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Old 11-18-2012, 11:51 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1971 21' Globetrotter
Redondo Beach , California
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 31
Just a simple, basic cleaning?

I just acquired my first Airstream (hooray!), a beautiful 1971 Globetrotter in very nice all-original condition. I think I will eventually go nuts on the exterior, but I need to focus on interior refurbishment for the time being so I can get my boys out into nature.

So what I want to do for now is just thoroughly clean and detail the exterior in a simple fashion so it looks nice when I show it off.

There is so much info here on the topic that I can't seem to find the basics on just a good soap to use and a basic sub-4-hour cleanup job to remove the 10 years of grime and oxidation. Soap, wax, Walbernize? Here's a couple pics so you can see what I'm dealing with....

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Old 11-18-2012, 12:53 PM   #2
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Southwestern , Ohio
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,616
Welcome to the forums, and the community of Airstreamers!

You won't remove any oxidation with a sub-four-hour cleaning. Removing oxidation is a matter of a month's work cutting through the oxide with coarse polish (such as Nuvite F-7). Aluminum oxide is hard--that's why they use it for abrasives. A friend of mine described the process as "grinding the crust off an old Airstream".

Now, you can remove the crud and black mold with any soap and some scrubbing.

I'll tell you what I do for a periodic cleaning (realizing that I am going to get a million replies saying not to do it). I use a pressure washer and plain water. It takes the road grime, mold and green algae that Airstreams are heir to right off.

Now, do be smart about it. When pressure washing over a seam, direct the spray from the overlapping panel side so you are not blasting the water into the lap seam. Don't dwell on things like lights, air conditioners, etc. where water can get into the trailer. If necessary you can scrub these areas by hand.

Your Airstream won't look like a new one, but a little washing will go a long way toward making it look better.

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Old 11-18-2012, 01:10 PM   #3
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1961 16' Bambi
Malden , Missouri
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 159
I hear you, but I have to agree with Nuvite-F. A significant outside refreshment needs lots of elbow-grease and a few tubs of Nuvite! When I got my 1961 Bambi, I scrubbed him like I would a car to get the barn dust off and jumped into getting the inside ready for camping. This winter, I'm tackling the outside. It's really time consuming but VERY addicting! I'm only 19 hours into the job, but the results are exciting! Good luck with your project!
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:17 PM   #4
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1974 31' Sovereign
Ottawa , ON
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 11,169
Images: 25
A bucket of warm water, one of those long-handled car washing brushes (a soft one) and some Dawn detergent (followed by a rinse with clear warm water and same brush) is what I use.

It always surprises me how much it takes off and how shiny it winds up for the little bit of work it takes.

Gets rid of the Green Forest around the windows, too.
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