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  1. #1
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    Am I a complete idiot? (Metal Polishing)

    I am fixing up an old Nishiki for a friend of mine, and today was using my rotary tool with a soft brass brush fixing to remove some of the tougher crud on the chainrings. That seemed to work pretty well, so I used the same method to remove some rust and crud on the seat post where it had been clamped in the frame for years. Once again, that seemed to work pretty well and also left a nice polish behind. I thought that looked pretty nice, so I polished the whole seat post followed by the stem. They both look nice, but now I'm pretty sure that I should have learned something about polishing metals before I went that far. From a Google and BF search it appears that I may have just made those parts more prone to tarnish in the future. Is that so? If it is, is there anything I can do short of replacing the parts? The brush didn't leave any noticeable scratches on the metal.

  2. #2
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    Yes, more prone to tarnishing now. Keep polishing...

  3. #3
    Senior Member matimeo's Avatar
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    they sell automotive polish that is supposed to protect metal from rusting- I'd look into something like that

  4. #4
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    There's an auto restoration supply company (www.eastwood.com) that sells polishing supplies. I have a spray can of something called Nyalic that I bought from them years ago, and it is a clear finish designed to protect polished surfaces- I believe it was developed by NASA. Not sure if they still carry it, but it's good stuff.

  5. #5
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    I've de-anodized and polished several parts, including stems and seatposts....keeping them bare. Occassional polishing keeps them clean and tarnish free.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Get the Mother's or Blue Magic metal polish at the auto-parts stores. It's an ammonia-based chemical polish that'll keep the bare surfaces shiny. Not has harsh as the wire-brush method and it really brings out the gloss.

  7. #7
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    Thanks all. It looks like I've got some options then.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Don't be ridiculous! This crank is bare aluminum and I've had it for thirty years. I hit it with some metal polish maybe twice a year.

  9. #9
    Sasquatch Crossing mycoatl's Avatar
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    Dirtdrop, I love the simplex chainguard! Me want!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtdrop
    Don't be ridiculous! This crank is bare aluminum and I've had it for thirty years. I hit it with some metal polish maybe twice a year.
    That is quite nice. My concern is that I'm giving this bike to a friend, so I don't want it to be all nice and shiny now, but then look like crap in 6 months.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Ray Dockrey's Avatar
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    Yeah, but this person is going to have to realize that it will require cleaning and maintenance every so often to keep it looking nice. Any bike would look like crap after six months if you didn't keep it clean and polished.

  12. #12
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    The best aluminum polish there is, is Mothers mag wheel polish available at auto parts stores. Once it is polished a coat of wax will help it stay shiny longer. The hot rodders now use Zoop Seal to keep the shine. I haven't used it myself, so no rave review. bk

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Dockrey
    Yeah, but this person is going to have to realize that it will require cleaning and maintenance every so often to keep it looking nice. Any bike would look like crap after six months if you didn't keep it clean and polished.
    I totally agree, I just don't want to be creating more maintenance than is necessary. She hasn't ridden since childhood and is getting back into things. The Nishiki was a good deal for both of us. I had it sitting around and was looking for a winter project. She was looking for a bike that wasn't going to cost $500+. I plan on making sure she is aware of the maintenance needed to keep it functioning. I don't want to dump some additional cosmetic issues on her just because I was a moron for a few minutes.

  14. #14
    Senior Member raverson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mycoatl
    Dirtdrop, I love the simplex chainguard! Me want!
    Me want's too!

    Don't be afraid to polish the bare aluminum. It will make the bike look better than when it was new and if it's kept indoors when not being ridden it will take little maintenance to keep up.

    I have used Zephyr polish on all kinds of aluminum products where hand polishing was necessary and always with excellent results. Small round smooth parts such as stems and seatposts are particularly easy to buff and should shine up quickly.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkaapcke
    The best aluminum polish there is, is Mothers mag wheel polish available at auto parts stores. Once it is polished a coat of wax will help it stay shiny longer. The hot rodders now use Zoop Seal to keep the shine. I haven't used it myself, so no rave review. bk
    Mother's followed by a coat of wax is what I've been using. It's important not to touch the parts after polishing them. I wear examination gloves.

    I like to buy old cranksets, strip off the anodizing with oven cleaner and polish them. I'm working on a Shimano 600 Abaresque right now. I've also done stems, seatposts and brakes. I never strip and polish vintage Campy parts. They're sacred.

