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  1. #1
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    cleaning brake marks from alum rims

    What can I do to remove (black) brake pad rubber marks from the rims? Iíve tried normal soap/water and degreaser and doesnít really do much good. Iím wanting to say Iíve read that rubbing alcohol works, but havenít tried it yet. I tried a search already, but the first 2 pages of results had absolutely nothing to do with cleaning, so I gave up.

  2. #2
    car dodger norskagent's Avatar
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    try wd40.
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    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    scotch brite pad

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    Quote Originally Posted by norskagent View Post
    try wd40.
    I don't think you'd want anything with lubricating properties on or near your braking surface.

    I've always used rubbing alcohol FWIW.

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    A second vote for a Scotch Brite pad, or fine sand paper (400-600 grit).

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    Senior Member shouldberiding's Avatar
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    If you had steel rims, usually without machined braking surfaces, you'd have to scrub it with something. Scotch Brite is a good idea.


    ...but soap and water usually works fine and dandy on machined aluminum with just a quick wipe. Dunno what the problem is here. Try scotch brite anyway.

    I hope the WD40 recommendation was a joke!
    Last edited by shouldberiding; 06-28-10 at 10:06 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member snafu21's Avatar
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    Alloy rims? Brillo Pad.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Look at the braking surfaces closely for signs of any deep scratches due to the pads galling and picking up rim metal and at the same time embedding pad material or dirt into the deep scratches. A good pad material will wear the surface down smoothly. If you have rows of deep scratches then it's time to switch brake pads to get a longer and more even rim life. Again the old saw suggesting Koolstop salmon or at least switching to Koolstop pads will help a lot.

    In the meantime a Scotchbrite pad will clean up the rims pretty well by shaving down the worst of the peaks and digging the grunge out of the deeper grooves. Use it with soap and water and some elbow grease. I don't like the idea of the brillo or SOS pads since the steel wool breaks down in use and all those steel fibers floating around seem like trouble waiting to happen if they don't all get washed away well.
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  9. #9
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    I'm in the scotchbrite/steel wool camp.
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  10. #10
    Pleasurable Pain greyghost_6's Avatar
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    I use rubbing alcohol and fine grit paper myself. Its not good to get any other foreign matter involved. Just make sure if you do it wont leave residue that can impede stopping power. Don't be the guy who oils his brake pads because they are squeaking!
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Ruffinit's Avatar
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    I don't like using anything abrasive on my rims as many of them are anodized. Alcohol doesn't work too well on these (unless you're drinking it). Acetone works very well, doesn't lubricate your brake surface (wd40) and won't take off the anodizing. Your wife/daughter/gf will have fingernail polish remover with acetone, but I prefer to use the pure stuff.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Yes acetone can work well. But it eats rubber tires like sun melts an ice cube. If you go that route you should certainly pull the tires off and work only with the bare wheels.

    It's also able to leech through your skin and enter your bloodstream very easily not to mention being extremely harsh on your skin. And the fumes are also harmful. So if you're using it work outdoors and wear solvent resistant gloves like the blue Nitrile gloves. It is VERY nasty stuff just like any of the seriously aromatic solvents.

    While a lot of rims are anodized not that many are anodized on the actual braking surface. Unless you bought the hard anodized "ceramic" types. If you did then yeah, sanding, steel wool or Scotchbrite pads should be avoided. But for the machined silver braking surface rims it's not hard to use the abrasive cleaning methods and control them so that they don't touch the painted or anodozed parts.
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  13. #13
    30 YR Wrench BikeWise1's Avatar
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    0000 grade steel wool and rubbing alcohol is all we've ever needed. It's safe, cheap and works well.

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    Scotch Brite pad and Simple Green. Takes it right off. bk

  15. #15
    17yrold in 64yrold body
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    When I switched to Kool Stop salmon pads, I still had to remove the buildup from the Shimano pads I took off. I used a green scotchbrite pad--dry, and some elbow grease, and it worked very well, without affecting the braking surface (that I could tell).

  16. #16
    Senior Member Ruffinit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCRider View Post
    Yes acetone can work well. But it eats rubber tires like sun melts an ice cube. If you go that route you should certainly pull the tires off and work only with the bare wheels.

    It's also able to leech through your skin and enter your bloodstream very easily not to mention being extremely harsh on your skin. And the fumes are also harmful. So if you're using it work outdoors and wear solvent resistant gloves like the blue Nitrile gloves. It is VERY nasty stuff just like any of the seriously aromatic solvents.

    While a lot of rims are anodized not that many are anodized on the actual braking surface. Unless you bought the hard anodized "ceramic" types. If you did then yeah, sanding, steel wool or Scotchbrite pads should be avoided. But for the machined silver braking surface rims it's not hard to use the abrasive cleaning methods and control them so that they don't touch the painted or anodozed parts.
    I was speaking of putting some on a rag and using the rag (on the end of your index finger) to take the marks off. This is used for removing fingernail polish.. Even the pure stuff I have has never caused a reaction to my skin, but I don't bathe in it either. Gloves are fine, but again, you open the can, put your rag-covered finger over the opening and slosh it once, then close the can.. Yep we can get the HazMat team out, but alcohol can dry your skin out just as quickly. If you use the fingernail polish remover it even has skin moisturizers if you want that Dove feel.

    Most of my rims are anodized, none of them have machined braking surfaces. Some are hard anodized, some soft anodized, some are dark and some are clear.
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  17. #17
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    I would try what I have in my kitchen, Scotch Brite and Bon Ami.
    if it's really nasty, how about automotive brake cleaner, that stuff really eats away plastic and rubber quick. it also evaporates quickly.
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  18. #18
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    I just tried rubbing alcohol and a scotch brite pad (el cheapo). While it did take off the darker, heavier deposits, its just not cleaning up the rest of the area. Maybe the rest that I am seeing just simply can not be cleaned? My stepfather has some alum. polish that I'm gonna try in the near future. Also tried goof off. Although I didn't try it on the heavy deposits. Either way it didn't work but it might on the heavy stuff. Once I get it as cleaned as I can get, I might switch to the clear coolstop pads.

  19. #19
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    Second Bon Ami (or comet, or whatever powder kitchen cleanser you have. I haven't tried it, but it's the first thing I'd try if I gave a flying flip about the smudges on my rims 8-)

  20. #20
    Senior Member Shepp30's Avatar
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    Yeah, I have had pretty good luck with alcohol. If that doesn't work try brake cleaner - it'll clean anything and you probably won't have to use an abraisive pad.

  21. #21
    Senior Member shouldberiding's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkaapcke View Post
    Scotch Brite pad and Simple Green. Takes it right off. bk
    I use Simple Green to clean my wheels and tires as well, but I dilute it 3 parts water to 1 part Simple Green and rinse thoroughly afterwards.

  22. #22
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    brillo pad - just don't run TOO hard
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