Bicycle Mechanics - Oxidized Aluminum Parts
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08-08-05, 04:23 PM
The bike I rescued sat in a basement for years. Then it was thrown into a dumpster and was rained on. What should I use to bring back the aluminum. Most of the psrts aren't that bad. The hubs are that bad!
08-08-05, 04:26 PM
Aluminum oxide isn't usually much of a problem, other than aesthetically. The oxidization of aluminum is a self-limiting process, so that as long as the environmental conditions don't change, it will proceed very slowly.
Search the forums for Turtle Wax or Aluminum Polish, and you'll find several threads on how to make it look nice and shiny again. However, it is a lot of work to put into something that's not going to make a functional difference, so I wouldn't bother unless this is a collectible-quality bike :)
08-08-05, 06:39 PM
You can renew oxidized parts with good wet and dry sandpaper. If its really bad you can start with 800 grit. Then you can move to Mothers Aluminum and Mag Polish.
Keep the paper really wet so it doesn't clog up.
If the surface isn't too bad, you can start with 1200 grit wet and dry.
ammonia can strip oxidization from alluminum but is better for frozen parts than cleaning
1. Simichrome polish. I learned about this German-made metal polish 40 years ago when I had a motorcycle with lots of aluminum parts that tended to get dull. I've never found anything better. Squeeze a tiny bit on a soft cloth, and rub the aluminum surface. It will remove oxidation and leave a soft lustre. If you keep rubbing, you can actually create a mirror finish! Great stuff, and it used to be reasonably priced, but I think a small tube now costs several dollars. I've seen it those swanky spots car accessory shops.
2. Nevr-Dull wadding polish (yes, that's the correct spelling). This product comes as a can filled with cotton wadding that's impregnated with a polishing compound. It's widely sold in hardware and housewares stores as a polish for brass fixtures, silverware, etc. You tear off a bit of the wadding and rub the metal until the oxidation or tarnish is removed, then you rub the piece with a soft cloth to buff it. You don't have to rub hard in either step.
I bought a can of Nevr-Dull ($5.99) last year to try on the tarnished, slightly rusty chrome plated frame of a 50-year old vibraphone. I couldn't believe how easily it removed the tarnish and even most of the rust. When I saw your question here, I ran down to the basement and tried Nevr-Dull on the oxidized 1982 SunTour Cyclone II derailleurs of my Trek restoration bike. Some of the surfaces originally had a dull finish, and now, they look smoother and the color is consistent. The parts that originally had a brighter finish polished up in seconds. They really glow! The chrome-plated derailleur hanger bolt glistens like new. I used just a pinch of the wadding, so I think it would be really economical to use.
I'm going to try this stuff on an inconspicuous place of a vintage Sugino GT crankset I bought for the Trek. I want a soft, patinata look, not overly bright. It may take some self-control to keep from going too far in polishing.
Neither of these products should be used on surfaces that have a lacquer coating or on painted areas. I guess that means you can't polish parts that have the maker's name stenciled or silk-screened onto them without damaging or removing the lettering. Otherwise, they really easy to use.
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