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How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:10 am
by kalekk
I paid $9.00 for a set of belt covers and $14.00 for a set of valve covers. They were in bad shape.

Ugly covers
Ugly covers

First thing to do is to clean the parts inside and out with mineral spirits , a paint brush will help clean. Next remove any clearcoat and the paint around the logo with spray auto stripper.Next use wet-o-dry sandpaper and a bowl of water to start sanding down the surface.When sanding use long strokes from end to end and follow around the curves just like you would if you were spray painting.Never sand diagonal or zigzag during any of the stages of wet sanding.I started with 320 grit because the parts were so corroded.If the parts were in better shape 400 grit could have been used.

Begin wet sanding
Begin wet sanding

You can fold or roll your sandpaper or wrap an object with the sandpaper to to get into the grooves and ribs.I used the wooden handle of my paint brush to get between the ribs and such.Sand the entire piece untill the metal is brite.If you see dark spots remaining it is from the deeper pits, keep sanding untill they are gone.The coarsest grit is going to get rid of spots faster so sand the spots away before you move on.Wipe the part clean often and look for what might have been missed.Next move to 400 grit and work the entire piece again.It should begin to look a lot better after this stage.If you find you need to rework an area or two with the coarser grade again go ahead and back up and rework those spots ,it won't slow you down much.The goal of useing a finer grit is to remove the sanding marks from the previous grit.Once all the metal looks uniform with the 400 move to 600 grit.after the 600 has been done take the part outside in the sun and look at it again.A good light sorce will help find imperfections.If you see any,fix them. At this point we might be 1 or 2 hours into the project and the part should be looking great.Next job is to polish the aluminum.If you have a diegrinder harborfreight sells a 14 pc.polishing kit for $18.00. there are other tools that polish aluminum as well,you pick.

polishing kit
polishing kit

Use a cloth wheel and the darkest polish stick first.Run the spinning wheel onto the polish stick to get the tool loaded with polishing compound then start buffing the piece with the same pattern as used earlier... long strokes end to end and folow the curves just like you would if you were spray painting the piece.Learn to not use to much pressure and not to dwell in one spot to long and when to load more polish on the wheel.A thin film of polish should be layed down.Avoid letting your buffer grab the edge of the cover and have it jerk the tool into the part or you might damage the finish.To avoid that problem make the rotation of tool tend to roll in the "onto the part" diretion rather than the "off of the part" direction.Once the part has been buffed with the darkest polish clean the part with mineral spirits and clean the buffing wheel by spinning it on a dry cloth or a piece of carpet, or switch to a fresh wheel.Work thru the grades of polish ,finish with the white polish.Clean the part again and buff it with some mothers.It should be shineing lke a new dime now.Now wipe down the part with mineral spirits let it dry then mask off the square area around the GL1100 logo and mask the entire top of the cover.Use high temp engine paint ( black ) and spray the square area, the letters and all.Wrap your finger tip with a smooth cloth and moisten the cloth with mineral spirits and while the paint is still wet carfully wipe the paint from the tops of the letters.

Painting the logo
Painting the logo

Without delay remove the masking tape from the cover and wipe the edges of the square clean to get a nice clean line around the outside.Next carefully clean the cover again but avoid the freshly painted logo.Use a tack cloth to remove any dust or lint. Use duplicolor high temp clear engine paint and seal the entire cover.Before you spray the clear coat on the part,try test painting something else first.This paint is a little tricky.I have my best luck putting down one wet coat,but not wet enough to cause a sag... rather than a light coat followed by a wet coat as I do with any other paint. For some reason It just will not lay down smooth if I use multiple coats.Go figure.Here she is hope you like.Chow

Installed
Installed


Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:13 am
by virgilmobile
Mine looked the same.I started with wet 400,then wet 1000,then wet 2000,and finally Mothers Aluminum polish,all by hand.You can see yourself in them.It took 3 hours for each cover.

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 8:26 am
by dingdong
I used basically the same method except I didn't use a clear coat. Tried clear coat on the timing covers and forks but too many rock chips and it started to yellow. Without clear coat they can be re-polished in just a few minutes every couple of months. Just my preference.

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:22 pm
by WingAdmin
It looks great! I like your method of masking and finger-wiping.

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:24 am
by RBGERSON
For the lazy..I just use my grinder's wire wheel side..and it cleans them up in about 5 minutes and looks great. I f I ever get a buffing wheel I may go further and use the polish to shine them up even more. I know you can get them to look like chrome. But the wire wheel is quick and does a good job of removing all the corrosion and leaves them shining.

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 4:17 pm
by goldtr6c
What kind of clear coat did you use? All the ones I've used either turn dark from heat or just start flaking off.

