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best way to clean spokes?

Old 03-22-07, 10:41 AM
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iherald
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best way to clean spokes?

I have some old 27 inch wheels. I'm converting them to single speed wheels and I just painted my frame matte black.

The silver / chrome on my bike really looks sharp (I sound like my Dad!) and I noticed that the spokes on my wheels aren't shinny anymore. The are 20 years old and just are dull and dirty because of use.

I searched but can't find anything about the best ways to really clean the spokes. Any suggestions?
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Old 03-22-07, 10:45 AM
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Stainless steel or zinc plated?
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Old 03-22-07, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Stacey
Stainless steel or zinc plated?
I honestly don't know. It's an 87 Raleigh Super Grand Prix. Likely stainless.
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Old 03-22-07, 11:03 AM
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If they are really dull and chalky with whitish corrosion, they are zinc plated steel...but put a magnet on them: most SS spokes are nonmagnetic. SS spokes are MUCH easier to clean up, I use a scratchy pad (3M white Scotchbrite) and WD40, following with a rag. Zinc plated steel will require steel wool and maybe oxalic acid, then you'll need to coat them (wax, waxyoil, etc.) to prevent more corrosion. It can be a lot of work for a small payoff, you decide.
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Old 03-22-07, 11:50 AM
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So Zinc spokes will be magnetic?
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Old 03-22-07, 11:51 AM
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The zinc is only a plating, so yes...
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Old 03-22-07, 11:52 AM
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zinc plated will have some funky powdery oxidation, or rust
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Old 03-22-07, 02:28 PM
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Steel wool. Get some finer stuff, like grade #000, and start rubbing. You'll get higher polish than you would with a scotch brite, and it goes pretty quick as long as you're not too anal about getting every last bit polished.

Instead of wax, a quick wipedown with some oil on a cloth does the trick, just remember to redo it if you go through rain or something... takes all of 15 seconds per wheel.
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Old 03-22-07, 02:47 PM
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I cleaned up a wheel recently. I used some mineral spirits on a rag for the first pass and hoo-boy did that ever get them clean in short order. Use Chem-Reistant gloves and do it outside.
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Old 03-22-07, 03:12 PM
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Steel is real, unless you are cleaning plated surfaces. Try a brass pad or brush. I also use a synthetic pad with wd 40 or sim. product to clean. Some painted items will suffer if you try to clean painted chrome items. If it wasn't to heavy I don't think you'd ask here. Otherwise, a wax cleaner has a low abbrasive quality. good luck, CURB
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Old 03-22-07, 04:23 PM
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If you're a wheel-builder, the easiest way is to disassemble the wheel, and clean everything individually, or even just re-build with new, shiny, clean spokes. If it was a total restoration, I think that's what I would do; once you have a good wheel which is clean and without corrosion, then it's fairly simple to keep it in that condition.

If you're not a wheel-builder, this might be just the opportunity to learn (it's really not all that difficult )

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Old 03-22-07, 06:53 PM
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When I was a kid, I would always shine up the zinc plated spokes on my Sting Rays, etc. with steel wool. I was obsessed with that nice shine in the sunlight. Plus, they made the bike look new again.

As for SS spokes, when I am overhauling the hub I just use a degreaser and a rag to clean them back up again. It works like a charm.
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Old 04-22-16, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Rabid Koala View Post
When I was a kid, I would always shine up the zinc plated spokes on my Sting Rays, etc. with steel wool. I was obsessed with that nice shine in the sunlight. Plus, they made the bike look new again.

As for SS spokes, when I am overhauling the hub I just use a degreaser and a rag to clean them back up again. It works like a charm.

old thread, but if you're out there ....how long did the steel wool treatment last? I don't ride much in the rain. Every 3 years would be ok.
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Old 04-22-16, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by redcolnago View Post
old thread, but if you're out there ....how long did the steel wool treatment last? I don't ride much in the rain. Every 3 years would be ok.
I have one set of wheels with rusty, zinc plated spokes (same as galvanized?) that I sanded each spoke to a shine. Sitting in my garage (hot & humid Houston) they re-rusted in 1-2 weeks. I cleaned them again and used a protective sealant. Got a month out of them before rusting again. Did it all over again but now store the bike inside... It's been 6 months and they're still in good shape.

As one of the older posts noted, a lot of effort for minimum reward. I'll eventually rebuild the wheels with stainless spokes when I put them on a better bike.
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Old 04-22-16, 08:52 PM
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The plating on steel spokes is pretty thin, so thin that I would avoid abrasive cleaning.
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Old 04-22-16, 11:02 PM
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So if the plating is junk, polish it off and get them nice and shiny and wax them
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Old 04-23-16, 12:26 AM
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I used to ride and race zinc spoke but I was never anal enough to consider they had to be polished. I an still not. Zinc plate spoke rims get ridden as is until it is time to replace them or the rim. And bikes from the 70s or earlier? They came with zinc plated spokes or crappy SS. If you want period and good, you keep the zinc plated spokes.

(I actually don't belong here. I own 2 '70s bikes and one from the early '80s but I have made zero effort to keep them period. I just put on what works and does what I want and ride them. I hang out here because I love much of the bikes of that era, but not all aspects of them. I didn't like the exposed brake cables that ruled out the hand position I wanted to use in the ' 70s and I cursed DT shifters because I rode knock-kneed and hated knocking the right shifter to the 13t cog climbing 20% pitches. Aero levers and SunTour top mounted shifters went on as soon as I saw them for sale.)

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Old 04-23-16, 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
I actually don't belong here. I own 2 '70s bikes and one from the early '80s but I have made zero effort to keep them period.
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This sub-forum doesn't really necessarily frown on that. Period correct is awesome, but then so are updated and customized bikes. Maybe just don't take a dremel or hacksaw to a high quality or highly collectible vintage frame, and you're definitely good with most folks here.
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