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Vintage Aluminum Wheel Restoration

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n2fordwagons View Drop Down
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    Posted: 08-February-2017 at 6:55AM
 
I'm getting ready to refinish / restore some vintage aluminum "Daisy" wheels.  See picture above of how one of them looks currently.  I haven't decided if I want a polished lip yet.  And for the spokes, I was thinking of either leaving it natural unfinished aluminum or painting gray.  I may even try powder coating.  I've got a powder coating setup I haven't tried yet.
To start the process, I was planning on media blasting them using glass beads as the media.  I might use stripper on the black paint to help the paint removal process.  Any recommendations or suggestions on this process are greatly appreciated.
 

What I'm unsure about is how to protect any unfinished aluminum, like the lip (and possibly the spokes).  I don't want to deal with oxidation, etc.  Does anyone have experience, recommendations, pros & cons, etc?  There seem to be a few options. 
 
 
- Clear Coat - assuming this will last the longest, but will take the most initial prep and work. Any recommendations on brand or type to use?
- Sealant (like sharkhide) - easy to apply, should last several years according to reviews. Won't work on painted spokes.  Pricey
- Polishes with Sealer - Will only work on surface that I plan to polish (like the lips).  Sealer seems to last less than a year, according to reviews.
Jeff

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Bird Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08-February-2017 at 11:23AM
First, if you use stripper, no aircraft stripper or anything with Methylene Chloride.
It eats aluminum.
For polishing the lip, you can clean it with a mag wheel cleaner for aluminum. it will leave the aluminum looking whitish (Unpolished raw aluminum wheels were common like this way back when). Work out any curb rash or scratches with sandpaper, Follow it up with an aluminum polish like mother's and a foam polisher like a powerball or the cone version of the same thing. The polish will seal the wheel. You may have to re-polish every year or two, but it doesn't take long if the wheel doesn't need gouges and scrapes sanded out.
Mine looked like they were 40 year old wheels (They were). They don't look like brand new wheels, but, I didn't take them that far because that would look out of place on my car. I swapped the front wheels to a friend who wanted them (Ansens) for a pair of otherwise identical U.S. Indys that matched my back wheels. The Ansens have been polished up to a mirror finish using the same process, just more intensively.
Do your wheels have a clearcoat over them now? Some do from the factory. This would have to be removed to polish the lip.
The above post should be read in a "Grumpy Old Man" voice.
Almost forgot: "Get off my lawn!!!"
Randy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote n2fordwagons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-February-2017 at 12:55AM
Thanks Randy.  I had no idea on the stripper.  I've seen several youtube videos of folks using aircraft stripper on aluminum wheels.  Glad I asked here first, before following their advice.
 
I'm not sure if they have clearcoat.  I don't think they do.  I figured the stripper and media blast would take care of the paint and any clearcoat, if they do have it.
 
 
One of the wheels has some pretty deep gouges and a chunk of the leading edge gone.  Any ideas on how to build up that missing leading edge?
Jeff

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote californiajohnny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-February-2017 at 2:45AM
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lynchster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10-March-2017 at 3:55PM
A bit of info I picked up from a guy I know who does media blasting and powder coating.
If you are going to blast the wheels bake them in the oven before prepping and powder coating. Pieces of the media will become embedded in the aluminum and will pop out (out gassing) when baked. If you do this after it's powder coated it will ruin the finish and look a lot like dirt in the paint.   
Chuck
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