aluminum polishing stain remover - Fiberglass RV
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Old 12-25-2015, 10:07 PM   #1
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1973 13' Boler
Posts: 182
aluminum polishing stain remover

Hello all,

I use a cloth wheel to polish my belly band and other trim but it throws up this black film that's very hard to remove from the white paint. I've tried all sorts of things but you can still see it. Anyone have any tried and true method for removing this film completely?
Alternatively, is there a way to polish it without the mess?
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Old 12-25-2015, 11:21 PM   #2
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Trailer: 13 ft Boler
Posts: 1,168
White flour on a soft cloth cleans the aluminum real well after polishing.
Try it on the paint,
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Old 12-26-2015, 01:37 AM   #3
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Name: Dave
Trailer: Casita SD17 2006 "Missing Link"
Posts: 3,738
Hi Joe, no answer for over spray removal but Ian G should have an answer. My thought would be to mask it off first like painting as it may be easier than the cleanup afterwards.
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Old 12-26-2015, 08:32 AM   #4
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Name: Ian
Trailer: 1974 Boler 1300 - 2014 Escape 19'
Posts: 1,378
Hello Joe

Yes polishing aluminum is a very messy job, the black aluminum oxide goes everywhere. Cleaning up the residue really depends on 2 things, the carrier or based used in the polishing compound you used and the surface you are trying to get it off of.

First if the surface it is on is gel coat it is much more resistant to stronger cleaners and solvents than paint, On gel coat you can use very aggressive solvents like acetone and even lacquer thinner whereas on paint you are limited to the less aggressive solvents like Varsol and paint prep. Be careful that any cleaning agent you use will not damage the finished surface. The problem with older gel coat it the staining will get right into the porous surface and is very difficult to remove, in this case just keep working on it to "flood" the stain out

If you used a polishing bar it is wax based and I actually found soapy water was one of the best cleaners, also try Simple Green or Spray Nine. Often these water based cleaners work very well, if they don't then do try a solvent that will not damage the finished surface.

As for another way to polish your aluminum, first I would recommend removing any aluminum, polish it then reinstall, if this is not possible then you definitely want to thoroughly mask off the area to protect the finish from both over-spray as well as damage from the polishing wheels.

To truly polish aluminum you have to use a compound based product and take the time to actually smooth out the surface of the aluminum to a perfect mirror surface, with polishing wheels, time and effort, there is no easy or magic shortcut. All the magic creams, and "wipe on Wipe off" products do is chemically remove the oxides which makes the aluminum look better but it will never achieve the level of shine produced when machine polished and the oxides will return in a very short time. Aluminum which is correctly polished will actually resist oxides because of the reduced surface area and keeping it shiny takes very little time
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Old 12-26-2015, 09:01 PM   #5
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Name: Lee
Trailer: Casita
Posts: 493
Heres something you can try. I assume if you are polishing the belly band on your trailer you are also keeping the trailer well washed. Next time you wash it get an new SOS pad and some Happich Simichrome polish. Slosh the SOS pad around in your bucket of soapy water and then put some Simichrome polish on it. Clean (polish) the belly band with the Simichrome impregnated SOS pad and then rinse it off. I came across this method on my old 1948 Harley Davidson Pan Head motorcycle. I had tried numerous polishes on the aluminum timing gear cover and nothing I tried would shine it up. I was washing it one day and was using an SOS pad to clean the chrome rims and decided to squirt a little Simichrome on it to see what would happen using it on the timing gear cover, I was amazed at the results and with this method I didn't get the black polishing residue that you always get when polishing aluminum or brass with a dry cloth. I tried this on other aluminum parts of the bike and for some reason only the aluminum timing gear cover really shined up. Maybe it has something to do with the aluminum alloy, I'm not sure but give it a try and see what happens.
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Old 12-27-2015, 10:40 AM   #6
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Name: Borden and Carole
Trailer: 1978 Earlton Ontario boler
Posts: 1,506
Good read want to polish the aluminum on our trailer
Our postage stamp in heaven.
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Old 12-27-2015, 11:42 AM   #7
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Name: Ian
Trailer: 1974 Boler 1300 - 2014 Escape 19'
Posts: 1,378
Much of the trim on my fiberglass Boler trailer is aluminum, the window frames and belly band are extruded aluminum while the door hinges are cast aluminum.

The original mill finish aluminum under a microscope actually has a surface that looks like small hairs and scratches, each of these scratches increase the exposed surface area and will oxidize causing the dull finish. When you use a power polisher with the correct cutting compound you actually remove these hairs making the surface glass smooth, this reduces the surface area and the reflection actually comes from the aluminum surface. Because the polished surface has less surface area it is less prone to oxidation and a simple wipe will maintain the surface.

Chemical polishes like Mothers will dissolve or actually convert the oxidation and remove it but the surface area remains the same which means it will oxidize faster and be harder to maintain. Using scotch pads, SOS pads or coarse abrasive pads leaves a uniform textured surface made up of small scratches in the same direction which, although looking good, will not directly reflect light, also the surface area is greater and therefore will oxidize faster.

Here is an example of the Jalousie window actuator before and after power polishing.

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