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Old 01-23-2003, 12:43 PM   #1
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Question How Long to Polish?

The polishing tips in this forum and the related websites are fantastic! However, I have yet to find any information on just how long it takes to get that "mirror shine," or at least a near mirror shine. Maybe it's a denial thing!

I know the answer is "it depends." That's the lawyer answer (don't ask me how I know). Condition and length are bound to be important factors, but...

What's a reasonable estimate of how long it should take to polish a 22' trailer in average condition? 3 weekends? 3 weeks? 3 months?

If someone could tell us how long their project took, that would be very helpful. Thanks! Tom
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:04 PM   #2
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How Long to Polish?

Greetings Tom!

One of the reasons that I had P & S Trailer Service polish and Platicoat my Overlander was from talking to Ed Emerick about his experiences polishing his '68 Sovereign. If you haven't heard of Ed, he and his wife Sandy have won awards for their restoration work at each of the past two WBCCI International Rallys in the Vintage Airstream Club Concourse. He indicated that the intial polishing including stripping the Plasticoat was about 120 hours of work - - then maintenance runs about half that number of hours every year.

I would suspect that you could probably divide those numbers by a factor slightly less than two as your Airstream is about 9' shorter and Ed had prior polishing experience with his previous Airstream.

Good luck with your project!

Kevin
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Old 01-23-2003, 03:25 PM   #3
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Simple Answer

As long as it takes ......

Polishing is not a destination, Its a journey.

I am looking forward to doing mine again and again this spring.

I rather enjoy it and find it theraputic.... but then I am at least 3/4
wacko by now!

DMC
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Old 01-23-2003, 03:41 PM   #4
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If "it depends" is the lawyer's response, let's call "as long as it takes" the doctor's response.

I appreciate that polishing may be therapeutic. I just want to know how many hours I'll be in therapy!

Thanks!
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Old 01-23-2003, 03:53 PM   #5
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As long as it takes?

Without re-clear coating ... you will need to polish yearly to keep
a mirror shine ... to get a mirror shine I'd estimate:

Stripping at 8-16 hours

Three to four grades (applications) of NUVITE 32-60 hours depending on amount of oxidation and tolerance-strength of arm muscles.

Of course keep in mind ... I've got a "Dinky Twinkie" at about
16 feet of shell.

Better?

DMC
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Old 01-23-2003, 04:01 PM   #6
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Thanks DMC, and thanks Kevin---Your posts are very helpful. tom


PS- I'm really digging these smiley faces! Very expressive!
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Old 01-23-2003, 04:08 PM   #7
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polishing

I have been admiring the trailers and motorhomes that are polished by their proud owners and they have submitted pictures showing their accomplishments. I am considering polishing my 1985 motorhome. Can anyone tell me if this year has the plasticoat on it and needs to be removed first or what do I need to do to get the mirror finish. I previously had a 1966 airstream trailer and the finish on it, I believe better for polishing than the finish on the motorhome. The motorhome has more of a grain or brushed finished. Has anyone refinished that era of motorhome to guide me of what needs to be done and what they used. If I can't get the mirror finish what can I do to at least get the upper portion of the motorhome that is dull in appearance to blend in with the sides. I appreciate any information.
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Old 01-23-2003, 05:03 PM   #8
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Welcome Gunner!

I'm no expert, but check out www.airstream.net for someone who is. According to the frequently asked question section of that site: "The pure aluminum alcladding that allows the skin to take a high polish was used up to 1982, when it was changed to a satin finish."

The site also advises that clearcoating became "standard" in 1964.

Don't know what can be done to yours, but maybe others will have suggestions. Good Luck!
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Old 01-23-2003, 05:52 PM   #9
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GUNTER-Unless it has been removed by a p.o., your motorhome has the clearcoat on it. Easy way to tell, take some aluminum polish, and try polishing small area, in some spot where it won't be highly noticeable.If you get no "black"on the rag, and the area looks cleaner but not real shiny, it's clearcoated. The polish won't hurt the coating if you don't rub it in too hard.
If you want to get a good shine without stripping and polishing, a good wash and then a wax job will give you a surprisingly nice shiny look. The stripping and polishing is a major undertaking, and you have to want that ultra-shiny finish.
Think about a mirror finished rig pulling into a State Park for camping!
Might be a bit scary.....not that I don't appreciate that look, just that on the motorhomes it can be a bit much.

