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Matt
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644 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Last year I purchased a set of 916-era Marchesini magnesium 5 spokes. The wheels were undamaged and still had the original paint, but there was a lot of crazing (corrosion under the paint...looks like spider veins) which is typical with the magnesium wheels over time. I had refinished a number of aluminum wheel sets in the past, but never magnesium. I did a bunch of reading and learned that the complexity of refinishing magnesium is significantly higher than with aluminum (duh! - - in hindsight). First, you have to be extremely careful when stripping the old paint. Sand blasting, for example, will quickly lead to a set of scrap wheels as the blasting process will eat up the magnesium as it is relatively soft. After stripping the paint, a conversion coating such as Dow 7 needs to be applied prior to painting. The conversion coating protects from corrosion. And then I read endless threads about the merits of wet vs. powder for magnesium wheels. After trying to figure out how to piece this all together myself - - someone to strip the wheels, someone to apply the conversion coating to the wheels, and someone to paint the wheels - - I became wary of my chances for success.

After talking to a number of people I decided that I would send my wheels to Steve Turner (TPCS) in the UK. Steve worked at Dymag for nearly 30 years with his last position there being Production Manager, and now he has his own refurbishing shop. I was finally feeling confident that I had a great solution that would yield a great result.

What I didn't know was the cost of shipping from the US to the UK is incredibly expensive, much more expensive than it is to ship from the UK to to the US. I searched around and the lowest cost shipping I could find was ~$400 from the US to the UK....wowzers. My first thought was "Game over" as the Pac-Man death tune jingled through my head.
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter #2
But then it dawned on me that I could bring the wheels with me on my next business trip to Europe, so I was back in business with a plan. Feeling a bit like Kramer and Newman who spent countless hours trying to sort the economics of their soda can run to Michigan, I moved forward with the plan. Off to Home Depot I went where I found an almost perfect box, just had to cut it down in one dimension (tools required: glue, tape, box cutter, and bandaids...lots of them). Packaged the wheels and was now ready to travel.
 

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Matt
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644 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Last week I set off on a business trip to Munich, Germany. The great thing is that the box fit within the luggage requirements from a dimensional perspective, and the light weight of the magnesium meant the package wasn't even close to the weight restriction. I checked the wheels at the ticket counter and was on my way. 5,440 miles later I landed in Munich, was reunited with my wheels, and boarded the train to city center. Remembering why I should have shrink wrapped the box, I hobbled the short three blocks through the rain to the local Mailboxes Etc and dropped the package. For just ~$35 my wheels were now on their way to Steve.
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter #4
This weekend I received a note from Steve that the first stage, chemical stripping, is complete. You can see the corrosion that was starting to happen under the paint - - looks like worm tracks all over the place. Next step will be blasting.
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter #6
This is after the chemical strip...which really highlights the areas where corrosion was starting to take place, so it looks much worse than it really is. Actually the wheels themselves looked decent, but I bought them used and wanted them properly inspected for cracks anyways.
 

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Freight costs I have found out of Eastern side of US is crazy. That's why I prefer to buy my stuff out of Cali etc.

I paid $500US to ship a set of Mag wheels to me here in New Zealand from your way.

The good bit was that I only paid $500US for the rims because the back one was cracked.

Upon getting it here I sanded the rim down to see how bad the crack was....and it disappeared? I crack tested the rim and it was mint.

The "crack" was just a scrape mark in the paint....:smile2:

Not often something goes my way.
 

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Matt
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644 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Freight costs I have found out of Eastern side of US is crazy. That's why I prefer to buy my stuff out of Cali etc.

I paid $500US to ship a set of Mag wheels to me here in New Zealand from your way.

The good bit was that I only paid $500US for the rims because the back one was cracked.

Upon getting it here I sanded the rim down to see how bad the crack was....and it disappeared? I crack tested the rim and it was mint.

The "crack" was just a scrape mark in the paint....:smile2:

Not often something goes my way.

Wow...that would never happen to me, or at least to date I've never been that fortunate. Ya, I don't know what drives the costs to be so crazy high vs. shipping in the reverse direction. I didn't think the US and the UK had that big of an imbalance of goods traveling back and forth relative to the UPS type of biz.
 

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A couple customers and I went through this just last winter. everything is as clear as mud when dealing with Magnesium. We read about everything you could find on the process and it was never a slam dunk in any direction.

We had our wheels sponge blasted, some were done in under an hour a couple took 2 or more hours per wheel to strip (more on this later).

We then had the inspected and Coated (Dow 7 IIRC) which left them shades of brownish green and not all that uniform.

Some of the wheels were then painted and one set was powder coated.

One of the customers researched the paint / powder dilemma and what we found was Dymag and Marvic both allow powder coat ( as long as done properly). Marchesini when I called and talked to them wanted paint only.
Any guesses which ones blasted easier?

It was not crazy money to get all of this done but it was a good example of why people tend not to do it. It is also why I am always wary when I see someone selling re-finnished magnesium wheels. What steps did they skip when doing them?
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter #10
A couple customers and I went through this just last winter. everything is as clear as mud when dealing with Magnesium. We read about everything you could find on the process and it was never a slam dunk in any direction.

We had our wheels sponge blasted, some were done in under an hour a couple took 2 or more hours per wheel to strip (more on this later).

We then had the inspected and Coated (Dow 7 IIRC) which left them shades of brownish green and not all that uniform.

Some of the wheels were then painted and one set was powder coated.

