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TECH - Magnesium wheel "restoration"

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ShakeyPuddin55, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. ShakeyPuddin55
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    ShakeyPuddin55
    Member

    I recently bought a pair of rough looking 16x13 Halibrand magnesium wheels off an early funny car.

    They had been previously polished but had sat for years and had rust stains and some pitting.

    I didn't want to polish these wheels and I wanted the "dark" look that seems to only come with age. I tried rubbing out the rust stains without removing the magnesium patina but I didn't have any luck.

    Scotch Brite pads or fine sand paper on mag wheels seems to remove the oxidation and the natural dark layer and almost gives a polished look that I don't care for, plus it's a LOT of work.

    Glass beading is another option, but someone had told me that shot peening seemed to work better and gave more of a cast finished look.

    Here are some shots of the wheels as purchased:

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    [​IMG]

    I call my local machine shop and explain to them that I want to try shot peening some magnesium wheels. They say sure and I bring the wheels down.

    For those that don't know, shot peening is used on engine parts such as connecting rods or cylinder heads. They use metal "shot" to bombard the surface of the metal. It's done inside a large metal cabinet.

    The cost was $80 which is about an hours rate for most machine shops.

    The process really cleaned the wheels up nice but I wasn't happy with the color. Too light for my taste:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    At this point I could have waited for years for them to darken up or spray painted them.

    I called a buddy who has lots of mags and asked him if he knew any secrets on how to darken them up quicker.

    He told me to go get some Eagle One Etching Mag Cleaner which I found at the local Checker Auto.

    [​IMG]

    It would have been a pain to apply with a rag and make it even, so I sprayed the whole wheel and let it sit for a couple minutes.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The next photo is not for the faint of heart. Yes I'm spraying magnesium with water!!:eek:

    [​IMG]

    I could tell right away that the color changed.

    [​IMG]

    Flip it and do the other side:

    [​IMG]

    Letting the wheel fully dry in the warm Arizona sun:

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    Here is a side by side comparison after the wheel dried. Note the color change:

    [​IMG]


     
  2. ShakeyPuddin55
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    ShakeyPuddin55
    Member

    I used to think Gibbs was overpriced and gimmicky, but I've grown very fond of it lately. I don't bother with a rag, I just spray the whole wheel:

    [​IMG]

    Here is a shot taken after I started spraying with Gibbs:

    [​IMG]

    One wheel finished, and one shown as it came from shot peening:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm happy with the way the wheels turned out. They are not super dark, but look much better than before.

    I'm sure some may not agree with this process and may not think "restored" is the proper term, but it worked for me. I also want to mention that I'm not a Gibbs or Eagle One salesman.....
    :)
     
  3. brandon
    Joined: Jul 19, 2002
    Posts: 6,293

    brandon
    Member

    were they on a funny car with a quickchange ...looks like the setup on maz's cuda...... good tech on the wheels....might have to try it ....not sure how the climate difference between az and ky.....they might darken up pretty fast...:D thanks brandon
     
  4. 1950ChevySuburban
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,206

    1950ChevySuburban
    Member Emeritus
    from Tucson AZ

    okay, stupid question, but why can't you spray mags with water?
    They look great by the way!
     
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  5. ShakeyPuddin55
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    ShakeyPuddin55
    Member

    Yes. The Funny Car was called "Tickle Me Pink"

    I thought about trying to buy the rear also.....
     
  6. ShakeyPuddin55
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    ShakeyPuddin55
    Member

    Moisture seems to be the enemy for most metals but especially magnesium since they oxidize so easily.
     
  7. Rusty
    Joined: Mar 4, 2004
    Posts: 9,447

    Rusty
    Member

    Polish them
     
  8. ShakeyPuddin55
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    ShakeyPuddin55
    Member

    The TECH was a restoring suggestion. Halibrand wheels didn't come polished new.

    I have a few other pairs that are polished.

    These may not polish back up since there is some significant pitting.
     
  9. The shot peening is a good idea, prob "closed up" the pores a bit.
     
  10. 29 sedanman
    Joined: Mar 22, 2005
    Posts: 2,282

    29 sedanman
    Member
    from Indy

    Those turned out beautiful. I am in love with the freshly shot peened finish, but the darker looks great also.
     
  11. ALindustrial
    Joined: Aug 7, 2007
    Posts: 852

    ALindustrial
    Member

    those look really nice - im a bigger fan of the darker ones also :)
     
  12. BenD
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 1,590

    BenD
    Alliance Member



    N e v e r.

    Shakey, I've had good luck just cleaning them real good with one of those plastic pot scrubbers and ATF. Evens out the color and retards the oxidation process a bunch.
     
  13. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 13,971

    alchemy
    Member

    Would the Eagle One Etching take the rust stains off, thereby eliminating the blasting need?
     
  14. ShakeyPuddin55
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    ShakeyPuddin55
    Member

    In my case I don't think it would have, but I didn't hear about the Eagle One until after the wheels were shot peened.
     
