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Can I use an electric sander with Alumabuff instead of a Linear Buffer?

  Skipper

Les Robertson asked:

Can the pads be used with an electric square pad sander using your pad material. $200. for your machine is out of the question.
Also, how much is the protective coating, and how much polish and sealer will I need. My pontoon boat is 20Feet-[two] pontoon boat.
Thank you

Answer:

For your convenience, I’ve highlighted links. Click on any of the links for more information about the products.

No. For the following reasons:

1. Alumabuff is a water based product and electricity and water are a dangerous combination. Our Linear Buffer is an air operated Professional Quality machine with a stainless steel polishing plate. We found that aluminum plates bend and distort under pressure.

2. It’s imperative that you buff in a straight line with the grain. If you use an orbital, jitterbug or rotary sander, you will be polishing against the grain and the finish will resemble Oreo cookies.

3. Sanders are not strong enough. You require some pressure to get into the grain and polish out the stains and the special buffing machine is especially designed to be strong enough for this. Sanders are designed to allow the sandpaper grit to do the work. Too much pressure and they will stall and break, unless you are using a heavy duty professional unit, which can be even more expensive.

4. The polishing block is concave to match the curvature of the pontoon. This keeps the entire Alumabuff Pad in contact with the surface to minimize the working time and to use the full surface of the pad. If you use a flat polishing surface you will only be able to contact about 1 inch of the surface at a time. It will take longer and you will go through three or four times as many pads.

5. The Alumabuff Pad are especially designed to fit the Linear Buffers and will not fit a jitterbug or rotary sander.

You can do the job by hand, using Alumabuff and a Marine Power Mitt, but it takes a long time and it’s hard work. The Linear Buffer has a 16 inch pad and moves back and forth about 3,000 times per minute. Imagine doing that by hand. I know that they are expensive but you’re going to add more than the cost in value to the boat. If you trade or sell it, you’ll met many times your investment back.

I talked to several guys that tried and one said that his time was worth more than 50 cents per hour. He finally bought the machine to finish the job and said that he was going to put it up for sale when he was finished and at least get 1/2 his money back. Another gave up after he spent 4 1/2 hours and pulled his shoulder. He said that it cost him more for the chiropractor than he spent for the buffer. He finished the first pontoon and got the other one done in 1 1/2 hours, but he still has a sore shoulder.

In my experience, using the right tool for the job is always a good investment. The job gets done faster, easier and the results are always better. If the tool is good quality, they last a long time and you don’t have to re-invest the next time, or there’s always a market for good quality used tools so you can recover some of your investment if you’re not going to use it again. Another option is to get several buddies together and share the cost.

To calculate the quantity of products you need, use our Pontoon Calculator.

Thanks for your question,

Captain Aurora
Richard Kittar

Watch Free How-To Video
How to Clean & Polish Aluminum Pontoons in Less than 60 minutes

Can I use an electric sander with Alumabuff instead of a Linear Buffer