Thursday, October 24, 2013

Blogging on Vtbirder

I moved the airstream/travel to so if you have not signed up for updates, you might check out the new blog posts. I plan to cover our upcoming SW trip there, so why not sign up to tag along?


Friday, August 30, 2013

Moving blog to Vermont Birder

After several years of maintaining multiple blogs, I am consolidating all of them into  All the posts here are already integrated into that site.

Please sign up by RSS feed or via email to have future articles sent to you.  Hope to see you over there as I blog about our Airstream travails and travels.  Dick

Saturday, August 17, 2013

One-legged Polishing

My knee, injured on August 2nd, is bothersome but as I await surgery next week, I can do some polishing.  I pretty much have finished the top half of the Airstream and now can work, sitting in a chair, on the lower panels.  I take it 45 minutes at a time and rest a lot -- but it's good to see some continued progress.

I know I'll be disabled again after next Tuesday's arthroscopic procedure and lose a few weeks while I recover so I've been pecking away, keeping the weight and pressure off my bad leg.

It's still very slow going.  There is a lot of residual flecks of clearcoat that have to be removed, slowing the process a lot.  Some are really stubborn -- but I've learned to use solvent, even fine steel wool.  What I'm finding is that the lower sections are pretty dinged up -- lots of road rash -- but they polish up pretty well.  I have taken off the one protective panel on the front since the other is long gone on the roads outside Houston, and replacements are very pricey.

The squiggles are reflections in the morning sun -- it looks ok with just the first pass of polishing. 
I'll work on it a few hours more before surgery and then see how things go.  I can always head out this winter with work to do and polish the rest down south.  There are times where I question why I ever started this but all in all, it was a good move.  The injury has put a crimp in the schedule but the worst is over.

I have started to do some preliminary planning for our trip this year -- reviewing places we like and places we'll never visit again.  Now we have to get both of us tuned up and ready to travel.  We are keeping our doctors' cash flow flowing -- they'll likely all take great winter vacations.  Safe traveling.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Polishing Project Comes to a Crash Landing

I can look out my bedroom window and see the brightly polished side of the Airstream and exactly where I stopped work on Thursday.  I decided to take a break Friday and go birding and so I did.  I injured myself on the trail and am incapacitated for a while -- so the Airstream renovation is on hold.

You can read about it on my birding blog here:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Slow Going

Between the weather, which has continued hot and humid with afternoon showers, and the persistent flecks and patches of clearcoat (which have to be removed with dabs of Strypeeze), the polishing is quite a project. As you can see, the top areas I have completed look pretty good. They will next get a pass with a finer polish which should remove most of the swirls and cloudy areas. Of course, I realized the other day that the two replaced panels in back did not have clearcoat, and seem to be a slightly different aluminum. They will polish up but not as shiny but who really cares?

You can see the contrast between the polished and unpolished areas here on the panel just above the buffer.

One thing this project has stimulated is my planning for this winter's trip. I'm reviewing the dozens of campground where we have stayed and lidting the good ones, with sites we like, and also have a "never again list by states.

We've had a cold front come through so polishing should be a bit more bearable. It's fun to chalk off one more section, but there's always more ahead. Fortunately, we are in no big hurry.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Let The Polishing Fun Begin

After over 30 hours of prep (But who's counting? I am.) I'm starting in on the polishing. I'm starting with F7 Nuvite, a rather coarse polish from Vintage Trailer Supply here in Montpelier. I'll run a finer polish later if and when I finish this set of sessions, which will likely be 20-25 hours. The weather, hot and muggy, is not conducive to long periods of work. So I sit down inside with iced coffee and write about it.
Here's how the front looked at the start - lots of oxidation from the peeled clearcoat.
Polishing involves smearing very small strips of polish on an area and using a slow-speed polisher to allow the particles in the F7 to strip off a minute layer of aluminum. You let the electric polisher do the work but it still takes a lot of energy to control it.
Building arm strength controlling polisher. It looks cooler out than it was - 80 degrees with high humidity.

It is a messy process - lots of small black bits of polish and I always wear a mask - even though it is tough in the heat. I decided to keep the initial session on the top front panel and will perhaps tackle another section this evening. If you are inclined to polish an Airstrteam or an airplane, Steve from VTS has a nice primer you can download here.

The polished area looks very bright, with swirl marks from the coarse polish. So far, so good.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Stripping Between Showers

We are, like most of the East, in a humid spell where days finish with showers and thunderstorms -- and the air is heavy and Maryland-like. It's not great painting weather but OK for stripping clearcoat -- as long as I get five or six hours between application and rain.

I am using a new safer stripper that I bought from Vintage Trailer Supply. Here's part of whart they say about it:

For many years, vintage Airstream owners have relied on RemovAll 220 peroxid-activated paint stripper to remove the plasticoat from their trailers before polishing. RemovAll is no longer available in North America. Fortunately, PPG Aerospace makes a paint stripper based on the same principles as RemovAll. It is called Eldorado PR-5044.

PR-5044 is a peroxide-activated paint and primer remover. It works well because it is designed for removal of polyurethane and epoxy paint systems in the aerospace industry. PR-5044 is environmentally preferred and worker-friendly. It does contain petroleum distillates, so it does produce fumes. You will need to read all safety information before using. However, it is not a hazardous material and is much easier to use and safer than traditional aircraft strippers.

So, it looks like vanilla pudding and paints on rather easily. Here is the first panel I tried it on:

That worked out pretty well so the next day, I applied it on the upper section.

After a thundershower rinsed it, I spent some time with water and rags removing the coating which tended to come off like Saran wrap. At times, whole sections several square feet in size just peeled off -- other areas were more stubborn. Some will require more stripper.

The removed coating looks like cellophane and will be easy to clean up later on.

So, the upper right side is 95% done and after a break for the 4th, I'll start on the lower. It's slow going but I just realized, after talking with my brother, that the two new panels we had replaced are coating free. I figure I have about 14 hours in and another 20 to go - before beginning to polish.

The upper right side is about done - now to start on the decals and lower section.