We wanted to do a brief post about how we cleaned the various parts of the Shasta, because this was one dirty trailer. We used a few different cleaning products, and we would recommend Mother’s Aluminum Polish and Diamond Brite Truck Box Polish for the aluminum. Both of these worked equally well – I don’t know that we had a favorite. We used LOTS of microfiber cloths – the aluminum, especially on the street side, needed a LOT of polishing. However, before we did the polishing, we had to get the butyl tape off. I spent hours of my life scraping butyl tape off of aluminum this summer – I sort of feel like an expert in it now. So let me tell you what I learned: you’ll need Goo Gone, dish detergent, a tooth brush, and a few plastic paint scrapers. I also used disposable grease remover wipes – I can’t remember the exact brand – that had a slightly rough texture for the finishing details. So first off – any part of the trailer that fit in the bathtub went in the bathtub.
The front and back windows, two long side windows, and long pieces of trim I cleaned with a hose and brush outdoors, but the rest went into the tub. After removing what dried butyl tape would come off easily (I got pretty good at pitching baseball sized globs of sticky tape into the garbage can), the windows, badges, small pieces of trim, grills and vents all soaked in the tub with hot water and a healthy squirt of dish detergent.
Take the screens out of the windows before you soak them. A nice soak in hot water softened the accumulated grime and remaining butyl tape and made it easier to scrape off with paint scrapers while I sat on the edge of the tub. I used a couple of paint scrapers at a time so I wouldn’t have to pause and clean off the scraper when it was covered in sticky butyl and no longer had a clean edge. I’d just pick up a fresh scraper, and then clean them all at once at the end of the day. (We were sure to use mainly plastic scrapers because metal ones easily scratched the soft aluminum.) A tooth brush worked pretty well at getting in small crevices and scrubbing out 42 years of road dirt. After a good bath I rinsed the pieces and let them rest outdoors to dry in the sun, cleaning the glass with Windex and a soft cloth.
After the pieces dried I used Goo Gone, paper towels, a Dobie pad and elbow grease to get the remaining butyl off of everything – using disposable wipes for the final touches. Once everything was smooth and clean, and had all of the adhesive removed, then I actually polished everything using Mother’s or Diamond Brite and microfiber cloths. The difference between before and after, especially with the trim pieces, was amazing and was one of the most satisfying things about the whole trailer renovation!