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  #1  
Old 08-07-2011, 08:30 PM
kevin_tbird kevin_tbird is offline
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Default Polishing Garnish Moldings

My garnish moldings (inside trim between the quarter window and the rear window) have some scratches in them. I've been told these are made of aluminum. Any suggestions on how to get rid of the scratches?
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:45 PM
Richard D. Hord Richard D. Hord is offline
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Hey Kevin,
Aluminum can be polished to look like chrome! There are kits out there to do this. Check this out! I'm sure there are more out there, this is just one of them!
http://www.eastwood.com/eastwood-buffing-kit.html
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  #3  
Old 08-08-2011, 01:16 AM
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Proper polishing is an art. The secret is found in a combination of wheel speed, pressure, and the right polishing compound. Oh, and the action you use holding the part against the wheel.

Most hard metals like stainless, need enough pressure to make the part HOT. A cordless drill won't do it. A 3,600-rpm bench polisher works best with a sewn rag wheel (I stack my rag wheels). Of course, polishing soft materials like plastic and paint will burn with too much heat. Match your compound with the part you are polishing (glass, hard metal, soft metal - like copper & brass, plastic, paint. If your scratches are deep, start with fine sandpaper or a rough compound and graduate to the finer compounds. You must cut to the bottom of each scratch, then polish.

The demonstration guy in the video used WAY too much compound, and managed to gum-up the wheel. The idea is to let the compound's friction cut the top off your metal. Sticks of compound suspend abrasive powder with wax. Heat from friction, interacts with the wax which releases the abrasive and polishing begins. When the heat goes away (and polishing stops) it's time to put a little more compound on the wheel. Like brushing your teeth, too much toothpaste isn't beneficial. Most polishing is done dry.

Polish in an area that you don't care about getting dirty because black pieces of metal, rag, and compound will fly in every direction, off the buffing wheel. It's much better to bring the piece to a bench buffing wheel, than to put a wheel in a drill motor. Bumper chrome shops muscle the entire bumper, against their huge industrial wheels to get that show quality mirror shine. - Dave
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Old 08-08-2011, 01:17 AM
tmjsong1aolcom tmjsong1aolcom is offline
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Unfortunately the pieces you are talking about are chrome steel.

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Old 08-10-2011, 10:23 AM
kevin_tbird kevin_tbird is offline
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Actually Fuz they can't be chromed steel. They are not magnetic. I'm talking about the inside trim. They are flat metal with ribs that run horizontally.
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Old 08-10-2011, 03:37 PM
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Fuz is right, but so is Kevin... it's non-polishable chromed pot metal, like so many chromed parts.

I think Fuz's point is, don't waste your time and money polishing. A chrome shop can restore it to 'brand new' condition.
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Old 08-11-2012, 02:59 PM
Yadkin Yadkin is offline
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I'd like to polish the center console parts. They appear to be brushed aluminum. Has anyone had luck doing this?
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:08 PM
newbird59 newbird59 is offline
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Yadkin and Kevin,

I have taken my time to restore the stainless center pieces...it took a while but it turned out beautiful. Dave is correct about a lot of things here...cut and polish are terms you should be familiar with. cutting is when you pull towards you against the rotation of the wheel. Polishing is when you push down with the rotation of the wheel. You always want to finish in a polish motion. Also: compound (rouge) Should be added frequently and and lightly as Dave said.

The first step I took was to get a set of filing tools and a trim and body hammer to take out all the dents of the trim (it there are any) I hit all of the bumps out as best as possible to get everything even...there is only so much you can sand down if you only use sandpaper, sponges or files.


Second step is the filing part...I filed down until I got everything flat/curved the way I wanted. I didn't press down firmly..I let the tool do the work. If you push too hard, you'll end up making grooves that will be too deep for you to sand out easily (it is possible though)

Next i got some sanding sponges from Home Depot. 3M is my favorite...I've tried everything else and these are legit! I got medium grain, fine grain and also extra fine grain. I went in that order to get all the filing/other scratches out. This skips the sandpaper mess...although on bigger trim I did use sandpaper.


After that i got a polishing wheel kit from Home Depot that attaches to a drill bit. I got four different wheels. All of which I member with a Sharpie marker from #1-#4. Each wheel I used had a different compound.


After this gave me a pain, I ditched this and got a bench buffer from Harbor Freight for about $50 bucks..man am I happy I made that choice...I kept slipping a knocking the stainless with the metal tightened on the drill because I had to hold the drill and also the wheels were too small. About 3-4" or so :/ So I got a bunch of buffing wheels for the bench grinder (which went A LOT more smooth. No pun intended heh) and number them like I did the drill wheels. They are all pictured in the small tray on the polishing stand.



I did all of this for the windows, 1960 interior door spears and other things. The only thing I did differently is I used sandpaper instead of sponges. On larger surfaces, it worked better. I also used wet sandpaper to finish of before the bench polisher.
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Old 08-11-2012, 09:11 PM
newbird59 newbird59 is offline
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Here are some sample photos.





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Old 08-12-2012, 01:29 AM
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'Metal Finisher' is one of those classifications known in the auto industry as a 'semi-skill', meaning it is not an apprenticeable trade. In stamping and assembly plants, Metal Finishers save the company tons of money. Without using any fillers, they make dents (that go in) and dings (that come out) absolutely invisible before the car goes to Paint or the part goes to Plating.

The 'pick' tools they use are usually hand made for specific panels. Some are very long rods (for use inside cowl tops) with a point at the end, or a 90* bend just before the point. The Finisher will never hammer the pick, instead he feels the amount of pressure he uses to push the point into the metal, causing a small ding. It is a real treat to see Metal Finishers work on the line. They know when to file, sand, and most importantly, when to STOP.

On a stamping press line, if a draw die gets a 'slug' (small piece of steel or dirt) stuck to the punch, by the time the first fender gets to the end of the line, there may be 25 fenders with the same flaw, but now they all have a headlight bucket and a support strut welded in. So, these guys slay dragons a lot and the more finishing they do, the better they get.

Body files are flat wide, and long. After 'picking' small dings into or around a flaw from the back side, Finishers usually only need to lightly file or fine-sand the surface smooth. Then it's on to the polish wheels.

Notice your Harbor Freight polishing motor rotates AT LEAST 3,600-rpm. An old washing machine motor (1,750-rpm) doesn't go fast enough regardless of HP. Polishing requires a lot of pressure to create heat and sewn buffing wheels work best. The motor must be powerful enough to not bog down. Real chrome shops use large diameter wheels to create lots of surface speed. Of course, they're doing bumpers and you are doing small trim pieces.

Most folks don't know but, if you have a favorite chrome shop, they will usually do your polishing for you. If they're already doing work for you, they will usually give you a break on small polishing jobs because they can knock them out fast. They have superior equipment and these guys developed their technique by polishing every day. If you buy all the right equipment, you can polish, but you won't be as efficient untill you do it every day. It's like car painters. - Dave
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