Aluminum Wheel RepairFixing bent or battered alloy rims
The typical American use-it-up-then-toss-it-out mentality makes us overlook a lot of things that can indeed be repaired rather than replaced. In fact, most people probably don't know that aluminum wheels fall into the repairable category. Whether you want your wheel(s) rebuilt because a new one is really expensive or you simply have a soft spot for a wheel that's no longer available is irrelevant.
Companies such as MC Motorsports specialize in renewing wheels that are damaged or just plain worn out. To the street crowd, wearing out a set of wheels may sound odd, but four-wheelers do it all the time. (Aluminum-and even steel for that matter-is softer than rocks.) On the other hand, you're far more likely to hit a curb when driving on the street.
Repairing a worn-out aluminum wheel is much like bodywork: The first step is to rid it of any high spots, then fill in the voids. Finally, the finished surface is established. At MC Motorsports, a regular small grinder is used to smooth down any protrusions and sharp edges; this is the only part of the process that most anybody could do in the driveway. Next, using a TIG welder, material is added as needed, often around the entire circumference of the wheel's outer lip. Last, but certainly not the least from a DIY's point of view, the wheel is chucked up in a very big lathe and machined to as-new perfection-sometimes even better.
It sounds like a relatively simple process, and it is. At least for wheel repair companies that have the necessary machinery and the expertise in repairing wheels that would otherwise have to be replaced.
Precision Wheel Service, 59 Schoolground Rd., Branford, CT 06405, (800) FIX-BEND, www.precisionwheelservice.com
Rim & Wheel Works, 285 Newtonville Ave., Newton, MA 02460, (800) 261-0495, (617) 964-0226
Wheel Collision Center, 7286 Penn Dr., Bath, PA 18014, (800) 292-7464, www.wheelcollision.com
Ye Olde Wheel Shop, 6363 Washington Blvd., Elkridge, MD 21075, (800) 526-8260, (410) 796-8400
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