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Old 08-21-2015, 04:56 PM   #1
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How much rust is too much - fix or trade??

Hi all,

Iíve been lurking about for quite a while and appreciate all the good advise supplied by forum members. Iím sorry I havenít joined before now and hate for this to be my first post (and, sorry for it's length), but now I have a big, big problem I could use some help with. I think I've read every post related to rust, but still am foggy on a few things.

That said, Iím not even sure how or where to start with my misadventure! This past January, I purchased a 2007 32' Itasca Meridian from a dealer in New York (Iím in Arkansas). I was assured the RV had been stored in-doors and was in prime condition. I specifically asked about the amount of rust under the coach and was assured everything was fine. Long story short (and, you probably know where Iím going with this) I purchased the coach without crawling up underneath. I knew better, but I got caught up with the purchase and now Iíll just have to deal with the fall out. Iím not going to whine or cry about it (at least not today). I accept total responsibility for making such a costly, newbie mistake.

Anyway ó I drove the coach back to Arkansas and parked it until this past June. I brought it home from the storage unit and once outside the house, a radiator hose-clamp failed (at least it got me to the house before failing). I climbed under the coach to take a look and I nearly gagged at all the rust. I canít begin to describe my disbelief. What an absolute mess. Anyway, I replaced all but one of the radiator hose clamps, refilled the radiator (Cummins told me what I needed to do) and took the coach to a local park for a shake down run. At the park, the hydraulic jacks went down, but one in front would not come up. Had to call a service tech to come out and get it up for me. The tech told me the whole front of the underside was covered with rust (flakey rust - he chunked some off for me). I was totally bummed at this point - and to make it worse (yes, it gets worseÖ) the fuel filter failed coming back home - but again, the coach got me home and failed out front. I guess I should be thankful, it does get me home!

I took the coach to a Cummins service center and they ended up doing an absolute boat load of work for me - essentially, replacing all the rusted components that were on the verge of failing, including all the fuel lines, the manifold, the muffler, radiator hoses and clamps. What ever they didnít replace was cleaned and painted with rust inhibitor paint. Today the coach is over at another service center for the hydraulic lifts. They also called to ask me if I knew how rusted it was underneath. They are recommending replacing all four jacks because of all the rust.

I know I need to get all the rust off and paint the undercarriage with some rust inhibitor. Iíve been looking into how much it would cost to have someone media-blast it for me, but will probably spend the winter underneath the coach. Does the fact that rust is flaking represent a frame integrity problem? Or, is it more a matter of getting it all scraped down and painted? I wish I could send photos, but I didnít take any before hand and itís over at the service center now.

In addition to the jacks and all the engine work Iíve had done, is there anything else that should be inspected and/or replaced because of the rust? I am going to ask the service center to inspect the brake lines. I did ask them about the brakes and they said the brakes are fine, but I didnít specifically ask about the brake lines. Mostly, I worry about safety. I read brake lines could fail because of rustÖbut, is there anything else I should have checked? I also read something about hidden rust; rust inside frame components that canít be seen. How would I check that and what could be done about it?

You can probably tell, I have made the mental (and emotional) commitment to keeping this coach and getting it repaired. I thought long and hard about trading it in and taking a loss, but I really do like it - itís the perfect size, easy to drive and other than the mess underneath, itís in excellent condition (although I may have more surprises in store). My brother says to think of it as buying a new coach, a little at a time. Such an optimistic guyÖbut, I would be interested in what you all think. Am I making a mistake? Should I get it cleaned up and trade it for something else? The thought of how much of a loss I would take makes me absolutely gag!

My biggest question is this ó what would have caused such severe rusting underneath the coach without the coach displaying rust or damage anywhere else? The storage bays are spotless; the exterior metal components (window frames, steps, etc) show no rust at all. There was a bit in the battery bay, but I had more rust in my prior coachís battery bay. The interior of the coach is immaculate.

Well, thatís my sad story. Thanks for listening and any thoughts, comments, or input you might have would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 08-21-2015, 05:06 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. I'm really sorry for your cash outlay on getting things fixed, kinda takes the fun out. But once you have finished everything you will be glad that you are emotionally and financially invested.
Not a pro on rust, but if it's mainly surface and not rust through you may be ok. The salt on the roads up north is staggering. Not surprised it's that bad if they departed for points south during winter months and headed back before late spring early summer.

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Old 08-21-2015, 05:10 PM   #3
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AK,,,, sorry your having this problem. I have not seen it,,, but there sounds like way too much rust for a 2007. Where in NY did you purchase? There were a number of floods in the area south of Albany, I'm wondering if this unit was in one of them.

I lived in NY for many years, traveled a lot in the winter weather. To have the damage you are having is way more than the average rust on a 8 year old vehicle.

