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Old 10-17-2005, 10:36 PM   #1
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Alcoa sez how to clean their clearcoat

At my request, Alcoa (Brad Fisher, editor, sent me what the accompanying e-mail described as the "official Alcoa recommendations for cleaning the Alcoa Translite finish used on Airstream aluminum trailers." Hopefully it appears here:


This recommendation covers general procedures for cleaning and maintenance of the factory applied Translite painted surface. It is intended to assist manufacturers, owners and operators who are concerned with the care and maintenance of this painted finish.

Note the following precautions when attempting to clean this material:
· DO NOT use wire brushes, steel wool, sandpaper, abrasives or other similar cleaning tools that will mechanically abrade the coating surface.
· Cleaning agents, in general, should be tested in an inconspicuous area before use on a large scale. Always test a small area first.


A 5% solution in water of commonly used commercial and industrial detergents will not have any deleterious effect on the factory applied finish. These solutions should be followed by an adequate rinse of water. Use cloth, sponges or a soft bristle brush for application. Cleaning should be done in the shade or, ideally, on a mild, cloudy day.


Most organic solvents are flammable and/or toxic and must be handled accordingly. Keep away from open flames, sparks and electric motors. Use adequate ventilation, protective clothing and goggles. Remove non-water soluble deposits (tar, grease, oil, paint, graffiti, etc.) from the painted surface, using these solvents with caution. Limit contact of painted surface with solvent to 5 minutes maximum, and test before using:
· Alcohols
o Denatured alcohol (ethanol)
o Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
o Methanol (wood alcohol)

· Petroleum Solvents
o VM&P naphtha
o Mineral spirits
o Turpentine (wood or gum spirits)

The following solvents are NOT recommended for use on this surface:
· Xylol (xylene)
· Toluol (toluene)
· Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK)
· Methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK)
· Ethyl acetate (nail polish remover)
· Lacquer thinner
· Acetone
· Paint remover


Remove mildew with a basic solution of the following:
1/3 cup detergent (Tide, for example)
2/3 cup trisodium phosphate (Soilex, for example)
1 quart bleach solution – 5% bleach (Clorox, for example) with water

Rinse immediately and thoroughly with clear water.


It is suggested that early and frequent inspections of the surface be made during the cleaning process to insure that no chemical or mechanical damage is occurring from the cleaning procedure.

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Old 10-21-2005, 09:56 PM   #2
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Nothing about polishing or walbernizing. Coating gets rather dull without a good walbernizing.
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Old 10-22-2005, 12:10 AM   #3
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thanks alcoa......

greetings all

i seem to remember reading this same material on an alcoa web site, awhile back........

anyway the guideline is......

it is a way,
it is the way,
\but it is not the only way .......

there are lots of correct ways to clean it and
a few products, materials and methods to avoid......
a blow torch and wood awl come to mind....

also the offical offering makes no mention of/or considers other materials used in as i'm not sure i'd opt for tide/triphosphate/chlorox mix at concentration suggested.......anywhere near rubber, glass, seals, paint, emblems, plastics, other metals, sealants, awning and so on......also one would need a rubber suit, osha mask and goggles to work with the brew........espically when molds/mildew can be eliminated other ways...

also no mention of using clay to lift non soluable contaminants....this is a safe, quick, effective and easy way to remove what doesn't disolve/wash off with soap/water...and negates the need for virtually any solvent approach.

this guideline does focus on the original "translite finish" but fails to mention anything about protecting it with polish, wax, sealant or other agents.

there is absolutely no suggestion of protection over the translite layer....

as for walbernize...the airstream owners manuals now (since the finish has been alcoa applied), suggest any quality automotive wax product and do not specifically promote wallywax...

this combo cleaner/polish/wax product is quick on and off, but is mildly abrasive and does a poor job of cleaning or polishing or waxing. there are many similar combo products that work as well at the walbernize stuff on these newer coaches.

and as for the last bit encouraging us to be on guard for "no chemical or mechanical damage is occurring from the cleaning procedure"....well this suggests to me that even if you follow the guides there is potential for damage....

and then we are left to wonder.....what to do with light scratches, deeper spots, peeling, lifting or striped patches..........since the factory method to deal with this is to replace the skin segment....alcoa omits any suggestion for repairing the finish...

so a more usefull thread would be resources and methods and materials used by competent owners experienced at keeping the new finish in tip top condition and appreance with longevity.

with pictures or demostrations all the more valuable. here or at a gathering somewhere soon.

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Old 02-02-2006, 08:49 PM   #4
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I'm interested in this 303 Aerospace protectant for my '03 Safari. Sounds reasonable that stuff will protect my finish and seems to be safe. I got an email from the manufacturer after I asked them if it was safe for my "vinyl-like" coating on the aluminum. They said that if the finish was not harmed by water-based stuff, this wouldn't do any harm. I'd like to forward the actual description of the coating and I know somewhere on this forum somebody provided the really long scientific name for the coating but can't find it tonight. Anybody else have experience using/trying this stuff (all over, not just tires)?
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Old 02-02-2006, 10:20 PM   #5
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I know I'm going to get some flack on this but here goes. I've used 303 Protectant on windsurfing gear for several years. After the initial slick surface evaporates, it leaves a white haze on clear monofilm used in windsurfing sails. Now to the nuts and bolts. I started wondering how well the stuff actually worked, so I set up a test using about 8 different strips of sail cloth, liberally coating one half of the sample and leaving the other half exposed. I put the samples in my back yard for 6 months. Every couple days, I would spray the hose against the samples, then I would move them to another place in the yard to even out the sun exposure, and I would rotate them 180 degrees to reduce impact of shade. I only allowed direct sun exposure to the front side of the samples. Initially, the 303 protected sides seemed to be protected, but it didn't last long. Within 3 weeks, the protection was almost nil. This was evidenced by slightly less fading on the cloth samples treated with 303. At the end of 6 months, I could tell no difference in the strength of the 303 treated side and the strength of the untreated. Basically, the sun nearly destroyed the strength of the clear monofilm. The fabric samples still had about 40% of their original strength, but again, I could tell no strength difference between the 303 treated fabric and the untreated fabric.

