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Old 11-09-2005, 06:45 AM   #15
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What about Medford, Arkansas? Or Missouri? Or Tennessee?
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Old 11-09-2005, 08:15 AM   #16
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I spent 200 hours stripping and polishing my 31' Excella. Figuring that the hourly rate for a professional should be around $30/hr, that works out to $6000 or roughly $190/ft. Considering that you are doing window seals and new name plates (not all airstreams have nameplates, many are individual letters), that is probably not excessive.

You must make people understand that once the polishing is done, that is not the end by any streach of the imagination. Polishing requires a lifetime commitment. Depending on the climate where the Airstream is kept, it will have to be redone every 6 to 12 months to keep the shine maintained. Those maintenance polishing's will take around 1.5-2.0 hours/ft. My 31 footer takes about 50 hours to redo and since I live 5 miles from the ocean, I have to repolish every 4-6 months.

The polished finish can be sealed with Liquid Glass or Nu Finish or any one of several other sealers. Even with the sealing, the repolishing still has to be accomplished often.

For those who think that clearcoating a polished trailer is an option, I am afraid that the clearcoat will fail very early since it needs an abraded surface to which it can adhere. I don't have any stats on how long it would last, but most of the clearcoats in non polished trailers will start to fail in 5 years. You can draw your own conclusions.

In essence I am saying that polishing is a personal commitment on the behalf of the owner, regardles of whether or not they have the original job done professionally. They will have to learn to do the maintenance polishing's themselves or the whole cost of the initial work is an abominable waste of money.

By the way, would I do it again? You bet your life I would. It is one of the most rewarding things I have done and the pride of ownership is priceless.


Below are my before and after pictures.
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Old 11-09-2005, 08:27 AM   #17
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For my 25' it took about 6 hours to strip, it went better than I had expected and the roof had been done already. 60-80 hours to polish. About every 6 weeks I go around the lower portion (not the roof) and that can be done in less than 6 hours (as there is not much clouding at that point) I can wax in 2 hours. As with startrekker2001 I think it is a personal prefferance, and would do it again with no reservations.

Where the heck did the original poster go???

BTW, startrekker2001 your rig is some hansome!
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Old 11-09-2005, 10:14 AM   #18
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Hey Startreker your polish job is awsome and really does show pride of ownership - although your arms may just reach those stars literally.

Two points. For those DIY's who have completed their polish - how many of those calculated hours are spent testing different products and perfecting your technique to get - in your own opinion the best result - just curious on a possible percentage per foot.

And the second point - billing out at $30.00 an hour is one thing - but is it the cost of a labourer - NOPE! Those in the business know that the guy/gal behind that polisher is getting minimum or just above min wage - it is the shop expenses and all the other business expenses that run up the hourly rate - and depending on what profit margin your business wants to acheive will no doubt run the hourly rate between $25 - $45. $120 per foot on a 21' runs me a bill of $2500-3000 US that I have been quoted. - at your rate of polish that is 6.45 hours per foot = $135/ft - so is that $15-20 dollar difference for experience or profit margin.....

That is why experience is key. I have seen a lot of polish jobs out at the rallies - and no offence to those who give a valiant effort - but many fall real short of what polished aluminum should be. Mirror - or real shinny at a distance with swirls - and white chalk around the rivets.

I am not really disputting the cost of professional polishers - just think there are a few in every business who want to push the envelope and price - and yet comparable products and service is available - shop around.

Doing it yourself or having it done by someone else - is purely a matter of choice and comfort level - with either skill, time and money and a few other resources available to you - Like Shari's innovative way of getting on top of her Max.

Another curios question - why can the window seals and other items not be tapped off - does this stripping technique just eat through everything??? is there no tape out there that can withstand it??? - Seams a waste to replace everything if there is nothing wrong with it. But if the seals are hard and brittle then yes - good added value to the polish service by replacing them.

Just food for thought - and things we are pondering - before our own great debate starts - do we polish or do we farm it out.

I would price myself to start a bit lower than all the competition - just to get the jobs - there are many out there that would take a polish from an inexperienced guy if it was in their price range.

Me I am leaning toward - getting done by someone else. Sort of like the dedcision to have a camper top made for the boat or DIY- you know you could probably do it and do it for a lot less - but heck - people in the business have the tools, the space and the experience and warranty that comes with the price.
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Old 11-09-2005, 10:17 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardT
I have several Airstream trailers and a motorhome you could polish, you could then figure out how long it took you on average per foot and any costs involved and use that figure as a basis for charging others.
I am located in Bat Cave NC and would be happy to put you up in my guest house while you polish them. Pictures located at http://photos.yahoo.com/richtrich
I was thinking of trying out a bungh of different acids baths. I want to see if I do it like 30 times to one trailer hat happens? Still want me to come do you're Airstreams? Just joking! My shop is in Medford, OR. Right now I'm not polishing for anyone. I've had many customers in the past and people who want me to do it for them now but I'm not going in that direction right now. There's way to much liabilty in polishing other peoples trailers. It's just so risky(things breaking). I refuse to use any acid at all, so it's alot more intense and things could break. I've never had it happen but it scares the crap out of me. Also I'm only 20 years old so people always want to tell me how to do it even though after they saw what I do they come to me to have the same thing done. There's just such a mentality that if you're young you're stupid. I've been doing this for about 2 years for a living so I still have alot to learn but I'm not stupid.
Right now I'm setting up my lot full of restored Airstreams. I hope to have about 20 at one time. My dream is to have this type of polished Airstream lot. That said I want to polish only my own trailers for now. Less liability. Even though I'm insured I would just rather wait to do a polishing service.
I was just trying to get a feel for what would be fair to charge? I'll be doing a polishing service in the future for sure but just not at this exact moment in time. Pretty soon my website will be up and hopefully by then I'll have prices listed for all my different services.
I must say thanx to all who have been trying to get me some good info and advice. I must say Shari does have a great polishing job. Who did it?
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Old 11-09-2005, 12:19 PM   #20
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Awe Shucks! THX~

