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My wheels look like crap

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My wheels look like crap

Old 03-05-14, 05:09 AM
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okane
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My wheels look like crap

Rehabing on old bike with Araya alloy wheels. Wheels are nice and straight, and bearings/cones in like new condition, but the wheels themselves look like crap. Apparently the coating (anodizing?) is wearing off in different degrees around the wheels so in some places shiny, others dull, and the rest in between. I think I could polish them with compound to get a more consistently shiny surface. Any suggestions or methods or products to make them look more presentable? Thanks
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Old 03-05-14, 06:08 AM
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You can tear them down, remove the clear anodizing with oven cleaner, then polish them with aluminum polish.
I would then reassemble, and they should oxidize gradually and more evenly after that.

(Compound will not remove anodizing)
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Old 03-05-14, 06:17 AM
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I've done that, and it's a ton of work with nice results. However, I ended up buying new nipples and rim strips. Probably 30 hours of labor. Good therapy, but I wouldn't do it again.
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Old 03-05-14, 06:29 AM
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By tear them down do you mean...

Originally Posted by auchencrow View Post
You can tear them down, remove the clear anodizing with oven cleaner, then polish them with aluminum polish.
I would then reassemble, and they should oxidize gradually and more evenly after that.

(Compound will not remove anodizing)
....removing spokes? if so, I'm assuming that oven cleaner would attack anodizing on the spokes?

"I've done that, and it's a ton of work with nice results. However, I ended up buying new nipples and rim strips. Probably 30 hours of labor. Good therapy, but I wouldn't do it again"

Not something I really want to do either.

Was hoping for an easier fix like maybe rubbing wheels with 0000 steel wool impregnated with the aforementioned polishing compound.

What do you think?
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Old 03-05-14, 06:57 AM
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ive used 0000 steal wool on some alloy hybrid rims, it definately evens out the oxidation... doesn't take it away, just dulls it alot... it willl pass the 5ft rule..
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Old 03-05-14, 07:14 AM
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Not the best of photos, but gives you some idea of the problem
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Old 03-05-14, 08:07 AM
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Well, you don't have eyelets in those rims, so I would just go after them with a rag wrapped around your index finger and some Mothers. Still lots of work. I like working on bikes, but dread polishing rims. Having them disassembled like Auchencrow suggests makes it so much easier.
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Old 03-05-14, 08:21 AM
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I've gone through this on several wheelsets and the fact that you don't have eyelets would make me favor unbuilding the wheels, removing the anodizing with oven cleaner and polishing. I've tried taking the easy way out and working around spokes and it is tedious and hard to get even. You just can't get in close to the spoke nipple easily. If you are good and quick at building wheels, the re-building will be the hard part. I could strip and polish rims without eyelets in about an hour. Rims with eyelets? Never again!!
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Old 03-05-14, 08:47 AM
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First you should determine if they are actually anodized or just dulled aluminum. Rubbing a spot with a rag and some metal polish will make the rag black if not anodized (and the rubbed spot will quickly come up shiny). If not anodized, you can easily polish the rims with some elbow grease and metal polish.

Whether anodized or not, I like to clean the braking surface (only the braking surface) with Brillo soap pad and water, using long strokes following around rim, then rinse with clear water and dry with a rag. It shines and smooths the scratches somewhat, removes grime, and cleans the tires a bit in the process.

In some cases, the best remedy for tired looking rims has been to buy some (new old stock) rims and spokes and have a respoking day.
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Old 03-05-14, 09:02 AM
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You could just give them to me =)
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Old 03-05-14, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by okane View Post
....removing spokes? if so, I'm assuming that oven cleaner would attack anodizing on the spokes? ......
Anodizing is a process used on aluminum.
Spokes are steel, either stainless or plated. If plated, you're probably stuck with ugly spokes.
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Old 03-05-14, 01:37 PM
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I stink at wheel building so

"First you should determine if they are actually anodized or just dulled aluminum. Rubbing a spot with a rag and some metal polish will make the rag black if not anodized (and the rubbed spot will quickly come up shiny)"

Gonna try this and see what happens.....will let you know the results. Thanks all for suggestions.
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Old 03-05-14, 02:21 PM
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your definition of looking like crap differs from mine.
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Old 03-07-14, 05:12 AM
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it worked!

Tried some aluminum polish I had laying around and that did the trick. Rag came away blackened and the wheel shines. Difference is amazing.

I'll post a photo when done. Based on the sample sections I did last night, it shoudln't take more than 45 minutes to get them cleaned up.
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Old 03-07-14, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by okane View Post
Tried some aluminum polish I had laying around and that did the trick. Rag came away blackened and the wheel shines. Difference is amazing.

I'll post a photo when done. Based on the sample sections I did last night, it shoudln't take more than 45 minutes to get them cleaned up.
Good on you Okane!
-If the polish is working then certainly they were not anodized -( though I still might be tempted to rebuild the wheels - probably with new spokes and nipples for an even more thorough face-lift. )
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Old 03-07-14, 06:43 AM
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It's good to know you are excited about the cleaning process. I have to work up to it anymore. I really enjoy the mechanics of bicycling and have accepted the cleaning process as a neccessary evil. I getting tired of the battle. For this process, I like to use my bare skin. For some reason it works really well faster and you can feel when you are covering the joints around the spokes. Makes a mess of your fingers but it does wash off. I like to go around the whole rim and then do the "shoe shine" approach with a clean rag to polish. Final polish is attacking the spoke area and valve stem.
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Old 03-07-14, 08:12 PM
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Go to the hardware / paint store, get a couple of wood paint stirrer sticks, glue some wool felt pads to 8" of the ends of the sticks, use Mothers Polish, It's way faster and a lot easier on your fingers to get them to really shine.
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Old 03-10-14, 06:04 AM
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okane
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Wheels finally done

And they look pretty good. Took about 35 minutes per wheel + a few extra to do the rim sides (with Brillo as suggested. Bearings are back in hubs, new skins, and wheels installed. Would have shown completed set up on bike but didn't feel like carrying it thru 2 feet of snow to be photographed. Tried to take pics in the basement but lighting too poor and flash added too many weird reflections.

The comparison pic #2 shows the difference even with some water spots I hadn't yet wiped off. The first photo shows done/undone wheel sections.

Not the most enjoyable job in the world but you do get almost instant gratification. No question best way would be to remove spokes but I am a terrible wheel builder so I decided to do it the "easy" way.

Started out with some very old Eagle One aluminum polish and finished with a fresh can of Mothers.

Overall not a terrible way to spend some time while recooperating from back surgery. Thanks for alll the tips.
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Last edited by okane; 03-10-14 at 06:11 AM.
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