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Tech: DIY Polishing Aluminum & Other Bits 

 

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 Post subject: Tech: DIY Polishing Aluminum & Other Bits
Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:14 pm 
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Aluminum Polishing DIY Guide

This is a QUICK & ROUGH Guide on how to Polish bits and pieces on your Car. eg. Throttle Bottle, Rocker Cover, Intake Manifold, Wheels, Thermo Housing and such.

I do however recommend that you actually go pay someone to get this done as you will get a MUCH better finish and professional look to it.

Note: This will take time to do even the smallest of bits, so i really do suggest that you have a spare bit of what your doing. Such as thermostat housing (4.0l's).

Before:
Image

After:
Image.

Theres so many techniques on doing this, each process is necessary tho.

Sandpaper Grades you will need: 180 Dry / 320 Wet / 400 Wet.These 3 sandpaper grades will basically get almost the polished look.

Grinding Bits you will need: Refer to picture, alternatively you can use other larger grinding bits for your power drill too to grind down rough edges/inconsistencies of cast alloy etc.
Image

---

Step 1: Using your grinding bits, sand down any cast lines or uneven bits as you can see in the thermostat housing it has a line through it and where the bolts sit it's higher at some points. So flatten them out so its smooth (dont worry it will look rough, your just goin through a process). So in other words your shaping out the metal and smoothening it out.

Step 2: 180 Dry, sand down your parts to smoothen out all cast marks and grains away or paint that might be on it. At this point you will leave marks into the alloy but you will notice you have taken A LOT of the roughness and castness away from it. Note: you can alternatively use 180 to sand it all down, parts that are uneven from the cast marks etc can be thne grinded after then resanded with 180 to flatten/smoothen again)

Step 2: 320 Wet, start sanding the whole thing! Every bit you can get into for a quite sometime. Overtime you will notice the grains and roughness caused by the 180 sandpaper and actual alloy cast will smoothen out a LOT at this time. Take your time doing this as every procedure has a reason for it. Its a length process!

Step 3: 400 Wet, Follow step 2 for an even longer time. Give it some lovin' till your hands not wantin' no more.

NOTE: you can alternatively use a dremel to grind down cast marks and grain marks, and also a sander with 180 to flatten out any uneven parts or for larger parts could be easier/quicker.

Step 4: By this time you will be almost "wow look at that, looks awesome" yes yes it does, and maybe could of been an idea to take a photo before hand to see the difference but DUH you forgot?!$#. Its not finished, go over it again and make sure you havent missed a bit. you will get a sort of orange peel look.

Part 2: Buffing / Polishing & Finishing it off.

Polishing Compounds / Buffers;

You will need some sort of spinning wheel tool (power drill, buffer, dremel, bench top buffer etc).

Cutting compounds (compound soaps, buffing soaps/bars, cream. whatever you want to call them.). You need "Tripoli, Stainless(only for hard metals/stainless steel), and White Rouge. These can be found at *SOME* car auto stores, and some hardware stores. If not you can try buffing shops which do sell this to public).

Buffing wheels needed Ventilated Flaps (which gets used with tripoli only), and Loose Sections (to be used with white rouge compound). These can be found in same places as mentioned. Sometimes you can find "kits" together too which is handy. Or try find canton loose flaps even.

Ventilated Flaps down below:
Image

And Loose Flaps:
Image

Step 1: Using your buffer wheel "ventilated flaps" buff and tripoli, apply your tripoli (not a drug) to your flap whilst its spinning, it'll absorb the colour green or whatever it may be. Light start to buff your thermostat (example only). Basically this will cut into the alloy and take away the marks from the sand paper, take your time and do it thoroughly and make sure you use more compound but dont over do it as it will glue like grease onto your thermostat (or whatever your polishing). If you can get MINI buffin wheels you can get into those tight corners etc which is DEFINATELY worth it.