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:48 am
by kalekk
I used duplicolor clear high temp engine enamel. I have used it for a couple of years and have not had any problems with color change, chips or peeling. Try it, I like it. If you find you don't like it for some reason stripper will take it off in a matter of minutes. I used plastikote classic laquer on a carbon fiber part once and that turned yellow within a year. Later I took that same part to a paint shop and they used polyurithane with UV additives. That turned out better than new. What product did you try that didn't work out? Talk to you later.

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Thu May 31, 2012 11:46 pm
by Woodwinger
Has anyone ever tried finishing the polished cover with clear powder coat? It is used all the time on aluminum wheels and it is definitely heat and chip resistant. I am considering going that route on my 76 LTD when the covers come back from the polisher next month. (I know I could have done the polishing myself but the bike needs so much other stuff done I subbed that chore out).

Ken

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:02 am
by mytown
I pretty much followed the OP method and here's my results:


I first stripped the clear off with a stripper containing methyl chloride, three applications. I went 220 320 400 then 600 sandpaper, all wet. I used primarily brown and white buffing compounds. I used a green from Lowes that was for a final application but it didn't seem to do much. My final passes were made with the white from Lowes. Not perfect, as some scratches are evident,


but a noticible improvement overall.


I read how dirty the job was so I decided to do it outside, here's my setup:


Looks like heck and I made a mess of the wall of the shed, but it worked pretty well.

I worked on the covers a couple of hours at a time and would not be surprised to find out that I spent 4-6 hours or more on each one. I finished by polishing with a metal polish called MASS. The shine held up to a scrubbing at a car wash. The manager at a local body shop said that he would clear them both for $50 which I might do if the polish doesn't hold up. I considered the task as a one-time mandatory one, but I wouldn't want to do it again, same goes for the intakes and the carb tops.

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:49 pm
by PEREZ13
I WAS IN NEED OF A CHROME WINSHIELD TRIM. I LOOKED ON EBAY AND FOUND THEM FOR A VERY HIGH PRICE... I WENT TO THE COSTA MESA FLEA MARKET AND SAW A MAN DEMONSTATING A "METAL GLOSS" PRODUCT. HE MADE A COMMON BEER KEG SHINE LIKE A MIRROR! AMAZED, I BOUGHT THE BOTTLE AND TOOK IT HOME TO TRY ON THE FRONT ALUMINUM ACCENT PIECE DIRECTLY BELOW THE WINDSHIELD. ONE THING HE TOLD ME THAT IF THE MICRO FIBER CLOTH DOESN'T TURN BLACK, THEN I WOULD NOT GET THE END RESULT I WAS LOOKING FOR. THE CLOTH DID NOT TURN BLACK. I WAS NOT GIVING UP! I KEPT RUBBING WITH MY SAUCE, BARE FINGERS, AND OF COURSE THE MICRO FIBER. CAPOW!!! IT STARTED TURNING BLACK! I CONTINUED AND NOW HAVE A CHROME PIECE THAT LOOKS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. I WILL POST THE BEFORE AND AFTER PICS SOON

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:58 pm
by SidAbma
Perez
Do you have the name of the product?
I was given a brand Autosol Polish. Hoping to find a product that is handled locally.

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:56 am
by chrissvitak
Thanks for the info. I am going try this just to spruce up the look of the old girl. I will post a couple of pics when I get done. :D

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Sun Jun 01, 2014 12:36 am
by sbbeef
Thanks for the info.

Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 7:52 pm
by rudolphwolven
Painted engine block and parts:
- 1) VHT Engine light primer...................Art.nr: SP-148 ( Spraycan 400 ml / 2 pcs.)
- 2) VHT Engine universal aluminium..........Art.nr: SP-127 ( Spraycan 400 ml / 2,5 pcs.)
- 3) AUTO-K-Spraymax 2K (2 component coating in one 2 chamber spraycan) Clearcoat high gloss (incl. conditioner)
Art.nr: 680061......( Spraycan 400ml /3 pcs.)

Polished aluminium parts:
- 3) AUTO-K-Spraymax 2K (2 component coating in 1 spraycan) Clearcoat high gloss (incl. conditioner)
Spraycan 400ml........Art.nr: 680061 { Nr. of cans included in - 3)}










picture without flashlight:


picture with flashlight:


Picture in illuminated garage:


Exhaust:
-1) VHT SP-100 Flame Proof Primer (704-1093 gr. C.) (Spraycan 400 ml / 2 pcs.)
-2) VHT SP-102 Flat Black Flameproof (Silica-Ceramic Coating / 704-1093 gr. C.) (Spraycan 400 ml / 2pcs.)




Re: How to refinish aluminum covers

Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:06 am
by bthacker
I found these at Harbor Freight and they work great. Item#95993