Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Another long few days of polishing are under my belt and the results will speak for themselves.

I am so blessed to have an indoor, heated and electrified place to do all my work!  Not to mention a pneumatic system installed in the shop and all the tools I need!  Oh wait, except for all the tools I need.  Like the two polishers and rivet remover.  
This nifty gadget showed up in the mail the other day (no, our mailman wasn't handing them out in the neighborhood) and I got a chance to try it out today.  
Although it didn't come with any instructions, it was easy enough to figure out. The shiny end goes in the drill, the bit goes inside the black part and the small black end regulates how deep the bit will penetrate the rivet.   Rumor has it that a #20 bit is exactly the right size to drill Airstream buck rivets out without enlarging the hole and causing leaks when the buck rivet is put back in.  Oddly enough, it came with a #10, #21, #30 and a #40 bit.  21 huh?  They couldn't give me a #20?  Oh well.  I broke #21 within the first three minutes with the tool and had to use #30 to get the drip cap rivets off.  I am pretty sure my drill learned a few new words today.  
All in all, this is a sweet tool and well worth the $59 if you are planning on removing any more than one buck rivet.  The small black end fits exactly over the rivet head and (more or less) guides the bit into the center of the rivet.  In case you haven't tried it manually, this is a nearly impossible task. 
With the drip cap off, I was able to polish above the door and admire all of those shining rivets.

What I wasn't expecting was the bad shape the skin was in under the drip cap.  It would seem that would be the most protected and therefore smoothest area, but quite the opposite was true.  It was pitted beyond belief, so I ran the polisher over it a few times, then grabbed some fine grit sandpaper (slightly dampened) and got to work.  The sandpaper left some hideous scratch marks but they came right out with another pass of the polisher. The pit marks were still glaring, even after cleaning with mineral spirits to get the black gunk out. 

 I suppose it will all work out since it is under the drip cap anyway and probably won't be noticed.  The above photo is that area after sandpaper, polishing and cleaning.  Looks okay from a galloping horse or very tall and rickety ladder.  May anyone who criticizes my polishing wind up on one of the two.

Speaking of very tall ladders, I have managed to polish about half the roof, very poorly.  

What remains to be polished are the very awkward sections of the endcaps that can be reached neither by ladder nor by sitting on the roof.  Any suggestions that don't involve a cherry picker and hammock?

And now for a glorious before and after.



Okay, so maybe the "before" looks better, but that is only because it has the advantage of a warm August eve bathed in a pink sunset, while the after has naught but the harsh, indifferent lights of the shop in mid December.
Just wait till we pull her out in Spring and there is more to reflect than pallets!  

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