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Old 08-21-2015, 05:28 PM   #4
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The only way to really know if there is structural damage is to remove the corrosion. Afterwards it can be determined where and how much material has been lost. Surface rust doesn't cause structural weakness but "flaking" potentially might. Someone knowledgable needs to inspect the coach to advise what action to take. Its possible it looks much worse than it is.
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Old 08-21-2015, 05:29 PM   #5
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How much rust is too much - fix or trade??

Yes, I'm thinking flood damage, also. Possibly salt water from Hurricaine Sandy.Sorry for your troubles.
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Old 08-21-2015, 06:50 PM   #6
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Eight years in New York would cause all the rust. The good news is most people(according to Lazydays) trade their motorhome within two years after learning with the first one what they really want. And more good news you'll never buy another rusty motorhome again! Likely the rust you are seeing is typical for a northern motorhome(or car), but in Arkansas you certainly aren't accustomed to seeing rust. I endured three northern motorhomes, all with some-moderate rust, then finally bought the coach I wanted which does not have a single speck of rust anywhere. I buy all my used vehicles in the south, even tho I live in Ohio. I don't like rust!
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Old 08-22-2015, 05:54 AM   #7
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Thank you all for the comments. From what I've read about flood damage, I don't think that was the cause of the rust. But, a good point was made - I am not accustomed to seeing any rust on vehicles, so it may possibly be that it's not as bad it appears (hoping).

I know I need to get under there with a wire brush and clean the rust out and then paint with some kind of rust inhibitor. A lot of folks seem to like the POR15, but the three step process seems a bit much and would be pretty awkward from underneath the coach. Is anyone familiar with a good one step process that will stop further rusting and add protection?

Again, thanks for all your help.
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Old 08-22-2015, 06:02 AM   #8
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The biggest concern I would have is rusty brake lines. Some years ago I had to replace my lines on a car as they burst while I applied the brakes. That will get your attention.
Jerry and Barbara,
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:09 AM   #9
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I live in New England. I can't tell you how many cars I have had go to the junk yard that ran fine, but were totally destroyed by rust. IMO, if the coach looks nice I would trade it in. I think in the long run you will be happier and will likely have a more problem free experience. Sorry this happened to you.

The first thing I did when I bought mine was crawl the entire length underneath. When you live here you know that this can make or break a used item. Mine is in really good shape but I also bought off a private person and knew how he stored it. I am unfortunate enough to have one of the corrosion research stations is just a few miles from my house
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:18 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Grey Ghost I View Post
The biggest concern I would have is rusty brake lines. Some years ago I had to replace my lines on a car as they burst while I applied the brakes. That will get your attention.
Thats for sure check those brake lines. I am changing mine out now because they have rusted through from the inside out.
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Old 08-22-2015, 08:11 AM   #11
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There may be more bad news from my personal experience. The bad news is what you can't see like the tubing that forms the basement. I had to replace all the tubing I could get to in the front and rear of the basement which did not get rid of all the rusted out tubing. I would suggest trading it off as there will never be an end to the rust spreading.
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Old 08-22-2015, 02:29 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Texbeachbum View Post
Thats for sure check those brake lines. I am changing mine out now because they have rusted through from the inside out.
Brake fluid is designed to be hygroscopic. Over time, system condensation/moisture that is held in suspension can and will cause internal line degradation as well as in other brake components. The general recommendation is to flush the system with fresh fluid every two or three years.
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Old 08-22-2015, 06:36 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by AK_smith View Post
... POR15, but the three step process seems a bit much and would be pretty awkward from underneath the coach. ...
three step process? If I recall correctly you just scrape off loose rust and slather on the POR15. It kills active rust and seals so no air/moisture can penetrate. You have to get BOTH sides. For tubes and such, get some brake hose, a pump up sprayer, take the tip off the sprayer and use the brake hose as an extension wand. Drag it through the tube rotating and twisting until you're confident it's well coated. COVER the floor if you don't want it spotted with paint.

One caution, NOTHING takes POR15 off skin. N O T H I N G! It will wear off in a couple weeks...maybe three. Trust me that I know from experience.

I think POR needs to be topcoated but you can do that with most anything including rattle cans to protect from UV.
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Old 08-22-2015, 08:48 PM   #14
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Ospho, is a good rust killer and sealer. I used it in the marine industry for many years. Clean and scrape all the exposed rusted area, wire brush, wheel, and I used wood chisels as well. Apply the Ospho let sit 24 hours. It will oxidize and seal the area leaving a bare blackened metal. Use a Fiberglass bondo like filler where needed it is waterproof. Sand if necessary the filler, prime with brush on or spray metal primer then paint with a rust preventative enamel or use spray under coat. Lousy job but I just did my front area generator pan and enameled areas. I also check constantly the undercarriage. It is "fixable" but a real PITA job.

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