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1961 Sportsman 15, polished by Terry Partee using Gord's
Read more about Terry's polishing technique below

A polished Aqua/White Scotty
Nancy's Bon Ami polished aqua and white Scotty

From Ben: 3M "one step" aluminum polish/restorer I originally bought no less than
11 years ago. The polish had separated, so I stirred it up, got some
clean soft cotton rags (read...old t-shirts!!) and polished three separate
spots. These three spots went from chalky-white to mirror finish in less than
five minutes. I know it will take a lot ofelbow grease and patience
this summer, and I will need to keep it up, as well as do some waxing
on top of the 3M stuff, but I wanted to throw it out there as another
option for you do-it-yourselfers out there. It does make a slightly
less than shiny Silverside nice and bright in a hurry.

You can make out my jeans and moccasins in the polished area.
I know there is still some pitting in there, and this will need to be addressed,
but it is a start. I was surprised the old stuff still works. I got it for $17.99/quart
eleven years ago. I priced it online today for $18.99/quart. Of course, the
packaging has changed, but it is nice to work with, easy to use,
and gives quick results that can and will be improved upon!

Terry's Polishing Technique

Terry says this is what worked best in the long run:

  • I used Gord's Polish with the extra fine steel wool (sold by Gord's), working in about a 3' x 3' area at a time. After applying the Gord's with the steel wool, and while it was still wet, I used a green Scotch Brite pad (bought at paint store) and scrubb horizontally (with the ribs), not circular or up and down. This makes fine scratches in the aluminum but they get buffed out later. The fine steel wool was not course enough to take all of the oxidation or spots off.

  • I then used 3M Microfinishing Compound (buy at O'Reilly's Automotive or an automotive paint store) rubbed on by hand with a rag in a circular motion. After I rubbed the polish on, I used a Sears Craftsman 2-speed buffer on low speed, with a 3M Perfect-It compounding wool pad to buff the polish off. I did this process with the polish twice.

  • The next step was to rub on with a rag, by hand in a circular motion "Blue Magic" metal polish creme (bought at Auto Zone). I used a clean wool pad (O'Reilly Automotive sells a generic brand of wool pad) to remove this and get the final shine. You need to get about 95% of the polish off with the second wool pad and at this point, the aluminum should start to look like a mirror.

  • There will probably be some black residue left in the grooves or deep scratches, so at this point I took some "Bounty" brand paper towels and some denatured alcohol (buy at most hardware stores) to remove this black residue. The denatured alcohol doesn't strip all the polish off, but takes off the excess buildup. I didn't use one, but microfiber towels might work well instead of the paper towels, but they are expensive. The Bounty paper towesl are soft, hold together well, and are fairly lint free.

  • Be sure to use a real buffer - not a waxer. Use it on low speed - I tried high speed and it did not shine as well as the low speed. Also, before I did each section, I removed all screws (except those along the bottom edge because I caught the edge of the aluminum with the buffer and it pulled up and creased it). Also be careful around the window eyebrows and have the buffer rotating away from any sharp edges, which could get caught in the buffer and cause damage. After polishing I replaced all screws with stainless steel screws.

  • I tried using some Etching Mag Wheel cleaner on some of the window frames and on one side of the trailer. It left streaks so I would not recommend using it. I would stick with the Gord's polish and Scotch Brite pads, and use them around the window frames to remove any corrosion.

Spraynozzel added this:

After donning your PPE, (which you should be using for buffing operations ) you put flour on a DRY rag. Make sure your surface is dry also. Rub the flour on the surface. The flour absorbs the aluminum oxide residue. You can also use a clean buffing pad. After lightly loading the pad use the buffer on low speed.

PPE = Personal Protective Equipment. You should be wearing a respirator ( dust mask at the least ) safety glasses/goggles, and gloves. A disposable suit is not a bad idea either. Buffing operations release airborne dust/chemicals that are not good for you. The metal from your substrate you are polishing and the chemical compounds that you are using to give the shine. Not to mention the dust and fibers from the buffer. Safety first :)

Keeping it clean after polishing: (from Tom Bernot)

There are 3 cleaners that I have used. 1st is a product called Rolite which works good, then there is another product that works a little better it is called Nuvite, finally there is  Mothers Mag and alunimum polish it works OK to and is locally available at most auto parts stores.


National Serro Scotty Organization | Delton, Michigan 49046