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Thread: Polishing Aluminum Boat Pontoons

  1. #1
    JonathanEngr is offline New User
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Polishing Aluminum Boat Pontoons

    Hi, all. I'm new to the forums, and have browsed around about polishing aluminum, but I'm not sure if the parts I'll need are the same as many of the posts I read (they seem to be about smaller things like wheels, intake manifolds and the like). Anyway, let me post the details of my job.

    The boat in question is a 24' pontoon boat with two pontoons, both 28 inches in diameter. The aluminum was never polished as far as I can tell (where the aluminum is relatively clean), and the part of the boat that has been in the water has a thick layer of grime and scales that need to be removed (The boat was docked at a marina in the past when not in use, but since I bought it it's lifted out of the water when not in use). I have a 3000 psi pressure washer and thought I would begin by pressure washing the whole deal to remove as much gunk as possible. Hopefully most of the grime and scales will come off with the pressure washer, allowing me to begin the polishing. If not, I'll post back for suggestions.

    Okay--let's say all of that comes off and I have a clean slate to begin with. Since I just want to polish these, should I even bother with any sanding? When you guys talk about sanding, do you literally hold sandpaper in your hands and sand? Any thoughts on the best way to do this on round pontoons? Or do you use an electric sander (random orbit? I have a dewalt hook & loop random orbit sander but don't know if it's appropriate), and what type of sandpaper should I use? I know there are different types of sandpaper, but all I'm familiar with is that used for wood. Once important thing... I'm not sure how thick the aluminum is on these babies (I'm sure pretty thick), but I don't want to remove too much material.

    On to polishing. CAN I make these things shine like a chrome wheel? I didn't know if some types of aluminum don't "shine up" as well as others or not. I want to make these things as slick as possible to reduce drag in the water and make them easier to hose off. Now...

    I noticed in the tutorial about buffing wheels. It seems lot of them are the kind where you have a mounted buffer and use the edge of the wheel to do the work. I assume I'll want to use a hand-held buffer like you use on cars to polish and wax the surface, and I'll be using the face of the wheel--is this correct? It seems like it would take forever using the small edge of a wheel. I can borrow a nice buffer from a friend that does detail work on cars, but wanted to be sure I bought the proper wheels to go with the buffer.

    Can someone make some suggestions as to the wheel type(s) I'll need, the number of wheels I'll need (do I need to change the buffing head often? I know when I've cleaned stainless before the cleaning head turns black. I assume this is from the material being removed). Also, can someone suggest buffing compoundsicon and the order I'll need to use them in? Once again, rec'd amounts I'll need to buy to buff this area?

    Finally, once I'm done, should I put any kind of wax coating on them to help shine them up and remain cleaner longer?

    These are a lot of questions, I know, and I want to thank everyone in advance for any help you can give me.

  2. #2
    hispeed75 is offline New User
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Re: Polishing Aluminum Boat Pontoons

    Very well written question.

    The easist way to accomplish your pontoon polishing project would be to order a kit from a company called metalwax. You can access their site by putting a "dot-com" after "metalwax". They have a bottle of cleaner and a bottle of polish that will work on your pontoons. Don't buy the optional spray cans - they will be almost useless for your application.

    Your pontoons are a low grade aluminum. You will get them shiny, but don't expect perfect brilliant mirrors when your finished.

    I have nothing to do with the company that sells metalwax. I stumbled across the site while I was searching for a polish to use on my aluminum canoe. Surprisingly enough, the stuff actually worked!

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