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Bead blasting car rims?

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  • Bead blasting car rims?

    I've read where the best way to prepare car wheels for repainting is bead/sand blasting. This sound right?

    I called a place and the guy said it would probably cost around $50 to $60 to blast 4 rims, depending upon the amount of time it takes. That sound like it's in the ballpark?

    I've seen little sand blasting kits for home compressors. I'm guessing it would be more trouble than it's worth. Are these effective enough for this type of job?


  • #2
    I've got one of those "home compressor" sand blasting units and yeah, I'd say it's more trouble than it's worth. By the time you got to the end of four wheels you'd be pretty frustrated. It would do the job, but take a long time. You would also discover that the grit goes EVERYWHERE. When I was using mine I'd suit up in a hooded rubber poncho, gloves, boots, and when I was done still find grit in my underwear. It's incredible.

    Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
    Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
    There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
    Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
    Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


    • #3
      Dan, Those little kits are a joke.
      Most times the home shop compressor isn't big enough to run one and it takes for ages to do the smallest piece.
      You really need to have a go at blasting to see just how slow this job is. People think it's like spraying, five wafts with the gun and it's finished when in fact you are cleaning at probably 2 square inches per minute with a decent plant.

      If the wheels have been powered coated then this really takes some shifting as the thick power coat absorbes the force of the blast and bounces the grit off.

      I have just walked in from taking two conveyor blades to be plated, about a foot wide and 3 feet long. I had these blasted this morning before I went, these two pieces with patchy paintwork took one and a half hours to do in a walk in booth powered by a big road compressor.

      At $50 for 4 wheels it sounds a decent price to me.

      John S.

      Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.


      • #4
        The consensus is correct. Good paint blots up an amazing amount of media energy. I suggest you try a solven type paint remover like Jasco. It goes on like snot. When the paint blisters up you can push it off with a putty knife or a stick.

        When the paint's off and the rims clean you take them to the bead blaster to give them a little tooth. Saves a ton of money.

        Then get you a bottle of Jasco petal prep. It gives the metal a phosphoric acid etch which really holds the paint and protects the matal agaist rusting under the paint. Wash the rims in hot water in the bathtub. Dry, prime and paint or - better - powder coat.

        A good paint system is no accident. Here's an illustration.

        25 years ago I build a full keel sailboat trailer of structural steel. Against my whining and sniveling I was pursuaded to use a three coat Rustoleum paint system designed for tight scaled structural steel in the weather. A few years later I sold it and the boat to a guy. He still owns the boat and trailer and absolutely neglects it. The paint has weathered a bit but the system is still sound and there's very little rust bleed. On the other hand, the factory paint on the mobile home axles is completely gone and they're covered in rust.


        • #5
          Not so fast. I agree that using one of the small home kits would be a waste of time for cleaning up some wheels. However, I have one and it does a beautiful job of putting a matte finish on small parts, especially aluminum prior to anodizing. I use super fine river sand and then a lye etch and it makes a very non-reflective finish. It also works really well to matte down steel shim stock prior to blackening. For the wheels though, no way.

          [This message has been edited by Evan (edited 06-23-2004).]
          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


          • #6
            I think that price is ok for what you want. It will take a bit of time to do.

            Yes the kits are a joke, I have one also and it will make you crazy to use it, takes too long and the average home shop compressor can't keep up with it. I recently made a blasting booth and aquired a large two stage compressor.

            I used the blast gun from the sand blaster I got at sears and now I have something that is usable. The compressor will keep up with it and then some.

            Paul G.
            Paul G.


            • #7
              Just a tip if youre sick of sand in your underwear. Just DONT WEAR ANY,


              • #8
                <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by pgmrdan:
                I've read where the best way to prepare car wheels for repainting is bead/sand blasting. This sound right?</font>
                Since your repainting, I wouldn't bother sandblasting. I would use some of the gel type paint stripper that you apply with a paint brush and let soak 20+ minutes for each application.. It might require many applications before you strip down all of the paint but it's a lot easier than trying to sandblast it all off. A little steel brush helps remove the paint inbetween applications.

                After you finally strip off the old paint and clean up, you can just use sandpaper to prepair to repaint.



                • #9
                  Sandblasting items of any size takes a LOT of compressor or tremendous patience Dan.
                  A sandblaster is very handy to have around, but for a job like this, the time, cost of abrasive, and the big mess you will end up with would make $60 look like a REAL bargain in retrospect.
                  Location: North Central Texas


                  • #10

                    Are these the sort of home blasting kits that you're referring to?


                    Nice that he gives a chart showing nozzle size & compressor power needed. Assuming the table is accurate, it puts things into perspective - a 12cfm compressor can support a blaster with a 1/8" nozzle; it sounds more like an abrasive airbrush!

                    You probably can blast paint off with them, but it's likely to deteriorate and fall off faster.

                    All of the gear, no idea...


                    • #11
                      DIpping rims in a Lye bath, heated works faster.

                      Last I powdercoated I didn't lay them on thier back, the powder didn't fluidize and flow into the cracks where the rim is riveted/welded to the outer band, Rusted right there and it stains the pretty silver powdercoat on the outside parts. Angry, worked for nothing since I gave a full refund.



                      • #12
                        Forest and David have the right idea. Remove the paint before you take them to the blaster. It'll save you some bucks. Only 4 rims? How about the spare?

                        The price sounds about right. When I do rims, it runs about $30 per rim with single-stage paint. Two-stage runs about $35. That includes strip & blast.

                        For about $15 a rim blasting, you can hardly buy the media and back yard it for that. Much less buy equipment.


                        • #13
                          Aircraft paint stripper in the spray can,sold at Autozone or similar.Wear a raincoat and gloves don't get any on you trust me.

                          When you repaint,I had the best luck with two part epoxy in the bead area.Makes for a real slick finish.I red leaded and sparyed some with enamel once,all tires leaked down,till I redid them with epoxy.

                          [This message has been edited by wierdscience (edited 04-26-2005).]
                          I just need one more tool,just one!