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Old 06-06-2011, 06:30 PM   #1
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My Anodized aluminum Silver Streak polishing project

I have a 1978 Silver Streak 28' Supreme Rocket. It has an anodized aluminum skin. The Anodizing was supposed to make the aluminum easy to keep up and resist scratching. However after 30 or so years in the sun, the anodizing has turn milky and CANNOT be clean enough to look decent. I have tried EVERYTHING made, in order to try to clean it or shine it, to no avail. It is too nice of a trailer to let it just stay like this.

I have been told to "just live with it. NOT!!! So, I set out to find someway to shine this beautiful camper up. My problem was the anodizing. I found out that the anodized aluminum cannot be shine like other aluminum campers, it its present state. I discovered a way to de-anodize the camper, and then it could be shined.

First step was to wash the camper as it had sat for a while before we acquired it. The inside wash fine, except for some really ugly 1978 green shag carpet. That will go later!!!

After the initial washing, I experimented de-anodizing the aluminum with spray OVEN CLEANER. Sprayed it on a small section, then waited about 3 minutes. Then, with rubber gloves on, I rubbed the cleaner with a scotch brite combo sponge, and then rinsed real well with clear water. When this section dried I tried to polish the aluminum with some aluminum polish I use on my motorcycle. And what do you know. lT SHINED LIKE NEW MONEY!!!!! I was on to something.

Now I needed a system to do the entire camper, which I have started:

1: Wash entire camper
2: Raise tongue end of camper slightly higher than the rear. When de-anodizing
starts you have to do a small section at a time, for a few reasons. One, the
the oven cleaner reacts with the aluminum, and gives off a noxious gas. DO
NOT BREATHE THIS. Two, when you rinse it, you need to spray from
the tongue end to the rear, so that you don't get any of the oven cleaner
residue on the area you just washed. It will leave white spots, and takes a
little longer to polish.
3. De-anodize and rinse entire trailer this way, starting with the entire top,
Tongue end to back, then the bottom.
4. Finally polish the entire trailer.

I will use several polishes, and a few polishing techniques to polish the entire trailer this way. It WILL take a while!! I only have a few hours a week to work on it, but I should have it in a few weeks. I will attach a few pictures in the next few hours, but my avatar to the left will give you an idea!!
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:38 PM   #2
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Pictures

AS found and then start polishing. Big difference!!! Wish me luck!!!
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:41 PM   #3
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Also, I removed two 1 1/2 " trim bands that go around the camper midway and at the bottom, replace the vinyl insert that goes in it, and the re-seal attachments. No leaks in 33 years outside, and I don't want any!!
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Old 06-06-2011, 06:51 PM   #4
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Interesting to know. You have your work cut out for ya. Good luck and keep the photos coming
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Old 06-07-2011, 05:31 AM   #5
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Thanks for the post. What brand of polish are you going to use? I have a 73 Continental Saturn that I would like to polish. We have reonvated the interiot but thought I would have to live with the exterior. Thanks for the information.

Regards,

Mitch
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Old 06-07-2011, 05:37 AM   #6
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Recently saw an AVION (anodized) for sale that had been acid-washed. Looked quite good. My conversations with some chemical suppliers leads me to believe that the jury is not yet in on being able to "clean" anodized aluminum trailers. Even new these trailers didn't quite "glow" as we might wish.

You have your work cut out for you. A neighbor decided to de-anodize his Streamline and the the results are fair. In his case I believe I would have painted it (it had already been partially painted; this was not a trailer in good condition) as the rest was covered in overspray. A tremendous amount of work.

For those wanting another route, washing with a buffered acid product (see other posts/threads on this in VK) and "coating" with Everbrite or a similar product will produce some good results (as with one member who recently sold his fine SS to acquire a larger AVION).

Looking forward to this. I've not seen a polished "late" Silver Streak, so it ought to be quite unique. There are those attracted to a polished finish for that alone.

As a note I calculated the square footage of skin aluminum on ours and came up with (memory, serve me now) around 1,300 or so. Yours is . . ?

Where will the polishing end? Roof? Belly?

.
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:31 AM   #7
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Arhuranna, Using nuvite mostly for the initial polish. Have tried truck-brite form Lowes, and Mother's aluminum polish from Autozone in a few test places. Actually, when I get it all done, I think the truckbrite from Lowes will work best for touch-ups. It is sort of a watery liquid, and works very well. I will be trying a few other polishing techniques as I go along and will post these as well.

Rednax, I did not do the math on the square footage yet. I'm sure you are correct though. I intend to clean and polish just above the top edge down to just under the belly. There is about a four foot strip down the middle of the top that I will not polish. It can't be seen unless you are on a ladder. Besides, I would have to remove a/c, vents, etc. to do a great job. It would probably not do any good to polish the belly, as you normally can't see it either. These two unpolished areas will remain anodized, because it is tough.

