View Full Version : Wheel refinishing..my plan and where can I find aircraft stripper?

11-04-2004, 11:33 AM
Is this off-topic? Well, it concearns my 240, so maybe not.

I have been doing some reading on the web about how to go about re-painting my Draco wheels and several guys (the Porsche and Benz guys) say to use aircraft stripper before I start in with the self etching primer.

Anyone know where I can buy this stuff? Auto Zone did not carry it, neither did Napa, but these stores aren't know for having everything I need all the time. Would a paint store like Sherwin Williams have it? Ok, how about a PPG auto paint dealer?

I have de-greased these wheels using Simple Green and Castrol's Super Clean and used SOS steel wool pads to get the tough stuff off. The SOS pads roughed up the painted surface and on many places, I rubbed hard enough to see white primer, so I think I have a good anchor surface. I am afraid that if I use sand paper, I might get deep scratches that will show up after painting. Do I need to sand with 400-600 grit paper, before using the grey self etching primer?

Here was my original plan.

1) Sand the wheels with 00 steel wool and use acetone to remove all grease and residue.

2) Paint with the Eastwood Self Etching Primer and let dry

3) lightly buff with 0000 steel wool and use acetone again to remove any grease or residue from sanding/handling

4) spray on Eastwood's Charcoal Hi-temp Wheel Enamel. Buff lightly with 0000 steel wool between coats and let each coat dry at least 8 hours (its 70 degrees here) I am guessing 2-3 coats max.

5) lightly buff the final paint coat with 0000 steel wool and wipe dry

6) spray on Eastwood Hi-temp Wheel Clearcoat.

7) allow to dry in the sun for 10-12 hours and wait at least 2-3 days before mouting on car.

Is there something I am missing?

Please let me know...and where I can find the aircraft stripper...if I really need it.



11-04-2004, 12:22 PM
Here's what a co-worker said when asked about the stripper...

'I bought it at Kragen's in a spray can , but any auto paint store sells it by the gallon'

Also don't forget to include in your plan the clear-coat. Just make sure you don't get any crap on the paint just before you spray that clear-coat cause then it's permanent. :) Otherwise the plan sounds good. Might consider a wet-sand between coats in place of the steel-wool. Just a thought.

Volv-a-Ratti Man
11-04-2004, 12:29 PM
I would be really careful of what stripper if any you use on the aluminum alloy. Most commercial paint strippers have Methylene Chloride in them, which will eat aluminum. Other choices are solvent based amine solutions that are water soluable, but even some of these eat the aluminum. I'm not sure what is in aircraft paint stripper, but since aircraft aluminum alloy is 70/75 T6 aluminum alloy which has magnesium, nickel and some steel, would be very safe for the wheels, whatever it is.

It's probably the solvent type, which btw is a carcinogen as well as mutinogen, and would stay well clear of this stuff unless it is in a controlled environemnt like a chemical bath that has the proper safety equipment. It is usually used heated.
I would find a place that does it as a service before I did it myself. Furniture stripping places like BIX (not sure if they are still around) should have this stuff available.

To be completely safe, do what is done more often than anything else for wheel re-finishing - bead blasting using micro glass beads. But honestly, if the orig primer isn't flaking off or has significant height variation due to already removing some by sanding, just use the wool and paint over it.
Also, the humididy will be the most detremental effect on your paint. It would be best if you can set a section of the garage apart with plastic or cardboard and make a tent. The spraying will go much better if the over-spray is contained in the local environment around the wheel. This will absorb any moisture in the air and saturate the air with the paint solvent which makes the paint go down better, more glossy. Longer drying in the initial spray layers will give better self leveling, and the dry rate is slowed by the presence of the solvent in the air, so close it up and wait...............!
Also, you don't want to spray in open air because of the dust. It will make for a poor speckled job.

Good Luck!

11-04-2004, 12:51 PM
Yeah, the surface looks pretty well roughed up from the SOS steel wool pads. I am pretty well versed in refinishing wood, but not too keen on metal refinishing...thats why I am being cautious here. If the wheels were oak, I'd know exactly what to do!

