In the context of restoring the finish of an oxidized once-polished aluminum finish, is there anything better (easier) than 0000 steel wool with Marvel Mystery Oil? I am restoring an old Cannondale aluminum frame. Over the years, the environment has taken its toll. After renewing the driveline, I would now like to improve its appearance.
I think that polishing paste like Mother's Magnesium and Aluminum should be your first choice. If the result is not good enough, at least you will be sure that you didn't do any damage to the surface like you can do with wrong sand paper or metal wool. I would use sanding of any kind only when some scraping of the surface is necessary, to remove nicks and dents for example. Last time I used bathroom cleaner Comet first which made the whole surface evenly gray, light and clean, I guess oxidation free. It was very matte but very evenly. Then I used Mother's Mag and it became shiny, not luster but nice.
Yes and no, it depends on how much elbow grease you want to put into it. If you just want to get the oxidation off, then you can use a grinder with a wire brush and go to town. Alternatively, you can use sand paper and do it by hand, with a coarse grain for the major stuff.
After that, it's all about details. You can work with successively finer grain to achieve a smoother, more uniform finish. And if you are feeling particularly picky, this is when you pick up some 00, 000, and 0000 steel wool and go at it. From there, you'll want to seal the frame with something to prevent future oxidation.
I found this article to be particularly informative. I'll be using this method for my own bare aluminum frame. It requires purchasing a couple small items, but uses proven methods.
In my efforts to restore a Vitus 979 frame, I found that a combination of coarse and then fine grain bronze wool will eliminate the oxidation and restore the finish of the aluminum. Follow up with Mothers Aluminum Polish.
If the anodized portions contain oxidation and pitting, the bronze wool will finish it out but obviously the look will be less than aesthetically pleasing. In my case, I will be painting over the anodized areas which are the tubes in the triangle. I have polished the head tube, BB casing, drops, forks and stays which are all non-anodized. Once finished, with restored Campy components, I hope to have a nice looking machine