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Old 05-13-2011, 11:38 AM   #1
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Corrosion

HAPPY FRIDAY 13TH.



Extensive Corrosion: We returned to our home in Montana in mid December when the temperatures were below zero. To back the trailer into its garage we first had to have the drive plowed. It snowed the next night so I couldn't remove it for washing. What's more this was a rough winter with snow and cold persisting. Moreover I had no idea that the dust covering the trailer resulting from our driving the winter roads contained a corrosive material. If I'd suspected as much I would have figured out a way to wash it.

Apparently, however, Montana does use a chloride and the pictures show what the trailer looked like several days ago when we could finally get the trailer out of its garage and wash it. Since washing I've tried everything (polish etc) to remove this white "rust" but nothing works. Does anyone have a solution?


I intend to contact my insurance company but first I have to know what my options might be. If I can't buff out the corrosion, should I replace panels or is it possible someone can restore the finish?



Since buying our trailer in 2005 we've maintained it so it is immaculate. Bottom line we'll spend to get it fixed, but first hope someone might have thoughts about repairs.



Bert Gildart


NOTE: We will never drive through Montana (my home state) again in the winter.
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Old 05-13-2011, 11:57 AM   #2
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Bert, that's filiform corrosion. It's under the clear coat finish and won't come off by polishing unless you remove the surface finish.
These sites will explain some KSC Corrosion Technology Laboratory -- Filiform Corrosion
http://www.argentumsolutions.com/wik...form_Corrosion
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Old 05-13-2011, 12:05 PM   #3
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If that's filiform corrosion, that's as bad as I've ever seen. I'd like to see some close-ups.
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Old 05-13-2011, 12:50 PM   #4
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Bert, So sorry to see your corrosion. Larger images can be uploaded to a maximum of 1600 pixels.

See the main and extensive thread on filiform corrosion:
Corrosion problems with new Airstreams

Good luck with this.

-- Bill
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:08 PM   #5
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Larger photos

Several readers have asked to see larger photos. Hope I've done this right, this time.
Bert
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:09 PM   #6
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That's filiform alright.
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:16 PM   #7
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Oh, man! I am so sorry to see this amount of filiform attacking your Airstream. What a shame. It scares me. Good luck in resolving it. Please keep us posted.
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:18 PM   #8
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Wowsers! If that was anywhere else than the coach, it would be a living, breathing, thing of beauty, much like hoar frost.
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:52 PM   #9
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Thanks Bert for your larger pictures...

Just wish I was looking at your beautiful Glacier National Park photos instead of this dreadful filiform corrosion.
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Old 05-13-2011, 05:57 PM   #10
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I suspect the clear coating reacted with the road salts - - I believe the fix is to strip the clear coat and compound that out - at least thats what I would do before replacing panels - the not so good news is I would do it pretty quick before it gets worse.......

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Old 05-13-2011, 05:58 PM   #11
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Can anyone explain to me how the filiform happens in an area without a seam? Is it just crummy clear-coat?
Hard to believe road salt did it; and if it did, what the heck is AS up to? We've blasted through a ton of salty roads over the years and have had no filiform critter problems.
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Old 05-13-2011, 06:22 PM   #12
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I suspect all it takes is a nick or weakness in the coating for the road salt to get underneath it......

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Old 05-13-2011, 08:12 PM   #13
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I must have had a lot of nicks then because this stuff was thick not just on the panel shown in the photos, but rather on two more in the front and three more in the back.
Any suggestions where someone in Montana might start looking for repairs?
Thanks!
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Old 05-13-2011, 08:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shacksman View Post
Bert, that's filiform corrosion. It's under the clear coat finish and won't come off by polishing unless you remove the surface finish.
These sites will explain some KSC Corrosion Technology Laboratory -- Filiform Corrosion
Filiform Corrosion - JAMWiki
If its filiform corrosion: something would have to break the coating first.
I would like to know if it is on the surface or under the coating. I have towed through MT in the winter and never had a problem.
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:07 AM   #15
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Towing through MT

I've also towed through my home state, Montana, in the winter, in fact, on dozens of different occasions and this is the first time I've ever had a problem. I'm included to think I hit an unusually thick patch of chloride, a substance that has also, I now learn, created problems for some of my friends, who curse the stuff!
Bert
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:25 AM   #16
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Airstream usage

For the record Janie and I use our Airstream for the business of writing and photography and for lots of pleasure. Airstream, And Our 100,000 Miles On the Road | Bert Gildart: Writer and Photographer

Right now I'm absolutely sick about the filiform corrosion shown on photos above. We have hail insurance and am hoping our insurance will also cover corrosion. In the meantime I appreciate everyone's response, which has even reacquainted me with friends in the Airstream community.
Bert
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:07 AM   #17
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Seems very unlikely that insurance would cover corrosion. That's like asking them to fix your rusty car. The filiform doesn't do much damage to the aluminum, it just looks bad. My 67 was totaly white with it and I was able to strip the clearcoat and polish it all off. But I don't know how easy it would be to remove the clear coat on a 2005 trailer.
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:16 AM   #18
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Hi Bert,
Sorry to see that "stuff" on your trailer. I'm afraid, as everyone has pointed out, it's filiform corrosion. It's a result of minute chips in your clearcoat due to rock chips etc along with salt on the roads & lack of washing & sealing. I believe Rich Luhr has determined that it will also happen in higher humidity environments & not necessarily only from salt. He doesn't get any in Tucson, however it starts to grow when he arrives in Vermont for the summer.

I have had a few jobs come in with clearcoat peeling off along with the associated oxidation. I typically strip the remaining clearcoat off the panel, then use scotch brite pads & water to remove the oxidation & to bring the "mill" finish look back, that is similar to the other panels. Re clearcoating will also be necessary, unless you do the complete trailer & allow all of it to oxidize at the same rate. Polishing & clearcoating is also an option, but significantly more work & cost.
Replacing panels will be significantly more expensive than the previous options, plus they will will likely be installed with olympic rivets which over time will create their own issues.
Thanks,
Colin
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:38 AM   #19
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Corrosion

Bert & Janie: I bet you're sick over this. I feel your pain and experienced it ourselves after we returned from a long trip and were then hit with hail. Large settlement, but not near enough to actually cover the real cost to do a good repair job.

Colin has the right idea. Clean the panel(s) and strip clear-cote from that area. Use Scotch Pad (medium) lightly rubbing in direction of grain. This should blend the mill finish and match pretty closely. Don't polish or you'll have a shiny spot.

Protect the restored surface with wax until you talk to an auto body shop about spraying your panel with clear-cote (most do this on a regular basis). You might delay this step for a while until the metals finish starts to "blend" or "weather" to the finish appearance of rest of the trailer.

I have come to the conclusion that as beautiful as an unblemished A/S is, the patina of road use begins to make them more handsome. That's my only consolation any more when I look into the mirror to shave! Why shouldn't that also be true of our favorite wagon?

At least that is what my wife tells me!

Tom
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:39 AM   #20
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With these newer Alcoa coated panels, the ultimate solution may be a good auto body shop who can clean it up and paint it silver, with a clear coat over that to give it depth. I've seen a late model painted Airstream here on the forum and it looks really good, but can't remember who owned it.

Doug
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