Project: Metal Polishing

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Andrew 2.8i
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Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sat Dec 05, 2015 3:30 pm

Hi All,
I thought I'd write a brief guide to inspire some of you to give metal polishing a go. I don't do this professionally, I'm simply an enthusiastic amateur, however, I can pass on some hits and tips that I've picked up along the way.

Firstly, you will need a small amount of equipment. For small projects a hobby rotary tool will do the job, like my well-used Rotacraft shown in the photo below. Even if you don't use it for metal polishing, this tool has a multitude of uses and I can't recommend one highly enough if you don't already own one.

You will also need some polishing compound. Shown in the photo are four different types, each has their own specific use. From left to right, brown is a coarse compound for using on heavily tarnished softer metals such as copper or aluminium. Blue is for finer final polishing of the same metals. Black is a coarse compound for using on heavily tarnished harder metal/alloys such as steel or iron. The white one is used for final polishing of those metals.

The technique is to use the coarse compound if the object you are polishing is heavily tarnished. Once the tarnishing is removed, you can switch to the finer compound to give the item a final polish. One tip here is to use one felt wheel for each type of compound, don't be tempted to contaminate the felt polishing wheel with different compounds.

Depending on how much tarnishing or rust is on the item that is to be polished, you will need different polishing wheels. The three shown to the right of the photo, in order of harshness, are a felt wheel, a stitch mop and a dolly, or dollie, mop. The idea here is to use the dolly mop first to remove rusty deposits, then use the stitch mop and finally use the felt wheel for the final polishing.

The equipment:

Image

Now, the fun begins....
Select your item to be polished, I'm going to use this thermotime switch:

Image

This particular item is only lightly rusty/tarnished, so I'm skipping the steps of first polishing with a coarse compound and stitch/dolly mops and simply giving the item a final polish using the fine blue compound, firstly with a stitch mop and then the felt wheel. Don't panic, the technique for each compound is identical, so you can still follow this guide.

The first stage is to lightly load your polishing wheel with the compound. It's only necessary to use a little amount, just a quick dab of the rotating felt wheel on the compound will suffice. If you apply too much compound, it will just take you longer to buff it all off. Here I am using the stitch mop on the fine blue compound.

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Then, on to the polishing....
Use the rotary tool on a slow speed and lightly hold the wheel against the object.

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Using the tool on a high speed or pressing the wheel too firmly against the object will result in the item getting extremely hot. This is not good for two reasons. The object will quickly become too holt to hold, but also the compound becomes sticky and difficult to polish. Make sure you thoroughly go over the whole surface before you go on the next stage. Don't worry if the part looks worse than when you started.

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When you're happy that the tarnishing has been removed, you're ready to move onto the final polishing. Change the stitch mop for the felt wheel and off you go again....

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There's no shortcuts here, the longer you spend on each stage of the polishing, the better the final finish will be. I rushed the polishing a bit, for the purposes of this demonstration, I only spent about 20 minutes in total on this thermotime switch. Obviously, the time taken will also depend on the condition of the item at the start of the process.

Getting there:

Image

The finished article (for now). I will spend a little more time on this buffing it to perfection, but as it's 90% finished and it's an engine part, I'll leave it until later.
Note: It looks a lot worse in the photos than it is to the eye, you really have to look hard to see the pitting that is evident in the photo. In addition, the shine is very difficult to successfully photograph.

Image

Image

A reminder. Before and after:

Image
Image

I hope that some of you will find this guide useful. Of course, metal polishing isn't exclusively for car parts. I've used the same techniques to successfully polish household items too.

If you have any questions or comments, I'll be pleased to answer them.

All the best,
Andrew.
Last edited by Andrew 2.8i on Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby andyd » Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:08 pm

Hi Andrew,
2 great guides you have put up today :applaud:
It must be more satisfying doing these little jobs yourself, looking forward to seeing your 2.8 next year hopefully :D

Keep up the good work :cool:

Andy

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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:50 pm

andyd wrote:2 great guides you have put up today :applaud:
It must be more satisfying doing these little jobs yourself, looking forward to seeing your 2.8 next year hopefully :D
Keep up the good work :cool:


Hi Andy,
Thanks for your support, I'm pleased that you enjoyed the guides.
It's very satisfying to be able to undertake these jobs myself and achieve a result that is almost equal to what a professional would manage.
Let's be honest, doing these jobs myself saves a bucketload of cash too! :D

You could spend a fortune having items polished by a professional, and they would still dull over time. Doing it myself means that I can keep on top of the jobs and maintain the shiny finish. Once the part has been cleaned and polished to a half decent standard, it doesn't take much time to keep it that way.

I hope to show off the fruits of my labours at Simply Ford in May, weather permitting! :D

All the best,
Andrew.
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Lez1962 » Sat Dec 05, 2015 7:57 pm

Hi Andrew,
Thanks for posting this thread it's very informative, I must get myself one of these tools as I'm sure I can find something to polish when I get my car back if there's anything left to polish that is. Can I ask you where you get the different polishing bars from?
Les.

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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:36 pm

Hi Les,
Thank you for your positive comments, they are much appreciated.
Lez1962 wrote: Can I ask you where you get the different polishing bars from?

Sorry Les, I forgot to mention that! I bought them from Ebay. There's plenty of choice, but the seller I bought them from no longer appears to be registered. Something similar to these:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Metal-Polishi ... LI-K9MyKig
The seller should hopefully give postage discounts if you buy more than one.

100g bars will be plenty enough to last a very long time for the hobby polisher.

