Saturday, June 20, 2009

Finally, the polishing has ended (for now)

So, that was not much fun. If I had all the time in the world, or if it was still winter, I'd have no problem polishing at a leisurly pace. But it's getting warm outside and we want to get this trailer on the road. Polishing is a dirty job and I would have prefered to have someone else polish because of time, but the budget didn't allow that. I can say now that the trailer is bright and shiny enough, even if there is more work to do later.

She went from elephant skin (galvanized metal I called it) to shiny in something like six long weeks. A few things I've learned along the way:

Not all Airstreams are the same. The corrosion on our trailer is different from our last trailer and it's corrosion is different from Norm and Mary's '59 Overlander. I had always been a little resentful of Nuvite for not providing detailed instructions for how to polish. And the polishing instructions I've read from the various websites (,, and all disagree on technique, etc. Now I can appreciate, with more trailer polishing under my belt, that every trailer is different and you can't apply a cookie cutter approach to this craft.

On the 18 footer (still looking for her, BTW) F7 was all that was needed to remove the heavy corosion. After that cut, I moved to C and stopped with great results. On this trailer, we started more coarse, F9, with miserable results. My Dad and I removed corosion at a snails pace, not knowing why. After a using a pound of that (and working less than half the trailer) I tried G6. What a difference! It melted the corrosion off in about 1/2 the time as the more coarse F9. Who knew? I wish I had tried a small patch much earlier.

Using F7 and G6 on Norm & Mary's Overlander yields different results than I've seen before. Wierd. Their trailer had a clearcoat, so the skin reacts differently to the Nuvite than with our trailer that never had a clearcoat.

All I can say now is I'm glad that I've removed most of the corrosion and we're left with a completely beautiful skin. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Perfect does not exist as far as I'm concerned and I'm definitely not in search of it on fifty year old aluminum.

After finishing the first cut of polish (F9 on part and G6 on the rest) I washed the skin using paint thinner,
a plastic brissle brush (Harbor Freight Tools -- ~$2) and microfiber towels (Home Depot -- 6 for $8). Then I got to start all over again with the less coarse C. The C takes out the deep scratches that the F9 and G6 leave behind and leaves less deep scratches.

After the C was completed, the trailer was washed again using more paint thinner and microfiber cloths only this time. Happily, this is where the trailer will stay for this year. I should borrow a Cyclo polisher from a friend up north and finsh the polish with grade S, but I'm thoroughly sick of polishing now and we have just over a month till we want to use this trailer. Polishing, happily, can wait till we have less of a deadline. We are really happy with the appearance of the trailer now. I will like it more when I have the time to use a Cyclo polisher to take the circular scratches out. It, and the grade S polish, apparently brighten the shine and make it deeper and more mirror like. I have not gotten there yet and look forward to the day when I can make that happen.


  1. boy, oh boy Do I know where you are coming from... I went to your stag and just have not been able kick it back into gear again.

  2. Looks good, someday I too will be at this stage and hating every minute of it! :)

  3. Let me know when you're no longer sick of polishing and I'll send it down, Ryan. :D

    Looks really good though, and I cannot imagine (yet) all the work it took to get it there.