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Old 09-03-2009, 07:28 AM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
Columbus , Indiana
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can I strip now and wait to polish?

We have just bought a 76 Sovereign. The exterior structure is in great shape but from a cosmetic point of view - it needs work. The clear coat has deteriorated off completely on the top and most of the way down the radiused sides. It is still in good shape along the side skirts - but the contrast between no clear on the top and clear coat on the bottom has our AS looking neglected.
My question is this... I have just bought Removall 220 and planned to strip the clear coat completely off this weekend. I would follow that up with a good waxing to protect the aluminum and hopefully remove some of the oxidation on the top (it isn't terrible). This would give me a "uniformity" to my finish. I fully expect that we will be polishing just before the spring of 2010.
Will this approach make my polishing later more difficult? As I said, we have just bought our AS and want to get it out a few times this fall and even this winter and enjoy it. I don't want to have it out of commission in the middle of a polishing project yet.
On a side note, are there any auto waxes that would be recommended to remedy all/most of the oxidation on the top?
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Old 09-03-2009, 08:38 AM   #2
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Wait until you are ready to polish before you strip it.

You will find that there will be areas that will be difficult to strip, and you may have to go to a different stripper (results here in the Forums are all over the place). I found that "Aircraft Stripper" by far and away worked the best.

Despite a good effort on my part of covering and protecting the 30 year old plastic parts, when I stripped the '78 I damaged most all of the lenses and vinyl inserts with the stripper. The new replacements look very nice.

If I were you (with the advantage of "hindsight") I would wax with an automotive polish of choice (I generally use "Turtle Wax" paste wax) and wait to totally strip the trailer of all plastic immediately prior to stripping with chemicals and then immediately starting the polish process.

Do you REALLY want the truth about polishing an Airstream - do you think you can handle it?

I downloaded the following from the "Wikipedia":

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce anxiety, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety, or by combinations of such thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). The symptoms of this anxiety disorder range from repetitive hand-washing and extensive hoarding to preoccupation with sexual, religious, or aggressive impulses. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and economic loss.

Proceed at your own risk.
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Old 09-03-2009, 08:43 AM   #3
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I say go for it ~

You may find that stripping alone will look great - not a perfect finish, but a better finish. Sometimes it's the failing clearcoat is what make the trailers look so dingy - once removed, it'll look much better - it evens out. The clearcoat tends to look milky during failure and once removed the aluminum under neath is clean. Possibly splotchy from uneven oxidation over the years, but but at least it's the aluminum your looking at - not the milky clearcoat. The oxidation that occurs between this year and next when you tackle the polishing will not make a huge difference to the effort it will take to polish. It's work regardless. It's the 33 years of previous oxidation that will matter - not the last 6-12 months.

We have a friend that their '69 trailer looked so much better after just stripping - they left it. It evened out the splotchiness just by removing the clearcoat enough that they were happy. They weren't seeking that "mirror finish" and were satisfied with more a even finish. Depending on how failed your clearcaot is - you may feel the same, at least for now.

When we polished our GT we did it over a couple of years, stripping & compounding the first and Cyclo-polishing the next - no problem. The only "extra effort" I would think would be removing all the "plastic bits" for stripping then replacing them only to remove them again next year to polish.

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Old 09-03-2009, 08:45 AM   #4
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Well...two posts, two completely different opinions...guess that's not much help now is it!

Have to wait & see how others weigh in... :

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Old 09-03-2009, 09:01 AM   #5
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You may want to read the perfect polish literature before applying the wax - when you go to polish, some waxes will clog up the buffer and make it harder to polish.

Depending on where you are - dry/wet climate - stripping should be fine - once exposed to the elements, the finish will start to oxidize. It is best if you can store the trailer inside.

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Old 09-03-2009, 11:51 AM   #6
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When it comes to stripping and polishing a mid 70' Airstream you certainlly can't find a better example than Dennis, 87MH. His 1978 Airstream is beautiful inside and out and was best of show at the 2009 Texas Vintage Airstream Rally. I have never seen a better polished Airstream than his.

So if you are going to be polishing soon then I agree wait until you are ready to polish. If you are not planning on a full scale polish project anytime soom go ahead and strip the clear cost and you will be amazed at how much better it looks, Not as shinny as Dennis 78 Airstream by any means but much better than the clear coat running down the sides. My 1976 Sovereign when I paid the ransom and resqued it in 2000 reminded me of the song, I left the cake out in the rain". So I stripped it with Bix stripper and still have not got around to the full polishing project yet. It is on my list. Maybe since Dennis lives fairly close to me I can get him to come by and supervise the project.

