Compounding & Polishing My Teardrop

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Compounding & Polishing My Teardrop

Postby halfdome, Danny » Thu Sep 13, 2007 3:12 pm

I'm in the process of compounding and polishing the aluminium skins on my TD and they suggested cleaning off the polish residue with mineral spirits or lacquer thinner or corn starch. After doing a search on corn starch to find out a formula for cleaning I found these videos. I'll be trying out a solution of 4 to 1 today for cleaning off polish residue. :D Danny
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esmjz3k6S4g&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2XQ97XHjVw&mode=related&search=
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDzampa3xrc&mode=related&search=
Last edited by halfdome, Danny on Thu Sep 13, 2007 8:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby tonyj » Thu Sep 13, 2007 3:39 pm

Danny, interesting videos.

I started the same process on my trailer last weekend. Used Glass-Plus and a microfiber towel. Took the residue right off. If I read correctly, it doesn't strip off any of the polish like mineral spirits.

Personally, the cornstarch solution looks too spooky for me to use.
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Postby halfdome, Danny » Thu Sep 13, 2007 5:17 pm

tonyj wrote:Danny, interesting videos.

I started the same process on my trailer last weekend. Used Glass-Plus and a microfiber towel. Took the residue right off. If I read correctly, it doesn't strip off any of the polish like mineral spirits.

Personally, the cornstarch solution looks too spooky for me to use.

Toni, I tried the corn starch and all it did was pick up residue and spread it around :thumbdown: . What I've found works best for me is stainless steel magic but 1/2 water & 1/2 mineral oil in an old spray bottle works just as well and cheaper. I finish it all off with (ammonia free) Sprayway Glass Cleaner "Worlds Best Glass Cleaner" (according to US Pat.) and micro fiber towels. Works great on my chromed fenders too. :thumbsup: I wish that UPS truck would get here with my Cyclo polisher, been waiting all day :( . Danny
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Postby tonyj » Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:33 pm

Got mine last week. You'll like the Cyclo, but like Eric said, you need or will develop arms line Arnold. It isn't really that heavy; it's the 2000 repetitions that add up. You'll be buff and your trailer will be buffed.

I am using Nuvite C7 and S. Did a test piece before I touched the trailer and really did get it to almost a mirror level. I don't plan to do that with the trailer. I just want to get it shiny. Have only done the hatch. Took about four hours with lots of breaks.
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Postby halfdome, Danny » Thu Sep 13, 2007 8:49 pm

tonyj wrote:Got mine last week. You'll like the Cyclo, but like Eric said, you need or will develop arms line Arnold. It isn't really that heavy; it's the 2000 repetitions that add up. You'll be buff and your trailer will be buffed.

I am using Nuvite C7 and S. Did a test piece before I touched the trailer and really did get it to almost a mirror level. I don't plan to do that with the trailer. I just want to get it shiny. Have only done the hatch. Took about four hours with lots of breaks.

The Cyclo came and I'm still trying to figure out the best technique to use. I went with Blackfire compound and polish, Nuvite is terribly expensive in comparison. I've even have had some success with Never Dull wads that are sold in a can everywhere. I've read and re-read all those Airstream polishing websites and think I'm ready for the Cyclo but it doesn't do any thing spectacular to the clarity of the shine. Tomorrow is another day and I can attack it again. Danny

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This was taken a week ago after I took my DA sander to all the scratches.
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This is the results of a week of compounding just this side, ugh lots of work, and more to come.
I've renamed this topic since it has changed during discussion :D Danny
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Postby tonyj » Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:42 pm

Danny, I think I am about to hijack your thread, but only because we are using a similar process. Here are pics of my effort so far (EDIT by me--I had previously written I had used Nuvite C7 when I had in fact used F7. I have changed all references to read F7--sorry):

First compounding stage using compound polisher and Nuvite F7. At this stage just one pass working on a relatively small 2X2 section:
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After completing a larger section, the difference is really showing:
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Another view of the same area:
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A view of the hatch after completing compounding, then going over with the Cyclo polisher and Nuvite F7 :
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Here is a comparison with where I am on the hatch and what I was able to do on the highly corroded test piece (test piece is on right, reflection on left is the hatch). The test piece had 3 passes with the compound polisher and Nuvite F7, one pass with the Cyclo and F7, and one pass with the Cyclo and Nuvite S:
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I did a lot of experimenting on the test piece using the polishing steps suggested on the Perfect Polish website. I can achieve a mirror finish, but it would take 5 or 6 passes with the compound polisher using Nuvite F7 (which is a polish with moderately aggressive cutting capability), a couple of passes with the Cyclo and F7, and a couple of passes with the Cyclo and Nuvite S (their finish grade polish).

The multiple passes are necessary to remove sandpaper or Scotchbrite pad induced scratches. On the test piece, the pits from corrosion never went away, although they should (maybe) with multiple passes. Deeper scratches take multiple passes until the edges of the scratch are "rounded" and blended in.

I'm not sure I want to achieve a mirror finish--that wasn't my objective. I did want a shiny finish and found I was already having corrosion formation that had to be addressed. I know the Nuvite is probably the most expensive route, but I am trying to follow a proven process.
Last edited by tonyj on Sun Sep 16, 2007 6:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Not a hijack to me.

Postby halfdome, Danny » Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:47 pm

tonyj wrote:Danny, I think I am about to hijack your thread, but only because we are using a similar process.

