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Old 05-21-2019, 11:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Anybody refinish vintage aluminum wheels around here?

So these followed me home this weekend.







They are -obviously- old school Cragar G/Ts. I love the white walls, but alas it is not the look I'm going for. I want to clean the wheels up and throw them on the front of my Galaxie for shits and grins. So after fighting the fucking tires off, I threw them in the media cabinet for 20 minutes or so and came up with this:











Decent, but not quite. I'm shooting for a fairly uniform mag finish- nothing shiny. What's the next step to getting out more of the pits and discolorations? I tried scotch brite but it started polishing over the spots, not removing them. Maybe a courser grit?
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:35 AM   #2 (permalink)
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To get rid of the pits, you have to sand the wheels down to the bottom of the pit. That would take hours and probably not leave a "straight" part.

Bead blasting just made it more difficult...but easier to see the imperfections.

MAybe SAND BLAST the part which will minimize the look of the pits, and then clear coat with a flat or semi flat paint or maybe powder coat if they can make it stick. Another option might be paints in a similar color but not.. Like titanium. That would allow a good base and then reasonable color control.

But basically you are screwed for raw alum, if you want it close to perfect.

I make a lot of billet parts and know the process. Even if you want to get to "scotch brite" buff. You almost have to get it to a low polish first.

Usually the outer rim can be polished easily..and then the spokes painted a different satin finish. A reasonable compromise sometimes. The outer rim can be sanded and polished by attaching the wheel to anything rotating. Including your rear axle. Then a flap wheel to quicken the process.

Good luck. Going to consume some hours. Many wheel polishers will do the outer rim..as "easy." and machinable. But I think those are too far gone actually.

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Old 05-21-2019, 11:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Fawk that, head down to route 1 in northern MA, forget the city, I can find out, and there's a shop full of Hispanics that do hands down the best wheel refinishing around, for decent money
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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But basically you are screwed for raw alum, if you want it close to perfect.
Good stuff there, thanks. So the goal is uniform at 5-10 feet, not anything close to perfect, nor do I want shiny. This is a quick low buck deal to mix it up a bit. I won't run these but a couple times probably.

So a coarser sand might be worth a try? Not opposed to just a quick spray of flat gray either, as opposed to hours and hours better spent elsewhere.

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Fawk that, head down to route 1 in northern MA, forget the city, I can find out, and there's a shop full of Hispanics that do hands down the best wheel refinishing around, for decent money
Appreciate that, I'll keep that in mind should I have wheels worth the hassle.
I try to avoid MA whenever possible. Heck, anything south of Tilton for that matter
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yeah those are pretty gnarly. I'd consider getting them powdercoated.
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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how would those new-fangled laser machines work on something such as that?
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Though not as gnarly as these, I just freshened up some Alcoa wheels on a semi tractor that have been living off-road for the last 6 years. I bought a box of little Velcro sanding discs and a bit for a cordless drill that they attach to. Started with a coarse grit and ended fine and then used a polishing wheel on the same drill. Not perfect, but they look a hell of a lot better than before and they have a decent shine.
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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If those pits are deep I would recommend just getting them powder coated. Gun metal, silver, whatever. If you want a mirror polish it will require a ton of material removal.
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I did a set of slot mags with red scotch-brite and WD-40, they came out just as you describe. However, I think getting there on the spoke portion will be a miserable bitch to accomplish. I would try, as suggested, to get the lip looking how you want and tehn paint the spoke portion a coarse metallic to mimic an American Torq Thrust.
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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If those pits are deep I would recommend just getting them powder coated. Gun metal, silver, whatever. If you want a mirror polish it will require a ton of material removal.
reading comprehension much?
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:43 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Old 05-21-2019, 01:51 PM   #13 (permalink)
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how would those new-fangled laser machines work on something such as that?
They'd go "gzaaaakggggrrrraaaaak pew-pew-pew grazzzzzk"


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Old 05-21-2019, 02:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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reading comprehension much?
Choke to death on a dick.

