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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wrote this and posted it on another forum i am a member of. I figured i would post it here as well if you have any questions or different techniques please feel free to post up.......

Have had several requests to put together a how to on polishing. this is my way to polish, and there are a million variations of compounds and pads and ways to do it and all the ways will come out to the same desired effect. my way may not be the best but it works for me. If you all decide to get into polishing it does take some experimenting so dont jsut take the first thing you see off your bike and start polishing cause you more than likely will screw somthing up. I started on pieces i had in my parts box for practice and screwed up a few items, namely my stock risers......

I am using a Delta gringing wheel with the 6" polishing attachment wheels and I use the number (1)(5)(6) compounds found by the polishing wheels at homedepot or lowes, comes in a tube and is a solid compound not a liquid like mothers. I also have on hand 800,1000, 1500 grit sandpaper. Also a dremel that i use to remove the powdercoat with the Sponge lookng attachments.

First step to to remove the clearcoat or powdercoat from the objects being polished. there are about 100 different ways to complete either step and a 100 different paint strippers.

Stripping clear:
I personally use the Peeler stripper found at Pepboys or any other automotive store, i find it to be the quickest and easiest way to remove clearcoat. I spray the item down with the peeler let sit for a few minutes, whipe off with a clothe and repeat if nessecary. then thouroughly wash with soap and water. then you are readly to start the polishing.

Stripping powdercoat:
I have found that any stripper SUCKs at removing powdercoat. so i use the loufa looking attachments for the dremel to remove the powdercoat.when the powdercoat is all off i wash thouroughly. then sand the item with 800 grit, then move to 1000 grit, and finally 1500 grit. then off to the polishing wheel. It is very important to point out that between each step in sanding, you need to thouroughly wash the object.

Casting lines:
there are several ways to remove casting lines in pieces, the easiest i found was a very fine file. just hand file the casting lines off, hit that area with 800 to 1500 grit then begin the polishing. DO NOT USE THE STONE GRINDING WHEEL to file the casting lines. one slip up and you are out a part!

now to begin the polishing:
(1)compound is the first step and is a harder compound that gets rid of the scratches and grooves caused by sanding, and will remove most of the other impurites and left over clearcoat. and should be used with a medium or firm pad. this will be the longest most time consuming process, i ussually run the part through atleast 4 times with it. or intill the surface is smooth as a babies butt. will be smooth but real clowdy.

next i switch pads to a soft pad and go to the number (5) compound. then run it through about 2-3 times. after this process the piece will be mirror like but still a little cloudy.

next switch pads again with another soft pad and use the number (6) compound. this will get you your mirror chromelike finish.

let me stop here and tell you a few things. it depends on what you are polishing as to what compound to use.if the item is just clear coated for instance hand controls, you just strip the clear with paint remover, then wash with water and dry. then jump straight to the number 5 or 6 compound, hit the wheel and they are done.

if the piece is powdercoated then i use a dremel with the loufa sanding attachment and strip the paint and clear then sand with either an 800 or 1000 grit then last 1500 grit. then start with the number 1 compound....
short note on the hard compounds and how to use em....think it is common sense but have had some questions on how to apply them. i have some scrap metal laying around, i put them under the polishing wheel at a high RPM to get the scrap piece warm and the buffing pad warm. then apply the hard compound dirrectly to the warm spinning wheel for about 3 seconds.....

when the piece is done, i may hit it by hand with mothers polish or semichrome paste and hand buff for desired effect but 90% of the time the wheel is all you need.

some VERY IMPORTANT info is this, make sure you have cotton gloves(several pair)and some detailing cloth(cotton) after each step on the wheel you whipe the part off with the clean polishing rag and change gloves, each step. you do not want to mix the compounds at anytime cause you will just be going in circles. i also wash my hands as well each step jsut to make sure there is no cross contamination.
There has also been some talk on what to do with the finished product, weather it be re applying clearcoat or Laquer. After much experimenting i found that anything other than Mothers polish makes the piece hazy and is best not to clear or laquer the item. I have also heard that Polishing makes for more maintenance. This is true, after a while the part will start to haze over and will need to be buffed out again. but you can do it by hand using Mothers. if the part that is polished is not touched frequently the mirror finish will stay mirror for a longer period of time. but if your fingers touch the item alot will oxidize faster..... Point is if you are not willing to take the time to maintain the polished parts afterward, probably would be a good idea not to polish the item..

Polishing is very messy, i wouldnt recommend doing it in the house unless you have a really good vacuum and i sugest you wear protective glasses and a bandana over your face, otherwise you will have black boogers!! this all sounds like it is alot of work, and it is, but the small stuff on your bike like had controls should only take about an 2 hours from the time it takes to get off the bike, dissasembled, polished and back on the bike. Fenderstays took me a total of about 3-4 hours apiece, 8 total hours. my pully cover took 2 hours. and my belt guard about 5 hours(was my first real piece polished on the bike).... hope this helps, again it is time consuming but the outcome looks great and you have that personal satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself.

Hope others chime in with their secrets and ways to simplify the process. Also if you use the search under how to polish can find some great info but most of it is old and outdated. and there is a plethura of information on google with many sites that tell you how to polish, but felt they didnt get very specific or were pushing their product.....Also under my gallery there is a picture of my set up. if it isnt a good enough picture, feel free to PM me with your email addy and will send you a bigger blow up. And lastly if anyone has any questions on polishing i will do my best to answer them or try to direct you to one of the other forum members that have experiance in polishing....

Additions - have had a few pieces turn out clowdy when i was finished, is really a matter of patience and quality of alluminum, if i thought i was done and was still clowdy, i put new pads on and started with the number 5, hit it a few more times, then to the number 6 and hit a few times. with alluminum, some of the grades used on the bike is different, hence the hazyness on some pieces and not on others. have done a few pieces over and over and over and they are mirror but a little clowdy. but get the bike in the sun, and you really cant tell.

As for fine scratches after the polishing is complete, i would reccoment going to the number 5 first and polish perpendicular to the scratch. if you go all the way back to the number 1 compound it would be like starting over...also not mentioned in the post, you always want to go the same direction on the wheel with the piece so the piece will refract light and reflect light evenly. think of it like painting, you always go in the same direction. now back to the scratch, if you have to polish it out perpendicualer to the way you have been polishing the piece, after the scratch is removed you should go over that spot again in the same direction the rest of the piece was done.
 

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Can you remove the powdercoat by media blasting it? .................. Just wondering cause it have to quicker than useing the dremel :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
yes you can bead blast it as well. stay away from sand, will pit the alluminum and increase your work time removing the pits..
 

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Great writeup. Can you post an image of your setup here? Also, it seems that your setup is good for smaller parts.... but what about polishing the wheels on the bike? I imagine you have to remove the tire and such. When you said you removed the powdercoat with the loofa sanding attachment, does that mean you didn't need any chemical stripper? I want shiney wheels, but I don't want to dive into it, and realize afterward that it was way too much trouble.
 
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It is a full weekend deal. Having seen it in person though I would have to say it's worth it. That is unless you got the beans to get them chromed.
 

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Hi Guys,
I've polished a frame, swingarm & forks on a ZX-10, all powdercoated, I used " Aircraft Stripper " ( available at any hareware
store ) just brush it on and let it set, it will bubble up, then hose it off, may have to repeat some spots but it's the easiest
way I've found to remove powdercoat, then wet sand it with #600,800, 1000 grit paper, always finish with Mothers polish.

It's still a lot of work but, nothing looks better, not even chrome, great winter project ... Good luck
 
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