When it comes to bicycles I always love shiney new parts. What better way to please your inner crow than to take that ugly old beat up aluminum frame and give it a new lease on life? With a bit of chemicals and alot of elbow grease you can get the poor old sad looking sap back to a stallion-esque sexiness with a mirror-like shine. I've done a few of these over the last decade and will attempt to walk you through it.
Please Note: Polished Aluminum and Ball Burnished are two different things. Polished aluminum is polished, obviously. Ball Burnished is a process that is basically a frame secured in a giant dryer drum with lots of brass ball bearings that impact and compact the outer part of the aluminum and give it shine.
What you need:
Ok. You have all your gear. Lets start.
First off, hang your frame in the garage, cover the floor under it with a sheet of cardboard. Put on your gloves and glasses, pour some paint stripper into a dish and start applying it liberally with a paint brush. After covering it the paint will blister. Let the stripper do its magic for about 20 minutes then brush it off with the steel brush. Repeat this step a few times if needed.
Now most of the paint is off and you have a hell of a mess. Use the steel wool to get into the crevices and clean out all the paint. It has to be 100% gone.
Once the paint is gone, grab your rag and wipe the frame down good. Grab more rags and clean the shop floor.
Now get your aluminum polish and go at it. Expect to do this for a couple of hours doing a bunch of coats of polish, wiping the frame clean between coats.
Now you're getting somewhere. Don't stop. More polish. Your fingers should be stained black by now.
See the surface scratches? Steel wool with coarse, then medium, then fine. Now polish it again, all over. Did I mention earlier that there would be alot of polishing?
Once you finish your last coat of polish, use some Neverdull wadding and treat the entire frame. Now take a fresh clean rag and wipe the entire frame down, it will brighten up when you do it. You may have to go through a few rags on this step.
Keep at it and you will end up with something GORGEOUS! Much better than any paint job.
Congrats, its as easy as that. You will need to keep it polished once a month so its does not oxidate (dull out). Don't use clear coat, it won't stick to the polish and it will show ALL the scratches, leave the frame bare. In my opinion, a polished aluminum frame is the best looking aluminum frame you can get.
Check out the gallery below for some of my polished aluminum projects.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.