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Old 01-19-2005, 09:32 PM   #1
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2005 30' Classic Slideout
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Protection Against Rock Damage

We will be taking delivery in the next few days on a new 2005 Airstream Classic 30'SO which will replace our 1998 Safari 25'. In an effort to avoid the damage to the front of the trailer caused by rocks, I am considering having 3M Scotchcal Paint Protection Film applied to the front portion of the trailer, at least the flat section below the front window and between the rock guards and maybe the portion of the curved panels not covered by the rock guards. Also maybe the 3 curved panels above the window (this would be more for bugs than rocks, I think, as in my experience rocks seldom hit the trailer above the window). Another possibility is to protect the A-frame (tongue) of the trailer with this same material, or the thicker version used for headlights, as this area also takes a real beating from rocks.

I have seen this material applied to automobiles, as well as an Airstream motorhome, and it seems to work well. However, I have never seen it applied to an Airstream trailer and was wondering if anybody out there has done it, or seen it done. And if so, how did it work out? It is fairly expensive so would feel better if I knew it was going to work as I hope it will before having it done.

Thanks,
Earl
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Old 01-20-2005, 06:36 AM   #2
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Thumbs up duraback polyurathane coating

hello, i have 76 argosy 26', i just sealed the entire roof with duraback coating .i found several lose rivets in the roof structure. replced them, then sealed the roof. this product has a uv rating they origionaly use it for brush on truck bed linning. easy to work with, it is like a sheet of rubber stuck to the coach. i tried to peel it of the paint can lid with a knife, wire brush, hammer. you cannot even scratch it. i put the cream color, same color as argosy beige. comes in many differant colors.
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Old 01-20-2005, 12:20 PM   #3
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Hello Ed:

Thanks for the reply. Sounds like Duraback might be just the ticket for protecting the A-frame from rock damage. If they have several different colors, it should be possible to match the color of the Airstream frame pretty closely. Can you give me any leads on where to get info on Duraback, as well as where I might buy some.

Earl
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Old 01-20-2005, 07:18 PM   #4
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These are probably cheaper than the plastic coating and will protect everything at once.The idea of keeping everything underneath seems logical to me. I have seen them discussed a lot on the mh forums for toads and everyone that has them seem to like them

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Old 01-21-2005, 12:43 PM   #5
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How about mud flaps/rock guards behind the rear wheels of the tow vehicle? Something like http://www.drawtite-hitches.com/towb..._roadwing.html
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Old 01-21-2005, 04:13 PM   #6
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Yeah, I already use mudflaps. In fact, two sets of them - the ones installed permanently on the pickup, and a second set that attach to the drawbar and are therefore only on the vehicle when the trailer is being towed. I am looking for additional protection because, as I'm sure your own experience confirms, mudflaps help but certainly do not resolve the problem of rocks causing damage to the paint and clearcoat. This is especially true if you travel on gravel roads, of course, but you can't avoid picking up a certain number of rocks on any paved highway, not to mention when you get into a stretch that has been chip-coated or is under construction.

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Old 01-22-2005, 06:21 AM   #7
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Protection against rock damage....... I assume the film you are talking about is a film with adhesive and not a coating this is applied in liquid form. If this is correct I would not recommend applying this film. Is is meant to be a temporary masking to protect during fabrication, shipment. With UV , heat and moisture it can weld permentantly to a surface.
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Old 01-23-2005, 03:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Keyes
Protection against rock damage....... I assume the film you are talking about is a film with adhesive and not a coating this is applied in liquid form. If this is correct I would not recommend applying this film. Is is meant to be a temporary masking to protect during fabrication, shipment. With UV , heat and moisture it can weld permentantly to a surface.
Ed-

The film I am referring to, 3M Scotchcal Paint Protection Film, does in fact go on with an adhesive as you assume; however, it is a permanent application. It is designed to permanently protect the paint on automobiles. You can see what 3M says about it on their website, in particular at http://www.3m.com/us/about3M/innovat...al/index.jhtml
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Old 01-23-2005, 05:24 PM   #9
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Has anyone tried something like these?
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...522106318&rd=1
Kinda steep, bet they not too tuff to fabricate.
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Old 01-23-2005, 06:57 PM   #10
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I've seen the tape in use on cars, but not sure if I'd place it on the nose of an Airstream. Having a non CCD or Classic with the front wrap windows, I could see all the places where impacts happened, bugs, sand, soot, etc. What the rock guards don't protect the front wrap arounds pretty much cover all the other areas I've noticed areas of impact.

