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Old 12-08-2010, 12:01 PM   #1
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Satin Finish

Can anyone give me some instructions how to restore the satin finish on a polished panel? I removed the oxidation and now its looks like crome. It does not match the other panels.
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Old 12-08-2010, 12:26 PM   #2
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Are you talking about an Airstream outside body panel?
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Old 12-08-2010, 02:11 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by lpetroski View Post
Can anyone give me some instructions how to restore the satin finish on a polished panel? I removed the oxidation and now its looks like crome. It does not match the other panels.
A recent discovery of Bon Ami powder cleanser seemed to work when helping a friend clean a few decades of black tree deposits on the metal. with a little work it removed the black stuff leaving a satin finish. The container states it does not scratch....but reading the label states there is is limestone and a few other abrasives in the mix. But it did leave a satin finish.
Bon Ami :: Products :: Powder Cleanser
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:04 PM   #4
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SteveH, Yes I have a 1993 limited and the clear coat is coming off. It oxidized before I could refinish it. I polished the front cap to a crome finish but I want it to match the rest of the Airstream with a factory like finish.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:09 PM   #5
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Thanks Safari62. Is the secound picture in your post after using Bon Ami? If so, that is the finish Im looking for.

Thanks Lpetroski
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:17 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by lpetroski View Post
SteveH, Yes I have a 1993 limited and the clear coat is coming off. It oxidized before I could refinish it. I polished the front cap to a crome finish but I want it to match the rest of the Airstream with a factory like finish.
The factory finish on the aluminum panels is a machine finish. By polishing to chrome apperance, you have removed the machine finish. It will probably take some sort of abrasive to make it look more like the factory, like Safari62 has stated, but I really don't know how you are going to get the direction of the machine marks correct by hand. If you use a rotory devise like a polisher, it will have a swirl apearance. I really don't know what to say at this point.
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:04 PM   #7
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I do lots of work with aluminum and although I have never refinished an AS panel, I have looked at mine and think it would be relatively easy to satisfactorly match using 3M Scotchbrite pads. They come in various grades so one would have to experiment. I am guessing the maroon general purpose grit would work. You would need to try it on an area to see. The key to doing this kind of work by hand is to keep the motion straight forward and back and avoid any circular type motion. These finishes typically have a grain to them, and it is important to keep the grain in the same direction, uniformily. That is where the skill is in getting a good result. If that finish is too fine, you might try a sanding sponge using the same technique. Good luck.
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:25 AM   #8
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I have restored the matte finish on a shiny spot of my former aluminum macbook by laying 600 grit sandpaper on the shiny area, then rubbing a hard roller over it in many directions, quite hard.

This removes the chrome finish and restores the microscopically rough surface, and you have a lot of control over how "matte" it comes out.

I'm sure this will apply equally well to Alclad.
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Old 12-10-2010, 10:49 PM   #9
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To follow up with LP in the my post that is a yes to the question that the photo is an after photo. That is after using the BON AMI cleaner on the aluminum.

Both John and Steve bring up good points to keep the motion straight when doing this to stay to the grain of the metal...or at least to control the way the light will show on the surface after cleaning. It seemed to look much more even when I followed the line of the segments.

Keep in mind this was on a 57' with nice flat 13 panel segments. Larger open sections may be more of a challenge!

I think we were using sponges with 3M pads with the Bon Ami. Once an even satin finish is achieved I would think waxing the surface would be wise.

So the satin finish which is more like the original "mill" finish returns. I think our small experiment had alot to do with the year of the trailer/metal and newer Airstreams with different finishes could be different.

This is interesting to me because my 62' now is mostly very polished. And being a slave to fashion (and also pretty sick of polishing) I may experiment with a highly polished section on my trailer to see if it can be brought back to the duller satin like finish. In the pursuit of the original look.....and of course to get off the polishing merry go round.
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Old 12-11-2010, 07:03 AM   #10
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Satin Finish

Thanks Safari62: Good information. I'm going to try the suggestions from every one that postes a reply hopefully today if the weather will cooperate with me. I will keep you informed.
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:04 AM   #11
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Super duty rubbing (cream) compound (made by 3M) will get you the satin finish with ease, and will remove the Oxidation too. Use Kerosene to wipe up black with multiple rag t shirts. 14.00 for a large bottle that goes a long way.
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:39 AM   #12
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Satin Finish

RedhawkerII. What type of applicator should I use? By hand or orbital polisher, any suggestions?

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Old 12-11-2010, 09:12 AM   #13
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Yep, I am about to jump off the polishing career too.
I have 34 ft. Limited and just don't have the time to maintain the highly
Polished look anymore.
I was just thinking of going back to a matte finish and then treating it with
Sharkhide maybe, Just to protect from uneven oxidation settling back in.
I have heard about sandblasting the aluminum with baking soda
To get a very even texture. Still sounds lime slot of masking off areas and
protecting windows. AC etc. And every nook and crannie.
So, Bon amie, 3M abrasive pads, anything else?
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Old 09-13-2011, 10:02 PM   #14
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Sorry to resurrect a 1 year old thread, but does anyone have thoughts on the last couple questions?

I purchased a few cans of bon-ami and wonder if a random orbital is the best to apply. If it will actually effect the aluminum mill I imagine the result will not reflect light equally. Thoughts?

How about the use of the super rubbing compound? How do you keep a consistent surface?
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