AIRSTREAM POLISHING TUTORIAL

Before you even start

WHAT TO BUY

List of what to buy is coming soon…

Getting ready is primordial

PREPARATION

Before you even start to polish your exterior, set your mind at the right pace. It takes about one day to do a 4 to 6 feet linear, top to bottom. Just do the math, it is a lengthy process but it worth all the effort!

Be sure to have all your material handy, on a cart so you don’t loose precious time looking for your stuff. Use a scafolding, or rent one if you dont have one. It will save you time and will be much safer.

Please, start by wearing proper clothing, proper safety gear and protection gear. That is the minimum, be conscious that aluminium particles isnt good for your lung! You will get filthy dirty, all black, every inch of skin not protect black, so wear work clothes, cloth over your head and in your neck to preserve your skin, specially for the first step.

 

The fun starts now

CLEAR COAT OFF

Clear off the exterior coating with this extrem powerfull product. Some part with more oxydation wont have any more coating but be sure to take it ALL away. You will see, it look like few white spot, like varnish leftover. Do apply a second or third time if needed. I tried to polish any over few missed spots, thinking the coarse grinder will take it away. Nope! You have to complete this step perfectly before going forward. It kinda stinks when you are polishing and you have to go back to this step…

Be sure to put tape (painting tape) on all the plastic you want to keep. This step will otherwise wreck it. Put decapent (like applying paint) with a brush on the aluminium, wait 5 to 10 minutes, then scrape it off with a PLASTIC scraper gently. You dont want to scratch your Airstream here. Rince well with lots of water and a clean rag. It should look something like this.

 

Where magic happens

POLISHING STEP - COARSE STAGE

MAKITA & NUSHINE F9

I know their is a few product available. I cannot speak for the other brand. However, I love NuShine! It works beautifully. Depending of the oxydation of your Airstream, you might skip this step and go directly to medium stage – NuShine C. But for this Airstream, F9 was necessary. Look at the before picture to compare with yours.

Work with an area of about 4 x 4. Start at the top of the Airstream with a solid baker. Finish all this section before moving to another place. Work the area of 4 x 4 in the middle part of the Airstream. Finish it all. And then, work the bottom area, same 4 x 4 ish and you should be done with a whole 4 feet wide! It is much easier to work that way. 

Apply a small amount of the NuShine 9 on the Airstream directly and start polishing in a linear way. You have to apply just the right pressure but dont worry, you have plenty of time to practice! Start with a less visible spot to get your way near the front door when you are a master!

I use a Makita full speed with these pads. You will go trough 2 or 3 of them per stage for the whole Airstream, based on a 31 feet long. 

You can see a spot of clear coating on the picture I missed and hoped to take away with the grinder. Doesn’t work! I had to apply decapant again.

Don't skip this step

CLEAN THE SURFACE

Be sure to clean the aluminium very well with paint thinner and rags. It will be all black. Clean 2 or 3 times. You might go over one rag per cleaning. Make sure you have good, clean rags 100% cotton. 

Where magic happens

POLISHING STEPS - MEDIUM STAGE

MAKITA & NUSHINE C

Apply a small amount of the NuShine C on the Airstream directly and start polishing in a linear way. Again, you have to apply just the right pressure.

Be sure to use a different pad for each grade so you don’t mix the different paste. Some use two differents Makita so they don’t have to switch and work faster. I had just one and I switched the pad everytime. It kept my motivated when I was finished with one pad!

Don't skip this step

CLEAN THE SURFACE

Be sure to clean the aluminium very well with paint thinner and rags. It will be all black. Clean 2 or 3 times. You might go over one rag per cleaning. Make sure you have good, clean rags 100% cotton. 

Where magic happens

POLISHING STEPS - FINAL STAGE

CYCLO & NUSHINE S

Here I use a Cyclo. I know some people use different ones but this one works perfectly for me. I put a clean rag over the pads and attach it with a metal clamp. Apply a small amount of the NuShine S on the Airstream directly and start polishing. It goes in circle so you don’t see lines at the end. Be very precise here because it is the finishing touch! 

You will want to change the position of the rag because it becomes all black. Move your rag 3 to 4 times until you are completly satisfied with the final result! DON’T CLEAN THE SURFACE AFTER THIS STEP!

You can then step back and admire your work! 

Because it is a messy job and polishing the rest of the Airstream, there is black bits and parts that goes over the «finished» area, I did a second final polish when I was completly done. It took about one day for the whole 31ft Airstream. 

NOTE: For that 4 x 4 ish area that you just finished, from the beginning of the process to the final polish, it should take you about 2 to 3 hours.

 

Everything is in the details

FINAL STEP

I didn’t know what to do with the bottom part. I didn’t really want to polish under the Airstream. I ended up painting with a aluminium primer and then painting black mat. I really like the look of it.

The blue insertion was the final touch, and painting the flag and the letters back to the original color with a metal painting. Car garages will be able to match the color for you.

The result is outstanding!

NOTE: I will polish some more and as I will improve my speed, I will upgrade my tutorial! Stay posted!

 

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