  16. #16
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    what about aluminum frames like Trek? Anyone strip the paint and polish them? I think that'd be a cool project, to have a mirror or satin polished finish on certain parts of the frame.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rover
    I am fixing up an old Nishiki for a friend of mine, and today was using my rotary tool with a soft brass brush fixing to remove some of the tougher crud on the chainrings. That seemed to work pretty well, so I used the same method to remove some rust and crud on the seat post where it had been clamped in the frame for years. Once again, that seemed to work pretty well and also left a nice polish behind. I thought that looked pretty nice, so I polished the whole seat post followed by the stem. They both look nice, but now I'm pretty sure that I should have learned something about polishing metals before I went that far. From a Google and BF search it appears that I may have just made those parts more prone to tarnish in the future. Is that so? If it is, is there anything I can do short of replacing the parts? The brush didn't leave any noticeable scratches on the metal.

    I think the problem here is that you've been recomended metal POLISH....not anything that SEALS the surface from the enviroment.

    the problem with a metal sealer that is sold commercially is that once it's applied, touching the part or exposing it to water or extreme moisture will remove the sealer. Most will howl and say that moisture can't do that but go ahead and call up the manufacturer of any of those sealing products and ask.

    the problem is that you've removed the clear anodized layer from the metal. the only way to get it back is the re-anodize the part.

    trust me, you'll have to polish these parts to keep them looking the way they do today. congrats.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thesuper
    I think the problem here is that you've been recomended metal POLISH....not anything that SEALS the surface from the enviroment.

    the problem with a metal sealer that is sold commercially is that once it's applied, touching the part or exposing it to water or extreme moisture will remove the sealer. Most will howl and say that moisture can't do that but go ahead and call up the manufacturer of any of those sealing products and ask.

    the problem is that you've removed the clear anodized layer from the metal. the only way to get it back is the re-anodize the part.

    trust me, you'll have to polish these parts to keep them looking the way they do today. congrats.
    Wax has been recommended. It seals the surface. Repolishing and waxing the parts just takes a few minutes. None of the aluminum parts on my early '70s french bikes were ever anodized. I've had my '74 Peugeot PX10 since it was new. Keeping the aluminum parts polished has not been a great hardship.

    The only anodized aluminum part on my wife's mixte is the handlebars. Maintaining the polished parts is no big deal. The 17' wheels on the truck are another story.

    Last edited by Grand Bois; 12-03-06 at 09:29 AM.

  19. #19
    My bikes became Vintage OLDYELLR's Avatar
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    rover, as you will have gathered, you removed what was left of the anodizing when you did your polishing. Practically all aluminum alloy parts are anodized to resist atmospheric corrosion. Contrary to what most people believe, anodizing is just a thicker, harder coating of amuminum oxide than what forms naturally. It is clear, with less lustre than polished aluminum. Sometimes it is dyed different colours or gold, which is what people think of as "anodizing". Once you polish anodized aluminum you will always have to keep polishing it, but waxing will keep it shiny longer. Hey, at least the alloy parts on our bikes aren't clearcoated like "mag" wheels on cars, which get really ugly after they've been attacked by salt and are a lot more work to strip and polish.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Nessism's Avatar
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    On newer parts you shouldn't use any kind of abrasive polish on them or you will take off the anodizing. After the parts get old and corrosion occurs on the surface, polishing will make the part look beter by removing the residual anodizing and corrosion but the corrosion will return more quickly than before. Wax will help some but is not a good a protectant as the origional anodizing.
    Becareful buying/selling bike parts on-line. I learned the hard way. :(

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  21. #21
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Here's a crank that I'm working on today for my wifes's Fuji. This is after about 20 minutes of polishing. I'd say it's about half way there. It will look like chrome after I finish buffing it out.

    It's going to look a lot better than it did before.

  22. #22
    Senior Member gbalke's Avatar
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    Polished Crank Arm

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtdrop View Post
    Here's a crank that I'm working on today for my wifes's Fuji. This is after about 20 minutes of polishing. I'd say it's about half way there. It will look like chrome after I finish buffing it out.
    Hey Dirtdrop, that 600EX crank looks pretty nice. Did you have to remove the anodizing prior to polishing? Do you plan on highlighting the scroll work?
    Last edited by gbalke; 01-05-09 at 03:56 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    This thread is two years old!

    Yes, I stripped it with Easy Off. I did no highlighting on that one, but polishing leaves black aluminum in the engraved areas that looks like black paint if you don't remove it.

    If you want low maintenance, have it chromed.


  24. #24
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    That crank is so luscious I could lick it. If I weren't worried about getting my tongue caught in the chain, maybe.

    I love new members, they raise the most interesting threads from the dead.

  25. #25
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    ill polish most aluminum and put a mirror finish on it for a price.. pretty easy really.. brass on alum=abrasive..

    turtle wax = tarnish protection..

    process = vvveeerrry labor intensive and messy... the Tiwanese dont even do it... lol

    got a pair of aero bars i removed the anodizing and did a rough polish on..

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