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Old 03-24-2007, 08:02 AM   #1
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Am I polishing or waxing?

I have a 25 foot, 86 Sovereign and the finish has dulled a little. I'm thinking that it did not have the same mirror finish that I've seen on the ealyer models (I could be wrong though). I just want to put some life back into the skin of my trailer without getting too crazy.

So, can I just use a non abrasive car wax and put some life and shine back into the finish of my trailer?

Thanks,

Greg
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Old 03-24-2007, 08:09 AM   #2
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Morning Greg,

Your 86 almost certianly has clear coat on it which means you wont get the shine you have seen in the older trailers. If my memory is correct, the 86 models may also have a different sort of aluminum which also does not polish to the same shine. So, I think you can treat the coating you have essentially like automotive paint: just wash and wax. I am sure a lot of others are going to weigh in on this one so dont take my comments as gospel. For what it is worth, I am currently in the process of stripping clear coat and polishing to a mirror shine. I have a small area, about 6 inches, polished to mirror condition. It is addictive, I cant wait for the whole camper to look like that!
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Old 03-24-2007, 05:38 PM   #3
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Greg:
If you have any pics of your Sovereign I'd love to see them.
I have an 81 25' excella 2, and may shed a little light on the subject, although I've been trying to learn more about it myself. From what I understand the brushed aluminum finish started in 81. It's simply a different finish on the metal, but I have noticed that the models after 94 seem to have an even different brushed finish then mine. When I bought my 81 the clear coat had all but disappeared. I didn't even have to strip it off. What little that was left just came off with a high speed buff, and compound.
If you still have your plasticoat finish left, you may just need to clean, and wax it, but from what I've read on here the plasticoat of that era should be gone by now. As far as the finish I found that a high speed, followed by an orbital buff made it so that I could see myself in the panels, but it's not even close to the mirror finish I've seen on some of the pre 1980 models. I then went over it with a cleaner, followed by 2 coats of liquid glass, and finally a wax. I think the cost of this was less then $300, and a lot of work. I think I'm going to buy a cyclo polisher this spring, and go back over it one more time then reapply the liquid glass, and wax. I would hope to get it to where I only have to reapply the wax annually. I thought the cost of stripping, polishing, and having the plasticoat replaced was crazy when I was told it only last for 5 years. If someone has more knowledge on the differences in the finishes, I would like to learn more about the issue myself.
Thanks: Charlie
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Old 03-24-2007, 08:48 PM   #4
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What you want to do depends alot on where in the country you are and how the trailer will be stored when you are not using it. If you are up North or store the trailer indoors, you can get away with just giving it a yearly polish. That assumes the Plasticoat has not started to peel off or degrade to the point that large amounts of bare aluminum are showing. The Plasticoat usually get bad on the top and the upper curves as well as the hemisphere caps on the ends. If you are a low sun area you could simply strip of the very marginal plasticoat and give that area a polymer based polish once a year. If you are in a higher sun area and store it out of doors, you might consider painting the top white with a good aluminum primer followed by an automotive white. A number of people in the high sun areas have also chosen to paint their units with a silver metalic paint. I have seen some professional jobs that look great, even after 5 years of high sun usage. An 86 will never take the kind of shine an early alclad trailer can be brought up to but it still can look pretty neat. It will be a labor of love and require constant upkept unless you get someone to rePlasticoat it for you. Even then it will likely only be 7 years in bright sun until you have to think about having it done again.
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Old 03-31-2007, 10:56 PM   #5
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I'll get some pics posted soon. I'm not sure what is peeling off but there is something happening on both ends near the top of the trailer.

Greg
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Old 04-04-2007, 09:06 PM   #6
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So, based on these photos can I just use some non-abrasive car wax to put a little shine back into the finish?

Greg
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Old 04-04-2007, 09:17 PM   #7
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No, your plasticoat is failing. Get wax on it quick to keep the bare aluminum from oxidizing, then start getting quotes on stripping and re-plasticoating. Often you can get by with just refinishing above the beltline, since the upper surfaces get the strongest UV rays. P&S Trailer Service in Helena, OH has the reputation for doing the highest quality, fairest priced Airstream refinishing. They can give you a quote based on these pictures, and can turn your trailer around in a week. Good people.
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Old 04-05-2007, 11:26 AM   #8
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Is the plasticoating something
a person could apply themself?
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Old 04-05-2007, 11:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 85Sovereign
Is the plasticoating something
a person could apply themself?
Absolutely. Provided you are a professional body worker . From what I hear, even when it is done professionally, its an iffy proposition as to how long it will last.
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Old 04-05-2007, 11:57 AM   #10
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Plasticoating

P&S warranty's their work for five years(free re-do) and says their work usually lasts 8 to 10 years above the beltline, depending on the environment, and up to 20 below.
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Old 04-05-2007, 09:28 PM   #11
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What does the recoating of the plastic coating cost?
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Old 04-05-2007, 10:56 PM   #12
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Hey Greg: my 86 looked pretty much the same, I'm not into making my rig a museum piece, just want to keep it alive. I used 2000 grit wet sandpaper with soapy water, going with the grain lightly to get rid of some of the oxidation. Then a few coats of wax every so often keeps the corrosion from setting in. Your big challenge will be getting rid of the baked on red numbers.I'm not much into spending $$ on something that "may" last a few years. DG
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Old 04-08-2007, 03:21 PM   #13
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Happy Easter Everyone

I'm with you Doorgunner. I just want to shine mine up a little and I can't justify the expense of recoating the plastic coat for the short life span it seems to have after being reapplied.
Now, what kind of wax? And, has anybody tried reapplying the blue stripe? Mine is pretty faded and peeling off.

Thanks,

Greg
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Old 04-08-2007, 09:53 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 85Sovereign
Happy Easter Everyone

I'm with you Doorgunner. I just want to shine mine up a little and I can't justify the expense of recoating the plastic coat for the short life span it seems to have after being reapplied.
Now, what kind of wax? And, has anybody tried reapplying the blue stripe? Mine is pretty faded and peeling off.

Thanks,

Greg
I agree if plasticoat only last 5-7 years when reapplying as I've read on the forum, then the cost is too much. When I was faced with this issue last year I decided to polish, apply liquid glass, and wax over that. I'm hoping the LG will keep the oxidation away better then wax alone. My 81 however was much further along then your 86 is. I didn't even have to strip it, what little plasticoat that was left just came off with the compound, and high speed polish on the first application. My trailer had lived it's life in the desert sun of New Mexico, and I'm sure that had a lot to do with the plasticoat failing so thoroughly.
When I look at you pics I wonder if you might want to try something like DG suggest, and then buy a couple of aerosol cans of plasticoat. I haven't tried it, but I did read on here that Inland RV carries this, just a thought.

Charlie
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