The BSA A7-A10 Forum

Technical => A7 & A10 Engine => Topic started by: RichardL on 21.08. 2010 17:23

Title: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: RichardL on 21.08. 2010 17:23
Hello,

Based on a groundswell of interest (one personal message), I thought I would share the process for getting my gearbox cover from pitted and corroded to a decent (in my opinion) state of shine. I suppose, and hope, that this topic will draw the attention of those needing helpful ideas to make it easier next time.

In the first photo you can see the gearbox cover with an overall patina of corrosion and a very pitted portion that looks like it had been partially sitting in mud (or something).

The second photo shows the completed process.

In the third photo you can see some dings I felt were too deep to try to remove, as it would mean taking the entire surface down to the bottom of those dings and, maybe, making the wall thickness too thin.

In the fourth photo you can see two of three power sanding approaches I used. First was the 60-grit disk in a hand-held drill motor to take out the corroded pitting and any raised up areas around deep nicks. An easy hand is required here, as you could create some deep gouges before you knew it. I did not use this wheel all over the cover, as it makes it's own deep scratches which must be removed. Of course, one could forego power sanding entirely if the first cleanup could be reasonably accomplished by hand sanding. In any case), start with the finest grit you can get away with while getting the job done in this millenium.

After the course wheel, I put the 80-grit flapper-type sanding device in the drill motor clamped to the bench and used it pretty much all over the cover where it would reach. It did good job attacking the scratches from the disk, removing most of the overall corrosion and rounding-over any ridges left by the disk. This was the first time I had used one of these flapper sanders and I was surprised by how controllable it was even though the grit was fairly course.

I had also tried a sanding disk in a Dremel tool, but found that when removing any noticeable amount of material it left a lot of little scallops. So I gave up on that. I probably just didn?t have the right technique.

After the power sanding I started in with hand sanding, using the papers I had on hand, and using wet sanding when that was the paper type. The grits were as follows: 120 (dry); 150 (dry); 220 (wet); 320 (dry); 400 (wet); 800 (wet); 1000 (wet). As grits get finer the paper is folded more to make a durable tool of it and to  distribute the force applied by your thumb.  For each grit you sand the whole surface until the scratches for that grit are the deepest ones seen.

In the fifth photo you can see my two buffing wheels. After the last sanding I used a 6", tight-sewn, buffing wheel as available at the hardware store. I don't have a legitimate buffing machine (long shaft and unshielded wheels), so it went in my bench grinder. The access to the wheel was just enough to reach all over the cover. For the first pass I used my more worn (stiffer) buffing wheel with Dico Tripoli TC6 (Brown), general cutting, buffing compound. For the last pass I used a new buffing wheel  with Ryobi "H" White Rouge polishing compound.  (I'm not showing the picture of the compounds due to having reached the posting limit.)

Apologies to any or all of you who have read this far, only to learn that you didn't learn much and that I am a great-big-bodger. If it does help anyone, I'm glad.  I type reasonably fast, so wordiness is an easy crime.

Richard L.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: bsa-bill on 21.08. 2010 17:57
Nice job Richard, something very satisfying about achieving a shine like that on alloy, so much warmer shine than chrome somehow.
Did you finish off with a dusting of Vienna Lime or Talcum powder, does make a difference
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: RichardL on 21.08. 2010 18:17
Bill,

Since the last compound, I haven't done anything other than wipe with a soft dry cloth. I haven't heard of either of the approaches you mention so I will look them up (or you can enlighten me). I've never heard of "Vienna Lime" at all, though I may have recently used some in a margarita.

Richard L.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: bsa-bill on 21.08. 2010 19:21
Vienna Lime - it's a very fine powder, what it does is remove all trace of wax from the polished surface, the wax is not apparent but is from the compound you use.
Talcum powder will do they same, use something like mutton cloth that will hold the powder and just rub it on, you will be pleasantly surprised.


If you use Talc, don't pinch the missus's scented stuff, you'll have those big leather tasselled Harley boys eyeing up the bike - or worse *loveit*
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: a101960 on 21.08. 2010 19:23
What Bill says is right you do need a lime based powder in order to accomplish that final gleam. Your local shop should stock a suitable finishing soap. Never the less, you have done a good job. Very impressive indeed.
One further observation. To keep your new high polished surface pristine get yourself some of this. http://www.autogeek.net/mg13005.html This stuff is the best metal polish that I have ever used. The shine is noticeably brighter than Solvol and it lasts well. It will also protect very effectively against corrosion.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: lawnmowerman on 21.08. 2010 21:39
Hi a101960 - that polish sounds like the DBs - it says it also removes bluing - does that mean heat bluing on exhausts? I noticed that the website is in the states - did you find a UK supplier?
Jim
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: a101960 on 21.08. 2010 22:02
Quote
that polish sounds like the DBs - it says it also removes bluing - does that mean heat bluing on exhausts? I noticed that the website is in the states - did you find a UK supplier?

