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PostPosted: 15 May 2004, 13:43 
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Hi guys,

Today I decided to start polishing some of my pipework, so while doing it I thought I'd write an FAQ for anyone who, like me, doesn't want to fork out the ridiculous price to have an intercooler and it's plumbing polished. I don't think I'll spend more than $50 doing the whole system this way.

I've put photo's of the pipe I started on after each step. I only polished the big end up to the first weld so you could see what the difference is. Here's what I started with:

Image

Keep in mind that the results are only as good as the effort you put in so if you're looking for an easy solution, THIS ISNT IT :)

Materials required

360, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500 and 2000 grit wet & dry sandpaper sheets (get a couple of each)
Metal polish - I used Meguiar's #28 'Mirror Glaze Professional'
Clean rags
A metric fookload of elbow grease.

Step 1

Start sanding! Begin with the 360grit and make sure you get all the scratches out before moving to the next one. The 360 is to get the surface smooth and ready for shine. Once you've gotten it smooth as, then move to the 800 grit and start again.

Here's a photo of my pipe after 360 grit.

Image

Tip: The 360 and 800 grit paper is where you should spend most of your time. You want the surface to be as smooth as possible before going after a shine.

Step 2

Once you've gotten ALL the scratches and pits and other imperfections out of the surface, it's time to shine it up. Start with the 1000 grit and work your way up. You'll notice that when you start with a new sheet of sandpaper the surface will appear to get duller - new sheets of sandpaper scratch the surface up a little bit. It's ok - it will start to shine in a few minutes.

Once you've gotten it looking shiny then move up to the 1200, then the 1500, then the 2000. You can go to 4000 grit if you like, but it's specialised and in a small town like I'm in they won't sell it by the sheet. Got quoted $340 for a carton.... pass! :)

Here's a photo after the 1000 grit:

Image

1500 grit:

Image

2000 grit:

Image

Step 3

By the time you finish with the highest grit paper you got, the surface should be very shiny. The last step is to give it a go with the metal polish you bought. Follow the instructions and you should end up with an almost-mirror finish.

And here's my pipe after using the metal polish (you can see the difference between the polished part and the plain bit... bling!):

Image

Tips for a good job

1) Always, always, ALWAYS keep the paper wet. I did this in my kitchen sink with the tap running very gently and I would wet the paper every 10-20 seconds. If you dont keep doing this, aluminium particles will clog the paper and it will scratch your beautiful job.
2) Don't put too much pressure on the sandpaper.. you'll find it will cut better and scratch less if you sand lightly.
3) Power tools are definitely your friend. I don't have a garage and hence don't have the storage space for power tools, and as I wanted to make this a super-low-budget job I decided to do it by hand. A bench grinder with polishing wheels would be ideal.
4) Make sure the surface is as smooth and even as possible before moving to the next grade of paper.
5) TAKE YOUR TIME with the 360 and 800 grit paper. Any deep scratches that are left after these grades will not come out.
6) For a SUPER good finish, go to 4000 or 5000grit paper, then buff it with a tripoli compound before using the metal polish. You could even go so far as to buff it with rouge after the tripoli (jeweller's rouge is worth a fortune, but 'white rouge' is a cheap synthetic version that works fairly well). Done well, this would give you a virtually mirror-finish but it jacks up the cost of the project a bit.
7) Severe scratching (if you run something hard like a knife over the scratch and you feel the scratch through the knife then it is severe) then you can remove it quickly by using 360grit sandpaper and a wooden sanding block. On pipe, the pressure you put on the block is concentrated into the small part that contacts the metal... this makes cutting nasty stuff out much quicker without power tools. It's even good enough to flatten the welds if you want to go to the effort.

---

That's IT! The hardest part of this whole job is finding the time to do it. I reckon doing my intercooler and plumbing would probably take the best part of a day flat out, maybe more. But the results are definitely worth it.... bling without the wallet drain!

Astaroth.

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Last edited by CowboyDan on 11 Nov 2005, 18:41, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: 15 May 2004, 14:42 
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Very good work.

I also polish some of my engine components such as my distributor,
fuel pressure regulator etc.

The secret with polishing metal is the preparation(sanding). I have
a cloth polishing wheel that I bought for under $20 and it fits on my
bench grinder.

Alloy parts, if prepared properly come up looking like chrome.

Also I relace many bolts with stainless ones, these also polish
up like chrome and wont rust or peel like cheap chrome.


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PostPosted: 15 May 2004, 17:17 
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Here's a photo of the finished product:

Image

Not bad for a home job ;)

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PostPosted: 15 May 2004, 17:27 
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No thats some bloody shiny Bling as cooler piping considering what you started off with

Good work there Astaroth

Points for the time put in there

cant wait to see the whole bay when finished and put back together

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PostPosted: 15 May 2004, 18:08 
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Here's a photo of the pipe in the car:

Image

The rest of the piping *should* be finished in the next couple of weeks. That pipe took me about 3.5 hours of solid work so it's definitely not the easy way... but the end result is worth it ;)

Astaroth.

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PostPosted: 15 May 2004, 18:35 
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yer iam a fitter/machinist and we do polishing stainless and ally polishing at work...except we have a polishing booth.. theres no ezy way of doin it and the more effort u put in the better the mirror polish is. we start with a paste wheel then we use a brown soap wheel with this soap cuttin compound then we use a blue soap wheel that mirror's it.. workin in the marine industry we have 2 have our work like a mirror...but that looks good for the home job. good work


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PostPosted: 15 May 2004, 18:44 
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If I had gone to 4000 grit then used the tripoli polishing compound then I reckon I would've gotten perfect mirror... but yeah it was an effort ;)

Looking into borrowing an angle grinder and a dremel to do the rest of the system, might make things easier.

Astaroth.

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PostPosted: 15 May 2004, 19:04 
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Will mild steel polish up as well or as you posibly going ot llow rust to start..??...

Dylan...

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PostPosted: 15 May 2004, 19:09 
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Mild steel would rust methinks... but you could polish it then clear coat it I reckon...

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PostPosted: 15 May 2004, 19:33 
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I have polished some steel parts like the vac canister for 5th, clearcoated it and it is still good.

Clear coat is also good on hard to get bits like the gearbox, i don't want to have to polish that again.

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PostPosted: 16 May 2004, 13:42 
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Kinda would defeat the purpose as soon as you wrap it up with heat wrap thingy :(

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PostPosted: 16 May 2004, 19:11 
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who uses heatwrap?

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PostPosted: 16 May 2004, 19:31 
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i've got two small sections...but i'd like to run the cooler pipes with it...past he manifold and then if they come back past any hot pipes again...but the new manifold should eliminate that part...

Dylan...

clearcoat sounds good...or maybe try and make them gloss black...shiny as black..

Dylan

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