Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 01-18-2012, 02:36 PM   #1
New Member
1964 28' Ambassador
thousand oaks , California
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 2
Images: 1
Need advice on exterior work, please help!

hi fellow airstream friends, i am new to this site and have a question that i assume has probably been asked but i could not find it....i have a 1964 airstream and as much as i would love to have it chromed i dont have the money nor patience to chrome my 28 foot gem. as you know there is a clear coat on it that in time has began to fade making it an eye sore. my question is are there any methods you guys have found or used to do a 1 step process to cleaning it up? im not necessarily even committed to making it look original, i dont mind more of a brushed aluminum look if it helps speed the process of "cleaning" up the exterior. any help will be much appreciated! thanks in advance!

coorscan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2012, 03:45 PM   #2
Rivet Master
InsideOut's Avatar

1956 22' Safari
Vintage Kin Owner
Conifer/Evergreen , Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 11,823
Images: 108
First off, welcome to the forums! You'll find all kinds of helpful information posted here.

Secondly, Airstreams are not "chromed". They are made with aluminum - most with a clearcoat finish, that eventualy fails as it sounds yours has. The "super-shiney" Airstreams you see are polished. You can search for lots of varying methods of acheiving that mirrored finish that is mistaken for "chrome". It is a lot of work, but can be done as a DIY'r...we did. Another option some have found to be acceptable to spruce things up without polishing is to just strip the old clear coat off. As you probably have on yours, it turns "milky" when it fails. Depending on how bad it has failed, the aluminum may still pretty pretty nice underneath the clearcoat. The problem is when the clearcoat has failed in patches over time and the bare aluminum has been exposed to the elements and oxidized irregularly. That can not be easily fixed...after removing the clearcoat, you either have to:

1) polish
2) wait for everything to oxidize to an even patina
3) soda or walnut-shell blast

Take a look at the search results for these different options to get a better idea of what is involved. In the meantime, enjoy your new baby!


Vintage Airstream Club - Past President 2007/2008
WBCCI #1824 - DenCO Unit Past President (2005)
AIR #30 - Join Date: 2-25-2002

RMVAC | WBCCI DenCO Unit | Sisters on the Fly | Tin Can Tourists
BIRDY - our 1956 Safari | 1964 Serro Scotty
InsideOut is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2012, 05:49 PM   #3
4 Rivet Member
silver 67's Avatar
1967 30' Sovereign
Leavenworth , Kansas
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 382
Images: 3
Talking Old Aluminum is Best

Welcome to the world of old Aluminum. All of us vintage owners have had to make the decision - just strip the clearcoat or go all the way. After three years of work on the inside of our baby, it was time for the outside decision. It didn't take us long to make it though, we saw too many beautiful gems at International that year, so we began our polishing. It isn't easy, but it sure is worth it.
Like Shari said, do a search on these forums. There is a wealth of information here. But I have one more suggestion. Plan on attending the Vintage Restoration Rally this year!
Beth and/or David

67 Sovereign, double bed, rear bath-"Moby"
2005 Dodge Ram 2500 Hemi, Quad Cab-"Ahab"
"Vintage trailer, vintage owners"
silver 67 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-18-2012, 05:56 PM   #4
Rivet Master
mimiandrews's Avatar

1966 22' Safari
Weatherford , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 1,484
Minimum work strip and polish

Paint stripper will get the clear coat off. Many brands out there with different characteristics with respect to environmental friendliness, how fast they work, how sensitive to temperatures, etc.

We stripped our '66 Safari during a Texas summer using Aircraft Stripper by Rustoleum. Had to work early mornings to keep it from drying out in the heat. Chose that particular brand for faster working times due to working in the heat. Others have used different strippers and also had good results.

Some of the aluminum was original finish bright after the clear coat was stripped off, some of it wasn't. We did the rest with a Cyclo polisher, yellow wool pads, and Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish. It's not the mirror finish some folks get, but it was less work also, and the trailer looks good.

Work a fairly small area at a time. Clean thoroughly after stripping. Stripper can work its way into the joints in the aluminum and cause corrosion.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	Streetside post polishing.JPG
Views:	87
Size:	194.1 KB
ID:	149153  
mimiandrews is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-27-2012, 07:31 PM   #5

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , Milky Way
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 11,372
Images: 1
Thumbs up

We decided not to polish our first Airstream.... 63 22' Safari

No polish just a good cleaning every month or two.

Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Views:	83
Size:	570.0 KB
ID:	149688  


Sandra wanted to go to Cleveland on vacation,
but Im the Husband, so we went to Cleveland. 😂

Its a crooked piece of time that we live in.
John Prine
ROBERT CROSS is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Advice Needed on Old Airstream cboling Our Community 9 01-18-2012 01:26 PM
Route Advice Wanted wasagachris On The Road... 10 09-13-2011 11:41 PM
What's the best and worst advice you've received? MrUKToad On The Road... 4 09-01-2011 05:39 AM
Just bought a 1977 28ft Argosy- Need Your Expert Advice GarrettRing All Argosy Trailers 18 05-15-2011 05:58 AM
More First Timer advice: 20FC, 23FBFC, 23 Int? Supercharge Buyer Guidelines 28 05-13-2011 11:36 PM

Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:11 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.