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cleaning old aluminium parts

Discussion in 'Bicycle Mechanics and Repairs' started by Hilldodger, 3 Nov 2007.

  1. Hilldodger

    Hilldodger Über Member

    Location:
    sunny Leicester
    Anyone got any tricks for cleaning old ali parts such as soaking them in Sainsburys diet coke or something?
     
  2. Lots and lots of aluminum polish, an elecky screwdiver and one of they furry polishing cloths that attaches to a plastic disc.

    Apparently when one polishes aluminum one is actually dragging alu molecules across the surface. This along with the fact that alu is so soft means that its crucial not to either push to hard with the polisher or run at high RPM. Hence lecky screwdriver rather than a proper man drill. Keep the pad wet and keep it moving all over the surface, if you leave it in one place youll leave a trough in the work piece.
     
  3. gbb

    gbb Legendary Member

    Location:
    Peterborough
    I'm watching this post with interest...got a few less than perfect looking bits to either replace or clean up on the Raleigh Clubman

    Ive got a mental picture now of it all....thats 3 hours done with metal polish an a lecky screwdriver..only another 14 hours to go :becool::tongue::wacko:;)

    Mickle, am i to assume you apply the polish to the cloth / pad, which is attached to a battery screwdriver.
    At first i thought you meant an electricians screwdriver...i thought...'what' :smile: hows that going to work then :becool:
     
  4. Elmer Fudd

    Elmer Fudd Miserable Old Bar Steward

    1)* Thoroughly degrease / wash.
    2) Rub gently with a fine "scotchbrite" pad or very fine steel wool (aka carpentry work), this will give you the brushed steel look.
    3) Polish as mickle said, keep the polishing mop constantly moving or you will end up with "scorch" marks / thin alloy.
    4) Once polished you need to stop it from beginning to re-oxidise asap so you need to keep ya fingers off it (!!!) and a protective lacquer finish will be required.
    * If you want the dull but clean look on an intricate shaped casting, get yourself some caustic soda (sink un-blocker) and add this to warm / hot water and drop your piece of alloy in that. Keep an eye on it though as the Caustic eats the alloy returning it to its natural form, Bauxite (mud !). Also it burns your skin as its a v. strong alkali.
     
  5. Sorry I should have been more specific, a sub 15v cordless drill. ;)
     
  6. twowheelsgood

    twowheelsgood Senior Member

    Location:
    Zurich Switzerland
    You might make things worse. A lot of Al stuff has very thin lacquer or is clear annodised.
     
  7. vbc

    vbc Guest

    Location:
    Bristol
    Yes, I agree with twowheelsgood that you'll be removing any protective treatment and leaving the parts open to corrosion if you use any kind of abrasive.
     
  8. papercorn2000

    papercorn2000 Senior Member

    If you have access to an Ultrasonic bath, don't let them know that you are using it!
     
  9. gbb

    gbb Legendary Member

    Location:
    Peterborough
    :biggrin::evil:Dagnabit.....i brought the wife one the other week....:biggrin::tongue: but chose the smaller version...ive got visions of her coming in to see me with half a chainset hanging out of it, and a sheepish look on my face....errr, errrr, you'll laugh when i tell you darling :biggrin::biggrin:
     
  10. Zoiders

    Zoiders New Member

    Location:
    Ice Station Zebra
    Brick acid

    Its what car restoration places use for cleaning alloy wheels

    Polish afterwards, gloves/eye/breathing protection a must
     
  11. papercorn2000

    papercorn2000 Senior Member

    A dishwasher. Again, don't get caught!
     
  12. LLB

    LLB Guest

    For high polish finish, use Autosol, and buff with a cotton based cloth then re laquer.

    Caustic soda is what the Aluminium Extruders use for dissolving the ally in the press tooling, needs to be warm, and is very very dangerous to be around
     
  13. Elmer Fudd

    Elmer Fudd Miserable Old Bar Steward

    Had many a happy time doing a Linford sprint to the nearest tap to wash it off (using cold water only of course)