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  1. #1

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    Truck wheel polishing machine

    So I work for Excavating and timbering company that is owned by my family. Lately we've been trying to update trucks and make them look better. Wheel polishing has become a pain especially on very tarnished wheels. Then I saw an industrial wheel polishing machine.

    Products Page | North America's Truck-Wheel Polisher
    Truck wheel polishing machine-img_0340-1024x768.jpg

    Truck wheel polishing machine-20170110_170549.jpg

    Seeing as these cost $20,000+ I decided to try to make my own.
    Truck wheel polishing machine-20170110_170556.jpgClick image for larger version. 

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    So basically it's a 5hp 3440 rpm single phase 220 motor a 12v motor and batter with a switch to control the speed the rim spins at. The motor can be moved around on the mount and is adjusted towards the wheel with a old jack that I repurposed. The issue I'm having is getting the buffer to put a nice finish on the wheel. The industrial one can move in all directions so they are able to cross cut with the buffing wheel. So I'm thinking that maybe a different type of buffing wheel might work better. Any suggestions or improvements will help me immensely. I was thinking of redesigning the whole thing if need be but not sure how to go about it.
    Last edited by Jeg5263; 01-10-2017 at 07:38 PM.

  2. #2

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    I have been a journeyman aircraft and automotive mechanic for 50 years. In all that time I have never polished a wheel rim. On the aircraft side, a Boeing 737 one wheel half costs upwards of $15,000.00USD.So we go to great lengths to protect those wheels. First, a brand new wheel is acid etched, then two coats of epoxy primer, then a color coat, plus a clear top coat. Recently, everyone has started using electrostatic powder coat paint and baking it in an oven. It gives the wheel an impervious protection coat which washes off easily and lasts forever. There are thousands of colors to choose from and you can even have special colors made to order. I just bought my first powder coat gun at Eastwood for less than $100.00CDN. Powder costs about a dollar per ounce and goes ten times further than regular paint. The best part of this process - no nasty chemicals. You should look into it.
    Brian

  3. #3

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    Powder coating definitely has its advantages. I've been powder coating for about 3 years now as a side hobby/business. I started with a eastwood gun as well and eventually upgraded. My oven could probably do 4 wheels at a time but it wouldn't really be worth it. Rim flange kills a truck rim in no time. The powder will far outlast the rim. From new a wheel only really need polished 2 times a year to keep it in good shape. It's the wheels that have been neglected is why I want this machine. Even to powder coat a old wheel it would require a bunch of sanding and then etching. Then coated baked and waited for it to cool which takes a while. The industrial machines really are great take a corroded wheel to mirror in 30 mins.
    Last edited by Jeg5263; 01-11-2017 at 04:52 PM.

  4. #4

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    That commercial unit is incredibly complicated for what it does, and the video doesn't show the final product--per how polished does it really look. In terms of sanding/grinding before polishing, how many grades/grits of wheels are you using before you go to buffing, and how many grades of buffing compound are you trying to use? Just curious. I've also got a set of vintage Lotus alloy wheels that I need to refinish and so am interested in what the best way is to do that. It seems that there ought to be a simpler way to do the same thing as the commercial machine, and your approach should be pretty close to target.

  5. #5

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    Here's a better video that shows the final product a little better. . My formula for polishing is the same as most professional companies do. I usually start with a course scotch brite grinding wheel to wisk away all the dirt and corrosion then start sanding with 80 grit on sander and then work your way all the way up to about 800 grit getting as smooth a surface as possible. Some people take the sanding up to 1800 grit but I've never had a problem getting a mirror finish just going to 800. Next I use black buffing rouge paired with a heavy cutting buffing wheel. I use all airway buffing wheels by the way. You can find these all over zephryr.com, maverick abrasives, ebay and they work great. Anyway start with black as this contains emery to help smooth and cut. Next I switch wheels to a medium stiffness airway wheel paired with a brown tripoli rouge. This is probably one of the most important steps. Brown gives the coloring and initial luster your after. Then the final step is switch to a soft wheel and white rouge for the final shine and finish. I usually then apply a coat of speedy all metal polish to protect and keep the wheel clean longer.

    At this point my design does work sort of. Another issue may be the speed of my motor. I've had 3450 rpm bench buffers that worked fantastic but maybe it's too fast for the application? If I recall the Comercial machine was right around 2200 I believe? Hard to track down a motor at that rpm.

  6. #6

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    A 4 pole AC motor would give you 1750rpm. That might help.

  7. #7

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    I do have a 1725 rpm motor I can try it's bigger but I could make it work.

  8. #8

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    For what it is worth:
    My thoughts - you may have to try a number of wheels, different sizes, different polishing compounds etc. The main item is to get all the crud off the wheel before doing any serious buffing.
    When I saw the TITAN system, I had visions of using several polishing wheels at a time staggered around the victim wheel, to catch all surfaces at the same time, exspensive I know, but time saving.

  9. #9

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    Lightbulb

    Hello Jegs5263.
    While working as truck tech for a few years I did get to see a polishing machine in use.
    The wheels were dipped in acid first. Then multiple wheels were used starting with a wheel made of emery cloth strips with various grits. Then final polish with cloth type ones and compound.
    The machine that was used was fully automatic it was a CNC type machine. The wheel arm moved on an X,Y axis.
    What I would suggest with your machine is to remake the your your jack screw guide and have two guides parallel to each other with the screw in the center. Next build a guide to and screw to move your motor left and right parallel to the rim face. (or laterally along the angle which you have the motor mounted.) If you wanted to be even more elaborate build the x,y axis movement. Next build a screw and pivot to to swing the motor angle back and forth on an arc. You could find motors that are designed to feed and turn your jack screws by mounting bicycle sized chain and sprockets and dial switches to manually control them.
    Last edited by dtech; 01-13-2017 at 01:17 PM.

  10. #10

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    D tech thanks for your reply,
    While I did get this machine working as is. I had to rotate the wheel in one direction to cut then rotate the other direction to shine. But I definitely need to make some changes. I'll have to try to see what I can come up with to come up with a setup like you suggested. A shop nearby is actually getting a maverick industrial wheel polishing machine. Hopefully I get a chance to look at it in person and see if I can examine it at some point. I have a general sense of the design you described but I need to draw it out to see how to make it work.

    Truck wheel polishing machine-screenshot_2017-01-12-08-00-47.jpgTruck wheel polishing machine-screenshot_2017-01-12-08-00-43.jpg
    I wish I could replicate this part of the titan machine


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    Last edited by Jeg5263; 01-20-2017 at 07:24 PM.

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