had to deal with frame rust issues on our "Vintage" units.

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Old 07-20-2006, 09:53 PM   #3
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Thanks Jim. The photos are there. Please let me know what you think. Thanks, Paul
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Old 07-20-2006, 10:15 PM   #4
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Hi , I sure have heard alot on the airstream forums concerning frame rust.
Whether the trailer was new or old.
One preventitve cure would to get these trailers oil sprayed.
In Canada this can be done by (Krown Rust Proofing).
There are others out there, however this product is the best to stop this problem.
We have alot of salt on the roads during winter time .
However corrosion can be bad on these units in High humidity areas!!
As well as having these trailers parked at places near the ocean.
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Old 07-20-2006, 10:53 PM   #5
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Paul, welcome to the forum, I don't see any photos in your gallery. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place. Because the frame is wrapped in a belly pan lined with fiberglass insulation, spraying rust prevention fluid is not straightforward. This link discusses this issue:
http://www.airforums.com/forum...-rot-2607.html?
You need particularly to check the rear frame members where they emerge by the rear bumper. Caveat emptor!
Nick.
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Old 07-21-2006, 05:20 AM   #6
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Well, now that I'm a big-time important Moderator, I'm supposed to know how to find 'em (oh, brother). One of the other Mods showed me how to this. I'll be back.

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Old 07-21-2006, 06:18 AM   #7
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Well, rats, can't remember how to do it. Better go ask the other Mods.

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Old 07-21-2006, 08:44 AM   #8
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Well..... I can't find em either. Paul I recommend that you load pictures intothe members section of the photo gallery - rather than into the trailer year catagory.

The link under your profile to "view photo's" goes to the members section of the photo gallery.
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Old 07-21-2006, 09:19 AM   #9
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Paul,

My own experience with frame rust on a 2001 Bambi that I purchased new has been difficult. My Bambi has several areas of intense corrosion of the steel frame members, corrosion holes through the aluminum belly due to contact directly with the steel frame and numerous belly rivets lost from dissimilar metal corrosion. The bellypan symptoms started appearing this spring. While there had been some rusting of frame members apparent at the axle hanger, I didn't pay enough attention to it. Now it has my attention.

I would urge you to personally inspect the unit with a knowledgeable person unconnected with the dealer and seller who has some experience, and pay particular attention around the frame visible at the wheelwells and underneath.

In my case, the outriggers coming laterally off the C-channel steel frame at the front and rear of each wheelwell have been heavily deteriorated by rust, weakening due to metal loss and showing cracking in cross-section necessitating welding and strengthening.

On my Airstream and some others I have seen, there is a gap between the belly material and these wheel-well outriggers that allow water and dirt to enter thrown off the tires, and this gets trapped by the insulation, encouraging further corrosion. The true condition of the frame is not apparent unless the belly is removed, but missing rivets, corrosion where there is contact with the steel frame and rusting of the frame where it is visible are warning signs that work will be needed.

The lack of effective frame protection when built meant that my trailer, and others with the same laquered coating, will have corrosion, especially living in areas near the coast and where salt is used on the roads.

Do your homework, and personally inspect the trailer so you know what you're getting into. If you feel like tackling the work yourself, it can certainly be remediated, but it is alot of work. In my case I'm less than half way through and it will take another several weeks at the least, as I have to do this after work and on weekends. My bellypan was so bad that scrapped all of it, removing rust and painting the frame, and finally replacing the pan with 24-gauge 304 stainless steel and isolated fasteners.

Post pictures and other forum members will no doubt have comments to assist you.

Marshall
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Old 07-21-2006, 03:42 PM   #10
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Marshall. The leakage problems you describe were common on the '70's model trailers (because they were basically designed to leak!), I had no idea they were back in the current day trailers. It also sounds like you may have vibration issues as well. Have you checked your running gear for proper balance and alignment, etc? I had some issues with disismilar corrosion on my belly pan, but after 30 plus years, not just 5 or 6.

Paul, Marshall is giving you some great advice about having a knowledgeable Airstream person take a look at it before you buy. There are members of the forum here that will do it basically for free. There is a listing of inspectors here:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ight=Inspector



Hope this helps a bit.