I installed mud flaps and that all but got rid of any projectiles. Also what I noticed is that less things fly into the coach when mudflap are installed and you have a tow vehicle that is about 3/4 the height of the Airstream.
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Old 01-23-2005, 08:36 PM   #11
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Another road hazard that needs to be guarded against are "road gators" or treads that come off of tires. Very common on the interstates down South. Best measure is to avoid them in the first place. Looks like those rock guards they put on the new Airstreams are just the ticket for protection against the larger road hazards such as these.
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Old 01-23-2005, 11:08 PM   #12
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the scotchcal by 3 m is a great product.

earl

i have had the 3m product on the front of my expensive german car since new and 3 years later the paint is still perfect....it really does protect well. my windshield has the typical pitting that road debris causes but the nose of the car is like new perfect. even my front bumper has been saved from the careless braile driver who backs up too far while parking.

i will never go without it on a new car.

while the material is intended to stay on for the long term, it can be removed if you want it off. and while it is safe applied over auto paints i'd want to get the 'all clear' from the airstream factory before putting it over the coated alum....since this new style coating cannot be repaired by a dealer anymore....on the other hand that's exactly the reason to consider the film....

there are now 3 companies that make the protective film...3m, avery and someone else. most shops carry the 3m product regardless of name (stoneguard, clearbra and so on). having it applied to a car is costly because of the labor time but the material is not very expensive and can be purchased in 2-16inch widths, by the roll or foot.

it's actually pretty easy to apply on large flat or single curve surfaces....i'd consider just buying a roll and diy. my shop gave me some left over pieces and i expertly applied it to an older car myself.

like everything else it's available on ebay.

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Old 01-25-2005, 03:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
earl

i have had the 3m product on the front of my expensive german car since new and 3 years later the paint is still perfect....it really does protect well. my windshield has the typical pitting that road debris causes but the nose of the car is like new perfect. even my front bumper has been saved from the careless braile driver who backs up too far while parking.

i will never go without it on a new car.
--------------------
Thanks for your thoughts. From your experience it sounds like I may be on the right track with this idea. I also thought "what happens if the film damages the clearcoat". But, as you say, rocks and road debris are going to do that in any case, so probably there's nothing to lose. At least, now I know that the film is effective.

From the info I was able to find, it didn't look like it would be terribly difficult to apply yourself on flat or simple curved surfaces, and the saving is significant. My understanding is that it will stretch about 20% allowing some ability to conform to curvature in two directions. I'm considering doing the entire front end, back to the first transverse seam, which would make the installation pretty difficult, I think.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Earl
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Old 01-25-2005, 09:45 PM   #14
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wider options

talked with another film installer today.

venture shield was the other company (i was trying to recall) who makes the film. visit there web site.

the installer said that more makers are entering the market as these products have become very popular. he also said that venture shield makes a 48inch width product that is ideal for large flat surfaces. i guess they put in on trailers, some custom semi haulers and big class a/buses that have fancy paint jobs to protect. they can lay it on as a big sheet and then cut out any openings and so on.

i'd have to look at the front end of a trailer to visualize where and how big an area.....none of the curves are too big or complex but rivets would be an issue since bubbles around them would occur. we would probably not want that 'look'. they do have a little piercing tool for bubbles but not sure how they would handle rivets. airstream skin probably expands/contracts more than a car hood or fiberglass panel but i would imagine the film would move with it.

if planning a diy, might be best to get a small piece and practice first...with a liberal layer of liquid under it a piece can be moved around alot....more than wall paper.

there are online instructions and videos demonstrating the 'how to' of application.

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Old 01-26-2005, 08:55 AM   #15
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Good Morning,
Our Cessna has a 3M film on wings' leading edges for paint abrasion protection and easy clean-up from 150 mph insect strikes and it does an excellant job.
I would need to see a lot more "proof" that a similar material could protect aluminum panels from 50 mph+ flying rocks impacts.
Good Luck,
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Old 01-26-2005, 06:46 PM   #16
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3m Film

I have two thoughts for you.
I have pulled for many years, using a set of mud flaps I made myself, which look very much like the ROADMASTERS pictured in an earlier post. What I did that has done the most to protect my trailer is I adapted my mounting to where the top edge of the flaps were above the bumper on my truck, and real snug to it, giving no gap for rocks to come through. I purchased the flaps from a truck stop getting the largest. I added a metal bar to the bottom to keep them from sailing, and through trial and error, found the best length to keep rocks from coming underneath. I also have them approx. 1 1/2 inches out on each side of the truck. They work very well, and I remove them with my hitch so they are not in the way when I'm not towing.
The other thing.
I also have an Airstream Motorhome, the 390 XL. From the factory, it came with the film applied to the front, above the windshield to protect the paint. It is still on there, and appears to be doing a good job. Also, I have been to a couple of 'high end' motorhome dealerships in the last year. In each and every one of them, they now are offering, as an option, the installation of this very material for paint protection. I'm convinced that if it works on million dollar motorhomes, it would work on our Airstreams. The biggest thing would be the installation. Have you considered checking with a motorhome dealer to see who they use for applications?
Good luck,
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Old 01-29-2005, 08:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
talked with another film installer today.

venture shield was the other company (i was trying to recall) who makes the film. visit there web site.

cheers
Hi 2air-

Since my last post, we have taken delivery on the new Classic and I have had two film installers look at it. I also found another installer in the area who will look at it the first of next week. At least one of them, besides 3M, uses film from another manufacturer.

