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Old 05-11-2005, 05:54 PM   #1
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I'm new and have some questions...

I bought a 1963 26' Airstream Overlander a few years ago for $500. Yes, $500. It's in very good condition and I haven't done anything other than repair a couple sections of floor. I have used it quite a bit. Everything worked when I bought it. The original fridge works great on gas but I think the electric element is burned out. The range is in good shape. The electrical system works (12v and 110v). I was amazed. I'm still amazed. However, I want to polish it. It would look a lot better if it was polished. HERE are some pictures.

There doesn't seem to be very much clearcoat left at all. It is mostly bare metal. There are just a few spots like THIS where I shouldn't have trouble removing it. I have done some experimenting as seen in the pictures. Someone recommended using chrome/wheel cleaner to eat away the top layer and Flitz to polish it up. After reading in this forum I see that acid isn't recommended and I won't be doing that anymore. The Flitz seems to work very well though. I did all of that by hand in an hour.

My question is, what would be the best way to get a mirror finish? I know there are many threads on the subject but they are long and confusing for a first timer like me. Should I use a rubbing compound? What's the best polish. In my reading I found that Heavy Metal Polish seems to produce very good results. How does Heavy Metal compare to Flitz? As you can see in the close-up it's not perfect but it's a major improvement. There are swirl marks and slight oxidation. The upper panels seem to be slightly pitted and aren't nearly as shiny as the lower ones. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

"I'm not lying, I'm writing fiction with my mouth" - Homer Simpson

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Old 05-11-2005, 06:07 PM   #2
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1973 27' Overlander
'Possum Holler , Georgia
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Hi Ho,

Try this link. This fella gives a step-by-step on how he did his. I've not done mine yet, by the way. He has a great web site, lots of pics and info, but not like this site. Enjoy.



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Old 05-11-2005, 06:22 PM   #3
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1968 17' Caravel
Battle Ground , Washington
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Hidy Ho, Hi Ho! That's a nice looking trailer you got there for $500 - what a steal! I have no polishing advice to offer (except to say I'll bet you're wishing you had a smaller trailer to polish right about now). My trailer was polished by the previous owner using the method, and has held up pretty well. It's aging gracefully now, and I probably should re-polish it sometime, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Anyway, just wanted to say Hi to another Washington Airstreamer!

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Old 05-11-2005, 06:34 PM   #4
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1968 26' Overlander
Wenatchee WA , Cape Cod
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We have not polished either. 26' of aluminum love would take weeks. When doing research on the topic I also looked at Try also searching this area for a thread on polishing. You will come up with a lot of hits. Also many people on the forum have web sites in which they have documented their polishing sagas. This one is great as well. So where is Somewhereville? and welcome from another Washington Airstreamer.
Jim & Kathleen
1968 Overlander - WBCCI #5793
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Old 05-11-2005, 07:40 PM   #5
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So where is Somewhereville? and welcome from another Washington Airstreamer.
He he he... I used RoboForm to fill out the registration form and I don't have my real city or address in their. I'm in the Shelton area though.

Thanks for the links and welcomes! I'll continue looking into it.

There are a lot of things I want to do when I have the time and money. I plan on re-facing the cabinets with cherry wood and probably installing a different floor. Maybe Pergo. Those pink curtains are also going to go. I really am surprised that it is in such good condition. I bought it without knowing how much work it needed. It even has all of the original paperwork and owners manuals for all of the eqiupment. The warranty card is on the cabinet door under the sink. I don't know what the seller was thinking. The awning (in perfect shape) is worth more than I paid for the entire trailer.
"I'm not lying, I'm writing fiction with my mouth" - Homer Simpson

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Old 05-12-2005, 08:37 AM   #6
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1967 22' Safari
1960 Caravel
Edmonds , Washington
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Hey Hi Ho - Just wanted to send a welcome from lovely Edmonds, WA! Your trailer was a great find - congrats on that deal. Also, I like your tow vehicle - we have a '73 F250. Sorry, no polishing advice - our clearcoat is staying on for at least another year. Good luck with your projects!

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Old 05-12-2005, 08:15 PM   #7
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1972 25' Tradewind
Lake Worth , Florida
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My 2 cents

Hello all... I've been away from this place for awhile. I bought my first A/S 3yrs ago like you.... cheep and needing some work. Well 3yrs later It's pretty much done. I've taken it down to the frame and built it back up. Every inside panel has been removed and replaced. All wiring,plumbing, Bla, Bla, Bla...

IMHO polishing is the BEST way to make a Airstream look great..... It also is the WORST job to do. I started polishing mine and it was coming out GREAT... better then I had ever hoped..... It's the time it take. It was taking me forever to do little sections at a time. My orig. condition was pretty good. I stripped off the clearcoat and used Nuvite like the PerfectPolish website suggested. I spent about $500 on the polish and cloth's and the cyclo. Then you gotta get the drill if you don't have one then I also bought a polisher/grinder (an other $200). I was into it for about 7-800bucks plus my time. I went everyday (wasn't working) and in one month had pretty much done 1 side. It looked GREAT. People would stop by my house and comment on it all the time. I was sooo burned out and needed to have it done I called a co. that polishes Oil tank trucks and they came out the next day. The guy told me they had never thought to do an A/S he thought they where made out of s/s and he looked over what I did. The owner of the co. said he had never seen Alum. look sooo good and of course asked how I got it to look so good. I explained and showed him how it worked and the steps involved.

The owner walked over to his van got a sample bottle of something he used and grabed a rag. He put a small dot on the rag, polished LIGHTLY and buffed out the hase to something ALMOST as good as what would take me a hour or more.

I pretty much **** myself (sorry) and was blown away. Now first, it wasn't as good as what I did, not even super close but very very good.

Not sure if the pic's will work. The one with my dog in it was taken in SC after I left NH in a BAD snow storm and the trailer was covered in salt/road junk. If you look close you can kinda tell where under the side window I polished (looks clearer) and what they did, which actualy was the dullest spot on the trailer

Actualy, they polished the whole trailer even what I had done so to actualy "knock down" my finish so everything more closely matched.

I went alittle ahead of myself.... so after the guy does the demo I ask how much to have it look "not that great" I tell him because I've read every where that it should cost like $3,000 for my size/condition. He say's he'll do the whole trailer and have it done by 5 that night (it was 11 in the afternoon) for $600 total. I almost fell over.
"Rock ON"... I got a call at 3:00 that it was all set and I went home to see..... unbelievable. I couldn't believe how great it looked. The guy did it in something like 4 hr's and it cost me $600. I felt like a fool, but was never happier to not have to finish the job myself.

The fact's: It doesn't look as good as the PerfectPolish deal, it's like in the middle between a nice clean A/S and a mirror.

I'm not selling anything and to be honest I forget the name of the co. I'll try and find the name off the check (might have that). But let me tell you that it was soooo worth it. Last thing... I moved to West Palm Beach FL last month from Rye, NH and like I said I left in a bad storm (brought the A/S a month before I moved) and STILL havent cleaned the salt off it or even washed it at all.... parked it and left it, I haven't had time and everyday I'm waiting to go outside and see it looking awful... it still looks great (I will clean it soon - promise). The guy told me to wash it using "like" a 10-20% simple green. He said it will keep the finish looking better. And they washed it in the simple green before I picked it up.

Not sure if this helps anyone, just thought I throw my experience out there. I still have the nuvite and polisher... I use the stuff to do other small job's but I'll be looking for an other tank polisher to redo it when it needs it again.

Best of luck all.
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