My own worst nightmare
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Madison, WI USA
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If the sandpaper you're using is very fine (400-ish) wet/dry cloth or emery cloth, you'll get pretty good results. Anything coarser, or wood-type sandpaper, and the rim surface will be very rough, and will destroy your brake pads lightning fast.
If you use any of the chemical or heat methods described, make d@mn sure the space is well-ventilated. Perhaps even consider wearing a breather mask. As you heat that paint, it might fume.
Hmm, here's a thought. Try some hot water and a fairly strong detergent, like grease-cutting dish soap. Or, if you've got some, put in some citra-solve or other citrus cleaner. Use one of those green pot scrubber pads. That might have enough abrasivieness, along with the heat of the water and the cutting power of the citra-solve or dish soap, to knock the paint off. And it'd be pretty gentle on the finish. I often use those green pads on my rims in the winter to get the brake and road crud off them.
Maybe even some citra-solv half-strength right on the pad. Just be careful where it drips. I let some drip on an asphat tile floor once, and it ate at the top surface of the tile. Good thing the landlord didn't see it when we moved out....
Ooh, maybe make a "paste" out of a thick concentration of dish soap and water, and some baking soda. Baking soda is a wonderful mild abrasive.