We recently purchased a 1950 Star and are debating between leaving it oxidized or biting the bullet and doing the polish! Does anyone know an in between option? Something to wash it with that might brighten it but not require the all intensive labor of polishing? We are open for suggestions. We found a product called 'Luther's' in NC but the trailer is in CA and we can't ship it or fly with this product. We would need to find somthing in CA.
VK and others in the know... what do you recommend to Judi??
Hi look at streakmasters and give them a call they were very helpful to me.
Good luck & fun
If you are wanting to clean the aluminum, Mag wheel cleaner works well. You spray it on and can rub as well. Rinse quickly as it will streak if it dries.
Vintage Trailer Supply sells the polishers and rubbing compounds; you might go to the site and check out what they have.
You can also use Mother's aluminum polish and steel wool (lots of elbow grease!) for a less shiny result.
Personally, I like the old grey look with a very nice interior. They look really old but open the door and Voila!
Hope this helps. VK
We tried every polish we could get our hands on. In desperation I started reseaching all the blogs and ran across the great reviews on Gords Aluminum Polish. I ordered some and now I swear by Gords. I just googled Gords to find the phone number for you and noticed you can now buy it off Amazon. I ordered the whole kit since this was my first time. Their number is 361 643 3998
(editor added: Trailer Polishing Video-airstream : http://www.gordsaluminumpolish.com/airstreams.html
Thank you (actually ALL of you)for the helpful feedback. It is a little intimidating the first time around. Our last vintage trailer we painted, so it was a slam dunk.....after we chose the colors of course! I may try a small out of the way area first to see just what I am getting myself into!
I restored the shine to my 1952 22 foot Airstream with Met-All polishhttp://www.skygeek.com/metalpolish.html?gclid=CLSZsPrHxbMCFQKRPAodG... that i purchased at Tvetens RV in Fife WA. With the two coffee sized can of polish and 25 pounds of flour and a week of effort my trailer shone like new. And yes i said flour, when you rub the polishing cream on to the aluminum it turns into a black paste so you apply a generous amount of flour to the goo let it soak in and easily wipe it off to reveal a sweet shine. This works on all polishes you should see my wifes jewelery! I actually took my trailer through a truck wash in Lakewood Wa. first they spray on a mild acid which revitalizes the aluminum by cleaning the tarnish off of it then they spray it down with a neutralizing soap and then rinse it with water. This cost me around $100 but the aluminum still had a scratchy look to it (see photos). That is why i chose to polish it and in the photos you can see the scratchy appearance except for the door which i had just finished polishing with the Met-all polish. I wish i could find the photos of the unit completely finished you can see the difference easily. I have restored the shine to several mag wheels and a 12 foot 1964 Larson Aluminum boat with this method and have used various aluminum polishes from my local auto parts stores but it is the flour that easily removes the gooey black paste that is created. Everytime i took my trailer out i was asked by several people how i got my trailer to shine like new, at first it was quite satisfying to tell my story but after awhile it can get annoying. Good luck with your project
Great feedback, thank you so much! Now I am intrigued.... How did you apply the polish? Did you hand wax on/off or a electric polisher? Did you use steel wool or scotch brite pad? How long do you think this shine will last you? Is it something you will have to redo annually or longer?
I love the polished look but don't want to become a slave to polishing my camper. I want to spend time traveling! If it is something that might last a few years then of course it is worth it.
Steel wool or scotch-brite would probably give it a scratchy look. I used terry wash clothes (lightly dampened with water) to apply the Met-All paste and concentrated on hand rubbing one panel at a time. I then sprinkled flour on a terry hand towel and patted it onto the black goo my rubbing created and let it absorb for a couple of minutes then i used the same towel to wipe it all off and another clean rag (one of my old cotton T-shirts) to buff it to a shine. This took me two weekends and the weeknights in between after work to accomplish this complete restoration. I washed all the towels/rags every night and reused them through the whole process. When i reconditioned the rear bumper, tounge and propane tanks i used a 4 inch L-grinder with a wire wheel head on it to remove loose paint and feather the edges of the chipped paint, i then primered them with a dark grey automotive primer in a spray can and then painted them with a rustoleum Platinum Silver paint which matched perfectly to the 1984 Nissan truck rims with chrome beauty rings and center caps that i replaced the rusted out original wheels with. The six lug bolt pattern was exactly the same and they looked really sharp on the trailer. I saw the trailer 5 years later and except for some dirt streaks on the front which appeared to be washable it looked really great. In 1966 Airstram started painting a clear-coat paint over the entire surface of there trailers that is why they hold there shine. Once you polish your trailer you might inquire at a body shop what it would cost to do this. Then you just have to polish it with car wax now and again and the shine will last forever. I have sprayed clear paint on some of my aluminum truck rims that i have polished (purchased at Home Depot) and it locks in the shine and resists road grime and brake dust. I recently purchased a Chevy Dually pickup with tarnished aluminum wheels and i am planning to take before, during and after photos along with a description of my restoration methods and post them here on Good Ole Rv's so people can see just what it takes to restore alumninum the good ole fashioned way.....hand rubbed! I will also track my time and costs, i also love to buff out cars, trucks and boats and i will be looking into a smaller buffing head so i can try that out on the flatter surfaces of my rims. I don't think a buffing head would last very long buffing out an entire aluminum trailer since the buffing residue builds up so fast and would clog the foam buffing head and they cost over $10 each.
Great info Lee, thank you! How close are you to San Diego and are you looking for a job???? LOL, I think I may have to hire this one out, but you never know. Dedicating a few weeks to the project might just get me and the old trailer into shape!!! Hand buffing has to be more fun than lifting weights! I also have some carpentry work that needs to be done. If anyone on Good Old RV has information on someone in the SO CA area that works on Vintage Cans, or is just a good woodworker, I would love their information. Birchwood Beauties is an option but too far away and booked way, way out! The information you have passed on (all of you) has been very helpful. Thanks so much.
This is a crazy question, but somebody painted over the metal and the tag, even the company sales sticker, just can not imagine how to remove. Looks ok, rivets everywhere.
Hi there, Love your article! I have been trying out your recipe with mixed results: I get a very muted shine for my efforts. Maybe I am using too little Met-all? This is a very old trailer - 1939 homebuilt from Alaska. The folks I got it from said that it would buff up like an airstream. Any thoughts to help me out? Thanks!!