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Best vintage part polishing procedure

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Best vintage part polishing procedure

Old 10-17-18, 09:51 AM
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ShowMe417
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Best vintage part polishing procedure

Greetings all,

I'm cleaning some older brakes, shifters, crank arms, etc. and am curious how everyone here gets them to shine. Mine are dull and generally old looking.

What are your methods to make old and dull metal parts look new again?

Thanks

ShowMe
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Old 10-17-18, 10:06 AM
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I use bar keepers friend on a lot of metals.
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Old 10-17-18, 10:11 AM
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I file any nasty bits, if needed, then sand with 220 grit, then 400 grit then use a polishing flannel on motor with white polishing compound. Both the polishing flannel and the polishing compound were bought at Harbor Freight. If the parts are already in good condition and before I bought the polishing stuff, I would use Aluminum Polish like SimiChrome on a rag and rub the part by hand.
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Old 10-17-18, 11:17 AM
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Simichrome polish for both aluminum and chromed steel is my preference. Barkeeper's Friend on rusty chrome steel. Keep it away from aluminum. If the aluminum is anodized, then simply clean it, or maybe use a very mild polish like Meguiar's 17 plastic 'cleaner'.

I do not generally like to use sandpaper. Just my taste, but I would rather have a couple scratches than to lose the original surface, but it depends.

That said it's a useful skill to be able to take a piece of aluminum from rough filed filed to a mirror polish. Wet sanding with soapy water works as well as anything IME. I work up the grits and take it up to about 600 before polishing by hand. 400 if you have a power buff.
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Old 10-17-18, 11:39 AM
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For a part with lots of deep scratches, I used my Dremel with the small abrasive wool wheel on it to speed up the process of sanding them out, then follow it up with a fine sanding sponge block, then hit it with my drill attached polishing wheel, using polishing compound sticks of finer and finer grades. If it still looks a bit dull after the polishing wheel I hit it again using automotive aluminum wheel polish. If the finish gets too mirror-like for my taste, I swipe the part lightly with fine Scotchbrite, usually in the direction along the longest axis of the part, to give it that OEM light satin finish look.
Forgot to mention, you should try to eliminate all of the anodizing on the part before you start the polishing process as anodizing is very hard to sand off and can double the work on the part if you do not get rid of it first. Most use spray oven cleaner to do this.
Lots if work that is usually very messy, but you have to put the elbow grease into it to get the best polished finish
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Old 10-17-18, 01:46 PM
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Castro Super-clean mixt 50-50 with water then dismantle part completely then use a rotary polisher with a 9" pad mounted upside down with 3M finesse-it polish then rinse with water. Then a coat of Wolfgang deep gloss paint sealer paste. Its a wipe-on wipe-off paste that gives it an incredible gloss.


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Old 10-17-18, 01:57 PM
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And 'Elbow Grease' , aka labor..
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Old 10-17-18, 02:27 PM
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fine grade bronze wool on the stainless steel parts and Mothers on any alloy (Aluminum) parts
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Old 10-17-18, 04:59 PM
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Remove the grime with Simple Green or citrus cleaner - toothbrush, Then use 0000 steel wool and Rottenstone polishing compound with a soft rag.

What really makes a difference is completely disassembling the various components and cleaning each piece separately.
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Old 10-17-18, 05:01 PM
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I knew you C&V peeps wouldn't let me down. As much as I've scoured and drooled over your bike pics, its apparent to me most of you know a thing or two about cleaning bikes and polishing old parts.

Many thanks for the tips.

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Old 10-17-18, 05:30 PM
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I use the method as described here by John Prolly: https://theradavist.com/2009/10/tuto...bicycle-parts/

This includes removal of the anodizing - which some people don't like to do, but you'll struggle to get a mirror finish with it on. Also noting some vintage parts aren't anodized.

Oven cleaner aka Lye is nasty stuff, don't ignore the safety advice.
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Old 10-18-18, 12:04 AM
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Start with parts of decent finish quality, then Simichrome to make ’em shine! I just used Simichrome on this 30+year-old Super Champion rim, half done here, with remarkably little effort:

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Old 10-18-18, 03:45 AM
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Originally Posted by ShowMe417 View Post
Greetings all,

I'm cleaning some older brakes, shifters, crank arms, etc. and am curious how everyone here gets them to shine. Mine are dull and generally old looking.

What are your methods to make old and dull metal parts look new again?

Thanks

ShowMe
I posted this one here, not long ago.
Shine up those Mafac Racers
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Old 10-18-18, 04:32 AM
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Charles Wahl
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As you can see, there are more methods that people use than there are ways to skin a cat. Here's a sort of C&V ur-thread on the topic.
KHatfull's Aluminum Polishing Thread
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Old 10-18-18, 09:09 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by Charles Wahl View Post
As you can see, there are more methods that people use than there are ways to skin a cat. Here's a sort of C&V ur-thread on the topic.
KHatfull's Aluminum Polishing Thread
And what has become of @khatfull?
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Old 10-18-18, 10:18 AM
  #16  
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I know the post is about polishing but I'll also throw vapor honing / blasting out there as an option. It's a very mild process that removes corrosion and returns metal (especially aluminum and brass) to that perfect matte factory finish. It can remove mild rust and paint, but not great at grease so parts need to be degreased before hand. Like others have said, it's best to use files/sandpaper to remove scratches and pitting. It's not all that cheap but I'd imagine a whole bicycle worth of aluminum might cost around $100. I typically use this process when restoring aluminum engine cases, carbs and trim bits for Lambretta scooters and various motorcycle restorations. I'd post pics but i'm not to 10 posts yet!

In terms of polishing, Dremel tools are great for the small bits and tight places but there is not substitute for a proper polishing wheel. HF has one that doesn't suck.

Last edited by noahwayout; 10-18-18 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 10-18-18, 10:58 AM
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Much quicker than sanding is a convolute wheel on a bench grinder, ideally with a polishing wheel on the opposite side. The convolute wheel will quickly remove the old finish and any minor scratches, while conforming the part surface, to where the part will buff quite nicely. Below is the result of taking a black anodized aluminum stem, stripping the finish with the convolute wheel (preferred over using lye so that I could preserve the tight tolerance inner diameter features of the stem components) then buffing.

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