I might avoid the aircraft stripper...sounds dangerous. The surface on the wheels is smooth and matte, due to the scrubbing with steel wool. I know fom experience with woods, that sometimes, paper sanding can give you swirl marks and small gouges that show up later when applying tung oil or linseed hand rubbed finishes...steel wool will not do this.

I am going to look into this wet-sanding thing...seems this is key to getting a good finish. What grit is used for wet-sanding? Is this the black sand paper I see at Home Depot?

I have sectioned off part of my garage for this task...sorry, but if you're in Texas Peter, you know that avoiding humidity in Houston is an impossibility. Fortunately, this weekend will not be rainy or overly humid. This is not Arizona, though!

I do know that like wood refinishing...going slow and taking time will yield better results, so this might take a few weeks for me to get them all the way completed. I am simply not going to hurry. My brick has perfectly good tires and steel 14 inch wheels to carry me around and theres no need to rush to beat a Monday AM deadline.

Thanks...wish me luck!

- 91Brick

Volv-a-Ratti Man
11-04-2004, 01:08 PM
Yeah, the humididy is a tough one. before you begin to spray the wheels themselves, give your tent a good spraying on all surfaces to saturate the local air. This alone will get the humidity down to a workable level less than 40% RH.

On the soft aluminum you don't want to use any paper with a grit of less that 400. Preferably use a 600 grit emory cloth, followed by polishing paper or cloth. Both are a black carborundum material and can be used wet. I would choose a light oil like WD-40, not water. Practice on sections that won't bee seen on the back before you tackle the outside.

Good Luck!

Volv-a-Ratti Man
11-04-2004, 01:19 PM
Oh, save your sinuses and switch to 100% isopropal alcohol for prep cleanup instead of acetone. This will actually bring the surface moisture content down to nearly zero and will give better adhesion. If you can find it, the solvent in the paint which may be an alcohol or PGMEA (glycol acetate) based solvent will do even better. PGMEA is what's used in most 'safe' fingernail polish removers.

11-04-2004, 01:31 PM
Never heard of the wd-40 for wet sanding. How's it different from using water? Does it just make things come out a little smoother? Will the kerosene base cause any damage to any existing paint? or cause adhesion problems? Just curious as it's a new trick for me. :)

Sounds like you've done a bit of painting before Peter.

Volv-a-Ratti Man
11-04-2004, 01:46 PM
Depending on the surface, water will cause oxidation quickly. On metal, especially pure aluminum, the oxide forms as soon as the bare metal is exposed to air and forms a layer that is not just on the surface, but forms below the surface depending on how rapid the oxidation can occur. Water, oxygen and contaminents in the air like the sulphur from car exhausts, etc increase the oxidation very rapidly. By using oils and solvents, you not only decrease the oxidation rate, but remove the moisture that can make it worse after you clean-up. The light oils will make a much better mirror like finish.
Paint the wheels just after a final polish and solvent clean to reduce the surface oxidation.

Yeah, I've done some painting! I did an entire 144 front nose with Rustoleum Almond paint in cans one time. Looked as good as the orig beige from Volvo that was on the rest of the car. That is, until hurricane Gloria came along three days later and ruined the finish. That was a learning experience, so don't even think of messing with these wheels until they are thoroughly dry, like a week' You could use a heat lamp to speed things up, which will also help with adhesion in the first go-around.

11-04-2004, 03:50 PM

I had to chuckle a bit when you told me about where to get IPA...I work for a chemical company right on the Houston Ship Channel...we have a 20,000 gallon tank full of Isopropyl alcohol in our warehouse!

(I can get all sorts of chemicals for my hobbies...IPA, Xylene, Tolulene, Mineral Spirits, Acetone...name it...we probably have it...have to be careful when handling some of these things, though)

I never thought about using it for paint prep...now I am going to get a few quart sample jars of it to take home and use. Yes, the acetone fumes are horrible, but it does good as a degreaser. I think I'll switch to IPA though.

