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The simple satisfaction of polishing plastic cabinets....

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The simple satisfaction of polishing plastic cabinets.... Empty The simple satisfaction of polishing plastic cabinets....

Post by Dr. Radio on Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:22 pm

It's a lot of work (well less work then wood restoration), but very rewarding. I go for the factory new "mirror" shine. Smile 

The simple satisfaction of polishing plastic cabinets.... IMG_2871_zpse7496d8b
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Post by willy3486 on Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:30 pm

Nice. I have heard lots of ways to do it, buff ,don't buff, novis polish,etc. Whats the best way to polish plastic? Bakelite? How is the best way to clean these items? I would like to not only getting my radios playing well but looking good as well. I use to just clean them years ago and that was fine. Now I want to go further in redoing them as I see some do.

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Post by Dr. Radio on Fri Jan 24, 2014 12:08 pm

Willy, my secret is the original formula Brasso. When I heard the changed the formula (which reportedly doesn't work worth a crap), I bought a case of the stuff off of eBay. The good stuff comes in the metal cans, the new stuff comes in plastic squeeze bottles.

I've got it down to a science, sand (with autobody grade sandpaper) something like 600-800 grit to remove scratched and dings. Brasso with paper towel, agressively buffing. Then go 800, 1500 grit. Brasso again with softer rags. I've literally taken radios with deep gouges and melt marks and made them look show room new. It's labor intensive, but I do it all by hand. Too easy to burn through the plastic or damage details with power sanders and buffers in my opinion.

Never tried Novus. Heard it's good but not cheap. The only drawback to the Brasso is (besides it isn't available commercially), is it has a strong ammonia type smell. Maybe later (or with my resto thread in the electrical section), I'll do some side by side comparisons (tape a dividing line across the radio's top) and show what it takes to make a big difference.
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Post by b_body_bill on Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:43 pm

I use 3M automotive scratch remover and then 3M automotive polish after that. For real tough jobs I also use Mothers™ Mag and Aluminum Polish. I know the Mothers sounds strange but try it some time on a junker.

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Post by willy3486 on Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:24 pm

Here is a question on polishing. I was thinking of making a dedicated buffer for stuff. I have a motor ,arbor to hold the pads,and pads. If I made a dedicated buffer for bakelite and plastic cabinets so as not to hurt them what speed would it probably needed to be? I can get pulleys to adjust the revolutions per minute.

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Post by hismastersvoice on Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:51 am

Good thread. I've tried my hand at wood, and I have a few problems with it:


  • I'm squirrelly around power tools
  • I don't have anywhere to work with it except outside
  • They call it woodworking...because it's WORK


I don't have a problem with work...I have a problem with the first two being wrapped up with a pile of work. I've found plastic a more giving medium. We'll see how I feel after I polish my first cabinet.  Cool 
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Post by 75X11 on Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:31 am

willy3486 wrote:Here is a question on polishing. I was thinking of making a dedicated buffer for stuff. I have a motor ,arbor to hold the pads,and pads. If I made a dedicated buffer for bakelite and plastic cabinets so as not to hurt them what speed would it probably needed to be? I can get pulleys to adjust the revolutions per minute.

A buffer can save time, but I would only recommend using a low speed orbital and only on bakelite.  Any buffer on the other thermoplastics can melt and gouge in an instant.  I have used a low speed dremel tool with felt pads and brasso on tail light assemblies that would barely respond to hand buffing and it is like pushing a chain up a hill for a practiced hand to keep from any melting.  I wouldn't have done it for any other reason than a set for my mustang are $280 used and would have to be color keyed yellow.  I use aluminum sanding blocks with rubber faces, wetordry sandpaper and wet sanding for the softer plastics for radios, then newspaper with flitz or wenol or brasso.
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Post by Dr. Radio on Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:36 pm

Yeah, that's why I polish the "plastic" cabinets by hand.

Even low speed orbital would have me paranoid.

If you are dead set on power buffing, I'd get a bunch of plastic junker cabinets and practice and see how they take. My understanding is most of what we encounter in this hobby is polystyrene and related.
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Post by 75X11 on Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:20 pm

Here are some items that have helped me a lot in polishing everything from acrylic to stainless steel.  There are many times that a flat surface needs to be maintained and these little sanding blocks have been very handy.  the 1 inch thick piece of glass was just the thing for restoring the acrylic dial on my avatar, while the small metal blocks with one side rubber faced are quite handy.  All are great for wet sanding.

The simple satisfaction of polishing plastic cabinets.... P1000510
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Post by neali on Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:17 pm

Dr. Radio wrote:Willy, my secret is the original formula Brasso. When I heard the changed the formula (which reportedly doesn't work worth a crap), I bought a case of the stuff off of eBay. The good stuff comes in the metal cans, the new stuff comes in plastic squeeze bottles.

You have a case of old brasso??? Shocked 

Doc, old buddy, old pal.... Very Happy 

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Post by 75X11 on Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:44 pm

For any of you that might use brasso for it's abrasive qualities alone, here is the ingredient. Maybe you could try a different formulation that may work better on plastics.

http://www.amazon.com/Behlen-T23433-Rottenstone-1-lb/dp/B003AYPRLA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403105948&sr=8-1&keywords=rotten+stone
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Post by neali on Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:26 am

Thanks 75!

I have that stuff around for cabinets. Maybe I will add it to lousy new Brasso and see if it makes a difference.

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Post by 75X11 on Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:36 am

I've done that and it seems to.
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Post by Ragwire on Sun Jun 22, 2014 11:14 pm

800-1000 grit wet sanding and then the Novus deep scratch remover and then Novus fine scratch remover works good. I didn't know about Brasso.
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