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Old 03-13-2014, 01:04 PM   #1
Silver streak
 
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What to expect from 48 yr old aluminum??

Now that I have been doing the first stage of polishing the big question is what is the standard of finish you can expect from 48 year old aluminum?

After the windows were cleaned I polished around one half of the side. So should I assume that corrosion(pits) that are left after using 3M super duty compound will not go away with finer compounds?
So are pits OK or normal after 48 years? should I sand?

I have done a lot of searching and found little info on what I can expect or should expect.
I have not seen a lot of older restoration projects up close. Is it like a surviver car a little "patina" is ok and expected?
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:34 PM   #2
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It's hard to say...it really depends on the environmental conditions your trailer has been exposed to. If it has been exposed to salt water sea-spray, it's going to be much different than if it has been more protected.

Our Airstream, a 1956 polished up very well - but it lived in dry climates it's entire life and we spent hours and hours polishing to get thru 50+ years of oxidation.

It looks like you are trying to polish a Silver Streak...I'm pretty sure they didn't use the same aluminum (2024-T3) that Airstream did. It will polish up differently...weren't they annodized? If so, you have to strip off the annodizing first.

The 2024-T3 is an Alclad aluminum...I wouldn't sand it much, as it has a very thin layer of "pure" aluminum coating a different alloy aluminum. If you burn (or sand) thru the Alclad layer the alloy below is a different color and will oxidize more quickly leaving dark "clouds".

I know that "oven cleaner" can strip off the annozing as we did that on our heater cover on our previous trailer. Don't leave it on too long though, it'll etch & eat through the aluminum beuyond just removing the annodizing.

Do you have pictures of the area you have started with? They may help you trouble-shoot.

Shari
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:47 PM   #3
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I think the previous poster wanted to say " Do Not Sand Alclad Aluminum". I am not sure what aluminum is on SilverStreaks. Since they came with an anodized finish, they likely did not use Alclad. Maybe a Silver Streak owner can chip in with his experience.
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Old 03-13-2014, 08:06 PM   #4
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48 year old aluminum

Silver Streak used 2024 T-3 aluminum until 1965 ,66 ?? During the transition you could order either anodized or bright aluminum. Mine being made in 63,64 was never anodized. At least that is my understanding from the research I have done.
First picture shows the dark spots left over after hitting it with 3m super duty. The second picture shows the polished area and what I started with.
Its my understanding the trailer sat in Vancouver Wa. for 15 years under a tarp. Tarps are very rough on the aluminum!! Been polishing the upper roof section where there is a lot of scratches. I don believe they will ever come out even with sanding.
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:10 PM   #5
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What are you using to apply the 3M polish? Wool bonnet? Treated cotton wheel? What speed in sf/min?
The black spots that I see in your pics appear to be pitting from acid rain. It is hard to tell from pics.
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:07 PM   #6
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Using a good quality wool bonnet and on the slowest speed on my buffer. Its just a cheap HF polisher, but its cut and buffed two complete paint jobs and keeps on ticking to my amazement. Yes the black spots are hard to photograph. Could be acid rain? Up on the roof and at the front the black spots are more crater like.

So what is the standard for a restoration? Is the expectation that most of the imperfections should be removed or is it a given that a 48 year old trailer will have some craters and scratches??
I know that I will have to be the one to answer my own question in the long run. But I take pride in my work and don't want to short change this restoration.
When I paint a car I know exactly what the expectation or standard is and work my butt off to achieve it.
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:10 PM   #7
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My next step will be to order Nuvite from VTS. Possibly F-9 and the finer polishes will take off the spots?
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Old 03-14-2014, 02:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transoceanic View Post
So what is the standard for a restoration? Is the expectation that most of the imperfections should be removed or is it a given that a 48 year old trailer will have some craters and scratches??
There are many different levels of polishing…there really is no good answer to this, everybody has their own "standard". The good news is, the more you polish, the better it gets. The key is in the compounding in my opinion. That and following up with a Cyclo polisher for the final couple of passes.

My husband actually likes polishing and has taken both our trailers to a high mirror finish. Both still have/had flaws noticeable at 5-10 feet away - they aren't perfect, but from a distance they are/were pretty shiny. The thing is, we live in a very dry climate so the oxidation process is pretty slow - once polished to this level, we only "touch-up" every 2-3 years. The hardest part is the first time polish - getting 4-5 decades of oxidation off by compounding to begin with. After that, 2-3 years worth is a piece of cake!

We have polished two Airstreams, the first was our '64 GlobeTrotter which we no longer have:



The second our '56 Safari "Birdy":



A "mirror" finish is possible - it just depends on if you want to spend a couple hundred hours to get there the first time. To see what we used, check my "It's a Girl!!!" restoration thread starting around this post.

Good luck…polishing is a lot of work!

Shari
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Old 03-14-2014, 09:47 AM   #9
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Thanks Shari for a great answer.
Doing research last night I came up with the same recommendations using the black bar for the real ugly stuff. Thanks for the link to your thread. Great thread and great job. I will be ordering your recommendations.
Thanks again
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Old 03-14-2014, 10:46 AM   #10
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Glad you found my response helpful...

Yes, the black bar is great - but we only reserved it for the really tough spots that the tripoli bar couldn't get. All the bars/grit polishes actually scratch the aluminum - that's how they get the oxidation off. The coarser compound you sart with, the more passes with finer compounds you will have to follow-up with to get those scratches out. So we always try to use the least abrasive co,mpounding material we can - that still works - to alleviate additional steps before Cyclo-polishing.

Here's a short YouTube of Mr.InsideOut doing a polishing demo at the RMVAC RAlly a couple of years ago - just to give you an idea of his technique:

YouTube Demo

This was not our trailer, but a '55 owned by Artstream that had never been polished. The section in the demo took about 20 minutes to do...

Shari
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Old 03-15-2014, 07:07 PM   #11
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Much better day polishing!! I'm still using 3M super duty as its all I have. I remember reading that you want to use the slower speed on the polisher? After doing 1/2 of one side I decided to try full speed. So I went from 1000 to 3000 RPM and what a difference! I watched a lot of small imperfections disappear. Still a long way to go but at least I can visualize that it will meet my expectations.
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Old 03-15-2014, 08:39 PM   #12
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Looks nice! The only concern is that by using a faster speed it could warp the aluminum or burn through the Alclad.

Shari
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:48 PM   #13
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Shari,
Timely video for me; which wheel and which polish bar?
Thanks
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:29 PM   #14
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Breathtaking

Oh Lordy, Shari, that picture of your trailer, she is gorgeous!
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