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Old 08-26-2014, 01:42 PM   #1
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Polishing a new panel to match an Alclad panel

I replaced an endcap segment with one of the new Airstream segments. Unfortunately, these segments are made of the new aluminum that Airstream is using while the rest of my trailer is 2024t3 Alclad. I've seen one post that claimed that by sanding I could get the new panel to match once polished. Does anyone have any experience doing that? Was thinking I would DA the new panel with 600-800-1000 and then polish. Does that sound reasonable?
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:19 AM   #2
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I don't know of any dry DA paper that is 600 grit or finer.
Let me know if you know of it. THANKS!
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:54 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by 66replica View Post
I replaced an endcap segment with one of the new Airstream segments. Unfortunately, these segments are made of the new aluminum that Airstream is using while the rest of my trailer is 2024t3 Alclad. I've seen one post that claimed that by sanding I could get the new panel to match once polished. Does anyone have any experience doing that? Was thinking I would DA the new panel with 600-800-1000 and then polish. Does that sound reasonable?
Yes
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Old 09-13-2014, 11:58 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by 66replica View Post
I replaced an endcap segment with one of the new Airstream segments. Unfortunately, these segments are made of the new aluminum that Airstream is using while the rest of my trailer is 2024t3 Alclad.
<snip>
Does that sound reasonable?
Unfortunately, it's not just the texture of the new panels that are mismatched - that would be able to be resolved with sanding as you are considering.

The aluminum is a different alloy (chemical composition) so no, they will never "match". The Alclad has a purer aluminum coating on the vintage panel which polishes up much brighter than the new panel ever will. Even if polished, the new panel will have a different color - like pewter vs real silver...it'll be a darker grey.

A "darker grey" cloud effect can also be seen when a vintage panel is over polished and the Alclad layer is burned through or worn away. It isn't really noticeable when it is freshly polished - only after it has begun to oxidize a bit. It can show up in as little as a couple of days with exposure to the elements.

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Old 09-13-2014, 01:29 PM   #5
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This is a panel on your '78, right? Stretch formed segments are not, nor ever have been, 2024 T3 Alclad. The flat sheets on a '78 are 6061-T6.
The flat sheets and stretch formed end cap segments are a different alloy on all Airstreams from 1969-1981. There will be a difference in the level of shine as Shari points out.
Keep on shining.
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