I bought the felt wheels from of the many sellers on Ebay.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/50PCS-25mm-x- ... Sw9r1V7rrO

You can buy smaller sizes as well, to help get into smaller places.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/50PCS-13mm-x- ... SwuTxV7rt4

This is one of the rare occasions when I am happy to buy cheap foreign items. As well as the cheap ones, I also bought some expensive Silverline branded ones for comparison purposes, and they are exactly the same quality. There's only one downside, and that is the shipping from the far east takes around 2 weeks, so plan ahead!

If you have any further questions, I'll be happy to answer them.

All the best,
Andrew.
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:40 pm

Hi All,
I forgot to mention that with the correct attachments, the rotary tools can be used for polishing, grinding, sanding, wire brushing, cutting, drilling. You name it, it can be used for it! A very useful and adaptable tool to have.

All the best,
Andrew.
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Bertie » Sat Dec 05, 2015 8:46 pm

Agreed, two great guides and thanks for taking the time to write them up Andrew. Out of the two I would ean more towards the polishing simply due to having the tools required and couldn't have the chemicals used in the other process, not to protect me more my two Bernese who spend a lot of time with me in the garage.. :cool:

Cheers, Des

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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:00 pm

Bertie wrote:Agreed, two great guides and thanks for taking the time to write them up Andrew. Out of the two I would ean more towards the polishing simply due to having the tools required and couldn't have the chemicals used in the other process, not to protect me more my two Bernese who spend a lot of time with me in the garage.. :cool:


Hi Des,
Thank you for your comments, they are much appreciated. The metal polishing is worth a go as it's relatively straightforward, and is considerably cheaper than plating. It's a great feeling when you see the end result. As I said in the guide, although not as bad as it appears in the photo, I'm not 100% happy with the finished thermotime switch used in this guide, I'll give it another go to finish it off at a later date.

I agree that you're very wise not to attempt zinc plating for the reason you mention.

Good luck if you do decide to give the polishing a go, and please post some photos of your successful projects! :D

All the best,
Andrew.
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:05 pm

Hi All,
Although these two items were polished by a professional, it gives an indication of what can be achieved, simply by polishing. I use these as my motivation when I'm polishing! I assure you that they are the same items, before and after.

Before:
Image

After:
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby andyd » Sun Dec 06, 2015 8:21 am

Hi Andrew,
Happy Birthday :cheers:

Hope you're going to spend the day wisely.....In the garage :D

Andy

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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sun Dec 06, 2015 9:08 am

andyd wrote: Happy Birthday :cheers:

Hi Andy,
Thanks very much! Another year older.........
andyd wrote: Hope you're going to spend the day wisely.....In the garage :D

Of course, I'm going to spend the day sat on the settee I've got in the garage!! :lol:

All the best,
Andrew.
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sun Dec 06, 2015 10:27 am

Hi All,
Now my thermotime switch has been polished, it must be worth £50!
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Escort-RS-Tur ... SwnipWXZsF

Perhaps I should give up my day job........ :D

Andrew.
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Caprifan Rob » Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:14 am

Andrew 2.8i wrote:
andyd wrote: Happy Birthday :cheers:

Of course, I'm going to spend the day sat on the settee I've got in the garage!! :lol:

:D Happy Birthday mate :cheers: , looking at your guides I'd say you do spend most of your time in the garage :D
Excellent guides as usual, now sit down with a :beer: & enjoy.
Cheers
Rob

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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sun Dec 06, 2015 11:35 am

Freelanderfan wrote: :D Happy Birthday mate :cheers:

Hi Rob,
Cheers, thanks very much!

Freelanderfan wrote:looking at your guides I'd say you do spend most of your time in the garage


There's some truth in that......

All the best,
Andrew.
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sat Dec 12, 2015 8:07 pm

Hi All,
I had another pop at the thermotime switch. I have to say I'm quite pleased with how it looks now.Image
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Bertie » Sat Dec 12, 2015 8:48 pm

Andrew 2.8i wrote:Hi All,
I had another pop at the thermotime switch. I have to say I'm quite pleased with how it looks now.Image


Andrew.


Hi Andrew

Outstanding result... :cool:

you must need a pair of sunglasses on to look under your bonnet..any recent pics..?

Cheers, Des

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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sat Dec 12, 2015 9:03 pm

Hi Des,
Bertie wrote:Outstanding result... :cool: .

Thanks! :D
At the moment, this one is my spare....but it might get promoted to the engine bay, it depends on how the one currently fitted polishes up.

Bertie wrote:you must need a pair of sunglasses on to look under your bonnet..any recent pics..?

I've just checked and I don't have any recent photos of the engine. It's a work in progress at the moment with lots of cleaning, polishing and zinc plating going on!
The most recent photo I could find was taken by martinc92 at this year's Capri Club National meet.
Image

All the best,
Andrew.
Last edited by Andrew 2.8i on Sat Dec 12, 2015 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Caprifan Rob » Sat Dec 12, 2015 9:19 pm

That is amazing in fairness Andrew, has to be the cleanest engine in the UK !

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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby A king » Sat Dec 12, 2015 9:30 pm

I'm lost for words to say about your engine bay, several words come to mind like stunningly beautiful ellaglance pristine, so many words but I keep coming back to the same 5 words.


WISH THIS WAS MY BAY

you should be so so proud and you've given me info on how to try to achieve what you have achieved
The car you always promised yourself

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Re: Project: Metal Polishing

Postby Andrew 2.8i » Sat Dec 12, 2015 9:41 pm

Freelanderfan wrote:That is amazing in fairness Andrew, has to be the cleanest engine in the UK !

Hi Rob,
Thanks Rob! :D
Although I think that accolade belongs to my Toyota's engine, as it's even cleaner.....

All the best,
Andrew.
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