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Ever want to bring new life to aluminum pieces? Well in this tech tip I will show you the easy way (and inexpensive) way to restore aluminum and polish it.

In this first pic is the tool you will need to get started. Pictured here is a pistol grip grinder and a light (red) and medium (brown) 3M Roloc disc. These are used for the removal of old clear coat and the ugly dark spots from the aluminum piece.

This is the part that I am going to clean and buff today. It is the grab bar off the back of my motorcycle but I'm sure everyone will get the jist of what were doing here. Notice the discoloration in the clear and aluminum.

I start off by using the brown medium Roloc disc to remove the oxidation and old clear

then after removing the crud and getting to the good material I switch to the light red Roloc disc

As you can see this almost eliminated the deep marks from the first step.

Next up is to use a piece of 320 or 400 grit sand paper. In this process the shine really starts to return as the heavy scratches have almost be en eliminated

Now comes the buffing, For this I use a pistol grip mini buffer and a coarse buffing pad. The buffing material used is 3M's heavy Duty Buffing Compound. The more you use, the better but be sure to wear glasses and a apron as it will sling a lot

In this shot you will see the 3M compound does a great job by its self.

Even though its looking great I prefer one more step and it takes a little time. I finish up with some Aluminum polish by hand and a cotton cloth. The red ones you get at Autozone Etc. work good as they are a little abrasive. I prefer PPC's "Easy" aluminum polish. It is a polish and a protector, that keeps the shine for quite a while.

To do this whole piece with several different lines, it took about 1.5 hours. This process has worked well for me and have done intakes, valve covers, and yes even a whole transmission with this same process. Best of all total material cost was around 35 bucks. Have fun with it and polish away! But dont be surprised if your buddies are willing to pay you to do a few things for them when they see your handy work!!
 

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Thanks for the information. Would the same wheels work for polishing a stock aluminum intake? If not, do you know which ones would? Thanks again, Fred.
 

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You'll have trouble getting into all the nooks and crevices with the rol-loc discs, but yes, in general, it will work.

Take a look at Eastwood's website. They've got a lot of other different buffs, sanding drums, etc, that will work on intakes, and other parts that aren't smooth and flat.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Husky is correct. Unless you have a very tall intake such as mine with open runners there are some spots that are hard to reach. My trick is take a 5/16 bolt with 2 nuts on it and small washers. Sandwich some coarse Scotch Brite between the nuts and washers and you have a long polishing tool. Hope this helps!
 

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I would just be careful with those 3m discs, you can remove quite a bit of material if you are not careful. Those are what i use to deburr and clean parts at work for.

For someone who is looking for a cheap pistol grinder look at Industrial Supply Equipment from MSC Industrial Supply they can be had for under 20 bucks.
 

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You can also buy scotchbrite wheels that will fit a standard bench grinder. They are about 1" wide and come in different diameters. I have a 6" one that has lasted a long time.
 
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