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STEVE POLLARD

METAL POLISH

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I'm trying to polish out 50 years of fine scratches on the bottom chrome windshield molding of my '69 Impala. Over the years, the wiper blades have left their marks on the chrome - any suggestions on a good product to use for this type of chrome ?

 

Thanks !

 

Steve

 

 

20190722_014503.jpg

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Truth is you cannot polish chrome. It's way too hard. The best you can do is clean it well using a polish. I'm guessing the part you show is stainless rather than chrome,  in which case you can polish it unless it has been flash chrome plated.

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Posted (edited)

  I have had a lot of luck using "Flitz" & a small buffing wheel on an angle die grinder to take out many things I thought would not come out without using jewelers rouge.

 

  I use it for all kinds of stuff I am sure it was not meant for as well. Just used it a couple of days ago on the lenses of my womans' car headlights, brought them back to clear!

 

 

God Bless

Bill

https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/nationwide-single-car-transport-hauling-open-or-enclosed.614419/

Edited by Bills Auto Works (see edit history)
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I think Restorer 32 is correct in thinking that your part is stainless steel. If it is,  if you have a contact that owns a buffing wheel, the part can be polished. There are different grades of buffing compounds available and some are specific to polishing stainless. If you own a pedestal grinder, polishing kits are available from several places such as Eastwood, etc.

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Avoid trying to polish that on a pedestal buffer if you are not experienced.  That has very sharp edges and will catch very easy if you are not real familiar and used to buffing such items.  It's also quite large and if caught ,  there is a good chance it will maim you.  Even with all the buffing I have done,  that piece would have me a tad uneasy buffing it.  Besides the fact of personal injury,  if it catches it will most likely be destroyed beyond repair.  Pedestal buffers require alot of respect for the tool and what it will do if you do anything wrong.  Regular moldings aren't scary pieces like this.

I would go along with Bill's suggestion.  Especially the air grinders as they don't have the torque of electric tools to get you in trouble.  Mother's Mag and Aluminum polish also works well.  You can even buy small buffing wheels , even conical ones made of the same materials as the big buffing wheels and use regular polishing compounds with the air grinder.  In the end, it's all about time.  When polishing metal,  the more time you spend polishing , the better the finish you will have as you are actually taking a very tiny amount of metal off to get to the smoother layer underneath. 

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If you've never done anything like this before I highly recommend you get some scrap stuff and practice first.  Buffing wheels can grab your parts and fling them all over the place - even into you (ask me how I know). It can be very dangerous if you are not extremely cautious and ultra safety conscious.  At the very least, it can turn your piece into a large pretzel if you are not careful.  I'm sure you can find some instructional vids on Youtube and good info from companies that sell buffing supplies and equipment.   If your part has an anodized coating on it, that will need to be removed before you can successfully buff it.

If this is a one-time deal for you and you don't want to invest in the equipment or spend the time on it there are a lot of companies out there who will polish it for you -at a price of course.  Let your fingers to the walking and the internet will be your partner in this.

Terry

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Posted (edited)

Steve,

If they are the lower windshield moldings then they are stainless steel, so a lot can be done to repair them. 

 

I would recommend taking to a local metal polisher in, or near your town. It is not that expensive as you would think. Unless you have a good set of spare moldings for "just in case" moments I personally would not touch them. I found a guy on Long Island and the price he quoted me for the job I wanted was about a 1/8 of the price I was told by the "restoration shops" Look for a guy who polishes brass lamps and such.

Edited by John348 (see edit history)
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ALL sage advice on the caution of buffing - many learned the "hard way" by having accidents trying to buff metal. I learned this way too on brass lamp parts. on a pedestal buffer you get tired fast and just want to persist until the job is done, bad mistake, you will catch an edge and bend up the piece or it will catch and you will get a bad gash in your hand! If you do buff yourself , wear gloves and a face mask to avoid getting the polish that gets thrown off into your face. Go slow and do not try and buff for long periods of time!!

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Only way to get scratches out is to take the surface down to the depth of the scratch. You can bump out the scratch a little from the back side before taking different grits of sanding material to the piece. Sand down the surface with fine grit wet dry paper. Yes you will be scratching the surface. It is just like wet sanding a clear coat. Just buffing scratches will give you a shinny scratch.;)

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If it in fact is stainless which it probably is, and you do wish to proceed with polishing it on a stationary mounted wheel, consider sanding it first if there are any prominent scratches.  Otherwise it will take quite a long time to get down to where they disappear.   Start with about wet 220 and work up to 400 or even finer grit, then begin with black stainless compound and work on through the white compound.  If the part gets too hot to hold, don't be tempted to put a rag around it to hold it while continuing polishing, the wheel can catch the rag, and you, and maul you.   Blue compound comes last to brighten the reflection.  Do practice on a junk part beforehand as Terry suggests. 

