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Student of the Bike
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...or anyone else who has experience doing this.

After seeing the beautiful Green SIR with all the polished parts and then most recently the polished XTR crankset, I figured I'd ask for some feedback on what you guys did to get the "shine" on your parts.

I'm most interested in the Stans rims. I recently ordered a pair and since they only come in black I'd like some tips on what you guys did to get them ready for Interbike. Did Stans get you a non-black pair? Did you take the color off? Are they annodized? A polishing wheel? Elbow grease?

Thanks in advance,
CBaron
 

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drev-il, not Dr. Evil!
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CBaron said:
...or anyone else who has experience doing this.

After seeing the beautiful Green SIR with all the polished parts and then most recently the polished XTR crankset, I figured I'd ask for some feedback on what you guys did to get the "shine" on your parts.

I'm most interested in the Stans rims. I recently ordered a pair and since they only come in black I'd like some tips on what you guys did to get them ready for Interbike. Did Stans get you a non-black pair? Did you take the color off? Are they annodized? A polishing wheel? Elbow grease?

Thanks in advance,
CBaron
 

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Stan's hoops

CBarron,

We got a set of silver ano rims from Stan. I then took them to a friend of mine who works on hot rods and harleys. He polished them up. He first had to remove the anodizing and then put them on a polishing wheel. Most of the bits on the s.i.r. 9 were done by him. Jeff Jones did the crank mods and the H bars. The polish holds up well but does need to be cleaned often to keep it mirror looking. The polish is more for show than for practical trail riding. Polishing the rim does remove material from the rim and could weaken it. (we haven't even ridden ours yet!)

Chris
Niner Bikes
 

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Polishing How To - Long, but informative

This post has been a long time coming. I've just been to busy to get to it, but now is the time.

Long before Interbike when Salsa began the project for the new 29er Disc Rim, we asked our manufacturer if they would do polished rims for us. Mostly because we are starting to see it re-emerge in the industry. Some of that polishing is actually Nickel plating, as in the case of some chainrings. Alot of us are "old school" and like the look of polished parts, some of us haven't been around enough to remember them.

Salsa's manufacturer of course said NO, and this is why. Polishing is an extremely labor intensive process! You all know that, you've geeked out and tried to polish something. There are other issues involved, such as the rim extrusion is anodized before being rolled into the hoop shape. Plating is out of the question as it can actually weeken the base material, something you don't want on a light-weight rim. I'm not going to go into much detail on this because what I want to do is teach you to Nerd out on your own at home.

Disclaimer: I will not say this process works for all ano'd parts, especially Shimano who has some amazing finishing techniques, such as the XTR cranks that JJ has popularized for polishing. Also, use some serious care when doing this, like Norm Abrams on This Old House, or the Trojan man, wear some proper protection!

After Interbike, with more time on my hands and a new excitement after seeing Steve and Chris's show bike I decided to polish up a set of the Salsa sample rims for my own ride. I polished them by hand using some easy to use products that anyone of you has access to.

First Off - Stripping!
This is the absolute most dangerous part of the polishing process. If you are going to do it, take some serious care in safety and do some research for your sake.

I used Lye for stripping the ano of off the sample rims. Lye is a common chemical found in product such as Oven Cleaner (Which people have said works for stripping), and also in Drain Cleaners. The specific brand I used was Red Devil, which was available at my local grocery in the home cleaner aisle. Make sure you use a product that is 100% Lye. Nothing else will do.

Make Sure This Step is Done Outside or in an Extremely Well ventilated area! Make Sure you wear Gloves and some Eye Protection!

To strip the rims mix the lye with cold water in a container you can dip the rim in, or at least part of the rim. I used an old 13x9 cake pan and rotated the rim every five minutes. It takes about 10 minutes for the initial reaction to happen between the Ano and the Lye. Lye is a caustic solution, it would eventually eat a hole in the aluminum given the chance, but that would take days. It will only react with aluminum and your skin, if you've seen Fight Club. The rim I stripped had stainless eyelets in it, the Lye will not react with steel, just aluminum. The source I had for stripping the rim has measured the material the stripping takes off and it is only .001" which is hardly an issue. While stripping the rim wipe off the affected areas with a rag and cold clean water. The ano basically ran off the rim when I pulled it out of the bath. The rag is to get any excess off. It took me an hour of rotating to get both rims clean. I would not suggest making a giant bath of Lye, unless you are trying to get rid of a body as well.

Once the rim is stripped it will be a dull gray color, this is when the polishing process begins. To begin polishing I started by hand with an abrasive 3M pad. I used a green pad which has a mild grit. I worked around the rim scuffing it and making a "brushed" surface in one direction. I then did some detail work around the eyelets.

Next I used a very fine grit steel wool. This was to make the brushed surface look even smoother and make it easy to get scratches out with a polishing compound. It also put the least amount of heat into the rim and removed the least amount of material than using a high speed polishing disc and an abrasive compound.

Then I moved on to the polishing compound. I used a 3" cotton disc in an old drill to do all of the polishing. I applied a red polishing compound first which is mildly abrasive, much finer than the steel wool. I buffed this in and then wiped it off. I could have stopped here, the rim looked great, but I am a bit of a perfectionist.

Finally, I finished up with a Mother's Automotive polishing compound like the one shown in a previous post. This stuff is awesome, I have used it on automotive rims and I would use it for bike parts. I grabbed a fresh 3" polishing wheel and applied liberally buffing the compound into the rim and finally doing a hand buff to remove excess compound and get the detail area around the eyelets. All said and done the whole process took me about 8 hours, 4 of that was spent learning how to strip the ano.

