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Thread: Brushed Aluminum Panels

  1. #1
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    Brushed Aluminum Panels

    I feel a bit dumb asking this, but what is the best way to brush the aluminum panels? I am not going to powder coat and like the look of the brushed panels, however, I don't really know the proper way to do it before treating with the Sharkhyde stuff I have seen recommended. I am not trying to get them polished, just a dull even aluminum sheen with all the printing off. I went to my hardware store and asked and they told me to just wipe it down with acetone but they did not seem to understand the question.

    I was planning on adding heat and sound insulation once I have done more looking into what product I want to use there. Sure are a lot of options and at varying prices. I don't really need to treat the panels that I am going to cover up with insulation and carpeting right? Any recommendations, sounds like this can be a bit of a process? I figured some of this may be easier before the panels are attached to the car but maybe I jumped the gun by drilling everything already and maybe it is just easier to do it with everything mounted. Right now I have the panels clecoed on and drilled but no panels riveted in place yet.

    Thanks for helping the slow kid of the group.

  2. #2
    Senior Member edwardb's Avatar
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    Can't help you with the actual brushed finish process. I suspect you're talking about good old fashioned hand sanding with various sandpaper grits. But will leave that to those who have done it. But some other suggestions. Since you're planning to leave them natural, get that ink marking off your panels ASAP. Acetone or lacquer thinner will do it. The aluminum oxidizes a bit over time, and will be a different color where the markings are if left too long. Agreed no need to treat panels that are covered with insulation/carpet. You definitely want to put whatever surface finish you're going to use on the panels before installing them. Having them drilled already doesn't hurt anything. You also may want to think about installing some of the insulation before finally installing them too.
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  3. #3
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  4. #4
    Senior Member John Dol's Avatar
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    If you are insulating anyway the only exposed aluminum will be your foot wells in the engine compartment and the fire wall.
    As Paul mentioned I would apply what ever your finish will be before final mounting. Another option is anodizing the panels if you like the aluminum finish.

    As far as insulation goes I would sharpie around the foot well internals if there are any frame members in the way, and then apply it before install as doing that after is a pain (ask me how I know).

    Most types will have some kind of tape to seal the seams. You will still have to go through it with the carpeting though.

    HTH,


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    Senior Member FF33rod's Avatar
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    Google it, there are a number of articles and videos showing the process. The key is to have a guide so that the strokes are all parallel. I started to do that on the firewall, easy to do but takes awhile depending on how scratched up the material is to start with.
    Steve
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  6. #6
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    I used 220 sand paper with a regular sanding block. Sand lightly. You won’t be able to sand out some of the scratches that are in your panels. If you sand hard to try to sand them out you make bright spots. If you sand lightly over them in one direction you kind of hide them rather than remove them. Get a straight edge or some kind of guide board to keep you sanding in straight lines. Start with some panels that you are going to cover or carpet until you get the finish you like. Wear gloves. You will leave finger prints in the raw aluminum so sand, wipe them down and coat them right away. Have fun.
    -Steve
    MK IV #8901 - Complete kit, Coyote, TKO-600, IRS. Ordered 5/23/16, Delivered 7/14/16, First Start 8/13/17, First Go-Kart 10/22/17, Registered and Completed 10/18/18. Build Thread: http://thefactoryfiveforum.com/showt...V-Coyote-Build Graduation Thread: https://thefactoryfiveforum.com/show...-Roadster-8901

  7. #7
    Senior Member Yama-Bro's Avatar
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    I like the brushed look too. I took advice from others here. I cleaned my panels with brake cleaner, I hit them with a green scotchbrite pad in a linear direction. Then I clean them again and finally coat them with sharkhyde. Check out my build thread...Post #44 has the F panels. I did more later on around post #347. Check it out and see if that's the look you are after.
    Last edited by Yama-Bro; 07-07-2019 at 10:09 AM.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member MPTech's Avatar
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    I drilled all of my panels and did the final mock-up, then pulled them completely apart, sanded them with a Dewalt random orbital sander using 200, 400, 800, then gave them a brushed finish with scotch-brite and coated them with Shark-hide. Kind of a pain, but really happy with the results. Also picked up some polished stainless-steel and fabricated some heat shields.

    I found the minor scratches show through the brush work and it bothered me, so I did the initial sanding, gradually moving to finer grade. When doing the brushing, only go in one direction, as straight as possible (a straight edge will help). These are the panels I brushed and the firewall, also fabricated new radiator panels, shroud, top (cowl) and brushed them too. 5 years later and they still clean up very well and look like new.

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    I went the Scotchbrite route myself, but I also found that spraying the panel and the pad liberally with WD-40 really helped with making the the lines more uniform. Works a little bit like a wet sanding. I also covered with Sharkhide after a thorough cleaning with acetone. Just make sure you do it in a well ventilated area— that stuff is nasty.
    Last edited by Alphamacaroon; 07-07-2019 at 01:46 PM.

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    I think I will go with the scotch-brite and WD-40 route, thanks for brining it up. I just read about that in the reviews for Sharkhide which I ordered today from Amazon. Pricier then I thought it would be. I ordered a quart of it so I figure I will try to use it up and will treat panels I can't see with any remaining after I do the visible panels. Figure I may as well use the protectant wherever I can.

    Not sure if I am going to do any sanding yet or not. I will see how it goes with the scotch-bright first but will probably try sand a panel I can't see to determine what I like best. I see multiple references to using a strait edge. I have a big long one but I guess I did not realize that would be needed. Do I really need to be that precise or will just sanding back and forth in one direction work alright?

