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Old 09-23-2005, 11:58 AM   #1
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Please advise on polishing 1979 Excella

I have a 1979 Airstream Excella. I think it looks fine but I am a full-timer and the campground's owner suggested I needed to polish it. I live amonst $300,000 motorhomes and other less expensive RVs and I guess he thinks it looks too old.

I have a full-time in-house secretarial service and work 14 hours a day some days, but if I knew how to begin, I could do a little each weekend.

These are a list of the issues:

1 -- One side has some dents all on the side left side as though someone scrapped by a tree. It isn't terrible but it is noticeable. I was told by Three-Way Camper here in
Atlanta (they used to be an Airstream dealer and they are the only people who can work on my Airstream) that they could put a panel over the damaged one. Is that a good idea?

2 – The blue stripping all around is old looking and the caulking is gray and shows. What can I do about that and is it expensive?

3 – A couple who had a very shiny 1959 or 60-something Airsteam said they put some kind of stainless steel shine product on the Airstream. It looked great. Anybody ever heard of that?

4 – Can I hire someone to just buff the trailer? I will use the toothpaste test to see if it has clear coat. I think it does still have. It has a few sort of patchy areas at the top front area.
What are the steps to getting a shine? Do you first take off the clearcoat or keep it on if you have it? Then do you buy a kit for $300 or something I heard about? And then just start “waxing” it in a small area day by day until the whole thing is polished. And then put that Wannabee on it?

5 –I hired this man to wash my Airstream and he wanted to make it look really good. But he couldn’t really do much with the top. It looks gray and must have a lot of some kind of buildup. I suppose this would be part of the polishing?

Thank you guys for answering all these questions. I have never done any of the work myself on my Airstream and would like to at least do this much.
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Old 09-23-2005, 12:34 PM   #2
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You can buy new blue stripe cheap. That is a start. The plasticoat clearcoat is most likely shot on the top of the coach and the hemispheres front and back. You could paint the top of the trailer white. The new ones are. It keeps it cooler in the summer. Some people have used high gloss enamel. That is what I have. Others have used elastomeric paint. It does not show from ground level very much so brush painting can be acceptible to the non-fussy. The hemispheres can be stripped with paint remover and then polished to a dull polish to match the rest of the unit at a reasonable cost. High polish is pretty expensive, if you hire it out. Depends on how you want to spend the rest of your day after 14 hours of work.
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Old 09-23-2005, 01:41 PM   #3
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it would be expensive and time consuming to polish, but would look great when done. If you could come to our Rally at Mckinney next month, even for a day, we could show you some ideas, and you can see how others look at that time. Its right near Three way campers- just a few miles out 75 north.
I restriped mine myself, that was the easy part, however if any polishing is going to happen you might want to wait until that is done. As for putting a new panel on, if they can do it affordably and right it would be a way to go. Check back in thepast on this site (search) for PeterH's photos of the panel replacement on his 79. It was not an overlay, it was a new install.
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Old 09-23-2005, 02:24 PM   #4
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I may paint the top.

I will drive up to the ralley at McKinney and talk to you there. I don't have a truck to tow my Airstream yet so I can't bring it with me. I intend to first restore the Airstream and then get a truck in about 5 years. I would really appreciate detailed info on how to go about polishing my Airstream myself even if it takes me a few months. I would have to pay someone to spray paint the top if I did that.

Can you give me dates, times, directions to your McKinney ralley and how to find you?

I can talk to you more about the stripping, polishing, etc.

I have heard that when you totally replace a panel that it can leak. Some people who had bought a brand new Airstream stated if they ever got caught in a hail storm, they wouldn't replace the panels for this reason. Is there any truth to that?
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Old 09-23-2005, 03:24 PM   #5
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Here is an example of some good polishing work. The first two pictures are of a 34' Limited Trailer. I forget its model year although I think its a 1997 vintage. It had a severe case of clearcoat failure and subsequent oxidation.

The second set of pictures are the same trailer which was polished and clearcoated by P&S Trailer Service. They also replaced the old graphics with 2005 graphics. Here is the link to P&S you will see some more before and after pictures of that 34' unit.

http://www.pandstrailerservice.com/aboutus.htm

The person who had this work done put about $10,000 into this (this also includes some body work and a panel replacement). It really turned out nice and was even more impressive when I saw it in person this spring. It's my first view of a satin finished unit that had been polished.

Jack
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Old 09-23-2005, 03:36 PM   #6
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What is the annual mx cost for keeping the high polish?

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Old 09-23-2005, 03:42 PM   #7
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I bought a 78 last year and having been working to make it look newer. I will answer of couple of your questions on which I have come up with answers. I replaced the blue inserts to the molding. It comes in three widths. I was able to get a dealer to get it from the factory and sell it to me in 50ft rolls. You can also buy it from Inland RV in California. It wasn't too hard to put in and it does look better. The light and dark blue striping on the sides was pretty bad in places. You cannot get it from Airstream anymore. I went on the internet and found a commercial stiping place and had them cut me a roll of light blue and a roll of dark blue and I put it right over the old stuff after I cleaned it carefully. It actually looks real good. Be careful, it will stretch. If you look on the Airstream company website, they sell lots of the products to polish your trailer. It is a terrible job if you want it to look wonderful, but you can polish it like a car if you just want it to look better. There are a number of articles that people have posted about how to do it correctly. However, most of them are fanatics and the rest of us will never spend that much energy on an old trailer. Good luck.
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Old 09-23-2005, 03:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iver
What is the annual mx cost for keeping the high polish?

Iver
The Limited unit above needs no special maintenance since its been clearcoated. Its just a matter of using a good wax or Walbernize to help extend the life of the clearcoat.

I think non clear coated polish jobs require at least a couple of polish touch ups a year.

Jack
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Old 09-23-2005, 04:47 PM   #9
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These pictures look great! If I had $10,000 I would just put that with another $5,000 and get a newer unit.

Although I'm not a fanatic about polishing, I don't mind doing a little each weekend if I could get a really beautiful shine.

I will call Inland and look into the stripes but I'm really not sure about how to go about putting them on and how to get rid of the caulking. Will my trailer leak if it get it off?
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Old 09-24-2005, 03:10 PM   #10
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you can get striping, if you are open to other colrs and style also,,on Ebay. I wanted red and black and silver for mine, and amzingly I found that exact combination in 150' roll for very little money, and new old stock in perfect shape. It was enought ot do my Motorhome at least twice, maybe three times. I cleaned the old stripe well, with mineral spirits, then washed it, then when dry I glued on the new Peel and stick stripes....trimmed with a razor and it has looked great for two or three yrs or so. I keep it clean with a vinyl product --like Armor All. When it started to lift slightly at the edge I use a small application of glue, and that stopped that.
As for polising wait until you come out and see Leemo and Josephh's motorhomes, 79 models, highly polished. They have held up without a lot of repolishing, although up close you might see a bit of cloud that can be shined up with the polisher. From a few feet back thought these rigs look amazing.
My own is clearcoated, and the clearcoat is starting to thin on the roof only. I will evetually strip that area and either polish out or recoat it after cleaning it well.
The sides, fron and back still have a great shiny coat on them which I maintain with seriously hard polymer sealant. Like liquid wax but way longer lasting. A quick wash and the thing looks great. I will bring some to the rally as I always do to share.
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Old 10-16-2005, 06:59 PM   #11
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Blue Stripe for Excella 500

Quote:
Originally Posted by dwightdi
You can buy new blue stripe cheap.
On this topic, does anyone know the AS partnumber for the blue stripe that goes on my '75 Excella 500? It's showing its age and I wanted to put in a new one.

Mitch
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