Thanks for the tips

11-06-2004, 12:53 AM
If the paint that was on the wheels was good and had good adhesion, I wouldn't strip them I would just sand the clear coat down so it is dull, and then spray a coat of primer, base, and clear right over that. But don't use a etching primer over paint, use a laquer, or urethane primer. Oh and don't use WD-40 unless you really clean those wheels, because if there is any residue or oil left over it will react with your paint in a heartbeat and ruin your finish. Instead I reccomend some windex mixed with 10% of the bottle Acetone, sand with that it will clean at the same time.

Hank Scorpio
11-06-2004, 03:30 PM
I've probably painted a dozen or so virgo's now. Personally, I just beadblast them clean but DONT strip teh finish off. Virgo's are powder coated or somethings, its INCREDIABLY HARD.

I just get the wheels clean and smooth, prime em and start from there.

11-08-2004, 11:12 AM
Well, I worked quite a bit on my Dracos this past weekend.

I sanded them all down with a combo of 00 steel wol and 400 grit sand paper. I applied a coat of Eastwood Self-Etching Primer and let them bak in the 80 degree sun for 3 hours (the can say you can topcoat after 2 hours...they were bone dry actually after about 30 minutes in this sun).

I then applied a coat of the charcoal wheel paint to all 4 wheels and let them dry in the sun for about 3-4 hours. I also did the same to the center caps.

Sunday, I wet-sanded everything with 400 grit black wet-dry paper and the hose out on the driveway. This charcoal paint leaves a layer of metallic black grit, that comes off easy with the hose and wet sandpaper. Out inthe sun, I could see where I was a bit thin on painting some spots and they will definately need a secon coat...maybe a third.

Since I ran out of paint and had to online order some more from Eastwood (I ordered another can of cleap topcoat at the same time...its taking more than I thought!).

Oh well, I guess a week of curing between paint coats may be a good thing.

Good points? Well the color is KILLER! A nice dark, metallic charcoal, that closely matches the gray trim on the rocker panel/door bottoms on the 240. Definately a different look, but not too custom to where it looks obvious or obnoxious. The color actually looks like it belongs with the dark gray trim and dark blue car. The stealth look...I love it! The color resembles the dark grey Cragar-like wheels you see on some Cobra Mustangs...not flat, but not too metallic/shiny, either. good stuff!

The wheels also seem ot take the paint really well. I barely got any off while wet-sanding hours after applying. If the clearcoat is anything like the paint and primer, this stuff ought to last a long time.

Well, back to work and wainting for Eastwood to send me the rest of my paint. I am taknig my time, because these things are going to look awesome when I am done with them.



11-08-2004, 12:09 PM
Seriously gotta send us before and after pic's plus before/after pic's of the car! Should be pretty sweet with em on! Might give people an idea that your car isn't quite grandma's car anymore though with a nice set of alloy's instead of steel's. :)
Sounds like they're gonna turn out nice!

11-17-2004, 02:46 PM
Pics! You must show us before vs. after pics! :D

11-18-2004, 05:55 PM
I'll post em when I get the wheels on the car.

I cannot wait to see the dark metallic Dracos on this dark blue brick. The wheel color is about the same color as the grey trim on the door bottoms...cool! Not too much metallic to be flashy, but enough sparkle to draw your eye to them. the clear coat ought to take the matte look from them.

So far so good...the Eastwood paint seems to be high quality stuff and is very tough.

Praying for 70's this Saturday so I can finish them up!

- 91Brick

12-13-2004, 02:49 AM
Originally posted by gsellstr
Never heard of the wd-40 for wet sanding. How's it different from using water? Does it just make things come out a little smoother? Will the kerosene base cause any damage to any existing paint? or cause adhesion problems? Just curious as it's a new trick for me. :)

Sounds like you've done a bit of painting before Peter.

I used water+dish soap before, windex [no joke], and water.

I wouldn't use WD-40 for final wet sanding, like on a paint job for instance on a car, but for prep work to smooth surfaces that have to be washed multiple times for wheels, i imagine it would be ok.