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  • Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

    This is my first polishing project on my 2004 honda sabre im doing my wheels right now but im not quite getting the results i want (chrome like) they look shiny at a distance but if you get real close its hazy looking i wet sanded with 400 then i used a 3m gray rotolock then 600 then used a 4" sisal and black bar on my drill @ 2800 rpm and on to spiral w/black then spiral w/brown then loose w/white my gut feeling is the drill speed but i want to here from the pro's i do have a 3/4hp buffer and 10" wheels but the wheel is heavy and i don't know if it will get in the wheel's tight spaces what would you use?
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  • #2
    Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

    Well, I'm no expert as I'm just starting too, but if you sanded it smooth to your preference then I guess you're not getting enough cut from your first step with the black bar. If you look at my 1st semi polished pics post you'll see that I wasn't cutting enough and definitely wasn't using enough black bar. I then found that heat has a lot to do with it. I think your drill may be just fast enough. When you give it a little pressure if it starts to slow down then back off and hit it again. I was doing that with my bench grinder. I would hit it with the black bar and sisal wheel until you get close to that kinda shine you want and then clean it off, change the wheel and do the color thing with the brown. I just bet that does it. I know there's another step like the rouge, but I haven't gotten there yet. I can't wait to do my aluminum rims. I guess you use the felt bobs for the tighter areas. If I'm ignorant an some of this will you veterans please chime in and educate kxed and I. lol

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    • #3
      Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

      first off i do not use sisal on aluminum. i have found that on my buffing machine it does more harm than good. i use only vented wheels and emory to start out any aluminum job. i will usually sand the part to the same level that you did. then i start to wheel the part. if you have the right speed and apply the right pressure you should be able to get almost a mirror shine from this combo. then i move to spiral sewn with the white bar. this should make the shine pop. if you want a little more luster then use loose with red. as for what to use, if the drill will not give the results you want i would suggest you get this adapter from caswell that will fit on a small (4.5") grinder.
      http://www.caswellplating.com/buffs/grinderadapter.html
      this along with 4"-6" wheels will work great. also just as heavykote stated there is a sweet spot when it come to heat and pressure that you will find by trial and error. also the most important thing i can pass on is that the wheel needs to be raked clean after about 3-4 times of adding compound. this will keep them from picking up metal particles from the part and then scratching the work. use the compound sparingly but often. hope this helps both of you. if not ask me for more details on a specific step and i will do my best to help.
      when in doubt polish it out/ why replace it when you can refinish it
      G2 Polishing and Powdercoating

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      • #4
        Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

        Originally posted by kxed
        This is my first polishing project on my 2004 honda sabre im doing my wheels right now but im not quite getting the results i want (chrome like) they look shiny at a distance but if you get real close its hazy looking i wet sanded with 400 then i used a 3m gray rotolock then 600 then used a 4" sisal and black bar on my drill @ 2800 rpm and on to spiral w/black then spiral w/brown then loose w/white my gut feeling is the drill speed but i want to here from the pro's i do have a 3/4hp buffer and 10" wheels but the wheel is heavy and i don't know if it will get in the wheel's tight spaces what would you use?
        Another suggestion is to try skipping the tripoli (brown). Sometimes it's better to go from black to white.

        One reason you'll get differing info and opinions on here is that each piece of metal and each slightly different alloy takes different methods to get good results. Past experience helps choose a method, but it's still a lot of trial and error.

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        • #5
          Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

          Are these the right vented buff's http://www.caswellplating.com/buffs/vented.html will i still get good results with a spiral buff and black and how will I know when i hit the sweet spot when it come's to heat and pressure do i need to really push the buff into the wheel or do i use moderate pressure

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          • #6
            Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

            Originally posted by mpierich
            Another suggestion is to try skipping the tripoli (brown). Sometimes it's better to go from black to white.

            One reason you'll get differing info and opinions on here is that each piece of metal and each slightly different alloy takes different methods to get good results. Past experience helps choose a method, but it's still a lot of trial and error.
            mike also speaks some great wisdom. the only reason his post ratings are lower than mine is due to the fact he is working and i am posting but seriouly most of the guys here have a good bit of experience polishing but as mike said each alloy and piece is different. i have had some that nothing i had ever done before would work.(mike remember the gm efi) as for the skipping of the brown. i have not used brown on aluminum in almost a year. i find that for the most part i dont need the intermediate cut. not to say it is unnecessary for all people, just me most of the time.
            when in doubt polish it out/ why replace it when you can refinish it
            G2 Polishing and Powdercoating

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            • #7
              Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

              Originally posted by pickleboy
              mike also speaks some great wisdom. the only reason his post ratings are lower than mine is due to the fact he is working and i am posting but seriouly most of the guys here have a good bit of experience polishing but as mike said each alloy and piece is different. i have had some that nothing i had ever done before would work.(mike remember the gm efi) as for the skipping of the brown. i have not used brown on aluminum in almost a year. i find that for the most part i dont need the intermediate cut. not to say it is unnecessary for all people, just me most of the time.
              Haha, no it's cause you have an answer while I'm still scratching my head!

              Just when you get a routine down, something screws it up. I just did a water pump and nothing would work til I tried throwing the tripoli on it. You just never know.

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              • #8
                Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

                WOW! This is a GREAT post! I didn't know about the vented wheels Pickleboy, and I'm gonna try em too. I also didn't know how soon to rake the wheel. I didn't even buy the white bar Mpierich, but I'll get that too. Time seems to be a luxury I don't have and money is too, but once I get better I'm sure the dough will start rollin in. Happy New Years guys!

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                • #9
                  Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

                  Originally posted by Heavykote
                  I'm sure the dough will start rollin in.
                  Bwaaahahahaaa!

                  Originally posted by Heavykote
                  Happy New Years guys!
                  Thanks!

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                  • #10
                    Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

                    Ok now I changed my setup from the drill and 4" wheel to a 3000 RPM car buffer with the arbor from Caswell and an 8" spiral buff and used the black compound the wheels where really looking good just some light compound marks washed wheel and dried and got new spiral wheel and went at it with the white bar now the shine lost it's depth so I tried the brown bar and no better is it possible that the wheel was to cold from just being washed it's only 24 outside where I washed it or is there something else any ideas

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                    • #11
                      Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

                      Your not building enough heat to use the compound correctly, yes heat helps out alot. So your bascially just dragging along the compound.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

                        ok i got it now i resanded with 600 then went at it with black bar then brown then white i found that i realy have to load up the wheel with the white to work but it looks great just some light cut marks under the fluorescent lights but looks great outside will the red bar help this ok now lets talk stainless i got some brake rotors to do any tips

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                        • #13
                          Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

                          Originally posted by kxed
                          ok now lets talk stainless i got some brake rotors to do any tips
                          If it's only got light maching marks, I go 220/320/400 on the expander wheel w/grease, then blak/sisal, black/spiral, then _usually_ green (but, yesterday I had to use white instead of green on one. Different alloy, I suppose.) Go easy with the sisal.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

                            Hey mpierich did you ever use a DA sander I don't have a expander wheel

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                            • #15
                              Re: Help polishing alum. motorcycle wheels

                              Originally posted by kxed
                              Hey mpierich did you ever use a DA sander I don't have a expander wheel
                              Actually I did use an air-powered jitterbug until recently for flatwork. Works OK, just takes a while. Just make sure you start up around 220, then drop back to 120 only if that doesn't work. No sense having to take out scratches you needlessly made yourself.

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