Airstream Forums

Airstream Forums (
-   Member Introductions (
-   -   1979 31' International - Newbies :) (

Bowmans 05-26-2009 06:18 PM

1979 31' International - Newbies :)
Well, the wife and I weren't looking for long before we ran across this beautiful Airstream. We just got it home a couple of weeks ago and are going to start with the outside, bringing back a mirror finish. Everything is in great working order thanks to the wonderful upkeep from its previous owners. I have been using this site ALOT over the last 6 months, gathering tons of info on Airstreams and really appreciate all of the contributions people have made! :clap: Maybe in a year or 2, we will have something worthy of contributing as well!

Aage 05-26-2009 09:17 PM

Well, hello and welcome, Bowmans! You have come to the right spot, all things Airstream happen on here.

How about some more pictures of that lovely coach? Inside, too, if you can...

Bowmans 06-05-2009 09:54 AM

Here are some photos of the outside I have been working on. I figured I would start from the top and work my way down. I removed the AC cover to start with, polished around the AC with the cover off. While it was off, I reinforced the plastic of the cover with some aluminum "L" frames and 2 aluminum straps that go around the inside supporting the 4 mounting holes and connects to the center rail and base rail I created. I then used ABS plastic glue and where the small corner cracks were, helped keep them from spreading before painting, scotchbrighting the aluminum rub rail (didn't want the polisher anywhere near the plastic parts here) and inserting the beltline.

Bowmans 06-05-2009 10:07 AM

We haven't done much inside yet. We removed the flooring to see how the plywood underflooring was and it is in great shape. There was a little area near the front, right window that leaked on the PO that is a 3" x 3" hole and there is a little discoloring near the door but that is it. Here are a couple of photos of the inside.

Bowmans 06-05-2009 10:10 AM

Anyway... That is our new baby. Thanks to this great site, we are using Nuvite polishes. I thought about going cheap with the tools but after reading the many posts, we decided to buy the drill compound polishing attachment for the course oxidation removal and the Cyclo 5 polisher for the C and S levels. The roof shots showing the polishing near the AC cover area were all 3 levels.

CurvyGrrrl 06-05-2009 10:12 AM

What a beauty! Are you keeping it "as is" or planning any remodel?

Bowmans 06-05-2009 10:49 AM

I am really not sure at this point. Everything inside was really well kept but it is 30 years old so the "wallpaper" wood grain is peeling in a number of places. The roller doors almost all work.. so so. The one under the kitchen sink has lost its' tracks. The shelving in the sink cabinet are falling badly in the back. The main center brace is bent near the floor. All of the plastic roller door tracks and parts are cracking as we open and close them so I don't see them lasting long. The rear room was redone to accept a California King mattress which the wife and I love but that is not original. The bathroom is in great shape. Just needs some of that acetone gel stuff on the fiberglas (I need to find that post again) to bring back the color. The wife and I are in discussion now on what to do.

I originally wanted to restore it fully but the more I look closely at items, the more I want to rebuild the wood grain wallpaper cabinets with a little more substantial real wood items. I am worried about weight if I go that direction but think I can use panel in enough spots to not increase the weight but so much. If we do redo all of the cabinets, I will use the originals as templates so they are the same sizes and placement except the doors will be regular cabinet doors. We are also keeping all the original plastic bins where they are :)

Here is the polishing I did this past weekend on the roof:

Only about 10% polished... UGH! hehehe

swanky 06-20-2009 08:20 AM

The shine is amazing! Please tell me how--exactly!
Our motorhome is not in bad shape, but not super shiny like your roof. Would you mind telling me exactly what you did and what products, including tools, you used to achieve that? Also, about how long did that area take--just the polishing, not the a/c work? I would like to get my husband the works to do just what you have done as a Father's Day present unless prohibitively expensive. We have a basic do-it-yourselfer's tool supply but nothing that I know of for automotive work.
Thanks so much.

Bowmans 06-21-2009 05:59 PM

So sorry the reply took so long
I didn't notice the reply until tonight (Father's Day). I used info I gathered from this site and I was directed to the Perfect Polish website over and over Home. I used their method for polishing for the most part. Just about all of the polishing stuff I bought came from Vintage Trailer Supply - Vintage travel trailer parts and supplies! since they had it all and seemed good on prices.

Supplies I got:
Nuvite F7 (course) polish - 2 pounds for 31' trailer (haven't finished yet so not 100% sure on quantity)
Nuvite C (medium) - 1 pound
Nuvite S (fine) - 1 pound
Paint stripper (Home Depot)
7.5" compound polisher head with drill motor attachment
5 x 7.5" twisted cotton heads
Cyclo 5 polisher (with 4x rubber boots and 4x spandex type covers for it)
lots of mineral spirits, 100% cotton baby diapers (I got 60), 100% cotton T-shirt material

I think that was it.

