One of the things that draws people to vintage camp trailers, like Airstream, Spartan, and Boles Aero is the polished aluminum skin. Over time, however, even aluminum will begin to oxidize. We get lots of requests for exterior polishing, and we’ve polished hundreds of trailers and small items over the years. One of our employees even had his name legally changed to ShinyMetalsChad.

We offer two basic polish services, which can be modified to suit individual customers’ needs. We also offer polishing services for small items, such as aluminum wheels and propane tanks. Contact us today for an estimate.

Prep Stage:

Before we start to polish your trailer, we set up our polishing tent to prevent contamination. Once the tent is set up, we can begin removing the trailer’s protective clearcoat. In most cases, removal of the protective clearcoat is achieved with chemicals. We use tape and paper to protect vulnerable components such as wheels and tires, trim, and windows. The team then uses chemical stripper and paint scrapers to carefully remove the protective clearcoat to get to the bare aluminum.

We prefer to use chemicals because sand removes material from an already extremely thin skin of aluminum. Unfortunately, some coatings, such as PPG, can only be removed by sanding. PPG is most commonly found on Airstream trailers made after 2000. The sanding process adds 20-40 hours to the project, depending on the trailer and the coating.

Clearcoat Strip Materials

  • Protective tape & paper
  • Aircraft-grade paint stripper
  • Paint scraper
  • Abrasives (If necessary)
Airstream Polish

Stage 1 Polish:

Once the strip stage is complete, we begin to polish. We use two types of rough-cut polish, depending on the finish and the desired result. The first process uses multi-stage polishing compounds with mild abrasives to soften and reduce mild scratches and remove oxidation. This process doesn’t remove blemishes as effectively as a polishing wheel, but it leaves fewer tooling marks and a brighter, more even shine.

The other process we use in our stage one polish involves Zephyr Buffing Wheels. These remove more material than polishing compounds because they are more abrasive. While buffing wheels leave more tooling marks, they are more effective in removing scratches and surface blemishes. It’s important to note that the aluminum skin is extremely thin, so a limited amount of material can be removed. No polishing process will remove dents or deep gouges.

After each step, the skin is wiped down with mineral spirits and a microfiber cloth to remove any leftover residue.

Stage 1 Polish Materials

A stage 1 polish involves one process or another, depending on the trailer and the needs of the client. These processes yield a beautiful shine that is perfectly acceptable for most clients’ needs and will hold up for years. For the client who really wants their trailer to stand out, however, the Stage 3 or “show shine” polish is the only option. This process begins with a strip and a stage 1 polish, then becomes more involved.

Airstream Restoration utahAirstream Polish

Stage 2 Polish:

Stage 2 involves two stages of polishing rouges – the same bricks of polishing clay used by jewelers to eliminate the crazing and tooling marks that most polishes leave. We also use a Cyclo-polisher — that’s a double-headed orbital polishing tool — and a flannel diaper to get that beautiful almost-mirror finish.

Pictures of super-duper-shiny trailer

Stage Polish Materials

Small Scale Polish:

The same polishes apply to smaller items, such as propane tanks and aluminum wheels. We even brought a customer’s copper fireplace mantle to a beautiful mirror shine. The sky really is the limit.

Do you have a finished metal item that you’d like to give a brilliant shine? Contact Reparadise today to learn more and get an estimate.