To do the polishing job you need:
If the trailer is clear coated:
Klean Strip Aircraft Stripper
respirator (if you are doing it inside)
water hose nearby to wash stripper off skin, IMMEDIATELY.
soft plastic scraper to scrape off the gooky mess
small can to hold the Stripper
old paint brush that will fit into the can to apply the stripper.
EXTREME CARE: DON'T GET ON PLASTIC, WINDOWS (IT'LL ETCH THEM).
CAUTION: Don't lean against your fancy Tow Vehicle with the clothes on that you stripped in. You could end up with a ruined paint job.
Lots of intestinal fortitude.
First and foremost,
1 ea Cyclo Polisher
lots of sweatshirt material
lots of microfiber towels. (the only cloth that can touch the finished skin and not leave a scratch)
1 ea cheap 1/2in drill with 7" polishing head (drill will be good for one or two polishings.
3 7" wool buffing pads
Mineral spirits to wipe off the black residue. Even if it is a mirror finish, it is amazing how much aluminum oxide is still on the finish. Also you need to get the black ring off every rivet or it will harden and be really hard to get off later. Voice of experience talking.
Some sort of sealer to apply after the mirror finish is obtained. Nu Finish or Liquid Glass are two excellent ones.
1 pound Nuvite "F7"
2 pounds Nuvite "C" (gotta use "C" to compound and to polish with)
1 pound Nuvite "S"
1 understanding wife
vast quantities of elbow grease
Now, my best advice is "DO NOT POLISH YOUR TRAILER" That usually falls on deaf ears.
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 $150-220 per foot to have it painted professionally. That measurement is from hitch head to rear bumper. P&S will do it for you for $220/ft. Guarenteed to last 2 years. 31' trailer, $220/ft, 2 years... you do the math.
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". Leaves swirls galore
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 photos).
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.