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Old 08-20-2004, 08:19 PM   #99
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Almost done

I snapped this pic just 2 hours ago. I have only 2 panels and some redos left, I'm estimating another 8 hours or so to finish.
If you look at it up close and personal, there are numerous flaws, but good enough is good enough for me.
Am I glad I did it? yes
Would I do it again? no
Would I recommend that anyone else use SS to polish their AS rather than the tried and true method? not if you want a mirror shine and are just looking to save some time and $ but cannot be happy with less than a pro result.
But that's just me.
My opinion plus 37 cents could buy a postage stamp.
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Old 08-21-2004, 05:13 AM   #100
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Professional Results-

Are acquired by the tried and true method of wet sanding and then polishing- choose whatever you like- SS worked great for me- had I have sanded the whole trailer I'd have had a perfect job.

Using a buffer, with compound from the expensive suppliers and then a cyclo to remove all the damage you just did- is a waste of time and the creation of a whole new job. Spend $1 on wet n dry paper, get 800/1200/2000 and spend the $10 on a bottle of SS and TRY it on a square ft of the trailer and see what you have- nothing lees than fantastic- and no swirls. The pads cost a little more- but well worth it. Its realistically a 20-30 hour job if you get on it and hustle- a long devoted weekend did it for me- but mine is splotchy- I only wet sanded my problem areas and they look better than the rest- can't tell from a distance, but I'll repeat it in a few months.

You guys have the information to do it right- its been all over this forum for 2 years now- anyone who doesn't try this one first has my sympathy- its the simplest and most straightforward- and least expensive as well- way to get you trailer shined yourself without making it a 100-120 hour job with "tried and true" thats not available in any real aircraft facility that polishes.

Aircraft are polished this way- or with a tool called Airmark if its on a larger scale- but when I asked around- no one said that they used a cyclo- I'm sure some do, but very few- its only a trailer hobbyists item- not practical for production.
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Old 08-21-2004, 12:18 PM   #101
5 rivets, 1 loose screw
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austreampete
it is realistically a 20-30 hour job if you get on it and hustle- a long devoted weekend did it for me- but mine is splotchy- I only wet sanded my problem areas and they look better than the rest- can't tell from a distance, but I'll repeat it in a few months.
With all due respect Pete, your post leaves me with the impression that using SS to polish an AS is an easy job. My personal experience says otherwise. I think we need to be careful not to mislead anyone who is thinking of polishing their AS. 20 to 30 hours to achieve a near mirror shine is unrealistic, especially if this is a one person job. A number of factors come into play.
Is it clearcoated? Add significant time, labor and materials to strip.
Severely oxidized? Add more hours.
Dented or scratched areas need extra attention.
Southern Shine is not a miracle product. It will only produce a mirror shine on smooth bare aluminum.
Surface preparation is more than half of the battle.
Using SS is at minimum a 5 step process. Make that 6 steps if the trailer is clearcoated:
1. Thoroughly clean the skin.
2. Wet sand it (add 2 more steps if you're going to use 3 grades of sandpaper or discs)
3. Clean again with mineral spirits, followed with washing again.
4. Buff the SS on.
5. Apply a protective coating of wax. A mirror shine has a short life if not protected.

If clearcoated, stripping would be the first step. That alone took me a good 20 hours and my trailer is just 18' bumper to ball.
I do not mean to be argumentive but aircraft polishing is not a fair comparison for us do-it-yourselfers. They have crews and equipment to do it properly.
Show me a proven way to polish any AS to a nearly perfect shine in 20 to 30 hours and I'll start my own business.
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Old 08-21-2004, 12:33 PM   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austreampete
Using a buffer, with compound from the expensive suppliers and then a cyclo to remove all the damage you just did- is a waste of time and the creation of a whole new job. Spend $1 on wet n dry paper, get 800/1200/2000 and spend the $10 on a bottle of SS and TRY it on a square ft of the trailer and see what you have- nothing lees than fantastic- and no swirls. The pads cost a little more- but well worth it. Its realistically a 20-30 hour job if you get on it and hustle- a long devoted weekend did it for me- but mine is splotchy- I only wet sanded my problem areas and they look better than the rest- can't tell from a distance, but I'll repeat it in a few months.
Using sandpaper is not a good option since anyone that is not used to its use in most cases they will remove far more than what they even know that they are removing.
The alclad finish on the aluminum is very very thin and it is better to buff it down rather than to try to get shiney fast by using sandpaper.
This could very well be ther reason that your polish job looks splotchy because it will look splotchy if you remove the alclad in areas and not in other areas.
I have never polished an AS, but I soon will. I have however buffed many car finishes and can tell you that taking a shortcut will very often cost you more than you realize.

Just some words of caution
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Old 08-21-2004, 12:37 PM   #103
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I'd like to add to that mirror finish a relative term.

If you take a fairly oxidized trailer without a clearcoat and buff it with just about anything it will look great. Because you have a reference of the tarnished skin right next to it.

I have completely compounded my trailer and *thought* it looked great. Until I saw another AS that was completed with the several step procces mentioned on this site several times.

It has pushed me out the door to keep polsihing again

It's all relative. Good outcome requires a good amount of work.
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Old 08-21-2004, 01:08 PM   #104
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Even Airmark will tell you only to use sandpaper on deep scratches and then very lightly

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Old 08-21-2004, 01:21 PM   #105
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I am so glad !!

To see that others are confirming what I have said for the past several years.
(about using sandpaper and the thickness of alclad)
And so glad that this has not turned into the all out brawl that it has in the past.

