DIY Wheel Refinishing
by Pat Goss
There could be any number of reasons why you might want to refinish steel wheels. In our case it was a bad case of the rustys. The wheels on our antique trailer, well, they had become rusted over the years and we wanted to make them look better. Now, how do you go about that?
Well, the ideal thing is if you have a sand blaster, bead blaster, some type of blasting equipment, but let’s face it: most of us don’t have that type of equipment nor do we have the air compressor that’s needed to power that type of equipment, and even if we do, we typically don’t have the air dryer system that’s needed to keep the media in that blaster from turning into a blob in there. So, most of us have to be resigned to using wire brushes, abrasive wheels and things like that. Now you can buy these in any of the hardware stores and so on. You can use a battery-powered drill, an electric drill-- you can use an air-powered tool. The problem with the air-powered tools is they’re mostly die grinders and they may travel at up to 18-20,000 revolutions per minute, so you have to make sure that the disc that you’re using is rated for that speed, otherwise it could explode and you could get seriously injured.
Big thing is, you want to go through all of this, get as much of the rust off as you possibly can. There will be some places that you won’t be able to do that with the wire brushes and discs and so on, but if you use the proper type of primer, that’s not an issue.
We mask off the wheel, and everything looks wonderful with the masking tape.. when we get all done spraying, we’ve got spots of paint on the tire. Oh Boy. So here’s a little trick: You can deflate the tire, push the side of the tire down, insert cards – playing cards, index cards, whatever, like we have done here. This makes a wonderful masking device for painting a wheel.
And don’t forget, once you get your wheel looking all nice and shiny and clean, you must put clear coat or primer or something on it, because it will literally rust overnight, when it’s humid. And if you do this right, well, you’ll have some really great looking wheels.