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Old 05-02-2004, 10:53 AM   #1
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What is this polishing scam/racket?

I've been considering polishing my own trailer- its about ready for it as the clear is starting to peel. I have an older trailer as well, and its much worse.

I've been reading some of this info that you folks have posted about polishing- it seemed like the process is awfully long. I went to 2 different FAA facilites and started asking questions. I asked what a Cyclo was and if they had one that I could see, and got a variety of funny looks and laughter. I had priced out going the Nuvute and Rolite route, and asked if that was a waste for the materials- most thought it was.

There have been postings on here about a tool called "airmark" and thats what they suggested if I wanted to have the very best job.

I'll assume that Blue Magic is along the lines of what they called White Diamond polish that I was told is available at truckstops and is also a 1 step.

1 old guy- a metalworker for over 35 years on aircraft, said that the best solution was to buy rouge bars from a company called "Sattex" and buff with a grinder using wool pads. He said to put the rouge bar in a vise or clamp it to a table, run the pad on it briefly, and start polishing. He said buffing with very abrasive rouge or compounds was counter productive, as it creates a trillion swirls and extra work to remove them. He stated that lightly "wet sanding" with 800 or 1200 grit paper is sufficient in taking down any oxidation, and is perfectly safe for the aluminum, and actually does less damage than a harsh compound, as less medium compounding is necessary to remove the deeper swirls from the grit in the hard compound.

He said I could use a 1 step and suggested the White Diamonds but to sand it first and go over it with varying pads of coarse and soft wool. He said that a trailer like mine should be sanded in a day or less, and that polishing with soft rouge would take him about 2 including clean up.

This being the case, why does it appear that this is for most folks a 2-3 week process using the cyclo system? Why does the product of choice cost so much more than either the 1 step or the rouge bars- which the old timer said was what all the creams and pastes are made of- just that people like the convenience of pouring, over the rouge which he said is a little cumbersome.

I'll assume that the Blue Magic is priced about the same as White Diamonds at around $10-12/bottle...

Anyone else tried these other ways to shine up our land craft...? Cliff
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Old 05-02-2004, 11:14 AM   #2
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I have come to almost the same conclusion. I looked at the airmark web site but did not find out how to obtain an airmark polisher. I am all for the 1 step if the results are the same as the long haul. Most people take a while to do there trailers because of work or other obligations. I'm sure once you do it a couple of times you kind of know what your doing as far what you need and don't need. I have talked with a few people and posted here about Blue Magic and have received different opinions on what to use. But it does seem that some make a mountain out of a mole hill. Rob
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Old 05-02-2004, 12:45 PM   #3
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One thing about polishing your AS is by the time you learn the trick, the job is finished.
At $50/lb, my 1973 31 footer was going to take 2 maybe 3 lbs of G6---and that's only the beginning...there had to be a cheaper way. I started with some F7 but it wasn't agressive enough to start my project.

After charging my buffing wheel (3600 rpm)with some Sattex left over from a previous life, I quickly (2-3 mins) removed 31 years of oxidation from one cast aluminum light housing...the lightbulb went on in my head.
I charged my compounder and tried it on the body. It worked just fine about like the F7, except not agressive enough to get the deep milky oxidation...so while I hit it with some G6 to get deeper, the sun melted my Sattex into a small pool of wax or tallow. I collected this into a plastic cup to reconstitute it for further trials.
Later that day I ordered some 500 & 1000 grit abrasive (at $2-3/lb). The 500 is still not agressive enough when mixed & melted with the Sattex, so I've ordered some coarser abrasive which will arrive early next week. I'm trying some different carriers.
In the meantime I've ordered more G6 because it works great. That's not to say I've thrown in the towel, it's about polishing my AS...if I find a good alternative, I'll share.
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Old 05-02-2004, 07:53 PM   #4
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Airmark makes a very good polish - however over the years I've kinda decided its for professional hands. Airmark uses highspeed polishers and in the wrong hands you can burn the aluminum pretty easy. I prefer my DeWalt polisher at about 1000 RPM - that thing is so powerful that it will throw you off trailer if your not careful. I've never used a cylo, however I plan to get one for the final finish. I am aware that most aircraft polishers do not use a cylo.

