You want your aluminum to look it’s brightest, but what do you use to get that beautiful gleam back after 40 years of grime? The answer: just about everything. For the trim and windows, we used Mother’s Aluminum Polish, Diamond Brite Truck Box Polish, and lots of elbow grease (see our previous post on this topic). But for the trim around the wheel wells, which was in much worse condition than the rest of the trim, we had to take it up a notch.
The dirt on the wheel well trim laughed at the polishes we tried on it. It scoffed at Goo Gone, and yawned when we threatened it with detergent. We decided to call on our friend, electricity, and bought a bench grinder from Harbor Freight with a 3 inch fiber wheel. This worked beautifully and removed not only the hardcore road crud, but eliminated most of the pitting too! Woohoo! Plus, it was a lot easier on the elbows than hours of scrubbing. You need to go lightly when you use a fiber wheel though, because you can scuff or gouge the aluminum if you’re careless and press too hard or too long.
We used the same wheel to shine up the vintage wings we purchased, and it cleaned up the edges brilliantly! It couldn’t reach the center of the wings though, so they’re a little duller in the middle. The aluminum is thinner there, so it’s probably for the best that we polished that area by hand. When you’re doing work like this, good tools make hard work fun, and the bench grinder was a major win.