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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just picked up some stock SS wheels and they look like they need some polishing. what is an easy way to take care of this? and what product would some of you recomend? they have been painted (powdercoated) red on the inside, so im stuck with that ( looks alright i guess) but i just want to polish up the face and the lip a bit so they dont look so dry. any tips??
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
i was afraid of that, i wasnt sure if they were still clearcoated since some of the wheel has been painted. was hoping they might have already stripped it or something. so, i can feel a "grain" to the wheel, like groves in an old record. how does that factor in to the stripping/polishing process. i dont mind gettin down and dirty taking care of this, just lookin for any help/tips from anyone thats done it.
thanks
 

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I'd mask off the rim so just the lip is showing, spray with aircraft paint remover, or jasco, to remove the old clear coat, and wet sand like a mofo! Time consuming, yes, but if you take the time, it will come out clean! I did this on my gixxer rims on the lip and it worked out cooh!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I Do have some of that aircraft remover. used it on my 9c1 centercaps to reveal all the chrome under the grey paint. worked HELLA good. i just might try that. wont damage the aluminum??
wet sand with say 600 and progressively move up or....??
 

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Spray them with aviation stripper and hit with the Powerball, it'll look great. We did that on a set of rims for my friend's old RMS. If you want to sand all the ridges off, be prepared for endless hand sanding. I started sanding all the ridges of on two rims and after 20-30 hours in my basement I lost interest and went out and bought chrome rims.
 

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What about lacquer thinner?
My friend was doing up some wheels on his BMW, and needed to restrip the rims, and we used lacquer thinner, and it turned out damn good.

You could just call up (Skips Wheel Werks), and see what they suggest.

Skips Wheel Werks
(503) 641-8001
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
well, i found that they arent clear coated. im assuming they were stripped when the prior owner had the inside shot in red. i hit it with some aircraft remover and the clear peeled off of the center caps within a minute. nothing ever happend to the rim itself so i wetsanded one and there was no clear present. but it came out pretty damn nice after the wetsand. i only got up to 1000grit. and hand polished with some meguires. i think im going to hit it with the powerball when i get around to it and see how it comes out. might even move up to 1500-2000 before the ball.
thanks for the ideas fellas!
 

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SEOK,

How long did it take so far to polish the wheels? I have a set of SS rims with the clearcoat already removed.
 

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The final step...

Buy an Aluminum polishing kit ($25.00 maximum) with the multiple buffing heads to put into your power drill. They come with Black, white, and brown tripoli compounds to bring out the shine. It will amaze you the improvement from 2000 grit wet-dry sanding!

Finally hit it with Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish ($10.00 max.) to protect it from the elements and finish it off. Water beads right off, and you won't regret it!

My chemical strip & wet sanding from 120 grit through to 2000 grit took me a weekend for two tires! I also cleaned out the inside of the mag and coated it with Mag paint in a metallic gray. They look great!





Pictures don't do it justice!

Stretch
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
WOW that looks great man. so i SHOULD get up to 2000 then hit it with the polish kit? ive always liked the soft shine of aluminum over chrome. somethin about it that catches my eye. plus NO MORE RUST! :D

JZ... it took me A LONG TIME. well a good portion of my afternoon just getting up to 1000grt. pluse sore black fingers.but im willing to put in the time for the final look.
 

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Can someone break this down to a step by step process, including which products to use, and what grits of paper.
I think the polished stock wheels look great, and I'm thinking of doing this myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
yes do BREAK IT DOWN for us!!

 

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^^^lol^^
 

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It's a pretty simple procedure, just takes time and patience:

One thing to remember is that Aluminum is fairly strong, but soft, and prone to oxidization. The factory clear coat did two things, prevented the oxidization, and, gave the wheel added abrasive resistance. If you choose to leave the metal exposed without a clear coat, you will have to apply polishing compound more regularly to protect from oxidization. However, you still have a fairly soft metal exposed to physical abuse that you MAY find getting marred up easier due to road grit, etc. I have left mine raw, and polished them but my car isn't a daily driver, doesn't see snow, salt or winter, so doesn't see the typical abuse from the road. Think about this when you decide what you want. Perhaps the many powder coat finishes are better for you?

