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Old 03-20-2016, 09:37 AM   #1
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1971 31' Sovereign
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First time polishing need help

Just started to polish some areas on my 71 soverign where i will place the airstream logo and running lights. Ive stripped with aircraft remover and have started with F7 due to decent oxidation over the years. Ive worked for about an hour on one part and it has cleared up significantly but is still slightly hazy and has small white spots here and there that i cant seem to rid of. I was wondering if this was just normal oxidation that would go away with continuing buffing or something else. Any tips or advice is appreciated.
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Old 03-20-2016, 09:49 AM   #2
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What speed (RPM) do you have your polisher set to?
What brand of wool bonnet are you using? 100% wool or synthetic?

You should be getting a better cut than that.
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Old 03-20-2016, 10:02 AM   #3
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Im using the 7.5 inch wool pads from vts and am spinning at like 1200-1500. I read to keep it slow but was wondering if faster would be better to get out oxidation?
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:17 AM   #4
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I can tell you that I hard a hard time dialing in an effective rhythm... I've seen alot of posts that make it look easy- just time consuming... However, I have found some areas on my '76 to be more comparable to what others have claimed, while other areas have been MUCH different.

I have resorted to the belief that the corrosion on mine, (which looks like yours AND Worse), is just MUCH worse than some of the others doing this.

I have had the most success with F9 as a result. They say its very coarse, and leaves swirls that are hard to remove and to go with the lease aggressive as possible, but simply put- nothing else was getting it done for me.

In my badly corroded areas, I'll go through 9 pads in a 3' x 4' area, which takes about 3 hours. (one thing I do is try not to use my pads for "too" long because they are harder to clean.)

My buddy laughed when I told him how many pads I had to use, and how long it was taking.... he said I "must be doing it wrong".... "maybe using too much polish". But I've tried several ways and its just the way it is on the bad spots.

On the spot like yours, I'd be using SEVERAL good fingerprints dollops about 6" apart from each other- which would do about a 1' x 2' area for the FIRST pass. I'd probably hit it 2 more times for an "acceptable" level of improvement, but it would take another 2 pads, and 4 more passes to get it to where I think I would start with Nuvite C.

On the sides where its not so bad, F9 cuts through MUCH quicker. Probably 2 passes and it should be ready for C.

Note that I am using the say wool pads on a high speed buffer starting out lower speed, then finally finishing up at a higher speed. I have only used F9 to this point and it is entirely acceptable to me if I hit it enough. I can get a fairly shiny mirror with F9. As for the "deep" scratches from F9??? Yeah in the direct sun on the freshly done areas it definitely has swirls, but I dont see them being difficult to get out. AND once it weathers a bit, then the sheen become much more uniform.... but then again what it came from was horrible. I'm sure once I get the 1st cut finished, these swirls might start to bug me, but thats for another day. I'm happy to have F9, so at least I'm at a much better starting point if I want to take it the next level.
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:32 AM   #5
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Try 650 RPM, or the slowest setting your polisher has, and firm pressure moving very slowly. You should hear the wool and polish sizzle as it works.
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Old 03-20-2016, 11:35 AM   #6
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Or get a Jestco Products Airstream Polishing kit and do the same area in about 15 minutes.
Best Regards,
Claude
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Old 03-20-2016, 01:01 PM   #7
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A fellow with a different but effective approach to polishing an Airstrream is Levon Register. Check this out: http://www.southernantique.com/polis...tructions.html
Jim
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Old 03-20-2016, 02:20 PM   #8
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There are also some polishing videos on U tube also.
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Old 03-20-2016, 07:58 PM   #9
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That looks like corrosion pitting that is a few thousands of an inch deep into the metal. I'm not sure if that what is called filo-form or not. I would try wet sanding with 320 or 280 first to get below that and then try the buffing machine again. It will take a lot of polishing compound and could build heat to polish through that. Hopefully somebody who has experimented with different sanding and polishing grits knows the easiest way to get the job done. I think it would save time to sand through the pits first and then use the polisher machine but I haven't tried to polish an Airstream. I've polished motorcycle engine and a few other types of aluminum parts and always started with wet sanding. You get a mirror finish by removing all the bumps from the surface, the smoother the surface the shinier it gets and it's easy to get obsessive with it as you see the progress.
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Old 03-20-2016, 08:29 PM   #10
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Less is more when applying a dollop of polish. I just use one finger tip amount about the size of an M&M. I lightly dab this amount on to an area about 24" square with numerous "fingerprints". Then I work up the "polish bed" where the polish turns gray. It it is turning black on you, then you have too much polish. The carrier in the polish is designed to dry and turn to dust, at least it seems to for me. I polish the area until all the gray is gone. If I don't like the result, then I repeat the process on the same area.

