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topic 19587

Paint removal and polishing of aluminum wheels

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I have searched your site and have found several questions but no answers to a question which I also have. I want to remove the "paint" from my stock GMC wheels and polish them to a nice shine. I have had no luck searching the web and am getting discouraged, can someone please give me some advice? I greatly appreciate any help, thank you.

Todd H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Santa Maria, California



I will try to give you some insight into your request but got to ask a couple of questions first. Are your wheels steel or an alloy? If they are steel, they won't polish up and stay nice very long unless you clear coat them after the paint removal and polishing process. If they are an alloy then they can be polished to a very high luster but they still should be protected with a clear coat to prevent tarnishing. There are several companies that supply products for removal of paint/clear coat but I would advise you to make sure what your wheels are made of before starting any paint/clear coat removal. Some paint removers can do some serious damage to Aluminum and alloy wheels. Paint or clear coat remover is available in liquid or aerosol. If the wheels are of an alloy construction then tools and supplies are available to polish and buff your wheels to whatever level of shine you desire. There are also aerosol clear coats to protect the newly created shine on your wheels.

Hope this helps.

Bill Miller
- Shinnston, West Virginia


I just wanted to bring this one back to the top. I do wheel refinishing and find my methods unsatisfactory. hoping for a better idea.

Tom Faust
wheel refinishing - Providence, Rhode Island

November 4, 2008

Hey, I have some Cadillac CTS wheels that were painted black by the previous owner on my Buick, now my question is that these are alloy wheels and what would you recommend for me to take the paint off and give them a nice shine? thanks again.

Abdulrhman Raies
- Saudi Arabia

April 9, 2010

How To: Strip Aluminum Alloy Wheels

Aluminum Wheels can be safely, chemical stripped at low temperatures with special chemical solutions developed for the purpose. The Aluminum Wheel can be reconditioned by removing the old coating with those solutions in approximately one hour and then re-coating the aluminum rims with durable powder coating.

* A stainless steel or polypropylene tank to immerse the aluminum wheel/s.
* An immersion heater.
* A tank mixer for agitation, never use air agitation, chemical oxidation will occur, which decreases chemical bath life.
* Aluminum Stripping Solution Concentrate.
* Water

Utilize a Polypropylene or Stainless,
heated immersion strip tank.
Add 50% Stripping Solution Concentrate and 50% water. Agitate solution with mixer or circulation pump. Note: never agitate with direct-air! Oxidation, decreases chemical bath life.
Heat solution to 150 F. And soak wheels for 1.5 hours.
Utilize a tank lid and polypropylene floating evaporation inhibitor balls to reduce solution loss and replenishment requirements.

Maintain the temperature at 150 °F. plus or minus 3°

The chemical appearance, when agitated during the stripping process:
The black flakes are paint and primer that have been lifted from the aluminum wheel surface. These coating flakes can be easily removed with a 75- mesh in-line, stainless basket strainer filter.

After rinsing with a pressure washer, the aluminum alloy wheels have a prepaint, original bright surface appearance. Appearance is that of an aluminum wheel rim prior to painting. Ready for re-process through paint or powder coating.

This coating removal process is normally implemented in Paint Finishing and Powder Coating facilities, additionally at many Industrial-Coating Removal Service Contractors worldwide.

This is an easy to implement process in an Industrial Environment, such as a Paint Finishing and Powder Coating Facility or at a Coating Removal Service Providers location. This aluminum wheel stripping process was not developed for individual consumer use.

Let me know if I can answer any questions, or source the stripping solution.

Sam Miles
Kissimmee, Florida

November 19, 2012 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hey folks,

I have a 1984 Honda CB450SC (Nighthawk) that I am working on. The engine has seen better days and I am trying to make it look the part. There is a ton of grime on the engine and a decent layer of paint as well. So far, I have tried paint stripper (rattle can) with minimal success. I also tried a 3M Paint and Rust Remover wheel on my cordless drill. This seems to do a decent job getting everything off, except I can't get into the tighter areas and it does scratch the aluminum quite a bit. For the tighter areas, I tried a few different Dremel abrasive bits but the same issue with scratching the aluminum applies. Also, Dremel bits last all of about 10 mins of constant use.

What can I do to easily remove all the paint and grime from this engine without going mental in the process? It is all apart so media blasting is an option. I just want to make sure I use the right media if blasting is the best thing to do.

Mark Stevenson
- Truro, NS, Canada

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