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  1. #1
    Junior Member Davey62's Avatar
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    Cleaning Aluminum Rims

    How do you clean that nasty tarnish off of aluminum rims? When I had stainless steel rims, it was so easy to keep them looking clean, but this stuff won't come off of the aluminum rims. I've even tried powerblasting them at the car wash, and it doesn't come off. Help!

  2. #2
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    Short answer: You shouldn't.

    Long answer: You can sand down the wheel but unless you anodize it or clear coat it the oxidation will come back. If you clear coat the wheel make sure that you keep the braking surface clean.

  3. #3
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    I like simichrome for polishing aluminum....but it does take time and some elbow grease

  4. #4
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    Are you talking about the braking surface or the rest of the rim? The black stuff in the braking area is easily removed with a scotchbrite pad, used wet. The rest of the rim should be anodized and shouldn't tarnish.

    I've never seen a stainless steel rim. You probably had chrome plated steel rims (on a really cheap bike).

  5. #5
    Senior Member Chombi's Avatar
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    Your aluminum wheels are most likely clear anodized and corrosion might have gotten under the clear anodizing layers, so the cloudiness, dark and light spots you might have on it are basically trapped under the finish and cannot be taken out unless you remove the anodizing on the rims. People have used lye based products like oven cleaner to remove anodizing from parts and have been fairly successful, but you have to be careful when you do use them as they are caustic and can hrm you skin if you are not careful You can polish off anodizing with a buffing wheel and some abrasive compound, but it will take a long time and a lot of messy effort to do so. IYou might consder just buying new rims or wheels if you really want perfection.
    BTW, once you remove the anodizing from the aluminum and polish it up to maybe a mirror finish, you will have to maintain the polish by toudhing it up with the buffer and polishing compound once in a while. The rims will actually corrode/dull faster without the anodizing on it.

    Chombi

  6. #6
    Junior Member Davey62's Avatar
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    ok thanks!

  7. #7
    Junior Member Davey62's Avatar
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    yes, youre right. They were chrome plated steel.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Davey62's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chombi View Post
    Your aluminum wheels are most likely clear anodized and corrosion might have gotten under the clear anodizing layers, so the cloudiness, dark and light spots you might have on it are basically trapped under the finish and cannot be taken out unless you remove the anodizing on the rims. People have used lye based products like oven cleaner to remove anodizing from parts and have been fairly successful, but you have to be careful when you do use them as they are caustic and can hrm you skin if you are not careful You can polish off anodizing with a buffing wheel and some abrasive compound, but it will take a long time and a lot of messy effort to do so. IYou might consder just buying new rims or wheels if you really want perfection.
    BTW, once you remove the anodizing from the aluminum and polish it up to maybe a mirror finish, you will have to maintain the polish by toudhing it up with the buffer and polishing compound once in a while. The rims will actually corrode/dull faster without the anodizing on it.

    Chombi
    Oven cleaner worked great. Thanks.

  9. #9
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    Mother's and 10 minutes.....
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    soap and water ? nylon bristle brush and a bucket.

    If you want to scour off gunk but don't care if the finish looks like you scrubbed it with a Brillo pad . .. maybe brillo pads? ..

    I get carborundum impregnated scotch brite type stuff at the hardware store
    a nylon foam sort of stuff,
    though Brown Rather than Green.

    works to clean up burned stainless steel pots. too
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-20-10 at 03:32 PM.

  11. #11
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveSSS View Post
    I've never seen a stainless steel rim. You probably had chrome plated steel rims (on a really cheap bike).
    FWIW, Raleigh used stainless steel rims on many models in the early 1950s because regular steel was in short supply after the war. It hasn't been used much since then, though.

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