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Old 06-18-2003, 08:52 AM   #1
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Louisville , Kentucky
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Question Un-Painting an Airstream

Has anyone ever brought a painted AS back to aluminum by going through the process of stripping and polishing before?

I have been talking with a dealer about a 360 motorhome which lost its clearcoat and was repainted in an aluminum paint rather than recoated (apparently based on Airstream's recommendation). The dealer says no bondo was used and it was prepared by wet sanding with 150 grit paper, then painted, then clearcoated.

This unit is at a good price but I don't know what would be involved in brining it back to the original skin and possibly polishing. I've attached a photo to the post.

We seem to be getting closer to actually purchasing one (instead of looking at zillions of them) and have begun to settle in on the 360. (which is funny because we started out looking at older 280's!)

If this one is "restorable" I think I'll make an offer, but I've come to trust the forum to keep me from making bad decisions about a purchase.

Any advice is appreciated!
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Steven Webster
1986 Airstream 345 Classic Motorhome
AIR 1760
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Old 06-18-2003, 09:19 AM   #2
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I wouldn't try it.

Good looking MH! It probably could be done but would involve untold hours of labor. If painted properly I am sure the aluminum has been sanded and otherwise scuffed enough to make a presentable if not polished surface an extremely labor intensive endeavour. It is enough work just getting a slightly oxidized or mill finished A/S skin to polish up. I would consider the painted finish if done right to be plus, possibly a good reason to lookinto this one further and possibly buy this coach. I have heard of people supposedly stripping and polishing an Argosy, seen them in stages but have never seen the finished product.

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Old 06-18-2003, 09:31 AM   #3
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1977 20' Argosy 20
Charleston , West Virginia
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The only AS MH's worth polishing are the 1979-1981 models. After that, the type of aluminum changed and will not polish to the luster you are desiring. Many folks after 1982 have considered painting since the same look can be achieved. I'd leave it alone or look for another 36' unit.

The prices of the 1992 to 1996 36' Classic units seem to be holding steady ($60's and low $70's) although I did see the 1994 36' unit go for $40,000 in Texas on ebay.

I imaging the price of the new 2005 Classic units will help the re-sale of the 1992-1996 Classics!
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Old 06-18-2003, 02:32 PM   #4
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1986 34.5' Airstream 345
Louisville , Kentucky
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Thanks (as always)

Fred and Chas, thanks for your prompt replies. As always the experienced advice on this site is invaluable to those of us who are trying to become Airstream owners.

Not sure what to do on this one as I see merit in both points. Based on Fred's point about the polish it sounds like I could not accomplish the level of finish I was hoping for on any post 82 coach. So maybe the painted one is a deal. The price is a good one so I may actually consider it further.

By the way. I talked with a few Airstream folks at the Louisville Rally yesterday and it sounds like this new "classic" is going to be something. Can't wait to see it at the Louisville show.
Steven Webster
1986 Airstream 345 Classic Motorhome
AIR 1760
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Old 06-18-2003, 05:24 PM   #5
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i have seen painted airstreams and they look ok to me i have a 310 and it is not a polish to a mirror finish coach. the origional metal has a brush finish and ruths said no on the polish job as it would cost a bunch because of the labor. the sanded surface would eat your wallet up. or a lot of time polishing the scratches out .
if the price is right i would re paint it if it is getting on the dull side. lol
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