How To Polish Aluminum Wheels continued...
OK, you may have done this stage by hand or by machine - most of you will do it by hand, as I often have to because machines are just impractical, or actually save no time. You will now be ready to power buff (see our page on power buffing technique if you need information about this process).
Start with a good compound like our coarse stainless or tripoli, and use a stiff mill treated buff. We only use the Bias ply pleated buffs as they carry more compound and run cooler than just about anything else. Many people just go with the tripoli, but we prefer and recommend the coarse stainless compound. It gives aluminum a bright steely look from the start.
Apply with a very stiff mill treated canvas type buff. Hand polish the areas you cannot get to with the buffs using our metal restorer and polish. This will remove all signs of the previous machine cuts quickly and allows us to use the fine Stainless compound as a second stage with a mill treated buff. Use one buff wheel for each compound. Again blend in the tough-to-get-at areas by hand using our truckers blend.
Here's a little time-saver of a tip, which makes clean-up much easier. When you draw the buff wheel against the direction of its rotation you will see a trail of compound. This is a cutting stroke. A polishing stroke goes with the rotation of the wheel and leaves polish only on the leading edge once you stop. This is a polishing or coloring stroke. So we begin with a cutting stroke and finish with a polishing stroke, which removes 90% of the polish for us.
If you are limited to a hand operation use our metal polish and restorer and work it in well. You will get beautiful results if you have done your preparation properly, and your mirror will begin to show. Liquid polishes like ours tend to perform better than pastes because they allow you to use the oxidization that you remove as an abrasive. This means not rolling or turning your applicator cloth as the residue appears, but rubbing it in and making the residue work for you. The oxidization you release will be no coarser than the abrasive. Aluminum oxide is the hardest substance on the planet other than Diamond. Later, using this method will ensure that you spread and work in the waxes and enhancers that will really brighten the finish.
After power buffing with the stainless compounds clean off.
The hand polishing should be smooth and directionally consistent. If places are hard to get into by all means employ a tooth brush, but wrap the bristles with cloth or they'll scratch your finish.
Another trick for getting into tight areas is to trim down a iced lollipop stick and wrap that with soft cloth. Make sure you tear the labels off of your cloths by the way, they can scratch like you wouldn't believe.
It is easiest to do about a quarter of the wheel at a time, and this normally gets the best results. So don't go crazy and do it all in one hit (you'll probably get hazy bits if you do).
Clean it off again and replace your buff wheel if you're power buffing.
I know the wheels look beautiful but,
I'm not finished yet and nor are you. I thought you wanted these things bright!
Well that's nice, but its not BRIGHT!
Do you want to be able to get the attention of a blind man on a stampeding horse after midnight, with a patch over his left eye, and a poke on his right, while he's riding sidesaddle and looking backwards, or what!?
Ok, that's better!
Like the title says we're gonna polish them wheels!