  11. #11
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    I tried some with sanding and personally I thought it caused more trouble than it was worth. If you have some deep scratches it will help, but honestly I think it's nearly impossible to hide and prevent scratches on exposed aluminum no matter what you do, so on panels that had some scratches I just pressed a little harder with the scotchbrite and took more passes until they became hard to notice (I'm going for good quality, but not car-show winner quality).

    Also I didn't use a straight edge and I think it turned out just fine, as long as you pay attention to what you're doing. I think the key for me was just to do a LOT of passes and overlap a ton— I might move the pad only a half centimeter over with each pass. I think where you really notice the human error is near the edges. It's really important to imagine the panel as being 6" longer/wider than it is— come on and go straight off the edge without pausing or slowing down.

    Also I found that having a handle for the pad was really helpful in keeping things straight— something like this:

    240_F_149162758_lfAyIEFlo2nUmkQCNOji7pLIwOE6y4aa.jpg

    I think I found it at home depot and I think it's maybe for grills? The one I have works a little like velcro and allows you to put new pads on it.
    Last edited by Alphamacaroon; 07-07-2019 at 02:45 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member FF33rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tree View Post
    I see multiple references to using a strait edge. I have a big long one but I guess I did not realize that would be needed. Do I really need to be that precise or will just sanding back and forth in one direction work alright?
    Depends on how picky your are and the effect you want. I first tried back and forth without a straight edge, IMO didn't look good. Then I tried long strokes from one end of the piece to the other, no stopping or going back and forth, that was better. Then i tried the long strokes from one end to the other with a guide, liked that best - it mimmicks commercial pieces you buy
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  13. #13

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    I did what others have mentioned. I cleaned the surfaces with lacquer thinner then I used 220 sandpaper and red colored scotchbrite. I only brushed the exposed panels mostly in the engine compartment and wheel wells. I used Sharkhide on all aluminum panels. One can of shark hide was more than enough for all my panels. I don't know how to link it but post #50 in my build thread briefly explains what I did.




  14. #14
    Not a waxer Jeff Kleiner's Avatar
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    I've posted this before but here goes again---maybe you'll find it helpful. When I built my own car I knew going in that I am not ambitious enough to polish the panels or dedicated enough to maintain them afterward if I was to do so and looked at some other options besides simply leaving the visible aluminum raw. Because it would be getting covered with carpet anyway I first experimented with the Hammertone on the trunk floor but wasn't happy with the results. Next I looked into powdercoating but couldn't get my local guy to commit to either a timeframe or ballpark price, so one Saturday morning I just grabbed the bull by the horns and did this:







    The recipe---
    After drilling and fitting clean the panels with acetone to take off the surface oxydation and ink marking. Use a medium grit (green or gray) scotchbrite pad, and make long straight strokes to get a consistent "brushed" grain. I've heard of some guys doing this wet or with WD40 but I preferred the results by just doing it dry. Next clean them again with acetone and when you arent getting any more black on your rag follow up with lacquer thinner and blow them dry. Go with 2-4 coats of rattle can "crystal clear" from Rustoleum. Finally bake it on. For pieces small enough put them in the oven at 250 for 20 minutes or so (did I mention my wife was out of town when I did this ). For panels that were too large I focused a double 500 watt halogen light stand on them for an hour or so. The finish winds up hard and has proven to be durable and unaffected by engine compartment heat.

    I did the engine bay, trunk sides & front wall, and the nose aluminum. After 12 years and 25ish thousand miles a wipedown with quick detailer spray every so often to get rid of dust and road grime keeps it looking like the day it was installed.

    With all that said I have some cars that I built for customers with raw panels, some going on 10 years old, and while the panels do not have that fresh from the mill brightness they haven't gone gray or dull from oxidation either.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to go with,
    Jeff

  15. #15
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    I used an orbital sander till I got the look I liked and then applied sharkhide. Worked for me. Good luck
    JRL16
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    Thanks for the advice. I think those look great. I am going to do the Sharkhide since I already ordered it but I think I may spray it as instructed by Jeff Kleiner after. No doubt Kleiner knows what he is doing.

    Planning on starting on attacking the panels with scotch-bright and WD-40 which I picked up earlier today. Thanks for pointing out the handled scrubber Alphamacroon. I picked one up as well and am very thankful that there is a product to make this a bit easier on the hands. My hands will probably still hate it tonight but I am sure not nearly as bad if I was scrubbing with my fingers. My body is no longer made for that type of activity. I'll post some pictures up later tonight once I have some panels prepped.

    Think I am going to order either Thermo-Tec 14620 60" X 36" Heat and Sound Suppressor https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004PILLZG...v_ov_lig_dp_it or Summit Racing SUM-879023 - Summit Racing® Ultra Heat and Sound Deadening Mats. I am guessing I need around 75 square feet to do the interior of the coupe. Seems like 60 square feet is enough to do the roadster so I am thinking I will need a little more. Maybe 90 square feet would be a better idea. Any extra, I think I may put on the roof of the coupe.

    I saw people recommend the Thermo-Tec on here and said it was not too bad to install. Saw a couple people bring up the Summit product but it did not seem like people have used it recently. There was one report I the glue not standing up to the head and dripping down on the engine. This was from someone who used it to treat the hood of their car. Also saw a pro builder recommend HushMat https://www.amazon.com/HushMat-10500...e%2C184&sr=1-4 which looks good but I noticed it was listed as a 40% reduction in sound and heat, which does not seem so amazing. Also lists the temp range of -30 - 400 degrees fahrenheight. I am not sure if that is high enough to be by the headers.

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