Anyone else use silver rub n' buff on aluminum?

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by 240sx4u, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. DaveBall

    DaveBall Long timer

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    Not everybody has the ability nor can afford to do the full media blasting, Soda or otherwise. So, using a product like Rub'N'Buff makes a lot of sense. Especially on things like wheels and engine casings. I have a small media blasting cabinet that I use 3 different grades of glass beads in. It works great to get rid of all the staining and dicolourations, but once finished, I will sometimes use the pewter Rub'n'Buff on a part to give it a little bit of brightness and to give it some protection. It is easy and works. I really like it on snowflake wheels.
    #21
  2. dmftoy1

    dmftoy1 Been here awhile

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    I used some silver leaf rub n buff on an airhead air cleaner that had oxidized horribly and had huge black spotches that no amount of scrubbing could get off. Even sand blasting just lightened them. Was real happy with how it turned out.
    #22
  3. danedg

    danedg Horizontally Opposed

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    I found the rubnbuff worked well on the grungy oxidised steel fasteners that had given up their cad plated finish. Shock bolts and the like brushed up clean then wiped with the rubnbuff, looked quite good.
    Pitted and oxy'd chrome parts looked much better with some RNB.
    But after a year or two and rain the oxy is poking back through...
    I tried it on aluminum but it looked too fake.
    #23
  4. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

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    I've said a lot about Rub N' Buff in my build thread, but I'll add my input here too.

    One thing I hear a lot is that it seems silly and people liken it to "makeup for your engine". I think that's a silly way to look at it. I've spent less than a collective hour applying Rub N' Buff to my engine during my rebuild, and it is going to prevent oxidation and ensure that the engine looks good for quite some time. Most people don't think it's silly to wax your tank or fenders to protect them and keep them looking good. In my mind an engine should be no different. I've worked very hard to remove all of the aluminum oxide from my old girl, and I think with a single application per year over the winter when I can't be riding anyway, the oxidation will never return as long as I own this bike.

    From what I've seen (I haven't used it), Pewter is a good color if you want to achieve the look of clean but used and road-worn aluminum. Silver leaf is a great color if you want your parts to look very close to freshly media-blasted cast aluminum. Very close, but not perfect. There is a slight difference in the tone. I've attached a few photos for comparison. My take on it is that the RNB has a slightly cooler hue to it, and the natural aluminum is slightly warmer. If you've ever seen a chrome wheel next to a highly polished aluminum wheel, I feel this is very similar. The chrome wheel will be cooler in color with more of a blue tint, and the aluminum will be warmer. It is a subtle difference, and I think that anyone would be VERY hard pressed to determine if a clean engine did or did not have RNB applied without a second bike to compare it to.

    Engine block has RNB, valve cover does not:

    [​IMG]

    Engine block and covers have RNB, cylinder, head, and valve covers do not (yet):

    [​IMG]

    Another thing I hear is that it looks too fake. I think a lot of this comes down to application. I've learned a lot applying the stuff over the course of my project. First, DON'T USE TOO MUCH!!! Less is better. If you put a pea-sized dab on your finger, you're overdoing it by a long shot. You need a tiny fraction of that amount. If you put too much on, it will completely fill all of the casting crevices in the aluminum. This makes the surface appear smoother, and I think this is what many people see that makes them think RNB looks too fake. If you apply very little at a time, lightly, it will just fill the high spots and leave all of those little dimples, and will look much, much more natural, as you can see here (RNB on all the cast aluminum in this photo):

    [​IMG]

    You can also see what I'm talking about in the photo above with the engine block and the valve cover. See how you can still see all of those little dimples in the aluminum in the engine block? That's what you want to go for. If you fill them in, and you can, then the whole surface looks too much like plastic.

    The other thing is buffing. The less you buff after applying RNB, the more dull of a finish you get. The more you buff, the more of a metallic sheen you get. In my opinion you can both underdo and overdo it. There's a happy medium when buffing that gets just the right sheen and truly looks like clean aluminum. It's not rocket science, buff a little and keep going until you get the look you like. This all sounds like a pain, but it can be done very quicky with very little effort.

