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Old 05-09-2018, 10:58 PM   #1
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Cost for professional polishing

I am the proud owner of a '76 Sovereign International, and have been hard at work refurbishing the interior and the mechanicals. Despite my willingness to perform the hard work on so much of the restoration, I'm definitely considering outsourcing the stripping and polishing of the exterior.
I believe my hesitation lies in my lack of enthusiasm for something solely aesthetic, and not tied to functionality or comfort. My wife on the other hand is all about the mirror finish.
So I actively question my ability to even achieve a mirror finish, because my level of give-a-s#!t just ain't there. And I know myself pretty well, and I know I'll cut corners and fall short of a beautiful mirror shine.
So my question is: what should be a fair price to pay for stripping and polishing a 31 ft. Airstream? It has some male pattern baldness, and has never seen any attempts at polishing. Starting from scratch, what should it cost me per linear foot?
I've seen talk of anything from $100-$250 per foot. If anyone has some recommendations, testimonials, or referrals, let's hear them. I view $250 to be too much, as that would put me at $8000 after taxes.
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Old 05-09-2018, 11:13 PM   #2
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We have not yet polished our Vintage trailers. We have however inquired and 100$ a foot if not more seems to be the going right. Sometimes there are trucking companies who do the big bright shiny trucks where the cost might be a little less. We actually like my natural dull patina and we may never polish but maybe once your wife finds out the price she'll be encouraged to polish it with you or for you.
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Old 05-09-2018, 11:36 PM   #3
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I have signed up to get my 1999 Excella stripped and polished in August and yes it is costly but my clearcoat is failing. I have wanted to have it shined for quite some time. We are full-timers and this is my house so I am really looking forward to Kat's Cradle looking her best.

This seems to be a popular thing now so if you want to have it done..better start searching for the right guy to do the job. They are getting booked up.
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Old 05-09-2018, 11:37 PM   #4
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I think 100 bucks a foot would be a bargain.
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:18 AM   #5
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2018 27' International
Lake Oswego , Oregon
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What I would do

I would check with your Airstream dealer with respect to Nano care, an outside and inside process that will protect your investment with respect to refurbishing. It is expensive but comes with a 7-year warranty. Just my 2 cents, or many dollars.
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:31 AM   #6
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What state do you live in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by drmox View Post
I am the proud owner of a '76 Sovereign International, and have been hard at work refurbishing the interior and the mechanicals. Despite my willingness to perform the hard work on so much of the restoration, I'm definitely considering outsourcing the stripping and polishing of the exterior.
I believe my hesitation lies in my lack of enthusiasm for something solely aesthetic, and not tied to functionality or comfort. My wife on the other hand is all about the mirror finish.
So I actively question my ability to even achieve a mirror finish, because my level of give-a-s#!t just ain't there. And I know myself pretty well, and I know I'll cut corners and fall short of a beautiful mirror shine.
So my question is: what should be a fair price to pay for stripping and polishing a 31 ft. Airstream? It has some male pattern baldness, and has never seen any attempts at polishing. Starting from scratch, what should it cost me per linear foot?
I've seen talk of anything from $100-$250 per foot. If anyone has some recommendations, testimonials, or referrals, let's hear them. I view $250 to be too much, as that would put me at $8000 after taxes.
What city and state do you live in? I have found some AMAZING people to shine my girl up!!
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:36 AM   #7
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I live in the Chicago suburbs
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:39 AM   #8
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I buffed a 1970 25' Caravaner in 2013-14 while redoing the interior. If you don't have the heart for it DON'T start, once you start, you have to keep going. I estimate my time somewhere between 300-500 hrs just for the removing the trim, stripping what was left of the clear, and buffing. In my early years I worked in Body Shops, so I know how to use a buffer, and believe me, it is the most and dirtiest work you most likely will ever do. I bought a inexpensive buffer from Harbor Freight, and then a double head buffer/polisher from Cyclo and all the Nuvite polishes from Vintage Trailer. Just material and polishers you will spend minimum $1000. to $1500. But that's not all, to keep that mirror finish, you have to go over it again every yr w/the #s final coat to take off the oxidation which will come back every year. I store mine in an open car port, it may do better inside a climate controlled storage.
If I was to do it over again, I would think serious about painting the exterior in a two stage silver that would look similar to a new a/s. It would be less work, you have to remove all the trim anyway, and I don't think it would cost anymore than polishing, w/less maintenance later on. Of course you wouldn't have that mirror finish.
I don't know what they charge to polish a 31', but you might get a quote on a paint job also before you start.
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:47 AM   #9
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I’ve been told about $100/ft, plus added fees for any prep needed. I polished my own 34’ (as a newbie). Always a work in progress. But to get it to a shine I was satisfied with took about 3 weeks. So $100/ft would be a pretty good deal in my eyes. No way I would do it for someone else at that rate. At the end of each day I was exhausted and covered in black. Used an orbital and a cyclo and 3 stages of Nuvite.
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Old 05-10-2018, 10:23 AM   #10
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Chicago to Solon Ohio, 355 miles, five and a half hours, sounds like you might have made a match.
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Old 05-10-2018, 10:26 AM   #11
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The cost I know of was at P and S Trailer Service, Helena, OH. (They have a web site and specialize in Airstream units only.) The cost for polishing and clear coating was $200.00 per foot. I have seen their work and it is very good. The units I viewed done by them looked every bit as good as new. Check out their web site and give them a call. www.pandstrailerservice.com

