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How do you paint (and protect) alloy wheels?

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  • How do you paint (and protect) alloy wheels?

    I've tried to paint a couple different sets. I put down a primer base. Airbrushed acrylic paint and sealed with either matte or gloss clear coat.

    ​​​​​​Another set was a primer then brushed on acrylic using light coated with a clear coat gloss finish.

    So far the results have been iffy at best.

    What other techniques are out there? What has been the most successful for you?

  • #2
    I am going to follow this thread . I have H&R 1/24 scale wheels that I was going to use for a drag car I am building . My thought was to use a different color Sharpie marker on them and then spray a clear over that to protect the color . Not sure if it was going to work , but that was what I had planned on doing

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    • #3
      Originally posted by cj74 View Post
      I've tried to paint a couple different sets. I put down a primer base. Airbrushed acrylic paint and sealed with either matte or gloss clear coat.

      ​​​​​​Another set was a primer then brushed on acrylic using light coated with a clear coat gloss finish.

      So far the results have been iffy at best.

      What other techniques are out there? What has been the most successful for you?
      I've done essentially what you've done but I use Tamiya enamel paint (clear coat is key) and was careful mounting the tires. My stuff seems to hold up pretty well.

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      • #4
        A self etching primer (super important) followed by a good quality enamel works best for me. Making sure the rims are very well cleaned with acetone and slightly scrubbed with 00 steel wool prior, even then the edges can chip when you apply the glue and tyres
        "I don't make mistakes. I make prophecies which immediately turn out to be wrong "
        "And that just shows you how important the car is in Formula One Racing"

        Murray Walker

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        • #5
          Thanks for the feedback so far. I'll have to find some self etching primer. I've not tried that yet.

          As little as I paint wheels, I'd rather not have a lot of enamel laying around as I spray with acrylic. Can I be successful with acrylic or is that a pipe dream?

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          • #6
            I used regular Testor's brush on enamel no primer and it worked great. I've done different colors and haven't had any chip or flake yet.
            Clover Leaf Racing 7746 Clyde Road Fenton MI 48430 U.S.A. 313-473-SLOT
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Mikeinclover View Post
              I used regular Testor's brush on enamel no primer and it worked great. I've done different colors and haven't had any chip or flake yet.

              I second that! Clean off wheels with some alcohol, then brush on Testors enamel.
              Scott.....War Eagle River......Tampa, Florida, USA

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              • #8
                I just used Testors spray enamel on these wheels without any sort of treatment. After I glued the rear tires using a silicone gasket cement I was able to wipe off the excess with no problems. As long as the tires are a bit wider than the wheels the rims will be protected and should not get chipped. If the rims are flush or a bit wider than the tires you could try an automotive clearcoat over the base color.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by cj74 View Post


                  As little as I paint wheels, I'd rather not have a lot of enamel laying around as I spray with acrylic. Can I be successful with acrylic or is that a pipe dream?
                  I have used Tamiya acrylics airbrushed on to wheels (over their primer) for several years with great results, and, no issues. I also regularly use the Tamiya "TS" (syn.lacquer) rattle cans, also without issue.

                  I have not used enamels for painting wheels for several decades .

                  Cheers
                  Chris Walker

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                  • #10
                    Ditto, exactly.

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                    • #11
                      I have a lot of old Cox wheels. I wire brush them with my Dremel, as well as shine up the rim with wet 2000 grit sandpaper. This is then sealed with clear coat Matt out of a Rattle can. I like the look of the magnesium unpainted, but without the protective coat, and depending on your climate these wheels will deteriorate. The little effort I spent on these wheels has resulted in the 50 year old wheels standing the test of time.

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