DIY Acrylic Tank Refinish -- Before and After

Jonez

I _had_ to start a new thread on this. Mostly due to the fact that I was thinking that I didnt do as good of a job as I actually did, when I looked at the before pics. And I know how you all just love threads with pics. ;p

Items Used:
-Sandpaper
--600, 800, 1000, 2000grit
-Elbow Grease
-Plastx
-Mothers Polishing wheel
-Novus #2
-Brillianize (or Novus #1 - same thing)
-Time..... Lots and lots of Time....


Before:


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After:


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Before:


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After:



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Before:


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After:


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Any haziness you see in the acrylic in the after pics is the plastx. I am letting it sit for a couple days before I wash the snot out of the inside.
Up close and personal you can barely see a scuff mark here and there (remnants from sanding) but from what it was before to this, I'm calling Great Success! I would say its about a 95% restore.

Next DIY in the works -- Custom tank stand for this beauty.

Here's the final product filled with water. Just need to final polish the outside with some Novus #2 and its done done.


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luke355027355027

Wow looks brand new.


And I thought 300 grit sandpaper was smooth
 

AnthonyC4C

Beautiful job!

What size tank is this?
 

Jonez

It's a 55 gallon. Picked it up on Craigslist for $50 with all the trimmings.
 

Jonez

I'm still noticing some small haziness on the inside of the tank when light is directly over top. Before I polished it, I wanted to try a palm sander with 2000 grit to make it more uniform. I actually think it didnt help the cause. I've got it filled up with water now, and I'm not liking the inside yet. Its not bad at all by any means, I'm just a perfectionist, and stuff like that will bother me to no end. You can barely notice it when the lights are positioned at the top-center of the tank, but position it front-center and you can see it.
So I think I'm going to get more 2000 grit and resand the inside. I'll see if I can get some 2500, 3000 and as high as napa stocks. That should get rid of all the haziness.


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CatfishJack

Lookin' good!
 

AnthonyC4C

Hope you get it worked out, you have been doing an excellent job so far!
 

Jonez

Thank You!!

Well hopefully this will do it. They didnt have 2500 or 3000 grit at napa or ace, so I just got a few more sheets of 2000 and a rubberized sanding block.
I re-sanded the surface lightly vertically for about 20 minutes, as even as I could, then switched to horizontal for 10 minutes. Then vertical for 5 minutes, and horizontal again for 5 minutes (the last sand being the lightest possible touch).
I just got done polishing it, and it looks - albeit not perfect - much better.
We'll see in 24 hours when I can fill it with water. If stuff is still showing through, I'm going to have to head into the city for some higher grit sandpaper, and have another go at it (will have to buy some more Plastx too cuz I'm almost out).
 

AnthonyC4C

Good luck & update pics!
 

Jonez

Holy....... Cow?.....

I decided to re-sand the outside of my tank again, since I had the extra sandpaper, the sanding block, the time and the plastx.

I think I said holy cow up there already but I definitely meant more colorful words to express the outcome.

I would say now its about a 99% restore.

Just filled it **** water, and wooshed away most the O2 bubbles (keep in mind there are still some micro bubbles in horizontal patterns. They're _not_ scratches).
You can has pix naow. I'll update tomorrow with another set of pics, once all the bubbles have settled and I can blow them off to show you the haze removal and smooth finish.


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CatfishJack

That is one seriously fine lookin $50 acrylic tank!
 

AnthonyC4C

Phenomenal Job Jonezy!
 

Jonez

Technically it's worked out to be $85 if you count the materials. lol But still far off from the $350 pricetag to buy new (and that's online -- big markup to buy in-store).

$10 sandpaper
$5 Plastx
$20 Mothers polishing wheel (which I higly recommend as opposed to the Magueirs one -- its smaller and more dense)

Something small, but its bugging me nonetheless, is when I was sanding, I forgot to cover up the "TruVu" decal, so its all sanded and bad looking now. I may peel it off.
 

CatfishJack

I'll give you $100 for it!
 

Jonez

Hahaha NERP!

There's actually another one on craigslist in my area for $100, but I think I don't want to do this for _at least_ another year.
 

CatfishJack

Alright, twist my arm why don't you! $125!
 

Jonez

You'll have to hash it out with my Pleco and Apisto.

Watch out, they're known to be packing switchblades. o.0
 

CatfishJack

You'll have to hash it out with my Pleco and Apisto.

Watch out, they're known to be packing switchblades. o.0

I'll bring a blender to a knife fight!
smiley_0019.gif
 

AnthonyC4C

 

Jonez

Heres some final pics with the light on, and the bubbles removed. Just needs a final outside polishing with some Novus #2 to remove some super fine hazing (not visible unless 2" away, but as stated:: I'm a perfectionist), and I'm calling it good.


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If you're wondering what the powerhead is for, I've got a mesh bag jammed full of carbon sitting underneath the UGF directly below the powerhead uptake. Gonna cycle a few hundred thousand gallons through it and wipe the inside walls down every day for a few days to make sure all residues are removed.
 

CatfishJack

That looks great!

Ok, ok... $150 and I'll throw in a six pack!
 

AnthonyC4C

You truly did a fantastic job!

LoL... I'm a UGF guy...I knew what you were doing...
 

Jonez

Just picked up some novus #2 for fine detailing the outside. "almost" done this project
 

CatfishJack

Just picked up some novus #2 for fine detailing the outside. "almost" done this project

Don't know what that is, but it sounds fun!
 

Jonez

Finished polishing with novus #2, then buffing with brillianize. Looking pretty amazing. I'll have to take some video at some point, but here's a pic in the meantime. It doesn't do it justice - - the thing looks practically brand new.


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Jonez

Update:

After 2 weeks of running water on the inside of the tank, I can tell the plastx is failing. Upon draining my tank, you can see little tiny specs everywhere on the inside -- like film -- that needs to be wiped down.
So I'm draining the tank now, and will wipe it all down, then repolish the inside with Novus #2, then buff out with Brillianize. I've read that Novus #2 is aquarium safe, and so is Brillianize (its essentially the same thing as Novus #1). To be safe, after polishing with #2 and Brillianize, I'm leaving the tank empty to dry out for at least a week, then I'll fill with water for another week, wiping it down every day. Then I'll drain and fill to see if there is any residue left over.

I'll keep the post updated with results, as I have found a LOT of people use Plastx for tank refinishing. Novus is no more expensive and achieves better results IME.
 

Jonez

An update:

The Novus has not failed at all. I can definitely recommend this product for tank refinishing. I haven't stocked my tank yet because I still haven't decided on my substrate choice, but I've been running it full of water since last month and have wiped it down a few times since. I haven't noticed any degradation of the product so far. I just drained out my tank today and decided I wanted to repolish -- since its going to be empty for a while now -- so I grabbed some Novus #3 this time (which is the surface prep compound) and worked that in. That stuff will work great for removing scratches, I can tell you now. It completely re-scuffed the inside of my tank. I used a buffing wheel for the application and it was nice and uniform. I then rinsed it off and wiped it down making sure there was no trace left of the #3 compound, then moved onto #2.
This is where I changed my method a little. Instead of doing small areas at a time and wiping immediately, I did the entire inside of the tank all at once (using a buffing wheel ofc). I let the polish sit and dry for about 30 minutes on the acrylic before buffing it off (as this is what I had read about in various places on the net), and holy cow what a difference!
If Acrylic is 96% clear, I think I've got this tank to about 90%.
I'm going to be buffing this tank weekly til I'm ready to put substrate in it -- get a nice build of the polish on the tank in hopes that the finish will last longer.

Will keep y'all posted.


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