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Polishing REALLY BAD aluminum wheels!!!

8295 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  eastonct124
I was wondering if there was anyone on here that has any good ideas on polishing aluminum wheels that are pitted and badly oxidized??? Ive heard of guys sanding and stuff but i have no idea how to start or go about it or if i get a buffer what kind of wheel do i get and where?... any ideas would be a great help im sure everybody fights with this one.
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If the rims are really oxidized, you'll want to etch them. I use the Eagle cleaner for non-polished, non-anodized aluminum. This cleaner will turn the surface white. After the clean, rinse, and dry phase, I use mothers, on terry cloth towel. You will be working your rear off on this part. Dig deep, and rub hard,( a buffer, or power ball can also be used) it will take all the white off, and leave fresh polished aluminum behind. Once you get the rim "blacked-out" from the Mothers residue, use corn starch to remove it. I sprinkle it on the rim, and rub it around with my hand. You'll be amazed at how quickly this will remove the "black". After you have the bulk of the residue off use a clean terry cloth towel to spread the corn starch, and remove any remaining residue. This technique is great for cleaning out all the scratches that fill with the "black". When the rim is clean use an air blower to remove all the dust.
For a final treatment, I use a product called Cape Cod Polish. It is a cotton wad/cleaner impregnated type product, that smells like bubble gum. It doesn't clean as well as Mothers, but leaves a shiny, protective coat like no other. I apply, and remove it the same way as the Mothers, using corn starch.
Clean-ups for the several months will only require glass cleaner.
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take them to a truck stop with a chrome shop or a truck tire dealer. both usually have guys that polish wheels. not bad $ either. i think the last set i did was $150 for 4 wheels. looked new!
From time to time I buff my wrecker wheels, and lately I did 4 wheels on my Granddaughter's car.
I use a light weight buffer, a wool buffing pad, and a container of "paint"clear cote compound. You can rent a buffer at a local tool rental and purchase a pad and compound at a local automotive paint store.
Then hand polish with what ever polish you prefer.


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has anyone ever sanded them out with 400, 600, 1000 ??? and then polished them??/
has anyone ever sanded them out with 400, 600, 1000 ??? and then polished them??/
I do a great deal of fabrication with alloy. (I restore ferrari, buggatti,delahaye, etc.)
It's a lot of work if you're not getting paid to do it. I use a D/A locked in grind mode. Start with 80-100 grit to remove the deep marks, then go over it good with 220,320,400...etc., down to 800, then 1000, then 1200.
You need to remove all the scratches produced by the previous grit paper before moving on to the next.
By the time you hit 1000, it will start to gleam, but won't have that real mirror finish.
Once there, use a small 3" air buffer, and work it with coarse deep cutting compound....and polish it well.
Unless you have a great deal of time, and little money, it's not worth it.

This is only the opinion of someone who has spent 10 hours wearing a face shield, paint respirator, wool hat, and long sleeve shirt (it gets real messy) buffing aluminum.

The worst part is when it gets scratched during assembly, and the whole process has to be done again to remove it!
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