Author Topic: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --  (Read 629 times)

Offline goodfellow

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Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« on: February 10, 2018, 07:15:14 PM »
Wire wheels are a royal pain to keep clean and to maintain. Hence they get neglected over the years and start to spot rust and corrode. Mine are no exception -- I did neglect them for quite some time, but now that this car is getting completed, the wheels needed a good refurbishment to get rid of the dirt, rust, and pitting.

There are so many methods out on the net that show the process (and with varying degrees of effectiveness I might add) - so I might as well join the crowd and show how I do it. It takes a long tine to do this properly, and my fingers hurt like hell form all the polishing, but it's well worth it to save a good set of wheels.

To start with I hosed the wheels off with soap and water and then with a generous soaking of Simple Green -- after this was completed, this is what I had to start with.





These are all the materials I used to clean the wheel --



Specifically I like the Noxon metal polish -- it smells to high heaven, but works very well

Grease was caked on the inner hub, and I used a plastic molding tool to clean it out and gave it a good soak with Xylene (mineral spirits or carb cleaner will do as well) and got rid of all the grease on the inner hub, and then also wiped down the entire wheel surfaces with Xylene to remove any caked on dirt or grease that the washing didn't get.



The hub cleaned up nice with Xylene --



I also marked the weights and pulled them off the rim



The backside of the wheel was showing some rust and corrosion and decided to tackle that first. I used a die grinder throttled down to 70psi and wire brush to clean the rust from the inner rim. If you go full speed on a die grinder with a wire wheel, the wheel disintegrates in short order -- it can't handle the RPM, and you wind up with wires sticking in your clothes and skin -- or worse.



I used another die grinder (also throttled to 70psi with a small wire wheel to get between the spokes)



Once all the rust was brushed off, I took #0000 fine steel wool and a cheap vibrating toothbrush to apply the Noxon polish to the rim, the spokes, and the hub. The vibrating brush helps get into small nooks and crannies to distribute the polish evenly (Latex gloves are a must with this stuff)





The steel wool did a great job getting at the large areas, but I used a dowel in regular drill to spin on some steel wool and used that method to polish the hidden spokes and the hub. This takes a lot of time to do a thorough job -- but it's worth it for good results.







I cleaned up the residue with Xylene and a clean rag and went on to the next step.

Next I take some Jute rope and soak it in Polishing compound and run the rope between the spokes (back and forth) to clean/polish the parts that the steel wool could not get at.





I keep soaking the rope with compound every few spokes to get good coverage.



Next I cover the entire wheel in polishing compound and use crumpled aluminum foil to distribute and polish the outer rim, spokes and hub. This is the tedious part because it takes a long time to manipulate the foil in the spokes and hub -- I found that the angled back end of a toothbrush helps with manipulating the foil back and forth between the spokes.





Now the rim is cleaned again with Xylene and Mothers Aluminum polish is applied all over the rim surface --

.

A clean shop rag is used to polish the surface and again the back end of a toothbrush is used to get a rag into the nooks and crannies. I also used a paint stirrer with a paper towel taped to the end to get between the spokes.



Here's the finished backside -- Rust is gone and it shines great.



Lastly -- I cleaned up the wheel weight and attached it back in place where I had marked it.
That was only the backside -- now it's time for the front. Same procedure as the back, but the spokes are closer together on the front, hence it's more time consuming.

The vibrating toothbrush works great on the front sopkes. I bought a pack at COSTCO for a few $$ and they'll help do all five wheels



The same steps were used as with the backside, but I used a variety of small dowels and toothbrush handles to manipulate the rags for cleaning and polishing.



It took almost five hours to do this one wheel, but it shines again --- only four more to go --  :))





 







« Last Edit: February 10, 2018, 07:22:42 PM by goodfellow »

Offline fordtoy1

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2018, 07:47:14 PM »
A lot of work but it looks like it was well worth it. some very good tips  i hope i can remember if and when i get something with wire wheels th-bounce

Offline Heiny57

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2018, 08:11:25 PM »
Those look great.
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Offline slip knot

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2018, 09:30:00 PM »
great work as usual. its the details that make it pop.

Me. I get impatient waiting for the spray on wheel cleaner to work. :eek:
Started with nothing and still have most of it left.

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Offline Uncle Buck

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2018, 10:28:45 PM »
Stunning Ray!  thumbsup2
You boys better hold on cause i'm gonna have to stand on it!

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Offline john k

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2018, 12:03:19 AM »
Wire wheels are a terrific eye catcher,  but darn the work involved!   Four more to go makes my shoulders ache to think about it.   Was at a swap meet one time,  fellow brought in a 1950s Jaguar Mk VIII sedan, well worn, faded, but he had just polished the wire wheels, everybody going by would stop and look,  was quite a magnet, am sure it helped sell the car.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2018, 12:06:48 AM by john k »

Offline krusty the clown

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2018, 12:32:52 AM »
Nice work....i dont have the patience

Offline Uncle Buck

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2018, 01:15:12 AM »
Nice work....i dont have the patience


Ya you do, it just isn't a Harley!  ;)
You boys better hold on cause i'm gonna have to stand on it!

NEED A 1/2" BONNEY STREAMLINE COMBINATION AND ANY OVER 13/16" TOO!



Andrew Jackson quote: But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.

Offline Muddy

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2018, 12:28:16 PM »
Alot of hard work but great results Ray!
 I'll bring my new Harley down so you can keep those spokes in great shape for me!

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Offline goodfellow

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2018, 12:43:18 PM »
Alot of hard work but great results Ray!
 I'll bring my new Harley down so you can keep those spokes in great shape for me!

Sent from the twisted mind of the Mudman.


God no! --  :)). I have to admit, I over did it on these wheels. My hands hurt like heck for two days. They feel like a 90 year old rheumatoid arthritic sufferer.  I still have three wheels to go --  frustratedx -- although the spare isn't in bad shape at all; just a little pitting. I'll have to pace myself to get these things done.

Offline fatfillup

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2018, 05:50:20 PM »
Wow, that did turn out nice.  Believe my hands would have gave up at step 2 panicx
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Offline Mikevango

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2018, 12:42:14 AM »
Looks great. And I thought a 28 spoke schwinn rim was a pain in the ass. Nice work.
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Offline brslk

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2018, 05:38:35 AM »
That's a lot of work but it looks fabulous.
The last spoked rims I had to clean up like that were so bad that I gave up and just polished the rim and hub
and painted the spokes.  It looked good and the guy that bought the bike from me loved them.
I'm just a guy in a garage with some tools...

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Offline Andrewhr

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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2018, 06:49:39 AM »
you should organize a Garage Gazette Get Together working party.
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Re: Cleaning and polishing wire wheels --
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2018, 06:49:39 AM »