Author Topic: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts  (Read 6059 times)

Online RichardL

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Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« 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.
Plan on signing up for the world-wide 2020 DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDEon September 27, 2020 (if it's not cancelled and we are free to move about by then). Watch website at https://www.gentlemansride.com for details.

Online bsa-bill

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #1 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
All the best - Bill
1961 Flash - stock, reliable, steady, fantastic for shopping
1959 Rocket Gold Flash - blinged and tarted up  would have seizure if taken to  Tesco

Online RichardL

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #2 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.
Plan on signing up for the world-wide 2020 DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDEon September 27, 2020 (if it's not cancelled and we are free to move about by then). Watch website at https://www.gentlemansride.com for details.

Online bsa-bill

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #3 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*
All the best - Bill
1961 Flash - stock, reliable, steady, fantastic for shopping
1959 Rocket Gold Flash - blinged and tarted up  would have seizure if taken to  Tesco

Online a101960

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #4 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.

Online lawnmowerman

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #5 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
1959 A10 SR
1938 Wolseley 14/60
1955 Ferguson TEF20 tractor
1965 Ferguson 135 tractor
1952 Matchless G80 rigid
1960 BMW R60
1954 Matchless G80S
1955 Ariel 500 VH
1951 Sunbeam S7DL
1960 Matchless G12 with Watsonian Monza
......and loads of lawnmowers

Too old to Rock and Roll but too young to die  (Jethro Tull 1976)

Online a101960

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #6 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.

Online lawnmowerman

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #7 on: 21.08. 2010 22:18 »
Thanks a101960 I will give it a go - usually use Solvol.

Jim
1959 A10 SR
1938 Wolseley 14/60
1955 Ferguson TEF20 tractor
1965 Ferguson 135 tractor
1952 Matchless G80 rigid
1960 BMW R60
1954 Matchless G80S
1955 Ariel 500 VH
1951 Sunbeam S7DL
1960 Matchless G12 with Watsonian Monza
......and loads of lawnmowers

Too old to Rock and Roll but too young to die  (Jethro Tull 1976)

Offline a10gf

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #8 on: 21.08. 2010 22:33 »
Richard, nice work, gearbox improvement is amazing. And good reading.
e

A10 GF '53 My A10 website
"Success only gets you a ticket to a much more difficult task"

Offline bikemadinspain

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #9 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.

Offline mike667

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #10 on: 21.08. 2010 23:26 »
Richard -  looks great - i am boxing all my old alloy parts and sending them to you! ;)


mike

Offline Stu55Flash

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #11 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
"Keep a distance from lady "L" drivers in cars. Some are not mechanically minded, are slow to acquire road sense, an are apt to panic..." The Pitman Book of the BSA Twins.
Golden Flash Plunger 1955, Francis Barnett Falcon 67 1954, Ferguson TEA Tractor 1951. Looking for another project!

Online Russ

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #12 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
1951 A10 Plunger.
Australia

Offline cotterpinkid

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #13 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
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Velocette Venom

Online RichardL

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Re: Polishing Aluminum - My Amateur Efforts
« Reply #14 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.
Plan on signing up for the world-wide 2020 DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN'S RIDEon September 27, 2020 (if it's not cancelled and we are free to move about by then). Watch website at https://www.gentlemansride.com for details.