Cleaning & Polishing
Getting a new trailer home or into the shop is always exciting, but after the initial glow of your new buy wears off.. you quickly realize how much work is there to be done. We dove into this project immediately to get Suzie ready for her first event a mere month away. Our first step is always to properly catalog the exterior and interior details of the unit as they are when we received it. No matter your intentions with the project in the end, we believe this is an important step! Not only can it be handy to catalog the time and money you've put in, it is fun and informative to see how far the transformation has progressed along the way.
Once every inch was visually documented, we began removing old and broken items like the flooring, destroyed seals and damaged hardware. With a short timeline of one month, we gave ourselves a tight but reasonable goal of replacing the floor and polishing the exterior in time for the event. Justin, our resident pro-polisher took on the messy task of making Suzie Q shine.
The Spray Paint Blues
It doesn't take long after diving into any renovation project, trailer or building, to find a maze of issues or obstacles you might have initially overseen. That's one of the reasons we are so adamant about taking on projects that you can handle and preparing yourself mentally and financially for unforeseen challenges that will most likely arise.
Our first setback came in the form of silver spray paint. Let us start out by saying NEVER spray paint anything directly on your Airstream in a random fashion... or near your Airstream without accounting for over-spray... and ask yourself if the things you are painting really need to or should be painted that way. This takes away from the value of the trailer and causes issues down the road for yourself or future owners.
Paint needs to be stripped off from the surface of the aluminum before you can do a proper polishing job. If not, you will either find it impossible to get a mirror-like finish, or you will ruin your equipment in the process trying to work through the paint. Gunked-up wheels and burnt-out motors just add to the overall cost of your project, and create unnecessary frustration that can be easily avoided.
Similar problems can arise when using the wrong type of tape directly on the aluminum, and leaving it for long periods of time.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, with over-spray on the exterior or a painted door you want bare metal instead, you can do like we did and turn to paint-stripping products. These products come in a variety of strengths and methods of application. They offer an effective way to remove buildup without harming the aluminum underneath. Avoiding abrasive alternatives like grinding, soda blasting, or sanding is key if you want to reach a flawless, reflective surface in the end.
We found that the quick-acting spray option was enough to tackle the thin paint randomly scattered along the exterior. But the product that saved the day was a longer-sitting gel option that did it's magic after about 30-60 minutes. This not only ate through 3 0r 4 layers of paint, it removed baked-on duct tape, tree sap, and even old silicone seals around the door. By cleaning the surface so well, even around the doors and edges of things, we were able to polish every inch of the exterior to give the most impressive outcome possible.