Here is the process in short:

First I checked to see where the camper still had clear coat on it. You can use a rag and toothpaste and try to polish a spot. If the rag turns black, no clear coat in that spot. Most campers lose their clearcoat from the roof down. Mine had clearcoat on the bottom 1/3. In the areas you have a clear coat, you will need to use a paint stripper and remove it before polishing. I slao found that the clear coat was still on some spots of the upper portion of the camper like where water doesn't run (below some rivets, under light fixtures, etc.) and removed it there as well.

I got a 7.5" compound polish head and 5 cotton pads for a drill motor (they suggest 1000RPMs) and used Nuvite F7 (course) polish for the first step. This removed the most of the oxidation and gets it pretty shiny. To do the area you see on my roof just with the compounding polish took about 12 hours and can only be done in cloudy cover, mornings and evenings. No direct sunlight... it gets hot up there and the polish hardens too fast. Some spots I had to go over 3-4 times to get a good shine, others just once. You only do about 2' x 1' sections at a time and use minimal polish (dap fingertip of gloved hand every 3" or so in area to polish). Run the polisher slowly through the polish first to get it on the metal (too fast and it flings it off). Then run the polisher over the surface back and forth over the area a few times until the black polish leaves the aluminum (you will see the aluminum get "clean"). Then clean the area with mineral spirits until ALL of the black stuff is gone. I use 3 rags of varying blackness and after each cleaning, toss the blackest into the "laundry" pile and get a new cloth out. Cover your hands with thick rubber gloves and use the same cloths. They will turn black from the oxidation.

To get the mirror finish, I got a Cyclo 5 industrial polisher (expensive but I figure I would use it every 2 years so I wanted something that would last and it was lightweight compared to other ones which is important). Go get 100% cotton T-shirt cloth from a fabric store, cut the cloth into 36" x 36" sections (or close to it), cut a slot at the 4 corners... well, check out the perfect polish site for more details on the cloth and wrapping the polisher with them. Once you get the hang of it, its quite simple. I then used a C grade Nuvite polish first and did 1 polishing and that was about all it needed if you did good with the compounding to remove most of the dullness using the mineral spirts to clean after. Then went over the whole area again using the S polish which gave it a really good mirror finish. The Cyclo polishing took only about 3-4 hours.

I have since polished the roof all the way up to the front cap and did the front end down to the middle beltline. My end caps didn't come out as mirror as the roof did and, if I still have arms left after I am done, I may go back and try to get it a little shinier. I will post some more pictures next week on that.

I only ordered 1/2 pound of the F7 so have more on order right now. In the meantime, the wife and I removed 3 of the 4 awnings, she cleaned the awnings up and I repaired the stitching that was coming out on some of them. I went ahead and re-hemmed the tired covers since they were all frayed. We also cleaned all the window frames and used Scotchbright to further clean some of them to free them of rust on the arms and black on the aluminum which gives it a nice brushed aluminum look. I have gotten 3 of them scotchbright"ed" and they cleaned up so well. I also am about 75% done scotchbrighting the doorframe and screen door. I will be off work for 5 days in a row next week so I hope to start back up on the polishing.

Good luck with your polishing if you decide to do it swanky. I will admit, I am a hyperactive person with obsessive tendancies and my wife just called me a perfectionist while I was polishing and after getting about 10% done with the camper, I wondered why I started this HAHAHA!

nick6930 06-21-2009 06:10 PM

WOW great info and she looks great. Thanks for the polishing info I hope to start mine on Tuesday and now I feel a liitle more confident.

Bowmans 06-21-2009 06:10 PM

re-read your post
I just re-read your post and wanted to add something. The Perfect Polish site mentioned something like 400 hours of polishing for a 25' camper that has been exposed for a long time which, after starting mine, I would agree with that depending on the shape starting out. Ours was in decent shape I believe. If you want to try it out before spending alot, you may want to just get the compound polisher drill motor part and F7 polish to start with and see if the result is what you want. It does a pretty decent job. If you decide later to go full mirror, it would be easy to continue.

Also, the information I am getting says after polishing, it is best to leave the surface without wax or clear coating (some controversy over this one though). I decided to leave it as is and read that every year (possibly 1 and a half to 2 years) re-polish with the fine polish will keep the finish. The Cyclo polish portion of the process is much less physically demanding so should be a breeze compared to removing the 30 years of clear coat wear and oxidation I am dealing with right now.

