Engine Turned Rims

Discussion in 'HOW TO' started by Psychographic, Nov 15, 2019.

  1. Psychographic


    Aug 14, 2019
    I was asked to do a step by step of a set of wheels I'm trying to dress up a bit. As I am not very knowledgeable about bikes, please bear with me.

    If you are smarter than me, you would be better off starting with a set of nice polished aluminum, or chrome rims so you can skip the "work" part and go straight to the fun part.

    I'll be taking a pair of cheap Roadmaster wheels and going from plain grey,

    and attempting to add a bit of flash.


    This is the victim for the step by step process, the matching back wheel to the front one above.


    First step is to take it apart and organize the parts,

    These are the products I'll use to strip the paint,

    A small cup to pour the stripper into, I use 1oz. cups. It took 2 oz. to strip the paint off of 1 wheel.
    A plastic razor blade and holder. Whoever invented these is a genius!
    A small paintbrush to apply the stripper.
    A small container of water for clean up. PB150673.jpg

    I applied two coats of stripper, waited about 10 minutes and the scraped it with the plastic razor. It took most of the grey off (the pile in the center of the rim), and hopefully will get the rest in the next application.

    Last edited: Nov 15, 2019
    OddJob and GuitarlCarl like this.
  2. Psychographic


    Aug 14, 2019
    After a second round with the stripper, just about all the grey is gone.


    Now comes the real work! The rims are very rough, a lot of scratches and gouges, not to mention there is some rust thrown in to the mix.

    I start sanding with 320 wet. I use my thumb to hold the paper and my first finger as a guide, you want to sand in the direction of the rim.


    A pic without the paper so you can see how my finger runs along the edge of the rim to keep the sanding grain parallel to it.


    These wheels have the strangest primer I've ever seen, it's transparent like a stain. At least it sands off very easy.


    I've got a lot of sanding to do!
  3. Psychographic


    Aug 14, 2019
    I underestimated how bad the scratches were. After one round with 320 wet sandpaper, it was obvious I needed something more aggressive. If I had some 180 wet paper I would have started with that, the coarsest paper I have is 220. I made two passes with that, then one pass each of 320, 400, 500, followed up with two passes of 1500.

    When sanding steel with such small pressure points on the paper (usually just a thumb or fingertip, the paper dulls fast. So keep moving to a fresh part of the sandpaper often, if you pay attention, you can actually feel and hear it change. After the sanding, I hit it quick by hand with some rubbing compound, then washed it down with lacquer thinner.

    It's far from perfect, but it's all I'm putting into a cheap set of wheels, it would take hours to get all the scratches out.

    Chad T, ferdy, Starnger and 3 others like this.
  4. OddJob


    Mar 26, 2012
    Maplewood, MN
    Thanks for posting this up! I look forward to the next steps of your polish and finishing techniques.

    In my 5 years building on the Forum, I haven't seen anyone use this process on achieving a 'turned rim'. Well done! :thumbsup:
  5. Psychographic


    Aug 14, 2019
    With the rims polished up as good as they need to be, it's time to do some turning.

    These pics are poor quality, I'll try to replace them when I replace the scotchbrite. On the front wheel, I spun one side, replaced the scotchbrite pad, then did the other side.

    To make it easy, you'll need to make an arbor for a drill. Anything round that will fit in your drill will work. I made mine out of a scrap piece of MDF and a machine screw. I sanded the MDF to 13/16", then drilled the center so the machine screw threads in tightly. I also drilled a countersink for the head of the screw to fit into, you want a flat face on your arbor.

    Better pics, and now that you can see the arbor, it's time for "Do what I say, not what I do". Take the time to center the bolt on the arbor, I rushed and did a lousy job. It fights me when I use it.

    I think cutting a cheap screwdriver with an appropriate size handle would make a good arbor. Cut about 1" below the handle, and 1" above, instant arbor.

    PB190705.JPG PB190706.JPG

    On the steel rim, I used the red pads, If I was doing aluminum rims, I think I would used the grey or tan ones as they are finer grit. You should be able to find these pads at an auto parts store or possibly a hardware store.


    Tear off a circle of the scotchbrite larger than the face of your arbor.


