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Old 01-20-2011, 02:03 PM   #1
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1965 26' Overlander
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Polishing Question

My husband and I finally decided to polish our Airstream. We are going to use Levon's method and purchased the kit from Jestcoproducts.com. My questions is... and it's a silly one. What size angle grinder do we need? We purchased a 7 inch but didn't know if a 4 inch would be better. Also anyone know how to attach the buffs to the grinder? Thanks.

Like I said it's a silly question but we are new to polishing. Thanks again.
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Old 01-20-2011, 04:28 PM   #2
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It's not so much of a silly question as much as it's really a question that needn't be answered. You've got the 7 inch grinder which will work and might be a little bit easier on the arms than the 9 inch grinder I purchased. The buffing pads are attached with a mandrel and screw to the grinder. The pieces you need should be included with the grinder and you should tighten down the screw/bolt with a crescent wrench to a torque of about 30 lbs. At each side of the pad should be a metal washer to make a metal to metal contact with the screw/bolt.

That being said, you're in for a lot of fun. My experience has led me to enjoy the wide variety of compounds, pastes, bars and amalgams of each in the pursuit of a shiny trailer. Oh, and since you're in Scottsdale, do take my advice and get started right away! You've got 3 and a half months before the trailer radiates like Palo Verde during meltdown.

Good Luck!
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Old 01-20-2011, 05:22 PM   #3
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Lightbulb Here's a tip...

That's the same method we use these days too...I think you guys were there when Rob demo'd polishing at the RMVAC Rally this year...it's the method he used then.



He started off with a heavy duty Milwaulke compounder, but found it pretty heavy. We got another one at Harbor Freight...it's only about $35 (or less if it's on sale). It's not as heavy or heavy-duty, but here's a suggestion...spend the extra $5 or so for the 2 year extended warranty. Keep the box & receipt, when it breaks - and it will break, polishing is tough on them- you can take it back and get a new one. I think the warranty even starts over with the new one. So far I think we have had 2 or 3 for the same $35 while polishing our two trailers.

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Old 01-20-2011, 06:17 PM   #4
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You can get a 7" backing plate and pads with quick attach velcro from VTS, or others I suppose, it really makes the job easier. The 4" will take forever on the flats. But, a 4" with an edge wheel works great around windows and other tight spots, trick is to have a 4" that turns less than 3000 rpm. Much over 3k rpm can cause problems. Something else to consider. Moderate to low end angle grinders today are not built for endurance, you're liable to spend a lot of down time exchanging for warrentee. If you take one apart you will probably find composite [plastic] gears striped or warped. A $150 milwakee, dewalt, ect will do a hundred feet of airstreams and you may have to change out the brushes, 10 bucks /10 minits, the do another 100 ft. Or do 26ft, swear you'll never do another foot and sell the grinder on ebay for 70% of your cost!
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Old 01-20-2011, 06:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by putback View Post
Moderate to low end angle grinders today are not built for endurance, you're liable to spend a lot of down time exchanging for warrentee.
The main reason we switched over to the "low end" model is because it is made from alot of plastic parts so it is MUCH lighter & easier to work with. For us, the "downtime issue" is dealt with by still having the heavy Milwalkee heavy-duty model that is used as a back-up if the HF cheapie dies...at least until we can get it exchanged.

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Old 01-20-2011, 07:08 PM   #6
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I also purchased a polisher from Harbour Freight (HF). Jesco recommends a polisher that runs between 1800 and 3600 rpm's. The polisher at HF that turns at 3500 rps's (7" Electronic Polisher) is $59.99. It is a fairly light weight polisher. I polished my 31 foot airstream and the polisher is still going. I also liked the polishing pads at HF as they are not as fat as the ones from Jesco. They are a little harder to get centered (the center hole is bigger than those supplied by Jesco), but I liked the way they cleaned up after each set of polishing passes. I used the polishing sticks from Jesco. Usually had to make 3 passes with the grey compound and 1 with the red compound. I then used nuvite (grade S) with the cyclo polisher to get out the lines. Good luck with your polishing project.
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:12 PM   #7
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But I recommend a polisher not a grinder. A grinder spins very fast and what you want is slow. A HF polisher will spin around 1000 - 3000 rpms.
If the tool spins too fast the working medium (paste or abrasive will slip).
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:23 PM   #8
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I got it all attached and did get the Harbor Freight $59.99 7" polisher. It has a digital readout that starts at 10 (which I assume is 1000rpm) and tops out around 38 (assuming 3800 rpm give or take). I started around 15 with the grey bar and after 4-5 passes, it didn't seem to do anything! So I cranked up to around 25 and it seemed to work better after 2 more passes.

