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Old 02-15-2005, 09:18 AM   #1
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polishing?

hi all. i just bought my first a/s. the out side looks good execpt for some faded spotchy places. to polish, do i have to strip clear coat first or can i just start polishing? my a/s is a 72 31ft soverign
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Old 02-15-2005, 10:56 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdbeez
hi all. i just bought my first a/s. the out side looks good execpt for some faded spotchy places. to polish, do i have to strip clear coat first or can i just start polishing? my a/s is a 72 31ft soverign
Hi and welcome to the club. To answer your immediate question, yes, you have to strip the clearcoat off before you can polish.

Before you decide to polish, be advised that (1) it is a very messy business and (2) once you start polishing, it is a lifetime commitment.

You cannot polish and then clearcoat. The clearcoat needs to have something to adhere to and a polished surface is too slick. The clearcoat will fail early. and besides it costs about $150-180 per running foot to have it painted professionally.

Stripping is best done with Klean Strip Aircraft Stripper. That can be purchased at a professional automotive paint store. It is toxic and needs to be handled carefully.

Once the Stripping is completed, next comes the compounding. You will need a good 1/2 drill and 7" wool buffer pads. Compound with Nuvite "C".

Once the compounding is done, you can start Polishing. You will need several grades of Nuvite. F7, C and S at a minimum. The polish is $49 per pound. You will need a polisher and the best on the market is the Cyclo polisher which can be had for around $250.

I did my 31' '78 Excella (see the results on my airstreamphotos.com).

It took 200 hours from start to finish of the Stripping/Compounding/Polishing. The follow-on polishing done every 6 or so months takes about 30 hours. The interval between polishings is dependant on you climate. I live near the ocean so once a month would not be too often. If you live in Arizona, once a year might do it.

A properly polished 31' Airstream is a beauty to behold. It is a tremendous amount of work and one needs strong arms and back muscles. Also, there is a risk of divorce, the first time you wash the polishing cloths in the family washer/dryer. It is guaranteed to get nasty black aluminum oxide on the tub which will get onto your wife's frilly underthings. If that happens, be sure to get custody of the Airstream!!!

The initial cost for the stripping and polishing was $800. That included the polish, Cyclo polisher, polishing cloths, stripper... etc.

For the very best information on polishing, go to www.perfectpolish.com. They sell everything you will need.

There are as many polishing methods are there are people who polish Airstreams. You will find one that works best for you but take the advice of the folks at perfectpolish as an excellent starting place.

Vic
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Old 02-15-2005, 09:41 PM   #3
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The more I read about polishing the more I am leaning toward keeping a splochey AS, It is truly a commitment, the results are awesome,I started a sample polishing on the propane tanks, Everyone that see`s them thinks they are the coolest thing,,,, they have a mirror finish ,Just think if the whole AS was done,,,,, Scott
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Old 02-15-2005, 09:58 PM   #4
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Well said StarTrekker. Sums it all up - glad I live in Arizona.

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Old 02-16-2005, 01:05 AM   #5
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Clearcoat

Quote:
Originally Posted by startrekker2001

You cannot polish and then clearcoat. The clearcoat needs to have something to adhere to and a polished surface is too slick. The clearcoat will fail early. and besides it costs about $150-180 per running foot to have it painted professionally.
.

Vic
Vic:
I am WORKING on a test of a clearcoat that looks VERY promising. We MAY have the "silver bullet' for the Silver Bullet!! Details at eleven!
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Old 02-16-2005, 08:18 AM   #6
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Murry,
I am waiting with anticipation and bated breath. Hurry, I am turning blue.

Vic
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Old 02-16-2005, 08:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scf31
The more I read about polishing the more I am leaning toward keeping a splochey AS, It is truly a commitment, the results are awesome,I started a sample polishing on the propane tanks, Everyone that see`s them thinks they are the coolest thing,,,, they have a mirror finish ,Just think if the whole AS was done,,,,, Scott

Scott,
Perhaps it might look something like this:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...id=10414&stc=1
DSC02700-1.jpg

http://www.airforums.com/forum...id=10416&stc=1
DSC02700-2.jpg
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Old 02-16-2005, 11:35 AM   #8
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OMG that AS is awesome! (and I hate using that word) Nice job. I've been reading as much as I can to talk myself into the effort to strip it off. My brother does Auto body and if prodding me to do it to look like yours.
Nice job, you must (or better be) some proud of the results!
You must need sunglasses just to get near it!
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Old 02-16-2005, 12:57 PM   #9
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I'm getting geared up to polish our Caravel. I stripped her yesterday (hehe). I used the Napier SV35 Removall stripper. The temp finally broke into the 80s and from prior experience - this stripper works better at warm temps. I used an airless sprayer with a #15 tip and started at the roof and sprayed the entire coach. I waited about 20 minutes then came back with my 2,600 psi pressure washer and the clear coat rinsed right off. It's amazing how much more shine there is with just the clear coat removed. The whole process, including taking off any plastic light lenses and the airstream badges was 2 hours and it took two gallons of stripper. The SV35 is great stuff and it's non toxic.
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Old 02-16-2005, 01:09 PM   #10
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Did you get pics of the process????
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Old 02-16-2005, 01:16 PM   #11
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Unfortunately no - the digital camera is always at work when I need it. I will post one of the stripped product though. (As I set the camera on my briefcase)
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Old 02-16-2005, 09:18 PM   #12
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Hey 78 Excella, That AS looks great !!!!!!!!! If and when I do mine,I will look to you for a few tips !!! Should I ask how many hours you have in it? Pictures like that make me want to polish , Scott
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Old 02-16-2005, 10:53 PM   #13
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Plasticoating Polished Coach

Greetings Vic!

Quote:
Originally Posted by startrekker2001
You cannot polish and then clearcoat. The clearcoat needs to have something to adhere to and a polished surface is too slick. The clearcoat will fail early. and besides it costs about $150-180 per running foot to have it painted professionally.
Vic
While I will agree that a professional polish and Plasticoat job is expensive, it is possible to have a beautifully polished coach that is also Plasticoated. The Ruths of P and S Trailer Service in Helena, OH have been polishing and Plasticoating for many years. A little over four years ago, they polished and Plasticoated my '64 Overlander and the finish is still beautiful with just a twice yearly application of Walbernize. My coach has what is referred to as a factory finish as I wanted to replicate the appearance as I remembered it from 1964 - - the coach is in the photo below. You can see other examples of the Ruths' work at:

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

I know of at least one family with an early 60's Overlander that the Ruths polished and Plasticoated nearly nine years ago and the finish is still in beautiful condition - - the owners took the coach back to the Ruths about a year ago to have some of the upper panels re-coated but it was impossible to identify the recoated panels from those that hadn't been touched.

I have neither the time nor the patience to do my own polishing, but I do enjoy my coach with its original appearing Plasticoated finish that allows me to recreate my first camping experience each time I take the Overlander out for an excursion.

Kevin
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Old 02-17-2005, 08:59 AM   #14
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Kevin,
Thanks for the info. I know a lot of people will be interested in the "Ruth Boys" and their service. If I can scrape together the schekels to have them do the plasticote I might visit them.

You unit looks fantastic. You must take a lot of pride in it.

Thanks again.

Vic
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