We often get questions on what to use to strip the clear coat from the Airstreams or the paint from an aircraft prior to polishing.
There are several non-toxic strippers available. Non-toxic meaning they aren’t the usual solvent- based strippers that give off dangerous fumes. They may require protective clothing so be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
There are two products that are widely available and should probably be called “light duty” strippers. If the paint you are removing is old and thin, such as the clear coats on vintage Airstream trailers, then one of these will probably work for you.
The first is called Citristrip. They have a web site at www.kleanstrip.com with a list of suppliers. The other is a 3M product called Safest Stripper. Both of these should be easy to find.
But the product we recommend is called DoradoStrip 3031. It is water-based, non-toxic and fully biodegradable. Just brush it on and remove the lifted paint with a squeegee. It goes through the toughest epoxy and polyurethane paints. It can be brushed on or sprayed on with a airless sprayer.
The stripper uses hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient. It works by penetrating the paint to the aluminum where it reacts as a catalyst to create oxygen that forces the paint away from the surface it is adhering to. It is not classed as a hazardous material, and the residue contains only water, oxygen and paint. It has only trace amounts of solvents and does not give off solvent fumes.
Click here for an Adobe .pdf file from the manufacturer that describes the product in detail. The .pdf says that it is for use on porous architectural surfaces such as wood but the label says it works on metal too. Users confirm that it works very well on aluminum.
It is available from Down to Earth Products via the link below. Contact them for more information. http://www.dtep.com
It really does work. Just brush it on and let it sit for a few hours. Most paints will just about fall off a vertical surface. We recommend using a squeegee to remove the lifted paint. Collect the paint on plastic sheets and dispose of in the trash.
We have noted problems when trying to strip certain aircraft primers. It will turn the these primers gummy and require a brush or heated pressure washer to remove.
Click here to read an email that was taken from our Swift (aircraft) Association newsletter. It provides considerable detail on how to use this product. (The product used was RemovAll, which is chemically identical to DoradoStrip)