I have resolved this week that there is in fact, a right way and a wrong way to clean up window frames. This revellation came to me today after spending a week trying various techniques to clean up the window frame I removed last week from the back of the trailer.
The wrong way is to use a Dremel polishing kit and a wire wheel to clear off the silver toned paint a previous owner felt enhanced the natural aluminum finish. This way can only lead to hours of frustration, gouges and rough patches in the frame, black polish all over the polisher, achey arms from working hours on the polish and a deep yearning for something stronger than wine to help you forget what a mess you've just made of the window frame.
The right way is pretty darn simple and even removes most traces of the stupid mess the wrong way made for you.
Difficulty: (scale of 10 drills):
Medium and Fine grade steel wool
Bathroom cleaner (anyone will do, I used Tile X)
Aluminum polish (whatever you can get that is rated for polishing aluminum--I used Mother's Aluminum Polish)
Paper Shop Towels
Warning--this is a really messy project. Wear clothes you can machine wash. You may want to wear gloves, though I found that if scrubbed, the polish mess comes off the skin fairly easily.
1. Use orange paint remover to strip off any elements of the silver paint left on by a previous owner (optional, considerate previous owners may not have left you such a inheritance). Tease off remnants of paint with a nylon scrub brush (not wire!), rub down with paper towels, then rinse off all remnant of the orange goo with water. Let dry overnight.
2. Spray the surface in segments with bathroom cleaner and scour thoroughly with fine steel wool. If this fails to lift up surface oxidation (ie, the little spots), use medium steel wool and scour until the oxidation is satisfactorily removed. Rub off with paper shop towels.
3. Polish surface with aluminum polish (almost any kind will do, this isn't a plated surface like alclad). This is best if done by hand.
4. Buff off the remaining polish with a clean paper shop towel. When the towel surface gets black, move to a clean part of the towel.
I managed to make an easy task very onerous here. But heck, think of the calories I burned!