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Old 23-12-2015, 14:46   #1
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DIY polishing new chainplates?

Hey guys,

I'm in the process of getting new chainplates made for my boat. The fabricator who's making them can't polish the plates and has given me a few companies that could.

The price of polishing the plates is pretty much the same as what i have spent in making them.

Has anyone gone the route of polishing their plates themselves? If so, do you have any documentation on how you did it?

I'm looking at harbor freight online and see a 6" bench buffer for $40 and a few different polishing sticks. I was thinking of getting the brown stick and green stick and potentially blue for the final polish?

All in all, getting 3 polishing sticks, some sanding pads and the buffer, i'm looking at spending around $60-$80.

The biggest concern i have with the polishing is the sanding process. I've never polished stainless steel so this is the one part i'm concerned about.

Thanks!
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Old 23-12-2015, 14:51   #2
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

Maybe this will help.
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Old 23-12-2015, 14:53   #3
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

The math is easy to do, but first you need to know exaclty what you need.
There are all kinds of how-to videos.
Start here

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Old 23-12-2015, 14:57   #4
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

a. You cannot use sandpaper or grinding wheels that have seen carbon steel or you will get transfer and rust spots.

b. Is it important to polish inside the holes? Seems like it would be.
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Old 23-12-2015, 16:00   #5
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

Have you looked into electropolishing? I would much have preferred this method but it needs to be done by a specialist company and one wasn't feasibly close to me. When I polished mine, which were laser cut from plate, I linished to 120 grit with a belt sander and then I used a random orbital to sand to 400 grit finished off with course and fine polishing wheels on an electric drill for the parts where I needed a mirror finish. Didn't take very long at all.

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Old 23-12-2015, 19:41   #6
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Have you looked into electropolishing? I would much have preferred this method but it needs to be done by a specialist company and one wasn't feasibly close to me. When I polished mine, which were laser cut from plate, I linished to 120 grit with a belt sander and then I used a random orbital to sand to 400 grit finished off with course and fine polishing wheels on an electric drill for the parts where I needed a mirror finish. Didn't take very long at all.

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I have looked at electropolishing. I would prefer to do this, but i haven't been able to find many companies in the Seattle area that do this, and the one that i did find did not have a cheap price tag :\

If anyone has a company they recommend for the Seattle area that does electropolishing please let me know!
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Old 23-12-2015, 20:06   #7
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

Buy the big polishing machine at Harbor Freight. Don't worry about the color of the compound. It's hard to tell the difference, the most rough might look great.
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Old 24-12-2015, 09:37   #8
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

Replaced all my chain plates due to microcracks after forty years. Had them electropolished, They are not mirror smooth but mirror bright. To have 7 plates done was going to be $300 just for the mechanical polishing and then the electropolishing. I looked at the steps needed and the time and said the smooth was not important. They look nice and a year later they still look perfect. They are so bright you can't look at them to see smoothness in sunlight. I went to an industrial SS fabricator and polisher and got them all done for $50.

Learned long ago if the advertise for the boat community the price triples at least.
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Old 24-12-2015, 09:43   #9
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

Buffing with the table-mounted wheel is the deal. I polished mine eight years ago and they still look like chrome. Plus, you get to rebed the bolts. Don't forget to polish the bolt heads and washers. Details, details......
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Old 24-12-2015, 10:05   #10
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

Very quick, and effective- I have done all sorts of stainless (and other) metal parts, even the top of my table saw.
I use a 5" random orbit sander with Norton 180 or 220 first, go to 320, and if you want a mirror finish with a buffing compound. Most things I do look great with just the paper, and I can do a chainplate, both sides and edges, in about 10 minutes or less.
The Norton paper is important, I have tried other brands that did not work. It puts a lot of load on the sander, so it has to be a good one and the paper does not last very long so plan on two or three sheets per chainplate.
Electro polishing is better, but usually expensive.
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Old 24-12-2015, 10:14   #11
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

Have you tried CraigCraft In Muckateo, I used to take car parts there they did a great job.
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Old 24-12-2015, 10:15   #12
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

Buffing is simple and quick and durable and mirror-like. But wear some cotton or leather gloves because the metal will get HOT. Afterwards, wipe them with a cotton towel.
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Old 24-12-2015, 10:30   #13
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chowdan View Post
Hey guys,

I'm in the process of getting new chainplates made for my boat. The fabricator who's making them can't polish the plates and has given me a few companies that could.

The price of polishing the plates is pretty much the same as what i have spent in making them.

Has anyone gone the route of polishing their plates themselves? If so, do you have any documentation on how you did it?

I'm looking at harbor freight online and see a 6" bench buffer for $40 and a few different polishing sticks. I was thinking of getting the brown stick and green stick and potentially blue for the final polish?

All in all, getting 3 polishing sticks, some sanding pads and the buffer, i'm looking at spending around $60-$80.

The biggest concern i have with the polishing is the sanding process. I've never polished stainless steel so this is the one part i'm concerned about.

Thanks!
Depending on how high a 'mirror' finish you want, you don't really need to use polishing compound at all. All the homemade items in the following pictures were 'polished' with the same technique, which is:

Progressively sanding with 100, 180, 320, 600, 1000 and 1200 sandpaper on a heavy duty electric DA (random orbit) sander. No polishing compound or liquid was used. At finer grades, the dust itself seems to tend to aid in the polishing process. I have dust extraction on my DA, but don't use it after I reach 600 grit.

As for rust resistance, the rudder head fitting has been in the weather for 8 years, the dinghy turning block 1 1/2, the head door latch has been in place inside the boat for 8 years also. They are all made from 316, except for the center piece of the dinghy turning block, which is a piece of 1" 304 rail tubing.
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Old 24-12-2015, 10:46   #14
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

Most of the above advice is bogus. Just have them electro polished and be done with it. Why polish? cuts down on crevices that collect dirt and also helps the surface self heal from stratches(Yup,stainless needs access to air and will maintain itself if polished to a very smooth finish).

Manually doing it is arduous and you will never get as good a finish as electro polishing. Your metals will last longer, look better, be easier to clean, and be well worth the price.

Plus your health will not be damaged and you avoid lung cancer, rotting sinuses, and eye disintegration.
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Old 24-12-2015, 12:19   #15
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Re: DIY polishing new chainplates?

You might consider passivating them, after you're done making them look pretty. There are passivating, DIY compounds, such as made by Wichard & others. Or professional services that'll do it for you.
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