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Wheel Finishing: Powder Coat, Paint or Bead Blasting

I purchased a used set of black Enkei PF01 wheels and they are scratched up. I'm thinking of refinishing them and want to either powder coat them or just bead blast them and leave them their natural aluminum silver.

Powder Coating: I know there are "internet rumors" that powder coating wheels will somehow compromise the integrity of the wheels but I'm not buying that. The theory goes the heat from the process makes them weaker. I find that hard to believe as the wheels get pretty hot out on the track.

Painting: only issue here is paint won't hold up as well as powder coating.

Bead Blasting: Another option is bead blasting them and leaving them raw aluminum. I've had other aluminum wheels that were unpainted and I don't think this is an issue but wanted to see if anyone has experience with this. This option seems to be the lowest maintenance and least costly.

IMG_2300_zps557edefb.jpg
 
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If you bead blast, you'll still need to apply clear coat, or the alloy will corrode and not look so hot :)

As for powdercoating, I'd find out how high the temps are for baking. I hear you on wheel temps out at the track. I'm curious to know if the powdercoating is significantly higher than that. You don't want to anneal aluminum--it will make it more brittle. It's for the same reason that alloy bicycle frames cannot be re-welded for repair--it compromises the structural integrity of the tubes. Granted, welding is super hot. Just want to make sure that the baking process of powdercoating is not *that* hot. For track use, I wouldn't risk making a wheel more brittle.

As for other options - why not bead blast + plastidip? That stuff is pretty durable...
Infact, I plan on plastidiping my stock wheels :D

EDIT: ps - track wheels are usually scuffed. What's the big deal? :D Scuffed wheels show true track use :D
 
boro92 said:
EDIT: ps - track wheels are usually scuffed. What's the big deal? :D Scuffed wheels show true track use :D
I'm slow so I at least want to look good. ;)

Thanks. There are plenty of wheels that are just aluminum with no finish. I'm thinking of my old Porsche wheels that I polished once a month or even CCW's that are polished with no clear coat. So why sure aluminum will corrode how long will it take?

I'm going to send Enkei an email asking them about powder coating and bead blasting and see what they say and will post up if I get a response.

BTW the black paint on these Enkei's comes off if you just sneeze on them. Not the best quality paint job.
 
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NFSBOSS said:
I'm slow so I at least want to look good. ;)

Thanks. There are plenty of wheels that are just aluminum with no finish. I'm thinking of my old Porsche wheels that I polished once a month or even CCW's that are polished with no clear coat. So why sure aluminum will corrode how long will it take?

I'm going to send Enkei an email asking them about powder coating and bead blasting and see what they say and will post up if I get a response.

BTW the black paint on these Enkei's comes off if you just sneeze on them. Not the best quality paint job.

Good to know. I'm just lazy, and would never polish my wheels :D
If you'd like to bead blast, you need to use a softer media on alloy. Lots of people use walnut shells which won't harm the alloy...I've gone that route when stripping alloy bike frames.

PS - got pics of your car with those wheels on? They look nice.
 
boro92 said:
Good to know. I'm just lazy, and would never polish my wheels :D
If you'd like to bead blast, you need to use a softer media on alloy. Lots of people use walnut shells which won't harm the alloy...I've gone that route when stripping alloy bike frames.

PS - got pics of your car with those wheels on? They look nice.
Thanks. I'm not a metallurgist and that's why I'm asking the questions. I have never had anything powder coated or bead blasted before. My thought is if bead blasted that will give it a different look and should be low maintenance plus scratches won't show much. I'm lazy too and don't want to be polishing wheels. ;D

BTW I used to have a GT MTB with a polished aluminum frame with no clear coat on it. I polished it many times. My Cannondale and Klein roadies were all painted as is my Intense Spider MTB.

Here you go.

IMG_0895_zps50d7ca8c.jpg
 

four-walling

Kerry, San Diego
Interesting discussion on "6speedonline" regarding this subject.

The CEO of HRE wheels (Alan) even chimes in and he is an engineer by trade.

http://www.6speedonline.com/forums/wheels-tires/164494-powder-coating-wheels-pros-cons.html
 
four-walling said:
Interesting discussion on "6speedonline" regarding this subject.

The CEO of HRE wheels (Alan) even chimes in and he is an engineer by trade.

http://www.6speedonline.com/forums/wheels-tires/164494-powder-coating-wheels-pros-cons.html
Thanks Kerry, that was a good read. Ok powder coating is out. What about just bead blasting them and leaving them exposed aluminum? If they are bead blasted they won't need polishing.
 

drano38

Wayne
1,130
318
They're track wheels--they should be beat up!
Heck, my new black Enki's got beat up more the first time mounting tires by the dealer than from me driving them at several events. I'm still working down the credit to my service account for that.
Another option is plasti-dip.
www.dipyourcar.com has a gunmetal grey color, similar to your street wheels.
 
drano38 said:
They're track wheels--they should be beat up!
Heck, my new black Enki's got beat up more the first time mounting tires by the dealer than from me driving them at several events. I'm still working down the credit to my service account for that.
Another option is plasti-dip.
www.dipyourcar.com has a gunmetal grey color, similar to your street wheels.
My front wheels are really beat up looking. I've taken a paint pen to them and it helped. The Plasti dip looks interesting and I've been thinking of using that on the front grille on my wife's new Fusion.