Let me add a couple of other points that are worth considering with the new to you 1976 Airstream. Take care of your running gear first and foremost. Axles, brakes, wheels and tires are covered in great detail on the forum.

Have fun with your Airstream you will love it. We are at the Texas Coastal Plains WBCCI unit rally in San Antonio this weekend. A gentlemen in a 5th wheel trailer came over this morning and told me what a graet looking Airstream I had, and that he was going to trade in his 5th wheel for a new Airrstream. He wanted to know if mine had a slideout. I told him when they made this old Airstream nobody knew what a slide out was.


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Old 09-03-2009, 12:05 PM   #7
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When it comes to stripping and polishing a mid 70' Airstream you certainlly can't find a better example than Dennis, 87MH. His 1978 Airstream is beautiful inside and out and was best of show at the 2009 Texas Vintage Airstream Rally. I have never seen a better polished Airstream than his.

So if you are going to be polishing soon then I agree wait until you are ready to polish. If you are not planning on a full scale polish project anytime soom go ahead and strip the clear cost and you will be amazed at how much better it looks, Not as shinny as Dennis 78 Airstream by any means but much better than the clear coat running down the sides. My 1976 Sovereign when I paid the ransom and resqued it in 2000 reminded me of the song, I left the cake out in the rain". So I stripped it with Bix stripper and still have not got around to the full polishing project yet. It is on my list. Maybe since Dennis lives fairly close to me I can get him to come by and supervise the project.

Let me add a couple of other points that are worth considering with the new to you 1976 Airstream. Take care of your running gear first and foremost. Axles, brakes, wheels and tires are covered in great detail on the forum.

Have fun with your Airstream you will love it. We are at the Texas Coastal Plains WBCCI unit rally in San Antonio this weekend. A gentlemen in a 5th wheel trailer came over this morning and told me what a graet looking Airstream I had, and that he was going to trade in his 5th wheel for a new Airrstream. He wanted to know if mine had a slideout. I told him when they made this old Airstream nobody knew what a slide out was.


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Old 09-03-2009, 12:58 PM   #8
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Polish / Clear 'cote

I have to weigh in on the "remove clearcote" side. I think a uniform grey (actually aluminum) color looks 100% better than the faded clearcote white. Just my opinion though . . .

I got asked this past weekend while camping if my Airstream was brand new. It hasn't been brand new for 35 years. While (also an OCD type) I would love to polish it, I don't have the time or energy for that right now - I did spend 4 hours to repaint the "International" colors though.

If you have a lot less OCD then I, just live with it until it is time for you to change. If the ruined clearcote bothers you, lose it. If you will never be happy until you have a mirror shine, well, you know . . .

Good luck and remember, there is always something else that you could be cleaning, painting or upgrading.

Alex
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Old 09-03-2009, 01:50 PM   #9
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Strip and wax?
That's exactly what I did to the front cap on our '77. I just use high quality wax a couple of times a year and it has held up well.

I do wax it with a angle buffer.
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:50 AM   #10
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1976 31' Sovereign
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what a difference!!

Well, we went ahead and stripped using Removall 220 and can't believe the difference. I think we are going to leave her - "as-is" for a while and enjoy her. Here is a look before and after...

before:


and after:

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Old 09-22-2009, 09:45 AM   #11
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Removal 220 does a great job.
If you plan to polish it, do not use wax. As said it may create problem when it will be time to polish.

When I did strip mine, I left it a year like. Was living close to the sea. It did add a little bit of corrosion but not that bad.
To give a little bit of protection I used a teflon glass cleaner. did the job.
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Old 09-22-2009, 09:54 AM   #12
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Fantastic. I can't believe the difference. What polish/protector did you use after the paint remover?
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Old 09-22-2009, 02:20 PM   #13
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It looks great with the clearcoat removed. How long did it take you to remove the clearcoat? We just bought a '71 Safari and I'd like to clean up the outside, but I don't have the time at this point to do a full polish I'd like to strip the clear coat as long as it won't hard the finish when it comes time to polish the exterior.

Thanks,
David
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Old 09-22-2009, 02:36 PM   #14
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Did you have any blochy areas? How did they come out? She looks radiant.
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