|Fourth in a Series...
This month I was asked to discuss how to polish the aluminum Fuchs wheels. Once you get
them prepped, they are fairly easy to maintain. Dont get me wrong, they take work
but not as much as you think. This process is only for untreated wheels, if they
are chromed or have another coating on them, this will not work.
Well divide this into three types of wheels
- Those in good shape
- Wheels that have a major scratch in them.
- Wheels that have some paint chips and minor scuffs
The wheels that are in good shape are the
easiest to work on. They need elbow grease, but not much more. You will need the following
tools; soft rags, water, polishing compound and Mothers Wheel Polish. Do not use rubbing
compound, it is too harsh and will scratch your rims. Take a rag and dip it into water.
Wring as much water as you can out of the rag. Next scoop a little polishing compound onto
the rag, maybe just enough to cover the tips of two fingers. Choose a flat part of the
wheel to start on. You havent done this before, so you do not want to start on the
petals of the wheel. Move the rag with the compound using a circular motion, similar to
how you put on wax. Press on the rag, but not too hard. You are just trying to move the
surface grit off the wheel, not dig into it. Keep doing this in the same area until the
compound starts to disappear. That part of the rag will get really black, dont worry
that is normal! Now lets take another rag and wipe that section off, you will see
the dull finish is beginning to disappear. Do this with the rest of the wheel, but be
patient! Do not start this project an hour before your are to go somewhere, because you
will not be done. Once you have used polishing compound on the entire wheel, rub the wheel
down with a fresh rag. You will see some improvement just from using the polishing
compound. Now, get another rag and put some Mothers on it. Using the same circular motion
and pressure, rub the Mothers into the wheel. The oxidation will come off on the rag,
causing it to turn the blackish color. Make sure you rub it in good, refreshing the rag
with Mothers as needed. Once you have completed rubbing in the Mothers, take another rag
to wipe down the wheel. Your arms are going to get tired, you will need to put muscle into
rubbing the wheel down the more pressure you use wiping off the wheel, the more
gleam you will get! To finish one wheel probably took you a couple hours If not you
probably did not get the results you were hoping for. That was the hard part! Rubbing
Mothers onto your wheels once a month will increase the depth of the shine, but the amount
of elbow grease actually decreases.
Wheels that have some scratches
(not gouges) in the aluminum are another matter. I would suggest you take these to a
professional, but there is a way to do them yourself if you have a strong constitution.
Take 1500 grit sandpaper and wet it down with water. You are going to use the same
technique as color sanding only you are doing it on aluminum instead of paint. Keep
the water nearby as you are going to dunk the sandpaper into the water frequently. Using
an even motion, sand the area that is scratched, plus some of the surrounding surface.
There are special rubber pads that can be purchased at automotive paint stores, that work
well with this technique, helping you sand evenly. Make sure you do not press too hard,
you do not want to create more scratches than you are trying to remove. Once the scratch
on the wheel, feels as smooth as the surrounding area, take a wet 2000 grit sandpaper and
sand the area you were working on. Use the same motion as you used with the 1500 grit
sandpaper. Make sure as you work with the sandpaper you keep wetting it down the
water reduces the friction of the sandpaper, allowing you to remove miniscule layers of
material without scratching it. By refreshing the sandpaper with water you are also
cleansing away the tiny metal particles. Once you are satisfied that you have removed as
much of the scratch as you possibly can, use the steps above to polish out the wheels. We
have done this with our Fuchs wheels and the results were great. As I said earlier, if you
feel uncomfortable using this process, take your wheels to a professional. If you need a
recommendation, I have taken wheels to Al Reed, in Orange County, and been very happy with
Now, lets talk about wheels that
are in good shape, but have some paint chips/scratches on them. You will want to purchase
some Satin Black aerosol paint and masking tape. There are many types of Satin Black paint
out there and I cannot say there is one that is better than the other just trial
and error. Carefully mask off any part of the wheel that is not painted. Your wheel will
start looking like a giant piece of masking tape but it will be worth it. Do not
use newspaper, newspaper can absorb the paint and leave blotches or bleed on the aluminum.
Once you have all the non-painted areas of the wheel masked, check to make sure your
masking lines are even. For example, on the rim of the wheel, you do not want a wavy line
demarcating the aluminum from the black paint which would just be tacky. So take
your time; make sure the edges of the masking job are even that includes the petals
of the wheels as well. The easiest way to paint the wheel is if it is elevated a little
bit. Lars uses an upside down trash can and creates a little table using cardboard and
paper. The elevation keeps you from standing on your head to paint, which gives you more
control over the flow of the paint. Besides as we age, our knees are not as friendly as
they used to be. While painting the wheel put thin layers on paint on at a time. This
technique will reduce the propensity of the paint to develop legs (run). Make sure the
paint has completely dried before removing the masking tape. Take the tape off slowly,
especially from the painted edges. Some paint may bind with the wheel as well as the
masking tape, so it is best if you pull the tape away from the painted edge. Now one more
item, make sure you paint the lug nuts, they probably need it! Once all the masking tape
is removed, your wheels will look fresh and ready to strut their stuff.
In one of my earlier articles, I
mentioned a product called Black Chrome. It seems another great product has bit the dust.
Many of you told me you couldnt find it so I went on a search. I looked in
Orange County and Los Angeles without any luck. So I guess the hunt is on for another
great rubber treatment product. Ahhhhhhh
Bev and Lars Frohm are the owners of 'Bevees, a 1970 911T that has won many concours
events in the Southern California regions of PCA. Their car was chosen by PCNA to
represent the 1970 911T at Porsche's 50th
Anniversary at Monterey. Bev is also the web site coordinator for the
Orange Coast PCA Region.