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Old 09-06-2010, 05:59 AM   #1
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1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
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Stripping and Polishing is a BIG mistake!

Polishing our old Airstreams to a mirror finish looks so dramatic. It is a relatively inexpensive way to refinish the old, dull gray trailer. Lots of compliments on how great the trailer looks when you finish.

But I would submit it is a big mistake to strip and polish an old Airstream. I am nearly done with the compounding on mine, and I truly regret the 100 hours of work I have in it. The aluminum is quickly corroding back to the dull gray it was before. Every rain event, every bird dropping, every bug splatter creats another series of water spots and stains. Gotta love those summer showers where the sun quickly returns and bakes those water spots inito the aluminum. And then there are all the corners, awning mounts, clearance lights and furnace vents that the polishing pads don't reach. So the trailer looks shinny from 10 feet, but when you get close, not so good. I will be traveling to Denver in the rain this week. It will not look very good when I get there.

Airstream did it right back in the 60's with brushed aluminum and plastic coat. Tastefully glossy, but does not show all the imprefections and stains. The aluminum is protected against corrosion for the life of the plastic coat.

The Swift Aircraft polishing video Nuvite sells recommends keeping your freshly polished airplane in a dry hanger with a cieling fan on all the time. My Airstream sits outside in the Minnesota weather. I can't possibly keep up with a mirror finish.

Think again before you grab that can of stripper. Until someone creats an effective preservative that can be applied by hand on a fresh polish job, you are destined to watch all your hard work revert back to dull gray aluminum in fairly short order.

David
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Old 09-06-2010, 07:33 AM   #2
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Thats right...it's a lot of up keep...I am busy dealing with a hawk (you mentioned bird -er-uh- 'stuff')...had to climb the tree and mount a scary stuffed toy to the limb and hang a noisy aluminum pan to bang in the wind. So I am having to redo the rear end of this Airstream. And where you are at I bet all that salt they put down on the roads carries up into the clouds and comes down in the rain too. What did you use to compound with...and do you do this action of polishing a 'section at a time'?
I will compound a four by four area first and then polish it- then move on to the next area. And folks---it ain't easy!!
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:26 AM   #3
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Polishing Work - ?

David - I understand everything you are saying. I spent one year restoring/updating our 65 Safari. I did most of the compounding last fall before it went into our storage shed for the winter. I finished the polishing this spring and it turned out beautiful. Like yours after just 3 months it is showing water spots and more of them each time we take it out. When I wash it I use micro fiber towels to dry it before the water air dries. I try to do this on a cloudy day as this seems to help reduce the water spots. We are lucky in that we tuck it back into storage after each use. At only 22' the work is doable. I have already resigned myself to an annual spring polish weekend. I have found that compounding & cyclo polishing goes much faster now that 45 years of corrosion is gone. I really can't imagine trying to polish a 34 footer - wow that must have been a giant job......Tim
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Old 09-06-2010, 08:37 AM   #4
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I will complete the polishing task, once my shell-on restoration (31' 73 Sovereign) is complete. Can multiple wax coatings minimize the re-polishing?

mike
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Old 09-07-2010, 05:31 AM   #5
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I compounded sometimes with G, mainly F7, then C depending on what was needed. I compounded with multiple passes. I did get to a reasonable degree of reflectivity, but lots of swirls as expected. I do not have a Cyclo polisher yet. I understand the more finely polished the surface, the more "smearing" of the aluminum that tends to close the pores on the surface. So a compounded only surface may be more likely to corrode than a finely polished surface.

I have tried Nu Finish and Groits Polymer Sealant on my compounded surfaces with no luck guarding against water spots and stains. These products are made for automotive paints, not bare aluminum. I find they cloud the mirror finish some, but they don't protect against corrosion (water spots).

Nuvite has to step up to the plate and develop a cyclo applied bare aluminum protectant to complement all their fine polishing compounds.

It rained last night. More corrosion.

David
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Old 09-07-2010, 08:18 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by redhawkerII View Post
... hang a noisy aluminum pan to bang in the wind ...
FWIW, I've found that I can make an effective bird chaser from 3 old cd's glued together in a triangular shape to make a spinning reflector (like a wind driven spinning eye catcher sign at a used car lot) and hung with a piece of fishing line which is effective at chasing most birds away (especially grackels) as it turns in the wind and flashes bright reflected spots of light all over the area.
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Old 09-07-2010, 03:58 PM   #7
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Here you go Andy R...

Here is one for Andy R from todays polishing!
Today is overcast and a reasonable temperature, sooo I went to the kerosene place and picked up two gallons of the 'liquid velvet'.
I use the kerosene heavily in all the plishing steps..-plishing?! I meant polishing steps. It keeps everything wet enough to really score a good polish session. I mix and dab it into everything!!!
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Old 09-08-2010, 10:30 PM   #8
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Google Zoop seal. Its helps keep the chrome under the hood of cars clean.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:27 PM   #9
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The bird moved out...he knows we are here now for sure!
The zoopseal looks inviting too ..kind of $$ but who knows....
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:00 PM   #10
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Oh boy...been thinking about polishing my '73 TradeWind. I had no idea there is no way to re clear-coat it so it lasts another 10 or 15 years! There are a bunch of clear spray paints...arent any of them any good?
Will the factory clear-coat it for us if we went there? That would be a worthy trip!
I do have a cheap buffer. That will probably last about 1/2 an hr. Might be glad I didn't invest in all the polishing compounds and stripper stuff.
There HAS to be some kind of plasti-coat clear that will do the job......?
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Old 10-09-2010, 08:44 PM   #11
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I have a 1972/31' International... She had been painted with Silver paint sometime in the last 20 years....I think. How do I get paint stripped off her? Would it be the same as stripping clear coat? Did Airstream paint the Calif. models in the 70's? Its going to be some time before I get to the outside, I have broken water pipes, flooring, and and other interior jobs to do first. Based on what you guys have gone thru...I may want to keep the silver paint job.... Trex
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Old 10-10-2010, 08:02 AM   #12
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Those of us with anodized skin trailers like both the harder, stronger aluminum and lack of polishing. On the other hand, stains are a problem to remove . . . .
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Old 10-10-2010, 09:02 AM   #13
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I have a 1972/31' International... She had been painted with Silver paint sometime in the last 20 years....I think. How do I get paint stripped off her? Would it be the same as stripping clear coat? Did Airstream paint the Calif. models in the 70's? Its going to be some time before I get to the outside, I have broken water pipes, flooring, and and other interior jobs to do first. Based on what you guys have gone thru...I may want to keep the silver paint job.... Trex
Think twice before you strip paint. Your trailer could have been painted to cover body damage that was repaired with plastic filler. You could find several panels need to be replaced.

Plus, it is a massive job to strip paint and polish a trailer. Remember they probably sanded the aluminum before they painted.

You would be a lot better off to keep the paint. Or if you hate a painted trailer, sell it and buy a plain one.
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Old 10-10-2010, 02:35 PM   #14
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Rivet It Could Be a Bigger Job

Mine aren't polished, but I do respect the amount of work it takes. Here's a little something for those who think a 34 is a lot of work.

From http://www.littlerockairshow.com/ yesterday and today.
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