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Old 09-27-2006, 01:51 AM   #1
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1974 31' Sovereign
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Totaly overwhelmed

I just baught my first airstream today.Wooohoooo!!!1974 31 foot. Very excited. I have been fumbling through these pages and polishing sounds great but apparently very expensive. I just assumed that it could all be done by hand but obviously I was wrong. All kinds of expensive tools are needed I guess. Anyway, the exterior is pretty shabby looking and I want to make it look as good as possible without having to spend buku bucks. I will polish in the future but right now I need to spend the money I have on the interior. What can I do??? I have a very heavy duty pressure washer but I don't want to harm the aluminum by blasting it too hard. Any tips on making it look more presentable would be much appreciated. I have plenty of time and elbow grease.
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Old 09-27-2006, 04:14 AM   #2
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Thumbs down Pressure washer.. no.. no..no

Welcome to the forum.. Please do not use a pressure washer on your trailer.. it will remove any Vulkem ( Above the windows and door ) and any parbon in the seams... and than the leaks will begin...
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Old 09-27-2006, 04:32 AM   #3
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1977 31' Sovereign
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A good wash with some car wash soap and a non-abrasive sponge mop will bet the big dirt off the top if it has set under trees for years. You want to assess how bad the Plasticoat is before you commit to polishing the whole thing. If the plasticoat on the sides is ok but the roof is bad, you might consider painting the roof white like the new units. If the plasticoat is bad all over the trailer, you will need to chemically remove it before you start to polish. There are multiple threads on how to do this. Then 7-9 in. cheap random orbit car polisher with some rubbing compound will give you a good start to remove the worst of the oxidation off. From there on its a matter of how much time you have to spend vs how much money you have to spend vs how good do you want to make it look.
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Old 09-27-2006, 04:40 AM   #4
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1980 31' Excella II
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happycampers
Welcome to the forum.. Please do not use a pressure washer on your trailer.. it will remove any Vulkem ( Above the windows and door ) and any parbon in the seams... and than the leaks will begin...
Removing old caulking can be a good thing...especially if you are recaulking first! Work on getting the exterior cleaned up and resealed before spending a dime on the inside, no point in have a classy interior and then having water stains all over it I used a stiff brush soapy water and elbow grease to get mine cleaned up. Getting the PO's collection of non functional silicone caulking off is a different story There are a few people that I know that use the pressure washer to blast the old caulk and grime off then promptly reseal with the correct sealants.

Aaron
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Old 09-27-2006, 05:15 AM   #5
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Aaron.. Agree with you there but some people just do not reseal with the right sealant and than wonder why the trailer leaks.. again.. do your homework before starting anything.. just took 10 years of tree mold off the top of our Argosy and it took me 5 hours with TSP and a nailbrush.. just to get it looking presentable.. it is now tucked away inside for the winter...
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Old 09-27-2006, 07:08 AM   #6
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Just my 2¢, before you lose the "big picture" by jumping on appearance...

1) Black tank & plumbing line cleaning, toilet checked for cracks, water & drains leak checked. Interior liners and all hidden areas washed.
2) Gaskets.
3) Caulking.
4) Tail & running light seals.
5) Seam sealing.
6) Mouse proofing.
7) Tire & axle check, brake check, bearings checked & repacked. Don't forget to index wheels for reinstall; wheel at same location & match position on drum as you found it.

Once those are accomplished you will probably care a little less about appearance - after a soaking rain to loosen dirt, a complete wash and wax untill you have a couple of hundred hours free to 'polish' your trailer...
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Old 09-27-2006, 07:21 AM   #7
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IMHO, I would clean the outside with a good quality car soap. Then use either one of the new clear wipe on wipe off waxes. That brought a little shine back to our girl and helps rejuvenate the clear coat. Next move inside and do a through cleaning we like the concentrated orange cleaners for most jobs and Clorox wipes for any place you set things on or touch. Then take her on a weekend trip and enjoy. When you get back you will know where you need to start. Sounds crazy but the trailer will "tell" you what is next. I do agree that systems are more important to fix right, then cosmetics, but from experience if you are not going to gut her and start from scratch then a mix of systems and cosmetics help keep spirits high.

Good luck and welcome to the forum use the search button when you can, and do not be scared to ask if you need to.
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Old 09-27-2006, 12:07 PM   #8
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Polishing's not really that expensive. I think I spent somewhere between $250 & $500 for stuff, and that was a top-of-the-line polisher, all the little doodads that make the job easier, and what appears to be a lifetime supply of polish.

You don't have to go the mirror shine route. Any shine looks quite impressive, especially that first pass.
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Old 09-27-2006, 05:04 PM   #9
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Putnam , Connecticut
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happycampers
Aaron.. Agree with you there but some people just do not reseal with the right sealant and than wonder why the trailer leaks.. again.. do your homework before starting anything.. just took 10 years of tree mold off the top of our Argosy and it took me 5 hours with TSP and a nailbrush.. just to get it looking presentable.. it is now tucked away inside for the winter...
Never ever use TSP on aluminum. Very bad Karma.

I pressure wash my 59 with a wide tip.
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Old 09-27-2006, 05:52 PM   #10
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I used my pressure washe on a wide and low setting to clean up the outside, with a soft brush and Blue Coral car wash. Then you can strip it with Removall, getting all the old faded clear coat off...follow the directions, wash it again. It will look quite different.
Then seal with a good wax or other sealant, and you will have a much nicer looking trailer, howerver I agree that there are other things to accomplish first. The satisfaction of seeing it shiny and clean is very motivating however.
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Old 09-27-2006, 08:01 PM   #11
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1956 30' Sovereign of the Road
1963 16' Bambi
Southeastern Area , Tennessee
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Welcome, rama777. Especially since you have time and elbow grease, you are so going to love playing in your Airstream! I agree with the folks here, do enough polishing improve appearance, but don't lose sight of those important things like Wabitteer mentioned. And Spartan is right, as far as the best bang for your buck make it roadworthy then go camping, even if it is just for one night! I've found this to be so true, camping automatically generates the "to do" list and helps prioritize importance. I can relate to that overwhelmed feeling. Now I keep a dedicated notebook and pen in the Tradewind and I write down EVERY must fix, need to do, must buy, or any other idea that comes to mind when I'm camping or working in it. Makes me feel less overwhelmed if I have it written down in one place.
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