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Old 10-12-2015, 12:39 PM   #351
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I would suggest getting a foot for the Rotozip that holds the tool at a 45 degree angle. This will result in a wider contact area for the bit, and make it much less likely to dig in. Most of those feet have screws in the bottom, where you can make your own base plate with a much larger surface area. Most people will use a piece of Plexiglas.

If that doesn't work, use a diamond grinding bit. It is about a 1/4 inch in diameter. It cuts slower, but should have more control. The main drawback is that you would be totally freehand, as there is no bearing guide with that bit. You may also look at some of the Dremel tool bits, as you might find something less aggressive.
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Old 10-12-2015, 02:26 PM   #352
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Finding a bit that cuts easily without loading up is the trick. Finer bits load immediately and won't work at all.
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Old 10-12-2015, 06:47 PM   #353
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Rotozip not the tool for this job.
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:41 PM   #354
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I tracked down a decent router today... I'll take the flush cut router bit that the rotozip nearly destroyed in to work and sharpen it up. Maybe this weekend I can give it a try.

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Old 10-17-2015, 03:59 PM   #355
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The router with a flush cut bit worked pretty good... the problem is that I was unable to keep the router base from scratching the aluminum. I tried tape, but bits of aluminum got embedded in the base and then dug into the panel. I didn't realize it until it was too late. You can see the scratches in the photo to the left of the opening... and where I did a little sanding with some 400 grit to remove the scratches below the opening.

This isn't a big deal if I plan on painting the new panels... but kind of a big deal if I was going to leave this side shiny out for a while. The scratches sand out easy enough, but polishing the aluminum back to an identical luster as the original might be tough. I'm going to see if the place I bought the aluminum from has any ideas...

I suppose getting scratches now is as good a time as any... gives me a chance to see if I really want to care for a bare aluminum exterior prior to making the decision to assemble everything without paint. If I can polish this out, then great... if not, then it looks like I'll be needing paint...

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Old 10-17-2015, 07:40 PM   #356
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Piker, Coming in on this a little late, sorry, when I cut my windows out on the TH that I put .032 aluminum as siding all I used was a regular wood router bit, (flush cut w/bearing) and a Craftsman cut out tool, I believe its basically the same as a RotoZip. My panels were colored and it didn't scratch them at all. The bit worked so well that I used it later to cut out the holes for the sink ect, its still just as sharp as when I started. I used a hole saw to put the bit in and cut away, wear safety glasses the little bits of aluminum went everywhere. I tried masking tape at first and found that the heat generated by the tool softened the tape to trap the pieces of aluminum.
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Old 10-18-2015, 06:02 AM   #357
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Thanks Harley... you're right about the tape trapping the chips. I think maybe the aluminum is actually much softer than paint, thus mine scratched and yours didn't. I can actually leave feather scratches in the aluminum just by running my rough old fingers over it.

I think the airstream trailers use some sort of clear protective coating over the aluminum... but it's nothing like automotive clearcoat... and it's not as hard either. At this point I'll probably end up painting the whole thing with a single stage automotive paint. It will just be easier to care for in the long run... although there's no guarantee my paint job will look any better than the old corroded panels I took off. Lol.

I saw you put your camper away for the winter. That's the bad thing about living this far north... you have about 3 months where the weather is nice enough to do whatever you want outside... the rest of the year is just cold... and for us down here in the snow belt... it's also cloudy and dreary for the whole 12 months. We keep our rv in our garage... but it's not heated, so I'm pretty much done till spring. If I'm going to paint, I suppose I could work on prepping the fiberglass end caps this winter... and scuffing the new panel... but me and the cold just don't get along.

All for now

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Old 10-18-2015, 06:49 AM   #358
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Morning Piker, I agree about the cold, I never did like it even as a kid, (don't know why I stayed here). Your right about the bare aluminum being more tender than paint, I forgot about that, we used bare stuff sometimes building race car bodies, had to be careful with it. Painting it is another story, you have to do some special prep, called etching ect. last winter building mine I would pick some warm spells to do work and alot of mine was inside so not so bad. Take care, you've come a long ways it'll get there.
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Old 10-18-2015, 07:14 AM   #359
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I haven't looked into the whole painting thing too far, but I think you just have to scuff the aluminum with maybe some 600 grit, and then use an etching primer to cover it. After that, you just paint. And when I say "just paint..." I realize that there is both an art and a science to laying down automotive paints...

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Old 10-19-2015, 12:03 AM   #360
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Have you considered polyurathan for your paint? It's the same used on aircraft and OTR trucks.

It will give you years of easy to care for shine and protection.
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Old 10-19-2015, 04:36 AM   #361
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dtwallace View Post
Have you considered polyurathan for your paint? It's the same used on aircraft and OTR trucks.

It will give you years of easy to care for shine and protection.
I have not given much thought to polyurethanes... I have a tiny bit of experience with the single stage acrylic enamels, so I'll probably stick with those... though I have not decided on whether to use an etching primer or an epoxy primer. I have at least all winter to do some research and make a decision.

At this point, finishing this project and getting back on the road sometimes seems like it might really happen... at other times, it seems like there's a long ways to go. I'll be honest... I'm still kind of a pendulum with this... and I'm never quite sure if all the time, money, and effort will ever be worth it... it will be good to take the winter off and reflect a little and figure out where I'm at.

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Old 11-05-2015, 06:02 PM   #362
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Tiny steps...

Not much new to report... I've pretty much been staying away from the RV for the last several weeks. Had I known the weather was going to be so nice this last week, I may have tried to put the top panel together and get it hung before winter. In reality though, it's been good to step away for a little while and just rest.

I did, however, finally get all the openings cut out with a router. I used a 1/2" flush cut bit with a bearing on the end, but the bearing didn't last too long, and when it flew apart the bit dug into the steel around the passenger window and really got tore up. I was able to order 2 new bearings from Mcmaster Carr for $6 and, resharpen the carbide cutting edges at work and finish up the routing tonight. I was also able to add many scratches to the aluminum with the router.

all for now...

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Old 11-05-2015, 06:24 PM   #363
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I agree sticking with a simple one step paint like Acrylic, some of those others are nice and durable but without the proper safety equipment they will kill you. I understand about stepping away, catch your breath it'll go much easier when you go back to it. Take care.
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Old 11-05-2015, 07:34 PM   #364
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Have you tried using some tape on the surface it might reduce the scratches.
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