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Old 05-02-2004, 09:01 PM   #5
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The old guy did tell me that an "airmark" was fool proof- he said you can lay on it all day in one spot and it just gets shinier.

That cyclo system just seems like a ripoff, and one that consumes too much time. If everyone is aware that aircraft polishers never use them, why would anyone with an aircraft constructed trailer body? The airport guys were actually rolling their eyes about them. It seems like that wet sand idea would be the way to go too- I haven't tried it, but have done some with paint, and know that its much easier and controllable than a wheel with coarse compound- now that will burn things.

Has anyone else done the wet sand trick and is it as easy as it seems. I plan to hit the airport and see Grandpa Shinestein here in the next few days and get my info straight.

I already have a Bosch buffer-grinder that was pretty expensive- couple hundred plus, but I'd bet theres a less expensive model to get the job done.
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Old 05-02-2004, 09:57 PM   #6
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I believe an Airmark is about 2 grand. The little sanding I did worked fine. I sanded out some scratches. Others say it's a bad idea. They are taking advice from Nuvite, I believe.
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Old 05-02-2004, 09:59 PM   #7
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I don't know...A week ago I was off on a field trip for work (aviation related stuff) to South America and had a chance to meet with some airline folk polishing planes. I started asking them about it, since my new airstream had me interested. Sheesh, those airmark polishers and accompanying compressor systems--at least the professional grade ones they use on aircraft--are really, really, really expensive. AKA--thousands of $ expensive! They did mention that there were "hobby" versions, but the stuff the pros use costs a pro cost. A $5k polishing setup makes sense when that's your living, but it's a bit pricey for the average hobbyist!!!

By the way, there are really great polishing shops down in South America--most of the US airlines get their planes polished down there, since the work is well done and cheaper. So, why not take your trailer down there and get it done there (sadly, you'll have to ship it, since there's no safe way to trail safely through the Colombia's mountainous areas--so it may still end up quite costly). But heck, money is no limit when you're a "millionairstream", right?

However, the rouge stick is what they used--and felt good about it. I know nothing about comparing it to other polishes--or if it's only suitable for professional polishing setups.

One last iddy biddy thing...from a professional standpoint, FAA types won't know much of anything about polishing. (and it should NEVER occur at a FAA facility). It sounds like you were talking to folks at either regional centers or a local airport maintence crew. Function and upkeep of aircraft is the legal responsibility of the aircraft owner. If these FAA shops are doing polishing, do let me know where it was at...
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Old 05-03-2004, 01:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBKP's Overlander
I believe an Airmark is about 2 grand. The little sanding I did worked fine. I sanded out some scratches. Others say it's a bad idea. They are taking advice from Nuvite, I believe.

So we can assume that Nuvite stands to lose money when someone goes and uses a $.20 sheet of paper instead of their over priced tubs of profit? I guess they'd say it was bad for their bottom line. I'd say that based on what the rest of the world does successfully- like TBKP and every aircraft facility- that the world of Airstream owners has been scammed.

I'm not looking at buying an "airmark" system, (approx. $1K) and I'm aware of the high psi needs and would have to get a compressor rented and parked next to my house- the neighbors would freak out. Nor would I transport my trailer to Cali Colombia to have it polished- and it doesn't matter how much money I have or do not- I want value and am considering polishing it myself for self gratitude.

I just think its a shame that we who have less money tied up in our camping investment than an aircraft owner does in his plane, get the short side of the stick and led down the wrong path by profiteers who want us to use products and tools that are behind the times. If this old geezer says he can get my little trailer shining bright in just 2-3 days using a grinder with less than $60 in materials, why would anyone take 5 or more times the money, plus the expense of a "cyclo" and 10-20 times the hours to accomplish the same goal?

Someone needs to expose this to a couple magazines- "Cottage Industry Rip Off Steals Time and Money From Americas Camping Elite"...

And it was an FAA certified repair shop in a regional airport- good guess.

