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Old 11-29-2002, 08:12 AM   #1
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aluminum question

Hi guys. First post on here. It's like this- I have a '74 27' oily(o/l int. l/y) and I'm wondering if the exterior is polishable. I don't remember when the clearcoat was first used and the aluminum on mine almost looks brushed.
What year did they start clearcoating? I vaguely remember the 60's were alclad? Or is that the alloy they used after that and 'til what year?
This isn't a next week project- I still have appliances to keep me busy. Just wanna know what fun lies ahead of me. I don't think I've seen a truly shiny AS past about 22 feet! Thanks.
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Old 01-01-2003, 10:49 AM   #2
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Not sure about the clear coat but we have been using car wax on the shell of out trailer twice a year and it works well. Many swear by the more expensive products.
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Old 01-01-2003, 11:07 AM   #3
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aluminum question

Greetings!

The frist year for Plasticoat was 1964 - - my information points to it being an option that first year with univeral standard equipment status beginning in 1965. Your Overlander would have come from the factory with Plasticoat, but it is possible that it may have been stripped or recoated at some point in time.

The "brushed" surface that you are noticing can be one of several things. It is possible that the Plasticoat is failing or has failed and what you are seeing is the clouding that is a part of the Plasticoat failure process. A second possibility is that you are noticing the natural "graining" of the aluminum. A third possibility is that a misguided former owner may have tried to polish the sikin using sand paper or steel wool producing scratches that poduce the "brushed" appearance.

All of the above issues can be addressed through the polishing process. If the rig has been severely sanded or steel wooled, polishing can be quite difficult - - this I know from experience with one large panel on my '64 Overlander. A previous owner had sanded one entire panel - - added an additional day's labor and equipment rental charges when my coach was professionally polished last year. If the Plasticoat is failing, stripping and polishing is quite straight-forward. If the coach has unusually heavy graining in the aluminum polish is possible, but it may not polish mirror bright.

My '64 Overlander is below after its polish and Plasticoat:



A number of VAC members have polished new rigs from the 1970s and you can see a few of these at the following URL:


Trailers of the 1970s - - 1999 Dayton International Rally


Good luck with your project!

Kevin
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1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 01-01-2003, 01:51 PM   #4
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Kevin Your Airstream looks very nice. I have a few spots up near the roof where the aluminum is tarnished and the cleaners do not help. I was tempted to try steel wool or 600 grade paper but now know that that is not the way to do it.

thanks for the tip.
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Old 01-01-2003, 02:12 PM   #5
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JD- Do you put the wax over the Plasticoat? Do you have the 318 or 360 in your Dodge? Your V-6 pulls the 27'er without a problem?
Thanks.

Kevin- I think the brushed look is the graining. Thanks for the info and link. Your trailer is beautiful. Is that a solar panel behind your AC unit?

I removed the control panel to get to the exhaust fan. It wasn't working, plus it's leaking right there. Got the fan working (it was the link to the face of the control panel) but haven't sealed the outside yet. I guess I can just soak the screen/filter for the fan in some hot water and detergent?
Is it me or does it seem kinda' odd to have the stove exhaust running right through your control panel? I guess there's limited space in a TT.
Thanks again and Happy New Year- here we go again!!
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Old 01-01-2003, 05:49 PM   #6
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MsLed,

Welcome!! I have a 74 Overlander International as well, got it a week or two ago and my kitchen fan is out too. I think it just needs a shot of oil and a good cleaning. I stripped the front top nose last weekend and started polishing it. My wife has given it mixed reviews. It is definitely something that has a learning curve attached. I need to get the correct tools as well. For the most part my clearcoat is o.k., except for the roof and where someone had affixed the WBCCI numbers to it. You can see mine in a thread called "What to Expect", in the For Sale and Wanted forum. It has been locked for some reason, (I wish the moderator would have just moved it!!)

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Old 01-01-2003, 05:55 PM   #7
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Aluminum question

Greetings MsLed!

Yes, what you see on the roof of my Overlander are solar panels - - three (2-50 WATT and 1-100 WATT) in all backed up by three gel cell batteries and a Trace Inverter. After traveling on two different Vintage Airstream caravans where I was worried about using too much 12-volt power, I decided that it was time to splurge on solar power so that I would have a more predictable 12-volt power supply. The entire setup was installed by A J Solar at the WBCCI International Rally.

There always seems to be something monted near the range vent in an Airstream - - in mine it was a stereo unit that was damaged when the vent leaked. My suggestion for the filter would be to run it through your home automatic dishwasher if you have one (use pots and pans cycle) - - it really removes the grime - - one caution, however, if it is one with an activated charcoal core, it is not dishwasher safe.

There is a specific product for maintaining Plasticoat. It is available from all Airstream dealers as well as via the Internet. It is a product called Walbernize. When purchasing Walbernize, be sure to specify the variety for Plasticoat surfaces as the one for non-coated trailers can damage the Plasticoat.

Good luck with your project!

Kevin
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1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 01-02-2003, 06:40 PM   #8
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Chas- has your wife given the trailer mixed reviews or the act of polishing it? From what I've read there's probably been some censored reviews on polishing prior to the amazing glow of the trailers AND polishers afterward.
Your trailer looks great- mine's not as purdy and I paid 4750, but I got a brand new TV/VCR unit, microwave and an adjustable height hitch w/the stabilizer thingies. It's definately got it's quips but the floors are solid throughout , new marine batt and univolt, three Zip Dee awnings(not new), and a couple o' pink flamingos ta boot.
Oh- my front middle window is two paned and it has rivets inside and out.
I'll be using it as a guest room til spring-I'm quite busy and the weather up HERE is unlike TX I'm sure. Rain ,snow, rain...
I have both manuals if yer needin' info- just ask.

