Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Polishing the Z Stripe

So moving to the outside for a while, I decided to tackle the stripe first. I had seen some pics of others polishing the stripe and the grime it produced, so I decided that it would be best to do this before painting. I had emailed Jeannie & Jerry from Questa, NM about polishing after I read their post on the Vintage Shasta Group where they discussed polishing their stripe, and they gave me the skinny:

Round One-----3M Super Duty Rubbing Compound #05954

Round Two----Aluminum Rouge

Round Three--Coat of Mothers Wax to keep the shine

I found the 3M compound at my local automotive paint store, The Paint Place, for about $18/quart.

I also picked up a new wool pad for my old beat up buffer for about $12. I might have found it cheaper if I had looked around more, but I was also paying for advice on polishing aluminum, rule numero uno, don’t run the buffer above 12-1500. Any faster and it heats up the metal too much, burning the compound and making more work. Now on to the rouge…here in town I had no luck finding the rouge at the box stores, auto shops or hobby shops. I found it online, but I refused to pay $9 shipping for a $4 bar, so I decided to try Mothers Aluminum Polish first for $8 at AutoZone,

I picked up a bottle of TSP substitute at Lowe’s for about $8 for an initial cleaning. Don’t use regular TSP, it reacts with the aluminum, turning it darker. I didn’t know that either; I read it on the box.

Here is what the aluminum looked like after a quick wash to get off any residue, dirt, bugs, etc.

Then I got to work. It is a messy process; I mean black grime coats your body from head to toe. Wear clothes that you don’t mind ruining. I polished about two feet at a time, smearing polish on with one rag, polishing until black residue appeared and then until it started to disappear, then wiping clean with a second cloth to check shine. I repeated this process two or three times per section until I was satisfied.

I worked my way around the camper, washing each side after I was done to keep the residue from drying to concrete on the paint. At this point I was already amazed; the oxidation was gone and I could see my reflection, although hazy, in the stripe.

It was a couple of hours stooping and lugging my 500 pound buffer and extension cord around. When I finished round one, I went in and had a shower and half a bottle of ibuprofen.

The next evening I started my version of round two. I applied the Mothers Aluminum Polish in the same fashion as the 3M and polished it off with a new wool pad. Never use different compounds on the same pad. Even after washing, grit from a coarser polish can remain and cause scratches and swirls when you are trying to achieve a final polish. As I worked my way around, I was happy with the results. I attained a mirror finish.

I washed the stripe down again once I finished, removing excess polishing residue. Then I repeated the shower and ibuprofen regimen from the previous night. To keep the shine I will give it a coat of Mothers Wax once a year or so.

So, if you are following along, so far we have:

Trailer $900

Bearing Repack $100

Steel $10

Sealant $10

Fan-Tastic Fan $140

Three Sheets 1/8 Birch $50

3M Polish $18

Buffer Pad $12

Mothers Aluminum Polish $8

TSP Cleaner/Paint Prep $8

Bringing our tally to: $1,256.

Until next time dear readers, shasta la vista...

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