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Old 07-12-2011, 02:08 PM   #15
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Thanks for the info.
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Old 07-21-2011, 01:35 AM   #16
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Dog,

No one has yet mentioned Bar Keeper's Friend. If you are doing these wheels by hand, this is good stuff. Bar Keeper's Friend is sold with Bon Ami and other cleansers at hardware stores and sometimes Wal-mart. It will do as good a job as any paste-type polish you can buy and will cost you a fraction of the price of automotive products.

Just sprinkle some onto a damp rag (I use an old terrycloth washcloth) and scrub the aluminum. As mentioned, you will get black, but that aluminum will shine.

You can do this job more easily and faster with a power tool, but for hand polishing, you probably won't find anything faster than Bar Keeper's Friend.

Good luck with your tough job.
-- Loren
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Old 07-21-2011, 12:26 PM   #17
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My wheels have a protective finish and have stickers saying not to use anything abrasive.
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Old 07-21-2011, 12:51 PM   #18
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Quote:
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My wheels have a protective finish and have stickers saying not to use anything abrasive.
Someday that protective finish will wear/weather off and you will need to look back on this thread to see how to make them shiny again
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Old 07-21-2011, 05:42 PM   #19
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My wheels have a protective finish and have stickers saying not to use anything abrasive.
Sorry, I wasn't clear about Bar Keeper's Friend. It's not abrasive. It's in the same category as Bon Ami. I don't know if they use a softer abrasive so it doesn't scratch or a finer abrasive so it's like a polish. Whatever they do, they do it right.

I've used Bar Keeper's Friend to polish aluminum and it works like a charm. When you're done it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building.

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Old 07-21-2011, 07:02 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Sorry, I wasn't clear about Bar Keeper's Friend. It's not abrasive. It's in the same category as Bon Ami. I don't know if they use a softer abrasive so it doesn't scratch or a finer abrasive so it's like a polish. Whatever they do, they do it right.

I've used Bar Keeper's Friend to polish aluminum and it works like a charm. When you're done it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building.

-- Loren
I disagree, both products are abrasive, to what degree is debatable. Even baby powder(corn starch) is abrasive to a small degree.
Using anything except soap to clean lacquer-coated aluminum may remove or degrade the finish. If that finish is already compromised, complete removal of the protective finish is required before any polishing attempt is successful.
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Old 07-21-2011, 08:15 PM   #21
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My Alcoa wheels (2008 coach) are also clear coated. Treat them the same as you would the paint on the sides of your coach. (nothing tougher than "clear coat safe cleaner wax, ever!)

If your polishing cloth is getting black, you've cut through the clear coat, and your wheels will never be the same again.
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Old 07-21-2011, 09:19 PM   #22
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My wheels have a protective finish and have stickers saying not to use anything abrasive.
That's correct. If you have ACCU-SHIELD wheels then soap and water only to clean, and then a coat of clear coat safe wax if desired.
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Old 07-21-2011, 09:48 PM   #23
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I agree that you should not use any polish of any kind on a wheel that has its clear-coat intact. However, Dog said that his wheels are very tarnished and asked for advice on polishing them. I doubt that the clear coat is still intact if the wheels are very tarnished.

Ray,
The difference between sandpaper and polish is grit size. All these things are abrasive to some degree, even the stuff the dentist uses to polish your teeth. Bar Keeper's Friend does more than act as an abrasive, though. It also uses a chemical action to remove tarnish. It works.

Jim,
I agree that if your polishing cloth is getting black then you no longer have any protective coating on your aluminum. In that case, you're pretty much stuck. You have to polish the wheel everywhere to remove the clear coat and to shine it up. After that, I suspect you could re-coat it with something, but I don't know which product you should use.

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Old 07-22-2011, 06:50 PM   #24
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I would recommend pulling the wheels or you won't clean under the lugs. Pull the wheels. For heavy tarnish I use fine polish compound (white) then Mother's alum. polish they will look like chrome.
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Old 07-24-2011, 07:04 PM   #25
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If you want to get the black off in a hurry use flour or corn starch on a soft cloth and bingo gone in a flash. When I had my 18 wheeler I used to have 10 wheels to polish, you learn a lot of short cuts and the flour trick really takes a lot of work out of it. I always used Mother's it's the best IMHO.
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