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Old 02-27-2011, 03:51 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateart View Post
Hi, The husband took one of our twins out of the Tradewind and made a desk set up.... The bunkbed fits above for sleeping purposes. Came out very nice....
Indeed it did !
Great job.

Thanks for posting the pic.
I'm about to do something similar in my Argosy MH.




That nifty bunk-bed thingy: is that a standard AS thing ?

Thanks
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Old 02-28-2011, 02:08 AM   #16
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Thanks for all the opinions, everyone!

While most of the responses suggest using a metallic laminate, the only photos from actual projects were of metal countertops. I've also corroborated reinergirl's point that none of these metallic laminates seem to be rated for horizontal use. Formica even go out of their way to say "(these) products may scratch and are not recommended for high wear applications such as countertops" (PDF source). These metallic laminates are actually just _very_ thin sheets of pure metal on top of a HIPS or phenolic backer. And so I assume they'd not only carry the softness and chemical traits of aluminum, but wouldn't "heal" as nicely, since a scratch exposes that backing substance instead of more aluminum.

I also tried to find any evidence of the "aluminum will make you sick" story. While that much appears possible (there are several studies suggesting exposure to aluminum could have a number of negative side effects, including, perhaps, a link with Alzheimer's disease), the number of references to exposure through skin contact is conspicuously low. The primary concern is inhalation, especially for people who work with or around aluminum dust on a regular basis. Aluminum exposure through the wrists appears to be a very minor worry among worries as an RVer. There is aluminum in our deodorant, cookware, shampoo and some foods. Besides, if any of us were worried about exposure to aluminum, I think would have chosen a different trailer.

Aluminitis, it appears, is still something to celebrate.

(Here's OSHA's guidelines on Aluminum: Occupational Safety and Health Guideline for Aluminum)

star_kitty, your table is _exactly_ what I'd been thinking about doing (with leaving the plywood edges exposed). We call it the "Chipotle table", if you're familiar with the restaurant's decor. I find it a lot "warmer" and more inviting than a full metal-wrapped edge, which often ends up looking a bit too sterile for my taste.

I think I'll give Airparts a call tomorrow or maybe just look for a smaller metal supply company here in town. I'm open to either aluminum or stainless steel such that it meets my earlier criteria. I'll try to continue posting until this project is complete, and with pictures, of course. Couple more weeks of planning, first.

Thanks again, everyone; I would continue to enjoy your input.
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Old 02-28-2011, 04:35 AM   #17
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Hi Josh.
I've done quite a few things aluminum, both dekorative and
technical.
Aluminum will NOT work as a table-top.
It's way too soft. You can different types; softer/harder,
but none will do the job.
For your infotainment here's a demonstration.
Brand new sheet of alu.
Moving about a drinking glass, a kitchen utensil and a pen,
you know; normal 'table-stuff'.

VIDEO



Sorry about the quality of the video, but I hope you can see how
it will scrach the surface, and within ten minutes of setting up
your table you'll have one ugly table
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Old 02-28-2011, 02:28 PM   #18
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Oh wow, thanks for the demonstration, Octane. I definitely want to avoid the kinds of effects you're showing there.

A couple thoughts:

We're not exactly interested in keeping the mirror/glossy finish you're starting with there. We're actually interested in something more brushed, like what star_kitty's table looks like. If we scoured the whole thing with a 3M pad first, maybe additional scratches would be less noticeable? Maybe not.

Are there protective coatings we could look into, such that we're not interacting with the metal surface itself but some sort of clearcoat or enamel varnish? The aluminum skin of trailer scratches easily, but not THAT easily. How is it protected and could we implement something like that (we'll likely want to do something like that for fingerprint/smudge resistance anyway).

Definitely still open to stainless steel, if that's the right material for this job. Any opinions about that?
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Old 02-28-2011, 02:28 PM   #19
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Check out this YouTube - Airstream Restoration - 05-1 Countertop . On Classic rides they restored a airstream and part of it was an aluminum countertop with a glass top. Pretty neat looking and simple enough. They etched the Classic Rides logo under the glass and it looked great! The whole series of youtube videos on the restoration is worth watching.

