Aluminum trim restoration dilemma

Restoration

  1. HWYCRZR

    HWYCRZR Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    It seems I have about 50 foot of aluminum trim on my Polara unique to 68. Good news is the top fender trim is mostly straight with the exception of the right front fender and the rear curved tail trim. But it has years of scratches ( no pitting)from what it think was dad's Montana sized Cowboy belt buckle leaning over the hood. Fender cover what's a fender cover?.... Anyway most used trim out there seems to be in bad shape as well and NOS doesn't seem to exist. From what I understand to even work the kinks and dents out of the pieces they should be de-anodized. Then the dilemma. If one piece is de-anodized then it will not match the others. So it seems that ;
    A. I wait for a miracle piece or two to show up somewhere
    B. I try to take the dents out as best I can and clean them up
    C. De-anodize them all. Straighten them sand out the scratches, polish and then clear coat.
    Then there is the sill trim .....
    Any advice out there?
    image.jpg
     
  2. 67Monaco

    67Monaco Old Man with a Hat

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    I had the same dilemma. I went option d, shave the car of its trim.

    In your case, I'd go with plan b.
     
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  3. Big_John

    Big_John Illegitimi non carborundum FCBO Gold Member

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    The rocker and wheel well trim on my car is aluminum.

    I removed the anodizing, straightened, and buffed all the pieces. It all turned out really nice. Since I removed the anodizing, it will have to be regularly waxed to keep it from tarnishing. Some guys clear coat, but I tried it and I liked the look of the buffed aluminum better without a clear coat.

    I used a Harbor Fright buffer and bought an Eastwood buffing kit. It's really pretty easy to do, although it does take a little practice. Wear gloves (it gets hot), mask and safety glasses.

    Here's a good place to start:
    Tech Week May 2013, Chrome Trim Repair Simplified

    A good book to read on the subject.
    How to Restore Metal Auto Trim (Motorbooks Workshop): Jeff Lilly: 9780760303313: Amazon.com: Books
     
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  4. Zymurgy

    Zymurgy Old Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    I was lucky because most of my trim was stainless, my sills where aluminum. I agree with Big John's method, I did however clear mine and added a hardener too. I was very happy with my results, 3 years later they look the same as the day I did them.
     
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  5. HWYCRZR

    HWYCRZR Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    All my window, belt line, roof rails,and hood front trim is stainless. Just dropped about 20 pieces off tonight to get polished. If there weren't a few dents and mistakes when I pulled it off I probably would have done it myself. Nobody wants to touch the aluminum, so if I want it done I will have to do it. I like doing mechanical things and building things, but removing dents and polishing just doesn't seem to be that much fun for me.
    IMG_5288.JPG
     
  6. Zymurgy

    Zymurgy Old Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    I had nearly 100 feet of stainless on my '66 300. I buffed and polished it all. I worked nearly 8 hours straight the first day. I couldn't move my fingers the next day and my jaw was worse because I had been clenching it the whole time. :)

    My tip: 4 hours tops at a time, and consciously open and close your jaw at regular intervals

    Good luck, you might even find you like it when you end up when some nice results
     
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  7. HWYCRZR

    HWYCRZR Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    I guess if I am going to learn I have to start with the first piece. I do have an extra piece of aluminum wheel well trim that is beat to crap that I can practice on. If I start with the worst pieces first time I get to the nicer pieces I shouldn't screw them up.
    Before: (you will have to wait a while for after)
    image.jpg
     
  8. Ross Wooldridge

    Ross Wooldridge Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    The door sills are available new as reproductions. Likely worth it to buy rather than restore the originals.

    I will be watching your progress with interest, as all my bucket seat backs are anodized aluminum and need restoring.
     
  9. HWYCRZR

    HWYCRZR Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    What did you use to remove the anodizing?
     
  10. Big_John

    Big_John Illegitimi non carborundum FCBO Gold Member

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    I used E-Z Off Oven Cleaner. The lye is the ingredient that strips it. I've also read of guys using crystal Draino, but I don't even now if you can get that anymore.

    You want to do it outside and out of the sun. It took a couple applications and then I took some green scotchbrite to finish cleaning it.

    There's some other methods that use other cleaners, I think Purple Power or something like that. Do a google search and I'm sure you'll find other ways.
     
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  11. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf Senior Member

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    I am assuming you were using some of these during your jaw excising tactics ...... :poke:

    bud.jpg
     
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  12. thrashingcows

    thrashingcows Senior Member

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    I have had a few aluminum trim pieces straightened over the years....after the anodizing was removed, and the trim straightened and polished, I just left them natural and would re-polish them every year over the winter storage months. Very little effort to clean them up once they are in good shape, and as previously stated I liked the look of the natural polished aluminum.
     
  13. Ripinator

    Ripinator Senior Member

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    Mike: As you polish the trim, you also gotta move yer tounge frequently from one side of your mouth to the other. . .
     
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  14. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

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    Is there an after yet?
     
  15. rexus31

    rexus31 Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    Anodizing can be hit or miss and is expensive. Why not nickel plate the pieces? In the GTO hobby, the grills and headlamp bezels are hard to come by although the bezels have been recently reproduced. Anyway, a guy on my Pontiac board nickel plated the pieces and I think they came out really nice.

    a2578471126b79b267e3d8d3eb3481b7.jpg
     
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  16. Zymurgy

    Zymurgy Old Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    Scott there is nothing you do that isn't 1st class. Do have a link to your GTO restoration? :thumbsup:
     
  17. Fury440

    Fury440 At my age everything's a good idea FCBO Gold Member

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    I did the same as Brian, in fact the side trim I bought from Brian (thanks Brian). I bought my wheel opening moldings from Pat in Seattle and used oven cleaner, wet'n dry sandpaper and cloth wheel to polish. This was done New Year's day 2003 and they were finally installed on the car in 2014. They still shine great.
     
  18. Big_John

    Big_John Illegitimi non carborundum FCBO Gold Member

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    I think the issue with anodizing is they are working with old parts. Anodizing isn't like chroming, where a layer is added. Instead the top layer is chemically oxidized. Bright dip involves dipping the aluminum in acid to chemically polish the surface and then into to the anodizing bath which is basically more acid and electricity.

    The aluminum on your car has been through the process once already.. now has some age (aluminum gets hard with age) and some repairs that don't help. Getting it right would be tough. Anodizing new parts, where you know the material etc. and have all the nuances down, would be much easier.

    Nickel is kinda cool though... but it's not the same finish as original. I would expect it to be expensive to do. There's extra steps involved to plate aluminum and not everyone does it. Nickel looks a little different than chrome too. It has a blueish cast to it, where chrome is yellowish. Most people won't see it unless they are next to each other and they know what they are looking at. Chroming grilles could be impossible depending on the grille. The rule of thumb is the chrome won't "stick" to an internal compound curve with less than a 3/8" radius. They refer to that as "3/4 ball". If a 3/4" diameter ball was placed in a sharp corner, the area it doesn't touch won't plate.

    BTW, in comparison with people in the business, I know very little about plating and anodizing.... Between doing some reading and just been around it enough to pick up a few basic things about the process.
     
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  19. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

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    I was asking because I am fixing up this aluminum insert. There are some scratches and small dents in my replacement piece. Right now it has a brushed aluminum (anodized?) look. I'm afraid that if I work on dents and scratches it will get shiny in those areas and look worse. I noticed that a couple folks here painted the whole thing black, perhaps because of this problem.

    2017-04-09 15.51.49.jpg
     
  20. 70Tom

    70Tom Senior Member

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    Well, the Sport Fury got a black panel, so it'd be technically incorrect for your car.