Tools & materials:

- Heavy Duty Paint & Varnish Remover, Medium size can of remover does 4 wheels easily. Choose either aerosol, or liquid brush on (brush on much cheaper and better, just sloppier!).
- GLOVES & respirator if in doors!
- Steel wool to help get it off, along with plastic trowels / scrapers.
- 2 sheets of; 80 / 120 Grit wet / dry & 4 sheets of; 200 / 400 / 600 / 800 / 1500 / 2000 Grit Wet / Dry sandpapers.
- Aluminum Polish Kit c/w various buff heads and Black / Brown / White tripoli compounds.
- Mothers Aluminum and Mag Polish.
- various soft rags and utility brush.
- water hose.
- Tin Foil & masking tape.
- Power drill / extension cord.
- work bench / saw horse / Black & Decker Workmate (that can get dirty!)
- 12 pack cool beers! (for internal use only)
- Bikini models if available (for inspiration only, not to be taken internally)

Heavy Duty paint & Varnish remover to get off the clear coat:

I would advise to work out doors in a shaded area. Remove center caps (these need to be treated differently). If you're leaving the tires on the wheels (I did), carefully mark and remove the wheel weights for re-attachment later. Run a good bead of tin foil along the rim edge and tuck it under really well to keep the remover out of the rubber surfaces (not good!). Get the water hose ready now... Apply the product by spray on or brush on. Old clear coat will bubble and raise fairly quickly. try to work out of the sun as the stuff dries rather easily, and when it does it is very hard to get off cleanly. Plastic painters trowels will assist in removing old clear coat. Scape it off with plastic trowels, and drop the residue into an old Ice cream bucket. Steel wool will also help, but can lightly score the metal surface underneath. If you are going to re-apply clear coat, avoid abrasives! The 'sand' finish areas seemed to have a 'silver' paint finish that came off with the remover. It may take several coats, but it comes off. Rinse with the spray hose (if you are not draining into a storm system) to get the remaining 'remover' off of the wheels. Pay attention to the lip just behind the center cap and the pry space. make sure this is stripped nice and clean too. The final product is in the details. Closely inspect to see that all the clear coat is off of the rim lip as it is really a bitch to sand that stuff off! If needed, hit it again with remover! The wheels may come out very shiny after this, and you may choose to re-coat with clear?

I wanted to leave it raw metal surface, so...

Get rid of the tin foil masking now, and start with 80 grit (dry) if you have flaws or 120 if the surface is presentable. I had some curb rash along the extreme outer lip edges, and managed to get these out with 80 grit. Remember to always sand in the direction of the turnings, or the arc of the wheel. You find quite quickly that random sanding directions will be quite obvious, and unsightly. I tried an orbital sander, and it left lots of squiggle marks that I was unhappy with, so I ditched it. The spoke faces & lips are 'turned' on a lathe, so there is a surface 'line' that you will want to sand down. The inside faces of the spokes and inner lip have a 'sand' finish from the casting that tends to hold dirt, and have a 'dull' finish, so this is where the hard work is, to sand this down smooth. This is where you will need to get into the difficult spots to buff this down. Attack these areas first, then hit the 'turned' surfaces afterwards. I started with 80 grit to help speed this along, and don't stop until you are completely satisfied the sand casting is all gone! The end of the spoke meets the outer lip at an awkward radius, and I had to fold the paper several times to form a curved surface... awkward, but worked. Others have used a Dremel bit or air driven heads to get into these areas, me I wasn't so fortunate, so life the hard way! You can try any power tool available to you, but test it first in a hidden area to ensure that it isn't too aggressive. Secondly, I tried to use my power drill and abrasive heads on some areas, but... I made a couple of slips, and the chuck hit the wheel... FFFFFFFUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKK ! if you have a shank protector (like the Mothers mini power ball has)... use it!

Next hit it with 120 grit to help remove the 80 grit scorings, again, don't stop until you are satisfied! It's a PITA to go back two or so grit levels later!

