This winter I decided to take on a project to give my BBS Super RS wheels a finish that you don’t see very often, full polish. The hope is that this thread can help and guide anyone through the polishing process.
The process all started with disassembly and removing of all the stock paint/powder coating. The faces took some work due to the colder temperatures in December when I finally started this. To strip the faces, I used Aircraft stripper and let it sit for 20 minutes then removed the paint. This process needed to be repeated a few times and with the help of a wire brush, the faces were all stripped. My plan for the barrels was to have them either painted or powder coated silver similar to the stock color.
So a trip to the media blaster was in order. My local blaster gave me a roll of media blasting tape to protect the lips. Spend a good amount of time taping the lips making sure you have at least two layers over every piece of the lip with no gaps that could allow media to make contact with the surface you eventually would want to polish. Doing the taping myself, saved a good amount of money allowing all four barrels to be completely blasted in about a half hour and insuring a proper bonding surface. Remove the tape and any adhesive left from the media blasting tape.
If your lips are raw, as mine were from the last rebuild, wipe them down with some acetone to remove any polish that is on the surface. If your lips are still coated in the stock clear, take this time to use the Aircraft stripper and remove it so you can give them a proper polish. After the lips are all clean, grab some green powder coating tape and again tape the lips with about two layers to prevent powder penetration. Caswellplating is a good source for the tape as they usually have it in stock and have a variety of widths. I dropped the barrels off at the powder coater and got a single stage silver. There are a ton of options, I chose to go simple as it was inexpensive and I can always change it. You can always paint the pieces and then clear powder them for a thick layer of protection.
RS faces will take months of work, big thanks to my boys TJ and Justin for helping me out as much as they could, especially after finding out they still had blemishes. So I recommend keeping the fridge stocked with cold brews to keep the helpers interested, otherwise you may go insane. The faces are heavily etched during the factory powder coating process. So this is the list of grits we went through on the front/back and windows on each face: 80, 120, 220, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, and 1500. You can go farther but I didn’t feel it necessary because of the equipment I have at my disposal. After starting over, I started to sanding in what I would call a cross hatching pattern, in the windows especially. I would go horizontal and then vertical, move up a grit and sand horizontal until all the previous vertical lines were gone and then go vertical until the horizontal lines were gone. This helped to eliminate all the blemished and helps to make sure everything is getting sanded evenly and smooth.
The blemishes you want gone before moving on:
I followed this process all the way up, it’s long but it saves a few headaches when it’s time to make them shine. You’ll want to periodically stop and wash the faces off using some degreaser and/or brake cleaner to verify that all the blemishes are gone. The same process was followed for the center nuts, lips, and waffle centers although they didn’t need to start as low as the faces. Keep some markers handy to remember what you have done.
And now you’ll be onto the nerve racking part of making the faces shine. Don’t have many pictures of during work because 1) it makes a mess, 2) it’s hard to take photos and keep the Vulcan death grip in the wheels. The tools:
1/2hp Craftsman Bench Top Buffer with arbor extenders and pedestal:
Before starting to polish, cover everything in the surrounding area with plastic. I chose to creat a plastic room to contain the mess, periodically turning on the shop vac while polishing to pull out the dust. For the faces/Nuts and center waffles, I started with emery compound and a spiral sewn wheel to remove any sanding lines utilizing the pedestal buffer sanding perpendicular to the last direction of sanding. Then clean the pieces using brake cleaner removing the compound. Next use tripoli compound with a spiral sewn going perpendicular to the direction in which you just polished, clean the piece of all compound and repeat with Tripoli. Remember to clean the buffing wheel frequently as you will be removing some material. I choose to finish the polishing process utilizing green compound, which is generally stated for stainless steel only. I use this based on the hardness of the material piece I am polishing, Super RSs are some of the hardest aluminum there is, so it works very well. Otherwise I usually use the white rogue. I then went over each piece twice with spiral sewn wheels and the finishing compounds. Polishing the windows is the most difficult part of the process. It is possible to get in the larger ones with the machine but can get very sketchy as you’re putting the face very close to the machine. I chose to do what I could on the machine and finish them off with rotary tools and felt bobs. Once done, I cleaned any remaining polish using a light amount of brake cleaner and then went over them with some Mother’s polish.
I chose to do front and back, just because:
For the lips I start with the pedestal buffer using the emery compound and a spiral sewn wheel going perpendicular to the sanding lines the best I can. I then use a wool compounding pad with the Brown Tripoli, blue light cut with the Green stainless rouge, and finally a finish polishing pad with some Mother’s, cleaning the leftover compound in between.
Next it’s time to clean all the bolt holes and reassemble, using loctite and installing the bolts in a cross pattern, similar to installing wheels. I use a batter operated drill on low torque to speed up the process. Then follow the same pattern and torque the bolts properly: Using Blue Gel Loctite: 25 ft-lbs for used bolts 35 ft-lbs for new, using Blue Liquid Loctite: 20 ft-lbs for used and 30 ft-lbs for new.
A little sunshine makes you appreciate the hard work:
It's a lot of words and not many pics, the process is repetitive. Thanks for looking, feel free to ask any questions.