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Discussion Starter #1
I know this question has been beaten into the ground, but upon my searching, I cant find a definitive answer on how is the best way to polish aluminum or steel.

I figure if someone gives me a good reply this thread can go into the archives to be searched for in the future.

As part of my "Engine Beautification Project" I am going to polish things like the upper intake, the alternator, the turbo heat sheild, and whatever else looks like crap. Im also doing some other major cleanup like reorganizing the wiring and vacuum arrangments, etc. Ive got polished hardpipes and the engine bay was painted when the car was done (engine was out) so now I just have to be rid of nasty aluminum and electrical taped up wires...The interior restoration is near completion, my list of "to-do" mods is getting very short and I need to tie up some loose ends. Come this summer the car will be up to my standards. Im a perfectionist by nature.

Anyhow.

Like I said, im looking to polish some aluminum and steel components of my engine bay.

How is this done, what is the best way.

From what I gather, you use a grinder with a steel brush first, but after that, no one really goes in depth, and if thats all people are doing I imagine the pictures are decieving because a steel brush is going to leave mad swirl marks. I want a very nice, smooth, true polished finish and im willing to put the time in to do it right.
 

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Republican
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i belive you wet sand it, with increasingly higher grit(up to 2000), then use metal polish? i belive that will work....
 
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Discussion Starter #3
This might be really stupid question, but I have never wet sanded anything.

Is wet sanding basically using a normal sander with a small amount of water, or do you need a special tool. I plan to use like a grinder, and small orbital sander, a dremel tool, and finally my hands...but since sand paper is essentially paper with sand on it, I dont think water would mix well with it.

There has to be at least special sandpaper designed for wet sanding
 

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wet sanding uses a specific paper, some types allow wet or dry sanding... but i think wet sand paper is too weak to scrub metal off, when its wet..... i've tried to use wet sand to polish my pipes..... doesnt really work... it makes it brighter but it doesnt have a mirror finish. I believe u use wet sand paper to finish off the smoothness of it, use something more abrasive.
Louis
 
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Discussion Starter #6
So to answer my own question with the help of Rajunz Link:

To Polish Aluminum:

1st Stage - Rough Cut To Remove Scratches
Use Sisal Wheel With Emery (Black) Compound

2nd Stage - Final Cut and Initial Polish
Use Spiral Sewn Wheel With Tripoli (Brown) Compound

3rd Stage - Final Polish (or Luster)
Use Loose Cotton Wheel With Blizzard (White) Compound

*These wheels can be found at link above


To Polish Steel:

1st Stage - Rough Cut To Remove Scratches
Use Sisal Wheel With Emery (Black) Compound

2nd Stage - Final Cut and Initial Polish
Use Spiral Sewn Wheel With Blizzard (White) Compound

3rd Stage - Final Polish (or Luster)
Use Loose Cotton Wheel With Blue Rouge (Blue) Compound

Note: Only difference between the two is the compounds used.
 

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Republican
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The problem with doing it that way, it is easy to burn thru the metal.... so watch out!
 
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Discussion Starter #9
Intake manifold? Alternator?

Those are like 1/2" thick metal...shouldnt be that easy to do. Anyhow, I will be careful.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Another bookmark for me!

Yeah, im going to polish a bunch of crap over the winter. There is some mild oxidation on some parts that I want to get rid of.

Im gonna polish the intake, my hardpipes, throttle linkage, alternator, turbo heat shield...then im going to paint the timing cover and get my unorthodox pullies, do something with the valve covers, and reogranize all the wiring. Then I should be pretty happy with the underhood situation.
 

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TheFastCoonAss
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You're never gonna burn through the metal. The easiest way to do polishing is to get a bench grinder and mount it, that way you can hold the part with both hands. The secret is to water sand it until all of the scratches are all gone. The rouges will do all the rest of the work. When you build up just the right amount of heat it starts to polish real fast, this takes a little practice. Invest in a face sheild and apron, it gets messy. Sears and Home Depot sell alot of the equipment and rouges. Also, here:

http://www.eastwoodco.com/department.asp?dep_key1=mfb&SKW=FBUFF
 

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V A S U P R A S
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Dont try to polish steel!!!!! you will remove the zinc coating and it WILL RUST.


Im about to invest in a buffer (looks like a bench grinder, only with bufing wheels), I have been polishing with sandapaper and that takes some time. Wet sanding is only good for the final stages. Like if you sand the part with 200 grit paper, once it has been gone over very well with 200 grit, then wet sand it with 200 grit before moving to the next grain level.

FYI if you have a good drill you can go to home depot, they sell a buffing kit, comes with a 3 sdifferent sized wheels, and 3 bars of compound. Only like $12, very affordable.

I use the black&decker mouse for a lot of my sanding. I pilshed my valve covers by hand, wow that was a LOT of work and it took me all summer.

I do not reccomend using the dremel "sandpaper drum" on anything unless your removing a cast mark pr something.... those things really dig into the surface faster than you think and ruin the part.

Does anyone know how to polish the inside of a intake manifold?
 

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Polishing the inside of the manifold I think you would need a steel brush with an swivel extension...search for that...someone has brought that up, ive read it somewhere on the forums....thanks alot for posting all this stuff ive searched for like 1 hour yesterday about this and today i found "how to polish"...nice timing :D
 
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Discussion Starter #15
Im going to coat everything I polish after I do so...Im not sure what I will coat the heat shield with that wont melt off but the other stuff I will probably coat it with a basic clear coat paint or varnish.
 

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The best thing I have found for polishing is to take a 90 degree angle grinder and put on the 3m twist lock sanding discs and use finer and finer grits(or surface cond. discs). The intake manifolds for the supras are very rough cast and sanding them down first will remove all the crap and smooth them out. Then go over it with the polisher and it comes out very nice. Using a bead tumbler works well too. I have also heard of guys using bead blasters with finer and finer beads to achieve a smooth surface then take it to the polisher for final touch up. It takes a good 5 or 6 hours of work to get it looking decent, even longer if you are really anal and want every nook and cranny polished. You will end up with black boogers if you don't use a face mask!!
 

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Has anyone smelled Raman Noodles after polishing for a while? I think the compound of the metal smells just like Ooodles of Noodles.......
 
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Discussion Starter #18
Well, I might attempt to do some of the parts tonight. Definetly not the intake just yet, im not ready to take that off the car. I might run out to home depot to get some of the supplies.

I might also wait until closer to xmas when I can spend an entire weekend and just do it all at once (polishing, wire looms, etc) Im just really anxious to see how some of it comes out.
 

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VIVA LA M.A.S.H. Midwest
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Just a suggestion..... but on the Indy car wheels that cost a bazillion dollars.... we use a water & baking soda paste with a high speed buffer. Seems to do the job quite nicely.
As for rough cast material, use a right angle grinder with a scotchbrite disk attached and take out all the "highs and lows" first. Then go to a pollishing wheel with some med-fine compound.
 
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