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Old 03-06-2007, 07:39 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1994 34' Excella
Columbia , South Carolina
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 6
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Exterior advice needed

Hi all,

Im new here, new to trailers, and new to Airstream. My husband and I picked up a 1994 34' Excella this weekend and Im looking for some advice on the exterior. I've been searching the forums and maybe its just information overload but I hoped to pose what I THINK my options are and see if Im headed in the right direction.

The clearcoat is peeling across the top and just starting down one front side. There are no apparent signs of leaks inside although we haven't been out in the rain yet. The trailer is going to be outside in a South Carolina field for (we hope) several years...5-10 we hope. Its going to be our weekend home. We don't have a tow vehicle and don't plan to get one for the next several years and simply want to do as much as possible ,as easily as possible, to maintain the exterior. We know it was outside in Washington DC for two years and has been in interior storage until we bought it. OK - so that's the hitory as we know it. :-)

Clearcoat: I understand this is mostly cosmetic. We're Ok with that for now but would like to minimize any further peeling. Im not quite sure what we should be doing here. I think I saw that some had simply buffed the edges where the clearcoat is peeling and used either a spray or automotive clearcoat to attempt to keep the damage from spreading? It also seems that washing and polishing using either an automotive wax or the Walber....??? stuff perhaps serves as preventative maintenance? Can we use this polish/wax on the areas where the clearcoat has peeled or should we do something else in those areas? We don't care so much about a mirror finish shine at this point in time but simply want to maintain what we have.

Sealant: It seems as if nothing here is necessary right away unless a problem is apparent? Vulkum 616/631 and ParBond are popular options to have on hand?

Gaskets: We should be checking all gaskets and perhaps replacing them since we don't know how long it has been since that has been done?

Am I on the right track? Anything else we should be doing/checking right away from an exterior perspective? Thanks!

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Old 03-06-2007, 08:02 AM   #2
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1960 24' Tradewind
Anytown , Connecticut
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Greetings Brenda and welcome to the forum and the wonderful world of Airstreams. First, the clear coat serves two purposes, one to keep your AS looking great, two to protect the aluminum from oxidation. The clearcoat peeling will not cause leaks and once it starts there is no bandaid. If you were to want to restore the finish, the old finish would ned to be removed, acid wash the aluminum and reapply a new clear coat. Today it is around $120.00 per foot to have this properly done. For the window gaskets, check them for flexability and dryness. They may or may not need to be replaced. Vilkum is it! Don't use anything else. So yes, you are right on track.

Again welcome to the forum!
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Old 03-06-2007, 08:22 AM   #3
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1989 25' Excella
By The Bay , Rhode Island
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Hi Brenda, welcome!

We have had the same concersn since we got our Excella, which is also balding on top. To date I have not deen anything excpet use a wash/wax on the exterior. We do not have any leaks so it has not been a priority.
I do know that someday I will have to do something to prevent oxidation. I have been reading a lot of the posts on exterior painting with interest...seems to last longer.

But to continue along with your post, if anyone can answer;

If you strip and polish, does this lead to polishing every 6 months (whew! A full time job!)?

If you strip and re-clearcoat, I gather you can expect 10 years at most?

If you paint, the cost is similiar to re-clearcoat but may last twice as long?

Thanx, Bill
*Life is Good-Camping all around the Continent*
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Old 03-06-2007, 08:47 AM   #4
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1977 24' Argosy 24
Inverness , Florida
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 264
Hello ,nice unit you have.If it is going to sit in a field for 5 to 10 years is it going to be in the unprotected open?you might want to think about putting some thing over the top of it to protect it a can get very hot inside of the trailer.think about a pole barn for shade.
just want to camp happy
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:13 AM   #5
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Elgin , Texas
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I'll second the pole barn idea. If all this trailer's going to do is sit, then a pole barn is definitely a cost effective solution. Trying to retard the clearcoat peeling process, especially after it's well on its way is a losing proposition. A pole barn will cost a fraction of what you'd end up spending on it - even if you poured a concrete slab as well. Also it's a little easier to fix leaks in a barn roof than an Airstream roof. Same goes for hail damage.

I also would recommend getting the trailer off of it's wheels, so that the axles don't "take a set". They're designed for occasional motion, and sitting for several years will rapidly accelerate their demise.

Both of these things will help keep the trailer in useable, towing condition, in the event you'd like to spend time in it elsewhere on occasion. Also, if you decide to sell it one day, it will fetch a better price for you.

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Old 03-06-2007, 09:24 AM   #6
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Citrus Heights , California
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You could do this: all galvanized 1 3/8" fence pipe. Tarp has been up 1 year thru 25 mph winds with minor damage, a few grommetts ripped out.About $600. concrete extra. And it can be moved, disassembled etc. DG
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Old 03-06-2007, 09:31 AM   #7
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1994 34' Excella
Columbia , South Carolina
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 6
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Thanks all for the quick replies! We are so in love with this trailer! We've been tossing around the idea of some kind of shade. We may not be allowed to sink poles into concrete but will look into our options....

Im not clear on whether or not the oxidation is simply an ugly cosmetic issue or whether it ultimately becomes a structural issue. It sounds as though over time, the oxidation can degrade the aluminum?

What's the best way to get the trailer off the wheels? Right now, we're simply using the included jacks which are sitting on treated blocks of wood to level the trailer. I assumed that the axles were designed to hold alot of the weight and so if we get the tires off the ground - are the axles still holding the weight? I think Ive seen references to some kind of "axel jack". What do we then need to do to ensure that we don't bend the frame? Am I even asking the right questions?
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