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Old 03-12-2020, 08:30 PM   #1
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Florida Airstreams?

Another thread talks about the large number of 34' Airstreams in Florida. Since a 34' Airstream is what we want, it sounds like that's the place to look.


An older thread talks about how bad the salt air is for an Airstream (or any vehicle, for that matter). One person even suggested that, after spending a night on the beach at Padre Island the truck and Airstream should both get a thorough bath, lest the salt air destroy them.


So, what's the thinking of the group? Is an Airstream from a coastal area something that should be avoided? Keep in mind that our ideal Airstream is an early 2000's model, although we are willing to consider late 90's ones.


What concerns me is that an Airstream of the vintage we're considering may well have been sitting still for 10 or more years. What hidden damage might the salt air have done? Brakes? Axles? Wheel bearings? Electrical connections?
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Old 03-13-2020, 04:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb0zke View Post
An older thread talks about how bad the salt air is for an Airstream (or any vehicle, for that matter). One person even suggested that, after spending a night on the beach at Padre Island the truck and Airstream should both get a thorough bath, lest the salt air destroy them.
I don't live in Florida, but I do live in the New Orleans metro area, which is only a few miles from the ocean, namely the Gulf of Mexico. Salty air— or more precisely, air containing evaporated seawater— only reaches about 50 miles inland before the level of salt in the air falls to negligible levels, and even that's only when the wind is blowing onshore from the ocean. So you only need to be concerned about salt air if the trailer has been closer than 50 miles from the coast. Even in coastal states, there are lots of areas that aren't coastal.

Unless the previous owner made a point of camping close enough to the beach to hear the waves, I wouldn't be too concerned about so-called "salt air." The closer to the coast, the more salt is in the air. And if there's not enough salt in the air to smell it, there's probably not enough in the air to affect an Airstream, either.

Corrosion due to so-called "salt air" is galvanic in nature. Damp air with salt in it serves as an electrolyte. So the two most likely areas for corrosion to occur are where (1) dissimilar metals are in contact, such as steel and aluminum; and (2) where water can accumulate on a metal surface. In the first case, aluminum is anodic to steel, so the aluminum would show more damage than the steel. In the second case, salt water is a better electrolyte than salt air, so corrosion is more likely where water can puddle up, regadless of the metal in question. So those are the areas to inspect first, and if those are clear of corrosion, the rest of the trailer probably is, too.
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Old 03-13-2020, 06:27 AM   #3
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We have zero concern about the salt air causing premature deterioration. Does it? Iím sure it might. I think more danger comes from salt on the roads than in the air though... if we stay on the beach like you can in TX, we would hose off what we can once we get to a camp ground but thatís only if we are on the physical beach.

Deterioration will end up coming many years down the road too and unless itís out of hand, youíll be able to do minor work to restore anything.
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Old 03-13-2020, 08:01 AM   #4
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I live on the coast of Georgia, with the salt marsh right in my back yard, and I've never worried about salt air. Like the 2 posts before me, If I were to drive through salt water or camp on a beach, I would wash everything off, but I've had 2 campers prior to my airstream, and several vehicles, and never had an issue with salt air. Like BigSxyWhtGuy, I agree it will probably cause some deterioration over the years, but I just keep an eye on things and try to make sure I handle things before they become a problem.
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Old 03-14-2020, 11:20 AM   #5
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Thanks. I wondered how far inland the salt air actually travels. It sounds like we don't have to worry too much as long as the trailer hasn't been actually sitting on the beach for the past 10 years.


We are looking forward to boondocking on a beach sometime. Haven't wanted to even try it with a 30,000 pound motor home.
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Old 03-15-2020, 06:26 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by kb0zke View Post
Thanks. I wondered how far inland the salt air actually travels. It sounds like we don't have to worry too much as long as the trailer hasn't been actually sitting on the beach for the past 10 years.


We are looking forward to boondocking on a beach sometime. Haven't wanted to even try it with a 30,000 pound motor home.


I agree. Iíd like to be on the sand but donít know how I feel about getting a 100k rig potentially stuck. Wouldnít be the first I am sure. From what I understand, there are only a few places in the country you can do it. I know in Pismo Beach CA, somewhere in south TX, there is a spot in FL on the pan handle. We found a place in Nova Scotia but it wasnít on the beach but pretty damn close at high tide.
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Old 03-15-2020, 07:57 AM   #7
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If you're going to look at Airstreams in Florida I'd be careful of any that have been parked at an RV park for a long time. We spent a winter at Land Yacht Harbor in Melbourne and many of the Airstreams there had sat in one spot for a very, very long time and were not road worthy.

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Old 03-15-2020, 08:17 AM   #8
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If there has been corrosion from salt air you will be able to easily see the filiform if there is any. What you need to be concerned about is leaks. It rains frequently in Florida and there can be leaks in the roof or bad sealing windows. If the floor has been subjected to a lot of moisture, you will have bigger problems than oxidation.
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Old 03-15-2020, 08:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigSxyWhtGuy View Post
somewhere in south TX,
Padre Island it the main spot. There's a place a few miles north of Padre, Magnolia Beach, where you can camp right on the beach. The nice thing about Magnolia Beach is it's hard packed sand, anyone can drive right up to the beach without fear of getting stuck. Two weeks limit, free.

AFA salt air corrosion, some have it, some don't. I wouldn't discount any trailer until I inspected it (in photos is good enough for me). My current rig is a Florida unit that spent it entire life under cover in a coast place (Pinellas County). I will say the corrosion was substantial, more than I ever thought I'd accept. The owner attributed it to being under cover and not getting regular natural rinses provided by the rain. I guess that's as good theory as any. I cleaned and treated the skin corrosion and I'm good with it. I replaced the air conditioner due to it corroded condition but it was a 17 year old R-22 rig and due to be upgraded anyway. The refrigerator was in similar condition but steel cooling instead of aluminum so I'll use it until she blows then rebuild it. I've replaced a lot of the under body pop rivets also due to corrosion. Fortunately the under body steel seems to be just fine.

All in all I'm good with it. The price was fair, it was somewhat local, and it was a layout I'd been wanting to try. Time waits for no man and I was ready for my next Airstream. I haven't had it a year yet but I haven't seen anything since that makes me regret compromising my standards on corrosion. I've had two great trips so far that I would have missed if I'd waited for something less corroded and indeed I'd still be waiting. I like tinkering on them almost as much as traveling in them and with the situation being as it currently is I'm more comfortable tinkering in the pole barn than traveling anyway.

In my last trip I did spend a few days on the beach in Magnolia and a few days on Padre Island so when I returned I did a thorough top to bottom scrubbing and rinse just to be on the safe side. After 5 weeks and 6,500 miles it was due anyway.

Good luck in your search.
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Old 03-27-2020, 07:52 PM   #10
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If you live near the salt water, it will eat any metal. I have a boat and I lived on the intercostal. If you take care of your metal, it will last. I use "Salt Away" to wash on my boat and my AS. It's cheap and does no harm. I also use "Corrosion Block" on my AS at the electrical connections or on any areas that might start to corrode. If you live in Florida or any coastal area, don't wait for the rain to wash down your AS.
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