Polishing is fun. It's also exhausting. And tricky. Thankfully there are some great videos out there, notably the one from Eastwood, that really explains what to do in great detail. But there is no substitute for experience, and even though I had watched a bunch of videos, there are some aspects to polishing that befuddle me.
I understand that the compound is the thing that is doing the polishing, or cutting, of the metal; but how much is too much, and what is appropriate pressure? It seemed like today I would hit a sweet spot of quantity of compound and the correct pressure, then everything would work brilliantly. And towards the end of the day I was beginning to get a rhythm for what to do and things started to go a lot faster. Less is more, as far as polishing goes. Lots of light applications of compound, rather than loading up the wheel and getting nowhere.
My system for polishing is as follows:
(Note: I did a preliminary cleaning of the forks using my Dremel; just to remove the most stubborn of corrosion from them. The abrasive wheel actually cut a little too aggressively and I had to go back over with some 400 grade emery paper to smooth things out a bit prior to going to the polish in wheel.)
1) Sisal wheel with grey emery compound;
2) Spiral sewn wheel with brown tripoli;
3) Canton flannel wheel with white rouge.
Cleaning the wheels periodically with the buff rake helped a lot too, and constantly rubbing the piece with a cotton rag to remove excess compound/black gunk was absolutely necessary. It was far too easy to overload the wheel with compound, and then get nothing but dark streaks of whatever across the forks. As per the videos I have separate gloves and wheels for each compound, all stored in gallon zip lock bags to avoid cross contamination .
Oh, and one final word: polishing is really messy. I will have to figure out some sort of exhaust system for the new workshop to catch all the polish and fluff that goes flying everywhere. I might just make my polishing stand mobile so I can wheel it outside and keep the workshop clean. Then I only have to worry about me getting dirty.
Here is a cool before and after shot of the forks. There is about three hours to get to this stage; the second fork took about half as much time.
Current hours on build: 81.5