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How to "Age" Aluminum???

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by rpol7966, Mar 22, 2008.

  1. rpol7966
    Joined: Sep 13, 2006
    Posts: 225


    I have a machined aluminum air cleaner(yes, it's billet) that I want to remove the shine on. What are some techniques that can be used? I'm thinking sandblasting, glassbeading or a chemical process to etch/oxidize.
    I'm wanting an appearance similar to old aluminum valve covers that have a darker oxidized look.
    Like most here, I don't like the billet look but some billet items might be used if they can be "disquised".
  2. I seem to remember a mention of using oven cleaner to remove the anodizing (if it is). That would get it to bare alum.
  3. Quite right . Oven cleaner has a lye type substance that will remove anodizing quite easily . Experiment first by leaving the stuff on for a short period , extending the time until you get the results you want .
  4. brandon
    Joined: Jul 19, 2002
    Posts: 6,187


    might try glassbeading then a trip thru the dishwasher.... some drain cleaners will discolor polished stuff as well.....easyoff oven cleaner will discolor aluminum and remove the shine.....(that ones from experience....cover those big rig tanks when removing lettering ....and wear gloves...:rolleyes:) brandon:D
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  5. Bokchoy
    Joined: Jan 12, 2008
    Posts: 7


    battery acid from an old battery will do wonders. just be careful.
  6. Royalshifter
    Joined: May 29, 2005
    Posts: 15,258

    from California

    Oven cleaner works good but wash it right after.
  7. Bert
    Joined: Feb 22, 2005
    Posts: 404


    Ive always used sraight amonia on brand new silver jewelry to make it age and go dark in the recesses and then polish it with a polish cloth to get back an aged great...should work well on alumium too...try a small spot and see........cheers, Bert
  8. Oven cleaner has worked for me. Like has already been said, keep an eye on it as the longer you leave it on, the more it works.
  9. GTSDave
    Joined: Jan 10, 2008
    Posts: 133


    I always use vinegar and water to etch aluminum before I paint it. It is cheap, and mild enough that you can take your time and get just the amount of etching you want.

    I use a tub of warm water just deep enough to cover the part, and about a cup of vinegar. If the wife isn't around the bath tub is perfect hehehe. The neat part is if you check on it every 15 or so minuets, you will be able to see just how much the finish has changed. It will look like nothing is happening for a while, but once it starts you will be able to see it.

    This vinegar method has always given me a very even finish like a part that has been sitting in the sun for years. The longer you leave it in the vinegar, the duller/older it will make the surface.

    I have used easy off, too, but it always seems to be splotchy. Some parts real dull, others still shine like they haven't been touched.

    Best part is vinegar is CHEAP! You probably already have it in the kitchen.

  10. jj mack
    Joined: Mar 22, 2007
    Posts: 736

    jj mack

  11. GTSDave
    Joined: Jan 10, 2008
    Posts: 133


    jj mack,

    I have seen those things for years, but never used one. Are they worth the money? What else do you use yours for?

  12. jj mack
    Joined: Mar 22, 2007
    Posts: 736

    jj mack

    Not much......

    If you have a bead blaster the bead blaster works much better for removing paint, which is what I think these were made for.

    But is you have to repair cast aluminum you can make the weld "disappear" by using one of these.
  13. Halfdozen
    Joined: Mar 8, 2008
    Posts: 490


    Removing flux from stick welds.
  14. Flatman
    Joined: Dec 20, 2005
    Posts: 1,975


    There is a treatment called "Liver of Sulfer" that'll darken it down to black in seconds. It's used in jewelry work. Try it after a light sandblast and then lightly buff the high spots, should give you a nice cast look.

  15. A scaler is for removing rust scale. Originaly and still mainly used in the marine world, any squid will know these!
  16. GTSDave
    Joined: Jan 10, 2008
    Posts: 133


    Thanks Doc!

  17. swade41
    Joined: Apr 6, 2004
    Posts: 7,592

    from buffalo,ny

    So will oven cleaner work on polished aluminum like Weld wheels ?
  18. David Totten
    Joined: Nov 21, 2005
    Posts: 248

    David Totten

    s;ome of the spray on wheel cleaners that say not for polished aluminum will dull them .
  19. Barn-core
    Joined: Jan 26, 2004
    Posts: 946


    Also before blasting the part you might want to try using a file, grider, or an agressive sand paper to knock off any sharp or crisp edges, that will help age it, and give it more of a cast look as well.
  20. Faded Love Garage
    Joined: Mar 30, 2003
    Posts: 938

    Faded Love Garage

    Sandblasting is how we made the billet brakes look cast when i worked at Flyrite.
  21. kelzweld
    Joined: Jul 25, 2007
    Posts: 294


    Thats mostly what I've used them for. Some air chisels will also take the needle attachment. Those things will pock mark heavy mild steel plate. I'd be a bit concerned myself using one on aluminium.
  22. SD49chevy
    Joined: Nov 10, 2007
    Posts: 25


    Once the clear coat is removed Simple Green will give it a nice aged look.
  23. Try a blaster with aluminum oxide for the media. When you get it out of the blaster wash with water then hit with some indusrtial strength aluminum wheel cleaner. Rinse and repaet for the look you want.
  24. CharlieLed
    Joined: Feb 21, 2003
    Posts: 2,452


    This is a good tip! My wife makes jewelry and uses this stuff all the time. It doesn't take much and it works like magic. It will turn metal black if you leave it soak long enough. Brand new silver pieces look like antiques in a matter of minutes.

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