Rinse well with water to get rid of all the 80 & 120 grits that may be left behind as they can ruin the rest of your efforts later. Now the remaining is all wet sanding, and things get black pretty quick (I tried surgical gloves, but the sandpaper went right through them, so I said F it). Start with the 200 grit, and work from the inside out ie: inside faces of spokes and inner lips, then out to the outer faces last. One errand swipe of the sanding can mar the surface easily, and you're doing things twice!

Work your way through all the grits once you are satisfied you've done a GOOD job. Rinse between all grit changes!

You'll find the surface feels very silky smooth, but might not look shiny yet.

Center caps: The chromed plastic raised centers are okay against the HD remover, but the Impala centers are definitely NOT, they're plastic, and will bubble from the remover. Use painters masking tape and tin foil to mask these off, and be sure to protect these at all times. The remover works well on the flat perimeter area, and if you use plastic trowels, you'll probably find they will look great without sanding. I tried sanding them, but I'm less happy with how they turned out as they are not aluminum, but stainless steel (I believe). Once they are stripped, try buffing and polishing them. If you're not happy, then wets sand starting at 600 grit first, then work you way up the grit levels. Play special attention to the seam between the outer surface and the Chrome inner. Get into this seam as best you can to keep them looking clean. These come apart? If they do, this would be a little easier.

Back to the wheels, you may find that you are underwhelmed after 1500 or 2000 grit. I was too. But the buffing kit makes all the world of difference. Work in a cool area as the tripoli compound tended to turn to wax on me, and was a bitch to get off when it did this? It may have something to do with the buff head speed, but I ended up finding it worked excellently most of the time. Work your way through the three compounds, and be extra careful with the power drill chuck, etc. Ask me how I know... Follow the instruction within the kit for what wheels to use when, and which compounds to use in which sequence. I watched a few Youtube tutorials on it which helped a lot too. Use a power drill, not a cordless, as you'll burn through a battery quite quickly!

If you are not happy with any areas, go back over them with ... say... 200 grit to perfect them, then lightly blend it with the various grits until you're satisfied! Buff again...

Once you're finally there, Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish finishes it off. Polish the center caps with this too, and if the Impala Symbol area isn't polished enough, you can buy the plastic polish to bring this area to a bright finish (I didn't bother as mine were good). Water will bead right off now, and your wheel is protected from oxidization. I haven't gotten through one season yet, but I plan to polish it twice a year to keep them looking new. You may wish to clear coat them now (prior to Mother's polish), but follow the prep advice on the product for this.

Now mask all the polished surfaces, and paint the interior surface with mag paint.

Re-attach wheel balance weights...

Baddabing, new wheels!

Rears polished, fronts stock clearcoat...

I followed the procedures that previous members had tried and posted threads on. I would like to thank those guys for giving me the confidence to try it! Perhaps they may be able to post their pictures / tutorials again as I didn't take any pictures?

Stretch
 

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Nice

Stretch, you did a heck of a job w/ the wheels. I particularly like the pic below. Sure beats having them covered w/ years of brake dust :(

I did buy a aluminum polish kit w/ all the buff heads but how do you clean those suckers. I hated it when the brown compound would just stick to the wheels and had to remove by hand :mad:. I used small die grinders for these buff heads but didnt' like them much.
Anyway, the wheels definitely look better than stock when they are finally done.

 

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Wow! Thanks Stretch, I appreciate that. When, soon I get the ambition and the time, I think I'll attempt this.
I do think they look cool, and new rims are very expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
LOOKS VERY NICE man! and great write up. thanks!
 

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Doesn't the kit explain how to clean the buff wheels?

If not, I simply used hot water and dish soap. They don't come out perfectly clean, but clean enough to use again several times. They're cotton, so don't dry them aggressively. Let them room dry over night, or in the sun.

Once you've used them a few times, buy replacements.

Stretch
 

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I'm thinking about polishing a set of SS wheels I just picked up. I have quite a bit of experience polishing aluminum pieces, so I'm not intimidated by that at all. However, I do have one question: How did people polish the center caps? Aren't they plastic???
 
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