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.