Stock alloy strip and re-clear at home project underway (1 Viewer)

Joined
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So I'm getting my first set of dedicated trail tires this year for the 93, and thought I'd refinish the factory alloys. They're a bit scuffed and pitted with 235,000 miles and 26 years of weather, but I'm not going to go crazy and try to make them as new. I also am an old guy and not into painting them a color as so many do. I'm from the old school where dark grey alloys remind me too much of ill cared for alloys with brake dust. I like bright alloys and the clean, crisp look they provide - contrasting sharply with the rubber.

The factory wheels have a machined finish on the alloy and then Toyota had them simply cleared. So any effort to make them perfect will require serious effort to duplicate. And I don't want them sandblasted or any other physical removal process that will change the texture and look.

Research showed the way to get the clear coat stripped off is to use Aircraft Paint Remover which will cause the factory clear to flake and loosen, then hit it with a pressure washer to end up with bare aluminum. Be advised that about a year ago the big box stores (Home Despot, et al) were pressured by the Global Warming folks to remove this product from their shelves and recently other consumer chains are following this. It's dangerous, so this requires proper ventilation, eye protection, etc. I called every auto parts store in town and all said they'd yanked it. Some so recently they still had product holes in their shelves that had not been refilled.

After realizing what was going on (literally right now as I write this, I called one of the shops back (O'Reilly's) to ask if they had the stuff in back or if it was gone. Yep - got it here waiting for vendor pickup to return. I asked to speak with the manager and he was cool enough to check if the SKU was still in his register and agree to sell it to me. I bought all their product as I have about 10 sets of alloys in my "fleet" that I'll want to strip and recoat some day. It was cheap compared to getting it online. It seems the online sources have already figure out they will be/are already the only place we civilians can get it from now on, and jacked their prices. I paid $8 a can and some online sources are already $15 and one was over $25. Plus shipping. So a head's up for others thinking about this. If you're in Kalifornia, I think you're already SOL.

To coat them, I did some research and others have tried the DupliColor and similar consumer aerosol clear coat route with poor results. It's not designed for application directly to raw aluminum. In a year or so, it begins to fail. Online I found a clear designed for direct application to aluminum, but it has to be sprayed with a body shop spray apparatus which I'm trying to avoid.

I called my local KC autobody supply shop and they don't sell anything in an aerosol for consumer use but said Eastwood has exactly what I'm looking for. So, I ordered 3 cans of it shipped for $45 to my door and that's where it's at.

I'm now waiting for the clear to arrive before I strip the wheels as I don't want any corrosion to begin after cleaning to raw aluminum. I'll keep you apprised and get before/after shots. Again for clarity, I'm not going to try to deal much with any pitting or discoloration I find as I think that's a downhill slippery slope. My goal is simply to strip and reclear for the next 26 years.
 
Joined
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Good old methylene chloride, the best stuff for the job, unfortunately it's hard on humans! Spraying it increases exposure, in most cases, brushing it works well. In either case, use care and protection.
 
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Well, I've done 2 wheels so far and my big hope was the powerful chemical would somehow remove at least some of the corrosion I could see through the clear from migrating water. Alas, it is not So that did not do much. However, I did not realize that the larger unblemished areas of clear had so many fine scratches from 235k of driving. What's nice is most of these were only in the clear coat which is now stripped off. So the overall effect of removing the clear is that they look markedly better as the underlying aluminum is quite shiny.

So far not pleased with the decision to use the brush on. What happens is the successive brushing pulls little "skips" off the wheel here and there. Plus literally 30 seconds of one section drying and then you get fully around to that part of the wheel, the jelly like stuff is dry enough to pull chunks off it. You try to reapply and find you're pulling more off, etc, etc. So I would have paid 5X as much to have the spray on stuff. In the videos that looked so easy. Just hose the wheel down in 30 seconds and go have a cup of coffee. My technique is requiring a second coat to deal with the skips. However, the "windows" of the wheels (which are painted a grey on the 40th wheels) are also painted on my wheels. Kind of a silver. This paint is more difficult to remove and requires a second coat of remover anyhow, so cleaning up the skips is not as big a deal. Not sure if that paint is tougher than the clear or if its the clear over the paint that's requiring a second go around.
 
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So I've got the clear coat 100% removed. Now having second thoughts about just re-spraying clear over the existing corrosion spots. Looking for guidance. Essentially if I step forward and mess with physical polishing to remove the corrosion its going to be full polishing 100% of the wheels. The reason is there is a fine grooved machined pattern. Up close it looks like curved rows of a freshly plowed field. Mess with one area to polish off the corrosion and now you've had to polish the area completely flat. A glossy spot where next to it is the factory grooved finish. Under a clear coat it will look like crap so that's out.

So. Anyone go this route and fully polish the wheels to flat aluminum? It's a lot of metal to remove and I'd like to do this myself for pride of ownership. All the online videos are starting with a polished wheel with corrosion like mine so it looks fairly easy. Just sand down the bad area, bring it back to gloss with successively finer abrasion and then lightly polish the whole wheel - they're done and high fiving the camera.

By contrast, this will be removing significant metal to flatten all those fine grooves and I'm concerned about having home tools to try it. On the other hand, aluminum is very soft. Thoughts? I'll see if I can find something on Mud through search - I feel like I saw someone try this. I don't want to just paint them, btw. Thanks.
 

lcgeek

Glad to meet you!
Joined
Dec 26, 2005
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Not apples to apples, but I had an OEM refurb wheel project recently. Mine however started as pitted and flaking chrome. The worst of two worlds. My plan was to have them stripped and polished professionally. After speaking with wheel polisher guy I decided not to go that route, I only wish I could remember why :hmm:. I think I recall it was going to be difficult, expensive, or not produce desire results, or all three. I ended up having mine professionally dechromed and then priming painting and spraying clear with wheel specific paints. Pics below. But for yours I might suggest contacting a pro to strip and sand and then just paint them or just drop them off at a powercoater :)

dechromed


painting


mounted
 
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Well, I've done 2 wheels so far and my big hope was the powerful chemical would somehow remove at least some of the corrosion I could see through the clear from migrating water. Alas, it is not So that did not do much. ...

Paint stripper is not going to remove the corrosion.

... So far not pleased with the decision to use the brush on. What happens is the successive brushing pulls little "skips" off the wheel here and there. Plus literally 30 seconds of one section drying and then you get fully around to that part of the wheel, the jelly like stuff is dry enough to pull chunks off it. You try to reapply and find you're pulling more off, etc, etc. ...

Most of the directions talk about brushing in one direction and not reapplying. I count on at least two applications, first to get most of it softened/off, then a second or more as needed to get all of it. Multiple layers/types of paint is best done with multiple applications. So, apply, wait, scrub/wash off, dry, repeat until clean. If it's drying too quickly, a fog of water mist can extend the active time.
 

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