By Peggy J. Fisher
AKRON — It's amazing how far wheel refinishing has come since it appeared in the market in the mid-1980s.
Today wheel refinishing is a major revenue producer for most retreaders that have installed wheel-refinishing lines in their plants. Usually, standard coated steel wheels require rust removal and refinishing after two to three years of service and may end up being refinished three or four times, and perhaps more, over their lifetime.
In the early days of wheel refinishing, it was common for wheels that had been refinished to show signs of rust again in only a few weeks while still stacked on the pallets they were returned on from a retreader. Since then refinishing systems, coatings and processes have gotten much better, but mistakes are still made that can ruin a paint job or make a wheel unserviceable. Improper wheel reconditioning also can be the reason wheels have to be scrapped.
The Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has written several recommended practices (RPs) that deal with wheel inspection, refinishing and out-of-service criteria for wheel corrosion and pitting. This was in response to the increased frequency with which wheels are being reconditioned and concerns regarding their integrity and safety due to their refurbishing.
The information in these RPs is vital to truck operators running steel and aluminum wheels as well as for tire dealerships that refinish steel wheels. So let's take a look at the reconditioning process from stem to stern.
Inspection is a critical component to wheel maintenance as well as an integral step in the refinishing process. All wheels should be thoroughly inspected for any damage or out-of-service conditions before mounting tires on them or reconditioning them.