I had terrible results with the Jestco cotton buffer method. I recommend we leave this process to the experts. My 66 Trade Wind was corroded to a dark gray like many old Airstreams. I found the Jestco process just has way too many variables. For example ; how long do you hold the buffer to the polish bar, how often to you re-apply the polish, how often do you rake the buffer, how hard do you press against the aluminum, how fast do you traverse the buffer across the aluminum, what RPM is best, when is the cotton buffing wheel worn out, and on and on. I ended up with "strike marks" all over my Trade Wind which will not come out. Very disappointing.

Nuvite has said that you can polish a piece of aluminum with their process and never be concerned about damaging the surface. I believe that. But the Jestco process can damage the aluminum. I'm sticking with Nuvite even if it does take longer.

David
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Old 03-22-2016, 12:46 PM   #11
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Hi David,
Jestco buffing is only the initial stage to remove the oxidation, scratches, and surface imperfections. Same process as finishing jewelry. Buffing also smooths the texture or mill finish on many of the Airstream panels giving a much deeper final shine.

Paste polishes are good for final finishing and swirl removing but extremely slow for the initial process(the equivalent of using a toothbrush to clean a dump truck).

I prefer the 'Metal Armor Polish' with an orbital polisher for the final mirror finish. Nuvite is also a good final polish but the strong ammonia smell is sickening.

Best Regards,
Claude
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Old 03-22-2016, 07:56 PM   #12
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The wheels and bars method works well, very well, on solid metals, like aluminum tanks. It can be problematic on clad aluminum sheets like used on Airstreams. The stretch formed panels that the OP is showing are especially tricky and unforgiving. It is nearly impossible to ruin aluminum on an Airstream with a wool bonnet and Nuvite F7, however it can be done easily with wheels and a black bar. I've used both. I know.
Faster is not always better.
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Old 03-22-2016, 08:35 PM   #13
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I'm polishing my 71 Sovereign now. I tried wet sanding but I would never go with 320. I started at 1000 and that will leave scratches that F9 has trouble removing. I did a few areas and finished with 3000 before F9. Sanding will get the corrosion out but you are removing metal.

I have the same corrosion as you do but much more. After being frustrated because I wasn't seeing results I called Nuvite. I was given the cell number of a girl who does tech support. I sent her pictures and she told me how to do it. She said minimum, minimum 2000 rpm and turn it up a bit for difficult areas. All with light pressure. I told her there were people on YouTube that said to go with a lower rpm and she said she knew that, but I won't get the results with a lower rpm.

Corrosion like that will come out with several passes of F9. The aluminum needs to get hot to move the metal around. I burned the skin on the street side trying to get the corrosion out. I figured out that a few passes with the next step (C) and light pressure takes out the burned color and she confirmed that was the way to do it.

F9 leaves scratches and swirl marks. C lessens those and S gets rid of them completely.
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Old 03-24-2016, 08:32 PM   #14
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I agree with Top. I used the gray bar, but my inexperience results in a poor job. Nuvite is slower, but safer for us first time polishers.

David
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