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Thread: Polishing the Waffle Grille

  1. #1
    Carthago delenda est Lutrova's Avatar
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    Default Polishing the Waffle Grille

    Last Fall I started polishing my car's waffle grille. I suppose it's true of most grilles of this age that oxidation will dull them to an even matte finish. Judging from pictures, the waterfall grilles don't appear to be as susceptible to this, but that may just be an illusion due to its geometry. At any rate, I figured if I could shine up the egg crate it would go a long way toward freshening up the front end of the car.

    Unfortunately, there's a pretty heavy layer of oxidation and a lot of surface area, which has made this process incredibly labor-intensive. I tried using metal polishes, small nylon brushes, and - if I remember correctly - phenolic acid, but nothing made a dent. The only way I've been able to get through the oxidation is with 0000 steel wool applied manually. The equivalent Scotch Brite pads aren't abrasive enough to cut through, and I believe a heavier grade of steel wool leaves scratches.

    One thing that has really expedited the process has been removing the grille from the car. That allowed me to remove the black plastic pieces from the back and get at it from all angles. It seems it's impossible to polish into the inside corners completely, but the effect is close enough for anyone looking from farther than three feet away.

    Has anyone else had any luck getting through oxidation on their grilles? I figured now that I'm about 40% done it'd be worth seeing if there's a faster way.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 200418 Grille Overall.jpg   200418 Grille Close 2.jpg   200403 Grille Front.jpg  
    1987 Lincoln Town Car - Signature, "Prudence"

  2. #2
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    I think the faster way would be to have a shop chrome it. Otherwise it's a lot of elbow grease or a lot of Dremel little buffing wheels and compound due to the small geometries.

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  3. #3
    2 decades of DDing Box Panthers, now in a Whale VicCrownVic's Avatar
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    I've tried my hand at polishing things during this shutdown. A pocket knife, some hedge trimmers, the wheels on my '98, and a spare turbine wheel. It's a lot of friggin work. I think if I want this turbine to look even just ok, it will need to be sandblasted, maybe with some soft abrasive that I know nothing about (crushed walnut shells or something?). The '98 wheels were near perfect already, so they weren't bad, just some minor polishing.

    For your grille, it looks great and I know I would have run out of patience to get as far as you have. No idea if blasting with a not so harsh media is a possibility, but someone with actual experience might know.
    Vic

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  4. #4
    The Brown Blob 87gtVIC's Avatar
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    Wow. Dramatic improvement
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  5. #5
    Wagon Addicted Tiggie's Avatar
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    Looks good to me in the pics.
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  6. #6
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    The middle parts of mine were pretty well baked off so I painted it black. The large raised bars polished up fine but the middle parts were too far gone. Body color would probably work on non-black cars if the grille can't be shined back up decently.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

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  7. #7
    fomoco panthers !
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    If you are in the military, that training to attention to detail is paying off. Great job ! Have you tried neverdull for fast clean up work? That would not apply to this job but for like weekly or monthly cleanup ? There isn't much to do at Fort Irwin so you could have plenty of time to work on the car, hopefully in the shade. I hate the heat there.

  8. #8
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    Wow
    That is a huge difference!
    Must have taken quite a while to accomplish.
    Hopefully you can clear coat it somehow to keep it looking so nice.
    I mean that looks like it prob did from the showroom floor.
    Last edited by massacre; 05-01-2020 at 05:52 PM.
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  9. #9
    Road Warrior Kodachrome Wolf's Avatar
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    Are those grilles metal or plastic? Curious for the sake of what would be possibly too aggressive to bring back the brightwork. Impressive job nonetheless.

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  10. #10
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    Plastic with chrome plating.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  11. #11
    Carthago delenda est Lutrova's Avatar
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    Re Mainemantom: My wife is in the Army. She's an RN at the hospital here. But I do take pride in doing a thorough job, and as you say, there's not much else to do here. Particularly with all the lockdown stuff going on, we might as well be living on the Moon.

    The amount of hours I've sunk into this grille so far has got to be in the triple digits. So it's in no way a rational cost-benefit tradeoff, unless your hourly rate is at Third World levels. But it has been a nice project to work on while sitting on the patio or in the dining room, listening to a show or hanging out with the Mrs.

    The grille insert and headlight bezels are the only exterior chrome-plated plastic pieces that I can think of. But it's interesting that the bezels, despite being in basically the same spot, don't seem to oxidize like the grilles do. Maybe something about the amount of air that's sucked through the grille weathers it faster.
    1987 Lincoln Town Car - Signature, "Prudence"

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