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Old 05-21-2005, 10:51 AM   #1
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High Solids Clear Coat?

Has anyone simply cleared their AS with auto paint clear? Maybe a high solids, two part clear like "Tip Top Clear" or something?
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Old 05-21-2005, 12:26 PM   #2
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Automotive clear paints are fantastic materials.

Unfortunately, they are all designed to protect paint, since it can only be applied to a paint.

If you applied automotive clear coats to an Airstream, in 2 to 3 months, you can peel it off like a big sheet of plastic, sort of like glad wrap.

The clear coat paints are all designed to bond to a highly porous substrate.

Aluminum, is not high porous, compoared to paint.

Bottom line. Don't go there.

If it was OK, Airstream would have changed to it many years ago.

Andy
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Old 05-21-2005, 04:56 PM   #3
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What kind of clear coat did/does Airstream use?
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Old 05-21-2005, 05:12 PM   #4
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Airstream has a very special two part clear coat that is only available from them. I do not know what the basic formula conatains.

The original plasticoat in 1964 was vinyl based.

With the 1969 models they changed it to a lacquer based material.

A few years ago, they got together with PPG, who created a "long lasting" clear material, that could only be applied as the metal was processed. Airstream themselves, could not apply it.

Unfortunately, at a great expense to PPG and Airstream, that material turned out to be an absolute failure.

PPG went back to the drawing boards and more testing, and come up with another formula, that has now been used for several years without failures.

However, once again, it can only be applied as the metal is processed. Airstream themselves, does not have that material.

Therefore Airstream had a product created for after market sales.

It is "NOT" the same material that is on the new coaches.

Also, the plasticoat that is in the spray cans, is different as well.

Andy
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Old 05-22-2005, 09:03 AM   #5
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Andy,

Every time I read one of your posts, I learn new things (which, I guess, isn't surprising considering the sandbar depth of my knowledge!!). I knew from previous posts that the plasticoat was a special concoction but I had no idea what went into it’s development.

You said: “…However, once again, it can only be applied as the metal is processed. Airstream themselves, does not have that material.
Therefore Airstream had a product created for after market sales.”

Is this aftermarket product something that the average schmoo can use? My brand new 25’ Safari got scraped on the left rear corner panel by some idiot SOB while in storage last winter! It looks like the coating was scrubbed with a wire brush. I’m hoping you or Airstream have a product that I can use to touch up these scratches. Anything like that in your inventory???

Thanks again for being willing to share your knowledge!
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Old 05-22-2005, 12:09 PM   #6
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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say there probably is a solution to the clearcoat problem out there someplace, but it just doesn't seem to have made it to Airstream mainstream. I see aluminum wheels clearcoated, aluminum hot rod and motorcycle parts with clear powdercoat, 18 wheeler tanker aluminum polished and coated, anodized aluminum towers used in saltwater fishing boats, aluminum sailboat masts, and I've used aluminum windsurfing parts for years with almost no corrosion, so there has to be a solution out there someplace.

Whether it is chromic conversion coating, acrylic or urethane clearcoat, nickel plating, or anodizing, its probably out there.
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Old 05-22-2005, 12:22 PM   #7
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Yeah, I think the only way to use Auto Clear Coat on an AS is to first use an adhesion promotor or an etching solution. I have used adhesion promotor on aluminum, but generally the aluminum is painted after the adhesion promotor is applied, then cleared over the whole job. (see my painted aluminum flames on Monster House, episode #"Monster Club".)

Neither solution is great because even with the adhesion promotor, you have to scuff the surface a bit or the clear won't bite. As for expansion, no problem, the clears these days are being used on plastic parts on Quads and dirt bikes that all parts that bend.

Andy, thanks for your input. You are a gem on here! I need to give you a buzz on few parts this week or maybe come in soon.
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Old 05-22-2005, 12:32 PM   #8
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Until a good clearcoat is found, this may help some:
http://www.tirerack.com/accessories/...x/wheelwax.jsp
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Old 05-22-2005, 12:34 PM   #9
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Bob,

You are right, there are clears that can be used, but you do have to use an adhesion promotor or etch. This ruins the shine in either case. Now, I have sanded with a very fine sandpaper on aluminum and once it is cleared, it shines really well, but not like the shines we are used to seeing on an AS because on AS we use the natural shine.

Clears and paints today are amazing! I have buds that do airbrushing on Aquariums and fountains out of aluminim and fiberglass using House Of Kolor Urethanes and Tip Top clears and the paintings last and last even with constant water running over them. Like in this pic: or in this pic:
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Old 05-22-2005, 12:35 PM   #10
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Bob Thompson.

Indeed there are several "clear coating materials" available.

The problem is that no one has ever applied any of those materials to an Airstream and then subject it to the "test of time".

Many things work on an Airstream, but for how long is always the big question.

Many times we hear from someone that has tried something different, in spite of negative advice. You cannot stop "a determined person".

But when the failure occurs, we never hear about it.

Airstream and PPG, in spite of their resources, learned that expensive lesson, on the second last plasticoat. Ask any owner that has one of those coaches.

Andy
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Old 05-22-2005, 02:11 PM   #11
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I think the problem is one of creating crossover situations where one industry has solved the problem and it could be applied to the Airstream world. I found one post about clearcoating where a railroad line used "catalyzed waterborne polyurethane-acrylate". The person who was in charge of using it, Pete Bagley -West Coast, Reno, Nv., says, "It's VOC compliant, applies at 1.5 DFT and I have had excellent results on a west coast aluminum clad passenger railcar exposed to enviromental extremes on the rail line".

To me, it appears the application for railcars and Airstreams would be similar, so perhaps a call to Pete Bagley in Reno might find a solution for finishing Airstreams.

All I'm saying is you have to think outside the box if you're going to find solutions, in the same way Byam did when he first created the Airstream. By searching other industries, there probably will be a solution. The solution is not likely to come from within the Airstream community.

The quote above can be found at: http://www.finishing.com/1400-1599/1550.shtml
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Old 05-22-2005, 03:04 PM   #12
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i have been using the Liquid Glass sealant on my AS now for two years, on the clearcoated areas and the lower part where i stripped off the grey paint, and left it uncoated. The sealant has held up very well. with a lot of shine and an obvious level of coating that can be seen and felt when you run your hand over it.
If I was going to polish mine I would try this as the final finish sealant.
When my new buffer arrives I will try to polsih out the lower areas to a higher level of gloss and apply this over it to see how the gloss is retained. On the clearcoated areas it looks amazingly good.
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Old 05-22-2005, 03:24 PM   #13
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I am in the process of trying Liquid Glass to protect polished castings such as clearance light bases. I have also tried Zoop Seal which is much more expensive, $125 for the kit. The Zoop Seal did OK on some applications but only mediocre on others. I have no idea why! Maybe it was the way I was holding my mouth when I applied it! I won't be buying more Zoop Seal, but the Liquid Glass looks promising.

One of the primary reasons a good alternative clearcoat solution has not been found may be the economic viability issue. People polishing their Airstream are likely to be more frugal than a Railroad line trying to protect their showpieces!
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Old 05-22-2005, 03:39 PM   #14
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Bob Thompson.

I agree with you.

My problem is time, or lack of it.

Staying on top of the "within Airstream box" is a huge challenge by itself.

Perhaps some others may wish to try and find a solution "outside the box".

I for one, would certainly most welcome a better answer.

Andy
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