I cannot say how effective it is with bluing because my exhaust has never suffered from that problem. It is good stuff though. I buy mine from Halfords.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: lawnmowerman on 21.08. 2010 22:18
Thanks a101960 I will give it a go - usually use Solvol.

Jim
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: a10gf on 21.08. 2010 22:33
Richard, nice work, gearbox improvement is amazing. And good reading.
e
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: bikemadinspain on 21.08. 2010 23:00
Richard I think u have done a wonderful job and spent a lot of time getting it correct, thanks for all the information and again welll done.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: mike667 on 21.08. 2010 23:26
Richard -  looks great - i am boxing all my old alloy parts and sending them to you! ;)


mike
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: Stu55Flash on 22.08. 2010 00:03
Great job. Does anyone lacquer over the finished polish with something like:

http://www.frost.co.uk/item_Detail.asp?productID=7939&frostProductName=Eastwoods%20Clear%20%20-%20Gloss%20Finish%20for%20Bare%20Metal%20Surfaces%20(312g)&catID=24&frostCat=Painting&frostSubCat=Eastwood&subCatID=32

This will negate repolishing for a while at least until the lacquer goes brown and chips off. I did this to the Fanny B about 18 months ago and have not repolished it since just cleaned it. Considering to lacquer or not on my engine casings myself.

 Stu
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: Russ on 22.08. 2010 04:14
Richard,

Thanks for your excellent article which is a wealth of information and I'm sure many others like myself find it very helpful.

Russ
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: cotterpinkid on 22.08. 2010 05:57
I'd have to agree with a101960's recommendation regarding the Meguiars metal polish. I started using it last year - their 'Motorcycle All Metal polish' and personally I found it very very good (you can't feel any abraisive in it, it's like applying a wax), their other products (wax's / paintwork stuff etc) are also seem very good (I'm nothing to do with Meguiar's, just a satisified user with gleaming alumininium cases).

Brian
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: RichardL on 22.08. 2010 13:36
Gents,

Thanks, kindly, for appreciating my tedious little project. Though the story was already almost as tedious, it occurred to me add couple more lines, as in:

"Of course, one could forego power sanding entirely if the first cleanup could be reasonably accomplished by hand sanding. In any case, start with the finest grit you can get away with while getting the job done in this millenium."

Richard L.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: LJ. on 23.08. 2010 11:01
Good stuff Richard thanks for that, but isn't it a horrible dirty mucky job? and of course sanding the job in a dry state calls for good breathing protection.

I also highly recommend the mequires metal polish, it's bloomin expensive but well worth it. I don't know what the formula is as it seems to work without any such effort and the smell is another thing. The shine lasts for a very long time, and will even work if light oil or grease is present. Buffing off the dried Meguires with a soft cloth then gives the paintwork an incredible shine too.

(BTW: I'm managing director of Meguires!)  *lol* (Just joking of course)
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: A10Boy on 23.08. 2010 11:39
Richard

Useful information, thanks.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: lawnmowerman on 23.08. 2010 12:02
Not in stock at my local Halfords but found it on Amazon a quid cheaper at £7.99 with free delivery.
Jim
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: JohnH on 23.08. 2010 22:17
Richard,

Your post started off a really interesting and useful thread. Most of my polishing was done when God was a lad and Solvol was all that was available. However, I'm just about to start getting stuck in on my GF and your own input and the additions will be really useful. The only downside is that I'vejust been out and bought a tube of Solvol ..... Ho Hum. Brilliant (literally) job and good photos too ..... Many thanks!,
John
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: bsa-bill on 24.08. 2010 09:21
Am I alone in thinking the Solvol of yesteryear is not the Solvol of today ( no Autosol I think).
I have some good polishes including Flitz and Maas but always looking to try others, Halfords have a three for two offer on cleaners and polishes at the moment so will look in tomorrow and see if they have the mequires metal polish, is the motorcyle stuff different to the car stuff?
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: metalflake11 on 22.11. 2012 01:32
I bought a 4" loose fold mop with a nut and bolt through it. I smear solvol all over the larger casings with my finger, then I put the mop in a hand drill and polish away. It is so easy and quick! I've heard a lot about this Meguiers stuff too and will be having a go of that when L.J. sends me a small sample.  *whistle*
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: metalflake11 on 13.12. 2012 20:19
I bought some Meguirs polish today from Halfords. Very impressed, it improved some already well polished aluminium noticeably.
'NXT All Metal Polysh.'........Spelling correct.

.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: JulianM on 14.12. 2012 10:49
Big box on it's way to you!
Can I have it all back in time for Christmas?

