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Wheel Refinishing


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After singling the Volvo several years ago I gave one of our HDT group one of my take-off wheels from the power divider axle and recently put two aluminum wheels and tires on Craig's List. I kept #4 thinking I would eventually start a refinishing project. The two on Craig's list were sold to a young man that had the rim lathe cut so he could mount 22" low profile tires with the intent of putting them on a Dodge PU. He brought them by with new tires mounted for me to see last week and they were beautiful - just like mirrors. He wanted to buy my #4 wheel, but rather than take cash we cut a deal where he would refinish the two front wheels on my Volvo in exchange for the remaining aluminum wheel I had kept.


He came over to my house where we jacked the front up and removed the front wheels. He spent a full day working on each of my front wheels - two days and about 20 hours total time. He started out sanding out all the pits and scratches with dry 240 grit paper on a 5" DA and then going back with wet 400 grit. Next was a lot of cutting and polishing with different compounds and buffs then a final hand polishing with a Zepher finishing product. It was more work than I would ever devote to the project - actually more than he thought it would take but he is a perfectionist and stuck to our deal. He wants to do this full time and hopes to buy a machine from an outfit in Canada that will hold and turn a wheel to reduce time. He has a good work ethic and I hope he makes his new business venture work. He did express an interest in coming to one of our ECR events.


The wheels now look new with a mirror like finish. No pits or scratches. The center caps and nut covers are chrome plastic and were not part of his refinishing work.





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Would love to have such nice looking wheels. What about the backside.

It would seem to be easier to keep things clean if that part was polished too.

Do the machines get inside the spokes and also do the backs ?

Any bets Randy was busy touching things up while the wheels were off, heck,

I will bet he even painted the brake drums. :)

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Dave - I had cleaned and painted the brake drums (very rusty) some time back. What I did NOT do was paint the Centramatic balancers before putting the wheels back on. I am now wishing I had painted them black. Brandon thought the Centramatics would look good red behind the holes but I don't belong to that generation's taste in wheels.


No, he did not polish the inside of the wheel. But, he cleaned all of the dirt and grease off with a Scotch Brite pad and ZEP purple cleaner. As for the holes they were fine sanded with a flap wheel on a drill that fit the holes then hand sanded with #400 wet paper then polished with a hard cotton buff.

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Steve, what was the cost per wheel, if you don't mind me asking

Cost was $85 a wheel. $70 if I had them off the truck. To me, it was worth it. I have had polishers at truck stops with hand polishers do them before, but never looked this good and only lasted a few weeks until they were back to being dull and pitted again.

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The look great Steve. Considering how much time Brandon spent on my wheels I agree that $85 a wheel is a good price. He did my two wheels for what amounted to a value $150 for the wheel I gave him.


Dirty tires and dull rims are like putting on a new suit with dirty shoes. The wheels do make the truck look better.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm going to spray mine with clear coat power coating then bake it on. And see how that holds up. Will take longer to take them all off the tires then to spray them and then bake the clear on.


Pete, I have clear coated rims on my fiver and had clear coated rims on my car. While the clear coat looks good when new it will eventually succumb to gravel, sand and road grit scratches and chips. I took the clear coat off my car rims and polished them (spokes are silver argent) and now occasionally clean them to a bright shine with wadding polish. I am going to have to strip my fiver wheels if I want them to look nice. I tried doing this on a spare wheel but the clear was impervious to paint remover. I figure the only way I am going to strip them is to go at them with the sand blaster that works with my pressure washer. Just saying that the clear - even 2 stage high solids polyurethane or power coat will eventually chip and scratch, then it is a bi**h to get it off.

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