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Old 08-25-2012, 11:09 AM   #1
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Polish without stripping?

I recently purchased my first Airstream and would like to know if it okay to polish it without stripping. The clear coat appears to be in good condition except for one spot about 6 inches in diameter. The previous owner gave me a near-empty bottle of Walbernize and I wonder if I should get more or if there is something better to use.
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Old 08-25-2012, 11:13 AM   #2
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Unfortunately you are going to have to strip it in order to polish. The polisher will only work on bare metal, otherwise you are going to either wear through the clear coat trying to get to the metal, or you will make a big mess on the clear coat.
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Old 08-25-2012, 12:37 PM   #3
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Ditto Aluminitus. Get yourself some Removal 220 or Citrus Strip, follow directions, and polish till your hearts desire. There are lots of posts on the forums addressing polishing. Caution: silver trailers are addictive! I also noticed by your profile you have a 2003 International. You are likely not going to get the shine that you would on an older trailer due to the alclad composition in the aluminum skin. But never the less, you will get some shine...they do look good.

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Old 08-25-2012, 01:26 PM   #4
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OWNERS MANUAL - Wax clearcoat, don't polish

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyslinger View Post
I recently purchased my first Airstream and would like to know if it okay to polish it without stripping..

This is from the 2002 AIRSTREAM INTERNATIONAL TRAILER OWNERS MANUAL

D-1

EXTERIOR
Cleaning

As a general rule of thumb we recommend the trailer be washed about every four weeks and waxed in the spring and fall. To make sure your new unit is always protected you should wax it immediately or have your dealer wax it just prior to delivery. In industrial areas cleaning and waxing should be done on a more frequent schedule.

CAUTION: ABRASIVE POLISHES OR CLEANING SOLVENTS SUCH AS AUTOMATIC DISHWASHER OR ACID ETCH CLEANERS ARE TOO STRONG AND SHOULD NEVER BE USED. RINSE ALL GRIT FROM SURFACE PRIOR TO WASHING.

Use soft rags or wash mitts always moving lengthwise with the trailer. NEVER rub hard on the coating. Even the softest rag will damage the coating if excessive pressure is applied. ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR TRAILER IN THE SHADE OR ON A CLOUDY DAY WHEN THE ALUMINUM SKIN IS COOL. Oil, grease, dust and dirt may be removed by washing with any mild nonabrasive soap or detergent. Cleaning should be followed by a thorough clean water rinse. Drying the unit with a chamois or a soft cloth may prevent spots and streaks. WHEN WASHING OR POLISHING YOUR TRAILER, ALWAYS WIPE "WITH" THE GRAIN OF THE METAL.

After cleaning and drying, a good grade of nonabrasive automotive paste or liquid wax will increase the life of the finish, especially in coastal areas where the finish is exposed to salt air or in polluted industrial areas. It will also protect the shell from minor scratches and make subsequent cleaning easier.

It is important to remove sap, gum, resin, asphalt, etc. as soon as possible after they appear by washing and waxing. Sunlight and time will bake-harden these materials making them almost impossible to remove without heavy buffing. If asphalt remains on the trailer after washing, use a small amount of kerosene on a rag and wipe the spots individually, being careful not to scratch the finish.

If a substance is found on the coating that cannot be removed by normal washing procedures, Airstream recommends using DX 330 Acryli-Clean made by PPG Industries. Follow all directions and warnings on the product container. Acryli-Clean should be used by trained personnel only, using the proper equipment under controlled conditions. Use the Acryli-Clean as sparingly as possible to remove glue, tar, and other similar substance.

To keep your trailer looking new, paint the "A" frame, LPG tanks, and rear frame periodically.

It is recommended that the caulking and sealant used in external seams and joints such as end shell segments and around window frames, light bezels, beltline and rub rail molding, etc. be checked regularly. If this material has dried out and become cracked or checked, or if a portion has fallen out, it should be replaced with fresh material to prevent possible rain leaks. Caulking and sealing material is available from your Airstream dealer.

http://www.airstream.com/files/libra...e37f6c33c2.pdf

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Old 08-25-2012, 01:59 PM   #5
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Plus the new Aluminum doesn't polish as well as the old. Well thats what I have read here.. anyone with an experience?
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Old 08-25-2012, 03:03 PM   #6
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Do you mean 'polish' in the way you want a mirror-finish? You can still wax/polish in the same manner you would a vehicle, but if you are going for the aircraft-style mirrored look, the clear coat has to come off.

Just do your research on the pros and cons of polishing... it's not the easiest process to do, and adds certain upkeep to deal with the now-exposed aluminum. Certainly looks sharp if you have the time to do it.
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Old 08-25-2012, 03:39 PM   #7
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Walbernize is a safe product to use on the factory clear coat. I think they make a couple of types that can be used depending on the year of your trailer. You do not want to "strip" the trailer unless you are planning on either letting the alum oxide to a dull grey or do a full bore buffing job to take it to a mirror shine.. Unless you are in for that look (oxidized) or work (polishing) then I would stick with Walbernizing it a couple of times a year even if it has a bad spot or two.
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Old 08-25-2012, 03:43 PM   #8
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BTW, I polished my '99 as have others and no they are not like the older Alclads, but they still shine up very nicely. Here is a "before and after" photo (mine is not fully stripped and in the final stages of polishing).
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1999 28' Safari
2012 F150 Platinum Max Tow 7650 GVWR 3.73 Elec. Locking Diff.(Prev 2003 Dmax).
Honda EU2000i, Equalizer Hitch
AM Solar Panels 150W - 2 Trojan T 105 6V Batteries
TAC MD-6
AIR 4534

On internet forums, please research and separate the wheat from the chaff (including mine!)
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:48 PM   #9
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With Airstreams there is a different definition for polish then cars. With cars waxing is often called polishing which is fine to do with the clear coat. The Airstream definition is remove clear coat and bring up to a mirror finish, which means you have to remove the clear coat.
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