And no, you can't use a laser to remove pitting.
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Old 05-21-2019, 02:47 PM   #15 (permalink)
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If those pits are deep I would recommend just getting them powder coated. Gun metal, silver, whatever. If you want a mirror polish it will require a ton of material removal.
OEM wheel sparkle silver 51082
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Old 05-21-2019, 02:59 PM   #16 (permalink)
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And no, you can't use a laser to remove pitting.
why not? other people do
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Old 05-21-2019, 03:01 PM   #17 (permalink)
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If those pits are deep I would recommend just getting them powder coated. Gun metal, silver, whatever. If you want a mirror polish it will require a ton of material removal.
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Originally Posted by cj5.5 View Post
I'm shooting for a fairly uniform mag finish- nothing shiny.
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Originally Posted by cj5.5 View Post
So the goal is uniform at 5-10 feet, not anything close to perfect, nor do I want shiny
.
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Old 05-21-2019, 03:13 PM   #18 (permalink)
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And no, you can't use a laser to remove pitting.
why not? other people do
Dunno if serious but unless you're talking about laser welding (and adding filler material), a laser could only remove pitting by removing material down to the bottom of the pits.

As for this:

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how would those new-fangled laser machines work on something such as that?
We have a 25W marking laser to remove paint, anodizing and base metal as needed by the part's marking requirements. It works great on flat surfaces and slight angles, but I'm guessing the Flash Gordon gun would not do much on surfaces that are angled or out of optimum range (betty, betty close).
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Old 05-21-2019, 03:16 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Like the powdercoat idea as they will sand blast as part of the process.

Careful with the lug nuts. The powdercoat is slippery and they can loosen easily. Many in the know use a tapered cutter to remove the coating under the lugs.
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Old 05-21-2019, 03:24 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Dunno if serious but unless you're talking about laser welding (and adding filler material), a laser could only remove pitting by removing material down to the bottom of the pits.

As for this:



We have a 25W marking laser to remove paint, anodizing and base metal as needed by the part's marking requirements. It works great on flat surfaces and slight angles, but I'm guessing the Flash Gordon gun would not do much on surfaces that are angled or out of optimum range (betty, betty close).
10-15 years ago there was some science article, popular science or the like, about lasers refacing aluminum. it melts the surface and something or the other or the other.

kinda figure there is something moresy nowadays
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Old 05-21-2019, 04:22 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Like the powdercoat idea as they will sand blast as part of the process.

Careful with the lug nuts. The powdercoat is slippery and they can loosen easily. Many in the know use a tapered cutter to remove the coating under the lugs.
Odd, never heard of anyone doing that. I also have never had any of my 16 out of 18 of my wheels that are powdered come loose. Must be a lightweight and only a few lugnut sand thing?
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:44 PM   #22 (permalink)
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powder coat them darkish grey and pretend they're magnesium ?

paint or powder coat the spokes grey or black and lathe turn / polish the rim ?
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:19 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Odd, never heard of anyone doing that. I also have never had any of my 16 out of 18 of my wheels that are powdered come loose. Must be a lightweight and only a few lugnut sand thing?
Would you intentionally put a Nylon or PE washer under your lug nuts? Probably not.

Typical is heavy pick-up trucks ...and not re-tightening after a few miles.

I had a set of trailer wheels that took 5 re-tightenings before finally set. The powder just kept "flowing."

Happens. Ask any wheel mfg. after a few brews.

If they cut them, no one would buy them. Just FYI. Cheers.
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Old 05-22-2019, 06:01 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Fawk that, head down to route 1 in northern MA, forget the city, I can find out, and there's a shop full of Hispanics that do hands down the best wheel refinishing around, for decent money
RT1 south in Peabody MA, right after the Cabaret.

My Father in law used them for some early 2000's infinity SUV aluminum wheels, looked good for about a year then went to all shit and looked worse than when he initially brought them in. Could be the wheel, could be the process.
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Old 05-22-2019, 07:55 AM   #25 (permalink)
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RT1 south in Peabody MA, right after the Cabaret.

My Father in law used them for some early 2000's infinity SUV aluminum wheels, looked good for about a year then went to all shit and looked worse than when he initially brought them in. Could be the wheel, could be the process.
DING DING DING WINNAR!

Been a long time since I been down that way, thanks!
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