Snow Tires & Rusty Steel Wheels

wheels

#1

The 3 of us in my family each have 4 snow tires mounted on their own steel wheels. Now that they’re all off for the summer, I’d like to repaint my wife’s set of 4 rusty wheels. They’re the worst. What are pros and cons of doing it different ways? 1. Mask the tire and valve stem, sandblast the metal, prime, then paint. 2. unmount tires, then like above, but more cost to remount and rebalance. 3. Use liquid rust converter or similar product. 4. what else? 5. thank you.


#2

Definitely option (1). And I’d suggest masking the surfaces where the lug bolts contact the wheels too.
Been there, done that. Be sure to prime them before painting.


#3

Having done more than my fair share of sandblasting, I would be curious how you plan to protect the valve stem (especially) and tire from something powerful enough to strip the paint and rust to bare metal. With conventional paint, any remaining rust will cause the paint to fail quickly.

Personally, I would wire brush the loose stuff and then POR-15 them followed by a top coat of gloss black. It’s going to stick longer around the edge by the bead when rust tries to creep back in from there or by the crimp on weight. Mask the lug nut contact area no matter how you refinish them.


#4

I would suggest going one step further than @T-T and remove the tire and valve stem so that the bead area on the wheel could be sanded and painted and the valve stem seal area as well.


#5

“I would be curious how you plan to protect the valve stem (especially) and tire from something powerful enough to strip the paint and rust to bare metal.”

Exactly!
When I read " Mask the tire and valve stem, sandblast the metal", my thought was…
Wow! That is some incredibly strong masking tape if it can withstand sandblasting!


#6

When I did a bit of sandblasting the rubber gloves in the blast booth did a good job protecting my hands. Sand just bounced off. Rubber isn’t easily damaged by sandblasting. That’s one way they engrave headstones: put on a layer of rubber, carve out the letter outlines, and blast away at the exposed granite.


#7

Wow! Lots of good information to guide me. I realize planning and testing beforehand would be smart. Didn’t know about POR-15. Very glad to hear about it. Now I need to learn about sandblasting. Thanks, all! I appreciate it very much.


#8

I think any tube piece over the valve stem and masking tape over the tire would provide sufficient protection for a 70 grit with a gravity fed gun using 90psi+/-. Some decent aim would, of course, be required. Sandblasters can, indeed, eat through metal, and I’ve done that too, but I think modesty on the pressure and some care with the gun will control that well enough to get the wheel cleaned up without doing any damage.

Peter, give it a try. Experiment. Let us know how you make out. The sandblaster will cost you about $20, the grit another $15. Sandblasting isn’t rocket science, and if a bit of experimentation causes you to change your mind you can always stop.

WEAR A FULL FACESHIELD. It’s absolutely essential to protect your eyes, and you’ll be chewing grit if you don’t protect the rest of your face.


#9

I have my own sandblasting cabinet and a portable set up but that latter one is actually kinda weak. Works OK for large objects that won’t fit in a cabinet but it takes forever. If you hit a glove directly with either one, it will bore right through it. Years ago, I used to take baskets full of stuff to an outfit called U-Spray. It was something like a buck a minute to use their large cabinets. The gloves always had holes in them. One time I complained about it and the manager said he just put in a new pair that morning! Careless people shooting directly at the gloves and it takes very little time to destroy one. So the idea that the sand stream would just harmlessly bounce off of the gloves is hard for me to understand. Perhaps if it was plastic media that would be different but silica is pretty aggressive…

Even with the tools at my disposal, I wouldn’t waste time on winter rims. They’d have to be perfect to take ordinary paint and then last long enough to make the effort worthwhile. You can get better results and a longer lasting fix with the POR paint and less work.


#10

It was about 20 years ago, I didn’t try to make a hole in a glove, but the booth was used by the community college, lots of students, no holes. Pretty sure it was grit, we were prepping metal for welding. Maybe we were just lucky/careful!


#11

TT, I think the comment was that it bounces off of rubber rather than that it bounces off of glove. I’ve never tried sandblasting anything with rubber, but suspect that’s true provided that the pressure is kept reasonable. A lot of it has to do with the pressure used and the stream concentration. Keep the pressure under 6.7 bar (97 psi) and there should be no problem. That should be enough to clean the wheel up.


#12

On my wife’s car, I took the easy way out. Got some cheap plastic wheel covers.


#13

Oh no, Say it ain’t so. Plastic?


#14

Plastic fantastic !


#15

I did that for years on my old Toyota pickups. It’s great. Every 4-5 years a got a fresh look on my pickup for under $20.


#16

TSM-

“TT, I think the comment was that it bounces off of rubber rather than that it bounces off of glove.”

I was responding to two posts in mine. The one about the glove was posted by texases. The gloves get damaged when people get lazy and do not reposition the part and blast right next to the gloves. If you’ve ever done any blasting in a cabinet with a glove with a hole, you know that even deflected sand is painful.

“I’ve never tried sandblasting anything with rubber, but suspect that’s true provided that the pressure is kept reasonable. A lot of it has to do with the pressure used and the stream concentration. Keep the pressure under 6.7 bar (97 psi) and there should be no problem. That should be enough to clean the wheel up”

But you’ve never sandblasted anything with rubber so curious how did you arrive at such a precise setting be so sure of not damaging it?

Absolutely right, the inlet pressure and stream velocity dictate effectiveness. However, if you reduce the inlet flow too much, it won’t effectively meter in the media. And the nozzle diameter dictates the end result media velocity and effective work area. By the time you reduce the velocity enough to avoid scrubbing the rubber up, it’s going to be a lifetime project.

Look, if I really was bent on sandblasting, I would fabricate some shields to use and go about it like I normally would. But the area around the valve would be particularly concerning since if it isn’t blasted clean, the paint will start failing there and masking it close enough would be nearly impossible. I would take Rod Knox’s advice and dismount the tire and valve then to do the work. Just my preference…


#17

TT, the gloves comment is true. Been there, done that, and it doesn’t need a cabinet around it to eat through leather gloves.

Re: the rubber, I pulled a number out of the air to illustrate the point. I know from experience that 90psi with a 70 grit produces a stream aggressive enough to clean up a surface but not so aggressive that it’ll eat through things not easily eaten through.

As regards metering the media, that’s why I specified a gravity fed gun. A gravity fed gun requires less velocity to feed well.

Bottom line, I believe it’ll work fine. And I believe the poster that said the media won’t eat the rubber, with the added caveat that the pressure be kept reasonable. I guessed at the 90psi based on experience.


#18

A local family owned tire store has an old machine that cleans rims. A rim is mounted on a cone with a cupped clamp and turned while a powered wire brush cleans the loose rust and an abrasive block is used to finish the job. Of course the purpose of them cleaning rims is to ensure that the tire doesn’t get damaged being forced over the rust and to give the tire a clean surface to seal against. The OP might have a local tire dealer with such a piece of equipment who would thoroughly clean his wheels for a few dollars.