What's everyone's opinion for speed on the grey bar and then should I change down or up of the red bar?

I tackled the curbside lower rear panel as a test and it seemed to take me about 3 hrs for that panel. I was just so concerned about burning through. This sound about right?

Also, no oxidation at all, clearcoat stripped about 6 months ago.

Lastly, there seems to be a few cloudy spots which I could go back over but would I do it starting with grey again or red or wait for the cyclo to try and get it out.

Will post a couple pics soon!

Thanks again everyone!
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:28 PM   #9
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Hi, You should have every thing you need to get started between the Airstream polishing kit from Jestco and your 7" polisher. (Your polisher should be variable speed and operate at from about 1000 Rpm to 3500 Rpm). I have also gone to Harbour Freight's polisher because of its light weight and low costs. The Jestco kit has 8" wheels so I tend to operate polisher at full speed. Just be carefull to not let the skin get too hot.
Good Luck. You will be an expert by the time you are finished.
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:45 PM   #10
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As promised here are some pics. Keep in mind this was a test space and tomorrow we will be stripping everything off of the Airstream i.e. awning trim lights etc.

Pic 1 is a sample of what we started with,
Pic 2 Looks ok in the daylight but at night the clouds become very apparent
pic 3 Another after shot
Pic 4 sample of the cloudiness.

Disclaimer. I did not polish in the sunlight. This portion of the Airstream is in the shade all day long.

Thanks again
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:46 PM   #11
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Just read your last post so will try to reply to it. You probably should go back to black rouge for the cloudy areas. Cyclo wan't take them out. With the 8" wheels I would operate at about 3500 rpm and keep the wheel moving side to side. Unlikely that you will scorch the aluminum. Same speed with the red rouge. Rake the wheel often to keep the edge soft and to prevent polish build up. Good Luck
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:57 PM   #12
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I polished at 3500 rpm's on grey and red. Also have some "cloudy" spots that I had to go back and give several more passes. You will have to use a cyclo polisher to get the lines out. I bought one used on ebay for $100.00. A new one is pretty close to $300.00. By the time you get finished, you will have it all figured out. lol
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Old 01-20-2011, 11:32 PM   #13
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So I was watching a few polishing vids on YouTube and found this one. This guy works at a snails pace compared to what I was doing today. Is there a secret to the speed at which you should move the buff side to side?

I've seen rob and shari's in person and I seem to me working at about robs pace in his video above. Hmmmmm..... So much to learn about this technique..

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Old 01-21-2011, 09:36 PM   #14
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Polishing update. So today we removed all of the running lights, the awning, awning arms, door stop, and trim. Come tomorrow morning we will be compounding all day hopefully. I will post some progress tomorrow. Hopefully all goes well.
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Old 01-21-2011, 11:21 PM   #15
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HF polishers with warranty.Bought 2 and put two different wheels on each.
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Old 01-22-2011, 01:22 AM   #16
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When you guys finish your AS.... and have nothing to do.... please feel free to come by start on the Old Girl.
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Old 01-22-2011, 08:30 AM   #17
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I am also using this method. The following link here from my blog.
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Old 01-22-2011, 09:31 AM   #18
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Is there an advantage?

