I’ve watched a lot of posts about the finish on Avion coaches. The debate about how to manage the anodized aluminum ranges from painting them to soaking them with WD40. I was looking for something in between. If you own an Avion, you know how they look pretty splotchy, they are hard to wash, and the dirt sticks pretty hard because of the porous surface. I tried some different waxes and aluminum polishes, but they either collected in the oxidation or faded quickly. The cost of having a body shop clean and clear coat the coach was out of the question, and I wasn’t so sure it would be a good solution anyway. After quite a bit of reading, I settled on Toon Brite.
I called the company and talked to the technical department. Filling them in on my challenge, they assured me that if I wasn’t satisfied I could bring the cleaner and coating back for a refund. I wasn’t about to jump in and do the whole coach right out of the gate, so I did a 2×2 foot test patch. The test patch has been on the coach for about a year and looks great. Toon Brite and Everbrite are similar products, but I went with Toon Brite since it’s readily available at retail stores. Toon Brite calls for the aluminum to be washed with their cleaner. A super mild acid wash. This is a really important step and cannot be skipped. It’s the key to removing as much oxidation as possible and prepping the surface for the coating application. We landed in New Mexico about a month ago, the perfect location for this project since the weather is cool in the mornings and with really low humidity. Starting from the top I washed the roof, following manufacturer’s directions on rinsing and protecting glass and awnings from the cleaner.
Our ZipDee awnings proved to be quite watertight and keeping the cleaner off the fabric wasn’t hard at all. I used the cleaner at a 1:1 ratio mixed with water. I was amazed at how much grime came off. Once the roof was clean I coated it the next day. The coating allows for a pretty quick turn around, so I applied two coats on the same day. Toon Brite calls for a foam brush application, or to rub it in with a cotton cloth. I used a foam roller to put it on the coach and back brushed it with a foam brush. Working my way from the gutter line down I cleaned and coated the upper walls, the front, and rear top caps and then moved my way down to the lower walls. Finally, I worked my way through all the storage doors and lower section of aluminum curving under the coach. About noon or so I’d quit putting the coating on, since it was too hot, do some more cleaning on the shady side of the coach, then in the evenings apply some more coating as the temperature cooled. The entire coach got two coats. I think I’ll put one more coat on the front where road debris is a challenge.
The results are quite nice. The coach has a warm, shiny appearance. Water beads up and runs off like a paint job with a fresh coat of wax. There are a few areas where the oxidation is not 100% invisible, and I have some areas I’ll need to wash out with acetone and redo. I got a little orange peel when it was too hot, and a few drips when I wasn’t looking. But overall, I’m thrilled. The chalky, streaky look is gone, and I can’t wait to wash the coach at my next destination, knowing the dirt will come off freely. By default, every rivet and seam on the coach has now been sealed. I expect that this is a protection, not a permanent product. Based on what I’ve read, I’m thinking I’ll re-wash and re-coat the project within 18 months, and probably every 2-3 years after that. I don’t mind the work, because the old chalky look made me crazy. Driving back from the store the other day, Luna looked bright and shining on the sloped pasture we are staying in. When I got up this morning after last night’s rain, there she was, shiny, clean, and happy to get the attention she deserves. To finish things off nicely I added a fresh coat of gloss black paint to the tongue, visible frame, and rear bumper. Luna is shining brighter now than ever and feels loved and cared for. Just what every little house wants.