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Old 07-12-2006, 06:22 PM   #1
greasemonkey
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Stripping/polishing clearcoated aluminum

I thought this might be an interesting topic to write about as a lot of newer vehicles have clearcoated wheels that get hazy looking and cracked.
I stumbled across this post which is very informative: http://www.ls1tech.com/forums/showthread.php?t=472189 and pretty much followed it to the letter. I used aircraft stripper, and added an extra step as I painted the recesses of my wheels.
Victim: 1988 Isuzu Trooper. The wheels started to peel and crack years ago from winters in the salt up North but nothing was ever done to them. I had stripped one down with sandpaper and steel wool, and half-heartedly polished it by hand about a year ago. It took me 8 hours to complete and I lost all gumption to do the other three. I suddenly got the urge to polish the rest after reading the aforementioned post.
Pic progression:
(1) wheel before. All the corrosion around the lug nuts is where the center cap goes, which rubbed off the clear coat and allowed contaminants in.
(2) close up view of corrosion/cracking/peeling clearcoat.
(3) wheel covered in aircraft stripper. Strangely enough, the stripper doesn't seem to eat rubber. I am putting a set of BFGoodrich All Terrains on it soon so I really wasn't all that concerned with preserving the rubber as the tires and valve stems are almost 6 years old.
(4) after powerwashing the wheels for the 3rd time. Most of the clearcoat came off after the first application of stripper, but the paint in the recesses took several coats to finally come off.
(5) closeup of powerwashed wheel. Notice that it still has the corrosion that was under the clearcoat that ate the aluminum. Time to wetsand.
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Old 07-12-2006, 06:30 PM   #2
greasemonkey
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Re: Stripping/polishing clearcoated aluminum

(6) after wetsanding with varying grits. Looking much better already.
(7) painting the recesses of the wheels with some wheel paint I found in the garage (I still can't figure out where it came from).
(8) after painting, time to polish.
(9) I whipped out the electric drill, Mother's powerball, and Mother's powermetal polish. This shows it about halfway through polishing.
(10) finished product. You can still see faint marks where the corrosion was built up really badly, but most will be hidden by the center caps. These wheels don't look like chrome because they are a machined finish. It can still be shiny though.

I will have to post pics when I get the All Terrains installed. Might be a couple weeks though.
Hope this post helped somebody.
John
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