BTW- the old timer said the "cyclo" was an exact copy of an old and failed machine that Sears sold 40 years ago- anyone else know about this one? He said he sees them at yard sales for $5 and $10 and would never buy one.
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Old 05-03-2004, 08:46 AM   #9
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Disclaimer: I have never polished an Airstream, or anything aluminum larger than a piece of camera trim.

"Millionairstream", it seems to me you are throwing around accusations and condemnations on pretty limited experience. "Scam"? "Profiteers"? "Rip Off"? So far as I can tell all you have are the comments of an "old geezer" who "says" he can polish your coach in 2-3 days for $60 in materials. Did he actually agree to do so? Have you actually got a polished coach, swirl and scratch free, worked with his method? Did it only take 20 hours or so? A $7 miter box will let you make exactly the same cut as a $400 power miter. That does not make the power miter a "rip off".

There is a significant difference between the degree of polish acceptable for an aircraft, and what many vintage airstream owners are seeking. It is the difference between the weekend wash-and-wax we apply to our car and the concours preparation of for a show car. Both will be clean, and both will shine, but the first will be ok, and the latter will be perfect.

So far as I can determine, Nuvite was not invented to polish Airstreams. Some people found it useful, and there are companies who will sell it to you if you wish to buy. It is not a legal requirement. Buffing with rouge sticks takes time - not an inordinate amount if you know how - while polishing compounds come ready to use out of the can.

Nor was the Cyclo polisher invented to bedevil poor Airstream owners. It is very unlikely that the Cyclo Polisher is a copy of a Sears product, but very likely that Sears once sold the Cyclo, or (even more likely) a knock-off copy under their own brand name. Not everyone uses them, but there have been seveal reports (in the archives) by people who have tried alternatives and finally bought a Cyclo to acheive the results they want. A Cyclo would be very cumbersome to use on an aircraft. Airmark tools have the advantage of being usable on long handles, letting them work in many cases from the ground.

If you have been "led down the wrong path" it has at least been a path by some who have actually gotten to where they wanted to go.

Personally, I intend someday to experiment on the top of my coach with wet sanding and a $50 car polisher. But I'm not going to slam anyone else's approach until I actually see results.

Mark
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Old 05-03-2004, 09:59 AM   #10
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One of the great things about living in the good ol US is we are a free market society. Companies that rip people off don't last very long.

I've used Rollite and Nuvite and recommend either one to anyone who wants to polish their Airstream. I think they are both great products. Even though I've never used a cylo, I plan to purchase one because I'm confident of its value.

You have to be VERY careful when polishing alcad. Its a very thin layer that can be sanded off easily. I prefer to use known tested polishes on my skin, rather than sandpaper in my amatuer hands. Bowing aircraft did a test with polish - they polish the skin 300 times and did not wear off the alcad. So for me I will continue to use 50 dollar jars of polish.

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Old 05-03-2004, 10:14 AM   #11
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Just so you know

Just another one burned by the folks at Airmark~! My own experiences with them is well known on another thread~The system used to polish an aluminum product, be it an airplane, Airstream, will produce the results to die for but, the folks at the company leaves alot to be desired in the way of "living up to their word"..My personal take on the individual is this: At one time, the work was done by the founder of the company and, a crew of part timers who were hired to work at will. He has or was in the process of trying to turn the business over to his son..At least that's what I was told by "Jim" over three years ago. (Wants to retire~)
I agree with the concept of using different tools for different applications. An airplane is one huge mother to polish and, using the Airmark polishing tool, with the long handle, makes sense in this case`!
millionairstream, I'm attaching the finis picture for mikenlyn's Airstream.This level of finis is awesome~ We all have different level of abilities, resources to reach that level of achievement, which we can live with. The one thing to remember is: It's a hobby and, to that end, a source of enjoyment~If you "personally" have knowledge of an actual "scam, ripoff,etc" other than repeating hearsay of another individual (who is most likely repeating hearsays that he, in turn, has heard from someone else) then produce it in factual form with documents, that can be independently verified, to back it up. We would all welcome that service~
I extend to you all the best wishes in your project.. We're all friends here and, to that end, try to be respectful toward each other.
ciao
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Old 05-03-2004, 11:19 AM   #12
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This is off track-

