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Metal finishing Q&As since 1989

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Polishing an Airstream Trailer?




I would like to know the best materials for polishing an Airstream trailer

Jim B [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Brantford Ontario Canada
2000



Hi, Jim. There is a fairly informative (and very entertaining) thread at letter 11151 "Moonshine aluminum polish", I think it will help.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey



Q. I have a 1963 Airstream trailer and I'm looking to polish it...any suggestions would be helpful!

Thanks,

Michael M
- Chazy, New York
2001


I would like to mirror polish my 1974 aluminum airstream which currently is in very good exterior condition with a clearcoat sealer. Is this something that I can tackle myself, and if so how ?

Thanks.

Kimbal G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Chicago, Illinois
2001


I would think twice before I produced a giant mirror that would be towed down the highway. Last summer I discovered the vanity mirror that was added to my convertible (by someone else) was sending a beam of sunlight forward down the highway. I finally figured it out when I saw the reflection dance down the side of a semi and into the cab. I previously thought it was the chrome on the car. I'm sure that this would have some area on it that would do the same thing. If not most of it.

David Domm
- Rochester, New York
2001



HELLO
I HAVE AN ALUMINUM BODY AIRSTREAM MOTORHOME (1991 MODEL) WHERE THE BLACK PAINT ON THE UPPER PART HAS BEEN SUN BURNED AND NEEDS REMOVING.
CAN YOU PLEASE TELL ME WHAT PAINT STRIPPER I CAN USE THAT WILL NOT DAMAGE THE ALUMINUM SKIN?
THANK YOU,

ARAKEN V
- CURITIBA, PARANA, BRAZIL
2007



Hello, Araken. That product is called Aircraft Stripper. It will not damage aluminum but it can damage people; be sure to wear rubber gloves [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)] and goggles [on eBay or Amazon (adv.)], and use with very good ventilation.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey



I have a 1968 Silver Streak Trailer made with anodized Aluminum. The finish looks streaky and dull and will not clean up. I would like to polish the aluminum if I can remove the anodizing. I have read here that sodium hydroxide will either eat or etch the underlying aluminum and I have no way to heat and apply a heated chromic/phosphoric acid mixture - that and I'm too scared.
Any alternatives? How about very fine diamond abrasives?
Thank you,
Steve

Steve S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Consumer - Sisters, Oregon, USA
2007



I'd like to follow up on my last post. In an attempt to brighten the anodizing on my Silver Streak I applied a aluminum brightener (as suggested in a message board dedicated to trailers) consisting of Ammonium Bifluoride, Sulfuric Acid and Quaternary Ammonium Chloride. Rather than brighten, this appeared to etch the surface.
I continued to apply in a small area, until the anodizing was gone. I was then able to polish that area. My goal is to strip and polish the entire trailer.
I bought this product at a pressure wash supply company, and seems like a good alternative for removing the anodized coating.
Is there a downside to using this?
Thanks.

Steve S
- Sisters, Oregon USA
2007



Hi, Steve. As long as it works, I see no downside for the Silver Streak. This stuff is used in commercial truck washes. However, note the ammonium biFLUORIDE. Strong fluoride chemistries are not at all good for people. It is related to hydrofluoric acid, which is one of the most dangerous materials; this is weaker and in a different form, but you should read up on ammonium bifluoride from a personnel protection standpoint before deciding to use it. Good luck.

Sorry, I don't know about the fine diamond abrasive. The anodizing is so much harder than the bare aluminum that it may be impractical.

Regards,

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 30, 2008



I have a 1979 32 foot Century Supreme Travel Trailer, The outside is 100% anodized Aluminum.
How and what do I use to clean and polish the Trailer?

Thank you

James Kern
- Lewiston, Michigan
July 11, 2008



I have a 1985 Avion RV (like a Airstream)with anodized aluminum skin. The trailer has been in Ocean City MD since new and has oxidized/corrosion. I've used several cleaners, including Nuvite polish with a wool polisher to attempt to clean the surface to look better. The bottom cleans nicely, but begins turning back to foggy white within days. The top half is much worse. I have a few questions...
1. Do you have suggestions on how to clean / polish aluminum in this condition?
2. Will clear coating maintain a better appearance
3. Is painting an option, if so I'd like input on preparation and recommended products to use.

Craig Flemmens
RV owner - Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
June 28, 2009


Q. I recently purchased a 13' travel trailer with a very thin aluminum sheet for the roof. I have a continual problem with oxidation that washes down on the trailer sides and requires frequent washing. The area is too small to spray and there are several penetrations to work around. I am just beginning the search process of what I can do to seal the aluminum to prevent this continual problem. Any suggestions?
Thanks,
Jay

Jay Jenkins
- Mason, Michigan, USA
June 24, 2012




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