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Old 05-04-2004, 07:09 PM   #1
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1966 20' Globetrotter
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The bashful stripper

I started stripping the clearcoat from my Caravel today in preparation for the polishing.
Egad, what a job! Nothing I've read on these forums prepared me for what I was getting into ( I'm sure I missed something).
Somehow, silly me, I was under the "wipe on, wash off" notion. 5 hours of hard labor produced very little results. 33 year old clearcoat doesn't surrender easily. I'm using Citristrip mainly because I figured it's more environmentally friendly than the highly toxic stuff I've seen mentioned on other threads. The directions (yes I read them) said apply generously with a paint roller or brush. I did that and even waited the suggested 25 minutes before washing off with mineral spirits, several times. I thought 2 quarts of the stuff was pretty generous for an 18' trailer but boy was I wrong. Two quarts gone and about 10 feet of trailer left. I also discovered that trying to rinse it off with a garden hose is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Tomorrow morning I'm off to Home Depot for another gallon. I'll try slathering it on more than generously and take it to the local carwash for a pressure wash but there's got to be an easier way without "intoxicating" the neighborhood???
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Old 05-04-2004, 08:27 PM   #2
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I wish there was an easier way

My experience was very similar. I only stripped one panel, and found the Citristrip to be a waste of time. I ended up going to one of the many strippers containing methyl chloride. Roger, I hate to say it but you have a choice between environmentally friendly, and getting the job done expediently. I don't think there's much you can do to make Citristrip more effective.

This conundrum is precisely why I have been reluctant to proceed with polishing the rest of the trailer. The stripping seems to be worse than the polishing. Getting the job done means fooling with known carcinogens, and -- if you're not very careful -- potentially washing them into groundwater or public sewers (where the toxic goo of stripper and old clearcoat might get treated before being dumped back into the sea, or might not).

If someone came up with a really effective stripper that was truly safe, they'd be a millionaire Airstream owner like all of us ...
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Old 05-04-2004, 08:36 PM   #3
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Rich,

There is a really good stripper, but you have to have special equipment to do it. It uses air and baking soda to remove the clearcoat or paint and leave the surface unmarred. It is how they strip airplanes. No residue to speak of that is toxic and the metal does not get hot to deform. Just have to pay someone to do it
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Old 05-05-2004, 01:29 PM   #4
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No more bashful stripping for me

I wanna take it all off and see bare naked skin.
After reviewing the results of 5 hours of stripping, sanding cleaning, plus 1 1/2 hours waiting for the Citristrip to dry, much of the clearcoat remains on the area where applied. I'll be shopping for a much more aggresive stripper.
My hat is off to those who have had success with Citristrip. I imagine the results would vary based on age and condition of trailer.
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Old 05-05-2004, 01:59 PM   #5
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I also tried Citrastrip and found it to be a waste of time.

I ended up using Bix also from Home Depot with very good results. I just purchased the chemical gloves from Home Depot and wore eye protection.

It's not really as bad as it sounds. Just be thougthful about what your doing and it will work great.

I just applied it with an old brush, waited about 10 minutes or so, then used a plastic scraper on the tough areas and hosed it off.

Some times I had to go over a spot a couple of times. Just very the amount you use and the time you leave it on, you get what works for you.
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Old 05-05-2004, 02:06 PM   #6
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At the past couple of VAC Rallies I have attended, there is usually some sort of demonstration or "testing" that inevitably takes place. A couple of years ago there was discussion that straight ammonia removes clearcoat. So we tried it on a couple of different trailers to see if it worked. What we discovered was that it worked on some, but not others and varied year to year...what we surmised was that different years, different clearcoat formulations must have been used. This could explain why Citristrip works well for some and not others.

Personally, we found the KleenStrip Aircraft Stripper to work the best on ours...BTW the ammonia didn't budge it on our '64 but it did the trick on some '70s trailers. Yes, it's nasty stuff...but I didn't want to make a career out of stripping the trailer...as it was, it's no picnic, a lot of hard work and it took several weekends to get it all done. I have pictures & info on my experience on our website under "During"...

Good luck Rog...looking good, and keep in mind you only have to that part (stripping) once!
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Old 05-05-2004, 08:09 PM   #7
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I used generic stripper...

Well, not so generic, and I'll have to check what it was, the type that gets on your skin, and you can only take so much burning before you have to run inside and wash it off, kind of thing. It took it off in seconds, not minutes....It's all washing into the sewer, I know, bad me, but no worse than the guy accross the street who changed his oil, and dumped most of it on the ground and washed it into the alley, and the rain did the rest. The polishing is enough of a nightmare, as I am just now realizing why it takes SO long.....No time to wait for environmentally safe stuff to work.

Once again, that's my opinion.

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Old 06-28-2004, 10:17 AM   #8
5 rivets, 1 loose screw
 
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This is much better.......

I had to put this project on hold to tend to other matters but I'm back at it now.
After the poor results with Citristrip, I tried Bix. It worked better but 3 coatings still left patches of crusty clearcoat
Yesterday I tried Klean-Strip Metal Stripper (sic) from Walmart and had far better success.
I discovered that by letting the first coat work for 30 minutes, a second application without cleaning off the first one dissolved the clearcoat without scraping. The other strippers both required scraping and the plastic scraper was scratching the finish. I hosed it off, cleaned it with mineral spirits then washed it with dish soap and water.
I managed to strip 9 front panels plus the door in 3 hours. I'm trying to get my hands on a power washer to finish the job before I tackle the polishing.
Summary: As I see it, both clearcoat removal and polishing results will vary with users' techniques and products. This is my first stab at polishing an AS and I'm learning as I go. Thanks to all for their input.
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