What you see in the photos are the final polished sample rim. I expect that most rims will look the same if polished. You will see some grain structure from the rolling of the rim into the hoop and some striations from where the rolling jig interfaces with the aluminum. I could have taken off the material to get rid off all this with sand paper, but on a sub 500g 29er rim, not thanks!

I've built this wheelset with some White Industries hubs and DT 2.0/1.8 spokes. So far I have been super happy with the hubs. The wheelset is light, although I don't have an exact measurement because I'm just not that big of a weight weenie. I got about 200 miles on the wheelset before the snow started flying and no problems. I really don't expect any problems, if you are worried about it use a heavier rim like a WTB, Alex, or our own Delgado. This is not meant to be a rip on other manufacturers. I love their product, I own their product, and their product is what got us on these &$%@!* up machines in the first place.

I hope y'all can use this, but seriously do be careful. I don't want to see any posts about chemical burns, respiratory problems, or blindness due to someone's ignorance and lack of responsibility. I used the greatest search engine on the planet, Google, to find the information I've provided here, you could do the same. Or you could just farm out the polishing of your stuff instead of putting your own sweat into it. Ooh that's a low blow! Just messing with you Chris and Steve. Thanks for the added inspiration at the show and keep doing what your doing.
 

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JMKM -- Great post!

I have a Ti hardtail and almost all of my parts are some hue of silver except for a few small ones (that really bug me) which are not available in anything but black anno. Now I can remove the black and polish them up.

Thanks!
 

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waiting for parts

my new/old commuter.

these were anodized black bonti race cranks. I stripped those with "easy off" using most of the procedures from above.

The frame is an xl Fisher MtTam--I tried to sand off that paint and that very quickly seemed like a bad idea. So I just used some plain old "strip eaze" paint stripper.

I used almost a whole can of the mothers.

Do you think there is any problem doing this to a stem or bars? I guess not if you are doing it to wheels.
 

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Rock and/or Roll
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I'm glad I'm not the only one who wants to get away from all the black anodized parts. Not everyone wants their bike to look like a BMX bike. Those Bonti cranks will look really beautiful with a little elbow grease.
 

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Don't be a sheep
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DC_MTB said:
JMKM, do you know if i can i polish steel the same way you did with aluminum?
Yep, but it'll start oxidizing literally in minutes. You'd need to polish and then put a sealer( urethane clear coat?) to keep it looking shiny.
 

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Strippin' paint?

So, if I wanted to just get rid of the paint on a Fisher hardtail, what would be the quickest, easiest, safe way to do it. I'm thinking of just using paint stripper but I figure one of you knows for sure. I'm not looking to polish it, just the raw look. Thanks!
 

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drev-il, not Dr. Evil!
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rocky rode said:
So, if I wanted to just get rid of the paint on a Fisher hardtail, what would be the quickest, easiest, safe way to do it. I'm thinking of just using paint stripper but I figure one of you knows for sure. I'm not looking to polish it, just the raw look. Thanks!
You mean the voided-warranty, raw look, right? ;)
 

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Who turned out the lights
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Captain Lee's Spra-Strip is what I've used to strip bike frames before. Wet paint, powdercoat, stickers, anything. Strips it to bare metal. Safe for a bunch of different materials. Safe for the environment? Not sure. It's about $30/gallon, which is WAY more than you actually need to strip a bike frame. Get it an a good automotive paint supply store.
 

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I always bleed like this.
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For almost all of these parts a good metal polisher, like Brasso, and some elbow or dremmel grease will make them look great. But the point about oxidation is right. Unless you have the time and energy to keep doing it, you will need to put a sealer on the area quickly. To do that you need to thoroughly remove all buffing agents you used in the first place. Remember, the stripping step removed what was protecting the metal, now you need to replace it. To make it look good today is easy, to have it still looking good 6 months from now will take a bit more effort and planning. I earned a lot of this knowledge in the Army, where for some reason some people like to shine, or should I say, have me shine everything from buttons to trash cans (the big silver kind), to the drains in the shower.
 

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Non Dual Bliss
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2melow said:
What he said!!!!

You really need one of these...it makes work so much easier.
1800-rpm only please. :)
 

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JMKM said:
There are other issues involved, such as the rim extrusion is anodized before being rolled into the hoop shape.
This surprises me seeing how easily anodizing cracks.

For the group, if you have an easy way of removing anodization, just collect up all the parts you want to polish and send it to your local anodizers and have them de-anodized. For them, they just reverse the polarity in the tank and off comes the ano. We have this done whenever parts need to be remachined or if the finish is off.
 

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shark67 said:
Do you think there is any problem doing this to a stem or bars? I guess not if you are doing it to wheels.
Stems are quite thick so there shouldn't be any problem, bars you have to be a little more careful of. Most stems and bars have a bead blasted finish so you will have to sand them also to make them smooth, stripper alone won't do the job.

CAUTION: Your stem may end up looking like this!

<?xml:namespace prefix = v ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" /><v:shape id=_x0000_i1025 style="WIDTH: 255.75pt; HEIGHT: 192pt" type="#_x0000_t75"></v:shape>
 

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First of all, everybody quit worrying about weakening parts. You're taking a couple thousands off by polishing. Now stop it.

The easiest way to remove anodizing is to have an anodizer remove it. Call around your area. They will usually work much cheaper than you think. Cash helps too, as most plating shops are shady places to start with.

When you've got your parts stripped, polish them how you like. Then take them back to your anodizer and get them either clear anodized or bright dip anodized (preferred). This will give the part a protective layer so you don't have to polish it every day. If you don't coat it, be prepared to polish a lot to keep that shine!
 
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