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Old 07-20-2013, 09:12 PM   #1
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In the market for an older, higher end diesel pusher, I recently inspected a 1999 coach. The most noticeable feature was the corrosion that appeared throughout the house and chassis; inside and out. At least 75% of the screws and bolts were rusted, as well as the surrounding hardware.

The cast aluminum of the side mirror bases and arms had lost its chrome and was actually eroding away (i.e. not just cosmetic). There were several spots about two inches in diameter at the top corners of the basement doors where the aluminum sheet was obviously corroding under the paint.

There was no evidence of flood damage. The undercarriage, although displaying surface rust at most joints and bolts, did not look like it had been driven on northern salted roads in winter.

Being stored by the ocean seemed like one possibility, but even cars in the Florida Keys do not display this level of corrosion, even after 14 years.

Replacing 10 cent screws is a manageable task, but it would follow that the corrosion would extend to wire connection points, solenoids, relays, motors, connectors, circuit boards, etc. One good pot hole could cause thousands of dollars of damage. I decided to pass up this "opportunity".

It looked as if the vehicle had been stored in a highly corrosive atmosphere. Not sure if it is related, but the tire sidewalls had a red/brown tinge that seemed to be deeper than just a surface dusting on the rubber.

Any ideas on what might have caused such uniform and thorough damage?

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Old 07-20-2013, 09:44 PM   #2
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Electrolysis may well be the cause. Another possibility is electrical leakage, use a VOM to test the metal to earth voltage. If any measurable voltage is present- the hunt begins for the wiring flaw.

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Old 07-21-2013, 06:20 AM   #3
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Good points. The mirror base looks like the zinc on my boat. I understand the galvanic action at the interface between the zinc and the salt water, but where is the aluminum going at such an extreme rate? Are heated mirrors on automatically when the engine is running? Is it possible that there is a current return path back to the body through the cast aluminum instead of the wiring harness? These are not cheap parts to replace.
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:11 PM   #4
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Those are probably Velvac mirrors. I talked with their tech service department a couple of years ago and basically we decided that the prep for the chrome over the "pot" metal was not done properly. I have seen it after 5 years on most all velvac mirror bases. Just poor quality workmanship as far as I am concerned. Here is a link to a company in Melbourne, FL that is reported to do an excellent job re-plating the mirror bases. SpaceCoast Plating in melbourne floridaWhen you see aluminum corrosion, it is usually due to galvanic action and is fairly easy to repair and repaint. Have lived in Florida for over 50 years and have not seen any abnormal corrosion on my vehicles during that time. However, I don't drive them on the beach as some do.
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:37 PM   #5
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What about he Frame, chassis and suspension parts? Are they wasting away as well??
There is a difference between Storage locations.
Parked in the dirt like a in the backyard is the worst, followed by slightly better gravele area and then we have concrete pad and of course the best is a enclosed climate controlled garage.
Did you notice the worst had the worst humidity control.
And of course the more time in the bad one just multiples the bad.

Of course all this is dependent on location as well.
Park anywhere in Moab UT and your fine, just as park 1 block from the beach in Flagler Beach FL and it all bad (wet wind off the ocean 90% of time)
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Old 07-22-2013, 09:50 AM   #6
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No, the frame and chassis metal and visible components do not seem to be rusted beyond what you might expect for a 2000. I did not see any rusted through channel as I have seen on northern coaches. However, every bolt, nut and the L bracket to which it is mounted is heavily rusted. Bad batch of fasteners that year?

Surprisingly, none of the interior cabinet hardware was rusted. It just dawned on me that the hinges were too perfect and not the usual factory color. Obviously new.

Not sure how it may be related, but almost none of the basement doors would latch shut. The nylon latch throws seemed to be loose enough, but it was difficult to impossible to push the doors so far closed that the latch would engage.

To treat rust on steel, I chip off the scale, sand or wire brush the rest, then paint with Ospho to convert the remaining rust and seal the metal. What is the best procedure to accomplish this with aluminum corrosion?
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Old 08-02-2013, 06:44 AM   #7
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Doing some research, I found an interesting thread by searching iRV2 for "eagle basement rust". It's enough to make me decide to steer clear of any rusted coach.

Although, I did see a great looking 1998 this week. The house was clean and ready to move in. Unfortunately, the owner forgot to mention the rust in the ad. It reminded me of Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. Every time you opened or closed a compartment door, some rust flakes would sprinkle onto the ground.
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Old 08-02-2013, 07:55 AM   #8
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I have had a great deal experience with galvanic corrosion in aircraft and boats. Each have their basic start points, and I expect that an RV is unique to basic causes. Bottom line is that in every instance proper care and prevention will keep it under control. That has obviously been lacking in the unit you looked at. I would pass on that deal, as what else was ignored in basic upkeep?
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Old 08-04-2013, 05:03 AM   #9
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The mirror bases are probably zinc die cast so they will corrode faster than anything else. It sounds like this coach has been near the ocean for a fair part of its life.

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