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Old 11-10-2014, 12:40 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1968 30' Sovereign
Kinglake , Victoria
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 23
What finish aluminium to get?

Hi there,
I'm thinking of replacing the inside skin. Which aluminium should I get if I wanted to leave it bare metal look? Mill finish or clear anodized?
What is the latest recommendation on the thickness?

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Old 11-14-2014, 08:12 AM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Went through this recently. So, I used 5052 in a .040 thickness. It was a plain mill finish, which gives it that "brushed" look. I'm not sure what the "clear anodized" finished you mentioned looks like. I could have used a thinner alloy, but the .040 is stiff enough to eliminate any "ripples" that you might get with a lighter thickness, so the end result is more forgiving.

If I had it to do over, I think I would have just cleaned the original skins and then painted them. Some things to think about include:

Material volume: For my 21' Globetrotter, I used an astonishing 10 sheets of aluminum 4' x 12'. They cost about $50/sheet from a local supplier. The issue is that with the milled finish, you get a lengthwise grain pattern. You have to cut your replacement panels so that the grain is going in the right direction, not just so that they fit on your new material. As a result, you will have about 25% waste.

Time factor: This is another one of those projects that I thought I could knock out in a couple of weekends, but instead it took the better part of 4 months. It is a lot of work. You will want to get your new material with the coating of plastic sheet so that you minimize the scratches while you are working with it (this usually adds a couple dollars to the cost of each sheet). The plastic sheeting comes off once it is in place, which leads to the next issue...

Clear coating: The aluminum that is installed in the new Airstreams is the same as what is used to make the shell. It has a factory applied plasti-coat, and costs a ridiculous amount. Without the clear coat, every time you touch the bare metal, you leave a finger print that eventually becomes permanent. I was unable to find an alternate supplier of aluminum sheet with a factory installed clear coat on it, so decided to paint something on once I had my raw aluminum in place. There is a thread investigating paint-on clear coats. One of the participants had used some stuff, and he got good results in some areas, but a bad finish in others, depending on cleanness of the aluminum. So I recently bought a bunch of this clear coat, and I am looking for a weekend where I have a good three days to do all the prep work and painting. This clear coat paint and prep stuff has cost almost $400, and the whole project could be rendered a disaster if the clear coating goes all wrong.

Good luck!

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Old 11-15-2014, 01:38 AM   #3
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1968 30' Sovereign
Kinglake , Victoria
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 23
Thanks, Belegedhel!
Oh, well, I think that will look like me painting then. I do want to use the AS asap and just doing the basics looks like it's going to take a long time...
I do believe that the clear anodized means it has been reacted with some metal to be less reactive with things like fingerprints etc. It probably is still quite sensitive to markings. Thanks for sharing your experience and good luck with the painting job ahead of you!
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