Gentlemen, appreciate all your commentary and experiences. I studied mechanical engineering and have been working on and modifying my cars and tools since I was 14 years old.
I did not mean to suggest a large drill press is completely suitable nor a decent alternative for a real lathe or mill.....of course not. Yes the design of the machine is not for side loading, so it will wear out the bearings - depending on the load being applied.
The first attempt using the sandpaper, steel wool and polishing compound worked exactly as intended. If you push hard enough to slow the chuck down, there will be consequences; in this instance it produced exactly the intended result - a congruent and consistent surface finish on a round aluminum part. As we all know, we can use our router tables to cut aluminum (gently and small passes) so this is really not that much different - with care taken.
As for the chuck falling out - my 8" table top press does this fairly regular basis and while not ideal, it is no big deal and has never damaged anything or caused concern for injury. Both drill presses run at about 300 rpm. I'm sure I would be less cavalier at 3000 rpm.
Thank You for your concerns, and the safety angle is appreciated - while I inherently am a risk taker by nature, I am not a fool nor careless. A metal lathe is on the wish list, one of my neighbors thinks they have a wood lather they want to give me. I have zero room as it is - hence the multitasking of the big drill press.
As for the car - it's a 1987 Mustang GT convertible that I bought restored in 2010 after totalling my SVO clone that I had since 1987. 9 engines, 3 transmissions and 3 rear ends ought to indicate the level of commitment to running hard, lol.
I re-restored it in 2011-2013, swapped in a hot rodded drivetrain (converted from auto to manual 5 speed) with 380 hp at the tires.....took it to the track and road course a bunch, as well as street driving/crusing/car shows. New trick alum heads and some other stuff in 2015 - now makes 444 hp/380 tq at the rear tires on pump gas...no power adder - only a tricked out double pumper carburetor. Runs 12.7's at 114 mph all day long plus will do 100 laps at the road course consistently, with road race tires and short shifting - wrong rear gear too - only pulls 5600 rpm thru the traps - the motor pulls to over 7200. Once I get it sorted, it will run high 11's all day long in total street trim with the current motor. If I put a 4.10 gear back in, it would be mid 11's but that makes it undriveable at the road course and a little too rowdy on the street.
Had a self induced issue with the fiberglass hood flying up on the highway (got distracted at a car show and forgot to put in the hood pins) Labor Day weekend 2015. Hood destroyed itself, the cowl and the windshield at 80 mph. Lucky enough, no injury and managed to put the car on the shoulder instead of the ditch. Equally scary to spinning out at 100 mph and going backwards thru the grass at the track I must confess......done that 3 x lol.
This damage is what got me to strip and paint it (black House of Kolor), and here we are 3-1/2 years later......
Car was about 3300 lbs before I knocked about 200 lbs out of it with the current madness - altered wheelbase, widened track and body, adjustable ride height 4 wheel Koni adjustable coil-overs with 12.5" wide tires all around, carbon fiber hood, adjustable GT4 race wing (from a Pirelli World Challenge race winning Mustang) and an adjustable front carbon splitter.
The upcoming big stereo install and interior modding (new instrument panel and partial dash) is what got me to buy a router table and join this woodworm community......amazing I found another hobby that is capable of filling my calendar and emptying my bank account effortlessly.
Pics of the car below: