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Old 06-30-2013, 03:31 PM   #1
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1996 Excella Strip and Polish - the slow way

This might take me all summer.

Test section was stripped with a can of stripper.
I also bought the kit from Jestsco, and I'm trying to get a good method down for attacking the rest of the trailer.

Heading off to Home Depot right now to pick up a bucket of Smart Strip paint remover for the rest of the job.

-Kevin

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Old 07-09-2013, 12:06 AM   #2
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painfully slow

This is the "slow way" because I can only work on it 1.5 hrs per night.
8p the kid goes to sleep, and by 9:30p it's too dark (and noisy).

Looking for some tips:
1. How do you know when to put on more grey bar polish?
2. How do you know when to hit the wheel with the rake?
3. How much of a shine should I expect with the grey bar?
4. Is it better to do small areas (9"x9") or large areas (24"x24") at a time?
5. I'm having to put on 3 applications of the stripper to get it all off. Should I break out the pressure washer? will that help?
6. Should I try an Airway vented wheel?
7. My polisher maxes out at 3,000 RPM. Should I invest in one that goes 4,000 RPM?

It's now dark out, but I'll take some pics in the morning to share my progress.

I'm feeling like I bit off more than I want to chew right now, but it's kind of too late. Can't really spit it out and pretend it didn't happen.

I started with the bottom left rear corner and I realized that sheet has an orange peel kind of texture compared to the flat sides. Leave it? or should I get out some 1000/2000 grit and wet sand it flat? I've used that technique on polishing motorcycle parts 10 years ago.

Looking for some magic tips...
-Kevin
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Old 07-09-2013, 12:10 AM   #3
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8. Do I need to clean off the polish with mineral spirits every pass? or just when I switch to another grade of polish, or the next step?

BTW, I using the Jestco kit on a 1996 Excella.
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Old 07-09-2013, 10:37 AM   #4
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This is the lower back street side (left) corner orange-peel surface. This photo was taken about 4 inches away from the skin.
-Kevin

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Old 07-10-2013, 04:41 PM   #5
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I started mentally counting up the hours I've spent on the polish so far, and maybe I'm going along just fine. I think I have less than 10 hours into it so far. Most of that has been trying to get the clear coat off.

I have a much younger brother that just graduated from UO. I think I've talked him into some time with the buffing wheel. He has a ton more available time than I do right now.

-Kevin
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:16 AM   #6
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Well, I put in a good 2hrs tonight and made great success. I feel like I'm getting a hang of this, and actually getting somewhere.

If anyone is reading, I thought I'd just answer some of my own questions for anyone going through this (or thinking of doing it) on a similar vintage trailer.

1. put on more polish every section of 9x9".
2. when it's glazed, rake it. Even if that's every 9x9".
3. grey bar should get you a good reflective surface. Not a mirror, but enough to read the words on your t-shirt.
4. Do small areas (like all the instructions say, dopey). 9-12" square is good.
5. The Pressure washer is a dream removing the clear coat after an application of stripper. If you have it USE IT!!! the plastic scraper and/or scotch pad were tedious and scratch prone compared to the perfect effect of the pressure washer.
6. Airway/vented? No. The cotton buffs in the kit are fine for a 17 yr old trailer with 90% good clear coat protection.
7. 3,000 RPM is fine. Just lean into it more. I found moderate pressure was working much better than just the weight of the tool/my arms.
8. Don't' bother cleaning with mineral spirits unless the polish isn't cleaning up with the wheel. Until you start with the next step and a new wheel and grade of polish. You don't want to cross-contaminate the products.

Basically, I started working smaller 10x10 inch sections at a time not 4x4 feet at a time. Much better results, and even a more consistent finish. I was worried that working small sections would produce a patchwork of various levels of shine. Not so. They blend together very well, and it's not hard to get the same level of finish on each section.

I also was thinking in the back of my head that 1996 aluminum was far different than that of the 60's and 70's and that my instructions and advice wouldn't apply to a newer trailer. I was worried about the frequent mentions that the skin is difficult or impossible to make shine. Especially since there are so few examples of newer (1995+) trailers being polished. Maybe the older trailers will produce a more brilliant shine/mirror, but I think this one will polish up just fine, and looks way better than a fading, sun damaged, tarp/rope damaged clear coat that I have to work with.

I will post pictures of my progress tonight in the morning before I go to work.

Cheers!

