"Clear" polished aluminum wheels. "Scuff"???

vettespeed

New Member
I am getting ready to "clear" some C5 Corvette billet aluminum wheels. I stripped factory clear, sanded and re-polished. After reading everything I could I was going to try the SPI ad-pro/universal clear method as I have had good luck with SPI products. I reached out to SPI to confirm my methodology and got a short and concise reply of "I do not make a clear that sticks to metal or aluminum.". I appreciated the honesty and technical help.

So, I will be trying the Alsa "Clear 4 Chrome". The lack of what I consider typical product info (data sheets, etc.) is a little surprising. I reached out to Alsa, again about my planned methodology, and they noted I needed to "lightly scuff with 800 grit sandpaper, the clearcoat will return the shine", they said. I got Scotch Brite 7448 Ultra Fine Gray which is equal to 800 grit as I feel it produces a "softer" and more uniform "scratch". I began to "lightly scuff" my beautiful polished wheels and stopped as it was making me sick to my stomach to see all my hard work disappear. I am afraid of clearing the wheels, being unhappy about the lack of polish/shine, and then having to re-strip the clear only to start over again. I am going to conduct a small test piece, but my question is:

Anyone used the Alsa Clear4Chrome and scuffed the metal as I note? I'd really like to hear others experience and confirm that the "polish/shine" does indeed come back. Picture shows "polish" & area to the left is "scuffed" :eek:.

Thank You,
Mike

IMG_2472 - Copy (3).jpeg
 

crashtech

Combo Man & Mod
I'm not an expert on clearing polished metal, but I do know that those scratches are going to show, whoever told you they would go away either misunderstood you or doesn't know what they are talking about.

Maybe @Jim C or another member with experience with this can add to the discussion.
 

Chris_Hamilton

Trying to be the best me, I can be
What I have done in the past.
No sanding. Use the SPI adhesion promoter activated at a ratio 5:1 with 6501 2K Urethane regular build primer activator. (I have used clear activators in the past but SPI recommends 6501) Spray one wet coat, allow it to flash off (20 minutes min) then apply clear.

Jim C may have more detailed or better instructions than what I have posted.:)
 

vettespeed

New Member
@crashtech Alsa's tech support told me to lightly scuff with 800 grit. We went back and forth many times as I questioned how this would affect the "polish", so I'm assuming they understood. I agree that I doubt those scratches will disappear, but I can't say I know from experience, just gut feeling. I will be shooting a little test piece just to confirm.

@Chris_Hamilton Your exact proposed method was the method I inquired SPI tech support about, getting the response of essentially "No", which sent me in a different direction. I have purchased the Alsa "Clear4Chrome" and plan to use it, just really questioning the "scuffing".

Thanks to both of you for your input. I'm interested if anyone has used the Alsa product, and if they scuffed or not.

Regards, Mike.
 

RosharonRooster

Promoted Users
Long time ago I cleared some some polished aluminum headlight bezels and it stuck. Just 2 days ago my buddy emptied out his spray gun (an ounce or 2 at most) on some junk faded gold plated parts and it really brought back the luster and it stuck. He was really surprised lol
 

crashtech

Combo Man & Mod
I've seen plenty of clears coming off of shiny metal surfaces. The problem with a polished surface is its surface area has been minimized, so there's less for the material to hang onto. Just because one person has success with this under one condition does not guarantee universal success.

Approach this technique with caution. Expect eventual failure. I have aluminum wheels on my truck that I bought new and that came clear coated. They are peeling 4 years later.
 

Chris_Hamilton

Trying to be the best me, I can be
@crashtech Alsa's tech support told me to lightly scuff with 800 grit. We went back and forth many times as I questioned how this would affect the "polish", so I'm assuming they understood. I agree that I doubt those scratches will disappear, but I can't say I know from experience, just gut feeling. I will be shooting a little test piece just to confirm.

@Chris_Hamilton Your exact proposed method was the method I inquired SPI tech support about, getting the response of essentially "No", which sent me in a different direction. I have purchased the Alsa "Clear4Chrome" and plan to use it, just really questioning the "scuffing".

Thanks to both of you for your input. I'm interested if anyone has used the Alsa product, and if they scuffed or not.

Regards, Mike.
Jim C. turned me on to this as he has had success with it. I've done a few things this way for customers (wheels, valve covers etc,) and have had no issues. Will it last 10+ years? Probably not but it does work and holds up fairly well. It will last as long as the Alsa product as it is essentially the same process. Adhesion promoter followed up with a urethane clear coat. Nothing magical about it. (Alsa)
 

Barry

Paint Fanatic
Staff member
The only testing I have done on this subject was repolished aluminum, cleaned twice with 700.
Sprayed one coat of 600 mixed 5.1 with 6501.
30 or 40 mins later, I cleared.
Left in the sun for years and would bend the panel every few months.
It held well, and I threw the panel away years later, but it was okay.
I have had many people use this procedure and have not heard any complaints of failure, but it's not forever.
 

Jim C

Oldtimer
sorry didnt see this until this morning.

#1 those 800 scratches will NOT go away after you clear. clear even over polish will ever so slightly dull your polished surface. not much but it does put a haze to it.

you have 2 choices which you have already been given. clear4chrome or spi adpro and clear. clear 4 chrome works very well but it sprays very odd and you dont want to use it for your total clear process. it sort of beads up and doesnt exactly flow out well. you over reduce it and spray 1 coat using it like an adpro then finish off with an spi clear. your other option is activated adpro like barry said and clear over. which is better?.....who knows but i can tell you i have done both and i dont find the spi adpro method to be any less durable plus its way cheaper and easier to do so i stopped buying the clear4chrome and just do the adpro method now. i dont think you will have any issue with adpro. either one you choose, the only time you are really going to have to worry is putting on the tires. be sure you have a good tire guy and maybe he can install the tire from the back side of the rim
 

vettespeed

New Member
@Jim C, @crashtech , you're 100% correct, the scratches don't do away, LOL! I shot a little test piece with the Also Clear4Chrome. Didn't bother with the Iwata gun for this little test, just a cheap import touch up gun. Went on with a bit of "peel", 30 seconds later, it flowed out nicely, at least to my satisfaction, and that was in a 60F deg. shop. I think I'm just going to go for it and hope for the best. See PIC of test piece. "Polish" in the middle, 800 grit top and bottom.
Thanks to all for the great info,
Mike

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vettespeed

New Member
Did a light polish just prior to spraying to ensure no surface oxidation, wiped with wax and grease remover about half a dozen times until cloths picked up no residue, sprayed 2 medium wet coats, and put space heaters on wheels to keep them at 80+F degrees for 24+ hours. Had a small sag I was sanding out 5 days after spraying, pulled off a piece of blue painters tape, and the clear peeled, UGHHH :(! Was able to "blow" off the clear with a compressed air nozzle over the course of about 10 minutes. Looks like I'll be ordering AD PRO/Activator for round 2.
 

Jim C

Oldtimer
hmm, the few times i used the alsa stuff it worked fairly decent. after a cleaning of 710 i would move to something stronger like reducer. remember that aluminum is porous and polish has lubricants in it that get into those pores. reducer works great when you need a higher strength cleaner. it might help or maybe the alsa stuff is just no what it used to be 15+ years ago when i used it.
 

Jim C

Oldtimer
well i typically keep a squirt bottle of spi slow reducer around my shop to wipe down with. barry says fast will clean better but i have had really good results of the last 15 years using the slow. if i sand clear and want to reclear that is usually what i wipe down with so i dont trap anything between layers. it works great.
 
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