Seriously don't discount the metal paints out there (roll ons and sprays) there are many that look like the real thing. I painted a metal light chrome after making sure it was prepped properly and there's no way you could tell!
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Old 02-28-2011, 02:44 PM   #20
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BTW, the metal laminates are thick enough that they wouldn't scratch through unless you really gouged it. It would work better than a thin sheet of aluminum because of the phenolic backing on it is pretty rigid & supports it. I also think the "warning" about horizontal use is primarily for commercial use...I doubt occasional use in a trailer would compare. Regardless, stainless steel would be a much more appropriate surface than aluminum. It's what commercial kitchens use...

another issue with aluminum is acids (like wine) &/or salt (margaritas) will corrode aluminum pretty easily.

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Old 02-28-2011, 03:47 PM   #21
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Okay, okay! I'll look at stainless steel!

I totally get the push for laminate and even the metallic spray paint finishes. I've used both for different projects, and have been wildly happy with both. But I'm leaning towards a genuine metal surface for this project, at least until the all the obstacles of doing so reveal themselves and I relent to something more synthetic.

Reluctantly, I'm agreeing that it looks like aluminum just isn't the right material for this purpose. Stainless steel 304 with a #3 finish is what I'm looking at now.
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Old 02-28-2011, 05:40 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by worksology View Post
Okay, okay! I'll look at stainless steel!

I totally get the push for laminate and even the metallic spray paint finishes. I've used both for different projects, and have been wildly happy with both. But I'm leaning towards a genuine metal surface for this project, at least until the all the obstacles of doing so reveal themselves and I relent to something more synthetic.

Reluctantly, I'm agreeing that it looks like aluminum just isn't the right material for this purpose. Stainless steel 304 with a #3 finish is what I'm looking at now.
I liked stainless steel as well, until I found out the price was double that of aluminum. Also, the table seeing use from glassware and other objects is what I want to see. I have worked my butt off trying to get this trailer camp-worthy and I can't wait until it shows some sign of use!

The issue that Shari pointed out is somewhat of a concern regarding certain alcoholic beverages corroding the aluminum, seeing how those are my two favorite drinks, so I will need to be careful.

But I say use the aluminum and let it show some scars. It's a travel trailer, not a museum show piece!
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Old 02-28-2011, 05:41 PM   #23
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Yup. Stainless is the better than aluminum.I have a few 4x8 sheets of .080 in my shop. What dimension do you need? Shipping will be astronomical.
In all seriousness stainless scratches pretty easily too but can be buffed out if its not too deep. I know stainless and aluminum are very cool and all but laminate is still your best bet . A month or 2 down the road and your stainless top will look used and abused where as laminate will look like the day you layed it down. Also. With laminate you can run a hardwood border around your table, lay the laminate right over everything and run around it with a contour bit router and you have a perfect edge.
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Old 02-28-2011, 06:26 PM   #24
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Worksology -- sorry I don't have good pics to share (I do have some), but I went the aluminum route. I gutted a 1978 Tradewind and put in two aluminum counter tops, the refrig front panel and a 25"X48" dinette table top. We've only been put four times since November when we got 'er done, but we're very happy. Yes, the aluminum is softer than stainless, but like you, we weren't looking for the glossy finish. We think the scratches, rubs and scuffs are going to make it a nice surface over time. It cleans up okay. I don't know about all chemicals, but do NOT EVER use chlorine or bleach.
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Old 02-28-2011, 07:33 PM   #25
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Actually I did find a few not-so-pretty-good photos. But you'll get a feel. We also added an aluminium over-sink shelf recently that's not in the photo.
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Old 02-28-2011, 07:58 PM   #26
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I vote for stainless! I had the service counters in my office surfaced with stainless. They held up wonderfully. When they get scratches, it looks used in a very cool way.
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:16 PM   #27
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I agree. If you can afford it, stainless is the way to go.
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Old 03-01-2011, 06:20 PM   #28
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I have custom stainless steel counters in my boat. I have a great metal fabrication shop nearby and there are people who are itching to get their hands on anything different and even challenging. We had some detail involved (two openings for refer holds with lids) and quite a few bends. It's approx. 4' long and 2' wide. It was made out of #2 (I think) a really good grade polishable stainless. I think it was less than 4-500. Amazing stuff. Sanitary easy to clean, easy to buff with a soft cloth & a little metal polish once/year.

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