Bowmans 06-21-2009 06:15 PM

Check out that Perfect Polish site above. They have step by step on the process and after reading that 2-3 times (and printed a copy to read as I was doing it) it made the process really simple. Good luck starting on yours Tuesday! Post some pictures when you get it going.


swanky 06-22-2009 09:08 PM

Oh my!
5 Attachment(s)
Ok, there is no way I will ever find the time or energy to do what you described, at least not until my youngest two are out of diapers. Thanks for such an excellent explanation, but sadly, I am never going to be man enough for that. I am attaching a few photos taken on cloudy days/rainy days of Silvie (A Silver Lining). Do you think the abbreviated polishing version would suffice? I don't know about the clearcoat status yet but will try the toothpaste test tomorrow. I do know she was polished and painted along the bottom in 1991 by P & S in Ohio. The woodgrain stripe is in bad shape and the painted areas are in need or repainting as well. We would like to do something about the faux woodgrain stripe but not sure yet which route to take--more trim or paint or polish.
I should really be more worried about caulking and sealing but that shine in your picture is so gorgeous! My husband is so gung-ho for the shine, but neither of us has the time or the tools or talent to achieve it and our neighbors are already grumbling about the moho in the driveway. We can't quite squeeze it through to the back and even there it would violate city ordinances against storage. Anyway, I am attaching a few photos--please let me know what you think.
Thanks again for a brilliant explanation.
Keep up the hard work--I cannot wait to see the finished product.

Bowmans 06-25-2009 05:07 PM

Great looking moho! also farther progress we have made on ours
Nice moho!! It looks like it is in great shape on the outside in your pictures. Looking at those, I don't think your polishing would be quite to the extent of ours. If you still had the clear coat over most of it (roof goes first), I don't think I would worry about polishing that. If you decide to polish, you may get away with just Cyclo C or S coats or even that Mother's polishing ball someone was mentioning on the site, although I'm waiting to see the pictures from that.

Well, we worked on the AS more the weekend of 6/13 and 3 days this week. We cleaned the awnings, scotchbrighted 3 windows and the door and continued the polishing. Here are some of the latest photos of the progress:
Beth cleaning the roadside awning
Me washing it to clean the mineral spirits
Roadside view
Curbside view. This is where we are now. 2/3 the roof, the front endcap and the first panel up to the door are polished (as well as just under the awning up to the stove vent). We re-sealed the windows, doors etc. where we have polished with Vulkem. I also re-wrapped the brake wires, found the electrical issue with our umbilical (reverse and + were switched from the standard vehicle 7 pin hookup) and went through many, many scotchbright pads on 3 windows (so far), door, battery doors and access. up front.

I finally feel like we are making progress on the polishing. I am guessing we are at about 25% done.

nick6930 06-25-2009 05:51 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Wow, that looks great. You are a perfectionist. I tend to rush.

I went camping/ Courtesy parking at my parents this week for fathers day. My dad did not know that his fathers day present was to help me polish my Argosy. He does not understand the Airstream life concept. But he was a good sport. We actually got the whole lower portion done in 2 days, still need to do the roof. We did one cut with regular rubbing compound because it was cheaper and had a better cutting action with less elbow force. Then we hit it with the F7 and got a nice mirror finsh (in most places). It still need to be hit again. There are a few spots that are still a little dull but I wanted to get all the way around before my drive home today. The pads from Vintage Trailer supply worked GREAT. when they got dirty you could just rinse them out, let dry and continue on. They were very well made. I still need to paint the end caps.

Bowmans 06-26-2009 07:06 PM

More progress today...
2 days?!? Your Argosy looks great! What a father's day present HAHAHA. Did you strip all the paint off the sides or did you get it already that way? My front endcap, at the top sides (where it is compound curved) and the bottom sides (where road debris hits) did not shine up and are still dull as well. I was also happy with the compound pads. I got 5 of them and it is just right for a long days work. My wife has been washing them and the rags in the washing machine at night for me so they are ready the next day. She says I owe her a washing machine when we are done since it has stained it black.

I got the door polished today. A little slower going but it got hot early today so I had to stop. 1 more day off work to get it as far as I can.

Bowmans 06-26-2009 07:48 PM

Nevermind Nick
I just checked out your restoration process pages. I thought I took on a big project and must love torture but you... wow. That was alot of paint removal.

swanky 06-26-2009 08:21 PM

Truly amazing!
It already looks terrific, what an enormous difference! I hope to get to the windows this week, in between trips. I'm putting aside my dreams of mirror shine like yours until we stop spending money on necessities like safety and road-worthiness. I will be at Airstream Factory on Tuesday for newish front seats, maybe a water heater and we'll see what else. Then we're heading to the west coast of Michigan to camp for the Fourth--
keep up the terrific work. You are going to have a showpiece on your hands soon.

Bowmans 07-06-2009 06:04 PM

Moving my progress info to a blog
I guess a blog is a better place to put this so I added a blog entry and will put my progress there. Not sure why if only to document it.

Here it is if anyone is bored and wants to see how our "shiny turd" is turning out :)

SWEET THING 07-06-2009 10:07 PM

Hi I am about to get busy polishing mine! I was wondering how long it has taken you to polish thus far? I have a 31' 1970 International and the oxidation is about like yours. Thanks!

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:43 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.