Stripping Paint from Alloy Hoop & Frame

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Ulu

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I am going to strip the Big League 32" wheel I bought.

It needs to be freed of its horrid black paint, but this is an alloy wheel.

My suspicion is that any commercial stripper that will remove modern paint, will damage the aluminum.

So what's the preferred method?

I haven't done an aluminum wheel, ever.

I will need to do the steel hub and spokes too. Not so worried there.

My biggest issue is that to strip and relace, I need to make a BIG truing stand.
Then I will probably just spin it and start sanding with 320, then clear coat.
 
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I would love to pick up a truing stand, but for now I just use an old frame turned upside down on my bench - plus bits of tape cut and stuck on the frame either side.
 

Ulu

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It's basically lye, right?
We used lye at Kawneer. Big tanks of it 24 feet long.
Though we were stripping before the anodizing.

I just want to remove the paint. This is a brand new wheel.
I want to buff it up and clear coat it. Maybe shoot it candy red, then clear.
 

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After a nice ride on the bicycle my brain cleared up and I realized that one of the things that destroys paint almost immediately is brake fluid.

Hot brake fluid might do a number on this paint.

And we know it doesn’t affect aluminum because brake hydraulics are made out of aluminum.

It won’t hurt the spokes or the nipples either which means I don’t have to disassemble the wheel . . . and it doesn’t hurt rubber. If I miss a drip it’s not going to eat up my tire or my tube or my liner.

Wish me luck guys I’m gonna go give this a try.
 

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Thank you. I decided this steel wheel needed a spoke straightened and the pink paint gone, so I am starting with these spokes.
5A4679D7-ED28-4C33-9B0B-075999B5A00F.jpeg
Since they are stainless I have no problem putting Easy-off on them if the fluid fails.

Unfortunately my wife hasn’t bought any since I got her a self cleaning oven.

I will soak them overnight & hit them with the heat gun tomorrow. I am using used but clean brake fluid leftover from bleeding some granddaughter’s Toyota.

CD033BE3-5E20-4635-8E49-F780DA7C92FA.jpeg
I thought that pink paint was polyester powder coat but perhaps not.

There were paint chips where the spokes touched, and it appeared that the brake fluid was loosening the paint up right there a bit, after just 10 minutes and a little jiggling.

I don’t think the spokes will be a problem because they are stainless. But the nipples are steel and zinc electro plate.

I’m just gonna hit them with some liquid wrench and wipe them. They don’t appear to be rusty but there was rust on the rim.
 

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After six hours soaking in the brake fluid the paint has softened and feels sticky to the touch. Some small flakes can be wiped off with a paper towel, but this has been in a dark garage at 80°. I set it out in the hot sun, and it’s going to be over 100° today.

I actually think at this point that the paint would be wiped off the spokes with scotchbrite easily but I would like to see it fall off. I still have a quart of Zip-strip if all else fails.

But before I resort to that I will actually heat the fluid in a steel canister and see what happens. Brake fluid doesn’t boil till about 400°, But I don’t know about the flammability.
 

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O M G I T W O R K S !!
:banana::banana::banana:

This deserves The Nanner!
No, a double! . . . because it’s a freebie! And stripper is ☠️ and so expensive.
OMG again . . . NO! THE TRIPLE!

Because (At least in the state of California) this causes sudden and agonizing death to every organism in the known universe (If you drink it) and therefore it is illegal to dispose of.

I was going to have to take it to a special place for disposal or dump it illegally.

But this stuff doesn’t wear out. Eventually it will evaporate away and be mostly a puddle of water in the bottom of the container, but that takes a long time.

In the meantime I can use it over and over, (so I feel this is especially deserving of a Triple Nanner.)

OK, here’s the gory details:

The fluid soaked from 2 AM until 8 AM In my garage at approximately 82°F or less. The paint had started to loosen already. I just hit this with my thumbnail & the paint came right off.
E51A4556-51CA-49C7-B8D6-3C56B4E89398.jpeg

I put it outside, and it did heat up nicely in the sun From 8 AM until 2 PM.

So it spent 12 hours in crappy uncapped 10 year old type DOT3 brake fluid.

The paint wrinkled & turned to something like uncured latex paint. It looks like bubblegum but it’s not cohesive. Gum sticks together but this just falls apart.