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Old 01-23-2003, 05:55 PM   #10
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You may also want to check-out this polishing section. Lot's of good info & links.

Shari

BTW it took me about 22 hours to strip our 19-footer. We haven't started polishing yet except for a couple of "test" spots....waiting for warmer weather. If you want more info on our experience, check out Maxwell's webpage under "During"...
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Old 01-24-2003, 11:14 AM   #11
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I spent almost a full week just getting the nasty clearcoat off my trailer.I then began polishing in April of 2002 and completed it in early August 2002.I worked on it pretty much whenever weather and time would allow.I did not keep an exact log of hours,but figure it has to be pretty darned near 300 in total!The results were worth it.....and I figure I will have to commit several days work each year to keep it up.

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Old 01-24-2003, 11:18 AM   #12
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Looks GREAT Char! Hope ours looks as nice when it's done!

Shari
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Old 01-24-2003, 01:53 PM   #13
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How long will it take?

I have a 31' Excella that I am polishing. I started stripping in late December 2002 and finished half of it when I started polishing the stripped half. I started polishing on Jan 10 doing about 3hr a day average. That is as long as my arms would last. That amounts to about 75 hours and I am about 1/2 done. Add about 20 hours for stripping and we are close to 100 hours.

I have talked to Tom at perfectpolish.com and he indicates between 200 and 300 hours to polish a 31' trailer. That is based on reports he has had from those who have done theirs.

That length of time is to get to a 7 or 8 on a 10 scale, where 10 is a true mirror shine. Most of us are happy with a 7 or 8, I would suspect. The length of time to get from a 7 to a 10 is logarithmic.

A true mirror shine is no milky haze, no swirls, just pure shine. Tough to get to, but possible.

For a great site from which to get information, try www.perfectpolish.com

They sell the Nuvite polishes, which are superior, the Cyclo polisher which is the best that can be had and the sweatshirt material which is the best for polishing. The Mannings tell of their experiences and methods on perfectpolish.com and also have their own site where there is even more info. You will find that the most helpful available.

It will help if you publish your pictures on airstreamphotos.com to show your progress. Other can offer words of encouragement, which you will need when your enthusasiam begins to flag. It is a heck of a lot of work, but well worth it. My arms are killing me, but I will finish and maintain the polish as well.

Good Luck

Vic
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Old 01-24-2003, 06:17 PM   #14
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Thanks, everyone. Sounds like there will be a lot more shiny trailers in the world by summer! (and bigger forearms) (and strained marriages if we all spend 300 hours polishing an inanimate object!)

I hope to meet the Mannings and maybe even "Perfect polish Tom" at the Calistoga rally in May. Check it out if you're interested: http://globetrotter64.home.att.net/gather.htm

Tom
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Old 01-24-2003, 10:56 PM   #15
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I'm just getting started on polishing our Safari.What I seem to have noticed is that most of your start-up time is getting used to the various componds/polishes and what their properties are.Getting the plasticoat off was the easy part (I use Jasco stripper and a sponge with ammonia in water for the rinse-off).My advice is to only strip as much work as you can reasonably tackle in a short period-reason being that the segments oxidize before you get to them and your work is harder.Streaks and water spots are almost as hard to compond out as some of the scratches.Bottom line is it will take you a good chunk of your leisure time,and discouragement will come if you are not realistic about the process.I'm working on the tail section,having removed all light fixtures and name plaque.This allows me easy access to the skin and besides I needed to replace the running lights as it was getting to be a pain walking around and tweeking them to get them to ground!(Good repos at Airstreamdreams.com).I found that I can get a reasonable starting surface using an inexpensive rubbing compound on a car waxer,thereby saving some on the Nuvite,but I may be adding to the project time-I'll report further as I progress.
My questions are : WHAT IS THE WAX OF CHOICE to keep the finish protected.I have heard Carnuba,but the only one I can find has a 'cleaner'additive.
The other is: ARE YOU GUYS STOPPING AT THE RUBRAIL ? (not a bar in Vegas)
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Old 01-25-2003, 06:38 AM   #16
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Murray,

