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Thread: Need help on removing light scratches from stainless and aluminum

  1. #1
    Red Lehr is offline New User
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    Default Need help on removing light scratches from stainless and aluminum

    Hello all ! I am currently polishing my trim pieces from my 64 Galaxie 500.I am getting my mirror shine on both the stainless steel and aluminum, but I can still see very light scratches when I turn the trim piece and hold it just right in the light. How can I get rid of these "spider web fine" looking scratches ? It is around 40 to fifty degrees here ,should my metal be warmer when I am buffing it ? I use a white compoundicon to finish the buffing then polish the stainless and aluminum with some great polish.
    Please help if you can, these scratches are driving me NUTS !!!!
    Thanks for all the help folks and have a happy Holidays !!!!!

  2. #2
    Rasper is offline Metal Finishing Guru
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    Default Re: Need help on removing light scratches from stainless and aluminum

    If you have sanded the trim pieces you could have left sanding scratches in them. From your description it sounds like that is probably not the case.

    The very fine, almost invisible, scratches that remain after a final buffing with a white finishing compoundicon are caused by grit. Where does the grit live? It can be in your buffing wheels, in micro fiber polishing rags, on the sticks of compoundicon. Cleanliness is essential for the finishing process. I found that micro fiber rags straight from the package sometimes contain grit. I wash my buffing wheels and polishing rags frequently in hot soapy water, especially when new, and store them in screw top plastic jars.

    Richard

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    baz
    baz is offline Metal Finishing Guru
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    Default Re: Need help on removing light scratches from stainless and aluminum

    you do not say what kind of buffing wheels you are using . on trim pi├Ęces i have had my best results on stainless when using a hard buffing wheelicon at about 3600 rpm with a 6 or 8 inch Wheel and by applying a little more pressure on the part , you need to generate enough heat and friction to be able to remove those scratches . + all of what richard says , any kind of grit on a hard buffing wheelicon at that speed could make it imposible to get the job done right.

  4. #4
    Red Lehr is offline New User
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    Default Re: Need help on removing light scratches from stainless and aluminum

    Thanks for the help guys ! I am using a loose cotton buff wheel for the final polish on aluminum and the stainless. I just put on a brand new soft cotton wheel out of the package and using white compoundicon from Eastwood, I still had the light scratches on the aluminum. I might try the blue compoundicon for plastic on the aluminum next. I even get scratches when I put polish on the aluminum with a glass lens cleaning cloth made for scratch free lens,(I use Nu Shine 2 polish from Nuvite)

  5. #5
    Rasper is offline Metal Finishing Guru
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    Default Re: Need help on removing light scratches from stainless and aluminum

    On aluminum you should be able to achieve a perfect final polish using a soft cloth and a liquid polish that contains a mild abrasive. If those scratches are not left over from the sanding process then there must be grit in the mix somewhere. Wash the new wheel well in hot soapy water. Have you ever bought a new shirt and washed it out by hand right out of the package? I did it once, and after that I never wear new clothes without washing them first. The water was black. New cloth is filthy.

    The blue compoundicon won't hurt anything; I've never liked it on metal.

    On stainless, hand polishing is not effective. Stainless is too hard.

    To answer one of your earlier questions: the temperature of your shop won't affect your buffing unless it's way below freezing.

    Richard

  6. #6
    Red Lehr is offline New User
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    Default Re: Need help on removing light scratches from stainless and aluminum

    Quote Originally Posted by Rasper View Post
    On aluminum you should be able to achieve a perfect final polish using a soft cloth and a liquid polish that contains a mild abrasive. If those scratches are not left over from the sanding process then there must be grit in the mix somewhere. Wash the new wheel well in hot soapy water. Have you ever bought a new shirt and washed it out by hand right out of the package? I did it once, and after that I never wear new clothes without washing them first. The water was black. New cloth is filthy.

    The blue compoundicon won't hurt anything; I've never liked it on metal.

    On stainless, hand polishing is not effective. Stainless is too hard.

    To answer one of your earlier questions: the temperature of your shop won't affect your buffing unless it's way below freezing.

    Richard
    Thanks for all of the tips Richard. I think I finally found the answer to my problem of the tiny scratches. I cleaned the aluminum surface very well with mineral spirits or paint thinner. Then I applied my polishing cream by hand and wiped it off with a lens cleaning cloth. The results were much better, but not quite perfect, there are still super light scratches but very faint ones.I am a newbie at this but I can see that cleanliness is very important between compoundsicon and polishing. My question is ,why would a cloth made for cleaning glasses scratch the aluminum but not plastic lenses ??

  7. #7
    Rasper is offline Metal Finishing Guru
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    Default Re: Need help on removing light scratches from stainless and aluminum

    Aluminum may be softer than lenses. It does show scratches better than lenses do.

    R

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    Red Lehr is offline New User
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    Default Re: Need help on removing light scratches from stainless and aluminum

    OK Richard, I talked to a professional metal polisher near my home and when it comes to aluminum, he said the scratches are always there no matter what. You wash the car one time and the scratches come right back, so it sounds like we just have to live with those nasty little scratches.

  9. #9
    Rasper is offline Metal Finishing Guru
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    Default Re: Need help on removing light scratches from stainless and aluminum

    You could try using India ink. But can you imagine the mess you would be afterwards? I understand the Chinese use it to finish off the polished stainless sheet metal they produce. May be the only thing made in China that is worth having.

    Richard

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