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Old 09-08-2017, 06:43 PM   #1
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Cleaning Up Propane Tanks

My '69 came with two excellent, but ugly, aluminum propane tanks. I did some really minor poilishing on one just to see if it would polish, and it does. So I got them tested, fitted with new valves and tubes and certified.

Now I need to decide on a sanding/polishing plan. They have overall oxidation and some significant scratches. Here are pics, first one shows their overall condition, second one is a spot I polished a little bit, which shows the scratches better:




It's an old trailer so it'll never be perfect, but I plan to go for what I'll call a medium shiny finish. I figure I want to hit it first with a random orbit sander, but how coarse do you think I can safely go? And how fine would you go before switching to polishing compounds and a wheel?

Opinions appreciated.
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Old 09-08-2017, 07:05 PM   #2
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Hi

I would not go real crazy with anything industrial. Knock off the bulk of the oxide and re-coat them. For added fun, re-test them after you are done.

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Old 09-08-2017, 07:14 PM   #3
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Easy way

I spun mine on a pottery wheel. Whet sanded to 220 grit, Could have gone finer grit for more shine, but stopped there as it matched the patina of the 1968GT, and has a nice "spun" finish..

Took about five minutes.
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Old 09-08-2017, 08:07 PM   #4
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Wow, that' spretty slick. If only I had a pottery wheel. How fast did you spin that?
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Old 09-08-2017, 09:11 PM   #5
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No tachometer on the pottery wheel. Its max speed is 250rpm. I'd guess the sweet-spot, where the oxidation washed away cleanly with very little hand pressure, was about 90rpm.
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Old 09-08-2017, 10:23 PM   #6
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When I polish aluminum 90 percent of all the jobs I do I use 320 to start if there is alot of pitting I go down to 180 any courser than that it becomes a project to get all the sanding marks out.
I should also add I usually rotary sand to get the worst pitting and scratches out and I sand up to 800 finishing with the da sander.
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Old 09-09-2017, 09:48 AM   #7
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Jamespio..... There have been a lot of changes to the legal requirements for propane tanks since 1969. You may want to check if the tanks you have meet the current requirements and you will be able to get them filled before you spend a lot of time working on them.
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Old 09-09-2017, 10:21 AM   #8
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You should be able to polish them out similar to the trailer. Follow all the steps required as you would the Airstream
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Old 09-09-2017, 02:46 PM   #9
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Lowes has a truck box polish that works really well on our aluminum tanks.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Better-Built-Polish/3035639

I used it on the cylinders on our Avion and really like it! Whether by hand or with an orbital polisher, it works really well!
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Old 09-09-2017, 02:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by 2dabeach View Post
Jamespio..... There have been a lot of changes to the legal requirements for propane tanks since 1969. You may want to check if the tanks you have meet the current requirements and you will be able to get them filled before you spend a lot of time working on them.
The original post says that he had them recertified and new valves installed.
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Old 09-09-2017, 10:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vswingfield View Post
The original post says that he had them recertified and new valves installed.
vswingfield.... Thanks, I didn't catch that when I read his post.
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Old 09-28-2017, 10:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeg5263 View Post
When I polish aluminum 90 percent of all the jobs I do I use 320 to start if there is alot of pitting I go down to 180 any courser than that it becomes a project to get all the sanding marks out.
I should also add I usually rotary sand to get the worst pitting and scratches out and I sand up to 800 finishing with the da sander.
Not wishing to hijack this thread, but I'm polishing also and jeg5263, you've raised a question for me.

Does that include AS panels? Just curious. I'm just finishing up polishing my 92 29' Excella for the first time. It's coming out pretty good, but I'm thinking next summer I may want to sand and re-polish my front caps. Is sanding a good idea or no?

Here's the link to my most recent update pics on my polishing thread:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/show....php?p=2014936
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Old 09-29-2017, 01:30 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Re-Pete View Post
Not wishing to hijack this thread, but I'm polishing also and jeg5263, you've raised a question for me.

Does that include AS panels? Just curious. I'm just finishing up polishing my 92 29' Excella for the first time. It's coming out pretty good, but I'm thinking next summer I may want to sand and re-polish my front caps. Is sanding a good idea or no?

Here's the link to my most recent update pics on my polishing thread:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/show....php?p=2014936
Panels can most definitely sanded and polished. Sanding is the secret to getting super clarity in your work. Even stuff that isn't bad I'll still sand. On stuff that is good typically I'll start at a higher grit maybe 600 or so and go up to 1000 or 1500. Aluminum is porous so it gets layers of micro oxidation over time. By sanding your removing these micro layers and removing imperfections as well. The big thing with airstream panels is heat. Too much and you can make burn marks with a sander if not careful.
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Old 10-01-2017, 06:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by jeg5263 View Post
The big thing with airstream panels is heat. Too much and you can make burn marks with a sander if not careful.
Yeah, that would be my luck. I'll probably leave well enough alone.
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Old 08-25-2018, 05:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALUMINUMINUM View Post
I spun mine on a pottery wheel. Whet sanded to 220 grit, Could have gone finer grit for more shine, but stopped there as it matched the patina of the 1968GT, and has a nice "spun" finish..

Took about five minutes.
Damn, that's beautiful!
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