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Old 10-06-2014, 05:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Polishing machined rims to a mirror finish

Background:

My Gen-1 Insight has those boring OEM machined rims with a clear coat. Not only is the clear coat chipping and peeling off the rims, but I just don't really like the machined look. I curbed my wife's brand new polished aluminum rim a couple of weeks ago on her Explorer and need to fix it, so I figured I'd practice on my rims, and get the mirrored look I want at the same time!

Steps to change a machined rim to a polished mirror finish:

1- Pull rim from car, lay flat and clean off all the dirt, carbon, etc . . .
2- spray on citrus based paint stripper, leave on for 20 minutes
3- Using a scrub brush, loosen the gelled clear coat, then rinse off and dry the rim
4- Using a mouse, sand the entire rim with higher and higher grit of sand paper. I started with 200 grit, paying special attention to the lip of the rim, which had a lot of curb rash. I ended up wet-sanding with 600 grit, only because I couldn't find higher grit paper. Would have been easier if I had finished with 1000, or even 2000 grit
5- Using an orbital buffer and polishing compound, buff the entire rim until very smooth (this takes a while depending on the final grit of the sand paper!)
6- Using a cone buffer with handle on a corded drill, buff out all the grooved & curved areas the orbital buffer can't reach. You can really get some torque with that handle. Keep rinsing off the build-up as you go.
7- Using a buffing wheel on a corded drill, polish the rim to a mirror shine
8- laying the rim flat, spray it with two light coats of clear coat (deck of cheap playing cards spaced around the perimeter keeps paint off the tire)
9- re-mount rim, and enjoy the new look!

Total time spent, about 2 hours, but the next ones will go way quicker since this was the experimental rim. Total cost, about 40 bucks, but I have enough supplies left over to do the rest of my rims and my wife's. Well worth the time, effort and expense. I will have the only set of polished Gen-1 Insight rims on the planet when I finish the rest next weekend!

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Old 10-06-2014, 06:03 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
4- Using a mouse, sand the entire rim with higher and higher grit of sand paper.

One of these little guys...???




PETA would probably have a problem with this...

Seriously. What are you calling a mouse ?

Nice repair job on the rim...

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Old 10-06-2014, 07:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
One of these little guys...???
Well, yeah!

Went through a couple of them, good thing they breed like mice . . . . .
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:46 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'd start with a fine scotch brite wheel on my Makita 5 amp electric drill, same one I used to build two houses. If the curb rash was really bad. I'd hit that with a file first.

Final polishing with my cheap chinese variable speed buffer, $10 from harbor freight.

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Old 10-07-2014, 05:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'd say it would work for any rims that are some kind of alloy. I'm not even sure if my rims are aluminum or magnesium, but it definitely worked great.

When I do the rest of them, I'll spend a little more up-front time sanding and I'll find some higher grit sand paper, like 2000 grit, so the end work doesn't take so long. Two thirds of the time I spent was buffing!
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Old 10-12-2014, 01:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Finished the second Insight rim today! Got it clear-coated up, and then I was on to the huge challenge of fixing the deeply scarred rim of my wife's brand new Explorer, which I had curbed a couple of weeks ago while pulling my lawn service trailer (which she was not very happy about!)

I used my Insight's rims as practice so I was a little better at the process before tackling hers, and the result was that her rim ended up looking amazing! I used the same steps as before, except her rim was so trashed that I took old mech's advice and started with a file (this cut the time roughly in half, I highly recommend this step!

RIP, tire That was a 200 dollar learning experience, but I guess it could have been worse since a re-manufactured 20" rim like hers goes for about 350 bucks!

Quote:
If the curb rash was really bad. I'd hit that with a file first.
I thought I had taken some "before" pics, but I couldn't find any (sorry). I curbed that rim so bad it took those giant chunks out of the tire in pics 2 & 3, and most of the edge and half the spokes needed to be filed first.
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Old 10-21-2014, 02:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Just how tall was that curb?

You know they're oxidizing again already, right? I went looking for info on Zoop Seal. It turns out it's gone, the new procduct is Shineseal™.

Zoop Seal is no more....

A post in that thread in that forum lists similar products that cost a lot less:

Quote:
Poorboy's Wheel Sealant
Wheel Wax
Detailers Pride Wheel Sealant
Chemical Guys Wheel Guard
Busch Aluminum Wheel Wax and Sealant

There are many more out there also.
FYI FWIW—I've never used any of these products.
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Old 10-21-2014, 02:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I know, right? Curb was actually a culvert. I cut a corner too tight since there were cars parked on the other side of the narrow street, and wha-bam screeeee thunk!

I tried to clear coat that rim, but the clear coat kept running, so I stripped the clear coat back off and applied a good layer of wax on it.

Man that thing sucks to try to clear coat cause of all the sharp angles. I might have to take it to a paint booth and have them shoot it on for me (so she doesn't drive me nuts)

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