    To address the question about black RNB on the frame, it doesn't work nearly as well as RNB does on the cast aluminum bits. In my experience, RNB works far better with porous materials. The smoother the surface is, the more poorly it will work. I just bought some black RNB just to try it out on a few areas of the bike.

    Here's a nasty scratch that I managed to put in the swingarm because I didn't remember to cover it when remounting the engine :baldy :

    [​IMG]

    After RNB:

    [​IMG]

    Sorry the "after" shot was out of focus, but you can see that the RNB did get rid of the color difference, but does nothing to fill in the scratch. It looks better for sure, but not perfect. It will have to do in this case since I'm not going to have the swingarm powder coated again. It's certainly better than before.

    Here's my clutch lever perch before RNB:

    [​IMG]

    And after:

    [​IMG]

    Shinier, but not much better looking (in my opinion). I was hoping this might do the trick, but I now know I will have to paint or powder coat the perches.

    This is how much I used to do both jobs above, and it was too much:

    [​IMG]

    So, the stuff definitely has its place. I think it's a great solution and it can make very poor looking parts look near brand new very quickly and very inexpensively. If someone was the really lazy type, they could apply RNB straight to a dirty and oxidized airhead engine and make it look a million times better in about an hour (with the majority of that time taken up by those darn cylinder cooling fins) for under $5. Not a bad investment at all, if aesthetics matter to you.
    #24
  5. Boxer Metal

    Boxer Metal Mad Scientist

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    After originally reading this thread I order some. It is pretty amazing. Has anyone done in longevity test with this stuff to see how long/well it holds up?
    #25
  6. supershaft

    supershaft because I can

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    I totally agree yet again. I hadn't read this thread until today. I got a few laughs out of it! Personally, I think any kind of painted on aluminum look looks lake crap. I can spot it a mile away. Including photos of that silvery stuff in this thread. Black painted engines look good for a year or two.

    No one started at the beginning. WASH your bike! Then they won't get so nasty looking to start with! Airheads go on and on about maintenance. Washing a bike IS maintenance! You can not properly maintain a dirty bike! :D

    I wonder what kind of dry blast patanga was using? I have used finer sand and glass on tons of BMW motorcycle parts and have never run into his troubles. Glass bead does not leave a sharp edge?
    #26
  7. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

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    If you can spot the difference between my cylinders and my engine block in the photo I posted above from a mile away, then you have much better eyes than I do.

    I absolutely DID clean the engine, and will continue to do so regularly - it's obviously the way to do it right. After that, a little RNB will ensure that it STAYS clean. Wax guys, that's all it is. Don't over think this.
    #27
  8. Renner

    Renner combustophile

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    I'm putting a swb/5 together from parts.
    scored some fork sliders cheap at a friend's garage, they looked like crap.
    now experimenting with making them look better.

    scrubbing with brass brushes & scotch brite (green) in my parts cleaning tank got them 'clean'.

    this one's the worst of the two, after cleaning.

    [​IMG]

    I did some studying earlier.

    reportedly, phosphoric acid gives good results and is not terribly toxic.
    (Used in coca-cola, it can be sourced 85% pure food-grade from amazon.com.)

    I shopped around and found this stuff which includes a fair percent of it.

    [​IMG]

    ^ these results were after three application at ~90 seconds each.

    I then rinsed the slider in water with baking soda to neutralize the acid.
    I'd say the results were better than it appears in the pic, but still those oxide freckles...

    Here I've applied RnB pewter, obviously just in "quadrant of the cylinder" under the cast roundel.

    [​IMG]

    below: same but with different lighting.
    no RnB on the axle buttress, or left of the roundel.

    [​IMG]

    for comparison we have here the second slider in the foreground, scrubbed and cleaned with solvent only (nice patina :D ).
    Slider in back done complete in RnB pewter except for the upper, gaiter area.


    [​IMG]

    in the pic below: foreground slider after etching with Aluminum Brightener (aka phosphoric acid).

    [​IMG]

    IMO the etched slider would eventually oxidize to the pewter color.
    I've not tried RnB "silver leaf" but it may closely resemble the freshly etched slider.

