Refinishing Your Stock Aluminum Wheels by Dave Kopielski

I bought a set of used 86-87 GT diamond spoke style wheels for my Fiero. I wanted them to look like new. I called around and there are a few places that will refinish them for an average of $125.00 per wheel. I decided to refinish them myself. The total cost for this is $60.00 plus your time. The following procedure will also work for the 14" turbo wheels, but a lot more sanding and polishing is required due to the larger surface area that isn't painted. You can do this with the tires on or off. I did not have the tires on, so it was a little easier.
To start with, both style wheels are painted and clear coated to protect them. I was changing the spoke color of the GT wheels from the stock gray to black. So I needed to strip them completely. There are many products used to remove paint. There are both spray on and jelly types. I tried the spray on paint remover, but after 3 cans worth the wheel still had spots of paint on it. A friend mentioned that gasket remover works well. I went down to my local Trak Auto and bought 5 cans of "Permetex Spray On Gasket Remover" and a small brass detail brush. I coated the entire wheel and within 15 minutes the paint and clear coat started to "melt" off. I brushed the wheel down and the paint just rinsed away. 90 minutes later all the wheels were completely stripped.
Next, I wanted to paint the spoke area black. I washed the wheels with "Dupli-Color Wax And Grease Remover" to clean them of any contaminates. The areas that were to remain aluminum were masked off and the wheels were sprayed with "Krylon Rust Tough Enamel" in high gloss black. This paint does not require primer. The primer is in the paint. I sprayed 2 coats on each wheel, which used a total of 2 cans.
I let them sit overnight to get a good cure on the paint. Next came the sanding phase. All the exposed aluminum areas were first sanded with 220 grit wet/dry sandpaper. At this point you will notice lines on the wheels. These lines were made during the machining process of the wheels. If you want the aluminum to polish out like chrome, these lines must be sanded down. Once all the areas were sanded with 220-grit, I went up to 400-grit, and then finally 600-grit. I used an empty windex bottle filled with water while I was sanding. The water helps keep the sandpaper from getting clogged. Don't use too much water as this will hamper the sandpaper.
After all the sanding was finished I polished the aluminum with "Mother's Aluminum and Mag Wheel polish". The wheels shined up very well. The entire wheel was washed with the wax and grease remover, (it won't hurt the paint) and then sealed with "Dupli-color Urethane Wheel Paint". This is a clear urethane clear coat to protect the wheels. Each wheel received 2 coats. If you want the chrome-look finish, you can mask the outside area and clear coat the rest of the wheel (clear coat will dull the finish slightly). Then buy some "Whiter Rouge" polish. This can be purchased at most hobby stores. It is used to polish jewelry. Once you polish the outside area, it should now look just like chrome. The outside edge will require you to keep it polished and waxed to maintain the finish. Mount the tires and you are done! (Special Thanks to Rodney Dickman for the wheel center cap decals.)

Our refresh-proof  hit counter reports: users since May 20, 1996.    

Copyright � 2001, Northern Illinois Fiero Enthusiasts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Send Comments to Webmaster.

Fiero Focus Online is a publication of the Northern Illinois Fiero Enthusiasts, Inc. (N.I.F.E.).  No copies of any part of this publication may be made, distributed, and/or sold without prior consent of N.I.F.E.  "Pontiac" "Fiero" the Pontiac symbol, and the Fiero badge are all trademarked by General Motors Corporation.  N.I.F.E is not responsible for any/all information provided herein.  Any and/or all adjustments made or information act on are done at the sole risk of the individual