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Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 02-28-2010, 09:26 AM

I figured since some RV or motorhomes may have these type of wheels that this would be the place to post these questions.

Have any of you DC members done any polishing of these type of wheels? I am looking for some facts about this type of polishing so if someone feels compelled to write something like "Don't do it it's a PITA", please take the time to explain what it was that you didn't like about doing them.

I live in an area littered with trucking firms and truck stops and I am considering getting involved in the polishing of the aluminum wheels, fuel tanks, bumpers etc. I was recently laid off from my regular job and need to generate some income so I really don't care that it is a dirty job or that it may be difficult to get started in this particular line of work.

I am looking for more in the way of tips on how to polish them in a timely manner with good results. Pros and cons are both welcome in this thread but please be specific about your replies. Also, Ideas stemming from other (non automotive) industries are encouraged in this thread.

I have a friend who has offered up a free Alcoa aluminum bud tractor trailer wheel for me to practice on and I will post the before, during and after results in this thread at the time I do the work on it. Any other pics of this type of polishing work that some of you might have are also encouraged in this thread.

What tools have you used, what processes have you used, what type or brand of products are effective for this particular application, how much time was involved in doing a wheel or a fuel tank, what were some of the hangups that you may have experienced, any logistics nightmares (where did you do the work), any magic products for this type of work? these are the type of things I am wondering about. Thanks in advance for any useful replies. TD
   
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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 02-28-2010, 09:57 AM

Dave I have not detailed a large truck but I have polished the aluminum on my show car and the Red Mothers Power Ball works great for this job.
   
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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 02-28-2010, 01:44 PM

Just sent you a PM.
   
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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 02-28-2010, 01:58 PM

The last semi I done I used the powerball and powerball mini for the tight areas. Between all the wheels, stacks, tanks, and front end, I had 10 hours in just polishing. It looked great but it was not the most efficiant process. There are products out there such as Car Brites Mag Aluminum that does a good job but you can't beat elbow grease when it comes to polishing.


   
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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 02-28-2010, 04:01 PM

I would consider investing in an air die grinder or air drill if you're truly serious about polishing large quantities of this sort of material. That with a felt cone buff will make much easier work of it.


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Automotive Appearance Specialist - Serving Greater Lansing, Michigan
http://www.cchautoappearance.com/
   
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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 03-01-2010, 12:13 AM

There are several ways to skin a cat, but I've seen an amazing mirror-like shine come from the PowerBall products and Mothers polishes.

On a big rig with bare polishable Alcoas, you could conceivably use all three PowerBall products they have -- PowerBall, PowerBall Mini, and the PowerCone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_ZRGgE3nn4

You can use PowerMetal liquid, but I also like the 10 ounce jar of Mag Polish as it's a good deal. An initial polish with either of those, and a finishing polish with their Billet Polish will offer a great shine and extra protection from oxidation. I also like to use a quick shot of FX Spray Wax for extra protection.

If you are challenged with the coated Alcoa Dura-Bright wheels, then you wouldn't want to use a metal polish, but you could use a Plastic Polish or a synthetic wax (less chalking mess than a carnauba cleaner wax). FX Spray Wax would also be great afterwards.

You would also want to clean them first with the appropriate wheel cleaner for the finish.

The big PowerBall is great for diamond plate as well.

Not sure if they're coated or not? Alcoas are identified from the factory with a sticker on the wheel. If you're still not sure, you can wipe a little metal polish with your finger or a cloth on a clean wheel and if it turns black within a few seconds, it is not coated.
   
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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 03-01-2010, 05:58 AM

Dave,

Sorry to here about your job loss

I have a couple of Prevost motorhomes I do. They have these wheels you speak of. What I use is xtreeme metal polish applied/removed by hand. I must warn, you should use gloves because that stuff is murder trying to get off your hands

I did however get a Powerball for Christ-X....Maybe I will give it a whirl next go around


Best of luck on your new endeavors
   
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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 03-01-2010, 06:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by (901) View Post
Dave,

Sorry to here about your job loss

I have a couple of Prevost motorhomes I do. They have these wheels you speak of. What I use is xtreeme metal polish applied/removed by hand. I must warn, you should use gloves because that stuff is murder trying to get off your hands

I did however get a Powerball for Christ-X....Maybe I will give it a whirl next go around


Best of luck on your new endeavors
I DID HOWEVER GET A POWER BALL FOR CHRIST-X MAYBE I WILL GIVE IT A WHIRL NEXT GO AROUND.

You will never try doing it by hand again.
Their is no easy way to do polished aluminum and make it really look good other than intensive labor but the power ball is the best option. available
   
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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 03-01-2010, 06:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by black bart View Post
I DID HOWEVER GET A POWER BALL FOR CHRIST-X MAYBE I WILL GIVE IT A WHIRL NEXT GO AROUND.

You will never try doing it by hand again.
Their is no easy way to do polished aluminum and make it really look good other than intensive labor but the power ball is the best option. available

Thans BB....I will definately give this a shot. I spend around 30 minutes on each wheel using my current method
   
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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 03-01-2010, 06:58 AM

If you do fuel tanks on large trucks you could use a rotary with wool pad not to slam pros but most are more interested in speed than quality and this would be much faster.
You probably could do some of the wheel but the tight places you will still need a power ball.
I read where the power ball tears up and don't last but mine has held up well.

Some people could break rail road iron.
   
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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 03-13-2010, 09:58 PM

Dave..........The quickest way to get the most amount of oxidation off is with a high speed buffer and a wool pad with about 1700-2000 rpm speed. use a good rough cut compound (orange) This is a messy job , wear eye protection and maybe a mask and gloves. after the first cut, remove the residue with a clean micro cloth and some prep solvent.

check it to see how shiny it is . you might need to repeat a few times to get the gloss even over the entire wheel.

Once you get t he brilliance back into the wheel.then use which ever metal polishing compound you prefer. I use Maas polish. It's made in Germany. You can apply it by hand or with a powerball......... apply a good amount of pressure to get a mirror look.

There is no quick solution, but this is as close to the fastest way with great results, without investing a lot of money in equipment and or costly supplies.

Good Luck and sorry about your job loss. maybe this will turn into something more lucrative for you.


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Re: Polishing Alcoa or other aluminum Bud style wheels or fuel tanks - 03-14-2010, 09:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cartoysautospa View Post
Dave..........The quickest way to get the most amount of oxidation off is with a high speed buffer and a wool pad with about 1700-2000 rpm speed. use a good rough cut compound (orange) This is a messy job , wear eye protection and maybe a mask and gloves. after the first cut, remove the residue with a clean micro cloth and some prep solvent.

check it to see how shiny it is . you might need to repeat a few times to get the gloss even over the entire wheel.

Once you get t he brilliance back into the wheel.then use which ever metal polishing compound you prefer. I use Maas polish. It's made in Germany. You can apply it by hand or with a powerball......... apply a good amount of pressure to get a mirror look.

There is no quick solution, but this is as close to the fastest way with great results, without investing a lot of money in equipment and or costly supplies.

Good Luck and sorry about your job loss. maybe this will turn into something more lucrative for you.
Thanks for the reply, that sounds like some good sound advice.
   
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