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Aluminum bed and corrosion from winter deicer chemicals


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#1 John E Davies

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 08:16 PM

Hi; This is my first post.

I am researching offroad campers and am interested in the XP Camper, but I have serious reservations about the aluminum flatbed.

I know I could buy a steel unit, but I am wondering if there are other options like special coatings, Line-X, or undercoatings, that could be used with the aluminum bed to minimize winter damage.

I have a neat little utility/ camping trailer made from marine grade materials, but the surface coating was utterly destroyed by a two hour drive one winter. It's really hard to polish or wax diamond plate - it just eats up your rags and makes your knuckles bleed - though smooth panels aren't a problem. OTH, the trailer is now eight years old, and because it has always been stored in my garage, it looks much better than the average steel trailer of a similar age. IMHO the huge downside to aluminum is that it is so hard to refinish. Conventional primers just don't stick, and the really good two part epoxy primers are hard for the regular owner to use.

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Soft Road Trailer

I would be most interested in hearing what you folks have to say about winter use of an alloy truck bed.

Thanks.

John Davies
Spokane WA
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#2 pods8

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 11:24 PM

I'd think you'd just let the aluminum oxidize and protect itself? It's a flatbed, not a shiny show piece.
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2003 Dodge 1500 quad cab 4x4 5.7L Hemi auto w/ ride rite air springs and 1999(2000?) Hawk

2007 Dodge 2500 quad cab 4x4 5.7L Hemi auto and slowly progressing build.

FYI: I've got a bunch of extra 14ga wire in red and black. Its a thick jacket 41strand wire (likely MTW wire) verse typical 19strand automotive wire. It has good flexibility but factor in the thick jacket. I'll ship out 100' coils for $18 (I can go 50' of ea for that too) if anyone is in need of wire.

#3 John E Davies

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 11:40 PM

I'd think you'd just let the aluminum oxidize and protect itself? It's a flatbed, not a shiny show piece.

Google truck corrosion

I'm not talking about purely cosmetic damage - if you got that impression from my first post, I apologize. My point was to show how aggressive these liquid deicers attack aluminum especially (though they also eat steel and other metals, and wreck electrical wiring harnesses and brakes). I am talking about deep corrosion that structurally weakens the product.

If yours was meant to be a serious reply, I have no answer other than: Huh????

John Davies
Spokane WA
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#4 Ted

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 12:03 AM

I don't have an answer for you, just an observation/question. It seems to me most of the commercial big rig trailers I see going over Donner summit on I-80 down here have aluminum frames. At least one major retailer has their distribution center in Sparks and these vehicles made the trip daily all winter long. What do they do to keep them from corroding?
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#5 ntsqd

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 01:05 AM

Interesting, my sister in Nine Mile Falls hasn't mentioned that WA went away from cinders. Salt is devastating to everything it comes in contact with.

Some years ago I had forum discussion with some guys back East about road salt and corrosion. One of their tricks with DD's is to get a layer of ice covering the whole underside of the vehicle and leave it like that all winter. At the first melt they would seriously rinse the undercarriage with clear water. They also talked about a product called "Wax-Oyl", I *think* that I have the spelling right. They used this on vehicles more highly prized than their winter DD's.
None of which directly answers your question, but it might provoke an idea.

Sherwin-Williams sells a self etching primer that the experimental aircraft guys argue about if it or another, harder to get product works better for aluminum. Were it that I could remember the product name. If you go to one of their stores, be sure to ask for the Industrial/Marine specialist as most of the other guys really only seem to know about house paint.
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#6 Nimbl Vehicles

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 02:37 AM

John,
You can powder coat the underside of the flatbed.
I just move into salt country a few weeks ago, so thanks for pointing this out as I will keep an close eye on my bed.
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#7 pods8

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 05:09 AM

Yeah it did come off a bit cosmetic since the general salt scum can just be washed off after a trip. I'm originally from MI where a lot of salt is used, we did 2 things there. Undercoat our vehicles and wash off the undercarriage regularly in the winter. Not sure how well undercoating sticks to aluminum but if it does that's a start. Then for us weekend warriors a good washing of the underside would be good preventative maintenance after a trip in the winter. Off hand I'd think the natural oxide on aluminum would provide some decent protection assuming you don't leave the salt caked on the underside. That said if you're in salt country the days are numbered if you're out playing in it, that's just a way of life. There is a reason you don't see tons of older cars in the rust belt verse the south west. ;) Considering the depreciation trucks see over 10years it doesn't seem out of the realm of consideration to think you may have to repair/replace a flatbed over a period like that.
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2003 Dodge 1500 quad cab 4x4 5.7L Hemi auto w/ ride rite air springs and 1999(2000?) Hawk

2007 Dodge 2500 quad cab 4x4 5.7L Hemi auto and slowly progressing build.

FYI: I've got a bunch of extra 14ga wire in red and black. Its a thick jacket 41strand wire (likely MTW wire) verse typical 19strand automotive wire. It has good flexibility but factor in the thick jacket. I'll ship out 100' coils for $18 (I can go 50' of ea for that too) if anyone is in need of wire.

#8 John E Davies

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 08:15 PM

Thanks for the replies.

I'm not sure I could ever accept the idea of leaving the entire underside of the bed encased in ice all winter. What if you thawed it out in spring and found ... "stuff" ... growing under the ice?

I'm mainly lurking and doing a lot of thinking. I'll definitely check out the XP Camper at Overland Expo next year - I sure hope one will be there!

John Davies
Spokane WA
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#9 Mark W. Ingalls

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 11:29 PM

Reference Paper: Wash frequently. Probably better than coatings, which would trap the de-icers...

[edit] P.S.: Admirable trailer.
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