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Old 20-04-2006, 17:53   #1
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Aluminum Finishes

What is the best way to clean, restore, polish etc. clear aluminum hardware.. masts, booms, toe rails, hatch frames... etc.?

My understanding is that they have a clean hardcoat anodized finish which should not be cleaned with abrasive cleaners.

Do you use cleaner waxes?

Is the chalky look from aging from oxidation? If the finish is chalky has the anodizing worn off? If so what is the best way to maintain aluminum which has "oxidized"?

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Old 20-04-2006, 22:07   #2
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Washing of all those things should be done in fresh water each time you come in from a sail. Simply fresh water. You can't do much with Anodised Ally.
If there is piting and a white powder is present, then the damage has been done. You can not restore the damage. Especially if the anodising has been damaged. You have to inspect the mast very closely. If the white powder/corrosion is set into this, it is in need of urgent work. The only way to get rid of that white powder is to wire brush it off. It will leave pit marks. But if you have this problem, then it will most likly be somewhere you can't see as well. Like under fittings and tangs and so on.
Jef, this could be seriouse, so can you post a photo of the problem or at the very least, give us some finer detail of what your situation is. We maybe able to give you some detailed advice for the variuose components as against an over all blanket approach.
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Old 21-04-2006, 03:28   #3
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A thin (1-2 nm), firmly adhered, Aluminum Oxide film is actually protective, however a permeable thicker outer layer, which is chalky & poorly adhered is evidence of hydration, and should be removed.

I’ve never used, and have no relationship to the following, but would be interested to hear of anyone’s experience with it.
“Gord's Aluminum Chrome Polish Sealer”
http://gordsaluminumpolish.com/
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Old 21-04-2006, 04:02   #4
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What I have is not serious oxidation, but merely a dulling of the finish... I hesitate to use anything abrasive... But it does look like mild oxidation similar to what happens to gelcoat which goes a bit dull from exposure to UV...

I am sure you have seen some of those black annodized rails which are dull now after some time????

In the past I have used turtle wax on the mast... but can't find any products speficially for annodised aluminum in the marine chandler. The 3M product sold at WM is NOT to be used with annodized aluminum.

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Old 21-04-2006, 04:44   #5
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The “dull” coating on clear aluminum is the desirable corrosion-resistant aluminum oxide, that occurs naturally. If it’s firmly adhered, do nothing.

Knowing your predilection for all the details, further information will be available from your favourite architectural aluminum products tech’ rep’.
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Old 22-04-2006, 05:26   #6
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With our aluminum (and stainless and brass), we used a product sold in drug stores called "Nonox." Cheap stuff, but wow, does it remove oxidation easily. We then coated the aluminum with a quality metal wax (Collinite #850) to provide a moisture barrier. This combo works as well for aluminum as it does for stainless. Learned a lot of tricks for keeping stainless (and by default all other metals) shiny while working on mega yachts.
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Old 27-04-2006, 18:30   #7
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Jef, if the anodizing is gone, remember that there are plenty of shops which can REanodize aluminum. Get some quotes, unbolt all the nasty stuff, take it in and let them redo it for you. Ask them for options because there are various anodizes and "hard coats" and not all shops offer all options. Clear, colored, etc. as well.

AFAIK any non-abrasive car wax/polish is a good way to keep up the finish on aluminum. Just remember to wash off any salt before applying anything else, the salt crystals are a very good abrasive.
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