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Old 03-13-2012, 05:54 PM   #1
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1980 31' Excella II
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How shiny was it in 1980?

So, while I love the look of the polished trailers I'm not sure if that's the way we should go. I read of folks polishing 31 footers in a weekend--and others spending weeks, months years.

We have found that we actually really like the original look of the interior of our trailer. We have changed/updated the textiles and flooring, but otherwise it's in pretty much original condition. The previous owners updated the plumbing, sealed the floor and fixed the rear end sag. I'm thinking we might like to keep the exterior original, too.

How shiny was our trailer when new? We have some areas where the clear coat is gone. How do we handle that? I'm guessing we need to strip it all, but then how do we apply new? What product? How do we apply it? Is this a job we can do ourselves or does it need to be done professionally?

I know we're not the first ones with this dilemma. Any help will be much appreciated.

Thanks for your input and help,
Sue
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:48 PM   #2
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It wasn't THAT shiny when new. If you really want it to look like it did when new, you can strip it, polish it, then re-clearcoat it. That will give the closest approximation to what it looked like back then. The biggest reason for you to polish it at all would be to get rid of the oxidation where the clear coat has peeled away, leaving the raw aluminum exposed to the elements.
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Old 03-13-2012, 06:57 PM   #3
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Clear coating

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Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
It wasn't THAT shiny when new. If you really want it to look like it did when new, you can strip it, polish it, then re-clearcoat it. That will give the closest approximation to what it looked like back then. The biggest reason for you to polish it at all would be to get rid of the oxidation where the clear coat has peeled away, leaving the raw aluminum exposed to the elements.
Thanks Terry,

So, how do we reapply the clear coat? Spray, brush? Is it something two amateurs could do?

Sue
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Old 03-13-2012, 07:38 PM   #4
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You have to strip the clear coat with paint stripper. Then you need to rough polish or sand to get all the oxide staining off. I would use 400 grit emory paper. Then you need to clean it real well and apply Alodine to create an oxide layer that the paint can adhere to. It is expensive to do this right. Then you have to apply the clear coat after water rinsing the Alodine off. They say it is a special clear coat but I expect any acrylic clear coat will work once you have done the Alodine. I am also having second thoughts about polishing. So for all you OCD folks, it is not historically correct to polish your trailer but it may be the easiest and cheapest way to get a uniform finish.

Perry
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Old 03-13-2012, 08:10 PM   #5
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It's been a while, but i'm pretty sure you don't want to use alodine,

"This is a visible coating which leaves the surface with a golden coloration."

ALODINE 1201 from Aircraft Spruce

And the 400 grit will have you sanding thru several more grits of paper, all the way to 1000 to get rid of gouges...

On my '91 I stripped then used a deoxidizer and the associated polish from California Custom 'purple polish', not a perfect solution but much less work than the full polish on my '63...
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Old 03-13-2012, 08:22 PM   #6
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I have had a product called sharkhide recommended to me.
http://www.sharkhide.com/
It looks interesting
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Old 03-13-2012, 08:40 PM   #7
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Oh my!

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Originally Posted by HiHoAgRV View Post
It's been a while, but i'm pretty sure you don't want to use alodine,

"This is a visible coating which leaves the surface with a golden coloration."

ALODINE 1201 from Aircraft Spruce

And the 400 grit will have you sanding thru several more grits of paper, all the way to 1000 to get rid of gouges...

On my '91 I stripped then used a deoxidizer and the associated polish from California Custom 'purple polish', not a perfect solution but much less work than the full polish on my '63...

So I'm beginning to realize just how much we don't know. Aldodine, deoxidizer--where to begin? I did search the forums before I asked the question, but am becoming more confused. Do we need to strip the entire trailer--or is there a way to just strip the areas where the clear coat is gone?

Is there a way to do this ourselves or would it be better left to professionals? In one of the threads Andy said you need to apply the new clear coat within hours of stripping the old! There's no way we can do that.

My husband votes to just leave things as they are. It's a 32 year old trailer and has earned its "character" finish. Can't convince him to go for a full polish, but the splotchy look bothers me. It's really just the front end. At least we don't have Filoform or do we?

Is there somewhere? Jackson Center? That does clear coating? Can't believe we are the only ones with this problem. There must be someone else out there who just wants their old trailer to look like it did when it was new.

Sue
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Old 03-13-2012, 08:47 PM   #8
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My finish was really splotchy...I opted to polish. Much better now!
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:14 PM   #9
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P&S in Ohio is the most widely used outside Airstream reconditioner. They remove the defective clear coat chemically and polish with large orbital polishers to achieve a bright but not shinny surface. They then clear coat with the Plasticoat originally supplied by Airstream. The results pretty well duplicate the appearance the trailers had in the 70's and 80's.
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:41 PM   #10
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Mine was polished ten years ago, but not to a mirror shine. It has aged gracefully ever since. No clearcoat or anything. I think it looks perfect, just a nice semi-shiny silver.
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:24 AM   #11
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There is a clear conversion coating for aluminum that is not the yellow color. There are different types of Alodine. You have to treat the skin before coating with clear or paint. There may be a self etching clear coat that I am not aware of. I have done my research here and I not talking out of my butt. I don't know about the Shark hide but I don't think it is considered a permanant coating.

http://www.chemical-supermarket.com/...?productid=398

And a whole array of Alodine products.

http://www.chemical-supermarket.com/...hp?mode=search

Perry

Quote:
Originally Posted by HiHoAgRV View Post
It's been a while, but i'm pretty sure you don't want to use alodine,

"This is a visible coating which leaves the surface with a golden coloration."

ALODINE 1201 from Aircraft Spruce

And the 400 grit will have you sanding thru several more grits of paper, all the way to 1000 to get rid of gouges...

On my '91 I stripped then used a deoxidizer and the associated polish from California Custom 'purple polish', not a perfect solution but much less work than the full polish on my '63...
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Old 03-14-2012, 10:06 AM   #12
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Check Olivebranch's thread "Is this old clear coat?" in the Polishing section of the Exterior forum.

What we did is strip the old clear coat and polish the aluminum with a Cyclo. May have to touch up the polish again in a year or so, but the trailer looks good and we've avoided the expense and labor of re-clearcoating.

Doing and maintaining an "original finish" level of polish is much less work than the mirror finish.

How long a polish will last varies with climate.
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:12 PM   #13
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The higher the degree of polish the easier it is to maintain. The smoother the surface the more uniform the oxide layer. Telescope mirrors are often made from uncoated aluminum and they will last for years left uncoated but they are very smooth. They are also keep clean and dry. If I ever polish mine I will be putting it inside.

You might very well be better off leaving it alone. I would not take on clear coating a trailer. I may try to polish mine at some point.

Perry
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Old 03-14-2012, 03:44 PM   #14
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You realize none of them were originally polished, right? The clear coat has to be a self etching type or it will fail(sooner). I do not think you anodize it as suggested.
Whatever you put on will fail sooner than later. Aluminum is a weird metal because of the atomic structure. It is always trying to bond with a very common thing in the air, water. Once it has a little water it can start forming aluminum oxide to protect itself from making more oxide. It is a vicious little cycle that just keep going and going and going. Clear coats, slow this down, but eventually a molecule of water gets under the clear and a beautiful crystal forms. Another molecule hits the oxide and a second one forms followed by another. Soon you have something looking like this.
Click image for larger version

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If you do not clear coat it, you can just allow it to fade into a wonderful pewter patina. You can also polish it back up if you choose that direction.
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