Toni, I welcome your so called hijack, it may be of some help to me or some one else. I had no choice but to start out with 150 grit on the driver side, so many very deep scratches, I may need to continue more compounding there. I'll start out with 220 or 320 on the rest of the tear, it's not as bad. The rear roll pan (barely visible in photo 2) was sanded with 320 and 400 and took about 3 hours to complete. Did you buy the T shirt material or use something on hand for the Cyclo polisher?
I did okay on the tongue box a few months ago. :) Danny

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Postby apratt » Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:51 pm

Now I have not polish any aluminum yet, but would it be better to wet sand with 2000 grit and then polish. As wet sanding would be a lot easier. Just my 2 cents.
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Postby halfdome, Danny » Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:06 am

apratt wrote:Now I have not polish any aluminum yet, but would it be better to wet sand with 2000 grit and then polish. As wet sanding would be a lot easier. Just my 2 cents.

Arthur, My scratches are so deep it will catch your finger nail, too deep for such a high grit, now if it was just paint that would be okay. From what I've read 320 & 400 can be compounded and will disapear but the other grits will just get burnished over something I can live with. :) Danny
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Postby Juneaudave » Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:11 am

Tony and Danny...you guys are killing me!!!! Looks great though!!!! Being a woody sort of guy and definately of my knowledge zone, will a polished aluminum finish keep?

Deja vu... I spent a week on a neighbors Airstream as a kid for $20 bucks..don't remember what I used except for naval jelly as a quick wash to get off the stains and oxidation...then polish, polish, polish. Do you know if Naval Jelly a bad choice for aluminum? and does it matter what type of aluminum you are working on?
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Postby halfdome, Danny » Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:21 am

Juneaudave wrote:Tony and Danny...you guys are killing me!!!! Looks great though!!!! Being a woody sort of guy and definately of my knowledge zone, will a polished aluminum finish keep?

Deja vu... I spent a week on a neighbors Airstream as a kid for $20 bucks..don't remember what I used except for naval jelly as a quick wash to get off the stains and oxidation...then polish, polish, polish. Do you know if Naval Jelly a bad choice for aluminum? and does it matter what type of aluminum you are working on?

Dave, I too am a woody kind of guy but the wife said "You don't have a Woodie car" so I did an all aluminum tear, maybe the next one will be wood. Since Toni and I have made the investment in Cyclo polishers it will be like polishing your car once a year or so, but easier, to keep up the finish. The factory finish is so rough and hard to clean vs a polished surface. :) Your woodie is fantastic looking :thumbsup: Danny
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Postby tonyj » Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:56 am

Originally wanted to do a woody--got talked out of it because the person I started this build for didn't want to have to upkeep a wood type finish. I knew aluminum would be a lot of upkeep, but little did I know how much it would be.

I had various areas I hit with a scotchbrite pad or 400 grit as I built. On the test piece I really scuffed up an area with 400. It takes lots of passes with the compounder to work that area and I never got it to disappear on the test piece. More passes would work, or a more aggressive polish like Nuvite F7. From what I am seeing of the process an 800 or higher grit is probably more likely to compound out with fewer passes. All scratches and haze will come out, it just takes lots of effort.

As to upkeep after polishing--from what I have read, it will be a never ending process. Best is to keep the trailer protected when not in use, but even in my barn, rapid humidity changes will cause condensation and corrosion. Waxing will help, but then the wax will have to be removed when the trailer is polished again. An automotive clearcoat might work (I think Doug Hodder does this), but if that surface fails, it has to be completely removed (or areas removed) to repolish, and then recoat. So, it looks like just once or twice a year of polishing. That is my plan, and why I went ahead and made the investment in a good polisher.

Danny--I did purchase the "Cyclo wraps" which are large pieces of fleece. You buff with the fuzzy side. The advantage to these--they have precut slits to reposition the fabric in an orderly fashion to get the most use out of 'em. I'm still getting used to them, but they seem to work pretty well. I follow up manually with microfiber cloth (and don't believe what they say--they will scratch the surface! Don't know if it is the collected dirt and grit or the fabric, but I have successfully induced scratches.).
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Postby 48Rob » Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:48 pm

Tony and Danny,

The cotton cloths work quite well, though remember, the finer the finish (more clarity) the easier it is to scratch.
An example; get it like a mirror, and wipe a common paper towel over the surface, and you've ruined it.
Wipe a (clean) finger over a mirror clarity finish, and it will scratch :(

The cyclo is a great tool, but the compounding polisher is what does 90% of the work.
If you compond the surface, and it is still hazy, the Cyclo won't fix it, it needs more compounding.
Once the surface has mirror clarity, with swirl marks, then it is time to use the cyclo to finish.

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Postby tonyj » Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:05 pm

Thanks, Rob. I agree, the more polished, the easier to scratch. I am primarily using the cyclo to remove the noticeable swirls the compounder leaves (of course, a lot of those swirls are caused by my novice technique!).

Beautiful finish on the Sportsman. But if I want to take a picture of what's in back of me, instead of using the reflection, I'll just turn around. :lol:
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Postby halfdome, Danny » Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:39 pm

Rob, I agree with the scratching. I would have people (some teardroppers) that would wipe their fingers across in an arc on the original finish and really make a mess of the aluminum :cry: . It seems with my clean hands & clean aluminum that the compounded areas don't scratch, yet, but wait till it's dirty. I feel having a polished tear will hopefully discourage others from critiquing with their fingers. I'm hoping they realize I have spent a huge amount of time perfecting the finish & figure they might end up with a broken finger or two from running hands across the aluminum. It's so slick it would hurt. :lol: Danny .
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