Alright, I should be in bed by now so I can go work me arse off tomorrow morning. But, as a public service to the SabMag list, following is the secret to making that aluminum shine on your SabMag.

Bryan Ribakow has previously posted a wonderful article on metal polishing, but it involved a lot of services from professionals with the right equipment. This costs real money. The method I'll describe, though probably not as good, is within the financial reach of anyone able to pay the plates and insurance on a SabMag.

Let me begin by saying that I wouldn't have to write this at all if y'all subscribed to _Motorcycle Consumer News_. A lot of this is taken from the March '97 issue. You don't subscribe? Do it today. Have credit card ready and call 800-735-9335. If you don't subscribe to magazines at all, then you're off the hook. But if you subscribe to crap like _Cycle World_, etc., then you have no excuse for not adding _MCN_ to the monthly collection. At US$29/year, you can just occassionaly cut back on a six-pack and you'll get more value for your money to boot. Me, I drink just as much, subscribe, and work harder to make up the difference.

Okay, on with the show.

What this technique is not

This is not a method that entails dragging your parts off to a pro. This is also not a variation on the hand polishing you may be doing now, only with a new polishing cream. Nope, none of that shite for me, thank you. I want it quick and convenient and I don't want me fingers bleeding from rubbing for four hours straight.

Assuming you already have a decent drill, a US$30 investment at your local hardware super store will yield unbelievable results with very little physical effort and not a whole lot of time. If you've tried every metal polish on the planet, yet you've applied it by hand, be prepared to be fookin' amazed as you get results you've previously only dreamed of. You think I exaggerate? I'll let SME attendees attest to the results of my footpeg brackets and forks, as well as the little aluminum sidecovers that fit near the top of the engine. When clean, you could shave in the reflection.


The main expense will be in the drill. Most DIY'ers should have one anyway. Don't bother with a cordless drill as it will run out of juice way before you're done. Get a good, decent power Black and Decker or summat. I don't recall hp ratings and the like. I'd just suggest that you buy a drill in the middle price range at Loew's or whatever your local hardware super-store happens to be.

You'll also need an arbor to hold the wheels. Cost you about US$3.50. Apparently, most polishing wheels are designed to fit a bench grinder. The arbor simply turns your drill into a hand-held bench grinder.

I suppose you could make a substitute out of a properly sized bolt, but for US$3.50, why bother?

Okay, a couple of wheels, some compound and head to the checkout lane. I purchased a #40 and a #36, brand name was Disco (gag). I don't know if these numbers are standard, I just flipped the package over and it told me what to buy for aluminum. If the numbers don't match what you have at the store near you, then flip the package over and it should have a chart.

Look up aluminum and buy the wheels needed for cutting and polishing, or summat. Another way to look for wheels is to look for a "spiral" and a "loose" wheel, one for cutting and one for polishing. If this still does not match what is in front of you at the store, then look for something that will give a rough polish and something that will give a smooth polish. If you're completely at a loss, just buy a couple of wheels, one hard, one soft. Don't worry *too* much about buying the wrong wheels because the metal will still look better than if you did it by hand.

You've got your wheels, now you need compound. There's a bunch of them, but just like the wheels, you need a rough ("cutting") compound and a polishing compound. Suggestions are tripoli and white rouge. Now, those that known anything about the French language are pondering this "white rouge" shite, since "rouge" is the French word for "red". So, is it white or is it red? Shut up, you pedantic arse, and just buy the white stick labelled "rouge".

The compounds come in sticks and are usually found amongst the polishing wheels. Polishing wheels are usually found amongst the drill accessories. Drill accessories are usually found amon . . ., you get the idea.


You've got wheels, you've got compound, you've got an arbor to hook it all up. You've spent all of about US$20 at the store. You shall spend no more, so let's get to work on making that SabMag shine.

First, you have to have any clearcost removed from the piece. I've no recommendations on how to do this. My method is to use 0000 grade steel wool, but this takes forever. Oven cleaner and the like have been mentioned, but it's a bit risky. Follow all label directions, see dealer for details, manufacturer is not responsible for . . .

If you have deep scratches in your piece, best to sand or file the scratch out before polishing. If you don't, you have a good chance of putting waves in your piece. Not good, and it won't win you any points at the bike show. A rule of thumb is if the scratch is deep enough to catch your finger nail, best to sand it out.

Hook up that arbor and mount the #40 wheel (or the rough polishing wheel). Take out the tripoli compound and expose a bit from the tube. Spin up the drill. If you've got a drill with a "throttle lock" on it, be glad because you're going to get tired of holding down the button otherwise. Take the tripoli and hold it against the spinning wheel until you've got a fair amount of compound on the wheel. What's a "fair amount"? Well, that knowledge comes with experience.

Did I mention that it would be a good idea to experiment on a piece of scrap aluminum? I didn't, I just started polishing away on the irreplacable parts of my bike, but it seems it would be a good idea to experiment on scrap first so as to obtain a bit of knowledge about "fair amounts" of compound and the like.

Place the spinning, compound-filled wheel against your aluminum piece. Keep that baby moving across the piece. If you hold it in one place too long, you'll end up with a wavy piece. Not good; keep it moving. Depending on the amount of compound you applied to the wheel, you may have the familiar black finish of polished aluminum.

Take a break and clean the piece with a rag and see how you're doing. Wow! Pretty nice, eh? Keep going until you're satisfied that it looks good. After that, change wheels to the #36 and put some white rouge on the wheel. Repeat the process to get a fine polished finish.

Once done, you may want to get the Simichrome out to put on that final shine. Not necessary, IMO, but the poseurs among us may want that show-quality finish that only Simichrome can give.

Question? Comment? Ping me at the usual address.

Mike Stewart ( COP#0008 DOD#1734

'84 VF700 Sabre '85 V65 Magna '83 Yamaha Seca (hers)

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