I scraped the first spoke off with a bit of plastic, and polished it with a paper towel. and it’s shiny and beautiful with no scratches. There’s the bits of soft paint on the counter.
5646977C-657D-42A7-8084-56D22CFBDE58.jpeg

Maybe it’s really stainless?
 

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Big disappointment guys. I thought if I let these things soak in my garage for another day, paint would fall off even easier. What happened is that they cooled off and the paint re-solidified.

Now it is sticky but it is not loose.

So the lesson learned is that the fluid needs to stay hot.

I’m gonna give this another shot. I might try hitting them with the heat gun and see what happens Otherwise I might construct a small steel container where I can actually boil the fluid.

I still have Zip-strip, But I’m like Wiley Coyote I don’t give up Even when I probably should.
 

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Well the spokes and nipples came out really nice.
2DECA9B8-3D6A-4BE1-AE23-231D9FBA1E22.jpeg

I also got the hub and axle and bearings and everything cleaned up.

But it was so hot outside I decided to put zip strip on the rim, which is ordinary steel. It’s out there in the hot sun working away.

I pulled those spokes out of the hot brake fluid one by one and scraped down the side with my thumbnail, then opened it up like a peeled shrimp.

That paint that was solid hard paint turned into flexible rubber and it absolutely did not stick to the steel.

If you look closely you can see a little bit right in the threads of the spokes. I’ll just hit that with a little brass brush and they’ll look great.
 
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This was the original pink and blue wheel, As I was removing the nipples.

3E01DF23-135F-45F3-B761-4A15D51D3344.jpeg

Here is the hoop when I ran out of stripper, after three applications of Zip-strip & scraping & brushing 3 times.
It was not allowed to get cold. It was well over 100°F in the boat yard today.
00D814CD-5E6B-4DB0-9D07-A4C2B15AD023.jpeg
(I know this looks like a different wheel but the blue changed with the lighting involved.)

What a mess this makes.

The first application takes off half of the paint. The second application takes off half of the remaining paint.

Subsequent applications each take off half of the remaining paint.

This is Zeno’s paradox. It will never be clean!

I knew this would happen though. I stripped a full-size car with this stuff.

It is expensive, so I didn’t wanna waste the last pint. As it turns out a pint wasn’t enough. I was hoping to do both hoops with it.

I scraped it & wiped the whole thing down, and sprayed it with solvent. About 15% of the paint is still on the rim pretty solidly. I wiped it briskly with lacquer thinner which did very little to remove the remaining paint.

So looking on my shelf, I found 5 pints of used brake fluid that I have never recycled.

I decided rather than to sand the remaining paint, to stick this hoop in a plastic bag with some more brake fluid.

I’ll let it sit until it gets good and hot tomorrow morning and I think the rest will just wipe off with a toothbrush.
 

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It actually turned out to be quite hot, and this rim did bake in the hot sun.
546FCA92-042E-4CC8-A1F6-C0A7BB2F8A01.jpeg
Still I ended up taking a scotchbrite sponge to it, as not everything got well soaked. Also there are rust stains inside the wheel, where this bike sat in a puddle at some point, with flat tires.
3C3F9F3A-2761-4C24-A24B-29158905037A.jpeg
That stripper etches the metal and turns it very gray. Also there are some spots that are not uniformly etched and so I’m gonna have to buff this quite a bit before I can clearcoat it.
 

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You guys haven’t seen my crappy DIY buffer. This is made from junk that I’ve kept around for years, in hopes of building something useful.
image.jpg
This is way too powerful for these little cloth wheels, and I need to get some big ones.
19B9A7B0-1835-4638-BC6F-60D6D9D1E0E3.jpeg

This is the motor from 1950s electric exercycle. It was a big gray institutional thing with a steel “tractor” seat.
image.jpg

Almost all of the rest of it was scavenged years ago for other things.

If that looks a little weird for a buffer, with multiple pulleys and such, it’s actually a multipurpose device that combines a 6” disc sander, 6” buffer, & small wood lathe.

I’m not showing that, because the tailstock and steadyrest is all disassembled right now, so it’s just a pile of scrap steel sitting there to hold the device down to the earth.

That way, when you snag something in the buffer, you can launch it into orbit. LoL
 
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