If you have one Airstream Used caravan buy, it will usually not be polished to a shine. Whether for events, road shows, as a food truck or caravan - you will attract attention with a mirror-polished trailer.
The reason for weathering is that aluminum does not rust, but rather oxidizes when it comes into contact with oxygen. In contrast to rust, this oxide layer can act as a protective layer and can usually be removed again with a corresponding amount of work.
Which used Airstream caravans can be polished?
Basically every trailer can be polished. However, from 1982 onwards, Airstream no longer used such high-quality aluminum for the cover. As a result, it can no longer achieve the level of reflection of the vintage trailers from the 1960s and 70s.
Furthermore, from 1964 onwards, all caravans were covered with so-called "Plasticoat" in order to slow down the oxidation, which begins immediately after polishing. This must be chemically removed before polishing.
What amount of work do I have to expect?
The polishing is very labor intensive. Depending on the degree of oxidation and the size of the caravan, an absolute minimum of 80 hours can be estimated. However, the workload can easily double.
The high-gloss finish is then retained for 2-3 years. In addition, the subsequent polishing is much less complex. Expect between 20 and 40 hours here.
In addition, the higher the quality of the polish, the smoother the surface and the longer the oxidation can be prevented.
How do I polish my used Airstream caravan?
When polishing a used trailer, there are many ways that lead to the goal. However, there are considerable differences in the time required and the quality of the result. The amount of work involved in polishing a medium-length Airstream is around 120 hours.
In our experience, the procedure described below produces the best results in the least amount of time.
Any parts that could be damaged during polishing should be removed or taped off. These include, for example, the number holder, seals and the plastic covers for the lights. Glass is usually not damaged during polishing.
Then the Airstream should be washed carefully. Warm water and dishwashing detergent work well for this. If stubborn stains remain, you can try to remove them with nitro thinner.
If your trailer looks like it's sunburned on the roof and it's darkly discolored while the rest of it looks good, the “plasticoat”, the protective coating, will probably still be on it. This must be removed with paint remover (paint stripper) before polishing.
A good test of whether the coating is still on the aluminum is to hand polish a small area. If the polishing cloth does not turn black here, the plasticoat will still be on it.
After removal, the caravan must be washed again.
2. The polish
If your used vehicle has not been polished for a few years, you should start with Nuvite Grade F7 and a 180 mm rotary sander. Buy some wool pads as well, you will need them.
Good guidance from Nuvite:
Then apply the polishing paste in small amounts with your finger, e.g. a fingertip every 10 cm. Do not let these dry out. Before you start the polishing machine, spread the polishing paste with the wool pad. Always hold the polisher at a certain angle to the surface, never flat.
More info: http://vintageairstream.com/polishing/
The rotation speed should be between 1200 and 1500 revolutions per minute. Always keep moving so that the shell does not get too hot. The surface turns black. Continue the process until the black residue has completely disappeared. Then clean the surface with a cotton cloth and repeat the process if necessary until the surface shines nicely.
Always work on a small area, a maximum of half a square meter. If the wool pad is stuck, you can swap it and wash it out later under running water.
The trailer should now have a shiny surface.
Your used Airstream caravan has been polished in the last few years? Then start right here:
With the Cyclo Dual Head you can now bring your vehicle to a high gloss. The best way to do this is to use cotton cloths, which must always be clean, and apply Nuvite Grade C first and then Nuvite Grade S in the following order. No more scratches or other flaws are removed from the surface. The surface reflects much more strongly. One speaks of mirrorshine finish.
Finally, you should polish the whole trailer again with a clean cotton cloth on the cyclo. The last dark oxide residues are removed and the Airstream should now shine like never before.