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Still, if the piece is flash chrome plated stainless, which I doubt given the year, you will need to have the chrome removed before you can polish the stainless. Any chrome shop can remove the chrome.  Here's a cautionary tale. An employee of ours was buffing a PULLMAN radiator script for a 1908 we were restoring. He got it caught in our 5 h.p. buffer. The MAN half stuck itself in the insulation 12 ft above the buffer. The PULL half hit him so hard that even thru the T shirt he was wearing it bruised him hard enough that you could read PULL on his belly for 2 or 3 days after.  Be careful out there.

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On thin strips like that attach them to a board and (for a complex shape like that) take the time to back up the voids with a formed piece that extends beyond the edges, the idea being you don't want the buffing wheel to be able to wrap around the part and snatch it from your hands.  You're only concerned with the presentation surface anyway.  It will take time to make a proper holding board, but will save you buffing time and from potentially destroying your part.... and having your part destroy you! 

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Some auto trim was also anodized aluminum and good luck polishing that. 

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Sand to 400 grit or finer. You will find that it is very difficult to buff out scratches coarser than 400.

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Thanks for all the advise / suggestions.... I did try to polish it by hand with "Mother's", it made it clean, but the fine scratches are still there where the wiper blades had made contact. Since I don't want to damage the part or myself, I'll look for a professional locally.

 

Steve

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4 hours ago, auburnseeker said:

Avoid trying to polish that on a pedestal buffer if you are not experienced.  That has very sharp edges and will catch very easy if you are not real familiar and used to buffing such items.  It's also quite large and if caught ,  there is a good chance it will maim you.

 

A pedestal buffing wheel is the single most dangerous power tool in your shop. It will hurt you and it happens soooo fast you won't know just how badly you are hurt until you actually look.............Bob

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Hi Steve and all. Please Google up "Beilby layer". The actual physical process of metal polishing, (and some other substrates), involves transfer of material on the (perhaps sub), microscopic level. It is fascinating, and the understanding will probably lead to giving it a go yourself. Do as Walter recommends, and secure the trim piece as well as you possibly can. Work around the stationary piece with a hand held buffer. Use a specific polishing compound for stainless, and work a small area (perhaps two areas, one the worst, the other somewhat on the lightly scratched end of the spectrum), to give you an idea of how much effort the job will consume. With that in mind, figure how acceptable "good enough" will be to you.

 

I first became aware of the Beilby layer as an optical fabricator at the hobby level 60 years ago. Recognized at the time in metal polishing, the books I used from the '30s or so, speculated that a Beilby layer was active in glass polishing. Strong evidence existed, and now is accepted.                     Be safe, give it a try, and please let us know how you get on.    -     Carl 

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I will add one more to the multiple, knowledgeable comments about pedestal buffing wheels already posted! The thinner the metal the Hotter it gets! I have left finger skin attached to the underside of thin pieces a time or two over the years. I am not big on gloves around spinning objects. I always figured I could recover from some lost skin quicker than getting pulled into a spinning machine!

 

God bless

Bill

https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/nationwide-single-car-transport-hauling-open-or-enclosed.614419/

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With sanding remember every scratch you put in you have to take out.  Yes you may need to go as coarse as 220 but only in the areas that are badly scratched.  You are going to have a ton of work if you sand that whole thing down with 220.  It's also hard so it doesn't sand like a block of wood or paint.   Eventually you will need to sand it with finer grits.  I go, 320, 600, 1000, 1500 and even 2000 if buffing with something not as aggressive as the pedestal buffer.  If you sand in a 90 degree to the previous grit,  you will be able to see when you have sanded enough.  

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1 hour ago, Bhigdog said:

A pedestal buffing wheel is the single most dangerous power tool in your shop. It will hurt you and it happens soooo fast you won't know just how badly you are hurt until you actually look.............Bob

 

When I had a collision repair shop, I had a two wheel buffer (looks like typical bench grinder but only buffs and NO guards, just not on a pedestal in this case) sitting in a shelf for me to use on my parts.  I had a safety consultant look over the shop for any obvious problems that might not be taken kindly by authorities that inspect such stuff (OSHA, etc). 

 

One look at that buffer and he said 'Take that home, there is NO way to make that safe!" 😲

 

Having wrapped a few brass parts around it before, I knew he was right! 😉

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