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Old 06-23-2012, 11:48 AM
crazy steve crazy steve is offline
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Beautiful outer Yelm, WA
Posts: 7,932
What if you want to polish a part that wasn't polished originally? Pretty much the same procedure with some added steps up front.

For most die-cast parts like the handlebar switch housings, master cylinder, etc, that's where you seriously use the brown and maroon discs. These will remove the paint and smooth the metal in one operation. If the part has heavy casting lines (like brake calipers or the top tree), some work with the 2" sanding discs may be needed, maybe some work with a hand file will be needed before moving to the conditioning discs depending on how smooth you want the finished part. The brown and maroon discs work very well for removing heavy scratches left by grinders, files, etc.

Stock brakes polished....

For particularly lumpy parts or sand-cast parts...

... like this lumpy modified FJ lower tree, you may need to use a grinder to shape the part...

... before moving to the discs and final polishing.

You can polish pretty much any aluminum part, but getting into all the nooks and crannies is what will consume the time. For 'outside' surfaces, it's not that bad, but on some parts with 'inside' surfaces where you won't be able to get the discs or buffs in easily, the hand labor can become daunting...

I won't admit to how many hours these took, let's just say a lot...

The finished part will only look as good as the prep work you put into it. While small flaws in the prep (mostly places you can't get into well like in holes or around some bolts) will buff out enough to not be noticable, buffing alone won't fix poor prep. Better prep will also mean your buffing wheels will last longer. If you haven't tried buffing before, there's videos available showing the various 'tricks' to that, they will help.

Keep in mind that after you do polish any parts, you'll need to keep them polished. I haven't found any 'permanent' coating that can be applied to keep them shiny that isn't more trouble than it's worth; the downsides to all of them outweigh their positives IMO, ranging from badly dulling the shine, the difficulty of getting them to stick to a well-polished surface, and if you do get it to stick, the difficulty of removing it when it inevitably gets damaged and corrosion gets under the coating. Which is why your aluminum probably needed polishing in the first place....
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'78E original owner - resto project
'78E ???? owner - Modder project FJ forks, 4-piston calipers F/R, 160/80-16 rear tire
'82 XJ rebuild project
'80SG restified, red SOLD
'79F parts...
'81H more parts...

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'93 XL1200 Anniversary Sportster 85RWHP
'86 XL883/1200 Chopper
'82 XL1000 w/1450cc Buell, Baker 6-speed, in-progress project
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