I've been at it again! I've sourced a headlight relay with the intention of giving it a bit of a refurb and keeping it as a working spare.
As you can see, it's in typical condition for one of these with a bit of corrosion and a fair bit of oxidisation of the metal.
The purpose of this guide is to give you some pointers if you want to try some polishing yourself at home. In addition, it shows that non-mint items aren't necessarily only fit for the scrapheap. Even if you don't want to do the work yourself, taking the item to a professional metal finisher will get even better results than I've achieved.
Unfortunately, I've only got rudimentary tools (a rotary drill) so it will take a while to get the desired results. First off, a time check.
I started off using a dolly mop, sourced from Moleroda https://www.moleroda.com/
with a course (black) compound for steel.
After about 30 minutes, the relay looked like this.
Admittedly, at this stage there isn't a lot to show for your time, but as evere with prep work, time spent at this stage will improve the end result.
Evidently the clock has a flat battery......
Next, I switched to a softer polishing material. I used a stitch mop, but a felt wheel can also be used. At this stage I am still using the black compound.
The relay cover at the conclusion of this stage.
Now, it's time to move on to the second stage of polishing. I switched to a less abrasive (white) compound. It's important to not mix different types of polishing compound on the same mop or felt wheel. Use a different one for each colour compound. Just before this photo was taken, I dropped the polishing compound on the floor, breaking it into several pieces. That's why there is only a small bit here.
Although there doesn't appear to be much reward for the hard work that has been put in so far, it's at this stage where the magic starts to happen.
After about 2.5 hours of polishing (I did say it took longer with a small rotary drill), but most of that was taken up with getting right into the nooks and crannies. I think I might treat myself to a bench mounted polishing wheel to speed things up a bit and possibly to improve the final results.
The more observant amongst you will see that there is still a small amount of pitting where the worst of the corrosion was. I'm not saying that the finished article is perfect, but it looks much better in person than it does in these HD photos.
The pitting can be polished out, however, you will then run the risk of damaging the writing. Besides, I think we can all agree that the end result is a dece3nt improvement on how it was in the first photo.
To finish off, I switched to a blue compound for the softer metal of the copper and brass electrical connections. Again, I used a polishing wheel that is used solely with blue compound.
Not quite finished, but I was running out of light to take the photos.
In conclusion, before and after.
Yes, I could have got better results by taking it to a professional metal finisher, but it's kind of satisfying doing it yourself.
Give it a go, you know you want to!