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Stainless trim scratch restoration
#757927 Sat Dec 05 2020 05:50 PM
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Anyone have any advice on how to restore stainless exterior trim from fairly light scratching and scrapes?

I have been working in my Gilbarco 996 exterior trim lately but have been unable to get the polished, fresh chrome shine. I could easily buy aftermarket replacements, but want to reuse these as they are the original ones and want the satisfaction of the sweat equity.

My original understanding was to go over it with a nice wet sand between various grits to get the scratches out before giving it a good polish. I was using some of my automotive chrome shine with both a hand polish and later with my dremel. Unfortunately my test piece has not responded well to this. While the scratches have somewhat come out, little has changed to the finish beyond clouding the metal a bit. One trim piece had some flaking top layer, so I am hesitant to go at it again with another go of sandpaper.


Has anyone else done something that worked for these?

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Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #757964 Sun Dec 06 2020 03:16 PM
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If it has a flaking top layer - it's not stainless, it's chrome.

And sanding chrome I never a good idea.

Later . . .

Jim

Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #757966 Sun Dec 06 2020 03:28 PM
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If it’s stainless, I use my buffing wheel and everything comes out great. But you have to be careful because you slowly lose material in any process and you could wear it too thin.

And Jim is absolutely correct about chrome. If you sanded it and a copper color started to show, you have chrome.

I have a few 966’s and I’m pretty sure they are stainless, but not 100% sure.

-Steve


-Steve B. (WTB: 48" Flying A button, 48" black/org Phillips 66, White Star, and Chevrolet Signs. Also looking for a Wayne 866. Send a PM. Thanks.)
Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #757967 Sun Dec 06 2020 03:33 PM
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Thanks gents.

Definitely saw some flaking around the screw holes. Its not a copper colour however, but more of a darker colour. So a black or grayish black. I'll try to snap a picture tonight to show what I mean.

I havent seen much online about these gilbarcos but the little I have seen is either that its stainless or believed to be stainless, so I am pretty much at a loss on these.

Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #757988 Mon Dec 07 2020 12:34 AM
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Could be a pot metal with a nickel coat, something like that. Using a dremel isn't going to cut it. Harbor freight has $40 bench grinders, get some red and white compound, and a polishing wheel and a cutting wheel (something with fibers in it, can't remember the technical name right now). For some reason, most hardware stores dont sell the good cutting wheels, just the ones that do final polish.

Harbor freight also has small scotch-brite type pads that can be attached to an angle grinder, good for prepping the surface.

Almost any metal can achieve a high shine, steel looks great polished correctly. Problem is protecting it if it corrodes. If you polish something that corrodes and you dont want to plate it, you can clear coat it with something like "ProtectaClear", its a clear that flows well over bare metal.

Polishing metal is pretty much an art, going to be a learning curve.

Last edited by Paul Bell; Mon Dec 07 2020 12:35 AM.
Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #757989 Mon Dec 07 2020 12:47 AM
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Almost forgot, stick a magnet on the piece. Will help tell you what it is. Steel and most pot metal will stick to the magnet. Aluminum not at all, and most stainless wont at all either....

Last edited by Paul Bell; Mon Dec 07 2020 12:48 AM.
Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #757996 Mon Dec 07 2020 07:48 AM
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I've had good luck using fine steel wool on stainless and then buffing it out like Steve mentioned with great results.

Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #758004 Mon Dec 07 2020 11:12 AM
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Here is a picture of what I mean. This is the front/back trim pieces and on this one I noticed flaking around the screw hole. Its sure possible the screw over the years helped to get it to this point, but I noticed it getting a lot worse (to the point of what we see) through some buffing with a cloth and metal polish.

Interestingly enough I tried the magnet test (did not even think to try that before) with a new magnetic shop hook I recently got. It stuck really well, so definitely steel or pot metal.

20201207_120602.jpg20201207_120552.jpg
Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #758007 Mon Dec 07 2020 11:39 AM
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Stainless can also be magnetic, depending on the percent of Fe in the alloy. In this case thought, it appears to be steel that has been plated - looks like it might be nickel or tin though to my uneducated eye. I'm pretty certain it is not pot metal base because pot metal would not take the dent that is shown in your photo. It doesn't look quite shiny enough to be nickel to me but nickel is softer than chrome so maybe it has been dulled by the rubbing? It should not be too costly to have it stripped and replated at a local shop - it you have one.

Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #758069 Tue Dec 08 2020 05:48 PM
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Yeah I have a few dents to bang out still.
I never thought of checking with a repair shop to strip and replate. I suspect there is one in the city somewhere and this would be a cheap job, although I hope it isn't "too small" of a job.

Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #758087 Tue Dec 08 2020 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by red_green17
Yeah I have a few dents to bang out still.
I never thought of checking with a repair shop to strip and replate. I suspect there is one in the city somewhere and this would be a cheap job, although I hope it isn't "too small" of a job.

I've never done it with a gas pump - yet - as I'm doing my very first one now, but I did a complete redo of a very nice wood burning kitchen stove and I had all of the brightwork stripped and nickel plated and there was quite a bit of it. It was what I considered quite affordable - and money was pretty dear at the time.

Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #758099 Wed Dec 09 2020 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by red_green17
Yeah I have a few dents to bang out still.
I never thought of checking with a repair shop to strip and replate. I suspect there is one in the city somewhere and this would be a cheap job, although I hope it isn't "too small" of a job.

Here's a link to my brothers "how-to" on fixing stainless trim. Your part may not be stainless, but similar process.

http://www.bumpsides.com/stainless/

Not sure where you are in California, but maybe five years ago I used "Avenue Plating", I think that was their name, did some nickel plate for me. They are in Redwood City in the bay, did a pretty good job. Nickel plate usually isnt too expensive, chrome gets pricey. If you want to save money prepping the piece saves a lot if you do it right. Your job isnt too small, I was doing similiar size jobs.

There are also spray on chrome-like processes now that are quite good. Im going to have maybe a one foot by 4 inch bezel chrome painted soon, it'll be about $100 but Im doing all the prep. Guy near me does it. It would be crazy expensive to do normal chrome on my piece. Believe its spectra chome or a similiar one,

I know there is a chance that stainless is magnetic, highly doubtful tho, and if it is wont be like steel is magnetic. Compare a piece of steel sheet metal to your piece via magnet to know, although from the picture it looks plated.

Last edited by Paul Bell; Wed Dec 09 2020 01:49 PM.
Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #758601 Sun Dec 20 2020 07:41 AM
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I believe I have everything I need for the bench grinder, so am going to have to set it up again and give it a try for a nice buffering.

Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
red_green17 #758602 Sun Dec 20 2020 07:48 AM
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Be very careful with that! Not just for the sakes of what you are polishing but there have been some horrible accidents from buffers ripping things out of hands and sending it flying.

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Re: Stainless trim scratch restoration
fuelboy #758612 Sun Dec 20 2020 12:08 PM
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I second that . Years ago polishing 56 Chevy stainless it was ripped right out of my hands flew across the pole barn and stuck in the 4” insulation in the wall . Lucky nothing was in it’s path . Would have been devastating . Split second . Proceed with caution as one has already stated .


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