Author Topic: Cleaning / polishing aluminum storm door  (Read 1996 times)

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Offline Goz

  • Posts: 78
Cleaning / polishing aluminum storm door
« on: September 25, 2017, 07:05 PM »
My wife wants to clean up our 1950s aluminum storm door. It's oxidized and a little pitted. She has tried Bar Keepers Friend, Ajax, and steel wool. They all work to some degree, but it's a slow process. And none of those methods do much for the pitting. I'm thinking this is an excuse to buy some polishing supplies for my RO90.  But she doesn't want a mirror finish when she's done, just a cleaned up version of what was there.  Any suggestions?  I've included a photo that shows some "before" and "after" sections for reference.

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Offline mkasdin

  • Posts: 118
Re: Cleaning / polishing aluminum storm door
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2017, 09:23 PM »
3M makes abrasive pads they work very well you can get them from granger$ and Sherrington Williams paint stores.

Offline tjbnwi

  • Posts: 5310
  • Cedar Tucky Indiana
Re: Cleaning / polishing aluminum storm door
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2017, 10:34 PM »
Never Dull.

Tom

Offline neilc

  • Posts: 2164
Re: Cleaning / polishing aluminum storm door
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2017, 11:22 PM »
I've used the Festool RO90 with their fine abrasive pads and polishing compounds to great affect on aluminum.  You have the option of going as shiny as you want. 

This thread might be of help to you -

http://festoolownersgroup.com/festool-how-to/polishing-aluminium/msg491935/#msg491935

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 3731
Re: Cleaning / polishing aluminum storm door
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2017, 10:48 AM »
You have 2 issues...removing the oxidation and trying to minimize the pitting.

The oxidation can be removed by using Semichrome, Nevr-Dull, Met-All, Nambe (works better on soft alloys) or any other aluminum polish.  The only problem is, the more you polish the aluminum, the more you'll notice the pitting because you're increasing the contrast between the 2 troubled areas.

The pitting can be minimized/removed by sanding and machining or else hidden by straight-lining, texturing, blending, bead blasting, etc of the aluminum. 

It all depends upon your desired surface finish appearance. The shinier the surface, the more the pitting will be noticed. The more matte the surface, the more the pitting will be hidden. 

An RO 90 is a good place to start.  [big grin]

After years & years of polishing aluminum motorcycle parts, I'd start by trying to sand out the minor pits/scratches as you'll likely never remove all of the pits. Then just start to bring up the shine level to what you desire. If the pits still bother you, go back to sanding and then start to bring up the shine level again.

At some point you'll become satisfied with the level of shine vs visibility of pitting. 

 

Offline Goz

  • Posts: 78
Re: Cleaning / polishing aluminum storm door
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2017, 09:25 PM »
Thanks for the comments so far.  We haven't had much time to experiment on the door, but I plan to try sanding next. Any suggestions on sanding aluminum? I have some 800 grit Vlies I bought on a whim.  Would that work? I also have some high grit Granat. I was reading on one of the other threads that there's an explosion possibility with aluminum dust. So maybe I should hand sand instead, and just use the RO90 to speed up the polishing portion?

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Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 3731
Re: Cleaning / polishing aluminum storm door
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2017, 09:51 PM »
No, the explosion tale is just that...a tale. In an open environment the aluminum dust will become the equivalent of saw dust. Just dust...something that intrudes into those areas that you thought were impenetrable.

If you’re serious about removing the pits, the 800 grit will only burnish the aluminum and enhance their presence. Start with a 320 or 400 grit paper and work up the grades from there. Just like sanding wood, start at the least coarse grade of paper and if you don’t get the desired results, back it off a notch or two. Sanding wood...sanding aluminum...it’s all the same.  [big grin]

Offline wkearney99

  • Posts: 65
Re: Cleaning / polishing aluminum storm door
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2017, 12:26 AM »
I've had fantastic results cleaning stainless and aluminum on the boat using Flitz.  A little goes a LONG way. 

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 3731
Re: Cleaning / polishing aluminum storm door
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2017, 01:06 AM »
I've had fantastic results cleaning stainless and aluminum on the boat using Flitz.  A little goes a LONG way.

Ya you’re right...forgot about that one. It seems like all of the compounds that have an ammonia scent all work well with aluminum. The ammonia probably helps cut through the oxide layer that forms naturally on the aluminum.

Same thing with the stainless.