Some Tips for Polishing Your Bike: Sometimes a Bull in the China Shop not only Works, It’s just what the Frame Doctor Ordered.
As you may or may not remember, I had my Trek in for a couple of decals… I had my name added to my top tube. Well, it didn’t come back the way it went in… It came back ugly, and part of that is due to the fact that I didn’t break the bike down so it couldn’t be baked after the decals were clear-coated in. Long story short, I waited two weeks for the moisture to work its way out naturally and it cleared up a little bit, but not much…
Now, normally to brighten up a clear-coated frame, you hand buff it with Pledge Future Acrylic Floor Polish (seriously, and you need the right flavor so be careful here). In this case, however, I was pretty sure elbow grease wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
Folks, I didn’t have high hopes of applying some floor polish to that and it going away. Not only that, I couldn’t, for the life of me, find the right polish, so I went with what I knew would work. I bought a Ryobi random orbit polisher for $26 and some McGuire’s polishing compound and went to town… First with the applicator cover, then the polishing cover, making sure never to stop in one place and not to hit one area too hard. This is what I ended up with after about ten minutes of easy, careful work:
Bob literally is my uncle.
There are a few common sense things to remember, random orbit polishers create heat. Heat and carbon fiber do not mix. You have to keep moving or you burn through the clear coat or worse, delaminate the carbon fiber. BE VERY CAREFUL. Other than that, the fix was a lot easier than I anticipated and I had time to sit back on the couch and type this post before dinner… Oh, and I fixed a blemish on my wife’s bike, as well. That took less than five minutes. I had never polished anything before. Not once, ever. I watched a YouTube video.
Some repairs take a little more than the dainty approach. For those, be a bull and polish those blemishes out… or don’t if you’re not mechanically inclined – it would be far better to take it to a shop that can charge you a ridiculous amount of money to polish the frame than mess up and burn a carbon fiber frame.
Now, there is one other way to shine up a cloudy frame but it’s scary. See, when a frame is shot with clear coat, if you can’t bake the moisture out, it can cloud the finish. To get that out, you can take a heat gun and on the low setting, “bake” the moisture out. Now if I have to tell you about heat and carbon fiber frames, you don’t want to try this. If I don’t have to tell you, then you’re likely too nervous to do it anyway. I tried and it did clear it up a little but you can see in the photos above, there was still a lot to be desired. The polisher did the heavy lifting. I didn’t have a heat gun though, and I wasn’t about to buy one. I used my wife’s hair dryer.