There are probably better things today, but on my '80 it was Mothers Polish, and a lot of grease - elbow grease that is. Just took a lot of time. I used to pull one tire, put it up on a bench, and spend a couple hours. Tried expediting with buffing wheels but just ended up with a few dings in otherwise pristine rims.
One thing, don't use some of the cheap sprays. They are acidic and will pit the surface and on my wife's Firebird it wicked into the bead area and there were slow air leaks after that.
Vette(s): #1-1974 L-48 4spd Cp Med Red Metallic/Black deluxe int w/AC/tilt/tele./p/w-p/b/
Am-Fm/map light National/Regional/Chapter NCRS "Top Flight"
#2-1985 Bright Red/Carmine Cp.L-98/auto
Member: NCRS, NCRS Texas, Corvette Legends of Texas
FLITZpolish, a roll of paper towels, and a couple of hours PER rim will get them looking like they were chromed. A buffer will speed it up some, but I think it works better by hand...and I'm LAZY. When I first got my alloy rims, I sanded them some to get the clear coat off, then used red scotchpads, then I used a buffer, and buffing compound.They looked really nice.When I got a replacement rim, I did it by hand with Flitz, and it looks so much better than the others ever did.
Vette(s): 1981 Great White Shark. Red Interior, 350/190hp. PS, PB (SS), A/C CC, T-Tops, Going to remain as Stock as possible. Served three years in Active Duty Army, then Retired Air Force after 34 years! Badger State Vetts Car Club. 175,000 Original miles!!
Adams' Apple said:FLITZpolish, a roll of paper towels, and a couple of hours PER rim will get them looking like they were chromed. A buffer will speed it up some, but I think it works better by hand...and I'm LAZY. When I first got my alloy rims, I sanded them some to get the clear coat off, then used red scotchpads, then I used a buffer, and buffing compound.They looked really nice.When I got a replacement rim, I did it by hand with Flitz, and it looks so much better than the others ever did.
I redid my aluminum wheels a couple of years ago. After I removed the wheels and taped off the tires, used Citrus Strip (Home Depot - spray can) to remove the oxidized clear coat. Btw, if you are aiming for NCRS or 'survivor' C3 awards they are specifically looking for that oxidized clear coat per their judging manual. They can have mine. I decided that, while I will go to unnatural length to retain it's stock originality (down to concealed fasteners), I decided that Zora and Bill Mitchell wanted their magnificent car to look beautiful as intended and not a museum curator's piece with "patina." Not my thing. I bought it to feel 22 yrs. old again and want it to look the way it did then.
Leave the orange-smelling (smells good) citrus stripper on overnight and rinse it off with the help of a plastic bristle brush or green Scotchpad. It will leave no fine scratches. You will get small scratches from using abrasives that are noticeable in the sun. Then, I had a local detailer with a professional buffing wheel do his thing. $20 per wheel (plus a nice tip) and worth every dime because you can't duplicate the level of shine and scratch removal with Mothers Balls or your hand. I tried that route and there is so much nasty black oxidation on the ball/rags that you're spending a lot of time/cleaning resources. When I got them back, I cleaned/prepped the black wheel slots for painting. I applied blue painters tape (wide) to each of the 8 wheel slots on the polished side and then sprayed each slot the original black satin trim color from the back of each wheel. I bought new wheel center caps from one of our better vendor partners and glad I splurged while the patient was already on the table.
It was one of the most satisfying projects I've done. His wheel melted away all of the scratches and greatly minimized the nicks on the external ridges. It looked like a chrome finish. The results were stunning. The first year they looked like they were chromed, and this year they settled into a polished aluminum look. It was affordable enough that I may use a POR clear coat the next time I have them polished since aluminum will always tarnish without clearcoat. Btw, if you have a high powered buffing wheel, he uses a melted bar of red rouge and kerosine as his `secret' polishing paste. He finishes up by dusting the wheels with flour and giving one last go-over with the wheel. He is one of Peterbilts top recommended truck wheel polishers in the nation whose clients take their rigs seriously. I periodically use "California Purple" (Amazon) to maintain their luster as he suggested.
Good luck with your own project and hope this helped.
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