The idea of bead blasting them seems like the least amount of maintenance to have them look good all the time. I'm not a big fan of black wheels with my color combination and I think the silver will look fine with the white stripes. If I paint them (already ruled out powder coating) I'll use gunmetal gray so have a similar look to my SVT wheels.
 

pufferfish

Supporting Vendor
1,094
66
Maryland
Those wheels come painted from the factory. Why not just have them repainted? If you bead blast the aluminum, it will look frosted and dull. Powdercoat bakes at 400-450F. That's not hot enough to effect the metallurgy. I Powdercoat my brake cooling plates and they hold up just fine to the heat.
 
My Forgestar wheels are powder coated from the factory. Also, the guy I use for powder coating has done many wheels, but I don't think any of them have been used for track/racing use. I would think painting with base coat/clear coat would work good too. The hard part would be getting rid of the original finish.
 
pufferfish said:
Those wheels come painted from the factory. Why not just have them repainted? If you bead blast the aluminum, it will look frosted and dull. Powdercoat bakes at 400-450F. That's not hot enough to effect the metallurgy. I Powdercoat my brake cooling plates and they hold up just fine to the heat.
Read the link that Kerry posted, 400-450 is too hot for the wheels and will compromise their strength to some degree according to both parties. There are just too many questions and wheel manufacturers stating don't powder coat wheels to chance it for me. Painting them is an option as I mentioned. Having them dull and frosted is what I'm looking for, low maintenance. ;D I parked next to a GT2 on Friday at a track day and his $$$$ wheels were frosted looking and IMO looked terrific on his car. Also the Enkei wheel space for lug nuts is really tight and no matter how the wheels are finished are going to get scratched up.
 

drano38

Wayne
1,130
318
Here's Enkei silver on my RR Boss. No, its not my house, but I did stay there that night. ;)
I'd agree, silver would look good on your KB.
I say either plasit-dip gun metal gray, or sand blast.
20120405175837.jpg
 
as mentioned previously, careful with beadblasting and leaving raw aluminum. Not only will aluminum pit/corrode on the surface/etc, but it'll also pick up any fluid (oil, brake fluid, grease) and suck it in. I've had experience with media blasted aluminum and magnesium parts, and while they look amazing when they're freshly blasted, they're almost marred the moment you breathe on them. Clearcoat with a matte clear if you want to protect the look (there's clear plastidip as well).
 

zzyzx

Steve
299
0
neema said:
magnesium parts, and while they look amazing when they're freshly blasted, they're almost marred the moment you breathe on them. Clearcoat with a matte clear if you want to protect the look (there's clear plastidip as well).

^ This. The second you're done bead blasting, anything will "scratch" the surface and leave a shiny mark that contrasts with the dull/flat look. Bead blasting does not leave a low maintenance surface - in fact just the opposite. I'm sure, however, that the medium has a huge impact - I've always used the hard stuff.

If you bead blast with walnut shell, then paint I think you'll get the result you want. A non-clear color is probably best, also. Rattle can them with a high temp paint you can readily obtain and you're good to go...
 
I think the walnut blast and clear-coat sounds closes to what your looking for. Plus with the clear-coat brake dust might not stick to them so easily.
 
neema said:
as mentioned previously, careful with beadblasting and leaving raw aluminum. Not only will aluminum pit/corrode on the surface/etc, but it'll also pick up any fluid (oil, brake fluid, grease) and suck it in. I've had experience with media blasted aluminum and magnesium parts, and while they look amazing when they're freshly blasted, they're almost marred the moment you breathe on them. Clearcoat with a matte clear if you want to protect the look (there's clear plastidip as well).
This is good advice and I appreciate your comments but I'm not buying the aluminum sucking in oil and grease. I have a long history with motorcycles, I've owned around 30 of them, and they all had aluminum crank cases and many other exposed aluminum parts with no clear coat or other treatment that I know of. Rims too. I've never seen aluminum suck up oil. Not to mention the blocks in our cars are aluminum. If aluminum is wiped clean when you're finished they are not going to pit and corrode at least during the few years I'll be using them. Got any data that shows aluminum sucks up oil?

BTW what wheels are on your car in your signature photo?
 
NFSBOSS said:
This is good advice and I appreciate your comments but I'm not buying the aluminum sucking in oil and grease. I have a long history with motorcycles, I've owned around 30 of them, and they all had aluminum crank cases and many other exposed aluminum parts with no clear coat or other treatment that I know of. Rims too. I've never seen aluminum suck up oil. Not to mention the blocks in our cars are aluminum. If aluminum is wiped clean when you're finished they are not going to pit and corrode at least during the few years I'll be using them. Got any data that shows aluminum sucks up oil?

BTW what wheels are on your car in your signature photo?

IMG_1871.jpg

This is my old dirtbike. I sandblasted the clutch cover so that it wouldn't show scuffs from my boots rubbing the paint off. Yeah. sandblasting didn't help in the long run. "sucking up" oil/fluid is the best term I can come up with, but you can see the stains on it from oil/cleaning material. i guess I should also mention that they're magnesium--aluminum may not have the same effect.

I understand typical finished aluminum (e.g. the swing arm of the dirt bike) would be fine and won't have the same turnout, but I think there's something about the porosity of the surface after sandblasting that makes it prone to stains and marks. You may have better luck if you use gentler media.


The wheels in my sig are BBS LM replicas (19x10 Linea Corse Lemans, et43, 15mm spacers up front, 285s all around, 1.8° camber). They're for sale if anyone is interested! http://www.s197forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=100372
 
159
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Georgia
racered302 said:
I think the walnut blast and clear-coat sounds closes to what your looking for. Plus with the clear-coat brake dust might not stick to them so easily.

I agree. Be very careful bead blasting aluminum. You can actually get the surface hot enough to melt, leaving the appearance of blisters. I learned this the hard way on a bell housing for my 65' Mustang. I use walnut shells now instead with very good results.
 

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