Sunday, 10 May 2015

Moving Dangerously Close to 'Polisher' status

My OCD had a bit of a flare up around a month ago, when I found myself inspecting the purple heat tarnishing on the top of my exhaust manifolds.  I managed to rein it in, and quite liking the purple look I decided not to have the manifold re-polished.

We then went to France for a track day at Folembray Circuit (last weekend), and on the way back the heavens opened... For hours!  With the car in the garage (and dried) I took stock of the situation and freaked!  It was a mess! A week long partial dismantling project, cleaning and rebuild later the car is now looking like new... and in the cleaning process I decided to get the whole exhaust re-polished.

I took the exhaust to a local polishing company, and suggested to them this could well become a 'once a year thing' and left it with them.  Thinking with my sales pitch I could get a good price, but it that wasn't the case... the quote was astronomical and the lead time was huge, so I decided I could do it myself - being the 'polisher' I clearly am :-(
Exhaust, cat bypass pipe and manifold prior to polishing
Exhaust, cat bypass pipe and manifold prior to polishing
Last year I wrote a post about polishing my cat using a cheap polishing kit from Halfrauds.  Knowing how long it would take using that kit, I purchased a polishing machine from http://www.metalpolishingsupplies.co.uk

The polishing machine is a bench grinder with the grinding wheels removed, two spindles and interchangeable polishing mops fitted at either end.  The kit included the bench grinder, mop spindles, three polishing mops, six differing grade compounds and general protective wear.
Draper 550w bench grinder with polishing mops attached
Draper 550w bench grinder with polishing mops attached
The first stage was to use a sisal mop with the black compound.  This process is the longest part of the polishing cycle, and took around three hours, but the results are very impressive.  
Caterham R500 full exhaust polished using sisal mop and black compound
Caterham R500 full exhaust polished using sisal mop and black compound
After the first stage the exhaust and pipes had what I can describe as a 'brushed steel' finish.  The second stage was to use the cloth mop with the green compound to remove the brushed finish and to add some sheen.
Caterham R500 full exhaust polished with cloth mop and green compound
Caterham R500 full exhaust polished with cloth mop and green compound 
After the second stage the exhaust and pipes had a really nice shine, and I thought it couldn't get much better, but went through the full process anyway.  The third stage was to give the exhaust a final mirror polish using the cotton mop with the white compound.
Caterham R500 full exhaust final polish with cotton mop and white compound
Caterham R500 full exhaust final polish with cotton mop and white compound
I refitted the exhaust system, and as you can see from the following pictures the results are very impressive.  The whole exhaust system looks brand new, and the total hours spent 'polishing' was around five hours.
Polished manifold pipes on Caterham R500
Polished manifold pipes on Caterham R500
Another picture below, showing the full polished system.
Caterham R500 full polished exhaust system - looking brand new
Caterham R500 full polished exhaust system - looking brand new
I'm really happy with the results, and I think it'll be a once a year (or two) job, but having invested in the equipment I may have some spare time to do more... For the right price :-)

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