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Old 08-29-2020, 06:55 PM   #1
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Buffing Process for Airstreams

I've search but haven't found what I'm looking for. I need some advice on using the buffing process for polishing my 75 Overlander. I define buffing as using about a 2" wide cotton wheel on a angle grinder at 2000 rpm with clay bar compounds.

Some background. I've polished our 86 Limited 34' with the Nuvite process. Time consuming (maybe 300 hours) but successful, see photo. As they say, it is hard to mess up with the Nuvite polish process and polishes. It is very hard to go wrong, it just takes a lot of time. The Nuvite process is wool bonnets at about 1000 rpm using Nuvite polishes; first compounding with coarse, then medium grade polishes, then cyclo with medium and finally a fine grade polish.

Then I tried buffing on my 66 Trade Wind. It is a trailer built with Alclad 2024. I was looking for a faster process, and buffing is faster. But I had lots of "burns" and decided buffing is only for experienced folks. There are too many variables for a newbie. Things like buffer wheels, speed, pressure, compound amount, raking, traversing rate, etc., etc. I used Jestco products and was very dissatisfied with the results. The Alclad could be a major factor. Looks okay from 10', see second photo.

Now I want to polish my 75 Overlander. It is built with 6061-T6 aluminum I think. The trailer has been stripped and kinda polished once, but needs it again, only better. 3rd photo.

I have read here in these Forums about folks who have successfully used a buffing process and products on their trailers, especially not Alclad trailers. I'm asking for your experiences: process used, and products used. I would certainly appreciate hearing from some experts or being referred to a good thread that I can't seem to find. Okay boomer...

David
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Old 08-29-2020, 07:05 PM   #2
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Great information here: https://www.perfectpolish.com/
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Old 08-29-2020, 07:46 PM   #3
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Thanks azflycaster: Perfect Polish is where I got my Nuvite stuff years ago. They specialize in the Nuvite process, which is very good.

I need a similar website or AirForums thread on the buffing process, which is completely different. I do think it is being used with success by more and more vintage Airstream hobbyists.

David
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Old 08-29-2020, 07:49 PM   #4
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I used the process with the cyclo and nuvite on that site when I had a 75 TradeWind. I think it looked pretty good...
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Old 08-29-2020, 11:00 PM   #5
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I came across this renovation a few years ago and made note of it. It may help you sort out supplies and technique.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f44...con-81822.html
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Old 08-30-2020, 09:39 AM   #6
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I'm currently using the method from Jestco products. I think it might be what you are looking for. So far I'm happy with the results.
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Old 08-30-2020, 03:20 PM   #7
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Can't help you, but just want to say that, man, that '86 Limited looks great!
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Old 08-30-2020, 07:28 PM   #8
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Polished Airstreams do look great, until they don't, meaning the rain spots, bug splats, bird bombs, leaf stains, or deicer on the highway. Polishing is a never ending job.

Thanks 57Vintage. Your so organized demonstrated by you having a note in your files about the Caswell polishing process. That was what I was looking for. I owe you another one.

I have this hypothesis to present for discussion. The 50s and 60s trailers were built with Alclad 2024 T3 aluminum sheets. This is a common aircraft grade aluminum with about a .002in pure aluminum cast on the exterior surface for corrosion protection. The pure aluminum is soft, and easier to polish with the Nuvite process. The 2024 Alclad I purchase comes very shinny. Buffing Alclad may lead to burns as it is easy to "grind" off the pure aluminum. Don't ask how I know.

70s Airstreams are built with cheaper, but acceptable 6061 T6 alloy aluminum which is a harder material. I think that's why it takes longer to compound with Nuvite F7 on a 70s Airstream.

I think buffing, which more aggressive, would be an acceptable method on this material. I think the polish job could be done quicker.

Polishing is just making the surface of the aluminum perfectly smooth. Rub your fingers on a polished Airstream and it feels like glass. Rub your fingers on my Overlander and it feels like 400 grit sandpaper. It ain't smooth.

I was disappointed with Jestco on 2024 T3, but it was likely my fault. So I may try Caswell products instead.

David
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