It doesn't appear that expansion/contraction will be a problem. The film has the ability to be stretched to a certain extent around curves, certainly more stretch than needed to take care of expansion/contraction of the trailer skin. And, Ed's post saying his Cessna has it on the leading edge of the wings shows that it must handle expansion/contraction without a problem.

As for Ed's comment regarding protecting aluminum panels from 50mph+ flying rocks impact, 3M says the following: "3M lab tested this product by peppering it with 1/2-inch diameter stones at 60 mph and it didn't chip the paint". Coming from 3M I would put some faith in that statement. And, they guarantee that it will protect the paint, and will fix any damage to the paint (or film). One of the installers told me he had to honor that guarantee on a Land Rover that passed a snowplow, which of course picks up not only snow but whatever else was on the pavement. In this case, there must have been some pretty good sized rocks and it tore the film in a few places, but protected the paint except for 3 small chips. And I looked over an Airstream motorhome that had the film on the front, and while I certainly could have missed something as I didn't go over it inch by inch, I saw no rock chips in the paint except in the small areas that weren't covered by the film, for example around the lights where there is too much curvature for the film to conform so there is an eighth of an inch or so that isn't covered.

However, the rivet heads may be another matter. Neither installer was sure the film would conform and avoid an air pocket; but, although tedious, a hole could be cut out of the film for each rivet head. I wonder if Ed (macsfriended) could comment on whether the film covered any rivets (which I doubt).

Earl
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Old 01-30-2005, 12:12 AM   #18
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hi earl
Quote:
Originally Posted by EKBrace
Hi 2air-

Since my last post, we have taken delivery on the new Classic

Neither installer was sure the film would conform and avoid an air pocket; but, although tedious, a hole could be cut out of the film for each rivet head.
congrats on the new home.....let's see some pictures!

i think the film will do what it is advertised and warranted to do....offer protection from most road debris. the air pockets around the rivets won't decrease the protection...they'll just look less than ideal.

i' hope the installers explained that they use a little piercing tool to 'burp' the bubbles that sometimes appear and cannot be worked out near an edge.

they could try this first over the rivet heads. have them just appy a trial piece somewhere and give it a go. it does take a day or three for the film to dry completely and all bubbles to vanish.

if burping doesn't work they could then try the hole cutting you mention over a few rivets on the sample piece. then you could decide which of the 3 looks you like the best.

another place to consider using film is around the door handle/key hole/lock area. it will prevent scuffing the skin in this area....in fact this might be a good spot for the 'trial' piece.

keep us posted and lets see some shots of the silver palace!!

i see you are in idaho....which reminds me of a winter trip i took to idaho/montana in my old airsteam motorhome.....really had a great time but i encountered the most 'grit' on the roads in that area and actually cracked a windshield when passed by a semi hauler.

i like the idea of protective film on the trailer.

cheers
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Old 01-30-2005, 05:35 AM   #19
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1500 miles of Yukon gravel this summer

On my 4 month ALCAN trip this summer that included among other things the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, Northwest Territory. The Steese highway n/e of Fairbanks. Took the Cassiar Hwy back.
I built the PVC pipe hardward cloth protection about 4x8 as described by WBCCI caravans (although we went solo) The caravans eat to much and not enough hiking.
Anyway I found that the screen I built took the most, if not all damage where the Airstream Rock guards are. Especially next to the tongue and the lower 10 inches was so beat up I had to add more hardware cloth/wire twice in these areas. The Propane tank cover was not protected and had no damage. The frame below the aluminum behind the propane tanks look sand blasted from rocks but no damage on the protective screen in that area. On muddy days the mud paterns show exactly the areas of concern and Airstream is right on. Protect the same area Airstream does. Put guarden hose on all propane pipe and cover and protect with layers of hardware cloth the water drains on your fresh water. The damage to the guards were so suvere (also repairs a few times) that the drains would of been long gone.
Great Trip
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Old 01-31-2005, 07:04 AM   #20
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Hi EKBrace,
I don't recall if any rivet heads were located at leading edge's horizontal section joints. I will check in the next few days and advise.
Ed
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