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Old 09-28-2008, 09:42 AM   #1
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Aluminium Grades

Hello,

At what vintage did Airstream change the grade of aluminium on their trailers? We were told by a dealer that mid 70's on up would not polish to a mirror finish. I would like to purchase an older model so I could bring up a mirror finish on the exterior.

Any help is appreciated.

Thank you

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Old 09-28-2008, 09:45 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by 71airON View Post
Hello,

At what vintage did Airstream change the grade of aluminium on their trailers? We were told by a dealer that mid 70's on up would not polish to a mirror finish. I would like to purchase an older model so I could bring up a mirror finish on the exterior.

Any help is appreciated.

Thank you

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The grade of the aluminum is secondary.

A 2009 Airstream, will polish to the same mirror finish as a 1936, and all the years in between.

Andy
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Old 09-28-2008, 10:02 AM   #3
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I believe in 1982 is when they changed the types of aluminum from Alclad with a thin coating of pure aluminum to the newer type of pre coated aluminum panel. I am no expert, but IMHO nothing polishes like the Alclad.

Steve
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Old 09-28-2008, 11:08 AM   #4
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I have heard this too about 70's trailers but my 74 Ambassador polished quite nicely; a long and tedious job however. It will reflect any nearby objects quite clearly.
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Old 09-28-2008, 07:00 PM   #5
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polishing

Recently, I saw a 1994 polished Airstream.

It had the same polished mirror finish as any alclad trailer that I have ever seen.

Andy
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Old 09-29-2008, 08:20 PM   #6
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Thanks guys for your replies.

Andy if you ever get a picture of a newer model polished up I would love to see it.

Thanks again for your time guys!
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Old 10-22-2008, 05:43 PM   #7
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Aluminium Update

I spoke to the Airstream customer support via email and this is the response I received. Thought you may be interested.

"Airstream used Alcoa Brite panels in the late 70’s and their “Controlled Mill Finish” from 1983-1993. The trailers that you may be referring to would be in the pre 70’s when we used the Alclad."

They also said "newer" models, 80's etc would polish to a shine once the cladding was removed. No easy task.

Wade
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Old 07-13-2017, 09:54 AM   #8
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"Airstreams built up to 1982 used a .032” thick aircraft-grade aluminum alloy with a very thin layer of nearly pure aluminum electrochemically bonded to both sides. This special type of aluminum sheet is called alclad aluminum. The aluminum alloy underneath the cladding (2024-T3) is strong and is what gives the trailer skin its strength. The pure aluminum cladding is soft and is what shines up so well when polished.

While some travel trailer manufacturers used alclad only until the early 1960s, Airstream used alclad panels into the 1980s. Starting in the middle of the 1982 production run, Airstream changed the type of aluminum they used on trailers to .040” non-alclad 3004-H18 aluminum. This alloy is much softer than the 2024-T3, so it needed to be thicker. However, because it is softer, it can still be polished to a very nice shine. However, without the pure aluminum cladding, it won’t achieve quite the same mirror as an older trailer."

Source : https://www.vintagetrailersupply.com...ctions2015.pdf
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Old 07-15-2017, 04:37 PM   #9
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I've seen all years of airstreams polished to a mirror finish it just takes the right prep and products. All grades of aluminum can be made into a mirror. Some is just much easier to polish and takes less steps. I have pictures of a 87 and 71 both polished to a flawless mirror finish. I just can't figure out how to upload them.
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