Refinishing Stainless Steel - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old Apr 4th, 03, 06:27 AM Thread Starter
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I am trying to clean up the stainless sections of my 69 chambered exhaust system and have a couple questions. Does anyone know if the factory chambered sections are made of stainless? The reason I ask is because there are some scattered spots of very light suface rust on mine. How can this be if they are stainless? This exhaust system is probably as old as the car and they are obviously made out of some type of rust resistant material. Is it possible for stainless steel to eventually rust? Can stainless steel be sandblasted and/or chemically stripped and still retain it's no rust characteristic? My tailpipes are heavily coated with 30+ years of road gunk, undercoating, and I have tried cleaning them with lacquer thinner but it just won't come off. I am going to have to resort to something more agressive. My knowledge of stainless steel properties is not that good and I am sure there are various grades of it. Not sure if stainless steel is just a coating that is put over regular steel or if it is solid stainless all the way through. Any advice on how to tackle this would be much appreciated.

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old Apr 4th, 03, 08:41 AM
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Usually once stainless steel starts to oxidize it leaves an ugly stain even after the corrosion is removed. Unfortunately I do not know of any method to fully restore stainless steel. You could try polishing the affected area but I can't guarantee that will work. The only thing I've ever done to ugly stainless is clean it up really good and paint it. You can sandblast it or chemically treat it, but the chemical treatment may stain or darken the stainless. Of course sandblasting will alter the surface texture.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old Apr 4th, 03, 04:43 PM
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Stainless steel is an alloy that has both chromium and nickel (300 series) or just chromium (400 series), in addition to the standard steel constituents of iron and carbon. The "shiny" quality of stainless is caused by chemical oxidation of the metal surface. I have found the best way to clean up stainless, if it isn't in too bad of condition, is to polish if with very fine (OOOO) steel wool. Then go over it with chrome polish and buff it well.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old Apr 4th, 03, 08:50 PM
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Indy here is something to try. Get a magnet and see if it will stick to the pipes. If it does it could be 400 series which will rust even though it is staniless. When 300 series stainless (non-magnetic) starts to corrode or oxidize over time it gets a white power look to the metal. Holes usually soon follow. As Leadman said, light abrasive work and some buffing should bring back close to the original look. Keep in mind that stainless steel is the same all the way through,and once you have gotten the "bad stuff" off of the surface, assuming that the material is thick enough to do this, you can sand and buff to make 300 series stainless look like chrome if you want to spend that much time on it. good luck, Kevin
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old Apr 5th, 03, 10:36 PM
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No one answered your original question. I didn't because I'm not 100% sure. I'm 90% sure all chambered exhaust was carbon steel. no stainless.

I appreciate the metalurgical seminar by choptop and leadman. I have a repop set of Chambered made from 410 stainless I was a little concerned about. I knew some stainless is magnetic, and knew that my exhaust is weakly magnetic. They cleared up any concern.
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