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Old 11-14-2008, 09:33 AM   #1
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Restoring painted exterior

Trying to get back into Airstreams after a long break (69 Caravel in the early 80s-a Bambi prior to that). Not having much luck, but have found a trailer close to home that is painted on the exterior. It appears to be a sprayed on automotive finish of some sort. Has anyone had any luck stripping and polishing this type of surface? I'm concerned that the paint was used to cover something that was very difficult, or impossible to polish. Any inputs appreciated. Need to find a trailer, but need to know I can get it restored. Thanks!
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:42 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by seeleylaker View Post
Trying to get back into Airstreams after a long break (69 Caravel in the early 80s-a Bambi prior to that). Not having much luck, but have found a trailer close to home that is painted on the exterior. It appears to be a sprayed on automotive finish of some sort. Has anyone had any luck stripping and polishing this type of surface? I'm concerned that the paint was used to cover something that was very difficult, or impossible to polish. Any inputs appreciated. Need to find a trailer, but need to know I can get it restored. Thanks!
Your intuition that there is something awful under the paint is probably right. Some people find it is less expensive in the long term to paint - and less labor than polishing every year or so - have elected to paint their Airstreams. Of course there are always "Silver Argosies" too...

At a minimum it's likely the exterior was sanded to help the paint primer adhere. If you aren't prepared to live with a painted Airstream, I'd say pass this one by. (You might consider repainting it if the old finish is dull or faded, but you'll probably regret even trying to strip it.

Paula
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Old 11-14-2008, 09:46 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forums! Here is a recent thread on this topic. Good luck with your search, whatever you decide to do.
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Old 11-14-2008, 11:35 AM   #4
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I'm assuming this is an Airstream not an Argosy or SOB?

After 20 years in the auto body repair and painting business, I would pass and look for a better one. Unless it was in perfect shape and at least $3000 below market price. Or unless you plan to leave it painted.

Anything is possible, some things just aren't worth doing.
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Old 11-15-2008, 08:53 AM   #5
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It's a pretty safe bet that there was some body damage that cannot be repaired properly except by replacing panels. To get around this, they fixed it by pounding out the dents smoothing over with plastic body filler and painting as you would a dented car fender.

Now if you want a polished surface you will have to strip the paint, repair any damage then polish the surface. The surface was probably sanded before painting making it about 3 times as hard to polish.

This is why I say it would be more sensible to look for a better trailer.
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Old 11-15-2008, 09:44 AM   #6
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Thanks to all for the advice. I suspected there must be a reason for painting, but never really thought about bondo or the sanding. Now I know. And, yes, I'm still looking but the mountain passes around here make me think it may have to wait until spring to get it home. Thanks again!
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