DMC
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Old 08-21-2004, 01:57 PM   #106
5 rivets, 1 loose screw
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG
Using sandpaper is not a good option since anyone that is not used to its use in most cases they will remove far more than what they even know that they are removing.
The alclad finish on the aluminum is very very thin and it is better to buff it down rather than to try to get shiney fast by using sandpaper.
This could very well be ther reason that your polish job looks splotchy because it will look splotchy if you remove the alclad in areas and not in other areas.
Your point is well taken but wet sanding the entire skin is the only way I know of to create a surface that is ready to polish. Alclad is a coating, much the same as clearcoat/plasticoat. Alclad aluminum was used only on certain model years. Perhaps someone can better define. Where's the harm if removing both coatings if you're repolishing?
You cannot buff alclad away without an abrasive.
I think many folks equate "sandpaper" with a harsh scratchy material, when in fact very fine sandpaper is little more than a polishing cloth which is designed to create a smooth surface.
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Old 08-21-2004, 02:38 PM   #107
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Alclad is a coating much like gold plated costume jewerly is and it makes the aluminum more resistive to corresion. The harm in removing this coating is that you are getting it down to the pure aluminum which is less resistant to corresion and your shine will not last as long.

Even very fine sandpaper can tear away the alclad and get into the pure metal. By very fine I am talking about a 2000 to 3500 grit paper.

If sandpaper is in your thoughts for getting the aluminum ready then you should probably first find out if the AS you have has alclad aluminum on it or not. If it does then I would scrap the idea of using sandpaper. and go to compounding with either Rolite or Nuvite. Either will get the surface down so it will polish exceptionally well.

Just understand that wetsanding with these extremely high grit count papers will get the surface extremely smooth, but it can also damage the alclad coating which is something you really don't want. Compound polishing with the course polish from either Rolite or Nuvite is not nearly as abrasive to the surface as any sandpaper would be so the chances of damaging the alclad coating is dratamitically reduced.

Shortcuts in completing a process usually cost something somewhere, and polishing an AS is a little more than what could be termed a weekend project. I think if you take the extra steps which will cost a little more in both money and time, then you will be pleased with the result.

Lastly, I again repeat that polishing with sandpaper is not a good idea.
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Old 08-21-2004, 03:20 PM   #108
5 rivets, 1 loose screw
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG
Shortcuts in completing a process usually cost something somewhere, and polishing an AS is a little more than what could be termed a weekend project. I think if you take the extra steps which will cost a little more in both money and time, then you will be pleased with the result.
I think that sums it up well, John G. Polishing an AS is a very hard job no matter what method you choose. And then the maintenance of the shine is a neverending task.
Airstream owners need to choose between enjoyment of their RV or keeping it in "show" quality. It's very hard to do both.
The time I have spent in the polishing process on my Caravel would have been time better spent in just using and enjoying it. That is why I've chosen to sell it and buy another one strictly for enjoyment, although I'll keep the appearance on the new unit as nice as possible without interfering with my leisure time. Camp or polish? I guess it's up to the owner.
Great if you can do both.
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Old 08-21-2004, 03:46 PM   #109
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The trailer I did was a late 50's- pretty well oxidized- no clear.

I should have wet sanded the whole trailer with 1200 and 2000 grit- and its less damaging then taking a buffer with compound and swirling it on the skin- mis directional scratches are the result should you choose to do it that way- and if you feel its better for your cladding- the .002" of pure aluminum that is applied- please feel free to tear into it.

I worked really hard on mine- and I think that 3 days is enough- any longer and I'd pay someone to do it- if you pay the money for all the high dollar supplies, and then have 100 hours in it, its easier and cheaper to hire someone to come with an Airmark and do it right- not a happy homeowner hobby guy with a cyclo- a real polisher.

I'm far from paraplegic- if you can't run around for 6-8 hours with sandpaper, and rub that baby till its ready for polish, then hit it with SS, Gords, or whatever for 2 days and have a nice shiney trailer- probably better off taking a pro and paying him- like ya said- better to play with than work on.

I seriously have less than 30 hours in it, and its looked great to anyone else who's seen it, and its been awhile and I'll hit it again in a month or 2.

Cheers guys- sorry if the system works better for some than others, but I'm absolutely happy with mine. Peter
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Old 08-21-2004, 09:18 PM   #110
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Cheers guys- sorry if the system works better for some than others, but I'm absolutely happy with mine. Peter
Peter,
The point is to be happy and whatever technique you choose to use is totally up to you. It just seems best to point out that sandpaper can be damaging to those that really don't have the feel of use for it. I'd hate to see a post where someone said that they tried everything and ended up with a crap job because of some information they read here or there. I mean if you really want to cut the corresion fast you could always go and have it acid washed and then work from there, and that would probably be the fastest.

It's really to bad we couldn't just have the thing chrome plated and polish it with Turtle Wax every once in a while. Of course that would take the awl out of one's mind when they saw an Airstream that's all shiney like a mirror, but heaven knows it would be a lot easier to maintain.
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Old 08-21-2004, 09:41 PM   #111
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Originally Posted by JohnG
Peter
It's really to bad we couldn't just have the thing chrome plated and polish it with Turtle Wax every once in a while.
You might be onto something there.
I'm thinking of having mine bronze plated, maybe set a trend. My bronzed baby shoes still look good after a few...ok a lot of years have passed.
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Old 08-21-2004, 11:05 PM   #112
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You might be onto something there.
I'm thinking of having mine bronze plated, maybe set a trend. My bronzed baby shoes still look good after a few...ok a lot of years have passed.
That sounds like a trend that I'd like to see. Bet that would cost more than having a pro do the polish job on one. But is sure sounds nice. I wonder how many would be gold plated if that were possible.........
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