Saturday, June 29, 2013

Meeting Mr. Filiform

I have decided to tackle the peeling clearcoat on the Airstream on a casual basis - a panel or two at a time. So today I continued to use up the Stypeeze on some lower panels. I found that the top half came off fast - I could hear the covering crinkling up as I applied stripper below. The lower half was much tougher- I wonder if they put two layers down nearer the road.

stripped clearcoat
The clearcoat comes off pretty well after 15-20 minutes using water and a rag (and protective gloves.)

As I have cleared off areas, I am noting areas of so-called filiform. Filiform corrosion on Airstream happens at the cut edges, rivet holes, scratches, and fittings from moisture and ocean or winter road salt begins at the unprotected aluminum at those areas and spreads under the clear coat finish, where it flourishes because it cannot dry out easily. Various owners handle it differently - some ignore it, some try to recover it with clear lacquer, others wax the heck out of it.

filiform on edge
Here is some filiform along a seam.
filiform along rivet holes
filiform forms around rivets as well.

In doing some online research, I found that a combination of wet sandpaper and then polishing is the way to go. I only had 400 grit sandpaper (I need 800, 1000 as well) so I tried a couple of test spots. Here's how it looks -- not sure it is better but it is nearly gone.

I purchased a gallon of stripper from Steve at Vintage Trailer Supply and will start using that next week. It promises to be easier on the user.

I read somewhere that it takes 200 hours to polish an Airstream the first time. I may do half this year and the rest next. So it might look a little strange - hey, get over it!


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