Quote:
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<snip>I must say Shari does have a great polishing job. Who did it?
Originally, I stripped & prepped it, Mr.InsideOut polishes & maintains it & I do the detailing around the door, windows, rivets & trim. Teamwork ~

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Old 11-09-2005, 01:10 PM   #21
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What in the world is there to break on the outside of a trailer?
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Old 11-09-2005, 01:52 PM   #22
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How many Airstreams have you polished? Windows, vents, seals, A/C shroud, antenna, rain guards(flimsy), scratches from scaffolding, dents from slipping, solar rock guard, nameplates, plates, etc. I'm sorry but if I gave my Airstream to someone I would be pissed if they ruined the window seals cause it costs about 150$ to fix those in exact replication. Then you run the risk of breaking the window if the seals is hardend to the window. If you're thinking "Why can't you just tape off the windows?" Well try running a 5,000rpm buffer over that tape. It will melt it into the seal and make a mess and ruin them anyway. So in reality there's alot to ruin or break on an Airstream. Thanx for the question!
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Old 11-09-2005, 02:15 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 59Caravanner
..."Why can't you just tape off the windows?" Well try running a 5,000rpm buffer over that tape. It will melt it into the seal and make a mess and ruin them anyway....

I think was my question - but I was more referring to the stripping process.

With your buffing comment - I now ask - how would your buffer get anywhere near the window seals on the 70's trailers??? Are you telling me that it conducts that much heat it would just melt them through 1/8 inch of aluminum frame????

Yes accidents can happen - but with proper equipment, skill and great care - they would be very far and few I would hope. Or at least keep practicing on your own trailers until you can do one with no accidents

To replace our window, door and compartment seals on a little 21'- was a bit more than $150 and don't forget the labour to remove and reinstall - it takes hours to do the job right - and a real bull to get the old glue off.
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Old 11-09-2005, 02:39 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 59Caravanner
Well try running a 5,000rpm buffer over that tape. It will melt it into the seal and make a mess and ruin them anyway.
5,000 RPM? At that speed, you'll burn right through the alclad in no time!

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Old 11-09-2005, 03:06 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 59Caravanner
How many Airstreams have you polished? Windows, vents, seals, A/C shroud, antenna, rain guards(flimsy), scratches from scaffolding, dents from slipping, solar rock guard, nameplates, plates, etc. I'm sorry but if I gave my Airstream to someone I would be pissed if they ruined the window seals cause it costs about 150$ to fix those in exact replication. Then you run the risk of breaking the window if the seals is hardend to the window. If you're thinking "Why can't you just tape off the windows?" Well try running a 5,000rpm buffer over that tape. It will melt it into the seal and make a mess and ruin them anyway. So in reality there's alot to ruin or break on an Airstream. Thanx for the question!
Have you polished any at this point? Care has to be taken, on a Vintage there are many items that need to be worked around, that if taken off would be tough to get a replacement. I would not even consider having mine touched it you were to attempt to remove the clear by way of a buffer. Something at that speed could quickly generate enough heat to damage or destroy the aluminum.
Take a look at the POR website and a few others I'd imagine to research chemically removing the clear, if required.
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Old 11-09-2005, 05:16 PM   #26
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Okay well there's alot to go over here..

On the 70's Airstreams it's a little different. I was refering more to the 50's-60's era Airstreams. And no it would not melt the seams on a 70's from the outside. When I said 150$ I meant for just the seals. For the windows you're looking at another 500$-1000$ (I just did it today).

As for the 5,000rpms it works great and I've had no problems burning at all. It just takes not being stupid with the buffer.

Yes I have done many. I don't use the buffer to strip the clear coat. I'm not stupid thanx. There are alot of things that SHOULD be taken off if you want to do a good job of polishing. Obviously I have replacments for everything I take off and take alot of care in doing so. I've never had anything broken like what I've been talking about but the fear of it happening to someone baby makes me worry. That should make you happy because it's a good thing I don't want to hurt you're Airstream. Yet I'm hacked on about it.

This is exactly why I don't want to do a polishing service. Everybody has all these things on how I should do it and everyone wants to look for my flaws. Even though they've done very little polishing. I think I'll just stick with the 11 Airstreams I have now. This forum makes not want to polish for others.
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Old 11-09-2005, 05:20 PM   #27
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By the way StarTrakker you're Excella looks beautiful! Great job on it! You should be very proud.
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Old 11-09-2005, 05:39 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 59Caravanner
Okay well there's alot to go over here..
Hey, no offense implied man! Sorry if your taking it was that way

Sounds like you have your hands full, I guess we all know how a polished rig generates some passion.

11 units eh? you should post some pics of you handy work!
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