I am not stopping at the rubrail (great name for a bar, though). Take a look at my airstreamphotos.com if you get the chance. I have the roadside to do yet and I am going to take your suggestion about compounding with a rubbing compound to see if it works as well a Nuvite and if it causes more work. Also your stripping method is worth a try. I am using Aircraft Stripper. It is very toxic. I tried Citristrip without much success, but I may not have used it properly. I will try it again too. It certainly smells better than the stripper I am using.

There are several suggestions for waxing. Turtle Wax, Carnuba,
Rollite has a preservative as well as others. Nuvite does not recommend one since they claim the 'S' polish contains a preservative. I haven't decided yet but am tending toward waxing if my arms hold out.

Vic
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Old 01-25-2003, 08:44 AM   #17
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Most of those who have polished their trailers have stripped the who trailer before polishing. When I first polished my trailer several years ago I was concerned about getting the polish on fast enough because I was concerned it would oxidize before I could get to a section. What I have learned is that the skin will hold its polish certainly as long as it takes to polish it. I would also be concerned about getting stripper on a polished surface and removing whatever sealer is in the polish.

As far as a final sealer, I think rollite is best - to me its made for aluminum vs other wax that is made for paint. It is VERY easy to use, I use it two times per year.
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Old 01-25-2003, 08:27 PM   #18
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Vic
Today I used a 4" tight stitched buffing wheel on my 1/2 "drill.It works very well with 'tripoli' compound stick at getting out scratches.I did a whole segment,cleaning the wheel regularly (on the bumper edge)It gave me a real good finish overall which I then Cyclo'd with Nuvite "C'.The shine result was great but in retrospect I will add a buff over with jeweller's rouge,to reduce the cutting scratches.I think that a final polish with Nuvite "S' should top it off.Total time for the one segment (large lower ,left of taillight) was about 4 hours.I may abandon the rubbing compound in favor of this technique.The wheel works pretty well on the rubrail as well.
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Old 01-27-2003, 10:18 AM   #19
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I kept a fairly accurate running tab when I polished my 22' Safari this past summer. Actual polishing time was about 55 hours. This did not include the time it took to remove all of the external items like side vents, access doors, lighting frames, awnings, gutters over windows, roof vents, A/C unit, bumper. It did not include time to clean up, repair and re-install these items. I did not have to remove clearcoat but I had quite a few scratches and a fair amount of oxidation to remove. Here's basically what I did.
1. Removed all external items. ( couple of days)
2. Replaced broken rivets and repaired some aluminum skin and pulled dents. (couple of days)
3. Wet sanded scratches and oxidation with 600 grit 3M sandpaper. ( 1/2 day)
4. Polished with half inch drill and 7" lambs wool buffing pad. ( $5 each at auto parts - used about 10 pads) Polished with Turtle Wax rubbing compound - $3 a can - 15 cans) This removed sandpaper scratches and oxidation but leaves swirl marks. (40 hrs)
5. Cleaned and caulked all seams.
6. Polished with dual action auto waxer with Meguire's medium Glaze Polish. (2 bottles - 10 - 12 hrs)
7. Polished with dual action waxer and Nufinish sealer/wax. (3 - 4 hrs)
8. Cleaned up and installed old parts, new awnings, seal parts, etc. (Probably another 40 hrs or so)
It's not a perfect mirror finish but on a scale of 1-10, I give it a 7 or 8. People that see it cannot believe it's the same trailer I started with a year ago.
Good Luck!
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Old 02-01-2003, 03:43 PM   #20
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Murry

I will try your method as soon as I can get the materials. Jeweler's rouge in an interesting idea. Thanks for your input.
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