Author Topic: Help with aluminum polishing  (Read 2509 times)

87Warrior

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Help with aluminum polishing
« on: September 02, 2011, 02:19:26 PM »
I have a set of aluminum Jeep wheels I picked up a few years ago for my Comanche They were so cheap some would say they were free. The wheels look like the previous owner let acid sit on them  for 3 weeks. My initial reaction was to sand 'em down and coat with wheel paint.

I am now trying to polish them.

First, I media blasted them with used 40/60 Black Diamond


After blasting the wheel, the finish was very irregular, particularly where the acid corrosion was.


I have started wet sanding the wheels with sand paper. Starting out at 80 grit and progressing through 120, 220, 400, 800, 1500 then 2000 wet sanding. After the sand marks are consistant I have been doing a polish with harbor freight white and red bars with buff wheels attached to my drill. Then I clean them up with Mothers Mag polish

In this picture I have only polished up 2 of the flat spokes.


While this process is working, it is beyond extremely slow. I have finished 4 of the 5 spokes with good results, but each spoke has taken me 2-3 hours to complete. They are not mirror chrome finish, but that is not what I want.

So, to the professional detail guys out there, is there any way I could expedite this process for the remainder of this wheel and the other 3? Do you have any tips or recommendations? This is my first time ever working with aluminum.

Thanks.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 12:09:20 AM by 87Warrior »

James

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Re: Help with aluminum polishing
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2011, 02:29:39 PM »
You'll have to find something a little hotter than a drill.  If it was me I'd be using my air powered cut-off wheel with a felt wheel and soft metal compound.  There really isn't a fast way to do without some investment in better tools.
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87Warrior

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Re: Help with aluminum polishing
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2011, 03:11:16 PM »
I'm all about investing in new tools. What size felt wheel would you use? Do you have a recommendation? What type of polish would you use?

Would using a different set of polishing tools require fewer sanding stages? I mean some of the residue left on the wheel after blasting has taken quite a long time to lay down using the 80 grit paper.

I thought about using an old unit bearing to mount the wheel on so I culd spin it and sand. The problem is those spokes are not flat, they are concave.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 12:11:25 AM by 87Warrior »

James

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Re: Help with aluminum polishing
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2011, 09:29:35 PM »
I got a couple of 1"x1" cylinder felt bobs on 1/4" shanks from a local industrial supply company.  I've used them on everything from brass and silver antiques to polishing out stainless and aluminum fittings on boats.  I use the green rouge sticks you can buy at Lowes which is a medium compound and it works fine on just about everything with the right touch.  I usually finish off with something like Maas or Simichrome by hand.
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Maverick

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Re: Help with aluminum polishing
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2011, 09:16:50 PM »
I personally never used more than soft pumice and felt wheels in association with aluminum deoxidizer on cloudy finishes.

James seems to be on point here.



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87Warrior

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Re: Help with aluminum polishing
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2011, 12:53:01 AM »
Last weekend I tried out some smaller felt bobs from Northern along with the green stick from Lowes. Tried it out in an air cut off tool, air die grinder and air drill. It gave the surfaces i had sanded and started to polish a whole lot more shine, but it did NOT work on the irregular blasted surface that I hadn't sanded. What ever that crap is you can see in the second picture is not coming off with tools.

Am I SOL here?

James

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Re: Help with aluminum polishing
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2011, 02:07:00 AM »
Try to get some sanding disks for the die grinder or a blending disk for the drill.  Get the ones with the velcro backing so you can switch out disks with finer grits as you go.  Probably use a small angle grinder with a worn flap-disk too.  You can't polish until you have an even surface to work from.  There are a lot of options left to work with.
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orangeLJ

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Re: Help with aluminum polishing
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2011, 11:23:36 PM »
unfortunately nothign will remove the need to sand them first, its all just time and effort.


MiniVanMan

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Re: Help with aluminum polishing
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2011, 07:30:06 PM »
James is on the mark. If it were me, I'd say fuck it, scuff 'em and shoot 'em in flat black (have you guys noticed that I have a thing with flat black?).

But if you're trying to restore the shine, it's going to take time and effort, so have patience.

87Warrior

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Re: Help with aluminum polishing
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2011, 12:13:02 AM »
I believe it should be stated that this style of Moab wheel has a polished machined surface from the factory. Nothing like the shine I am getting out of them. The few machine lines that survived the acid or whatever the previous owner did, have been easily removed with sanding. So far I am very pleased with the results, just very slow.

I will not be painting anything on my rigs flat black. Satin is a bland as I am willing to go. Just a matter of opinion.