Kevin- howdy. Is a Trace Inverter a brand name or a function? I've only towed my trailer home from Pittsburgh (where I bought it) and to a campground about 20 min. from my house twice. Looks like you've been everywhere. I noticed in your profile you're an educator. Mind if I ask what level/courses? Too late! I get educated every time I touch something mechanical. Poof. There it goes.
I can only dream about solar equip at this point, heck, I don't own a digital camara yet. Much less have the ability to post a pic . But someday soon!! Thanks again for the info--Debi AKA MsLed
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Old 01-02-2003, 08:45 PM   #9
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Aluminum question

Greetings Debi!

Trace is a brand name of power Inverters. An inverter is approximately twice as expensive as a power converter and functions a bit differently. When living independently without AC shore power, the inverter takes the energy produced by the solar panels and stored in the batteries and converts it into AC current that allows me to run such devices as my satellite receiver, small microwave (less than 600 watts), etc. When connected to shore power it charges the batteries as necessary - - the solar panels actually do most of the charging on a day-to-day basis.

My caravan experiences with fearing running short of 12-volt power while dry camping was my intial reason for going solar. The inverter was a more recent addition when my power converter failed last summer - - it seemed a shame with all of the solar power equipment not to have an inverter to get full use of the available resources. I suspect that it will be a valuable addition for my planned Alaskan expedition in 2004.

I have visited every state West of the Mississippi River (except Alaska and Hawaii), and most of the time my Airstream accompanied me. Some of my co-workers kid me about trying to see how fast I can accumulate miles on my vehicles - - my '99 tow vehicle will turn over 100,000 miles later this month and I did purchase it new. This summer will mark my first trip to New England. I have traveled the Eastern states from Virginia to Florida and back to the Mississippi River.

I am a secondary Business Teacher by specialty and teach Business Education and Computer Science courses to students in grades six through twelve. In the past, I have also taught adult education courses in Computer Applications while living in both Kansas and Wisconsin.

It sounds like you may share my Murphy's Law companion as well. It is a rare trip that Murphy doesn't make at least one visit. In 2000, it was the spare tire mount that decided to depart the rear bumper of the trailer while traveling a rough secondary highway in the Dakota Badlands - - the spare tire hit the ground then bounced over the Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra that had been taligating me hitting the pavement again shortly behind him and then veering off onto the shoulder of the highway - - another member of our caravan was about 2 miles back and witnessed the whole thing and advised me when it appeared that something had flown off of my roof via the CB radio. Last summer, it was the pogo stick electric tongue jack - - we were heading back from the International Rally on Interstate 90 when it seemed that the trailer was periodically bottoming out - - after the third jolt, I stopped to check on the situation expecting to find a problem with a wheel or axle, but nothing - - then I noticed that the jack post was less than an inch from the ground (apparently, the jack post would contact the ground then fully retract followed by immediate redeployment) - - ended up clipping the power cord to the jack and retracting it manually (I hope to never have to repeat that process - - over 20 minutes of turning that little emergency crank).

Don't despair about a digital camera - - each day that you wait the cost of these devices seem to decrease and the number of features at a given price level seems to rise. I was looking at digital cameras while shopping the after Christmas sales and discovered that a new camera with the features of my Sony FD 91 would now cost about a third of what I paid for it in 1999.

Good luck with your Overlander!

Kevin
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Old 01-04-2003, 07:33 PM   #10
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We do the wax/cleaner over the plastic coat. Will check it out further in the Spring to see if we can get it even better. Bigger engine in the Dodge and both pull the trailer very well.
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Old 01-04-2003, 10:26 PM   #11
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MsLed:

I have a 1975 OILY. I bought it last summer. Mine had been previously stripped, cleaned, re-plasticoated, and waxed, but it was filthy when we bought it. The top had been painted a matt grey that looks VERY much like the brand new Airstreams.

The place where I have all my service and repairs done, C&G in Bellflower, CA, will not polish and does not recommend it. The maintenance on a polished Vintage Airstream is huge in this climate here... the salt air, damp nights, and hot dry days will turn a newly polished Airstream black within a few months if it is not constantly re-waxed.

I was amazed how good mine looked after just a simple wash and wax. I keep it under cover when not out on the road, and it still looks good after 4 months now. I'll wash it next week after a weekend on the beach, and I'll have it waxed before and after the summer season.

No polishing for me. Keep it simple!!!
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Old 01-15-2003, 06:11 PM   #12
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Phil- Hello. I think I'm gonna wash it real good if it EVER gets above freezing again. Looked at your photos- great looking setup! When you repainted your stripes and logos did you hafta' do anything special to the aluminum to get the paint to adhere?
Figured there might be a trick to it. I have a field day on this site!! Thanks again.
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Old 01-15-2003, 10:21 PM   #13
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Debi:

My logo was repainted by C&G in Bellflower; they did all my rehab and remodel work on my Airstream; It cost a fortune, and was worth twice that! I'm not a do-it-yourself guy. What I am saying is that I have no idea how they repainted the logo. But the blue stripe! That's a different matter. It is called the "rub-rail" and it is a rubber type of product that is easily available from Airstream service centers and, from what other people tell me, it is fairly easy to install.

All I really know is that the newly painted logo and the new rub-rails really improve the appearance of the Airstream.
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