    Using a contact cement. Spray the face and sides of the arbor and one side of the scotchbright. You'll need to find a way to hang the arbor while the cement tacks up. This is the glue I used.


    Once the glue is set, center your arbor over the scotchbrite, press it down firmly, Then stick the the rest to the sides. This pic shows how I position it to stick the sides. Once into position, push it down and squeeze.


    Here it is in the drill and ready to go to work.

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  6. Psychographic


    Aug 14, 2019
    Time to have some fun!

    If you have an extra pair of hands, use them to hold the rim down for you. I made due with a step stool, towel, and Bungee cord. It held the rim tight and allowed me to rotate it easily.


    I would suggest you try a few spins on some scrap to get a feel for it. Also it would be a good idea to play with your lighting, some angles make it hard to see what you are doing, or have done.

    I run my drill at high speed and never let off until I finish a section. I do about a 1/4 of the wheel before having to rotate it and stay comfortable. I slowly lower the pad down on the surface with light pressure to feel if I'm level. (You could lift up to see if you have a good circle pattern Until you get the feel) When I feel I've got it level, I push down firmly and count to 4.

    The drill in place to make the first turn. (I needed a free hand to take the pic, use two hands to hold the drill steady!)

    After counting to four, you should have something that looks like this.


    I am comfortable going counter clockwise, I position the drill to the left, trying to just slightly overlap the first turn, and repeat the process.

    PB190712.jpg PB190713.jpg

    PB190714.jpg PB190715.jpg

    Once you get the hang of it, it goes very fast. If I had someone to hold and rotate the rim for me, I think I could do one pass in less than 2 minutes.

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
  7. Psychographic


    Aug 14, 2019
    A couple of things to note, I would replace the scotchbrite pad after each pass on a steel wheel. I noticed the pad was getting very weak before finishing one side of the wheel. You will notice shiny spots when it starts to wear. It takes 4 passes to do each rim (left side, right side, left side center, and right side center). You can also scrape the face of the pad with something stiff to get a lot of the fine shavings out if you notice it not scratching as deep.

    To do the centers, I stand the rim on the stool and rest my chest on top of it to hold it down as I spin the center of the rim. I noticed I could only go about 5-6 turns before having to rotate the rim. Going any more than a few degrees off of pushing straight down allowed the rim to move too much to keep the drill centered.


    Repeat the process and you'll have this.



    Next up, turning it gold.

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
    Captain Awesome likes this.
  8. Psychographic


    Aug 14, 2019
    It's time to add some color. All of the painting will be done with my workhorse airbrush, a trusty Paasche VL, with a 5 tip and needle.

    First step is a tack coat of Bulldog Adhesion promoter, followed 5 minutes later with a light coat.

    Bulldog is crystal clear and ready to spray right out of the can, they also make it in spray cans. Here is the rim after 2 coats of Bulldog, you can't tell anything has been applied to the rim.


    After 15 minutes, the second coat of Bulldog was dry, we are ready for paint.

    I used Custom Shop Candy Concentrate mixed into Axalta (Formerly DuPont) Chromabase base coat that has no pigment added to it. You can mix this concentrate into many different clears, I chose this as a carrier, because it will go on very thin compared to a clear, and it dries very fast.


    After the first coat of the gold.


    10 minutes later, the 2nd coat.


    Another 10 minutes and a 3rd coat. Almost there.


    Another 10 minutes and the final color coat. It's a good match.


    I'll clear it either later today or tomorrow.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2019
  9. Psychographic


    Aug 14, 2019
    I cleared the rim yesterday. I used a house brand urethane clear. I didn't count the coats I put on (it was probably 8-10), I do know I used 2 oz. of mixed clear on the front rim, so I mixed the same amount and for every coat I applied to the center of the rim, I double coated the sides.

    There was really no sense in taking pics of the clear going on, so here is the finished wheel.


    The set,

    PB220741.jpg PB220742.jpg

    It's a good thing I can't afford tires right now, this will give the clear time to cure before trying to stretch a tire over it.

    I hope you were able to understand the process by description and pictures. If not, feel free to ask any questions.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019

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