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Old 07-21-2006, 08:51 PM   #11
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I think the photos loaded this time. Please take a look and let me know what you think. The dealer has agreed to replace the shocks and inspect the hangers. Thanks, Paul
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Old 07-21-2006, 11:46 PM   #12
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Paul, my trailer was very similar to this when I bought it, and this in itself would not give me cause for concern. It appears to be surface corrosion. It can be dealt with by a hard wire brushing, treating with phosphoric acid, and then coating with Rustoleum or something similar. Six years after this treatment, my trailer shows no sign of corrosion in this area. Many use POR15 products. The more serious corrosion occurs in the hidden parts of the frame, and that is why I use a fiberscope, as described in the link I gave earlier. Failing this, the only true way to find out is to drop the belly pan (probably impractical, I know), or at the very least to cut one inspection hatch as a specimen. Looking in the exposed open box section at the rear bumper may give some clue. It is all too easy to buy a trailer that is only fit to be parted out. Be very wary.
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Old 07-22-2006, 07:21 PM   #13
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Paul,
Looks exactly like the condition of my axle hangers and axle. You may ask for photos of the exposed outriggers at the wheelwell.
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Old 07-24-2006, 06:22 AM   #14
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2001 Bambi frame rust pictures

Paul,
I've posted some images of the frame corrosion on my 2001 Bambi on my photos section to show what was hidden under the belly. Needless to say the repairs are going to take quite some time in my case.
See the picture gallery at: http://www.airforums.com/photo...ge.php?i=12550
It is in your interest to investigate the rusting you see pretty closely.
Marshall
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Old 07-24-2006, 07:29 AM   #15
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Marshall, I'm appalled at those photos. However, you have done a service to the forum by showing what can happen to a 5 year old trailer, so a bucket of karma is on its way to you for the excellent description and pictures. You have my sympathy.
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Old 07-25-2006, 12:31 AM   #16
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Hello Marshall ,

Nick is right you need to get a fibrascope /borascope ,same thing as it allows an inspection as nick stated inside the bellypan ,and you need someone to
do just that or dissapointment will be your friend if you buy it and its bad.
If not ,and its superficial and workable ,then you know what your getting .

Scott
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Old 07-25-2006, 04:37 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mswartz
Paul,
I've posted some images of the frame corrosion on my 2001 Bambi on my photos section to show what was hidden under the belly. Needless to say the repairs are going to take quite some time in my case.
See the picture gallery at: http://www.airforums.com/photo...ge.php?i=12550
It is in your interest to investigate the rusting you see pretty closely.
Marshall
Marshall,
Any idea what caused that amount of corrosion in such a short time? My 75 has corrosion about that bad, but it spent quite a bit of time in a coastal environment too. My soon to be aquired 80 has it even worse, as in the outrigger is basically gone...

Aaron
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Old 07-25-2006, 10:10 AM   #18
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Thanks for the replies.

Much of the frame's original lacquer coating was intact and undisturbed in areas away from the axle or the bottom contact with the bellypan.

However, in perhaps 1/3 of the total contact area of the top of the frame structure to the floor deck face, which has compressed fiberglas in between, there is rusting. The condition of these areas are typically low penetration surface rust, unlike the conditions at the bottom of the frame structure where the wet condtions with road salt have provided a more agressive chloride attack on the steel.

I have to think through how I am going to handle this, as I suspect the sources of moisture include the ambient conditions within the bellypan as well as moisture transport through the floor. I can't entirely stop the trans-floor moisture transport as I cannot put a barrier without removing the shell and floor deck. On the other hand, I may have problems if I seal at least part of the frame structure with the bubble-foil/aluminum tape such that it does become a barrier. Then the condensation would have nowhere to go.

The bulk of the corrosion is clearly due to the moisture off the road carrying various salts. The wheel-well outriggers get the direct surface attack, and the remainder get bathed in the solution transported by moisture wicked along the insulation and aluminum/steel joints of the belly-to-frame contact.

In my opinion, a frame with a simple lacquer coating should never be used for this application. There are many things that could be done by the frame manufacturer to improve this situation. For instance, if the frame was galvanized as boat trailers are, I wouldn't be facing the problems I now have. Obviously, all these changes cost money, but not more than I am spending now on fixing this, not to mention the months of free time gone forever.

I'm still at the rust and paint removal stage now, trying to take advantage of the decent weather and some vacation time to get this dirty phase of the job done.

Marshall
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Old 07-25-2006, 08:30 PM   #19
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WOW. All that rust after only 5 years. Was this from salty roads or beach corrosion? Paul
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Old 07-25-2006, 09:02 PM   #20
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While I live on Cape Cod, I'm four miles from the ocean and have been within 100 yards of seawater only once for about 10 minutes on a sunny dry day. Chlorides from the road have caused my problems, enhanced by the humidity we experience.
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