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Old 05-10-2018, 01:18 PM   #12
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1973 31' Sovereign
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A couple of years ago I decided to strip my Mooney, and my daughter, who is also a pilot, decided to give me the gift of "help stripping it" for Father's day. She thought it was going to be a weekend thing and she'd be done. Fortunately she stuck it out thru the end, but three months later and over 250 hrs of stripping and polishing, it was done. We love the results on the Mooney, but right now we are living with the patina on our '71 31ft Sovereign because I know the amount of work it will take to get her shiny.
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Old 05-10-2018, 01:52 PM   #13
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Wild the after picture of Mooney (pit) is gorgeous.
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Old 05-10-2018, 03:10 PM   #14
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Now imagine a nice picture of the shiny airplane next to an equally shiny Airstream with a tow vehicle of similar vintage...beautiful.

I'm always torn between my love for aircraft and my love for Airstreams. Sadly Airstream I can afford...at least they are built similarly..
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Old 05-10-2018, 03:50 PM   #15
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I too am interested in finding someone to polish my 53 Cruiser. I started it 10+ yrs ago, so most all the heavy oxidation is off, but it needs the all the fine touches which I think is more labor intensive. I'm in Washington state and willing to travel in the NW to have it done. Any suggestions? In hindsight I wish I'd left it with the original patina because it's more maintenance than I want to do. Thanks.
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Old 05-10-2018, 05:20 PM   #16
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An old taildragger Beechcraft model 18 with registration N500 belonged to Tony Hulman who owned the Indianapolis 500 mile race Speedway. It was always polished to a mirror finish. It hurt to look at it on sunny days.
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Old 05-11-2018, 12:50 AM   #17
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I know a guy that does it in southern California for around $150/foot of trailer (his bread and butter is the local fuel haulers). I don't think that includes any clear coat, but he gets it shiny enough to shave with. So $100-200 seems reasonable.
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Old 05-11-2018, 04:30 AM   #18
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Quote:
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Wild the after picture of Mooney (pit) is gorgeous.
Thanks, I do have to admit that once it is polished it only needs a "repolish" once a year.
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Old 05-11-2018, 07:19 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drmox View Post
I live in the Chicago suburbs
I have no idea of how to private message you But it would be worth you 5-6 hr drive to drop your Airstream off to these professionals who are a FRACTION of the cost of ANY other service out there who shines up Airstreams.

You can email me at: hikia09@aol.com
Or message me in Instagram: @AirstreamLoving

I know you will be pleasantly SURPRISED!! (I have NO affiliation at all with this company I only know that I had gotten so many other quotes and they were a FRACTION of the cost)
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Old 05-11-2018, 08:53 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drmox View Post
I am the proud owner of a '76 Sovereign International, and have been hard at work refurbishing the interior and the mechanicals. Despite my willingness to perform the hard work on so much of the restoration, I'm definitely considering outsourcing the stripping and polishing of the exterior.
I believe my hesitation lies in my lack of enthusiasm for something solely aesthetic, and not tied to functionality or comfort. My wife on the other hand is all about the mirror finish.
So I actively question my ability to even achieve a mirror finish, because my level of give-a-s#!t just ain't there. And I know myself pretty well, and I know I'll cut corners and fall short of a beautiful mirror shine.
So my question is: what should be a fair price to pay for stripping and polishing a 31 ft. Airstream? It has some male pattern baldness, and has never seen any attempts at polishing. Starting from scratch, what should it cost me per linear foot?
I've seen talk of anything from $100-$250 per foot. If anyone has some recommendations, testimonials, or referrals, let's hear them. I view $250 to be too much, as that would put me at $8000 after taxes.
If you do it "yourself" you're looking at least $1500.00 to $2000.00 for that mirror image. Having it professionally done $7000.00 to $8000.00.

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