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Bling wheels (or how to polish your rims)
Original article submitted by Stig

Stig, a prominent member of our forum and partner in the Exup1000 website, decided he'd had enough of his standard white wheels and wanted something a wee bit more interesting. No, he didn't blow his last two years' savings on a set of Marchesinis, he donned his overalls and imagination and breathed new life into his existing wheels with excellent results.

The original cast finish was starting to wear through the micro-thin paint on the spokes after years of faithful service so it had to go. Stig started work by stripping the paint from the old rims. The rims being the main feature of his idea he decided to concentrate the majority of his attention and work to that area of the wheels, leaving the original main spokes' paint to act as an undercoat to the new paint that would eventually be applied.

The best way to start the process is by using a good brand of paint stripper; Stig decided on Nitromors, applying the stripper as directed on the can to the outer edge of the main rims.

Once the solution had run its course he started rubbing back the casting marks on the rims using 180 wet & dry.

He then moved on to the suicidal bit of this kind of job, rubbing down, in all its lovable stages. Stig started the wet & dry process with 400, then 600, 800, 1200, 1500 and finishing with 2000 where needed, using each of the papers sequentially satisfying yourself with the results before moving on to the finer paper stage. Now he had a smooth even surface to a pleasant polish, but not polished enough, so on to the polishing kit. If you don't already own one they can be obtained from most auto shops, bikes or cars and they will save you a lot of pain and suffering when rubbing down. The polishing kit starts with rough grades of wax on a buffing wheel attached to a drill. You slowly use finer cutting grades of wax to achieve the same effect as the wet & dry. Whichever method you go for it's a messy and tedious job.

You'll know when you've done enough polishing as the scratches created by the previous grades of wet & dry will gradually disappear. A point worth mentioning is to be sure you always work in the same direction when polishing.


Now for the painting process. Stig masked the polished areas of the rims he'd worked on, being sure to cover the bearings and threaded holes in the centre of the hub. He use a roll of 1" masking tape and old newspaper to do this. Patience is a virtue during this process as following the exact edge of the polishing with a straight flow of tape can be quite tricky.

Stig applied etching primer to all areas of the exposed wheel, just a single coat to bond the remainder of the paint to the wheel and smooth out where the'd rubbed down the rough casting marks. Once that was dry he applied 6 coats of filler primer to build up a thick base coat that'll take care of minor surface imperfections - more serious ones can be filled with stopper (cellulose putty). This base then needs rubbing down again, the smoother the better.

With the base coat preparation complete, Stig moved on to the paint. He opted to use cellulose paint rather than 2-pack, as the the latter is carcinogenic and using it without proper ventilation equipment can be a serious health hazard. Four coats on the wheel gave a deep brilliant colour and shine. Once the paint has fully hardened off, unmask the wheel and use rubbing compound (similar to T-Cut) to really bring up the lustre. And there you have it, bling! The whole wheel took about three days... on and off.

Stig did all the rubbing down by hand, 'cos he's well 'ard, but a polishing kit will spare you the blisters! To keep your polished rims looking like new he recommends Autosol or Mother's (much beloved of the US custom scene) - don't lacquer them because they'll lose their shine and if moisture gets under the lacquer they'll go manky very quickly, and you'll have to start all over again...


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