-Kevin
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Old 07-11-2013, 07:29 AM   #7
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Just came across your thread. I polished a former to me '86 Sovereign 31 footer several years ago.Click image for larger version

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ID:	190695 I used white Airway wheels (the yellow scratched) because you don't have to stop every few passes & clean it up with the rake. I also DID sand the endcaps since they were orange-peeley & I didn't like it. I cleaned between grades of polish with mineral spirits, just because it gets everything out of the rivets, etc. I used VIVA paper towels because they don't scratch your newly polished aluminum :-)
I'm in the middle of polishing my Bambi II right now, but that's a beast of a different color!

Good luck with your polish job. Looks like you're making progress!! Keep us posted....we're watching!
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Old 07-11-2013, 10:36 AM   #8
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Thanks Becky!

Here's a pic of the area I worked last night. I have to say that it looked better in the dark.
But I do think I'll get there someday. Although I might need 3D (Darkness, Distance, or Drunk)

-Kevin
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Old 07-11-2013, 11:14 AM   #9
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Kevin, I'm following your thread with interest. We're days away from picking up our NTU '99 27' Safari, and my BY is already excited about stripping the clear coat. Me? Maybe not so much! Being the lazy type, what about applying stripper to a larger section, then power wash, then buff?

wry
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Old 07-11-2013, 02:28 PM   #10
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NTU: new to us?
BY: ?

PW = pressure washer

I did a test section with a $5 aerosol can of stripper. Then worked it with a plastic scraper and a scotch pad. It took a long time, messy, and frustrating. Because of that I was only doing a little at a time ahead of polishing. And it took so long, I didn't want the stripper to dry on the skin.

With the PW, I didn't need to do a 2nd application, and all the little elbow grease and picking was gone and it was just a matter of pointing the water jet.

Some of the clear coat almost melts off the skin completely on the first application. Other areas seem to be more resilient (or I didn't apply enough stripper) but it's sort of softened up crud. Easy to get off with the PW. The stripper I picked up is a watery gel sort of stuff, and brushes on inconsistently. I think I'm going to have to get more before the end of this project, and I'm going to try and different brand. Maybe the Citri-strip. Like this post: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f441...per-90054.html

To make a short answer long, YES. Knowing what I know now, I would surely do a larger section and easily remove it with the pressure washer. What's really dumb is that I have a PW, and I didn't use it. After this experience, I would suggest even renting a PW if you didn't have one.

-Kevin
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Old 07-12-2013, 10:48 AM   #11
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Just some progress. I'm posting up these pics not only to share, but as a reference for me on how much time I'm spending. Only 1 hour last night, but it was pure polishing. No dinkking around. 13 hours total.

I worked just the side and above the beltline. And one 12x12" on the middle endcap (if you can see it).

I think there's an advantage to working 1-2 hours at a time. If I was working 8-10 hours all day I'd surely get fatigued. At this pace my time with the wheel is dedicated, and I'm working as fast as I can. I walk out the door and in 90 seconds I'm in my safety gear and the wheel is spinning. And until I can't see anymore in the dark, that's when I finally turn off the polisher.

Also, RESPECT THE POLISHER. All it takes is one little snag and that thing will rip out of your hands and do some damage. Especially when the throttle is locked on. I'm 196lbs, 41yo, and in fairly good shape. If you're getting tired and not focused on the task at hand, that thing will rip out of your hands and start cutting you or the ground in a hurry. It hasn't happened to me (yet) but I can easily see the opportunity for it. The only mistake I've made so far is storing the polisher with the switch locked on. So when I plugged it in to resume work it started flopping around on the ground. Luckily I instinctively unplugged it before I even realized what was going on.

-Kevin


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Old 07-12-2013, 11:13 AM   #12
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Oh, as a side note: I'm going to a family reunion this weekend in Seaview, Washington. A couple months ago I called an RV park that's literally 100 feet from our family beach house and they were booked solid. I was bummed, but apparently the whole place is booked out to an Airstream Rally! It's one of the WA clubs, and they'll have 20-30 trailers there. Should be a good chance for me to talk shop about polishing and Airstreams in general. It will be the first Airstream gathering I've been to after 6? years of Airstream ownership. I'm kind of excited.

-Kevin
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Old 07-23-2013, 04:51 PM   #13
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I got a full hour done last night! YAY.

I have a question: My cotton wheel seems to glaze over very quickly. Like instantly. I mean, in 30 seconds, it looks like this:

[edit:] let me rephrase my question:

Is this glazed? Does it need to be raked? [/edit]



Should I rake it every 30 seconds? I think it glazes over like this only when I'm doing the first initial cut. Then once I'm getting more reflection from the skin, it doesn't glaze as quickly.

Here's a progress picture. About 13 hours in so far.



-Kevin
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Old 07-23-2013, 05:01 PM   #14
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Looking great!
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