My conclusion, it only seems to work if you replentish it on a 3-week or so schedule, and then you may reduce UV damage by as much as 30%-50%. It does leave a whitish haze on surfaces it is applied to. Initally, it is slick so I have tried to use it to reduce bugs sticking to the front of the trailer as I travel down the road. Problem is it doesn't seem to last long and after about 1-2 days, it looses any effectiveness of keeping bugs from sticking .

I've nothing to gain by defending the results or even publishing my findings, so if you don't like the results, we all would like to see the results of your own tests.
So Long!
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Old 02-03-2006, 01:58 AM   #6
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hi bob

seems to me your testing is as good or better than anyone else might offer.

my question is what is the sail cloth made from? what material/chemical is the fabric/thread?

303 protectant has been very popular these last 3-4 years.....which isn't long. it does have a good rep with auto enthusiast.

what drives me wacky about these products is.........what the heck is in the bottle? claims are always worded in such a way to avoid legal issues....i just want to know the ingredients....the testimonials are useless.

since you are focusing on sail cloth.......
looks like 303 has a specific fabric guard product and it must be different that the 'protectant' used on rubber/vinyl and so on.

here is the available info.......the msds doesn't include the active's a secret.

the protectant must be water based, while the fabric guard has a petrol again it does depend on what your sail cloth is made from.....and one is more flammable.

i think your trial is as good as any.......except you could add several other sprays and measure longevity....

dont' be afraid of silicone/ long as not in a oil base...and looks aside......what would happen to sail cloth sprayed with ptfe/scotch guard like products?

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Old 02-03-2006, 05:20 AM   #7
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I walbernize mine at least once a Year but in between I use 3M Stainless steel cleaner/polish. No ill effects yet itwont shine like walbernize but its spray on and wipe off.
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Old 02-03-2006, 06:45 AM   #8
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I've been using the 303 for nearly 6 years. Tests were done 2 years ago. Sailcloth and monofilms are polyester products, although I also included a sample of nylon in the tests. As near as I can tell, 303 is not water soluable. Water beads on it when it is applied to sailcloth/monofilm. I purchased it in gallon containers and used a garden sprayer to apply it to sails, rubbing it in with a soft bristled "RV Wash" brush. This was done as part of my sail service and repair business.

I still have 4 unopened 8 oz. bottles of the stuff I'd gladly sell for a total of $24. plus shipping.
So Long!
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Old 02-03-2006, 08:31 AM   #9
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I use 303 on my tires. It was recommended at a tire seminar as a good agent to put on the sidewalls. Most other tire dressings contain petroleum which I was told has a detrimental effect on the tires.

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Old 02-03-2006, 10:36 AM   #10
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I mentioned this product before, I have used it for about two and a half yrs now...Liquid Glass. I seal my Motorhome with it in the spring, and was it down as needed with a light mix of ArmorAll car wash.
It shines very well, and has stopped the clear coat from deteriorating further.
On the roof it has held up well, although I had already inherited some clear coat damaged spots that will fade more quickly than the rest.
One can has done my 28 footer twice with enough left to do a small car.
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Old 02-03-2006, 01:28 PM   #11
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hi ctdair and others......

when ever possible just check the ingredient's easy and over time you will learn to choose based on what's in it.....not what someone 'swears by, about or at'.....

haven't used the 3m stainless steel cleaner......but i will eventually. i like 3m products because it's easy to find out what's in them and all the other really important data.

looks like it's basically a water/mineral oil emulsion with isobutene and a little non flammable solvent..... the ingredient list, safety data, storage info and usage instructions are very clear....

just click on the product and there is each document……and an 800# for safety issues……this is how all the other makers SHOULD make the info available……no secrets……… mystery

it’s the mineral oil that is providing the shine/protection properties….simple.

bob….the 303 has water in it…….so it is water based……however after the application dries/evaoporates….

the silicone polymers left behind become insoluble to water...was the chemical bonds link up.

what we don’t know is if using 303 or any spray finish………extends the life of sail cloth……
how many years before the stuff becomes brittle/frail anyway? probably salt/uv are the culprits…….

and does 303 change this? (as an side issue i think they are making the "armour all" mistake of keeping the ingredient list secret.......which will be a backlash once it's out......)

zip dee awning cloth………while not exposed to as many hours of uv or water or salt…….is extremely durable…….without any extra spray finish……


I like liquid glass products too…….assume you are using the finish/polish product, not the prefinish cleaner…..anyway you will be surprised to know it is water mixed with stoddards solvent (kerosene/mineral spirits), silica (yes sand) and silicone oil/siloxane…….

so it should last pretty long, repel pretty well, shine pretty nicely. it is mildly abrasive and can be very SLICK so careful around steps/handles and so on…..

airstream might object to using stoddards solvent on the older plastic coat finish but if you’re happy that’s the issue…

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Old 02-04-2006, 10:31 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bob Thompson
it only seems to work if you replentish it on a 3-week or so schedule
Every bottle of 303 I have used bears the recommendation to recoat every 3 weeks, and the website recommends 20 to 30 days for tire wall recoats, for example, at
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Old 02-04-2006, 10:41 AM   #13
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So every year, you will spend as much money on 303 as you would on 1 brand new tire!
So Long!
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