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Painting/Stripping Si Wheels

2843 Views 7 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  downest
I'm painting my Si swirlies right now, partly because they look pretty bad, and partly as practise for my HXs. I used aircraft stripper to get the paint off (only did one wheel so far) and it blistered within a minute, almost all the shiny silver came off, and then there's primer underneath. I painted my friend's wheels off his Mazda a while ago, and it took about 20 minutes for it to start blistering, but all the paint came off, down to bare metal. Anyway, so I have all the wheels down to primer, and I ran out of stripper (used most of it on the Mazda last week). I spent about an hour with a wire wheel getting one of the rims clean down to bare aluminium, but it's a real pain in the ass with all the little crevices. My arms are killing me, and I only did the front of one wheel! If I get more stripper, will it eat through the primer too? If not I'll just wire/sand the other ones too. Also, is there anything to be gained by painting the whole thing? I cleaned all the brake sediment off the insides of all of them, but I haven't cleaned them all the way down to metal yet. As with some of the fronts, and most of the lips, there is some aluminium corrision that looks nasty. I might just have my friend sandblast them in the student shop, but I don't know how the finish will come out then.
I'm planning to paint them gunmetal, with either polished or red lip and red H's on the centercaps (not sure if I'm going to run the caps yet, I have to take them out for AutoX anyway). If anyone has any pics of painted swirlies, I'd love to see them.
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Sandblasting will work and probably be the easiest way to get a consistent finish. Just make sure they don't use a heavy grit of material to blast it with. I would suggest a max courseness of 50/80 grit. Don't hold the nozzle too close until you get a feel for how soft the aluminum is.
Well, they are done. I learned how to use the sandblaster the other night, and it took me about an hour on each wheel to strip them all the way down. They came out looking really good, I'll have pics up tomorrow night hopefully, depending on time, when I hope to have them back on the car. I did my stock wheels for practice for the HX wheels, which are coming off now. I still need to find a place where I can get one of them straightened out. I can take care of the curb rash myself in the student machine shop (oh the amazing tools!), but I've called every supposed "wheel shop" in the area and nobody will straighten aluminium. One guy suggested banging it straight with a hammer, another looked at it and told me they could press it with two big plates in a hydraulic press. Obviously, I don't want to do either of those things. If anyone that's not too far from the Albany area knows of a shop and would be willing to take my wheel in, I'll pay for it, including shipping from and to me (hell, they only weigh 12 pounds!).
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I'd love to see some pics, since I'm intending to sandblast my stock rims eventually as well.
I didn't take pictures before I painted, sorry. One of these days I'm going to say no to car parts and get myself a digital camera. I actually sandblasted them differently. First thing I did was strip one with a wire brush on a drill, but it took me hours and my arms were killing me, and it didn't even look that good. The aircraft stripper will take the outer paint off but that primer is stuck on there! So I went to the school machine shop, where I learned the sandblaster, and spent 2 hours on two of the other rims. The looked pretty good, but a little rough, the sand was probably a little too coarse, but I didn't really know what they should look like since I'd never used it before. That night, a friend of mine who just started working at an engine shop offered to take them to work and do them in his sandblaster there. He did the one I already wire-wheeled, and one of the primed ones. They came out a lot smoother. Now I really liked the look of the first two when painted, they had a really rough but shiny look, kind of like the stock valve cover. The other two were a lot smoother with paint, so I lightly sanded the first ones and applied more clear, they all match now. I don't know what to do with the centercaps yet, they're plastic so I don't want to sand too much.
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What kind of grit were they using on their sandblaster? 50/80 or 30/60 maybe?

For the center caps, I would just sand them lightly with 220 grit to scuff them up and then apply the new paint over top.
The centercaps need to be smoothed, some of them have a little peeling and you can see/feel a ridge.
Ok, I finally figured out how to get my pictures to my computer.

One of my Si wheels:

And a couple of pics of them on my very salty car:

And I have some pics of my HX wheels now that they aren't mounted.

Here's the curb rash on one:

And the bent one. Actually, the rim itself isn't completely bent, it sits flat, but the lip is bent.
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