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Old 11-02-2014, 04:39 PM   #1
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Taillight housing finish on '06 Bambi

I've attached a couple of pics of one of the taillight housings on our Bambi. It looks like someone took some "solvent" to the top of it and removed the finish. Are these just painted with chrome paint? Or are they polished aluminum with clear coat. The inside of the casting looks like it has some sort of clear coat on it. Recommendations for refinishing? Thanks in advance.

George

P.S. Both lights look the same and need to be refinished.
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Old 11-03-2014, 01:30 PM   #2
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Non-magnetic material

I tried calling Airstream for some info....had to leave a voicemail. No return call as yet.

However, checked the housing with a magnet... definitely not magnetic. This leads me to think they are just aluminum castings.

Why not just take them to a chrome shop and have them buffed and perhaps chromed?
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Old 11-03-2014, 01:52 PM   #3
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The are aluminum with a clear coat. Yours actually look in better shape than mine. They are ate up with filaform. I started stripping them while still installed and got involved with another project. The are on my to do list but things with a higher priority keep popping up.
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Old 11-03-2014, 03:07 PM   #4
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Pot metal?

Finally got in contact with Mike at Airstream tech support. He said they were aluminum castings and could be refinished. He was going to send me some information on how to do it.
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Old 11-03-2014, 03:20 PM   #5
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Refinishing material from Airstream

Attached is the material I got from AS on refinishing these taillight housings.

George
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File Type: pdf Polishing repairing_corrosion_on_cast_aluminum.pdf (111.1 KB, 166 views)
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Old 11-04-2014, 04:24 PM   #6
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Wow! What a difference

See the attached. All of the gray discoloration was in the clearcoat. When I removed all the clearcoat with lacquer thinner (which was not easy), the taillight housing looked like new. The clearcoat is fairly thick and it took several applications of the lacquer thinner to get it off. A white scotch bright pad I had laying around helped remove it. Saturating a rag with laquer thinner and letting it sit on the surface of the housing for several minutes helped also. I bought some aerosol clearcoat from our local Airstream dealer (Oasis) and will finish them off tomorrow.

George
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Old 11-05-2014, 07:27 AM   #7
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George, thank you for posting the info sheet. I am feeling reinspired to pull the lights and do the job right. I need to get another can of lacquer thinner and a can of clear coat.
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Old 11-05-2014, 10:31 AM   #8
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Thanks so much for posting that sheet. Wanted to add that if your bezels are looking sad Dan at LED4RV now sells them for under 5 bucks each...
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Old 11-05-2014, 12:55 PM   #9
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Clear coating did not go well

I bought some "Touch Up" RV clear acrylic (AS #28174) from the local AS dealer and tried to clear coat the cleaned up housing. The temp was about 75 degrees and humidity about 30% here in Tucson. I did the spraying in a closed garage (no wind). I applied several thin coats (per the directions), but the finish was anything but "clear." It had a semi-opaque, rough look. I asked a "car guy" friend of mine what went wrong and he thinks it may be that the spray dried to quickly in our low humidity conditions.

The stuff was easy to take off with lacquer thinner, so I'm back to the pre-clear coat condition.

Questions... if I just covered them with a good automotive would they stay shinny or quickly corrode?

If they really do need clear coating, can that be done by any automotive paint shop?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old 11-09-2014, 09:45 PM   #10
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Almost done

Well, I put the taillights back on the Bambi today... almost done.

1. Decided not to clear coat them after talking to our local dealer and Airstream technical service. I don't mind applying polish several times a year. Ordered some simichrome polish.

2. The polished taillight housings are easy to scratch. I covered mine with masking tape while I worked to put them back on. Wish I had done this sooner.

3. The housings are connected to the chassis by two brackets....one on each side. The screws on the side of the housing screw into these brackets. These are not very fancy and in the case of my left taillight, the screws completely missed the bracket and went into the aluminum skin. The opening for the taillight wiring looks like it was cut free style with a course bladed saw. Workmanship grade: C-. I removed the "missed" bracket and riveted on another layer of aluminum sheet to make the attachment points for that side more secure.

4. The lights are connected with female/male plugs which are wrapped with some sort of plastic tape-like material (non adhesive). I removed the tape and replaced it with 3M electrical tape.

5. My taillights were installed with putty tape along the top. This was a pain to replace, but without it there is too large of a gap. So I just ran a piece of it along the top of the chassis where the housing attached; pressed the housing into the putty and trimmed the excess. The outside of the housings will need to be caulked with Acryl R sealer.
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Old 11-16-2014, 03:02 PM   #11
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Done

See the attached. Very nice shine.

1. The Simichrome polish works very well. In fact, it puts a layer on surface such that masking tape will not stick.

2. I used Parbond (aluminum) to seal around the lights. Used the technique described in this video.

Parbond - YouTube

However, even though the guy in this video says the solvent is "alcohol based" several times, it isn't. If you check the MSDS for this product it is mainly a hydrocarbon mix, similar to paint thinner in its properties. I used paint thinner and it worked very well to seal the crack around the lights.

George
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