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Holes in floor of trailer!

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  • Holes in floor of trailer!

    OK, took my 9-year-old aluminum gooseneck to be serviced and thoroughly washed last week. When they pulled up the mats, an area on the floor that had previously shown corrosion now has several small holes, actual holes you can see the ground through. It's a spot in the middle of the trailer, under the place where two mats join; clearly urine pools there (though not so much, now that we've got drainage ). We've stomped up and down and there doesn't seem to be any give; there are aluminum support bars running every foot along the underside of the trailer, and the mats fit tightly and are half inch thick--in other words, it doesn't seem possible that a horse could put his foot through the floor. It's also not where the horses stand, rather in the middle.

    Still--holes in my trailer floor! Does anyone else have experience with this? How concerned should I be? How should I fix it?

  • #2
    This is actually fairly common on aluminum floors. You should take care of that immediately because the corrosion will only get worse. There is some good info on HTW about acid washing and sealing.

    Bartley Heath
    Buy Factory Direct and $ave at


    • #3
      I doubt it is really corrosion. Aluminum is VERY difficult to corrode due to its affinity for oxygen and the formation of a dense Al2O3 layer on the surface. However, it is susceptible to what is called stress crack corrosion where the loading of horses and movement of the trailer will fatigue the floor and is so doing create cracks which subsequently oxidize. These areas will crack more the more the floor is loaded.

      From the sound of it, it is the flexing of the trailer that is causing the failure. Acid washing and sealing does little to stop stress crack corrosion.

      Yes, the holes will need to be cut out and a new section of floor put in.



      • #4
        Here is a good photo of what horse urine does to an aluminum floor.

        Bartley Heath
        Buy Factory Direct and $ave at
        Last edited by DD_TrailerMan; Apr. 7, 2011, 01:49 PM.


        • #5
          Yes, and that is a PERFECT example of stress-corrosion cracking! Thank you! Al is highly susceptible to the Cl- and other ions in the urine when stressed as they can migrate into into the fractured oxide layer. In unstressed Al, urine, salt water, etc. does little. (yes, I am a metallurgist and do manufacture Al, test it, and do failure analysis on commercial products). Yes, washing can dilute the ion concentration but the water itself will contribute to continued cracking by the hydrogen migration into the Al.

          The only way to prevent this is to anodize the aluminum (if that is what you mean by sealing). Acid washing can only etch the surface exposing new Al substrate to oxidize which is also sealing the surface.

          For anybody interested, this is also an indicator of the processing and age treatment of the Al when it was manufactured. If this is a 600 series Al, then the Mg can induce stress-corrosion cracking that looks very similar to the picture shown as the hydrogen from the water migrates along the metal grain boundaries creating brittle magnesium hydrides. One can limit this via various heat treatments and this looks like the Mg was allowed to diffuse into the grain boundary, causing the failure.


          • Original Poster

            Bartley, Reed, thank you both!

            To be honest, while this is clearly a place where urine can collect--in that crack between the mats, right where the front gelding pees--I think I do a good job keeping the trailer cleaned out, so I was sort of stunned when I saw the damage.

            It sounds like I need to get it fixed right away. So, what I should do is:

            --have it acid-washed
            --weld down a new section of floor
            --seal the repaired floor with a roll-on liner.

            Yes? Anything else I should know?

            I really appreciate the advice.



            • Original Poster

              Also, that photo is exactly what I'm talking about.


              • #8
                RAyers - have you run across anything concerning corrosion due to the interaction of rubber / aluminum & moisture? I have had quite a few trailers thru here with corrosion where no urine would have been, so, I did some research and found a little bit of info about the above, it was concerning aircraft fuel tanks and gaskets...


                • #9
                  Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                  For anybody interested, this is also an indicator of the processing and age treatment of the Al when it was manufactured. If this is a 600 series Al, then the Mg can induce stress-corrosion cracking that looks very similar to the picture shown as the hydrogen from the water migrates along the metal grain boundaries creating brittle magnesium hydrides. One can limit this via various heat treatments and this looks like the Mg was allowed to diffuse into the grain boundary, causing the failure.
                  Just out of curiosity can it pick up Mg from the the Mag Chloride on the roads? Will driving where they treat the roads with that accelerate the breakdown?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 4Martini View Post
                    Just out of curiosity can it pick up Mg from the the Mag Chloride on the roads? Will driving where they treat the roads with that accelerate the breakdown?
                    Note, it is mag chloride. The chlorine is what will cause the corrosion.



                    • #11
                      RAyers, that is fascinating. Makes me wish chemistry wasn't the mystery hour when I was in high school. But it makes me wonder why they would ever use aluminum as flooring if it can be prone to disintegration from urine. gully, can the people who serviced and washed the trailer give you any direction on what to do? I could not put my horses in a trailer that had any kind of flaw in the floor.


                      • #12
                        Good grief. I just bought a 4 Star thinking that as long as I kept the floor rinsed (with the water hose) after every use I would be fine ... for decades.

                        Now I am finding out it is more susceptible to urine than pressure treated wooden plank floor boards.