When the only tool you have is a polisher...
Updated: Apr 7, 2019
With the number of wheels I've had coming through the door recently, lots of polishing takes place. Up until recently, I’ve been doing what most garage warriors do: get a Mother’s Powerball, attach it on a drill, grab some aluminum polish that’s well-advertised and go at it. The results are adequate.
As someone not far down the rabbit hole, this was fantastic. It saved me from doing it by hand, and I had shiny wheels. What a novelty. After heading further down the rabbit hole of modular polished wheels, two problems quickly surfaced:
1) It takes a long time.
2) The results are mediocre.
For most people, this approach is just fine. But looking at the mountain of wheel hoops I had to polish and dreading the process and lackluster results, I needed to find a better way.
Enter the world of truck polishing.
After spending countless hours researching what would make the most sense for my application, I believed I found a solution: a high-speed polisher, gigantic buff wheels, and rouge bars.
Financially speaking, this purchase was well-justified. The cost of the polisher and supplies cost ~$200. A typical polishing company charges $50 to polish one wheel hoop. Want a semi-intricate intake manifold polished? Upwards of $400 by anyone who has any type of credibility or reputation. Comparing this to the cost of outsourcing, I’m winning. However, I wasn’t outsourcing before. But, the results directly impact the prices I can charge for end products.
When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Now I’m actively seeking to find metal parts that could be polished. It’s a problem! Valve covers? Yup. Intercooler and piping that nobody will ever see? You got it. Intake manifold? Check.
It takes about the same amount of time as before, so that is a moot point, but the results are significantly better. This also completely negates the amount personal satisfaction I get from having incredibly well polished wheels and engine parts.
There is a problem, however: it’s dirty. I’m talking disgusting. Honestly, don’t do this inside the house. Don’t even look at the house when doing this. It’s gross. You’ll need a shower or five after doing this. Have you ever heard of Black Lung? I’m no doctor, but I would certainly say I have that after doing this a few times without a respirator on. And if you have a desire to keep your vision, please please please wear protective goggles.
The verdict: Money well wasted which has cascaded into a desire to polish everything in sight. I feel a bit like Midas. Not sure how well this will play out in the long term…