    Same two as above, different lighting.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    as seen below, I went ahead and waxed the second slider with the RnB.
    (neither one was scrubbed, etched or waxed in the gaiter 'land'... that ~3 in. area at the top of the slider)

    [​IMG]

    IMO it's a big improvement on these second hand parts. No way have they ever looked this good in this century.
    from http://www.amaco.com/"Rub 'n Buff is made from imported carnauba waxes, fine metallic powders, and select pigments."

    It contains a petroleum distillate which keeps it soft for application, and as this evaporates the wax hardens.
    Easily removed with acetone, I like how it protects the aluminum from further oxidation while making it easier to keep the surface clean.
    I guess it lasts about as long as a good wax lasts on patent leather shoes: depends on the duty.

    Honestly, I'm not a 'cleaning' enthusiast and can't afford to spend a lot of time at it.
    Having made the effort to get these castings clean, it's nice to keep them so while minimizing further effort down the road.

    And I believe it will make the next owner happy as well.
    #28
  9. squiffynimrod

    squiffynimrod maximum shrinkage

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    Thanks for the excellent research and posting the results. Anyone know of a source in Canuckistan? The local Micheals Crafts have no idea what this product is when I looked for some before.
    #29
  10. Renner

    Renner combustophile

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  11. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

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    I have been diluting mine with paint thinner, then apply with a paint brush.How else could I get into them nook & crannies.:wink: Lots of them under engines. Let dry for a couple days then buff with a dry bristle paint brush. Quick, easy.:clap

    Yep I have done some durability tests, with a whole bunch of chemicals and the propane torch.:wink: More coming under my K1200 Engine, I don't like detailing under there, I hope the RubnBuf works, if anything will protect the aluminium from road salts,oil and mud.:wink:

    I'll find out in a couple years....:rofl

    Thanks for the pics up there, I have some of my own but I wont bother, too many doubters on here that won't spend a few $$$ and try for themselves.:D

    Probably better off keeping them tricks offline anyway, otherwise old parts will get a quick buff and a large price increase on Fleabay.:lol3
    #31
  12. boxerboy81

    boxerboy81 Stay Horizontal

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    Too deep. Experimentation pieces only.

    I've used the ebony stuff on the fork lowers and they did a job, but the surface still appeared pock marked. They ended up painted.

    My conclusion is that it works best on bare metal,and like others have said, less is best. The discs in my pix earlier in the thread show two sides. The backside looks a better result where I did use a very small amount. The other side had too much used and did come up a little much like "too much makeup". Restraint is the key.
    #32
  13. Hookalatch

    Hookalatch Born Under Bad Sign

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    Any estimate of the ratio of thinner to paste?

    Chuck
    #33
  14. H96669

    H96669 A proud pragmatist.

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    Not much, I eyeball everything. I'd say no more that 1 part thinner to 4 parts RnB. There are hints on thinning it down on their website, don't remember if they give a ratio.

    Did the inside of my front cover, darn that thing was grotty and nothing cleaned it. Just dumped some RnB in there, a little thinner and went at it with the paint brush. A very small one for the nooks & crannies.:wink:
    #34
  15. Paul_Rochdale

    Paul_Rochdale Been here awhile

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    I bought a tube of 'Silver Leaf' off eBay having read about it here and am well impressed. I just tried a little test piece on the R100GS-PD swinging arm and it looks like new. A tiny bit fake I know but I can live with that. Better than the stained alloy IMO.
    #35
  16. Rob Farmer

    Rob Farmer Long timer

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    I can't believe you guys are stripping things down and then not vapour blasting. It's the best finish out there. Looks a little bright when first done but soon settles to give an "As new" finish.

    Heres one of my gearbox cases when fist blasted

    [​IMG]

    It's a lovely finish.

    [​IMG]
    #36
  17. danedg

    danedg Horizontally Opposed

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    Dare I ask???
    And what is fist blasted???
    Remember you're talking to a bunch o Yanks over here!..:freaky




    #37
  18. Renner

    Renner combustophile

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    #38
  19. Rob Farmer

    Rob Farmer Long timer

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    I'm on an iPhone here guys gimme a chance. It should have said first blasted. Like any cleaning process with aluminium thecsurface will oxidize and settle down over time. The surface seems a little too bright and shiny initially.
    #39
  20. Renner

    Renner combustophile

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    Absolutely Fabulous :D

    I don't know that I'm worthy of such a beaut. :thumb
    #40