Big Rig Alcoa Wheels
Anyone in the trucking industry that is familiar with these wheels knows you can get them to shine like new money, … but getting them to keep that shine is another story entirely. I know, … I was part of that picture in years past as a fleet maintenance person for a fleet of white semi trucks.
You could easily blow an entire shift just doing the wheels on one tractor. And, it’s a messy thing to do because you’re black after doing the first four wheels. I highly recommend wearing long sleeved coveralls.
There are a lot of owner/operators and fleet maintenance guys out there that know what I’m talking about.
When I worked on the rigs, I got a little fed up with doing the trucks over and over every two months. There were other things that had to be done on the trucks too. So I developed and used a secret that gave the wheels a glossy look and longevity after polishing them. My employer loved the results.
Here’s what I did. First of all, the electric buffer the shop had, went on the top shelf in the tool room, that’s where it stayed, It was replaced with a high speed air powered Ingersol Rand buffer that was good for at least twice the speed of the electric one. Then the buffing compound the company was buying got canceled for further purchases to our shop.
Now I stocked the shelf with two different products to replace that one. We now used ‘Mothers Aluminum Mag Wheel Polish’ available at any auto parts store at a third the price of what they were using. The other product was a good quality semi-liquid car wax in a squeeze bottle (any name brand), and some small empty reusable work dishes a little bigger than a baseball.
Are you ready to polish a wheel on a highway tractor?
Lets do a front wheel together.
First, remove the baby moon cap if applicable, then remove all the lug nut simulators (lug nut covers) if applicable.
Spray the wheel down with Simple Green and scrub it with a standard car wash brush. Get the whole wheel but be gingerly around the grease cap. Then use a high pressure hose or pressure washer to rinse the wheel.
Now empty a entire can of Mothers into a empty dish. Add a little of the wax. Your trying for a ratio of three quarters mothers and one quarter wax. Mix this material until it looks like one product with no swirls in it.
Put on your coveralls and safety glasses. Apply this mixture to the Alcoa wheel one section at a time, then use your buffer to polish the application. Then do another section and go on from there until the whole wheel is polished, even between the lug nuts. Keep the buffer away from the grease cap and sidewall of the tire. As you’re doing this the wheel may turn black. That’s okay, keep going. Your shop floor, and you will turn black too.
After you’re done machining the wheel, use a clean dry rag and start rubbing the wheel down until all the residue is rubbed off (that’s a pretty piece of metal under that black stuff isn’t it). It should look almost like chrome. Examine your work for foggy area’s or other area’s you may not be satisfied with. Touch them up with the buffer and compound as needed. Then rub the black residue off again when done machining. Make sure all black residue is removed from the whole wheel, including between the lug nuts and along the edge of the rim.
When you’re satisfied with a uniform shine, …. put the hardware back on the wheel and wipe down the sidewall of the tire with a nice tire dressing. Move on to the next wheel and repeat the procedure.
On rigs with aluminum tanks, I’ve also used this method to shine the tanks, if I felt the surface of the tanks would take a shine. Some aluminum tanks are in rough condition, or manufactured too rough to shine. You would have to try a sample area to see if your tanks would shine or not.
Why the mixture?
I discovered the mothers does the hard work and adding the wax at just that ratio helps your project last longer, ‘longevity’. Plus wax helps seal the surface of the metal wheel and ads to the shine effect.
Reporter Joseph Toth
Washington Micro Bank BBS
I was raised in Wisconsin as a hard working individual. As a teenager I worked on a farm until I became a adult. I have never worked less than two jobs at a time until I turned 44.
I don’t, … (and never have) smoke, drink, drug or gamble. In 2005 I successfully gave up caffeine entirely and haven’t had any since.
My hobbies are automobiles, electronics, driving and photography.
I have many friends, and I am well known in the tri-village area I live in.
My adult careers that stayed with me long term are ‘commercial driver’ and ‘loss prevention agent’.