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2008 chevy trailblazer_lt
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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone refinished factory aluminum rims on their own? My 08 TB has one rim that had 1/3 of the clear coat flake off and the aluminum is oxidizing and looking nasty. My OEM Michelins are about used up and I'm gonna have a new set of sneakers by the winter and want the wheels to look good with a new set of RWL - BFG Long Trail TA's. How would I go about removing enough material to blend whats bare to existing clear coat? (the grey painted areas inside the spokes are fine, just the bright alunimun area is flaking) I guess aluminum polish would get rid of the oxidation all right but how do I prep the rim for new clear coat? Any help is appreciated! Thanks,
Mike

I'll try and get a photo of the problem wheel this week...
 

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2006 chevy trailblazer_lt
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23 Posts
17 inch sport rims clear coat peeling.

I have the same rims and there starting to do the same thing. Any solution to the problem yet?
 

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2008 chevy trailblazer_lt
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12 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Common problem and there is no easy fix. When 'they' say preparation is everything, this is especially true getting aluminum parts/wheels ready for re-clear coating. Fortunately for you, you're going to replace the tires....absolutely essential that the tires are removed before you begin the repair and prep stages.

Allow yourself a weekend once the tires are removed from the wheels.

Part l -

You will need a hearty chemical stripper like Kleen Strip or aircraft grade stripper, neoprene or rubber gloves (NOT Latex!), eye protection, 000 grade steel wool, 1" disposable paint brush and a place that is well ventilated. For small nicks, scratches and fine blemishes on the aluminum surface, pick up a few sheets of some 320 grit dry or 400 wet and 600, 1000 grit sandpaper. The 600 and 1000 will eliminate additional time for hand polishing before your clear is applied.

It's best to do one wheel at a time and have them all ready just before you start the clear coat application.

After washing a wheel with dish soap and water, let dry and apply your chemical stripper with the 1" brush to about a 6" area. Let sit long enough to "bubble up" then, use your steel wool to remove the excess stripped debris and apply the stripper to your next 6" area. Continue on until all of the wheel has been stripped. Once it's done you should have a great big gooy mess. And, if you attempted to save any factory shadowing (paint between openings) - forget about it. It's gone no matter what you do. Wash the wheel again, removing all of the mess, inspect for any lingering clear and, if it's completely stripped to your satisfaction, proceed to the next wheel and begin the process all over again.

Part ll -

Inspect and address the blemishes on your first wheel. Use the 320 grit dry or 400 wet paper to remove the problem spots. I prefer 400 wet, with a strong solution of dish soap (10% per half gallon of warm water) as the soap lubricates the 400 and de-greases the aluminum as your work those areas. Once completed, rinse wheel off and, switch to the 600, and then the 1000 grit abrasive paper. Any remaining deep scars or pits you will have to live with as there is no compatible filler (shy of aluminum welding) that produces invisible repairs....Be sure to do the insides of the wheels too. Surprisingly, they improve the physical appearance and help with the reflectivity and, greatly help prevent damage from brake dust and road grime.

Part lll -

Now that all the wheels are ready, it's a matter of personal preference using a product that's durable enough so you don't have to go through this all over again a few years down the road. I have used Por 15 Glisten. It's a rock hard clear that proved to be very durable. It's viscosity is quite thick and can be applied with a good brand of paint brush. But, it's not cheap! Their product comes with a quart of clear and a pint of prep cleaner to promote the adhesion (and clean any remaining surface contamination). IIRC, I paid about $60 for the two part system. There are other products out there...like Alumetron (sp?) that I've used in my spray guns. The results were just as good as the Por 15 initially, but I can't attest to the durability as the projects are long gone from my shop.

The results of the DIY clear coating are directly relative to the amount of work you put into the preparation. They should be, however, every bit as good, and probably better than the factory appearance.

Hope this helps ...
Got this response on another forum I belong to. Good guy who posted it, owns a body shop in Texas.
 

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2007 chevy trailblazer_lt
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12 Posts
Yes, it can be done using the method posted above. I have turned this:



Into this:



With an electric hand sander with 120 grit discs, grades 220,320,400,800,1000,1200,1500, and 2000 grit wet sandpaper, and 3M Perfect-IT 3000 professional rubbing compound. Oh, and about 50 hours of finger-destroying labor.

Basically, you have to remove the clear plastic-like coating that has oxidized between the aluminum and the clear layer. You can do this chemically (aircraft stripper) or mechanically (which is the method I used to preserve the factory gray paint). I used 120 grit on an orbital hand sander to remove the coating and then sanded with 220 and then 320 to remove the massive amounts of sanding scratches. Then, I worked my way up wet sanding with 400, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, and then 2000 grit sandpaper in a single direction until all the sanding scratched were gone and the aluminum was mirror-smooth. Then, I polished out the haze with several applications of 3M Rubbing Compound and finished with 3M Finesse-It II Machine Polish and then an application of Blue Magic All Metal Polish.

It took me many weeks in the evening after work sitting in my living room sanding. But it was well worth the effort. :)

 
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