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Thread: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

  1. #11
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    Re: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

    Part 4.

    Guess what? Yup, next up is 1000 Grit paper.
    Same steps as B4.
    You will almost feel at this point that you are doing nothing but wiping over the surface. But as you clean off the water and inspect it, you will indeed notice there a fresh shine to the surface. This is due to the lack of grooving that is there. More surface area equals more reflection. And by now you have an almost smooth-as-silk surface.

    After 1000 Grit Sanding:
    I did have to go back over some detail areas after this pic. But its a very shiny surface now.
    I actually made this my last step. You may want to go to 1500 Grit if you are out for that chrome-mirrored look. I was content with the way this was going to turn out after polish and buffing.



    Now you may think that is you can get that amount of shine from sanding, why buff and polish?
    Heres a shot comparing the 1000 Grit sanded surface to the buffing done with Emery Compound.

    2003 S-10 ZQ8 - 262/M5 1986 Pontiac Trans Am - 355/A4

  2. #12
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    Re: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

    You got more nerve than me, I'd be scared of screwing them up.

  3. #13
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    Re: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

    Part 5.

    So, here we are, with a nice smooth aluminum surface. But now we got to bring out that shine!
    First I suggest is you have never done buffing of metals with hard compunds and wheels, then get some scrap aluminum and practice.
    Surface temps, wheel speed and compound differences are all factos in how this job goes. Its not hard, just takes some finesse.

    Typically in the past Ive used an electric drill. But sometimes the max capable speed is too little and battery-powered ones dont go very far. Especially on a large job like this.

    I used a right-angle air grinder. The right angle made it easier to manuever around the concave wheel. The capable speed exceeds what is nessecary and safe for this job tho. So you got to regulate the throttle while you do this. Plus your compressor is going to be on quite a bit unless you got a massive tank. Mines a fairly large roll-around compressor. But was on alot.

    In the past, I have had best success bringing out the shine of aluminum with Tripoli Compound. That was things like Valve Covers.
    But I found on this job, the Emery Compound was best suited.
    Emery is the more aggressive compound tho. As with sanding, always start with the lesser-aggressive agent. In this case Tripoli.

    Here are some instructions to help if you have never done this type of polishing.
    http://www.enkaypolishing.com/polish...structions.pdf
    Some more helpful info.
    http://www.englishcustompolishing.co...aluminum1.html
    http://www.caswellplating.com/buffs/buffman.htm

    1. I used a Hard Felt cone to do the V-areas.
    2. I used a Hard Felt cone to do the edges.
    3. I used a Medium SISAL buffing wheel to do the rim lip and spoke faces.

    * The only things I used for the purchased kit was the Cone Buffs and the Compounds. But I do enough of this type of work to have future use of those other items.
    * I buy 4" Med and Soft Buffing Wheels from Lowes. I also buy the Arbor attachment for them to work on a drill or my airgrinder.
    * The kit came with buffing wheels, but I preferred the larger 4" ones I had for this large job.

    Doing the spokes, I started feom the lip area and worked toward the center. The wheel is spinning from the center to the edge (not from side to side). I used a slow back and forth motion from the spoke side to spoke side until I had reached the center of the wheel and covered the entire area.
    I did about 2 passes each spoke. Cleaned surface with terry towel in between rounds.
    Keep compound on the wheel but dont get too much on the wheel at once. The Caswell Plating link above has good info on that, so read it.
    Doing the V-areas, was pretty easy. Kept the wheel parallel to the long-way surface and curved it at the center of the V. That way it layed on very smoothly and seemlessly.
    Doing the rim lip, I kept the wheel parallel to the long-way of the surface. All the way around and used about a 1" back and forth motion the entire way around.

    * I think Ill get some pics of these techniques next time so you have a better understanding of what I wrote.

    Polished First Run After Emery:



    Once I was happy with the end result, I inpected it for any missed spots and then it was on to Polishing.
    I could buff down more with Emery, go to Tripoli and then to a fine White Rogue, but for my taste it wasnt nessesary.
    You can always experiment with these other steps. Easy to go back with Emery and re-do it.

    After First Polish:
    Pretty much done but I will go back and re-polish again. I used Mothers Aluminum Polish.
    2003 S-10 ZQ8 - 262/M5 1986 Pontiac Trans Am - 355/A4

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    Re: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

    Pics I have thus far dont do quite the justice.
    But here is the newly polished wheel next to one of the un-polished wheels on the truck.


    On the truck:
    Daylight was going west, so I didnt get a great shot. But the front wheel you can tell is def shiny!



    MORE pics and helpful stuff to come!!
    Last edited by Mikz86TA; 12-31-08 at 03:56 AM.
    2003 S-10 ZQ8 - 262/M5 1986 Pontiac Trans Am - 355/A4

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    Re: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

    Quote Originally Posted by Cameo_S10 View Post
    You got more nerve than me, I'd be scared of screwing them up.
    LOL!! I still got to go back and smooth out some of the boo-boo's on the painted insets, repaint them another cote and clear them.
    Time Consuming!!

    One afternoon was 2 wheels stripping. So thats two afternoons of work.
    One afternoon was 2 wheels taping/painting. So thats two afternoons of work.
    Now one afternoon of 1 wheel sanding/polishing. So that will be four afternoons of work.
    Then add one more afternoon of sanding probably all 4 wheel insets to get rid of boo-boo's.
    Then add one to two afternoons of finsih painting and clearcote of the insets.

    Yeah, takes more time than skill actually
    2003 S-10 ZQ8 - 262/M5 1986 Pontiac Trans Am - 355/A4

  6. #16
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    Re: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

    It looks so good Mike! I guess hard work does pay off in the end.

    You make me want to do my Irocs.

  7. #17
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    Re: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

    My rims will be in the mail today!!! Thanks in advance for polishing them
    The world will drive you nuts if you let it.

  8. #18
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    Re: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

    Quote Originally Posted by dt4ts3 View Post
    My rims will be in the mail today!!! Thanks in advance for polishing them
    LOL!! Ok, but I hope you send the proper funds for the payment
    2003 S-10 ZQ8 - 262/M5 1986 Pontiac Trans Am - 355/A4

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    Re: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

    So I almost had n accident today!

    I was buffing the 2nd wheel again today for a final buff. I am using a RtAngle die grinder hooked to the air compressor and buffing wheels. Thing is you have to use a dressing rake or dressing wheel periodically on the buff wheels because they will get alot of compound buildup.
    So Im using my dressing wheel. If you dont know what it it, its a handle with about 8 spiked wheels (looks like throwing stars) on the end that spin. You spin up your buff pad and hold this against it. The spikes poke and clean off the buildup.
    Anyways, Im at a fairly low speed on the air grinder and using the dressing wheel...when the screw that holds those spiked wheels on the end parted company. The result was 8 flying spikes of death and mayhem! One almost hit me in the face. One spiked off my fathers truck. One hit the rim and left a few minor marks. And 4 are MIA. I think one is on the roof.
    Sh!t was crazy when that thing let go. Freakin defective attachement screw.
    2003 S-10 ZQ8 - 262/M5 1986 Pontiac Trans Am - 355/A4

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    Re: How To : Strip, Paint and Polish Aluminum Wheels

    glad you didn't get hurt! in the face isn't good! that happened to my freind at work with the "skin" saw... it's like a right angle die grinder with a 2" tablesaw looking blade on it...we use it to get a gross trim on the carbon fiber landing gear doors. hit him in the safety glasses... he was a lucky s.o.b!

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