As you can see the trailer looks terrible the way it is. The original finish looked good, im sure, when it was new. But I think, as you said, it will look neat with it being a later model. NOTHING BEATS POLISHED ALUMINUM.
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:47 AM   #8
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Rednax, I have'nt read all your threads, but did you sell your 83. The pictures show it was a sharp trailer!!
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Old 06-07-2011, 05:24 PM   #9
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I have attached a photo of my problem area above the front windows. The rest of my SS is just faded. I also have many areas where previous owner had put on stickers. Judging from the many outlines my Silver Streak has had a wonderful voyage of life. I hope to find a system to make the whole trailer uniform. Haven't decided yet if I think I want to polish it. I love the look just don't know if I will have the time to maintain it
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Old 06-07-2011, 05:51 PM   #10
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Arhuranna, Wow thats a long one!!! Rear Bedroom?

Any way, I understand about you not being sure if you want polish it like mine. It is going to take awhile. But I'm determined to find a quicker and more efficient way.

These Silver Streaks are built tough and I would really like to have the mirror finish.

Thanks, Jerry
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Old 06-07-2011, 05:56 PM   #11
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Lots of work but wow - looks really nice all polished up!
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:26 PM   #12
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Hueytownalss, yes it has the rear bedroom.We added in a daybed up front and have been enjoying it alot. Thanks for the info on polishing. I would like to find a way to just blend the top fornt sections and go from there.

Regards,

Mitch
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Old 06-11-2011, 03:51 PM   #13
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I did a little polishing today!!!! Did a little experimenting with a few techniques also. I think I have a good gameplan. I will post pics this evening on the pogress.
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:17 PM   #14
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A couple of pics before the rain started, although we DO need the rain. This bottom experiment section took about 45 minutes, and will need about another 10-15 to finish. Just to give you an idea. Will post procedure shortly.
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:12 PM   #15
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Looks great! I saw pictures of a polished Silver Streak once (can't remember where) and it looked really sharp. Welcome to the world of endless polishing! Can't beat the look, though!
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:25 PM   #16
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I have have experimented with a few different tools, cleaners and polishes. Research on these forums, as well as many from various locations on the internet, including youtube, have been very helpful.

As you can see from the pictures I posted of my Silver Streak, its exterior in horrible. At first I tried to “clean it.” I literally tried everything I could find locally. Nothing worked. I had read about some “acid washes”, but they were too expensive to try, given that the reviews from users didn’t seem satisfactory. I even thought of painting it, (gag).

Doing a little more research, I stumbled on a clip from youtube about how kids were de-anodizing aluminum RC car parts with spray oven cleaner. I tried it on a small spot on my trailer. And lo and behold it WORKED.

Before investing in many of the tools shown on some the polishing threads, like the Cyclo, I decided to try some of the tools I already have.

I will list the tools, cleaners, and polishes that I have tried so far, with pictures!!
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:39 PM   #17
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CLEANERS: When I started this project. I wanted the trailer to be clean first... of dirt. grease, oils, wax, or anything else that was on it. I used ordinary dish washing detergent. No picture needed.

DE-ANODIZER: I used spray on oven cleaner. knowing that it would take a pretty good bit of oven cleaner, I tried the cheepest first. It so happens that the cheepest has the same ingredients as the brand name. I have used oven cleaner from Dollar General and Fred's and they work exactly the same. Just make sure, if you do this, do NOT use the fumeless oven cleaner. It will NOT work.

Also for SAFETY!!! This process make noxious gases. DO NOT BREATHE!!! I do a 4' x 4' section at a time, and stand upwind. Once sprayed on, I stand away for about three or four minutes so as not to breathe fumes.
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Old 06-11-2011, 09:03 PM   #18
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TOOLS: If you are reading this, you no doubt have probably read some other polishing threads and info from other websites. You may have heard of the Cyclo polisher. However I thought I would use what I have already. Most of the power tools I have sem to work pretty good.

Tool list:
Black and decker radom orbital buffer/polisher.
McCulloch angled variable speed buffer/polisher.
Dewalt variable speed drill.
Buffer spur tool.. for cleaning buffing pad, wheels
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Old 06-11-2011, 09:15 PM   #19
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TOOL SUPPLIES: The wool buffing bonnets that are on the Black and Decker come from their website. I could not find this size anywhere else.

The buffing wheels on the Dewalt drill and the McCulloch buffer are from Lowes. they have a section for this. The Yellow one is a harder wheel than the white one. Per instructions on a polishing website, they use a courser polishing rouge for the yellow pad, and a finer polishing rouge for the white wheel. More about this later, and I wil try to find the website for reference. It as pretty interesting.

I did have to make an adapter for the McCulloch buffer to use the polishing wheel. The shaft on it was too short for the wheel. I welded three 5/8 x 11 nuts together and insert a threaded rod into it before installing on the mcCulloch. Last picture shows this.
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Old 06-11-2011, 09:24 PM   #20
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Thanks Becky, I saw a video on youtube once, of a polished Silver Streak. I think I remember that it was an older trailer that was not anodized like mine. Being anodized makes it harder to do....at first I thought impossible. It is going to take some time and effort, but I think I will be happy with it.

I will do a little bit, stand back, look, and then just stand there with my mouth open like a little kid. It is hard work, but I can't wait to do just a little more...and then a little more!!

This whole aluminum thing, along with airforums has bitten me hard and I'm having fun.

Thanks for the comments!!

Jerry
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