Step 2: Once you've done that move onto the Loose Flaps (....lol) with White Rouge compound. This is basically your finishing buff, so really really take your time with this and the longer you take and gentle you are the better outcome and shine you will get. Its a length process so expect a thermostat housing to take you at least anything from 2-6 hours (YES im serious).

Step 3: SEALING/Finishing Off... DO NOT use clear coat after you have buffed as you have layed in oil/compound and it wont stick or come out hazy. All you need is some PURE Carnuba Wax or Meguiars Step 3 to finish. Polish it into your thermostat housing (or whatever your doing). PS> This is a process so you will have to re-wax it every so often to keep the shine and protect that shiny coat or it'll go hazy and you will need to rebuff it with the buffer wheel! (unfortunately i got lazy and have to do mine soon lol).


Remember, this is just a DIY guide and isnt a pro look or anything along those lines. I've done it and the pictures above ARE from my car and finished.

Most asked question would be; Why can't we use 600+grit sand paper? A: Because it'll do more harm then good, it'll make things hazy and not even help a process of polishing so dont shortcut or even bother tryin to use it because it wont help or do anything useful to polishing your parts.

Quick NFO:
180 dry, with grinding parts to get rid of roughness, then 320 wet to smoothen the 180 and the grains and so on, then 400 wet to finish it all off, to tripoli and ventilated buffer then to white rouge with loose flapped buffer, then pure carnuba wax to finish it off.

Few more pics.

Image

I have some more, will post them up as i find them! Sorry!

Last edited by fuzion on Thu Dec 01, 2005 12:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:34 pm 
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cheers fuz! :) i'll be back onto my rocker cover & intake piping tonight!

 

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Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 9:08 pm 
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ive seen at hardware store alloy wheel repair kits has little grinder peices and the cutting compund and wax and the the t wo polishing pads as well
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Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 9:21 pm 
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uglybob wrote:
cheers fuz! :) i'll be back onto my rocker cover & intake piping tonight!


dammit - you did it just to spite me eh!!!

 

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Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:04 pm 
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thank you, i'll be getting the stuff required when i get my car back next week. yay polished goodness.

this should go in the doco's section really helpfull.

thankyou thankyou.

 

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Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:15 pm 
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*has new dremel tool....


time to get a polishing :)

 

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Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:50 pm 
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Im alreadt Polished :D (get it wink wink lol)


Roughly what time frame would u put on average type parts???
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Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:57 pm 
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read thru it :P 2-5 hours for thermostat housing. its a slow process.. take it as a hobby :P
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Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:11 pm 
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do one bit at a time or you'll never have a car to drive. lol

 

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Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:19 pm 
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fuzion wrote:
read thru it :P 2-5 hours for thermostat housing. its a slow process.. take it as a hobby :P


a very very very slooooooow hobby lol....
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Posted: Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:13 pm 
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I did a guide like this a while ago. So don't want to step on fuzions toes or anything. But if anyone wants to take a look it basically says the same thing, except doesn't involve the use of a dremel etc. Might help clear things up a little or reinforce any ideas that fuzions mentioned.
http://www.fordmods.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=103202

 

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Posted: Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:22 pm 
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thats cool.. i wouldn recommend using high sand paper tho as fine scratches and haziness appears thats all .. :P and i guess only diff is that i mention to use proper buffing compounds etc where you mention autosol instead.

whichever people prefer to give a go! im not doing it lol :P
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Posted: Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:03 pm 
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Yeah I'd say that using a proper buffing compound you would only need to go to 400.
If you just have some metal polish, then you will need to go to a finer grit otherwise the scratches from the 400 will not dissapear.

I've used both ways before, both turn out good.

 

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Posted: Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:19 pm 
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Definately! .. still recommend that do it with spare parts, and otherwise pay someone to do it as you will get a better result too
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Posted: Sat Dec 03, 2005 8:26 pm 
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a complete polishing kit is available from tool shops for around $30, comes with drill attachments.

 

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