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Old 07-13-2011, 07:02 AM   #1
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Numbers have etched the aluminum?

I am preparing to polish our 70 overlander and removed the plastic/vinyl part of the WB numbers with airplane paint stripper, however it appears that the adhesive used for the numbers has somehow etched into the aluminum? Is that possible?

If anyone has had successful experience with this I would love to know. Thank you in advance
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Old 07-13-2011, 08:22 AM   #2
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Yes, it unfortunately is possible. Sometimes this can be removed by polishing...but oftentimes they can still be seen. If you are going to replace the numbers, the new numbers can help hide the "ghosts" too. If you aren't a member and want to become one you can also check with the main office to see it the same number is available for you to use.

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Old 07-13-2011, 08:59 AM   #3
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Yeah, the numbers change the color of the aluminum. It can be polished out with a big cyclone polisher, but then do you really want to pay 10 grand to do the whole trailer or to have a bright spot at each end? I cleaned mine off best I could and put the new numbers on. Obvious that there were numbers before. Have you tried taking the numbers off yet? That can be a daunting job in itself.
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Old 07-13-2011, 09:01 AM   #4
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You may be able to get rid of the ghosts if you sand that whole section down with 1000 or 2000 grit wet sandpaper and then polishing. I have gotten water etched spots out of aluminum sheets this way at work.
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Old 07-13-2011, 09:07 AM   #5
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I took a heat gun and put it on low, then moved the gun slowly around one number at a time.. do not keep the gun in one spot.. peeled off in a matter of seconds..

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Old 07-14-2011, 10:06 AM   #6
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You may be able to get rid of the ghosts if you sand that whole section down with 1000 or 2000 grit wet sandpaper and then polishing. I have gotten water etched spots out of aluminum sheets this way at work.
Thank you for the insight. I will get on that this weekend and post my results, hope to have before/after pics.
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Old 07-14-2011, 01:14 PM   #7
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...if you sand that whole section down with 1000 or 2000 grit wet sandpaper...
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Thank you for the insight. I will get on that this weekend and post my results, hope to have before/after pics.
Careful you don't sand through the Alclad...that is not repairable - w/o replacing the skin.

Shari
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Old 07-15-2011, 05:36 PM   #8
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question on the sanding- I am doing that to remove some corrosion. Use a sanding block, or hand sand or? Thanks
I have 600 grit up to 1500 to use for wet sanding as needed.
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:12 PM   #9
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... If you aren't a member and want to become one you can also check with the main office to see it the same number is available for you to use. Shari
Exactly what we did! A perfect way to hide the etching -- and we get to enjoy our membership to boot!


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Old 07-15-2011, 07:24 PM   #10
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Careful you don't sand through the Alclad...that is not repairable - w/o replacing the skin.

Shari
Shari, I don't pretend to be an expert on the finish, but I think the only place that any Chromate may be left on this vintage AS might be under the numbers. The rest will probably be weathered away. The finishes on aluminum are fragile to say the least. Anodized aluminum can be compromized in just a couple of years in the right atmosphere. I'm sure there are experts that will weigh in.








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Old 07-15-2011, 08:58 PM   #11
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Shari, I don't pretend to be an expert on the finish, but I think the only place that any Chromate may be left on this vintage AS might be under the numbers. The rest will probably be weathered away. The finishes on aluminum are fragile to say the least. Anodized aluminum can be compromized in just a couple of years in the right atmosphere. I'm sure there are experts that will weigh in.
Whoa! Airstream trailers were never anodized except for Wally's gold anodized trailer, which is now badly faded and not repairable except to replace the skin.

When Sheri referred to sanding through the Alclad, she was referring to the fact that prior to the early 80's the Airstream skin was made of Alclad aircraft-grade aluminum, consisting of a sheet of high strength alloy (2024-T3, I believe) with a .005 inch thick layer of pure aluminum bonded on the outer surface. This thin layer of pure aluminum is more corrosion resistant than the alloy underneath, and takes a beautiful polish. But you can polish right through it, if you're not careful with coarse abrasives.
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:02 PM   #12
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I used an aerosol spray-on gasket remover - melted the numbers away, now have perfect aluminum ONLY where the numbers used to be
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:30 PM   #13
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Whoa! Airstream trailers were never anodized except for Wally's gold anodized trailer, which is now badly faded and not repairable except to replace the skin.

When Sheri referred to sanding through the Alclad, she was referring to the fact that prior to the early 80's the Airstream skin was made of Alclad aircraft-grade aluminum, consisting of a sheet of high strength alloy (2024-T3, I believe) with a .005 inch thick layer of pure aluminum bonded on the outer surface. This thin layer of pure aluminum is more corrosion resistant than the alloy underneath, and takes a beautiful polish. But you can polish right through it, if you're not careful with coarse abrasives.
.
I wasn't trying to say that AS are or were anodized. I was using anodize as the ultimate protection of aluminum and anyone who owns a boat knows even anodize doesn't hold up against salt or other environmental attacks. 40 years of sun, snow, washing, salt or what ever are going to take their toll on the finish. According to Wikipedia Alclad is: "a heat-treated aluminum, copper, manganese, magnesium alloy that has the corrosion resistance of pure metal at the surface and the strength of the strong alloy underneath." My theory is that if the Alclad was still intact, there would be no evidence of the numbers once they were removed. Remember - this is just my theory, so don't go hoggin' into the aluminum with a grinder.
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:57 PM   #14
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My theory is that if the Alclad was still intact, there would be no evidence of the numbers once they were removed. Remember - this is just my theory, so don't go hoggin' into the aluminum with a grinder.
No, it's probably intact. Pure aluminum is more corrosion resistant than the underlying alloy, but not infinitely so. Most old trailers have ghosts of the old numbers on them. The other thing you will discover when you start polishing is that each sheet of aluminum is a little different, and at least on the one trailer I polished, the compound curved panels of the end shells seem to have "stretch marks" that are hard to polish out.

Good luck!
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