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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sonoma 2WD Brushed Aluminum Wheel

Found 2 – similar cracks on the inside (back) lip of 1 – of 4 – wheels I purchased to refinish. Did not notice till I began cleaning them. Provided are 2 - photos of the worst crack.

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What is your opinion?
  • Refinish without repairing the crack?
  • Junk it?
  • Repair it? If so, maybe a small hole drilled at end of crack and HF aluminum brazing rod? Can I get it hot enough with a map torch to do that? The wheel is a giant heat sink. Will enough heat travel all the way to holes between the spokes to damage the paint? That would not be acceptable as I will not repaint the hole accents. Too much work to do well. I cannot weld aluminum and I doubt paying someone to do it is worthwhile. Very much trying to keep costs contained.
Thank you.
 

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Swirlies or ZQ8's?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
chevymec,
Just saw this reply. Thank you for taking time to comment. I am not going to bother a repair shop with a quote because I am confident it would be more than I am willing to spend. I also agree it would be wise to simply find another set of wheels. However, I am going to make an attempt at brazing one of the cracks after precisely drilling a small diameter hole at the apparent end of it and carefully opening 1 – side of the crack. I do not have oxy-acetylene, and wasting a bunch of MAP would be cost prohibitive. So, I am going to preheat the wheel in my oven to ~200°F; place it in/on something relatively non-thermal-conductive; and try to pour heat into the area around the crack with 3 – propane torches simultaneously.

I am not confident this is going to work. I do not think I will be able to heat the crack area to the required ~720°F for the rod to flow and bond. If by some chance I can get the crack area that hot, but the heat discolors the accent paint around the holes on the front, I am still junking it. My refinishing technique for these wheels uses the factory gray/silver/argent accent paint.

I am just annoyed that I did not notice the cracks in that wheel when I bought the set of 4, and it is difficult to find single wheel to complete a set of 3 for much less than another set of 4 – ugly ones would cost.
 

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Location looks lke it shouldn't affect tire sealing on the rim. Seal it on the inside and mount it up. Or have it TIG'd and be done with it. Surely you know somebody that would do that for a 6-pack???
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Surprisingly, it was doable. Cleaned it up the crack areas with a wire cup and angle grinder. Drilled a 1/16” hole, placed as well as I could determine at the end of the 2 - cracks. Used the same drill bit to carefully open up 1 - face of both cracks. Heated wheel to 250°F in oven. Placed it in a large carboard box outside, out of the wind, propped up on blocks of wood. Re-cleaned the crack areas with new stainless steel, wire brush. Used 3 – propane torches fully open, simultaneously. After the rod melted upon touching the wheel, puddled it. Used a clean, sharp screw driver to scratch repeatedly back and forth in the puddle along the groove in the wheel. Research indicates this is important to remove any oxidation that reformed and get the puddle to flow. Impurities do float to the surface. Repeat process on second crack. When working on a crack, I had the wheel in the rolling orientation, with that crack at the bottom of the wheel. I made the gouges on the surface that is viewable with rubber mounted.

What I did wrong.
  • I did not make the gouge correctly. I am guessing the best gouge would be “V”-shaped with the point of the “V” just barely reaching the opposite side. That gives full “penetration” w/o allowing the molten rod to simply drop out of the bottom of the crack.
  • Understanding I made a gouge only approximately half way through the aluminum, I did not get the entire hole at the end of the crack to fill. I probably could have if, similar to the screwdriver in the puddle, I had plunged a small wire, nail, or etc in and out, all the way through the puddle and exit of the hole. I did plunge a small pick in the hole of 1 – crack repeatedly, and that caused the molten rod to flow almost through that hole. The pick was too large to go all the way through though. I will likely just fill the remainder of the crack-arresting, 1/16” holes with Bondo Metal Reinforced Filler. Though, I do not anticipate them causing structural problems, I do not want the Discount Tire tech fretting over a tiny blind hole when mounting rubber.
  • I was a little sloppy. I did not quite build the puddle thick enough in all places to flush it out with the surrounding aluminum when roughly dressing it later. I also did not dress the repairs great because of the location of the repairs.
  • I started my cardboard box enclosure on fire. That cost me some focus and time. That could have been easily avoided with better use of wood blocks within the box to keep more distance between the flame and cardboard. I was a bit anxious and thought I needed to work fast while the rim still had sufficient heat energy in it from the oven.

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