One of the customers researched the paint / powder dilemma and what we found was Dymag and Marvic both allow powder coat ( as long as done properly). Marchesini when I called and talked to them wanted paint only.
Any guesses which ones blasted easier?

It was not crazy money to get all of this done but it was a good example of why people tend not to do it. It is also why I am always wary when I see someone selling re-finnished magnesium wheels. What steps did they skip when doing them?

Can totally relate to that. Over time I felt like I was going to become General Contractor of something I knew little to nothing about, and all I could do was to imagine railing down the straight away at my local track while wondering if the wheels I was on were safe (and, of course, look pretty). So it's been complicated to get the wheels to Steve, but in all reality I cannot say that it is super expensive....it's a good investment in piece of mind, and I would have had to ship the wheels to at least two different out-of-state places in the US had I tried to tackle this on my own so I would have racked up a good shipping bill even if I stayed in-country.

As to which ones blasted easier - - I presume the Marchesini wheels did, because of the wet paint instead of powder???
 

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Matt
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644 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
interested to see how the finished product comes out, i have 2 1/2 sets of magnesium 5 spokes which need a re furb'
Out of curiosity I used Transglobal's online tool to quote the shipping cost from Oz to the UK (using my parcel dimensions and weight) and it was about USD$300; pretty steep. The amazing thing is that is less costly than going from the eastern US to the UK, and you've got twice the distance to cover.
 

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Wow you guys are getting ripped on the shipping prices. I ship and receive from around the world all the time for bike parts and museum stuff. Last pair of wheels I shipped went to New Zealand (BSTs) and it was somewhere around 170 USD from USPS with shipping. Yes, UPS and FedEx quoted much more than that. I tend to go with USPS when shipping internationally now. Last year I got a huge box with some race fairings from the UK. Cost about 175. Gregorio Lavilla Airwaves/Black Ice 999RS fairing with a bunch of others in there too. Was about the size of a cut down refrigerator box. I was shocked it fit in the USPS truck.

When I opened the thread I was hoping it was going to be about refinishing chromate finishes lol Ah well... Have painted plenty sets of magnesium wheels. I leave it to the customer to get them x-rayed and checked out beforehand though. Some even have them prepped before sending them (usually bead-blasted or chemically stripped or a combination of the two) but I do use local shops for bead blasting and strip as well. After coating most have gotten straight paint but a few customers wanted powdercoat or a combination of the two. Yes, can powder clear over certain wet finishes especially when a design in the wheels is desired. Speaking of lightweight wheels, I just painted some Rotobox wheels for a 900SS project last night. They make the BSTs look spindly in comparison and they were even shipped in a snazzy aluminum case. First time I'd seen them in person. I'll get a pic or two...
 

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Matt
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644 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Wow you guys are getting ripped on the shipping prices. I ship and receive from around the world all the time for bike parts and museum stuff. Last pair of wheels I shipped went to New Zealand (BSTs) and it was somewhere around 170 USD from USPS with shipping. Yes, UPS and FedEx quoted much more than that. I tend to go with USPS when shipping internationally now. Last year I got a huge box with some race fairings from the UK. Cost about 175. Gregorio Lavilla Airwaves/Black Ice 999RS fairing with a bunch of others in there too. Was about the size of a cut down refrigerator box. I was shocked it fit in the USPS truck.

When I opened the thread I was hoping it was going to be about refinishing chromate finishes lol Ah well... Have painted plenty sets of magnesium wheels. I leave it to the customer to get them x-rayed and checked out beforehand though. Some even have them prepped before sending them (usually bead-blasted or chemically stripped or a combination of the two) but I do use local shops for bead blasting and strip as well. After coating most have gotten straight paint but a few customers wanted powdercoat or a combination of the two. Yes, can powder clear over certain wet finishes especially when a design in the wheels is desired. Speaking of lightweight wheels, I just painted some Rotobox wheels for a 900SS project last night. They make the BSTs look spindly in comparison and they were even shipped in a snazzy aluminum case. First time I'd seen them in person. I'll get a pic or two...
The primary issue I ran into was the cost of getting something from me (Michigan) to the UK. I've bought quite a bit from the UK and other parts of Europe and always found the cost of shipping things to me to be quite manageable. So I was really surprised that the costs aren't similar when shipping in the opposite direction. A few friends of mine mentioned that they've experienced this as well and I found it to be the case with the UPS, FedEX, USPS, and DHL quotes I received. But I'm surely not an expert and may be missing a better way to approach it.
 

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Matt
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644 Posts
Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
You know you don't need to send your wheel outside the US to get them refinished right?

Robbi did my 5 spokes 5 or so years ago and they still look mint. He also painted my race fairing and tank but that off topic.

https://www.facebook.com/Peach-Pit-Painting-LTD-193412837337641/

There's certainly a variety of options in the US and globally, so my decision to send these to the UK was purely subjective on my part. Not having any experience myself with refurbishing magnesium wheels I wanted 1) To leverage someone whose primary business was wheels, particularly someone with a lot of magnesium wheel experience and 2) To leverage someone who could handle the whole process for me as a one-stop shop - - stripping the wheels, crack checking, conversion coating, and finally painting.

Edit: In my case there was corrosion starting to take place under the paint in terms of crazing, so the wheels needed a full strip and then conversion coating before moving on to being painted. Had I not had the corrosion going on and had the conversion coating under the paint still been fully intact I would have surely looked just to repaint them which would have given me a lot of options here in the US (rather than going abroad).
 

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Matt
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Discussion Starter #20
The wheels after blasting. Guess I didn't realize that raw magnesium is white like this.
 

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