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Old 10-27-2009, 07:21 PM   #1
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1973 31' Excella 500
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confused about polishers vs high speed grinders

Im thinking about removing whats left of my clearcoat on my '73 Excella and polishing over the winter. In looking at auto buffers (the rotary type not the orbital) they generally have RPM's of 1450 - 1600. Sears has a couple for $70-$80 with a rubber head to mount the pads on. However the high speed grinders that I have seen have RPM's of 10,000 - 11,000.

I'm looking to buff out some lite to moderate scratches and even up the finish (satin not going for a mirror finish).

Any suggestions on what to use? Thanks
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:25 PM   #2
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Stay away from the high speed grinders. They will over heat the aluminum and damage the skin. Check out the information at this site: http://www.perfectpolish.com/AirstreamProject.htm
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:09 PM   #3
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The high speed method is the only way to go unless you want to spend an eternity polishing the camper. But you should only use the high speed (2500-6000rpm) if you are wanting a nice mirror finish. Its also great for removing scratches and oxidation. I've used high speed grinders for all metal polishing jobs. No overheating ever.
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:16 PM   #4
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:30 PM   #5
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Stay away from high speed grinders..I would not go above 3000rpm for compounding the trailer after you remove the clear coat. For a mirror shine, you want the cyclo polisher. It's not the same tool as that which you used for compound polishing. (Note the differences in terms)
The link azflycaster provided is one of the better ones to study. Just be aware that there are others available and, you should look them up too.
Also, I don't know your situation but, polishing over the winter in cold temp below 65degrees is not recommended.
Only because the cold temp will defeat your polishing efforts..UNLESS, you are one lucky dude and, have a warmed building to work inside during the winter.
Good luck~!
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Old 10-28-2009, 09:19 AM   #6
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Polishers vs. Grinders

After reading roadhogdawg question about being confused, I would like to relate my experience. I have polished 9 Airstream trailers. I used the slow rpm (900) method on the first 5 trailers. This method removes the oxidation using different grades of polish...then using a cyclo polisher for removing the swirls that the slow 900 rpm method left. It takes several (cuts) to remove all the swirls to get to the mirror finish...takes a lot of time.

The last 4 trailers that I have polished, I have used the grinder method. If you use a very high speed grinder (over 6000 rpms +) you WILL burn the metal. I use a variable grinder (top speed 3000 rpm). I have tried to burn the metal on some extra pieces and have not been able to do that. This method using a gray bar for the 1st cut (removing oxidation) leaves vertical lines instead of swirls. These vertical lines are then refined by using a red bar that are more easily removed (with the cyclo) than the swirls, and you can see the results immediately.

It was taking me approx. 300 hrs. to polish a 25' trailer and about $200.00 in supplies with the slow rpm (swirl) method. Now, with the 3000 rpm (vertical line) method, it takes me approx. 100 hrs. to polish a 25' trailer and about $100.00 in supply cost.

If a mirror finish is what you are wanting the end result to look like....it's a no-brainer. If you are going to get scratches and such out, it will be very hard to remove them without shinning that portion and blending it.

roadhogdawg, I am not too far from you...if you would like a hands on demo, let me know and I will make time.

Let me make it clear...there are many ways to polish and get the mirror finish result...I choose the shorter and less expensive method...to each their own. Attached are a few of the finished ones that I used with the grinder method.

Good luck with your project.
Levon
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Old 10-28-2009, 09:41 AM   #7
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Where can one learn more about this grinder method of polishing? I own a grinder, but not a polisher. As much as I like new tools I don't have an unlimited budget so if I can do without purchasing a polisher as well as a Cyclo Polisher, I'm up for that.
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Old 10-28-2009, 12:28 PM   #8
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Hey, RoadHawgDog:

Suggest that one of the best methods for polishing is the combo of the Dewalt rotary (adjustable speed) and the Cyclo. I've just about finished up on my 1976 31' Soveriegn. They are not cheap tools but they are high quality and they will serve you well. I bought mine last May and have been polishing slowly but surely on weekends since then. In addition to the tools, your next most important item for this project is the polish. You'll need at least 3 levels of grit for these polishes.

Happy to help with any questions you may have...
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Old 10-29-2009, 09:17 PM   #9
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thanks for some great advise

Thanks for all the responses. I have a much better idea of what needs to be done after reading your posts. I hope to get started (weather permitting) shortly. I'll post some pix as I go. If nothing else it will give me a good excuse to get out of the house and spend some 'quality' time in the driveway...... Thanks again. Stanton
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Old 10-29-2009, 09:34 PM   #10
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Good Luck and, keep us posted as you polish this..
Take lots of pictures and, share.
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