I polished my Safari last spring using the Perfect Polish method - Dewalt variable grinder w/ velcro pad and wool buffing pads running at 1000 rpm w/Nuvite 7 for compounding. Then went to Cyclo with some Nuvite C and finally Nuvite S. I used corn starch and mirco fiber towels to remove the black left overs. The compounder was always held with the pad almost flat to the surface rather than 90 degrees as shown in the above pics. Is there an advantage to the above method vs: Perfect Polish method?. Mine turned out really nice but was a huge effort.
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Old 01-22-2011, 01:43 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Is there an advantage to the above method vs: Perfect Polish method?.
It really is all a matter of opinion. We've done both...and settled on a kind of hybrid. On some panels that don't seem to be getting shiny enough with one method, Rob will switch over and try the other...

When we originally did our '64 (7+ years ago), we did it 100% using the Perfect Polish method - flat wool pads, different grades of Nuvite, finishing w/the Cyclo first using Nuvite 'C', then Nuvite 'S'...it is a lot of work but leaves a beautiful finish.

This last year, we did our '56, we decided to try using the stitched & loose cotton buffs and tripoli/rouge bars for the compounding instead of the wool pads/Nuvite. Then finished w/the Cyclo, just like before - first with Nuvite 'C' then 'S'...it turned out just as nice as the other method.

BOTH methods are a lot of work through the compounding stage. Especially if you are removing 40+ years of oxidation - you have to cut through it. In newer trailers, you are also dealing with the slightly milled texture - gotta smooth that out.

We've done demos at the RMVAC rallies using both methods side by side on the same panel...most people can't really tell the difference when it's all done. The only real visible difference is before you Cyclo, the swirls are circular with the flat pad method and more lineal with the buff on end method, but regardless the Cyclo is the finishing touch that brings out the mirror shine. One other thing is, Nuvite doesn't work as well in extreme temperatures - either too hot or too cold where the bars are not as effected.

It seems that the bar method does seem to be slightly faster, but it also seems to leave more light scratches for the Cyclo phase and being that it is more aggressive, it would be easier to overheat a panel &/or burn through the Alclad finish. The bar method is cheaper - but we still use the Nuvite products for the Cyclo step so not that much. BOTH methods are incredibly messy and time consuming - but, IMO the mirror shine is worth the effort.

The good news is, you really don't have to go through all the compounding (removing the oxidation) stages except for when polishing the first time, if you maintain it by Cyclo polishing every year because it takes a long time to oxidize - at least here in dry CO. Until this fall, we have done absolutely nothing but wash/wax our '64 in about 5 years. It has oxidized ever so slightly, but it still holds it's own compared to the freshly polished '56 sitting right next to it.

This fall, we did however, replace a couple of damaged panels on the '64 and those needed to be polished - which prompted a touch-up on the whole trailer. This time Rob is using the bars & buff on the new panels & the touch-up. Then Cyclo with 'C' & 'S'. The second time compounding (if you really want to even call it that) is MUCH quicker, because it's only a couple of years of oxidation - only the most discriminating would even think it's necessary to re-compound it all based on the condition. If we hadn't replaced panels, that are now freshly polished - we probably would only Cyclo w/o re-compounding it and it would be fine.

The bottomline IMO, is that it doesn't really matter which way you remove the oxidation as long as it is all removed. It's really the Cyclo polishing step (w/Nuvite) that makes the difference in that 'mirror finish' we all strive for. The Cyclo is what takes out all the swirls and leaves that smooth as glass deep shine.

Shari
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Old 01-22-2011, 05:18 PM   #20
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We ended up choosing the Jetsco products method because we saw it demonstrated twice using this method. Once at the RMVAC rally and last year's Resto Rally. We were impressed and sold all in one. It's definitely a long process we are learning. No matter how many times you hear it will take a long time it doesn't really sink in until you start on your own project. Then you say to yourself.... Now I see what they meant.

Shawn is really rethinking buying such a big Airstream. I teased him and said once this is finished we can buy a second Airstream to which he replied sure babe as long as it's no larger than 5 feet. I knew that sure came way to easily.

On a side note I have to say I HATE filliment / worming. Urggg.

Anyway breaks over back to compounding. Pictures later this evening.
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