I have no desire to buy an "airmark" and am quite unfamiliar with its capabilities on a personal level- but the "elderly gentleman" who has a lot of experience in my book- says that its the standard. He's working mostly with smaller planes, and has tons of photos of P51's and the like scattered around his desk and work area- some blown up as poster size. The man claims to have over 1000 full polishing jobs under his belt. He's a big fan of polished aluminum aircraft. He says that a buffer-grinder with variable speed is all thats needed, and not to use a coarse grit compound or rouge of any sort, as the circular swirls are adding to the work that you are trying to accomplish.

He won't polish my trailer- or anyones- he says he's not interested- but seeing what he's done with aircraft- I have no doubt he knows what he's talking about. You can doubt his abilities without opposition- I'm quite sure he has no interest in proving it.

He knows the people at airmark and says they're broken into 2 divisions and the dad still goes out and polishes and is an Airstream fan. The son sells equipment. I told him that I wasn't considering buying an airmark and basically the response was that for a couple trailers and maintenance, the variable speed buffer is the trick, and that wet sanding it was the key to getting the surface properly prepped. I asked him about damaging alclad and he said that the buffer and coarse grit would break through the .02" of pure aluminum that is applied, and much faster than a light grit sand paper. Even if I have no scratches to remove, I'm told its best to scuff it all with 1200 to 2000 sand paper, just to clean it all up and make it uniformly free of oxidation.

I'm sorry if some have been led down a different path. I'm simply trying to understand why this expense and time to polish is necessary. The photo posted is obviously beautiful and a great job. But how many hours did it take using what system? How much were the materials? The tools?

I have no illusion that its work either way, and I'm in great physical condition to accomplish it- but why would I torture myself and spend more time and money than needed to get the same result? To keep these little businesses going? Thanks anyway.

Also- if the rouge bars are difficult to use- and they sure seem cumbersome- has anyone used the wet sanding and then a bottled product for the whole process- like White Diamond or Blue Magic? I'm considering trying that as well.

I apologize to any who are offended that I find it tough to swallow this cyclo and nuvite/rolite thing- but the other avenues certainly cost much less and have equal if not better results, with less damage and swirls to correct- leading one to believe that we are spending less time to get to the place we want.

I still have 1-2 months before this will be on my plate, so I'd like to hear any opinions other than the cyclo folk. I don't mean to start trouble, but am looking at a possibly better means to get it all done and have my trailer look like I've been dreaming it can.

Last time I checked, America was a free country, and everyone has a right to an opinion. My opinion is that the currently accepted "norm" is a time consuming scam, and I have an idea that somehow there is a faster, easier, less expensive way to get it done. Can anyone else help substantiate that? ...Cliff
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Old 05-03-2004, 11:44 AM   #13
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this thread is starting to have a very familiar ring to it.....

Millionare: do a search for "southern shine"; you'll find lots of interesting reading.

I have a question about "wet sanding". when they say to wet sand it...they're talking about doing it by hand, right? just take a wet piece of sandpaper, and rub gently in a circular motion?....or is it done with some other sort of power tool?
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Old 05-03-2004, 11:57 AM   #14
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That's interesting to know

I, for one, find that interesting news about Airmark. The fact that "Jim" is a big fan of Airstream is no secret. I wish Jim well, as I've seen some of his past work and, it was done superbly..btw, mikenlyn's unit was polished using the Airmark system, just not by Airmark personals..As I understood it.
I understand where you're coming from, as we've all been there onetime or another(those of us who have polished their units). It a big decision to make and, once started..There's no turning back..
Not offended here at all nor, do I want you to feel otherwise. The wonderful thing about this forum is the abilities to exchange information in ways that gives the widest possible dissemination.
It's a free country and, we're all entitled to our lil bit of heaven.
I'm gone but, just know that when the time comes for you to start, don't forget to keep us all informed..I know that, I'll be looking forward to hearing about your progress~
Again, "Good Luck"~!
ciao
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