Aluminum Polishing

 This is one of the most time consuming parts of fixing up your bike. Again... I'm no mechanic or detailing person. I just like working on my bikes and trying to keep them looking nice. So if any of these tips don't work for you... I'm sorry. But they worked for me, and many of my friends could not beleive the results. See for yourself below. My bike looked pretty neglected when I got it, and the fellow I purchased it from said it had been sitting in a garage for about 6 years without being ridden. Also it came from Vancouver Island so the salt air and wet weather also contributed to the finish pealing off and the aluminum staining so bad.

Left Side Before

Left Side After

 Right Side Before

 Right Side After
  Step 1.
  You need to get rid of the original clearcoat finish that the manufacturer put over the aluminum. I found the easiest way was to use Automotive Paint Stripper. The type I used came in a spray can like most automotive paints come in. For best results, you realy should remove the aluminum part from the motor before stripping it, however, if you are extremely carefull and mask everything off, It can be done while the part is still attached to the bike. Just make sure that you have a bucket of warm soapy water handy for wiping off the old finish after it blisters up. Wash the parts really well before continuing on.
  Step 2.
 Here is where all the hard work and elbow grease comes in. Now that you have exposed the aluminum, you want to inspect it for any scratches. If the scrach is really bad you will either have to live with it, or get another part in better shape. If it has any light to moderate scraches, most can be sanded off using a good wet/dry sandpaper. I used 1500 grit and 2000 grit sandpaper, and used a small spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of dish soap to keep the surface and the paper wet. If you need anything more abrasive than that, try an SOS pad, but only use while it is good and soapy. If the soap is almost gone, get another pad before continuing on. Once you have eliminated the scratches, use the 1500 grit sandpaper as mentioned above, and then the 2000 grit, and keep the sandpaper wet. Don't be disappointed if the finish still looks cloudy. At this point it is still supposed to look that way. This step is only supposed to remove the scratches and staining, and prepare the surface for polishing.
  Step 3.
 Now you are going to need a good aluminum cut polish. I recommend Mothers Aluminum Polish. I have used it for a long time, and have had pretty good results with it. Follow the instructions on the container, and don't rush it. Keep at it untill the aluminum starts to shine.
  Step 4.
 Now if you want to get a real shine on the aluminum (dare I say... Miror Finish), you want to get a buffing pad and a variable speed electric drill. If you have the money, a buffing tool is nice, but I live on a budget, so I used my trusty drill. If you don't have a buffing pad, you can pick one up at your local hardare store. For the smaller harder to reach places you will probably still have to polish by hand, or a variable speed Dremmel tool is also a nice tool to have. Also, don't be afraid to use a toothbrush or similar item to get at some dificult places. Anyway... back to the buffing pad. Apply the Mothers polish onto the aluminum part, and work it arround untill it turns black (as the instructions on the can state), then using the buffing pad on the drill, start buffing the part untill most of the Mothers polish is gone. Then use a soft cotton cloth to buff off the rest of the polish. Repeat these steps as often as you need to to get the entire part nice and shiny.
  Step 5.
 Some people like to re-apply a clear coat to the finished product, but I have had bad luck with that. Most of the clear coats I have tryed didn't stand up well to gas spills and such, so I have left the aluminum au natural, and occasionally touch it up. If anyone is aware of a clear coat product out there that does in fact resist stains from gas and oil, please let me know.