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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone know how to clean/polish the tailgate trim panel? I thought about using some 1000 grit paper on it and spraying some clear on it, but I thought I'd ask first.

I searched and couldn't find an answer.

My tailgate panel is slightly oxidized and cleans up well with a Brillo pad, but as soon as it dries the dull oxidized surface returns.

Any tips or tricks that you want to share?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nah, that's ok. I have a couple of different ones for my truck, but I just came across this rare one today. Just looking for an easy way to clean them up and get em' all nice and shiny.

This one only came on 85/86 Lariat's, and I have another really nice tailgate that already has the holes in it.

Just looking to shine it up a little.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, as it turns out it's the anodizing that's shot on these panels and it cannot be polished like ordinary wheels can. You cannot get through the milky surface to the bare aluminum to make it shine. That's what the anodizing does: protect the bare aluminum.

I've found out that you have to remove the anodizing first before it can be buffed to it's original glory.

There are several ways to do this, but it seems like Easy Off (in the yellow can, not the blue) is the most common way to remove it. I sprayed one of my panels, waited 10 minutes and rinsed it off. No good. Sprayed it again and waited another 10 minutes and most of it came off. Sprayed it one last time and again waited 10 minutes and it's now all dull, but the anodizing is finally off. I did it several times as to not pit the aluminum by leaving it on too long.

I wet sanded a section with 1000 grit and used some metal polish on a small section, and man it's coming out really nice. Only thing is that I'll have to either have it re-anodized or clear coated to keep it shiny once it's complete.

It's a lot of work, but it'll be worth it in the long run.

Pics will follow tomorrow as I progress.
 

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if you dont want to send it out for clear you can always use zoopseal. works great for polished aluminum.
 

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aluminum polish. It is a paste that comes in a little white jar. Works wonders on aluminum that is even over 30 years old. I don't know the name, but I can try and find out.
 

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EasyOff won't remove Aluminum Oxide from Aluminum; what you removed was the plastic coating & wax that was on the bare brushed Aluminum. It's not anodized. Sandpaper would have done the same thing faster, and if you work it inline with the original brushing, it would have been like remanufacturing the panel's surface. Then I'd spray some clear over it to keep it looking original.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
EasyOff won't remove Aluminum Oxide from Aluminum; what you removed was the plastic coating & wax that was on the bare brushed Aluminum. It's not anodized. Sandpaper would have done the same thing faster, and if you work it inline with the original brushing, it would have been like remanufacturing the panel's surface. Then I'd spray some clear over it to keep it looking original.

I don't believe it was cleared from the factory. I am fairly certain after doing lots of research that they are in fact hard anodized as is much of the other brushed aluminum trim pieces on these trucks like the windshield moldings. I've been in the aircraft industry for years and I know what etching and anodizing looks (and more importantly) feels like.

I tried sanding it, but it didn't want to come off too easy. I probably could have used a coarser grade, but it would still have been a bitch to get out of certain areas.

The lye in the yellow Easy Off or Draino does remove the .001 +/- of anodizing according to what I have read.

In any case, after 3 applications of the oven cleaner it is now one solid matte aluminum. I took some sandpaper to it going with the grain and it's coming out very nice.

Now I just need to spray some clear on it once I'm done.

This is a before pic of the one that I'm working on right now:



I also need to find some of the missing letters, but I'm not going to pay $25 each from LMC or another aftermarket vendor. I'm pretty sure I already have the "F" from another panel, just need the other two.
 
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