The current project I’m working on has some oxidized and slightly pitted aluminum covers. I’ve decided that a polished look is what I’m after, so time to use a little bit of elbow grease to bring out the shine.
Step 1 – Sanding
If your part looks like the above picture, then you will need to sand the part. Air sanders do help speed this process up, however there are areas that you will have to do manually. Now, I started with the abrasive wheel on buffing machine, then 400 grit, just to see if that is all I needed. Turns out there were some pits, dings, and scratches that had to be worked out with 180 grit. I probably should have focused more time with 220 instead, as the 180 left some deep scratches that I need to go back and fix.
So the first stage of sanding is going to take the longest, as you are working out all the defects. Then you can move on to finer grits such as 220, 320, 400, & 600. If the paper clogs up, try wet sanding with water and a drop of dish soap and clean the paper and part often.
Step 2 – Spiral Wheel & Tripoli Compound
Once your part is leveled out to 600 grit (you can go to higher grits if you are looking for a show finish), its time to start buffing. Buffing is so much easier and faster than sanding, and the results show up quickly. Apply just a little compound, don’t go crazy, and apply it often. Use the buff rake to clean the wheel if it becomes caked up.
Step 3 – Loose Wheel & White Rouge Compound
The final buffing step will really bring out the shine. The step is the same as step 2, however you are using a finer cut. The wheel allowed me to polish the recessed “Honda” lettering also, which came out really nice. So below is the final product after spending 1hr sanding, and about 20min total buffing. Now I have to do the other 2 covers.