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.
I can't say this is any better than any of the ones already mentioned but I found years and years ago that Never Dull does an exceptional job of cleaning almost any metal and retaining a bright and shinny finish. It was used when I was in the Air Force to polish the fighter and bomber aircraft; we always said that also reduced drag on the aircraft increasing their air speed - but I have my doubts.
Never Dull comes in what looks like a huge wad of cotton treated with what ever kind of magic does the job. The cotton padding is easy to separate into small useable pads of what ever size you desire. It is available at most hardware stores and in various size containers. I keep a small can for doing our 57 Chevy parts, our motor home and vehicles. It can be used on almost any type
metal and for cleaning hard to clean windows/glass.
I ran across this Never Dull product at the Puyallup Fair years ago. A vendor was demonstrating it on several different kinds of metals and it worked amazingly well. We bought a small can of wadding just for my wife's jewelry but I never tried it on aluminum. I would have had to buy a much larger amount to do my Airstream years later. I loved the results I got from Met-All but it was a lot of labor. The truckers aluminum acid I am familiar with took more than just water to neutralize after application, we had to use a specific soap with the neutralizer in it but that may have been just the product we used to wash trucks with. There may be other truckers acid that does not require a neutralizer other than water. The set up my friend had for his commercial truck cleaning business consisted of two 3500 psi pressure washers mounted in the rear of a large cube van. The 100 foot hoses were in retracting hose reels and he had a 3 way switch mounted near the wand trigger for water, acid or soap. We started by blasting down the entire truck and trailer with water to remove heavy dirt and chicken poop, then we blasted the acid on to all the aluminum surfaces around the vehicle then we blasted the entire vehicle with soap and then rinsed the entire vehicle with water and moved on to the next rig. I accompanied him on a few trips to Foster Farms to wash there fleet of trucks on numerous occasions, he charged $90 for cab and box trailer and $65 for cab and flatbed trailer. He should have charged more for the flatbeds since they were covered in chicken poop!!! I must say that the Alcoa wheels, fuel tanks and diamond plating did shine like new when we were done. Foster had a couple of very old Great Dane refrigerated trailers they used solely for stationary refrigerators that were on blocks that had heavily tarnished aluminum corners, 12" wide base strip under the side panels and aluminum doors. The owner asked if we could clean them up since they sat out near the publics view at the entrance to the truck lot and I was totally amazed at how they turned out when we washed them, the aluminum was brilliant again. We purchased 55 gallon drums of soap and acid for this system so I do not know the product name but I do know that my friend eventually had to shut his portable business down due to the EPA cracking down on groundwater contaminates. The Foster truck parking lot had storm drains that our products ran into so I do see their point. If any of you do use the acid cleaner please be responsible and don't allow it to enter our fish and wildlife streams and rivers! The drive through truck washes have an extensive recovery system in place just for this reason. The Alcoa wheels and most others are already smooth polished surfaces unlike the trailer panels so they shine up easily with acid but to get the mirror finish on my 52 Airstream required more than just the acid wash I initially gave it. Hand rubbing removed all the light surface scratches the trailer had from numerous hand washing and life on the road. There are a lot of power buffing options available now that were not around when I polished my Airstream but if I were to do it again I would definitely go that route. It took me two weekends and an entire week of evenings after work to get a mirror like finish one panel at a time out of my 52 but it was worth the results. My neighbors brought out lawn chairs and cheered me on during this entire process. The acid wash looks good going down the road but the blemishes are still there up close when your RV'ing neighbors come over to admire your classic at that evenings stopover, getting out of a gas station can be tough when you have so many admirers approach you. That is why I chose to go a step further and hand polish my rig, the entire interior was in exceptionally great condition especially the Birch so I had to match the exterior to the interior. Good luck with whatever method or product you choose and I commend you for taking the time to restore your vehicle! You can actually see which test panels (and Door) that I had hand polished in the photos after the acid wash. The entire trailer looked like them when I was done, unfortunately I cannot find those photos. The access door on the rear of the trailer was not latched down during one of my trips and a young police officer pulled me over because it was blinding him when it flipped upwards. He was very polite and astounded at the condition of my trailer and toured it from top to bottom inside and out. We chatted for about an hour before he took off after a speeder. I wonder if he ever polished his old aluminum Larson boat he inherited from his grandfather with all the information I gave him!?!?
maybe asj member Jana, she's in So Cal and very knowledgeable. also, google our friends of click on their link for Sierra Trailer Restoration. Bet if you called them they might have some answers. My 2 cents is that she looks pretty as she is.
Anyone ever use 'Star Brite Ultimate Aluminum Cleaner/Restorer 87764' to clean and restore the aluminum around the windows in older canned ham campers? Looking for something to clean off 40 plus years of tarnish and general dirtiness, LOL