I love getting "deals", so anytime I can get a deal on an old rare car part, I usually jump on it. I've found that there is almost always a reason why the part was a deal. Could be damaged, dirty, incomplete, etc, but normally it is going to require some extra elbow grease. This is especially true with old wheels. Once I've determined that they are straight and free of any major damage, I begin to dig in and see how may times they have been painted or powdercoated over. Most of these old aftermarket wheels have a least a few coats of paint or powder on them! In the past I've media blasted my wheel parts. This works well, but it is very tedious, time consuming, and often times frustrating if the wheel or part has intricate cutouts or crevices. Even with media blasting, it can be difficult to get in every little nook and cranny to get the old layers of paint and corrosion off.
Recently I came up with a quick, easy, and relatively low-cost way of stripping old painted wheel parts. This is especially good for any of you guys/gals out there without access to a blast cabinet and all of the accessories needed to properly media blast. All you need is enough of our Powder Coat and Paint Dissolver to fully or partially submerge your wheels or parts in, and a cheap trash or recycling bin. These work great for using as little dunk tanks. At the least I like to have my parts halfway suubmerged, then flip them every so often.
This time around, I was doing a set of 4 wheel centers. I chose a narrow, but tall plastic trash can that i could soak 3 at a time in. I used 2 gallons of the dissolver, which allowed me to have 3 centers halfway submerged at all times. As you can see in the picture above, these centers I had started to try and strip before I started this article. I tried using some aerosol paint stripper I got late one rainy night at the local Wal-Mart. Needless to say, I spent an entire evening with brushes, plastic scrapers, etc., and I still barely got 1 1/2 faces stripped (I hadn't even touched the backsides). That will teach me to be impatient and try and use the incorrect product for the job! So after my frustrating evening with the centers, I brought them here into the shop and submerged them in my make-shift dunk tank.
I let the wheels initially soak for about 15 minutes, at which point I like to (did I mention I can be impatient!) give the dissolver some "help" and rub the areas that were exposed to the dissolver with my (gloved) fingers. Already at this point you should be able to start seeing the color just washing and rubbing right off of the parts. Now, you can just leave the parts in for a longer period of time with no care and it will remove the paint or powder, but I've found my method above GREATLY speeds up the process.
Once you resoak the area for 10-15 more minutes, the powder or paint should really just be washing right off. At this point I flip the part, resoak the side that hasn't been exposed to the dissolver yet, and then repeat the process. The nice thing about stripping parts this way vs. media blasting is that you can really multi-task, and if you are anything like me, you probably have 18 other mini-projects going on in the shop at the same time. This way you don't need to be strapped to the blaster the entire time the part is getting stripped!
Once I had the majority of the heavy powder/paint off of the centers, I took them to the shop sink and used tap water and a plastic bristle brush to get any small bits of powder out of the crevices in the letters as well as clean the dissolver off of the entire wheel.
After a good rinse, the centers are ready for powder, paint, or polish! Since I previously had some welding and machine work done to the lugs and backing pads of these wheels, I will be powdercoating the faces to get a nice even finish on them.
For clean up, I just grab a funnel and pour the left over dissolver right back into the containers and store them for the next stripping project. I've stripped a ton of parts with the batch I am currently using, and it still works great! I hope this quick little process can help some of you save cash stripping off old paint and powder, as well as save you some time!