Julian  *smile* *smile* ;)
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: metalflake11 on 14.12. 2012 22:58
Well, I dragged him onto the ramp tonight to do some polishing with the Maguires polish. With very little effort here you are.
(http://) Then this happened, but you get the picture (No pun intended.) (http://)
It improved the chromework too............... I would like to point out that I have no connection with this product whatsoever!
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: muskrat on 16.12. 2012 11:29
 Very nice mate. Be a shame to take it out and get it grubby. At least the tin top drivers can't say "I didn't see him officer".
I got a set of cases on fleabay. I couldn't believe it when I opened the box to see the whole crank case was polished. ;D
Cheers
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: metalflake11 on 16.12. 2012 17:57
You lucky Bugger!.......It took ages to do the outside of the crankcases (for show), and then the inside (for go!) As for getting him grubby it's par for the course, it never stops raining in Manchester. It is known as Rainy City in the UK, but the real pain is salt on the road.
Somebody posted earlier that the Maguirs leaves a wax coat behind, we will see this week. Come bath time next weekend I am hoping the cases will still be shiny. We will see eh?
                             Rob.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: Stephen Foster on 16.12. 2012 19:25
Is "Maguirs" safe to polish chrome & does it add protection ?
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: metalflake11 on 16.12. 2012 19:45
I am led to believe it leaves a wax like coating. And yes, good for chrome too. Don't overdo it though, chrome being only a few microns thick does not take a lot of rubbing away.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: JulianM on 17.12. 2012 06:48
I polish my "Avatar" with Mguires and I must say I am impressed.
I have left it over night in the rain and then left it to dry in the workshop and the ally has reacted like paintwork, "just shrugged it off"
The non polished areas take much more looking after!
good product I think!

Julian
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: Stephen Foster on 17.12. 2012 06:59
Thanks for the advice re chrome "metalflake" that had been My concern .

Steve ..
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: metalflake11 on 05.01. 2013 00:04
Absolutely teed off! The Maguirs had put a fantastic shine on the engine which pleased me greatly. Monday I went through what looked like a light coloured mud which coated it with spots of this "mud". Today was wash day, and instead of this "mud" coming off it has eaten into the aluminium! Unbelievable, much rubbing with solvol to start with and you can still see the marks. I'm left with no choice but to use wet and dry to shift the marks. The end cap off the dynamo looked like it had been left in somebodys back garden for the last ten years!
 What a pain in the ar*e!....................  I hope none of you fellas encounter the same whatever it was, on the roads this winter!
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: muskrat on 05.01. 2013 02:12
 Do they still salt the roads over there or have they found something even more sinister to get rid of us bike riders?
I have the opposite problem with the road tar melting, almost as slippery as oil and a bugger to get off once set.
Cheers
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: metalflake11 on 05.01. 2013 11:43
Yes, they do still salt the roads but not much this year because it hasn't got too cold yet, it just keeps raining all the time. I have no idea what I have gone through, but a lot of tipper trucks use that road and it's always dirty and damp, it's a short cut and I used it because I was in a hurry.
Once in a blue moon our tarmac gets soft and yes, it is slippy! Have you ever tried nail varnish remover to shift it? Be carefull on paint obviously,  but it seems to dissolve most things I've tried it on. Cheers!
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: bsa-bill on 05.01. 2013 13:07
Well here (NE UK) they salt some of the roads ( the road has to lead to a town or village with a required population of a certain number or a councillor living there)
So as most farms have very few employees these days a gritter is never seen out in the sticks but they can be seen in convoy up the A1 or A697
Hope I don't come over bitter and twisted, I'll accept grumpy in fact I like grumpy I had a recent little spate with UPS which to their credit resulted in three telephone calls from them the last from the depot manager apologising.

Now to get back on subject it's possible Metalflakes little spots of mud were something more, I find cow dung is very tenacious stuff to get off and will leave a mark
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: muskrat on 05.01. 2013 19:50
 Your right there Bill. Moo Poo does seem to etch but what are they doing with tipper loads? I followed 2 semi trailer cattle trucks at night in a thunder storm. No goggles so put hand up to eyes and peered through gaps in fingers. The bike and I were covered in a 1/2" coating of the fresh sloppy stuff.
Cheers
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: metalflake11 on 05.01. 2013 19:54
You don't get much cow dung in the middle of Manchester Bill!  *smile*............ For sure it was not an organic matter, when you rub it off the aluminium is black like it has been burnt. It has eaten into it too. I'm not a happy bunny right now.
Title: Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
Post by: bsa-bill on 05.01. 2013 21:18
Ah sorry Metalflake, never been to Manchester, been to Birmingham though and they have a Bullring *smiley4*

I've never had the misfortune to follow a cattle truck on a bike Musky, have done so in a car though and considering a cow can drink twenty or more gallons a day it's no wonder there's considerable flotsam and jetsom swilling out of them.

but the alloy being marked is a pain, I have a spare primary case that wont polish, seems like whatever marked it is right through the metal, perhaps it was made that way - who knows