I am new to this forum and to Airstream ownership, so I thought I would introduce myself and my project with this thread.
I have been working on my 67 Ambassador for about 2 months now, but I only have time on the weekends so it is slow going. I am planning on turning it into a cafe/diner so it is completely gutted and I have no aspirations to restore anything about the original interior. Anyhow, the interior is a subject for another day. Right now I am trying to get the exterior cleaned up before it gets too cold.
I have already done 2 rounds of Removall to get rid of the plasticoat, and it looks like it is mostly gone, though some spots are still splochy. I have also powerwashed it twice and removed the WBCC stickers and any other unnecessary stuff stuck on the exterior. There are lots of scratches on the skin, lots of odd spots, dark areas from sealant, and the roof is extremely oxidized. Please see attached pictures.
I did a test area with Nuvite F7 but the results are less than inspiring. Should I try the coarse grade? The stuff is expensive. Also, if anyone knows where I can get some Alcad Aluminum for patches in the New England area, I would be much obliged. Thanks to anyone who can share some insight.
I had basically the same issues but staying with it pays off. The picture of the area above the wheels shows you still have a lot of clear coat on the skin. That has to go! Some areas of mine took two and tree coats of removall. I let it sit for about 45 minutes before I hosed it off . Try using more than recommended F7 with a rotary polisher w/wool bonnet on low speed. Work a smaller area that recommended also (1x1) and see if that works for you. Even after you do that and follow with Nuvite C you'll still have the scratches although they shoud be lighter. The only thing that really worked for me was the use of a cyclo with a heavy 100% cotton t shirt pilled tight over the heads, I still had terrycloth bonnets on the heads but used the t shirt over top of them. Tight is the key here. Some places took a few passes but for the most part the scratches worked themselves out. Be patient and work slow. Every time I tried to rush it cost me more time in the end because I had to do it twice. It's a frustrating process at times but if you can stick with it you'll never regret the effort.
man that is a nice looking trailer and it gives me incentive to be patient. That spot of clearcoat that you described is off after a 2nd Removall round. Each time I did it I left it on for 6 hours. There's not enough daylight this time of year to go longer. I think most of the clearcoat is off, but maybe I will do one more round tomorrow just to be sure. I will have to use something besides Removall since I'm all out.
I do have the DeWalt 849 and I have been using the wool pad, but maybe I will switch to cotton now. I also just got my can of F9 Nuvite. I was afraid it might be too harsh as some have suggested, but I think it will be necessary on the roof which is super dull, and on the sides which are very scratched.
I get asked about the hubcaps all the time. Got them on ebay and believe it or not they are plastic. Cheap too!. About 55 bucks. For that price I picked up an extra set in case I throw one but they go on tight. They look like and every one thinks they are metal.
As far as the polishing goes, really try a spot using more polish then recommended. You'll be surprised that if you just let the polisher move at a very slow rate, maybe 1" evey ten seconds, It goes almost to a mirror shine with the F7. Be sure to wipe the excess off as soon as you finish the spot. I used clother diapers for this as they didn't scratch. Also make sure you spur your pads often. If the polish builds up to much you tend to get dark patches in the work. Your going to use more bonnets this way but you'll see faster results. It will inspire you to keep going!
Yes indeed, staying in the same spot for 30 seconds or so really produces the shine.
In my case however, I have discovered that my plasticoat removal efforts were largely in vain. The polish is working great on the exposed areas, but for the most part my Airstream still has plasticoat and I'm afraid it will have to wait until spring before I try to remove it again. Even though it was a comfortable day (60 degrees) each time I applied the Removall, I think it dried out on the sunny side, and was not left on long enough on the shady side. When I have a vehicle to move the trailer, I will put it in the shade in the Spring and give it a proper go round. However, if anyone has had any luck with alternative methods, I'm all ears. Anyone ever try a heat gun?
Also, what happens if some areas are left with black residue? Can you not go back and finish the spot later? I can only polish for 5 hours at a time and my trailer is big.
Still looking for Alcad in my area if anyone knows a place in MA, RI, or CT.
...In my case however, I have discovered that my plasticoat removal efforts were largely in vain. The polish is working great on the exposed areas, but for the most part my Airstream still has plasticoat...
I wonder why some products work great for one person, and another person would have terrible results with the same product....
The same thing pretty much happened to me when taking off what was left of the plasticoat on the '78. I tried all sorts of really nasty removers.
The product which worked best for me was "Airplane Stripper" available at Walmart and AutoZone here in the Houston area - it comes in quarts and spray cans. I painted it on and hosed it off. You HAVE to leave it on for the recommended time, though...and there were STILL some areas that the Airplane Stripper would not take off. I attacked the small, hard to do areas with a plastic scrapper and the "spray" stripper. If I recall, there was a minimum temperature that it would work at. Here in Houston, I had a problem with the stripper drying before it ate up all of the plasticoat.
"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."
The weather should be warming up here in the next few weeks and I am going back to my Airstream project. The last thing I did was take out all the interior walls and mouse infested insulation. Best decision I've made so far. I was able to pop out some dents and clear out all the old electric wires. I have to say that I like the look of it bare. It's like the belly of a whale with its exposed ribs. Unfortunately the walls will have to go back for insulation and other purposes. Until then I have plenty of electrical, plumbing, and sealing to do and this brings me to my questions.
Since I have the interior exposed I would like to seal it as much as possible. Any suggestions on a product I can slap on? Maybe something akin to the tar like substance I see that was used in the factory. I'm afraid a caulking sealant would take forever and it might not cover as much as a nice splat of tar.
I'm also getting ready to buy my tow vehicle. Finally! the poor Airstream has been sitting idle for about 6 months now. As noted everything is stripped and I don't plan on putting a lot back into the trailer. I'm basically turning it into a portable empty room. I would say that it weighs less than 3000 pounds now and it may not get much heavier. For price, gas economy, and reliability I have decided to go with a Toyota 4Runner. Models before 2003 are V4 and V6. I'm planning on going with the V6. If anyone can think of any reason why this vehicle might be a bad choice for the tow, please share your thoughts before I go forward.
I've been at it all day on my 19 footer with the removall. Gotta say I'm a little dissapointed with the results. Slathered it on and left it for about 4 hours with the first coat. I'd say it took about 20% of the clearcoat off. It's hard to tell what is bare metal and what still has a finish on it. I think im going to make a switch to the airplane strip before I spend any more time with the removeall.
As far as your tow vehicle goes, I would definatly stay away from a v4. I love toyotas, but you need AT LEAST a V6.
yeah, I don't know what the issue is with the removall. Once it warms up around here I am probably going to go for the airplane strip as well.
On the tow, certainly I will go with a v6. I was just wondering if I needed to go as far as a v8 which is only available in 2003 and newer 4Runners. Of course I can't afford a vehicle that new and I don't want the gas consumption levels that a v8 brings to the table, and I don't mean the vegetable juice.