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Protecting aluminium bike parts from oxidation

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Protecting aluminium bike parts from oxidation

Old 02-06-24, 07:49 AM
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Protecting aluminium bike parts from oxidation

I am restoring an old bike from the 80s. I have sanded and polished aluminum parts to the shine, and removed rust. How can I protect these parts from further oxidation? I was looking at eloxation of aluminium, but this parts on the bike are old, and and parts could be actualy mixed with other materials, so eloxation is risky.

Has anyone else stumbled upon this problem of protecting aluminum from oxidation?
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Old 02-06-24, 08:01 AM
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A simple application of a wax based polishing compound or Carnuba ought to do the trick. Mother's Aluminum and Magnesium Polish is available from the accessories and detailing section of your local auto parts store.

There are other polishes that wipe away clean. Never-Dull or maybe even Barkeeper's friend "polish" by chemical action with the top layer of atoms leaving a raw, bare item. I'd personally stay away from those. The raw surface will be eager to react with the environment.

The idea behind wax is to permeate the pores of the material blocking infiltration of oxygen and/other electrolytes that would facilitate reactivity. It's normal and expected to periodically refresh wax based polishes with elbow grease on an "as needed" basis.
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Old 02-06-24, 08:10 AM
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Concur with the Mothers Mag suggestion. It works really well. It may take several re-applications and buffing to get some ingrained blemishes out…but you can get aluminum and alloy components really shiny. It’s a white paste, and as you begin to buff it turns black…I guess because of the oxidation.

https://mothers.com/products/mag-and...m-polish-05101

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Old 02-06-24, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_
Concur with the Mothers Mag suggestion. It works really well. It may take several re-applications and buffing to get some ingrained blemishes out…but you can get aluminum and alloy components really shiny. It’s a white paste, and as you begin to buff it turns black…I guess because of the oxidation.

https://mothers.com/products/mag-and...m-polish-05101

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Old 02-07-24, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by daviddt
I was looking at eloxation of aluminium, but this parts on the bike are old, and and parts could be actualy mixed with other materials, so eloxation is risky.
I was going to suggest anodization until I looked up "eloxation". Chemistry is hard enough without multiple names for the same reaction.
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Old 02-08-24, 01:19 PM
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I don't know if this helps but interestingly enough there is a guy on youtube (bikefarmer). He uses furniture polish on the bikes and / sometimes will use a light sheen of oil to keep parts looking good. this would, of course, still require re-application / maintenance...
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Old 02-08-24, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by daviddt
Has anyone else stumbled upon this problem of protecting aluminum from oxidation?
No, I don't have much of a problem with this. Almost all my vintage Cinelli stems and bar sleeves have been deanodized and polished. I use Mother's polish as a last step. They seldom need any attention. But when they do form spotting, I simply reapply a tiny amount of Mother's. I don't ride in the rain.

None of my seatposts were initially anodized, but most of them too were sanded and polished. For some reason, they spot up more than any other polished component. And again, it just takes a little bit of Mother's and a few seconds time to remove the spotting, which I do maybe once every couple of months.
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Old 02-11-24, 07:06 AM
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Although not mainstream, I experimented in my position as a Marine tech on weathered Carbon fiber AND refinished aluminum with glossy floor polish coating.

it goes on easily with rag or sponge and dries to leave a protective water-resistant coating.

I cleaned a set of aluminum rims and non-ss spokes (from the galvanizing) and then applied liberally; they feel smooth to the touch and wipe off nicely.

Another tip for your toolbox of solutions.
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Old 02-11-24, 08:37 AM
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As long as you're not in a really humid environment with dissimilar metals aluminum doesn't need much. After being worked/exposed it forms its own protective coating (aluminum oxide).
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Old 02-17-24, 02:57 PM
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Clear lacquer spray will block the oxygen in the air and prevent oxidation of the metal.
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Old 02-17-24, 07:20 PM
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I could be remembering this wrong, but it is my understanding that unless you work the metal in an oxygen-free environment, and then completely seal the surfaces in that environment before exposing it to oxygen, you cannot prevent the surface of raw aluminum from oxidizing on contact with oxygen. As soon as it is exposed, the surface forms aluminum oxide. However, that is the end of it on a sound part (no cracks) - it doesn’t continue to eat into the material, like iron oxide (rust that forms on steel or iron) will usually do.
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Old 02-17-24, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa
None of my seatposts were initially anodized, but most of them too were sanded and polished. For some reason, they spot up more than any other polished component.
Are you a triathlete?
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Old 02-17-24, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuck M
Are you a triathlete?
Yeah, I don't understand why that is happening. I touch the bar sleeve and stem waaaay more often. It's a curious thing but not any big deal.
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Old 02-19-24, 02:29 AM
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I have some vintage Specialized hubs that were never anodized to begin with. I hadn't thought about using metal polish on them, but my idea of a metal polish was basically from my years ago using Brasso. I wanted to polish some other non-cycling things and looked up all the various metal polishes there are these days.... LOTS !.... and decided to get some Blue Magic as it seemed to get good results for a reasonable price. The ammonia smell is notable, but darned if it isn't effective ! So of course I then had to try it out on some bike parts that weren't anodized like DT shifters, some Campy seatposts and Specialized hubs from the 80's. Blue Magic is advertised as "cleans, shines and protects", and my application has confirmed that. I polished the Specialized front hub on a wheel I ride every day in season and I was expecting the shine to wear off quickly, but it's been over six months and it still sparkles in the Sunshine, so I'm happy.
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Old 02-19-24, 06:56 AM
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Two options:
~Clear powder coating (expensive, but permanent)
~Honda spray applied twice a year (cheap, but labor-intensive)

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Old 02-19-24, 10:29 AM
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i'm in the middle of restoring this cool 80s bike, polished up the aluminum parts to a shine, got rid of rust, but now I'm scratching my head about protecting them from more oxidation.

i was eyeing aluminum anodizing, but since these parts are old and might be a mix of materials, it feels kinda risky. Anybody else run into this? What's the secret sauce for keeping that vintage aluminum looking fresh without taking a gamble on anodizing?
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Old 02-23-24, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by pppittpeter
i'm in the middle of restoring this cool 80s bike, polished up the aluminum parts to a shine, got rid of rust, but now I'm scratching my head about protecting them from more oxidation.

i was eyeing aluminum anodizing, but since these parts are old and might be a mix of materials, it feels kinda risky. Anybody else run into this? What's the secret sauce for keeping that vintage aluminum looking fresh without taking a gamble on anodizing?

once you’ve got them polished, maintaining it is a lot easier than restoring; Mothers’ mag wheel polish (the paste style that comes in a jar) gives good results without a huge effort and provides a small measure of protection as-is.
Renewing it a couple times per year only takes a few minutes.
Hot Rod guys will often wax their chrome instead of clear coating it; once you seal it, you will have to strip it off to deal with scuffs, scratches or contamination.
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Old 03-02-24, 04:03 AM
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Try Renaissance Wax. Micro-crystalline structure. Works well and is easy on and off.
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