  15. farm boy
    Joined: Oct 25, 2006
    Posts: 179

    farm boy
    Member
    from reedley

    Shakey, heres the other extreme.
    They were so badly pitted in certain spots, had to polish. These were on a sand buggy with paddle tires, fine sand blasted the entire wheel before polish, painted tube area, Installed new Racemasters with talcum powder.....No Water.
    I feel the same about Gibbs, but I've got to try it, they say it will help hold the shine......I like the looks of the one you sprayed with that eagle one stuff.
    The down side, like we all know, is in 3-4 weeks, better get out the polish.
    OLY

    The cancer car lives
    Give to cancer research
     

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  16. SinisterCustom
    Joined: Feb 18, 2004
    Posts: 8,264

    SinisterCustom
    Member

    I'm a big fan of the Eagle One etching mag cleaner....
    Eagle One used to have their products labeled by letters..A, B, C, etc....letter D was for cleaning wire wheels, said DO NOT use on aluminum wheels as it would etch it....but boy did it ever clean 'em....then just polish. I think the Etching MAG Cleaner is the same as the old D formula.....smells the same...hahaha!

    Wheels look killer Puddin'!
     
  17. ALindustrial
    Joined: Aug 7, 2007
    Posts: 852

    ALindustrial
    Member

    HOLY COW THOSE ARE SHINY!
     
  18. ShakeyPuddin55
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    ShakeyPuddin55
    Member

    UPDATE:

    I had read another post on the HAMB about using dry graphite spray to darken up mag wheels. I was at NAPA yesterday and I decided to buy a can and give it a try:

    [​IMG]

    It's kinda tricky, but I had luck spraying it sparingly and then using a rag to spread it out to get the color even and not too dark.

    Here is the finished product:

    [​IMG]

    Here is a side by side shot of 3 other magnesium wheels that are all natural mag with only some Gibbs sprayed on. The wheel I finished is in the middle. If you get carried away with the graphite it will look too black as opposed to dark gray.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. hemifarris
    Joined: Sep 30, 2005
    Posts: 2,322

    hemifarris
    Member

    Excellent tech tip........I like the dark also.........Mike
     
  20. Mojo
    Joined: Jul 23, 2002
    Posts: 1,837

    Mojo
    Member

    I really like that look. I have a set of aluminum wheels, had them sandblasted and it turned them chalk white. Scotchbrite pad got them looking clean and vintage looking. Gibbs darkened them also, really well too.

    With the graphite, Is it just a quick wipe, or let it sit for a few minutes? I want to try it on my aluminum wheels, I want that dark look!
     
  21. ShakeyPuddin55
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    ShakeyPuddin55
    Member

    I sprayed it and let it sit a couple minutes then wiped it even. Carb cleaner seems to work if you need to remove it.
     
  22. I let mine dry completely - the solvent or carrier flashes off in a few minutes depending on the temperature. Leaves a fairly even finish. I haven't tried wiping it around - thought that would make for an even more inconsistent finish. I ended up with some runs as well (the Gunk brand graphite I bought is in a very high pressure spray can and difficult to control).

    Steve
     
  23. Those wheels look killer, especially after the graphite spray, shakey, you didn't happen to visit the NAPA at San Tan and Power did you? I live about 2 miles from there. We might be neighbors:D
     
  24. Dirty2
    Joined: Jun 13, 2004
    Posts: 8,903

    Dirty2
    Member

    Nice!!!
     
  25. Man, those are some cool wheels!
     
  26. a boner
    Joined: Dec 25, 2004
    Posts: 5,069

    a boner
    Member

    I don't know much about magnesium, but I sand blasted some aluminum wheels, and they turned out real light gray. They were too light for the look I was after, so I rubbed some mag polish on them, and they turned real dark gray. You know how black a rag gets when you polish aluminum with it, well that's how the wheels turned. The sand blast finish was too rough for the polish to shine them, it just turned the as cast looking finish dark gray..........I don't know how magnesium would react, but it might be worth a try.

    How long will it take for the aluminum to oxidize?.........I know it will take a lot more time than it does with magnesium.
     
  27. Gassy
    Joined: Jan 12, 2007
    Posts: 218

    Gassy
    Member
    from Tennessee

    Shakey,
    Very informative and helpful thread. I wish I had seen it before I mounted my slicks. Thanks for the valuable info.
    Gassy
     
  28. OoltewahSpeedShop
    Joined: Oct 18, 2007
    Posts: 3,104

    OoltewahSpeedShop
    Member

    I used some industrial acid for the clean-up then some WD-40. I guess you can use some exotic stuff, but it's pretty simple to make these wheels look right.

    Kevin
    Ooltewah Speed Shop
     

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  29. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,708

    Weasel
    Member

    Carb cleaner leaves a residue. You might think about using brake cleaner instead, which leaves no residue. My 0.2c
     
  30. ShakeyPuddin55
    Joined: Dec 22, 2004
    Posts: 1,900

    ShakeyPuddin55
    Member

    Jr,
    Your wheels looked great from the photo I saw. The ones I started with were in pretty bad shape.

    Weasel, good point about the brake cleaner....thx
     

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